Sunday, January 3, 1999 Published at 06:32 GMT
New details in Swissair crash
Investigators found the flight recorders had little information on the crash
Investigators into last September's Swissair crash off the coast of Nova Scotia say it is unlikely that the crew understood the danger the aircraft was facing and deliberately switched off the two flight recorders in an effort to isolate the electrical problems causing smoke in the cockpit.
Four months later, investigators still do not known why.
Theoretically, even a complete electrical failure would not have totally shutdown the MD-11. Its flight controls are hydraulic and there are rudimentary battery-powered flight instruments.
From the data that is available it is thought that the pilots did not realise until too late that the plane was in serious danger.
The records show that they first considered diverting the flight to land in Boston shortly after taking off from New York. But that was rejected in favour of flying further to land in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
That route was then lengthened by a decision to circle back out to the sea to dump fuel. Aviation experts now say that if the pilots had landed in Boston the accident could have been averted.
Investigators are focusing on an additional in-flight gambling and entertainment system installed for its first-class passengers.
It may be the only electrical power on the plane not shutdown, and wiring linking it to the cockpit shows signs of shorting out and charring.
But as investigators resume their task, it is clear that there remain several key questions that they may never be able to fully answer.