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Swissair makes safety improvements three years after fatal crash

Swissair is stepping up safety precautions on the MD-11

(Keystone Archive)

Swissair is carrying out safety improvements to its fleet of MD-11 aircraft, three years after a plane of the same type crashed off the coast of Canada killing all 229 people on board.

The alterations are expected to cost the cash-strapped airline around SFr20 million ($12 million).

The programme to rebuild the cockpits of the 19 MD-11s began on July 1 and will run until February 2002. As part of the safety improvements, the cockpit and first class sections are being fitted with smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and infrared cameras.

Swissair says the improvements should mean that in the event of a smoke alarm being triggered, pilots will be able to tell straight away whether there is a fire on board.

Other changes include a re-organisation of the cabling leading from the fuselage into the cockpit and the modernisation of the planes' secondary flight display (SFD) systems. The SFD system provides the pilot with all the relevant flight information in the event of the main computer crashing.

Swissair says the modernisation programme goes further than the recommendations made by the flight safety authorities following the 1998 Halifax crash.

Two hundred and 29 people died when the MD-11 came down in the sea after a fire apparently broke out in the cockpit. Canadian investigators say their final report into the accident will not be available until next year.

swissinfo with agencies


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