News / Asia

Malaysia Releases MH370 Report, Calls for Flight Tracking

A man walks in front of a flight board at Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2) in Sepang, Apr. 30, 2014.
A man walks in front of a flight board at Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2) in Sepang, Apr. 30, 2014.
Reuters
Malaysia on Thursday released its most comprehensive account yet of what happened to missing Flight MH370, in a preliminary report that detailed the route the plane probably took as it veered off course and revealed the confusion that followed.
 
The document, dated April 9, also contributed to a growing safety debate by urging the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the U.N. body that oversees aviation, to consider introducing a system for tracking commercial jets in real time.
 
The call comes ahead of a meeting at the Montreal-based agency later this month to address mounting pressure for improvements to fill communications blind spots over the world's oceans, but until now regulators have said such systems still need to be proven despite lobbying by the satellite industry.
 
The Malaysian government and military have come under intense criticism for their handling of events on and after March 8, when the Malaysia Airlines flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing disappeared with 239 passengers and crew on board.
 
Although the preliminary report issued by the Ministry of Transport leaves many key questions about what happened nearly eight weeks ago unanswered, and is not intended to resolve speculation about the cause, Malaysia may be hoping it sets the record straight on at least some contentious issues.
 
The fate of Flight MH370 remains a mystery despite the biggest search operation in commercial aviation history, and relatives of the passengers on board are desperate for confirmation of what happened to their loved ones.
 
Boeing, the manufacturer of the 777 aircraft, will also be keen to learn exactly what caused the plane to veer sharply off course and disappear from sight, and in particular whether it was mechanical failure or human intervention.
 
While not ruling out technical faults, a parallel Malaysian police investigation has so far focused on the pilots amid signs that the aircraft followed a twisting and deliberate course for at least the first hour of its journey off course.
 
Thailand and Indonesia
 
The report confirmed that military radar tracked a plane as it turned in a westerly direction across the Malaysian Peninsula on the morning of March 8, and said the radar operator took no further action because the aircraft was deemed “friendly”.
 
In an accompanying statement, Defense and Acting Transport  Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said the military data was played back that morning and after he and Prime Minister Najib Razak were informed of the possible turnback, military ships and an aircraft were sent to look for MH370 in the Straits of Malacca.
 
The report also described what appeared to be frantic attempts to trace the aircraft, with air traffic control in Kuala Lumpur contacting counterparts in Singapore, Hong Kong and Phnom Penh, Cambodia, when something appeared to have gone awry.
 
Kuala Lumpur was initially informed of a problem when air traffic controllers in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, who were meant to take over monitoring MH370 around the time the plane disappeared, said they had not heard from its pilots.
 
They told their Malaysian counterparts the “radar blip” had disappeared at a navigation point called BITOD about half way between Malaysia and Vietnam. Investigators suspect the aircraft's radar transponder was turned off at about that time.
 
Released to the public for the first time were recordings of conversations between the cockpit of MH370 and Kuala Lumpur air traffic control and maps showing MH370's probable flight path.
 
The pilot recordings, ending with a deadpan “good night” and the call sign, begin with the first contact on the ground and appear business-like, without any obvious signs of stress.
 
According to the maps, MH370 turned back from the South China Sea, cut across the southernmost tip of Thailand near the border with the Malaysian state of Kelantan and then flew across the Malaysian Peninsula.
 
It made a turn to the west in the Straits of Malacca near Penang and flew beyond the limits of Malaysian military radar.
 
Electronic Handshakes
 
From this point, investigators have had to rely on an estimated course based on electronic handshakes picked up by a UK satellite, which came to light days after the disappearance.
 
After leaving Malaysian military radar coverage, investigators believe MH370 turned south and flew over the northern tip of Indonesia's Sumatra Island before heading for the southern reaches of the Indian Ocean off Australia's western coast, where a massive underwater search is now concentrated.
 
The course, contradicting reports the plane skirted round Indonesian airspace, raises potentially awkward questions over why Indonesia did not identify the aircraft on its own radar. Sensitivities over the sharing of data have been a recurring theme in the search for the jet, according to people involved.
 
The report identified three areas in the southern Indian Ocean where they can say with different levels of certainty that the jet crashed, but although searchers identified pings from its black boxes a thorough seabed search has been fruitless.
 
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said that the seabed search over a wider area could take six-eight months, but some experts say it could take even longer, possibly years.
 
Fuelling the debate over tracking, Malaysia's Transport Ministry pointed to the disappearance of Flight MH370 and Air France Flight AF447 in 2009 as evidence that a system for real-time tracking would help to locate missing aircraft more easily.
 
Details of the initial findings including the audio tapes were shared before the report's publication with mainly Chinese relatives who have protested about Malaysia Airlines' handling of the case, in particular the use of text messages to inform some relatives when the aircraft was deemed to have crashed.
 
The airline urged families who have remained in Kuala Lumpur to return home, saying they would be kept informed, and pledged to pay early compensation to those who qualified. Such payments would not affect their rights to claim additional compensation.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs