Monday, October 5, 1998 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Swissair Flight 111 Recorder Data Reportedly Garbled In Key Spots


TORONTO - Weeks after recovering the flight data recorder, investigators are still struggling to determine whether the "black box" from Swissair Flight 111 has information that will help them determine the cause of the crash.

Not only are the last six minutes missing from the flight and voice recorders, but the data recorder was plagued with anomalies before that, The Globe and Mail newspaper of Toronto reported today.

Investigators insist they will eventually determine the cause of the crash that killed 229 people off Nova Scotia. But the digital record of the critical minutes is so garbled that it may do little more than point toward the components or wiring bundles where the problems began, the paper said.

"We are trying to ascertain what it is telling us," Vic Gerden, the Transport Safety Board's lead investigator, said yesterday. "Is it the avionics bay? Is it a (instrument) panel? Is it a wiring bundle?"

Gerden says investigators have not been able to narrow their focus on the probable cause of the crash beyond something electrical.

Investigators believe they must recover key components of the wreckage that are still nearly 200 feet below the ocean surface.

With winter fast approaching, recovering wreckage has become a race against time in the frigid Atlantic.

The few strands recovered so far from more than 100 miles of wiring aboard the MD-11 airplane have shown no signs of faults, the newspaper reported.

Copyright (c) 1998 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.


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