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Swissair 111 crash: The lessons learned

At 10:31 p.m. on Sept. 2, 1998, many Nova Scotians felt their homes tremble as Swissair 111 smashed into the waters off Peggy's Cove, killing all 229 people on board. Years later, this remains, in part, a Canadian tragedy. Although only four Canadians were killed on the flight, the crash of Swissair 111 had an enduring impact in Canada. Local fishermen led the search for survivors, residents welcomed the victims' families and the names of the dead are etched in stone monuments on the coast.

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Canada's Transportation and Safety Board has finally completed the longest and most complex investigation in its history, and today released its report on the crash of Swissair 111. The painstaking investigation, which took over four years and cost nearly $57 million, has produced a lengthy report on the events leading up to the crash, as well as what can be learned from the disaster that claimed 229 lives.
The Canadian inquiry into the Swissair crash has been called one of the most complex crash investigations ever. Transportation and Safety Board chairman Benoit Bouchard called it "a puzzle of outstanding magnitude," owing to several factors:

• The plane's flight data recorder, or "black box," stopped functioning five minutes and 37 seconds before the crash, so there was little concrete information available about the plane's final minutes.
• Investigators reconstructed much of the plane, which was smashed into nearly two million pieces.
• Much of the wreckage lay more than 50 metres underwater

• The Swissair Flight 111 Investigation Team won a Head of the Public Service Award from the Canadian Public Service Agency in 2003. The award nomination cited the team's "great resourcefulness and professionalism in carrying out their work but also compassion for the families of the crew and passengers who died. Their dedication and expertise exemplify the best qualities of public service."

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: March 27, 2003
Guest(s): Vic Gerden, Myles Gerety, Ian Shaw, Camille Thériault, Fabienne Thorens
Host: Peter Mansbridge
Reporter: Laurie Graham
Duration: 2:40

Last updated: February 2, 2012

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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