Air Safety Committee Advisory 99/03 A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out. Walter Winchell

Swissair Flight 111 UPDATE

May 1st, 1999

We, the IFALPA Air Safety Committee, would like to present you with some valuable factual information concerning the sr111 investigation in Halifax.

We would like to begin by saying that progress is being made every day, but due to the slow nature that constitutes aircraft reconstruction, this progress is not evident to those outside the investigation.. However we assure you that the TSB is doing a thorough and very professional job. To date they have recovered approximately 88% of the aircraft by weight. The TSB is reconstructing the first 10 metres of the forward fuselage to just past the L1 and R1 doors, as well as the forward galleys, the cockpit wiring runs and the inflight entertainment system wiring runs. Before we list some facts that were recently disclosed,  here are a few interesting points that we have learned from this investigation.

  1. An arcing event also known as ticking fault, can disburse a very large current that can cause a fire! YET IT WILL NOT POP THE CIRCUIT BREAKER.
  2. Under certain conditions, if a circuit breaker has popped and the wire insulation in that circuit has been damaged, RESETTING THE CIRCUIT BREAKER MAY CAUSE THE WIRE INSULATION TO BURN.

Following is additional information on the accident:

  1. There was a fire in the ceiling area of the cockpit of sr111. Various methods are being used to try and determine fire and smoke propagation in the cockpit and forward cabin areas.
  2. The origin of the fire is still unknown, but one possibility is heat caused by an electrical short or arcing.
  3. From inspection of the damage to the FO’s seat and harness, it was determined that he was in his seat.
  4. From inspection of the damage to the Captain’s seat and harness, we could not determine that he was in his seat.
  5. There have been several AD’s regarding wiring issues after examination of the aircraft wreckage.
  6. The TSB issued a safety advisory regarding overhead cockpit wiring in the MD-11.
  7. The process is going to take at least another year before a final report is issued as to the cause. The TSB is looking at all issues and inspecting all the systems to best determine the status of the systems at aircraft impact. All the facts need to be gathered and analysed to determine the best possible recommendations to help prevent another accident of this type.

We would also like to take this opportunity to present you with issues that the IFALPA investigative team feels need to be addressed, in present as well as future aircraft.

  1. Design of checklist coordinated with electrical system to remove as much electrical power as possible from the aircraft, as soon as possible and reducing the load down to a level of “essential power”.
  2. Some type of cockpit fire detection and fire extinguishing system available to the crew whilst in their seats and attached to the oxygen system.
  3. An integral power supply for the standby horizon.
  4. A wiring system, separated by location, powering the Captain’s flight instruments, communications and navigation.
  5. Checklist design. We believe that font type, font size, color of the print and color of the background of the checklist used by the crew was not optimal.
  6. A Smoke/heat detection system in avionics compartments.

We hope that this will dispel some of the rumours and clarify what is happening in Nova Scotia.

Air Safety Committee – sr111 team

Fatigue never shows up in autopsies

Cowards die many times before their deaths;The valiant never taste of death but once

Of all the wonders that I have yet heard,It seems to me most strange that men should fear; Seeing that death, a necessary end,Will come when it will come.