It's a product called Kapton that the U.S. Navy decided is not safe. It's no longer used on Navy aircraft.
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For the last six days, geologists have been building a 3-D map of the rugged ocean floor at the crash site. "They have identified a number of targets on the sea floor," according to government marine geologist Gordon Fader. "The question is, are those targets part of the plane or whether or not they are natural geological features?"
While so much of the investigation has gone smoothly, the recovery of bodies has not. So far, the coroner has identified only two bodies, a grim collection of body parts. There is still hope that more bodies can be recovered from the ocean floor.
To help in the recovery effort, a U.S. Navy salvage ship carrying deep-sea divers and equipment capable of lifting up to 300 tons arrived this morning to help search for the wreckage of Swissair Flight 111.
The USS Grapple, which helped with the undersea recovery of wreckage of TWA Flight 800 off Long Island in 1996, steamed in at about 8 a.m. Wednesday with 117 on board, including 30 divers.
"We are proud to be able to assist the Canadian government in their efforts," said the ship's Lt. Cmdr. Dave Davis. "This is a difficult time for all involved, and the Canadian forces are doing a superb job of organizing and conducting this mission."
The ship is equipped with diving equipment and a remote-controlled submarine with a black-and-white video camera and two retrieval arms.
Swissair Flight 111 crashed into the Atlantic off Nova Scotia on Sept. 2, killing all 229 people on board. The MD-11 jetliner went down more than an hour after taking off from New York bound for Geneva.
Another Swissair MD-11 was unable to take off from Zurich Wednesday because of problems with its air-conditioning system, Swissair spokesman Peter Gutknecht said. More than 200 Los Angeles-bound passengers had to be put on a replacement plane, while the MD-11 was taken to the hangar for repairs.
On Tuesday, investigators released a more complete version of the last minutes of conversation between Flight 111's pilots and an air traffic control tower in Moncto, New Brunswick.
New details in the transcript included the pilots reporting that they put on their oxygen masks and telling the controllers they would have to fly the plane manually instead of by autopilot.
Most of the conversation, which was heavy in technical terminology, involved directing the plane to an area over water where it could dump fuel. At one point, one pilot asked another, in German, if he had the emergency checklist for solving problems with smoke in the air-conditioning system.
Divers are trying to retrieve the plane's cockpit voice recorder, which is still on the sea bottom. A signal from that recorder has been detected, but bad weather Tuesday forced a one-day halt in diving operations.
The plane's other "black box" (the flight data recorder) has been recovered and sent to a laboratory in Ottawa for examination.
Canadian divers have also been trying to confirm if three large pieces of wreckage found near the flight data recorder are sections of the plane's fuselage.
The chief crash investigator, Vic Gerden, expressed hopes of gaining valuable data from the data recorder, even though it stopped working during the final six minutes before crash.