2 September 1998 - Swissair 111

Swissair Flight 111 (SR-111, SWR-111) was a Swissair McDonnell Douglas MD-11, registration HB-IWF, on a scheduled airline flight from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, United States to Cointrin International Airport in Geneva, Switzerland.

Flight 111 (a codesharing flight with Delta Airlines) departed New York-JFK for Geneva at 20.18h local time. At 20.58h the flight crew contacted the Moncton High Level Controller for the first time, reporting at FL330. Sixteen minutes later the crew issued a 'Pan'-call reporting smoke in the cockpit and requesting emergency vectoring to the nearest airport, which they thought was Boston. The Moncton controller cleared the flight to descend to FL310 and offered Halifax as the closest airport available, which was accepted by the crew.
At 21.18h the flight was handed over to Moncton Centre and was vectored for a back course approach to Halifax runway 06. At 21.19h HB-IWF was just 30 miles from the threshold, so Moncton Centre vectored the plane for a 360-degree turn to lose some altitude and to dump fuel off the coast. At 21.24h the situation in the cockpit apparently became worse, because the crew declared an emergency and reported that they were starting the fuel dump and that they had to land immediately.
There were no more radio communications and the aircraft disappeared from radar approximately 35nm from the airport off the Nova Scotia coast.

Transcript of the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR)

SWR 111 = Radio transmission from Swissair 111.
QM = Moncton High Level Controller
HZ =Halifax Terminal Controller
BAW214 = British Airways Flight Speedbird 214
BAW1506 = British Airways Flight Speedbird 1506
(*) = Word or words unintelligible
( ) = Questionable text
... = Pause
[ ] = Editorial comment
? = Unidentified speaker

Universal Coordinated Time (UTC) is the time code written on the ATC logging tape.

