The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

25 Years Ago, a Swissair MD-11 Crashed into the Sea at Halifax

On September 2, 1998, a Swissair MD-11 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean near Halifax, Canada, killing all 229 passengers and crew on board. 49 of the passengers were Swiss citizens, while the remaining passengers were from 43 other nations. This was the worst aviation disaster in Swiss history. The plane had taken off from John F. Kennedy Airport in New York and was headed for Geneva. The pilots noticed smoke in the cockpit and attempted to make an emergency landing at Halifax, but the plane was too high. They attempted to circle and dump fuel, but the electrical system failed and the plane crashed into the ocean. The crash had far-reaching consequences. Care teams were set up in Geneva, Zurich, Paris and New York to provide support to the families of the victims. This was the first time such a large-scale effort had been made. After a year-long recovery effort, it was determined that the crash was caused by a short circuit due to a broken insulation in a copper cable. This cable was part of the in-flight entertainment system that had been installed in the first-class cabin. In response to the crash, the Canadian and US aviation authorities issued over fifty directives for the McDonnell-Douglas aircraft, including additional smoke detectors, fire suppression systems and infrared cameras. Swissair and later Swiss replaced the insulation mats and phased out the last 13 MD-11s. New regulations and procedures were also put in place for cockpit crews. Two memorials have been erected near Peggy's Cove in Halifax to commemorate the victims of the crash. The monuments bear inscriptions in English and French, and look out over the crash site in the Atlantic Ocean.nnnnnnnnnnnn


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