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SWISS's last MD-11 bows out
I read about it in the newspapers today and they showed it on tv (where they mentioned SR111), but couldn't find anything (so far) on, only the official press release from Swiss (on their official site):

The sole remaining SWISS Boeing MD-11 performed its last commercial flight in SWISS colours today from Chicago to Zurich, concluding a further chapter in Swiss aviation history. SWISS has replaced its MD-11s with the state-of-the-art Airbus A340.

The Boeing MD-11 provided sterling service linking Switzerland with the world for over 13 years. The trijet was principally deployed on long-haul services, carrying the Swiss cross to destinations such as Tokyo, Ṣo Paulo and Johannesburg. SWISS had assigned its last remaining MD-11 Рregistration HB-IWE Рto the Zurich-Chicago route in the 2004 summer schedules, which have now come to an end. Following its withdrawal, the carrier will operate an all-Airbus A330/A340 long-haul aircraft fleet.

The Airbus A340 is a state-of-the-art aircraft which is far easier on the environment in noise and pollutant emission terms. On Zurich-Chicago services, for example, it consumes between 12 and 15 per cent less kerosene than its predecessor.

Posts: 2 | Location: Switzerland | Registered: Mon November 01 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I am absolutely sure that the removal of the last Swiss International Airlines MD11 will come somewhat as a relief to the families of SR111. Perhaps this aircraft, with a livery very similiar to the former Swissair livery, serves as a visual reminder of the tragedy.
Not that these families and loved ones need to be reminded, that is, but nonetheless it is perhaps a good thing that the MD11 is no longer flying under Swiss registration.

That said, one thing I'd like to make emphatically clear is that the aircraft itself, the McDonnell Douglas MD-11, was a very well designed and constructed machine. True, being a trijet, it entered the market past its prime, as Airbus offered the more fuel efficient two engined A330 and A340 alternatives (and now the A340-500/600 series)and true, there was the initial problem with the MD11 engines not performing to the max efficiency expectations of potential customers. However, the engines were upgraded, and the MD-11 entered commercial service as a viable, durable, and yes, safe civil transport aircraft. But McDonnell Douglas, in providing the wonderful MD-11, paid a price for the MD-11 design, as will be pointed out below.

In my opinion, no other civil aircraft has received a worse and undeserved negative reputation than the MD-11. McDonnell Douglas provided airlines with what many flight deck crews referred to as "The Dream Machine". The MD11 was very well liked and trusted by crews the world over (KLM, Alitalia, Finnair, Varig Brasil, etc.). It must be pointed out that it was the gross negilgence of Swissair and their installation of the horrific IFE's, NOT the design and construction of the MD-11, that helped to contribute to the ill-deserved black label this aircraft was slapped with. It was also the improper pre-purchase reviews and assessments of these IFE's by the former Swissair technical teams and advisors, and the subesquent installation, maintenance and recurrent assessments of these IFE's by Swissair that led to the tragic event and loss of life off of Peggy's Cove in September of 1998.

As one Captain I used to fly with put it, "It's not about the aircraft itself, it's all about safety and maintenance procedures and mandate
which is established by the carrier." So true, but I may add it's also all about the civil transport laws, guidelines and procedures as established and regulated by the governing body representing the flag that carrier is flying under. It is also the on-going review and revisions of said policies and laws which inturn ensure a maximum safe environment for passengers and crews alike.

As we shall see, the ideal of superlative civil transport safety encompasses all areas of aviation, from airlines to manufacturers to governing bodies. It is a circle, it is a cycle, and as history has shown, and most probably will continue to do so, these divisions have yet to form a coherent body which maintains/sustains working together and above all, a unified mandate re safety.

Then, we have another civil aircraft that, due to faults in initial design, was forever branded by many as the flying coffin. The McDonnell Douglas DC-10, series, 10/20/30 and 40. The DC-10, the tri-jet predecessor of the MD-11. In the case of the DC-10, we had, for the most part, a wonderfully designed and constructed aircraft for its time. The DC-10, along with the Lockheed L-1011, series 100, literally revolutionized mass air transport upon introduction in 1970/71. For the first time in civil transport history, a much larger percentage of the public had the world opened up for them to explore, courtesy of these "new" wide-bodied aircraft.

However, in the case of the DC-10, there were intial "growing pains" suffered by this aircraft. These growing pains came with a high cost: the horrific expense of human lives. On
March 3, 1974, Turkish Airlines, Flight 981, a DC-10 enroute from Paris to London,took off from Charles de Gaulle International airport. Minutes after take-off, the aircaft crashed into the a forest at Ermonville, France. All 346 passengers and crew perished. As a result of the investigation into the cause of the crash, it was discovered that a defective cargo door latch caused the door to open in flight, which in turn caused a rapid decompression and the collapse of the rear cabin floor. This event also severed the control cables leading to the tail surfaces. With elevator control lost, the aircraft succumbed to its injuries and was lost.

To quote an article:

The DC-10 is an interesting study in human factors, interface design and engineering responsibility. The control cables for the rear control surfaces of the DC-10 were routed around the cargo door area, so a failure of the hatch would result in the disruption of the controls. To make matters worse, McDonnell Douglas chose a new latch design to close it. If the hatch were to fail for any reason, there was a very high probability that the plane would be lost. This possibility was first discovered in 1969, and actually occured in 1970 in a ground test. Nevertheless, nothing was done to revise the faulty design, as any such changes would be made out-of-pocket by the fuselage main contractor, Convair.

