Spilled Coffee Caused United Plane To Divert

The communications system malfunction that caused a United Airlines flight from Chicago to Frankfurt to divert to Toronto late Monday was caused by a pilot spilling coffee.

Reacting to the spill, the pilot changed the transponder code, and while turning the dial the Boeing 777 sent out a radio message indicating a hijacking, according to Canadian transportation authorities.

The crew was able to fix the faulty message, but the captain of Flight 940 decided to land the plane rather than fly across the Atlantic Ocean with a potential communications issue.

"During a period of light turbulence, a cockpit crew member's beverage spilled, causing issues with the airplane's communications equipment," United spokesman Rahsaan Johnson tells AOL Travel News.

"The plane never lost contact with air traffic control and followed standard operating procedures, landing safely in Toronto where we could begin to reaccommodate our customers," Johnson says.

The plane, with 241 passengers and 14 crew onboard, landed without incident at Toronto's Pearson International Airport.

The passengers were flown back to Chicago and housed in hotel rooms overnight. An additional flight has been added to fly them to Frankfurt on Tuesday, Johnson says.

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