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Swissair Relatives Criticize FAA

September 7, 1999

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Relatives of two victims of last year’s Swissair plane crash off the coast of Nova Scotia complained Tuesday that the Federal Aviation Administration was moving too slowly to address aircraft wiring and insulation issues.

Lyn Romano, whose husband, Raymond, was killed in the Sept. 2, 1998, crash, and Barbara Fetherolf, whose 16-year-old daughter Tara was also a victim, said the agency failed to protect the public last month when it gave airlines four years to replace insulation coated with a material that fails a new flammability test.

``Four years of these `flying coffins’ _ that’s my term for them _ flying around, and it’s just OK in their opinion,″ Romano complained to reporters after meeting with Thomas McSweeny, the FAA’s head of aircraft regulation and certification.

FAA spokesman Les Dorr said the agency has issued more than a half-dozen airworthiness directives since December requiring airlines to check wiring and other electrical components on Boeing MD-11s, the type of widebody aircraft that crashed.

``We feel like we’re taking positive action on a lot of these wiring issues as they come up,″ Dorr said.

The agency also has said that the four-year schedule for replacing the insulation will give airlines enough time to do the work without creating problems with other aircraft equipment.

Investigators still do not know what caused Swissair Flight 111, bound from New York to Geneva, to plunge into the ocean off Nova Scotia last year. The plane hit the water 16 minutes after the pilots reported smoke in the cockpit, and investigators have found traces of electrical arcing and heat-related damage in the top rear portion of the cockpit.

All 229 aboard were killed.

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