TSB stands by its Swissair crash investigation
Sept. 19, 2011, Gatineau, Que. - The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) stands by its thorough investigation of the 2 September 1998 crash of Swissair Flight 111 near Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia.
The findings are detailed in the final investigation report (A98H0003) which represents the TSB's position on the causes and contributing factors leading to this accident. TSB professionals, joined by the RCMP and other agencies, with help from world-wide external observers, were successful in conducting an exhaustive investigation of all the evidence and information from the wreckage. During the investigation, 98% of the structural weight of the aircraft was recovered from the ocean floor. Investigators thoroughly examined the wreckage and found that an electrical arcing event above the cockpit started a fire, which subsequently disabled the aircraft's systems and led to the accident.
Significant positive improvements have been made as a result of the Swissair investigation recommendations, including:
Regulators in Canada, the US and France almost immediately required the removal of metallized polyethylene terephthalate (MPET) insulation from many aircraft, the first material to ignite in the Swissair accident.
A more rigorous flammability test, the Radiant Panel Test, along with enhanced regulations and standards are now in place to validate insulation materials used in aircraft.
Air crews routinely divert to land immediately at the first hint of fire or smoke in an aircraft; and the International Air Transport Association and the Flight Safety Foundation worked together to develop industry-wide guidance on more effective checklist procedures for smoke and fire.
The Federal Aviation Administration issued new regulations stating that by April 2012, cockpit voice recorders on all turbine engine-powered airplanes must have a 2 hour recording capacity; must have an independent power supply that provides 10 minutes of electrical power; and any single electrical failure must not result in disabling both the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder.
"The TSB takes pride in its investigation process and I have every faith in the Swissair investigation," said TSB Chair Wendy Tadros. "This investigation has really contributed to making air transportation safer. I also believe that the families took some solace from the TSB's thorough investigation, and the findings of our final report," added Tadros. "We are dismayed that this irresponsible speculation will only re-open old wounds."
The TSB is an independent agency that investigates marine, pipeline, railway and aviation transportation occurrences. Its sole aim is the advancement of transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.