Malaysia submits first report on MH370, will keep it ‘secret’
Malaysia has sent its preliminary report on the disappearance of Flight 370, but hasn’t released it publicly.
And that is raising eyebrows.
“It just adds fuel to the fire — which is like a furnace now — of disbelief, particularly in China, as to what is going on,” said Geoffrey Thomas, managing director of AirlineRatings.com.
Malaysia has insisted it has nothing to hide.
“If they say there’s nothing to hide, then release this preliminary report, as virtually every other jurisdiction does with an accident,” Thomas told CNN’s Don Lemon.
The report was sent to the International Civil Aviation Organization, the U.N. body for global aviation.
“In most cases, the report is published because it’s not a controversial document,” CNN aviation correspondent Richard Quest said. “It’s a statement of facts — what happened. And if there are any controversial or difficult facts, they can be redacted.”
Malaysian officials said they have not yet decided if or when they will make the report public.
But the ICAO, the aviation organization, told CNN about a safety recommendation in the report: Malaysia said the aviation world needs to look at real-time tracking of commercial aircraft.
It’s the same recommendation that was made after the Air France Flight 447 disaster in 2009. But “nothing seems to have happened,” Quest said.
“To suggest in the future that all planes worldwide are tracked in real time, one might suggest, is a pretty noncontroversial suggestion.”
As an underwater drone keeps going up and back down, so do hopes that evidence from the plane has surfaced.
The metal object that washed ashore in Australia and sparked the curiosity of investigators Wednesday turned out to be unrelated.
And while the Bluefin-21 plunged into the Indian Ocean for its 12th mission Thursday, no one was certain the drone would find anything new.
“I think the chances are one out of 10,” said Jules Jaffe, research oceanographer for the Marine Physical Laboratory.
The underwater probe has already scanned 90% of the designated search area, with no significant results.
Thursday marks day 48 of the search for the plane, which disappeared March 8 with 239 people on board.
Malaysian and Australian authorities are already mapping out a long-term strategy for the search, which could go on for months or years.
An expanded search area might include the last 370 miles of the plane’s flight path, ocean search specialist Rob McCallum said.
“If the idea is to go more strategic and investigate the entire aircraft flight path, maybe 15 miles or so either side, then you need a more strategic tool, and something like a deep-towed sonar that can provide a very large range indeed — at the expense of resolution.”
The use of a deep-towed submersible device called the Orion is overdue, Thomas said.
“That should be brought in as quickly as possible, again, from the United States.”
He said it may be time to go back and revisit the calculations of where the plane may be — although officials have already been doing that.
“This is not an exact science,” Thomas said. “We have to understand that.”
Why so private?
Malaysia has not been known as a model of transparency. The same political party has ruled the country for past 50 years, and the press is not completely free.
For its part, the Malaysian Cabinet has agreed to have an international team investigate the disappearance of Flight 370, the country’s acting transportation minister said.
Hishammuddin Hussein said the names of the members will be announced next week. He also said the team will not be looking into the criminal aspects of the investigation, which remain under the Royal Malaysian Police.
“The main purpose is to evaluate and determine the cause of the accident,” Hishammuddin said.
But for the families of the passengers, the details of what Malaysia said in its first report remain unknown.