May 2, 2014 in Nation/World

Malaysia releases early report on jetliner

Eileen Ng Associated Press
 

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Air traffic controllers did not realize that Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 was missing until 17 minutes after it disappeared from civilian radar, according to the preliminary report on the plane’s disappearance released Thursday by Malaysia’s government.

In addition to the five-page report, dated April 9, the government also released other information from the investigation into the flight, including audio recordings of conversations between the cockpit and air traffic control, the plane’s cargo manifest and its seating plan.

Malaysia also released a map showing the plane’s deducted flight path as well as a document detailing actions taken by authorities in the hours after the Boeing 777 disappeared from radar. The reports were mostly information that has been released since the jet disappeared while flying near the border between Malaysian and Vietnamese airspace.

The plane went off Malaysian radar at 1:21 a.m. on March 8, but Vietnamese air traffic controllers only queried about it at 1:38 a.m., according to the report, which was sent last month to the International Civil Aviation Organization.

A separate report listing the actions taken by air traffic controllers showed Vietnamese controllers contacted Kuala Lumpur after they failed to establish verbal contact with the pilots and the plane didn’t show up on their radar.

That report also showed that Malaysia Airlines at one point thought the plane may have entered Cambodian airspace. The airline said in the report that “MH370 was able to exchange signals with the flight and flying in Cambodian airspace,” but that Cambodian authorities said they had no information or contact with Flight 370. It was unclear which flight it was referring to that exchanged signals with MH370.

Meanwhile, Malaysia Airlines on Thursday advised relatives of passengers who were aboard Flight 370 to move out of hotels and return home to wait for news.

Since the jet disappeared, the airline has been putting the relatives up in hotels, where they’ve been briefed on the search. But the airline said Thursday that it would close its family assistance centers by Wednesday.

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