Emma Kelly/LONDON

Swissair will not reactivate the in-flight entertainment (IFE) system on its Boeing MD-11s and 747s until the investigation of the crash last year of the MD-11 flight SR111 off Nova Scotia is complete. The airline had hoped to restart the system in October during maintenance downtime.

Interactive Flight Technologies (IFT) - the maker of the IFE system on board the MD-11s and 747s and of the system on the MD-11 that crashed last September - has filed a lawsuit against the airline for its "failure to honour its obligations for payment and reactivation" of IFT's In-Flight Entertainment Network (IFEN).

Swissair switched off the seatback-installed interactive IFE system last October as "a precautionary measure" during the Canadian Transportation Safety Board (CTSB) crash investigation. Although the CTSB uncovered some installation problems, a link between the IFE system and the crash has never been identified.

Swissair says it will not switch the system on until it has clearance from the accident investigators, adding that it does not expect a final report to be published for another year. The carrier says it has yet to decide on removing the IFEN from 15 MD-11s and three 747s.

IFT, which recently merged with fellow IFE manufacturer The Network Connection, seeks more than $100 million in damages from Swissair. "Swissair has failed to make payments to IFT under installation and warranty contracts, and has harmed the company's business and reputation by failing to honour its commitments to reactivate the IFEN," the company alleges. IFT claims that Swissair has "continued to use the unfortunate circumstances of the crash as an excuse to avoid its obligations".

Despite the lack of evidence on the cause of the SR111 accident, a family of one victim has filed a case alleging that the IFE system was "improperly installed and a cause of the crash".

The case has been filed in the Eastern District Court of New York maintenance company the SAir Group, Swissair, SR Technics, Delta Air Lines, Swissair's codeshare partner on the flight, Boeing and IFT.

"The physical evidence, design, approvals, everything, proves in no way that our system caused this accident," Irwin Gross, IFT president tells Flight International.

Source: Flight International