Monday, Oct 20, 2014

Malaysian PM admits missteps in MH370 search; scouring resumes

The flight carrying 239 people had mysteriously vanished on March 8 after taking off from Kuala Lumpur. (Source: AP) The flight carrying 239 people had mysteriously vanished on March 8 after taking off from Kuala Lumpur. (Source: AP)
Press Trust of India | Kuala Lumpur | Posted: May 14, 2014 4:11 pm | Updated: May 14, 2014 4:38 pm

Prime Minister Najib Razak has admitted that Malaysia “did not get everything right” in the first few days of MH370’s disappearance and called for implementing real-time tracking of airliners, as the search for the crashed jet was hampered by technical troubles on Wednesday.

“In the passage of time, I believe Malaysia will be credited for doing its best under near-impossible circumstances. It is no small feat for a country the size of ours to overcome diplomatic and military sensitivities and bring 26 different countries together to conduct one of the world’s largest peacetime search operations,” Najib wrote in an article in the Wall Street Journal.

“But we did not get everything right. In the first few days after the plane disappeared, we were so focused on trying to find the aircraft that we did not prioritise our communications,” he wrote, candidly admitting Malaysia’s missteps in the first few days of the search for Flight MH370.

He admitted that it took air-traffic controllers four hours to launch the search-and-rescue operation but stressed that the plane vanished at a moment between two countries’ air-traffic controls which caused maximum confusion.

“Despite this, the search began about a third quicker than during the Air France AF.FR 0.00 per cent Flight 447 tragedy in 2009. Nevertheless, the response time should and will be investigated,” he said.

Najib asserted that none of this could have altered the fate of Malaysia Airlines plane.

The Beijing-bound Boeing 777-200 plane, carrying 239 people, including five Indians, an Indo-Canadian and 154 Chinese nationals – had mysteriously vanished on March 8 after taking off from Kuala Lumpur.

Meanwhile, the search for the plane in the vicinity of the acoustic signals acquired by the Towed Pinger Locator in the southern Indian Ocean in April resumed yesterday with the Australian vessel Ocean shield arriving back in the area after a port visit.

The Autonomous Underwater Vehicle, Bluefin-21, was deployed from Ocean Shield yesterday but was recovered about two hours later to investigate communications problems.

“The  Work continues to rectify the issue and to date, Bluefin-21 has not redeployed,” the Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) which is heading the search said. Najib in his article pledged that Malaysia will keep searching for the plane for as long as it takes.

“We will also continue facilitating the independent investigation so we can learn from any mistakes. We have already tightened airport security, and investigators are looking for other measures to improve safety,” he said.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation has been meeting in Montreal, Najib noted, and “strongly” encouraged the members of ICAO to push the recommendation for real-time tracking of airliners forward.

The disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines plane has been one of the most extraordinary events ever to befall Malaysia and one of the world’s greatest aviation continued…

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