Last week’s “nearly disastrous plunge” of an aircraft that was carrying Serbian president Tomislav Nikolić and nine others to meet Pope Francis has been blamed on the co-pilot, who spilled coffee in the cockpit and accidentally activated an emergency switch, reports The New York Times.
The accident was first thought have occurred because of engine failure, but an official report from the Serbian Civil Aviation Directorate, published Tuesday, April 21, found that the co-pilot, Bojan Zoric, “spilled coffee on the instrument panel” and “accidentally activated the emergency slot extension” in the process of cleaning the spill.
The pilot was able to regain control after about a minute, during which time the plane fell a mile, from an altitude of 33,000 feet over the Adriatic Sea. The plane returned to Serbia, and president Nikolić had to postpone his meeting with Pope Francis.
The plane, which has been in service for 31 years, has reportedly experienced other serious issues in the past, and the presidential press office expressed hope that Nikolić would not travel on the outdated aircraft again.