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MH370 report: Malaysian air traffic control late in declaring distress.

Malaysian air traffic control authorities should have issued a distress phase earlier when they failed to make contact with Malaysia Airlines flight 370 (MH370) on March 8, 2014.

This follows an exhaustive 495-page MH370 safety Investigation report which also detailed that the Malaysian air traffic controllers did not initiate the three emergency phases in accordance with the standard operating procedures (SOP) in a timely manner.

The Kuala Lumpur Air Traffic Control lost contact with the doomed flight at 1:19am Malaysia time.

Subsequently, Air Traffic Controllers in Vietnam under the Ho Chi Minh Area Control Command (HCM ACC) was unable to establish two-way radio communications with MH370 at 1:39am, by which time, Malaysian traffic controllers did not follow the SOP to initiate emergency phases.

'Under such circumstances and upon notification from HCM ACC that there were no two-way radio communications with the aircraft and/or subsequent inquiries to other sources had failed to reveal any news of the aircraft, the Sector 3+5 Radar Controller should have immediately

notified the ATSC (Air Traffic Services Centre) Duty Watch Supervisor and ARCC (Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre) that an Uncertainty Phase had existed.

'By then, the Radar Controller should have commenced full overdue action (not later than 30 minutes after the declaration of an Uncertainty Phase),' said the report, citing further the radar controller should have notified the local ARCC that an Alert Phase existed.

The report said that the distress phase should have been declared by the Malaysian ARCC by 2:27am. However it was only issued at 6:32am, nearly four hours later.

The report also detailed that the Air Traffic Control Officer (ATCO) who was on duty the night of the flight's disappearance did not continuously monitor the progress of MH370, as he had to focus on another area with four other flights that required his attention.

Although investigators confirmed the presence of the other flights, they found that the Malaysian ATCO was still supposed to monitor MH370 as it was still flying under his area of responsibility (AOR).

'Notwithstanding the fact that he had to shift his focus to another area within his AOR, the Radar Controller was still required to monitor the progress of MH370. The responsibility of the Sector 3+5 Radar Controller for MH370 did not end with the transfer of control to HCM ACC.

The process of transfer of control is only with regard to Air Traffic Control Service. Therefore, the Sector 3+5 Radar Controller was still responsible for the provision of alerting service to MH370 as it was still operating within his AOR,'' said the report.

'The Radar Controller was not aware when MH370 radar position symbol dropped off from the radar display,'' the report added.

Earlier today, the Malaysian International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Investigation Team for MH370 concluded that it is unable to determine the real cause of the aircraft's disappearance four years ago.

Its report stated the investigation was unable to identify any plausible aircraft or systems failure mode without examining the aircraft wreckage and recorded flight data information that would lead to the deactivation of observed systems, diversion from the filed flight plan route, and the subsequent flight path taken by Flight MH370.

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Publication:Malay Mail Online (Petaling Jaya, Malaysia)
Date:Jul 30, 2018
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