SWR111 0:58:15.8 Moncton Centre, Swissair one eleven heavy good uh evening level three three zero.
QM 0:58:20.4 Swissair one eleven heavy Moncton Centre. Good evening reports of uh occasional light turbulence at all levels.
SWR111 0:58:26.1 Moncton Swissair.
Comment 0:58:26.2 [Extensive communications between Moncton Centre and other aircraft]
SWR111? 1:14:07.9 [Unintelligible squelch covered by United 920]
QM 1:14:12.0 United nine two zero heavy Moncton Centre good evening occasional light turbulence reported at all levels. Other aircraft calling say again.
SWR111 1:14:18.0 Swissair one eleven heavy is declaring Pan Pan Pan. We have uh smoke in the cockpit, uh request (deviate), immediate return uh to a convenient place, I guess uh Boston ***.
QM 1:14:33.2 Swissair one eleven roger ... turn right proceed ...uh ... you say to Boston you want to go?
SWR111 1:14:33.2 I guess Boston ... we need first the weather so uh we start a right turn here. Swissair one one one Heavy.
QM 1:14:45.2 Swissair one eleven roger and a descent to flight level three one zero. Is that okay?
SWR111 1:14:50.3 Three one zero [Unintelligible words obscured by a noise. Possibly the noise associated with donning oxygen masks] Three one zero *** one one heavy.
QM 1:15:03.1 Swissair one eleven Centre.
SWR111 1:15:06.6 Swissair one eleven heavy go ahead.
QM 1:15:08.6 Uh Would you prefer to go into Halifax?
SWR111 1:15:11.6 Uh Standby
Virgin 12 1:15:15.0 Moncton Virgin twelve will be standing by.
QM 1:15:17.3 Virgin twelve roger standby.
SWR111 1:15:38.4 Affirmative for Swissair one eleven heavy. We prefer Halifax from our position.
QM 1:15:43.8 Swissair one eleven roger, proceed direct to Halifax, descend now to flight level two niner zero.
SWR111 1:15:48.7 Level two niner zero to Halifax, Swissair one eleven heavy.
BAW214 1:15:58.3 And uh Swissair one eleven heavy from Speedbird two one four I can give you the Halifax weather if you like?
SWR111 1:16:04.1 Swissair one eleven heavy we have the uh the oxygen mask on go ahead with the weather.
BAW214 1:16:10.4 Okay it's the three hundred zulu weather was one zero zero at niner knots, one five miles, scattered at one two zero, broken at two five zero, plus seventeen, plus twelve, two niner eight zero, over.
SWR111 1:16:29.6 Roger Swissair one eleven heavy we copy the ah altimeter is two niner eight zero.
QM 1:16:36.5 Swissair one eleven, you're cleared to ten thousand feet and the Hal...altimeter is two nine eight zero.
SWR111 1:16:41.7 Two niner eight zero, ten thousand feet, Swissair one eleven heavy
QM 1:16:52.5 And Swissair one eleven uh can you tell me what your fuel on board is and the number of passengers?
SWR111 1:16:58.3 Uh roger standby for this.
BAW1506 1:17:15.5 Speedbird one five zero six is at Tusky listening out.
QM 1:17:19.3 Speedbird one five zero six, roger
QM 1:18:19.3 Swissair one eleven you can contact Moncton Centre now one one niner decimal two.
SWR111 1:18:24.4 One one niner point two for the Swissair one one one heavy.
QM 1:18:31.0 Roger
SWR111 1:18:34.3 Moncton Centre good evening. Swissair one eleven heavy flight level two five four descending flight level two five zero on course Halifax. We are flying at the time on track zero five zero.
HZ 1:18:46.8 Swissair one eleven good evening descend to three thousand, the altimeter is two nine seven nine.
SWR111 1:18:51.8 Ah we would prefer at the time around uh eight thousand feet, two nine eight zero, until the cabin is ready for the landing.
HZ 1:19:00.9 Swissair one eleven uh you can descend to three, level off at an intermediate altitude if you wish. Just advise.
SWR111 1:19:07.2 Roger. At the time we descend to eight thousand feet. We are anytime clear to three thousand. I keep you advised.
HZ 1:19:14.5 Okay. Can I vector you uh to set up for runway zero six at Halifax?
SWR111 1:19:19.4 Ah say again latest wind, please.
HZ 1:19:22.1 Okay, active runway Halifax zero six. Should I start you on a vector for six?
SWR111 1:19:26.3 Yes, uh vectors for six will be fine Swissair one eleven heavy.
HZ 1:19:31.0 Swissair one eleven roger, turn left heading of ah zero three zero.
SWR111 1:19:35.1 Left ah heading zero three zero for the Swissair one eleven.
HZ 1:19:39.5 Okay, it's a back course approach for runway zero six. The localizer frequency one zero niner decimal niner. You've got thirty miles to fly to the threshold.
SWR111 1:19:53.3 Uh we need more than thirty miles, please ah say me again the frequency of the back beam.
HZ 1:19:59.5 Swissair one eleven roger, you can turn left heading three six zero to lose some altitude, the frequency is one zero niner decimal niner for the localizer, it's a back course approach.
SWR111 1:20:09.5 One zero niner point niner roger, and we are turning left to heading ah north. Swissair one eleven heavy.
HZ 1:21:23.1 Swissair one eleven when you have time could I have the number of souls on board and your fuel onboard please for emergency services.
SWR111 1:21:30.1 Roger, at the time uh fuel onboard is uh two three zero tonnes. We must uh dump some fuel. May we do that in this area during descent? [Note: Two three zero tonnes represents the current gross weight of the aircraft not the amount of fuel on board]
HZ 1:21:40.9 Uh okay, I am going to take you... Are you able to take a turn back to the south or do you want to stay closer to the airport?
SWR111 1:21:47.0 Uh, standby short, standby short.
SWR111 1:21:59.1 Okay we are able for a left or right turn towards the south to dump.
HZ 1:22:04.2 Swissair one-eleven uh roger, uh turn to the ah left heading of ah two zero zero degrees and ah advise me when you are ready to dump. It will be about ten miles before you are off the coast. You are still within about twenty five miles of the airport.
SWR111 1:22:20.3 Roger, we are turning left and ah in that case we're descending at the time only to ten thousand feet to dump the fuel.
HZ 1:22:29.6 Okay, maintain one zero thousand. I'll advise you when you are over the water. It will be very shortly.
SWR111 1:22:34.4 Roger
SWR111 1:22:36.2 (Du bisch i dr) emergency checklist (fr) air conditioning smoke? [Translation: (You are in the) emergency checklist for air conditioning smoke?]
HZ 1:22:42.9 Uh Swissair one eleven say again please.
SWR111 1:22:45.3 Ah, sorry it was not for you Swissair one eleven was asking internally. It was my fault, sorry about.
HZ 1:22:50.8 Okay
HZ 1:23:33.1 Swissair one-eleven continue left heading one-eight zero you'll be ah off the coast in about ah fifteen miles.
SWR111 1:23:39.2 Roger, left heading one eight zero. Swissair one eleven ah and maintaining at ten thousand feet.
HZ 1:23:46.3 Roger.
HZ 1:23:55.7 You will ah be staying within about ah thirty five, forty miles of the airport if you have to get to the airport in a hurry.
SWR111 1:24:03.9 Okay, that's fine for us. Please tell me when we can start ah to dump the fuel.
HZ 1:24:08.8 Okay.
SWR111 1:24:28.1 [Background tone] Ah Swissair one eleven. At the time we must fly ah manually. Are we cleared to fly between ah ten thou..eleven thousand and niner thousand feet? [Sound of Autopilot disconnect warbler]
HZ 1:24:38.7 Swissair one eleven you can block between ah five thousand and twelve thousand if you wish.
SWR111 1:24:45.1


Swissair one eleven heavy is declaring emergency

[Second voice overlap] (Roger) we are between uh twelve and five thousand feet we are declaring emergency now at ah time ah zero one two four. [Possible intercom sound toward the end of the transmission.]

HZ 1:24:56.0 Roger.
SWR111 1:24:56.5 Eleven heavy we starting dump now we have to land immediate.
HZ 1:25:00.7 Swissair one eleven just a couple of miles I'll be right with you.
SWR111 1:25:04.1 Roger. [Sound - Probable Autopilot disconnect warbler]
SWR111 1:25:05.4 And we are declaring emergency now Swissair one eleven.
HZ 1:25:08.6 Copy that.
HZ 1:25:19.2 Swissair one eleven you are cleared to ah commence your fuel dump on that track and advise me ah when the dump is complete.
HZ 1:25:43.0 Swissair one eleven check you're cleared to start the fuel dump.
SWR111 1:25:49.3 (***)

Cockpit Voice Recorder Database, visit us at www.tailstrike.com