In-Flight Entertainment Hazards

A boy looks around a toy store Saturday, Aug. 4, 2007, in Manila, Philippines. Toys made by Mattel based on popular characters like Barney, Dora and Diego were recalled in Asian and European countries after the toymaker warned of lead in the paint. China temporarily banned two toy makers whose products were subject to massive recalls in the U.S. from exporting their goods and urged them to overhaul their business practices. (AP Photo/Pat Roque, FILE)
In-flight airline entertainment systems are still malfunctioning after one version caused a fire that downed a Swissair jet and killed all 229 aboard, according to an analysis of a government database.

Since the 1998 Swissair crash off the coast of Nova Scotia, U.S. airlines sent the Federal Aviation Administration 60 so-called service difficulty reports about in-flight entertainment systems, "USA Today" reported on Wednesday. Many involved fire, smoke, sparks or a burning odor in the passenger cabin.

The FAA requires airlines to report within three days each "failure, malfunction or defect" that could endanger an aircraft.

"More incidents probably go unreported than are reported," said Alex Richman, spokesman for AlgoPlus Consulting, which analyzes data for aircraft operators.

After investigating the Swissair crash, the FAA sent 22 orders to modify, repair or ban entertainment systems installed as replacements between 1992 and 2000.

The FAA has vouched for the safety of entertainment systems. It said its orders to fix or ban them were meant to prevent unsafe conditions and do not indicate that planes which have them are unsafe.

The agency said it has made sure that no system has the same design features as the one on the Swissair aircraft.

Manufacturers say safety is the first priority for their systems. "We'd support any procedures that would further enhance the safety of the systems," said Rob Brookler of the World Airline Entertainment Association, which represents manufacturers, suppliers and airlines.

About 45 percent of large planes throughout the world have entertainment systems, including overhead movie screens and individual screens with movies, games, shopping or gambling.