Malaysia has made public a preliminary report on flight MH370 and other data that marks its most extensive release of information on the missing airliner to date.
The five-page report, which was submitted earlier to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), was essentially a recap of information that has already been released, and did not immediately appear to contain any major revelations.
Malaysian authorities have also released:
- The audio recordings of conversations between the cockpit of MH370 and Kuala Lumpur air traffic control.
- The preliminary report into MH370, dated 9 April.
- An additional document, which gives further information regarding the actions taken between the hours of 01:38 and 06:14 on Saturday 8 March.
- A map showing MH370’s flight path.
- The cargo manifest for MH370.
- The seating plan for MH370.
It took four hours from the last official contact with the aircraft for authorities to initiate search and rescue operations.
It appears there was a lot of confusion in the initial hours after the plane went missing. At one point authorities believed MH370 may have been in Cambodian airspace.
The report was accompanied by audio recordings of exchanges between the cockpit of the Malaysia Airlines jet and air traffic controllers, and documents pertaining to the cargo manifest.
“[Prime Minister Najib Razak] set, as a guiding principle, the rule that as long as the release of a particular piece of information does not hamper the investigation or the search operation, in the interests of openness and transparency, the information should be made public,” an accompanying government statement said.
Malaysia continues to investigate what happened to the plane, saying this week it also had appointed a former head of the country’s civil aviation to head a probe that will include members of the US National Transportation Safety Board and other foreign aviation agencies.
Thursday’s release did not contain any information from a separate Malaysian police investigation into whether a criminal act such as terrorism was to blame.
Malaysia’s government, which was heavily criticised for a seemingly chaotic initial response and comments to the media on MH370, has been tight-lipped about the progress of its investigations into the tragedy.
Some relatives of passengers have angrily accused the government and airline of incompetence and withholding information, which Malaysia denies.
The initial flight path MH370, according to radar and satellite data. Photo: Reuters
The Malaysia Airlines flight vanished on March 8 on the way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people aboard.
It is believed to have crashed in the Indian Ocean, but a massive hunt for the wreckage has been fruitless so far.
A map shows the possible paths and crash zones of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. Photo: Reuters
Relatives should return home: Malaysia Airlines
Malaysia Airlines is telling relatives of passengers on Flight 370 they should move out of hotels and return home to wait for news on the search for the plane.
Since the plane disappeared on March 8, the airline has been putting the relatives up in hotels, where they have been briefed on the search, which has been focused on the Indian Ocean off Perth.
But the airline said in a statement on Thursday the families should now receive the information from “the comfort of their own homes”.
The airline said it would close its family assistance centres around the world by May 7, but will establish support centres in Kuala Lumpur and Beijing.
It said it would keep in close touch with the relatives through means including phone calls and meetings.
It said it would soon make advanced compensation payments to relatives.
Introduce real-time tracking: Malaysia
Malaysia’s Transport Ministry is recommending that the International Civil Aviation Organisation, the UN body that oversees global aviation, examines the safety benefits of introducing a standard for real-time tracking of commercial air transport aircraft.
In a report dated April 9 but released on Thursday, the ministry pointed to the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 and Air France flight AF447 in 2009 as evidence that such real-time tracking would help to better track aircraft.
“There have now been two occasions during the last five years when large commercial air transport aircraft have gone missing and their last position was not accurately known. This uncertainty resulted in significant difficulty in locating the aircraft in a timely manner,” the ministry said.
The Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777-200ER (9M-MRO) disappeared while on a scheduled flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on 8 March. The search for the aircraft, which had 239 passengers and crew on board, initially took place in the South China Sea and the Straits of Malacca. It moved to the Indian Ocean only about three weeks after the disappearance as a result of new satellite data.
AFP, Reuters, AP