11:11AM Mar 12, 2014
Malaysian authorities have come under fire from aviation experts for fuelling what is believed to be misleading speculations about flight MH370, The Guardian reported.
“What is so mysterious here is the complete absence of any information, which to me tends to support a complete catastrophic failure at altitude. If the aircraft had come under control, it would have been picked up by some radar, or some radio communication.
“The complete absence of any information suggests there was a big failure and it was very sudden,” said Steve Marks, a lawyer at the US firm Podhurst Orseck, which represented relatives of victims of a SilkAir crash in Asia in 1997 and the Air France crash in 2009 (right).
Marks said he was suspicious of information being released by Malaysia.
“In my opinion terrorism and pilot suicide are very remote and farfetched. It can’t be ruled out 100 percent, but it certainly shouldn’t be the focus.
“That kind of speculation without proof is very damaging and hurtful to the families,” he said, adding that the most likely explanation for the plane’s disappearance was a sudden technical failure.
“It is not uncommon in plane crashes over water to have a very extended search.”
A Malaysian military source told Reuters that the Beijing-bound plane changed course and was detected over the Malacca Straits at a lower altitude, several hundred miles from where it lost contact with air traffic control. But this was later denied.
Commenting on the report, Marks said: “I want to know the basis for those claims. If they were visible observations they are not going to be reliable, especially at higher altitudes. For them to positively identify that the aircraft came over the Malacca Straits, the transponder would have to have been working.”
“If there was power to the transponder there would have been power to the radio. In that event why would the pilot not have communicated a problem? There are a lot of questions about that claim,” he told the British newspaper.
Authorities not sharing full info
The Guardian’s Flightglobal operations and safety editor David Learmount said Malaysian investigators should be more transparent.
“The Malaysia authorities are likely to have a lot more information than they are sharing with us,” he said.
“I think the Malaysian military knows a lot more about the position of the aircraft than has come out. But the military don’t appear to be in charge of the search.
“The problem is that the various government agencies are not communicating effectively,” Learmount said.
“If they have military tracking information, why are they still looking both sides of the peninsula?”
“It’s impossible to deduce what happened. If a pilot changes the course of an aircraft he usually tells air traffic control straightaway,” Learmount added.
Sharing his views on his blog, Learmount said there were many information sources that do not appear to have been effectively used in this case.
“As a result the families of the missing passengers and crew are being kept in the dark, and the search areas now extended to both sides of the peninsula have become so wide that it is clear that tracking information on the aircraft has not been used effectively.
“There is an all-pervasive sense of a chaotic lack of coordination between the Malaysian agencies which has hindered the establishment of an effective search strategy,” he added.
‘Handling it like a domestic issue’
Meanwhile, a Bloomberg report took the Malaysian government to task over the matter.
“They’re handling a huge global issue as if it was domestic politics,” Clive Kessler, Emeritus Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of New South Wales told Bloomberg.
“With the cause of the disappearance still unknown you can understand the need for discretion and caution, but it’s being perceived in Malaysia and elsewhere in the region as a bid to hide the truth,” he added.
Kessler said Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s administration is sending the message that people should let the “government tell them what they need to know, when they need to know it, and not before.”
“That’s the way they’ve acted for generations and they are starting to find out it doesn’t work anymore,” he added.