According to a preliminary report released concerning Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 (MH370), air traffic controllers did not realize the plane was missing until 17 minutes after it disappeared from civilian radar.
The report, analyzed in an article by The Associated Press, is a mere five pages and includes mostly information that was previously known to the public.
In a press statement by Malaysian Minister of Defense and Acting Minister of Transport Hishammuddin Hussein, he says, “The Prime Minister 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.”
The information released along with the report includes audio recordings between the cockpit of MH370 and Kuala Lumpur, a map that contains the flight path of MH370 deduced by authorities, and a document showing the actions of authorities during the hours of confusion when the plane disappeared near the border between Malaysian and Vietnamese airspace.
The report noted that there is no requirement for real-time tracking of commercial aircraft, and that the uncertainty surrounding MH370’s last position has made it much more difficult to locate the plane. It recommended that international aviation authorities examine the safety benefits of introducing a standard tracking system.
The report was dated April 9 and sent last month to the International Civil Aviation Organization.
One instance documented in the report that is notable is the four-hour gap between MH370 disappearing from radar and the first search and rescue operation initiated by authorities.
According to the report, Vietnamese air traffic controllers began contacting Kuala Lumpur at 1:38 a.m. after they failed to establish verbal contact with the plane and could not locate it on radar. At 5:30 a.m., the documents show that the first official search and rescue operation was initiated by Malaysian authorities after efforts to locate the plane had failed.
Hishammuddin noted in his statement that authorities reviewed data from Malaysian military radar hours after the plane had vanished from civilian radar and only then saw that the plane had made a turn-back in a westerly direction across Peninsular Malaysia.
Hishammuddin said, “The aircraft was categorized as friendly by the radar operator and therefore no further action was taken at the time.”
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