KUALA LUMPUR, May 2 – The Malaysian Air Accident Investigation Bureau has recommended that the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) examine the safety benefits of introducing a standard for real time tracking of commercial air transport aircraft. This was recommended in the preliminary report by the Transport Ministry’s Chief Inspector of Air Accidents based on suggestions made by the internal team of experts set up to review all information possessed by the Malaysian government on the missing of Malaysia Airlines (MAS) Flight MH370. The team, appointed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak last week, includes representatives from the United States’ National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), United Kingdom’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), Aviation Accident Incident Database (AAIB), Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) as well as Malaysian officials.

According to the report released here today, the recommendation was made as currently there was no requirement for real time tracking of commercial air transport aircraft which spend considerable amounts of time operating over remote areas. “There have now been two occasions during the last five years when large commercial air transport aircraft have gone missing and their last position was not accurately known. This uncertainty resulted in significant difficulty in locating the aircraft in a timely manner,” the report said.

On the search and rescue (SAR) operations, the report revealed that the Kuala Lumpur Rescue Coordination Centre was activated at 5:30am (Malaysian time)on March 8, after all efforts to communicate and locate the aircraft failed. According to the report, Ho Chi Minh air traffic control had made a query to Kuala Lumpur air traffic control centre (KLATCC) on the whereabouts of MH370 at 1:38am. KLATCC then initiated efforts involving MAS Operations Centre, Singapore Air Combat Command (ACC), Hong Kong ACC and Phnom Penh ACC to establish the location of MH370.

“No contact had been established by any ATC units and thus the Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC) was activated at 05:30,” it explained. The multinational SAR operations were conducted in the South China Sea where the aircraft’s position was last known and then extended to the Straits of Malacca, after Malaysian military primary radar revealed a possibility of MH 370 making an air-turn back. The report also disclosed that after the plane’s Aircraft Communication and Reporting System (ACARS) stopped transmitting, the satellite communication system automatically transmitted seven messages that confirmed the system was still logged onto the network.

“The last message was received by the satellite ground station at 8:19am (Malaysian time),” it said, adding that it occurred on an arc of 40 degrees from the satellite. Based on the primary radar data, analysis of the satellite data and aircraft performance data, the investigation established that flight MH370 flew along either a Northern or Southern Corridor which later shifted the search area to the two corridors.

Further analysis of Inmarsat satellite data on March 24, using the changes in the satellites communication signal frequency (signal using the Doppler Effect), indicated that MH370 flew the southern corridor and ended its flight in the southern part of the Indian Ocean. Flight MH370, with 239 people aboard, left the KL International Airport at 12.41am on March 8 and disappeared from radar screens about an hour later while over the South China Sea. It was to have arrived in Beijing at 6.30 am on the same day.

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