Flight MH370: Missing aircraft was carrying mystery cargo

22 May 2014
by William Dennis
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A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER

A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER

As the search for the missing MH370 Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER enters its third month, questions have surfaced over what ‘consolidated cargo’ the aircraft carried. The matter of a consignment of lithium-ion batteries that was raised earlier in the investigation is the focus of controversy again.

Penang-based NNR Global Logistics (Malaysia), the company that handled the shipment, told E&T in a telephone interview that the batteries comprised only a small portion of the consolidated cargo, which weighed 2,453kg.

A senior official of the company who spoke on condition of anonymity said the weight of the batteries was less than 200kg. However, he declined to elaborate on what the remaining 2,253kg of cargo was composed of, saying that he was not authorised to do so because of the ongoing investigations into the missing aircraft. The company has been told by its solicitors not to disclose details of the cargo.

What is even more surprising is that the company that produced the batteries is also not named. Neither NNR nor Malaysia Airlines (MAS) were willing to identify the manufacturer, saying that it was highly confidential. At a media conference on 24 March in Sepang, MAS CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said MH370 was carrying 200kg of batteries.

In a statement issued to E&T on 2 May, the airline said two tonnes, equivalent to 2,453kg, of cargo was declared as consolidated under one master airway bill with lithium-ion batteries weighing 221kg and the remaining weight declared as radio accessories and charges. The latter was not documented in the cargo manifest, neither was it stated at any time by the carrier after the aircraft vanished on 8 March on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

According to the cargo manifest released by MAS, NNR shipped 133 pieces of one item weighing 1.99 tonnes and 67 pieces of another item weighing 463kg for a total weight of 2,453kg. The number of batteries and their weight were not stated.

There were also strict instructions on the manifest that the batteries should be handled with care and that there was a flammability hazard. The issue of flammability for the plane’s loss, however, was earlier dismissed by the Department of Civil Aviation, MAS and the Ministry of Transport.
The recipient of the batteries as stated in the manifest was NNR Global Logistics (Beijing) Co Ltd. The package was to be collected by JHJ International Transportation (Beijing) Co Ltd.

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