Malaysia Airlines MH370 Report Details Missteps

Aftermath marked by confusion, procedural errors.

Exactly one year after Malaysia Airlines MH370 disappeared with 239 people aboard, sparking worldwide speculation about what happened to the Boeing 777, Malaysian investigators have released their first comprehensive report on the flight.

The 585-page report provides little new insight into the circumstances behind the disappearance but offers extensive details depicting the mass confusion and numerous missteps by government agencies made in the immediate aftermath of the event.

For example, ATC transcripts indicate that Vietnamese air traffic controllers waited 20 minutes to alert Kuala Lumpur ATC that MH370 had not made contact with them, as opposed to letting them know within just a few minutes as required by international protocol. Another delay of an hour and a half ensued after Malaysia Airlines incorrectly told ATC they were tracking the Boeing 777 over Cambodia, when in actuality they were observing the forecast flight route. Ultimately search and rescue personnel were not launched until several hours after officials first lost contact with the airplane.

Additionally, the report says maintenance records show that the 777’s flight data recorder underwater locator beacon battery had expired in December 2012. Interviews with staff revealed the battery was not replaced as required due to an incorrect computer update, a mistake not brought to light until after the disappearance of MH370. The battery for the cockpit voice recorder ULB, however, had been replaced as required and was not expired.

Investigators are slated to finish their search of a 23-square-mile area of the Southern Indian Ocean in May. Some officials, including Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, have hinted that the search may be scaled back at that point.

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