Boeing and Swissair have agreed to share financial responsibility for all proven damages resulting from the Swissair Boeing MD-11 crash in which all 229 people on board died.

The announcement was made on 5 August, the opening day of a pre-trial conference in Philadelphia designed to "clarify procedural questions" relating to lawsuits filed in the USA after the accident. The tri-jet crashed last September off Nova Scotia, Canada.

To date, 42 suits for claims totalling $16 billion have been filed in the USA against aircraft manufacturer Boeing/McDonnell Douglas, as well as SAirGroup, Swissair, SR Technics, codeshare partner Delta Air Lines and in-flight entertainment system supplier Interactive Flight Technologies. Families of the victims have a further year to submit compensation claims. Claims have also been finalised in France with the families of five victims.

The pre-trial conference will identify the issues to be raised at the trial and ensure that all the necessary documents are available.

The new announcement by airline and manufacturer is intended to simplify matters further. Swissair says: "The SAirGroup and Boeing want to ensure that victims' family members are compensated for their proven claims of damage as soon as possible." Swissair has advanced some financial assistance to victims' families.

Swissair says no new information has emerged from the Canadian investigation authorities on the cause of the accident. The airline is studying every maintenance procedure, overhaul, installation and modification made to the aircraft from its delivery in August 1991 to the time of the accident.

The Swiss carrier has uncovered an incident involving the same aircraft on a Zurich-Hong Kong flight last August when the cabin crew reported a "strange pungent odour that occurred in waves" near the first-class galley. That crew was traced and flown to Canada to try to identify the odour in tests.

Source: Flight International