Swissair Investigation Riles Critics


On September 2, 1998, Swissair Flight 111 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean, killing all aboard. Now, four years later, the FAA has yet to act on recommendations by Canadas Transportation Safety Board (TSB) and the NTSB to increase the length of time flight data and cockpit voice recorders gather data. The Canadian agency also wants the so-called black boxes to have independent power supplies. In this crash, both devices stopped working six minutes before the crash, denying investigators crucial information about the MD-11’s final few minutes. The safety board recommended that cockpit voice recorders, which now capture the previous 30 minutes of a flight, be upgraded to record for two hours. To date, this action has not been taken by the FAA and that has drawn fire from the NTSB and critics within the industry. Meanwhile, TSB investigators have focused on a possible ignition of the aircraft’s insulation, which led to a fire and loss of control, as a contributing cause to the accident. The aircraft was approximately one hour into a flight from New York to Geneva when the crew reported smoke in the cockpit and later crashed into the Atlantic.