A full report of the investigation into the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 will be released on July 30, Malaysia’s transport minister Anthony Loke Siew Fook announced today (Friday).
The next-of-kin of those on board MH370 will be briefed at a closed-door meeting at the transport ministry in the morning, then a press conference will be held later in the day.
The report will be presented by the head of the Malaysian International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Annex 13 Safety Investigation Team for MH370, Kok Soo Chon.
Loke (pictured left) says the report will be presented in full, with no edits, additions, or deletions. Nothing in the report will be held back, he says.
The report is then due to be tabled in parliament on July 31.
It will be available online, with hard copies printed for the families, the media, and foreign embassies.
MH370 disappeared on March 8, 2014, with 239 people on board when en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
Not a trace of the plane was found during the lengthy searches in the southern Indian Ocean – initially by an Australian-led team. The only debris discovered that is believed to have come from MH370 has been found off the coast of Africa.
The Australia-led search went on for 1,046 days and was suspended on January 17 last year. An area spanning more than 120,000 square kilometres was scoured.
The American seabed exploration company Ocean Infinity then searched, and collected data from, an area spanning about 120,000 square kilometres, which was far in excess of the initial 25,000-square-kilometre target.
Ocean Infinity’s “no cure, no fee” contract with the Malaysian government ended on May 29, but the company continued to search until June 8.
Next-of-kin of those on board MH370 have been very critical of the interim reports released on the first, second, third, and fourth anniversaries of the plane’s disappearance.
They are also unhappy about a final report being issued at this stage, when the aircraft hasn’t been found and it is not known what happened to it.
While Loke didn’t use the words “final report” today, the Annex 13 Safety Investigation Team that has drawn it up must formally refer to their report releases as preliminary (released after one month), interim (released annually), and final.
The Chinese next-of-kin said the fourth interim report, released on March 8 this year, was “perfunctory”.
The report is just three pages long. It gives details about debris discoveries and refers briefly to search operations.
It stated that aircraft debris possibly from MH370 was still being discovered around the southeastern coast of the African continent and the adjacent islands.
“At the time of writing, as reported in the interim statement released in 2017, three items of debris remain as being confirmed from MH370, i.e. the right flaperon, a part of the right outboard flap and a section of the left outboard flap,” the report states.
“A few other pieces of debris were determined to be almost certain from MH370 including some cabin interior items. There is continuing activity to retrieve and examine any new debris that is discovered.”
The first interim report about MH370 is 584 pages long. It revealed that the battery on the beacon of MH370’s flight data recorder expired more than a year before the plane disappeared.
There is no evidence, the report says, to suggest that the beacon battery was replaced before the expiry date.
The document contains extremely detailed technical information, but gives no clue as to what might have happened to the plane.
The second interim statement is just three pages long, and revealed no new conclusions.
The third interim statement presented no fresh evidence or conclusions, but pointed to tests done on wing parts found on Reunion island and in Tanzania that the Malaysian government says have been confirmed to have come from MH370.
The third statement refers to the examination of the flaperon found on Reunion island and the right outboard flap found on Pemba and says this has led to the conclusion that the flaps were “most likely” in the retracted position.
Experts say that this means that there would not have been a controlled ditching of MH370.
American amateur investigator Blaine Alan Gibson, who has found numerous pieces of plane debris, has been urging the Malaysian authorities not to release a “final” report at this time.
A report, he says, cannot be final until the plane is found and the truth is known.
Gibson says there needs to be a full report about personal effects that were found on Riake and Antsiraka beaches in Madagascar.
“Many pieces of debris that have been confirmed to be ‘almost certainly’ or ‘highly likely’ to be from MH370 were discovered on those beaches,” Gibson said.
“We need to see the report on the investigation into these personal effects by the Royal Malaysian Police.
“Also, the investigators must collect the two remaining pieces of debris discovered in Madagascar, whose collection was prevented by the tragic assassination of the Malaysian consul there almost a year ago.”
Gibson also says the Malaysian government should make public the raw military radar data from the night of MH370’s disappearance so that independent experts can analyse it.
He says he hopes that the Malaysian government and Ocean Infinity will decide to resume the underwater search in the southern Indian Ocean when the weather in the area permits, possibly in November.
The sister of MH370 captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, Dah Ahmadshah, has been urging Anthony Loke to look at details that she says have been ignored in the official investigation into the disappearance of MH370.
Dah says Loke needs to consider the statements by Katherine Tee, a British woman who was sailing from India to Thailand with her husband when she saw what appeared to be a large aircraft on fire on the morning that MH370 disappeared; locals in the Maldives who say they saw a low-flying jet that fit the description of MH370 on the same day; data provided by the independent investigator Sergio Cavaiuolo; and raw data from air traffic control and MH370 – “the unedited version, not photocopies”.
The MH370 safety investigation team comprises accredited representatives from air accident and incident investigation organisations in Malaysia, Australia, China, France, Indonesia, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
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