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swissair crash cockpit recording part 2

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Published on May 24, 2007

Air traffic control tapes of Swissair Flight 111 have finally been released after a legal battle that went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The ATC tapes, released by the Canadian Press, have not been made public since the 1998 crash that killed 229 people.

The tapes contain hours of recording including the final dramatic 12 minutes of the flight before the aircraft plunged at high speed into St. Margaret's Bay, N.S., near Halifax.

"Swissair one eleven is declaring pan pan pan we have smoke in the cockpit," one pilot said.

"Pan pan pan" means there is an emergency on board the aircraft, but that there is no immediate danger.

Later, another said, "We are declaring emergency now" (this can be heard on part four of the audio link to the right).

They were told they could commence the fuel dump, discussed altitude and the approach to Halifax airport with air traffic controllers. They were asked to advise when it was complete.

There was one last garbled "hello," then presumably electrical failure cut off communications. About six minutes after the last transmission, everyone was dead.

The MD-11 aircraft left New York for Geneva on Sept. 2, 1998.

The aircraft smashed into the dark water off Peggy's Cove at 10:31 p.m. Atlantic Time at an estimated 550 kilometres an hour, killing everyone onboard and shattering the plane into literally millions of tiny fragments.

The impact of the jet hitting the water made seismographic needles in Moncton and Halifax flutter as if an earthquake had struck.

Vic Gerden, chief investigator into the crash, said families of the victims have not yet heard the audio although they were briefed extensively at the time of the disaster.

"I don't recall them having the opportunity to listen to the tapes,'' Gerden, who retired last year, told the Canadian Press from Winnipeg.

Some family member predicted the tapes would be hard to hear, even after so many years.

"These things bring an event back to people, the family members, who've put a lot of time and distance between the crash ... and their losses,'' Miles Gerety, who lost his brother Pierce in the crash, told the Canadian Press from his home in Redding, Conn. "I think it would be hard to hear.''

After the crash, the Transportation Safety Board refused to release the ATC audio, saying it contained personal information.

John Reid, then Canada's information commissioner, initially supported the refusal. "In my view, the voices, along with the tonal and emotive characteristics, constitute personal information of three air traffic controllers and the two pilots,'' he ruled in 1999.

Reid eventually reversed on his decision after he received complaints about the board's refusal to release audio from four other air disasters.

He fought the board and Nav Canada all the way to the Supreme Court, which eventually ruled the transmissions should be released to the public.

The ruling brings Canada in line with countries that have allowed ATC recordings to be available for years.

*If anyone wants teh transcripts you should get in touch with me directly.

Comments • 578

Robert Cabral
this is ATC recording not CVR. another case of wrong title
Antônio Davi Brito
3:49 - Auto pilot disconnect sound warning.
scara monga
The pilots never had a clue as to the fire raging above them, which started as smoke in the cockpit, yes, but I imagine they never once thought of the severity of the situation around them, otherwise the fuel dump wouldn't have been the first thing on their minds. I fear it wouldn't have made a difference though, as by that time, landing with all that fuel and a raging fire, would have resulted in a similar outcome. Possibly, a water landing may have saved a few lives?, but even then, I don't think so. They were doomed the minute the fire started, I'm afraid. It's still heartbreaking to hear this.
View all 2 replies
shuswapsteve
+scara monga I agree. Once the fire started and the time it would have taken to bring a fuel heavy plane down from that altitude there just wasn't enough time to save everyone onboard. Sad.
Hide replies
TheMakiavelli
In fact they had no chance at all. Even WITHOUT Dumping fuel and a direct aproach towards halifax they wouldnt have made it to the airport.
PassiveSmoking
I looked at the timeline, it's about 11 minutes from them detecting smoke coming through the vents to the loss of the flight recorders (which means they'd probably lost everything in the cockpit at that point, perhaps even ths standby instruments). They limped on for 6 more minutes after that but once the autopilot disconnect alarm goes off it's basically all over.
Kris Hague
fuck yeah pan pan pan!
canadaguy20081
Sarcasm Robert sarcasm
Peterschwanzblad
it was better to go down and no fly so high they have a chance to do a water emergency landing mayby 100 people die but 100 can live the fucking checklist is toillet paper
canadaguy20081
Lotsa airliner pilots on here .
Robert Cabral
doubt it... YouTube pilots maybe... few crop duster pilots but commercial airliner pilots, highly unlikely
K Family
horrible
john mccarthy
heart breakbreaking  listening to that xx
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