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Tuesday, January 12, 1999 Published at 03:44 GMT

World: Americas

Swissair crash warning to airlines

Disaster: But investigators recovered wreckage from the sea

Safety experts investigating the Swissair crash off the coast of Canada in September have called on the US Federal Aviation Administration to check cockpit wiring in all Boeing MD-11planes, like the one that crashed, following the discovery of new clues.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said electrical wiring recovered from the crash showed signs of arcing damage - a short circuit - similar to faults found in other MD-11s.

[ image:  ]
The request comes as European aircraft manufacturer Airbus announced a major rise in sales - in contrast to Boeing's dip in fortunes.

Swissair Flight 111, bound from New York to Geneva, crashed in the Atlantic Ocean near a Nova Scotia fishing village on 2 September, killing all 229 people on board.

The crash occurred 16 minutes after the crew had reported smoke in the cockpit.

In a letter to the FAA, the NTSB said that inspections of all MD-11s should be carried out on an "expedited basis", focusing on two cockpit circuit breaker panels.

In a statement, the FAA said it had already started to address the wiring concerns.

Usually, airline authorities around the world follow the recommendations of other air safety agencies.

[ image: Secrets: Flight recorder yielded little]
Secrets: Flight recorder yielded little
Key areas of damage discovered in the wreckage included a power feeding wire in an overhead circuit breaker and in the entertainment system.

The airline voluntarily cut off the entertainment system in October when the first indications that it may have played a part in the tragedy.

Investigators have already made other wiring-related safety recommendations to Boeing and Swissair.

In November, the FAA ordered US airlines to examine light dimmer switches for faults which could cause overheating and smoke.

A month later, the agency asked airlines and Boeing to ensure that front passenger doors did not nick or fray wires when they were opened.

Airbus challenge Boeing

Meanwhile, Airbus Industrie reported that it was in a position to compete on an equal basis with Boeing and command half of the world's market.

Airbus' results show sharp rises in sales and orders for its planes, just weeks after Boeing said it planned to cut jobs and production levels.

The European concern received 556 firm orders for new aircraft worth $39bn, up from 460 orders worth $29.6bn the previous year

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