The Transportation Safety Board of Canada investigation of the Swissair Boeing MD-11 accident on 2 September, 1998 continues, but it is known that an electrically ignited fire, which began in the cockpit ceiling, burned out control systems.

The crew could smell the smoke almost half an hour before the crash and had begun a diversion to Halifax on Canada's eastern coast. But the MD-11 plunged into the sea. The board's December 2000 recommendations called for fast detection of fire location, to allow the crew to direct extinguishant accurately before serious damage results.

The US Federal Aviation Administration says it will imminently be publishing an airworthiness directive on in-flight fires - again based on data from the Swissair investigation - but with the aim of prevention rather than detection and suppression.

Source: Flight International