MH370 chief investigator resigns following criticism of plane search
Image credit: reuters
The head of Malaysia’s civil aviation authority has resigned after criticism about the way in which the investigation into the disappearance of Flight MH370 was handled.
Azharuddin Abdul Rahman says he is quitting after an investigation report highlighted shortcomings in the air traffic control centre during the flight’s disappearance four years ago.
The report raised the possibility the jet may have been hijacked even though there was no conclusive evidence of why the plane went off course and flew for over seven hours after severing communications.
MH370 disappeared in mysterious circumstances on 8 March 2014, after communications from the plane were cut during what was supposed to be a routine flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
In 2016 the Australian crash investigator overseeing the then ongoing search for the missing aircraft said in an interview that he believed the plane plunged into the sea at almost 400km/h.
The dramatic descent suggested that no one was in control of the aircraft at the time of the crash.
Rahman said the report did not blame the civil aviation department for the plane’s loss but it found the air traffic control centre failed to comply with operating procedures.
“Therefore, it is with regret and after much thought and contemplation that I have decided to resign as chairman of Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia,” he said in his statement, adding he has served his resignation and will step down in two weeks.
The investigative report, prepared by a 19-member international team, said the cause of the disappearance cannot be determined until the wreckage and the plane’s black boxes are found.
However, the report said the investigation showed lapses by air traffic control, including a failure to swiftly initiate an emergency response and monitor radar continuously, relying too much on information from Malaysia Airlines and not getting in touch with the military for help.
New Malaysian transport minister Anthony Loke said the government has formed a committee to investigate and take action against any misconduct based on the report findings.
The report said there was insufficient information to determine if the aircraft broke up in the air or during impact with the ocean.
Scattered pieces of debris that washed ashore on African beaches and Indian Ocean islands indicated a distant remote stretch of the ocean where the plane is likely to have crashed.
But a government search by Australia, Malaysia and China failed to pinpoint a location.
And a second, private search by US company Ocean Infinity that finished at the end of May also found no sign of a possible crash site.
Malaysia’s government has said it will the resume search if credible evidence on the plane’s location emerges.
The search for the missing plane involved surveys of 120,000 sq km of the ocean floor, producing three-dimensional models of undersea landforms, and data regarding ocean depths and drifts.
While unsuccessful in its goal, the data was released online by Geoscience Australia last year to be exploited by fishermen, oceanographers and other researchers.