What did the Subang air traffic control do when it found out that flight MH370 did not check in with Vietnamese air traffic controllers in the early morning of March 8?
Apart from getting a pilot to contact the missing aircraft, nothing much is known about what else the air traffic control (ATC) did that a deputy minister presumed that military radar operators ignored the plane because a turn back was ordered.
Deputy Defence Minister Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri has now said his presumption was “not accurate” but questions remain whether the ATC did anything about the lost aircraft.
“It is not clear what the ATC did. We know MAS knew the plane was missing but did the military know?
“In fact, did other ATCs in the region know that MH370 was missing? They could have tracked it if they received early information,” an aviation industry official told The Malaysian Insider.
It is understood that Malaysian investigators have found it difficult to get radar data from neighbouring countries as regional military officials are reluctant to reveal their capabilities.
“It can’t be that all of the radar operators were sleeping on the job at that time,” the aviation industry official said.
Australian news site news.com.au quoted a Straits Times report this week that Malaysian authorities had infuriated passengers’ loved ones by telling them at a briefing this week that there was “sealed evidence that cannot be made public” in relation to the missing flight.
“The sealed evidence included air traffic control radio transcript, radar data and airport security recordings,” the paper reported.
The remarks by Malaysian authorities – made at the Metropark Lido Hotel in Beijing – have not been reported by other major newspapers, despite being widely shared on social media, news.com.au said.
DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang has asked for a probe into matters that could shed more light into the plane that disappeared with 239 people on board while en route to Beijing three weeks ago.
The Gelang Patah MP said there were many questions surrounding the plane’s disappearance which had nothing to do with the black box.
The fact that the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) had not intercepted MH370 when it was detected on military radar flying in Malaysian airspace on March 8 due to the “assumption” that the flight had been ordered to turn back by the civil aviation control tower, was one such question, Lim said.
Rahim had told Parliament two days ago that the RMAF had detected the plane but as it was a non-hostile aircraft, they had assumed that it was under instructions from the control tower located in Subang.
Rahim retracted his statement yesterday, saying his statement in Parliament was “just an assumption and that it might be not accurate”.
“Wasn’t the failure to cross-check with the civil aviation authorities a gross dereliction of duty, especially as national security was involved?” asked Lim in a statement yesterday. – March 28, 2014.