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Swissair Jet May Have Had Bad Part

October 1, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A type of thermal and sound insulation implicated in fires on at least four other jetliners has reportedly been found in the wreckage of Swissair Flight 111.

The thermal insulation blankets _ similar in appearance to home insulation _ had been approved by the Federal Aviation Administration.

But McDonnell Douglas Corp., manufacturer of the Swissair MD-11 that crashed off Nova Scotia’s coast, recommended last year they be replaced with a more fire retardant variety at ``the earliest possible maintenance period,″ The Washington Post reported Thursday. All 229 people aboard the flight from New York to Geneva were killed in the Sept. 2 crash.

Boeing Co., which merged with McDonnell Douglas last year, told the newspaper it does not know how many of the 1,000 MD-11s originally equipped with the metalized Mylar insulation have been retrofitted.

But Jim Harris, a spokesman for the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, told the Post that a small amount of both types of insulation had been found in the wreckage of Swissair Flight 111.

As part of the investigation, officials have learned that the Mylar insulation blankets allowed fires initiated by electrical shorts to spread rapidly aboard three different aircraft from 1993 to 1995. All occurred on the ground and no one was injured.

In a fourth incident, maintenance crews started a fire when hot metal chips from an air drill ignited one of the blankets, which are used to insulate the aircraft from heat and noise.

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