This was not the first time a DC-10 had lost its cargo door in-flight. In 1972, An American Airlines DC-10, enroute from Detroit to Toronto
suffered an opened rear cargo door in-flight.
It was discovered that the door was improperly closed by ground crew unfamiliar with the latch design of the door. The hatch blew off at 12,000 feet, destroying the rudder control and damaging the elevator controls, but wuick thinking on the part of the flight deck crew and a pilot in the cabin allowed the aircraft to land without any pax or crew sustaining injuries.

To quote an article:

The NTSB made several reccomendations in the wake of this incident re cargo door, wiring design. However, the FAA did not order these recommendations to be enforced, instead, Convair agreed to carry them out voluntarily.

Then, the incident, the tragedy which forever branded the DC-10 "The Flying Coffin" and which led to sales of the aircraft cease.

On May 25, 1979, American Airlines, Flight 191, a DC-10 series 10 aircraft was operating from Chicago-O'Hare to Los Angeles. On-board were 270 passengers, a flight deck crew of 3 and a cabin crew of 10. I will not provide details myself, but invite you to visit an informative link outlining this tragedy provided at:

After the grounding of the DC-10 by the FAA and international air transport governing bodies, the DC-10 was as good as gone. Never mind the fact that it was not, in this particular case, a design error/fault; the travelling public lost faith in this aircraft.

Which brings us back to the MD-11. McDonnell Douglas paid a heavy price for the demise of the DC-10 in world markets (with the exception of second world nations, which proved to be a viable market for second hand DC-10's). The "new" MD-11 not only had to surpass the
DC-10 in terms of performance, range and viablity, it also had to prove itself to be a superlative product that held the trust and confidence of crews and revenue passengers alike.

McDonnell Douglas, however, in the opinion of airlines and industry analysts alike, missed the boat with the MD-11. For one thing, while an exceedingly safe aircraft, the range and engine performance fell short of the critical criteria set by world carriers who MD was courting for purchases. MD went back to the drawing board and eventually provided what the airlines had sought in terms of performance, but by that time, the aviation world had moved on, what with, as stated above, the arrival of the more fuel efficient Airbus A330/A340.

Had the MD-11 been introduced "on-time" or even 6 years previously, perhaps its tale would have been a much different, more positive one. However, no matter how sound the aircraft was,
Swissair Flight 111, like Turkish Airlines Flight 981, like American Airlines Flight 191,
led to the negative branding of another McDonnell Douglas product. Never mind the factors related to the tragedy of SR111; as far as the flying public were concerned, the MD-11 was bad news.

Finnair continues to operate the MD-11 today
(this carrier recently added 2 more MD-11's to their long-haul fleet out of HEL), KLM is set to phase out their MD-11 fleet by 2010, Alitalia brought 2 MD-11's out of storage temporarily. These carriers have the utmost faith in the MD-11, but soon these tri-jets, in a two engined world, will make their final bow from the civil aviation stage.

That does not, however, spell the end of the
McDonnell Douglas MD-11. Today, this remarkable aircraft has found its niche as a cargo transport aircraft (UPS, Federal Express). So for those lovers of this tr-jet, be rest assured it will continue to grace the skies and leave its contrails for years to come.

Unfortunately, and in my opinion and the opinion of others, governments worldwide failed to keep up with the
Posts: 27 | Location: Toronto, Canada | Registered: Tue September 02 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I just reviewed what I posted. It would appear that my post was one long quote from an article, when in fact the quotes were short excerpts! Aye yi yi. The DC-10 quote is only the first parapgraph. The second quote is as well only the first paragraph.

I also apologize for the repetitive info provided.

That does it. I'm cursed!

More espresso.
Posts: 27 | Location: Toronto, Canada | Registered: Tue September 02 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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J.O don't feel too badly! I posted the one about electoral votes when I was half asleep and upon reading it the next day I realized that I repeated the same info. over and over again!

Posts: 2574 | Location: USA | Registered: Sun April 07 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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And it's a very interesting post.
Posts: 2574 | Location: USA | Registered: Sun April 07 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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J.O. the MD-11 had mylar insulation which acted as a fuel for the fire started by the IFEN. The thing that bugged me about the TSB's final report was that when asked by a reporter if the crash would have occurred if the IFEN hadn't been installed on it, the TSB skated over the point and emphasized the Mylar insulation. In reality the crash would NOT have happened without that entertainment system improperly installed on the jet. However, it also wouldn't have happened if mylar insulation wasn't in place to conduct the fire. So both items were part of the chain of events that caused the crash.
Posts: 2574 | Location: USA | Registered: Sun April 07 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Barbara, thank you for enlightening me on the mylar insulation on-board the MD-11 aircraft and it being a contributing factor in regards to the SR111 tragedy.

I must admit, I am much more aware, and concerned, of an aircraft "environment" ie structural components each time I fly.
Posts: 27 | Location: Toronto, Canada | Registered: Tue September 02 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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You know what's really amazing is that there are still a number of airliners flying around today that still contain mylar insulation despite what has been known about the volatile properties of this insulation for a number of years.

As far as the IFEN goes, the story behind that is so shady from the conception of it through the approval process and sale of it to swissair,that it blows my mind how much this tragedy has been swept under the carpet. The Swiss don't seem to take any responsibility for their part in this whatsoever, nor does the U.S. government. The whole deal was very unethical and involved the cooperation if not the involvement of Swiss government officials when you consider that they would benefit from the profits from the onboard gambling that was
the big selling point of this piece of crap.
The only answer once again is for someone to write a book because otherwise this tragedy will surely dissipate into obscurity. There are people that belong in jail over this on both sides of the ocean.
Posts: 2574 | Location: USA | Registered: Sun April 07 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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