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Wiring Inspection in Swissair Probe

January 12, 1999

TORONTO (AP) _ U.S. air safety officials recommended that airlines swiftly inspect all MD-11 jetliners for electrical wiring problems like those uncovered by Canadian experts investigating the crash of Swissair Flight 111.

The Canadians, who previously reported finding heat-damaged wiring aboard the crashed MD-11, revealed Monday that they also had found chafed, cracked and broken wires around the cockpits of more than a dozen in-service MD-11s.

The Swissair plane, bound from New York to Geneva, plunged into the ocean off Nova Scotia on Sept. 2, killing all 229 people on board. The crash occurred 16 minutes after the pilots reported smoke in the cockpit.

Although the exact cause of the fire aboard Flight 111 remains undetermined, the Canadian investigators nonetheless recommended to U.S. authorities that comprehensive inspections of wiring be performed on all MD-11s.

The suggestion was endorsed in Washington by the National Transportation Safety Board, which advised the Federal Aviation Administration to require inspections of all MD-11s for wiring problems around the cockpit. It said the inspections should include examinations for loose wiring, inconsistent wire routings, broken bonding wires and chafed and cracked wire insulation.

FAA spokeswoman Diane Spitaliere said her agency, even before Monday’s developments, was taking steps to address the wiring concerns raised by the Swissair accident.

``These proposed actions are on a fast track and we expect to issue them shortly,″ she said.

The FAA has already ordered more limited inspections and repairs around the plane’s forward passenger doors and to an electrical switch in the cockpit.

The MD-11s were made by McDonnell Douglas Corp., now part of Boeing Co. There are 186 MD-11s flown commercially worldwide, with roughly 65 by U.S. airlines.

While FAA orders do not apply to foreign-registered aircraft, aviation authorities typically follow each other’s safety recommendations.

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