Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has definitely crashed by now, for the simple reason that the aircraft will not have anymore fuel (only 7½ hours) left to fly. The flight was declared missing about 90-minutes after it was due to land in Beijing. Vietnamese Air Force also found a 20km-long oil slick between Malaysia and Vietnam during the search operation on Saturday’s afternoon. It is estimated the plane, together with 239 people aboard, went down in the waters between southern Vietnam and northern Malaysia. The aircraft never entered Chinese airspace.
There’s one argument at earlier stage though – while Malaysia Airlines claims the plane disappeared from air traffic control radar in Subang Kuala Lumpur at 2:40 a.m., Mr. Lindahl of Flightradar 24 said that the last radar contact had been at 1:19 a.m., less than 40 minutes after the flight began. If what Malaysia claimed was correct, the plane should have entered Vietnam airspace or contacted Ho Chi Minh City air traffic, but it never did as claimed by Vietnamese officials.
Chinese officials and citizens whom family members or friends were onboard the flight were concerned and frustrated due to lack of information about the incident, especially from Malaysian authorities. Only after the flight failed to arrive as scheduled, the outburst from anxious relatives at Beijing International Airport triggered the crisis reporting. Hence, assuming Malaysia Airlines really discovered their missing plane at 2:30 am, it was well over 5 hours thereafter that Malaysia Airlines acknowledges publicly about the disappearance.
- Missing Flight: Malaysia Flight MH370
- Plane Type: Boeing 777-200ER
- Passengers onboard: 239 (including 2 infants and 12 crew members)
- Passengers Nationality: China (154 passengers), Malaysia (38 passengers), Indonesia (12), Australia (7), U.S. (4), France (3), New Zealand (2), Canada (2), Ukraine (2), Italy (1), Netherlands (1) and Austria (1).
- Time Plane Takes Off from KLIA: 12:41 am
- Time Plane Expected to Land in Beijing: 6:30 am (10.30pm GMT)
- Time Plane Last Detected on Radar: – 1:30am ?? –
- Malaysia DCA Alert Malaysian Airlines: 2:30 am
- Malaysia DCA Rescue Control Center Alerted: 5:30am
- Flight Declared Missing by Malaysia Airlines: 7:54am
- Plane Altitude before Missing: 35,000 feet (10,670 meters)
- Last Position Detected: 065515 Longitude, 1033443 Latitude
To add insult into injury, it was also found that one Italian passenger, 37-year-old Luigi Maraldi, and one Austrian, 30-year-old Christian Kozel, were not on board after all, as against the full list of passengers on board released by Malaysia Airlines. Mr Maraldi was in Thailand and said his passport had been stolen several months ago. So, who had used Mr Maraldi and Kozel’s stolen passports (some said there’re actually more?) on flight MH370?
Historically, MAS (Malaysia Airlines) has an excellent track record. The plane was piloted by Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, a Malaysian aged 53, who had recorded a total of 18,365 flying hours since joining Malaysia Airlines in 1981. First officer Fariq Ab Hamid, a Malaysian aged 27, has a total of 2,763 flying hours under his belt. So, it can’t be pilot errors as Malaysian pilots are well-trained and of world-class.
Coincidently, the flight MH370 which went missing is believed to be the same that crashed into the tail of another plane at Pudong International Airport in Shanghai in August 2012. While taxiing at Shanghai’s Pudong airport, its wingtip hit the tail of another aircraft. The damage was said to be “substantial”. Nevertheless Boeing was engaged to repair the damage and the plane was given the clearance to fly again. The last time Malaysia Airlines suffered fatal crashes was in 1977 and 1995.
Planes do not simply disappear without a trace, unless it enters Bermuda Triangle, so how could such a jumbo jet vanishes? Considering there were no reports of bad weather and Boeing 777-200ER being one of the safest plane around, speculations are flying that the flight MH370 could ended by a “catastrophic failure”. It means something could have happen so quickly that there was no opportunity to trigger a “Mayday”. Was it an act of terrorism?
John Goglia, a former board member of the National Transportation Safety Board, the US agency that investigates plane crashes, said the lack of a distress call suggested that the plane either experienced an explosive decompression or was destroyed by an explosive device. This possibility cannot be denied since there were at least two passengers on board with stolen passports. The following question would be about “security breach” that Malaysian Immigration fails to detect.
But who would blow up Malaysian commercial airplanes, considering Malaysian Government was “super friendly” towards everybody (*grin*)? The closest link was the Iranian’s boycott over Malaysian goods, thanks to UMNO’s religion political game in its anti-Shia campaign. However, is this sufficient to justify such a terrorism act? If not, that would leave western passengers as the ultimate reason, if indeed this incident is related to terrorism.
The second possibility would be related to possible defects on Boeing itself. In 2009, an Air France 447 plane crash over the Atlantic Ocean, which killed 216 passengers and 12 aircrew. That particular aircraft crashed when pilots lost control after ice crystals affected sensors used to measure the plane’s speed. Could similar or more critical and deadly defects happened on flight MH370? If this was the reason, which may take years to prove if you’re lucky, then Boeing’s reputation will be affected.
The third reason could be related to Malaysia Airlines itself. The airline’s losses ballooned to RM1.2 billion last year, three times more than in 2012 and after a record RM2.5 billion loss in 2011. Was there an unusual and large-scale mechanical failure due to undercut in maintenance of the plane? Well, if the airline could serve “naked” Nasi Lemak just to cut cost, it could sacrifice some maintenance services in order to rescue its bottom line. So, could this deliver the fatal blows to the 11-year-old aircraft?
Whatever the reasons, Malaysia authorities have to come clean and transparent in disclosing whatever findings that are related to this terrible crisis. Unlike domestic issue such as the recent invasion into Sabah; Malaysia Transport Ministry, Home Ministry and even Defence Ministry should realize there’s no room for them to insult peoples’ intelligence with cover-up or half-baked stories simply because this crisis involves international citizens.
Criticisms are already pouring in about how Malaysian authorities were dragging their feet in releasing information about flight MH370’s disappearance. It’s surely an international joke that most of the latest update came from international news provider instead of Malaysian authorities themselves. At one point it seems Malaysia government-controlled media is depending on foreign news to provide the latest feed, instead of the other way round.
Unlike domestic crisis whereby local journalists would normally ask simple and no-brainer questions, foreign journalists would be grilling Malaysian authorities from all angles. As time passes, the standard “we are still investigating” excuse, currently being used non-stop by Malaysian authorities would come to its expiration. It would be a suicidal mission to lie only to flip-flop at a later stage in such an international crisis. This is the best time to evaluate the capability of Malaysian Crisis Management.
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