Living and working in Switzerland, this is big news here. Additionally, I work for SWISS, which has big connections with the former Swissair.
Basically, the IFE system was blamed for faulty wiring, which led to the arcing so well described by Airplay above. Then the aircraft insulation started on fire and was basically out of control before the pilots could do anything.
This scenario is every pilot's worst nightmare. The cockpit was most probably a raging inferno at the end. The pilots tried to keep the plane flying but at the end could not because all systems to keep the wings level and the speed up were destroyed.
Interestingly, the report indicates that the pilots almost certainly could not have landed safely even if they had diverted to Halifax immediately upon smelling the smoke. This runs in the face of the "armchair" pilots here in Switzerland who claim that they should have been able to land if they were not so hung up on following their checklists and troubleshooting procedures.
The fact is that the pilots did their best in a doomed situation. A lot has been learned from this and hopefully MD
-11 safety will be increased as a result. Unfortunately, the MD
-11 got a bad rap from this when it was really the fault of the IFE system and not the MD
-11 per se.
Just my $.02