Exploding Can of Red Bull Causes $100k+ of Damage to MC-12W Spy Plane

Interior of US Air Force C-12 series aircraft. Similar configuration to MC-12W. Image by USAF

A can of Red Bull essentially ended up clipping the wings of an Air Force MC-12W Liberty spy plane as it was forced to return to base after an incident that occurred last year.

The Drive/War Zone website came across the incident while looking through the Military Times’ database.

A breakdown summary obtained by The War Zone via a Freedom Of Information Act request:

  • The June 5th, 2017, incident occurred after one of the aircrew, identified as “Mishap Copilot (MCP, Person #1),” retrieved an unopened 16oz can of Red Bull from his bag that promptly ruptured, spewing the energy drink over the center console.
  • “While the MCP used his shirt to absorb what he could, the Mishap Pilot (MP) noticed a faint odor,”  the report said. “He subsequently shut down the mission system power, which alleviated the odor. The crew discussed their options and decided to RTB [return to base].”
  • While no danger to the crew, Warzone notes the cost of “more than $7,000 of damage for each ounce of Red Bull that ‘Person #1’ spilled in the cockpit.” Ouch.
  • No exact details on why the repair was so expensive, but the War Zone figures it was more than likely the maintenance personnel removing and repairing 13  “line replaceable units.” The console is the civilian version of the MC-12W Liberty (the King Air 350ER) includes a Synthetic Vision System (SVS) graphics and aviation package.
An MC-12 at Will Rogers Air National Guard Base, Oklahoma City. (photo by Air National Guard Master Sgt. Andrew LaMoreaux)

Any punishments given out were redacted in the report according to the War Zone, but noted the Air Force has since recommended aircrews to be more careful with their drinks in the future.

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