A Vietnamese pilot talks to reporters after a search for the missing MH370. PHOTO COURTESY OF LAO DONG
Vietnamese aviation officials have asked their Malaysian counterparts for a report on the disappearance of flight MH-370 two months ago, following media reports alleging that Vietnamese air traffic controllers dropped the ball on tracking the plane.
Pham Viet Dung, a spokesperson for the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) told Tuoi Tre that his agency sent the request to its Malaysian counterpart on Monday (May 5).
CAAV also asked Malaysia’s Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) if it stands behind allegations that Vietnamese air traffic controllers were slow to notify them of the flight's disappearance.
On May 2, the Malay Mail Online quoted DCA as saying that Vietnamese air traffic controllers breached protocol by enquiring about the missing Flight MH370 a whole 17 minutes after the plane vanished from radar.
DCA Director-General Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said that at 1:19 am on March 8, Kuala Lumpur air traffic control ordered the Beijing-bound MH370 to change frequency to their Ho Chi Minh City counterparts, but HCMC only enquired about the jet at 1:38 am after the flight failed to make contact.
He said international protocol dictates that controllers should only wait a maximum of five minutes for planes to make contact, and that the MH370 had passed the Igari navigational waypoint in the East Sea, making the plane the responsibility of Vietnamese air traffic controllers.
CAAV said the Ho Chi Minh City Area Control Center (ACC) had properly informed Kuala Lumpur ACC of all information regarding flight MH370.
CAAV director Lai Xuan Thanh told Dat Viet online newspaper that MH370 wasn't detected before reaching the Igari point and the crew never contacted Vietnamese agencies.
“Thus, the transfer [of responsibility] was never completed. Vietnam had yet to supervise and control this aircraft,” he said.
He said Ho Chi Minh City ACC was unable to communicate with MH370 after attempting to use emergency frequencies and asking for assistance from other planes.
“According to the International Civil Aviation Organization, if the plane went missing in a border area between control centers, the country that made last contact is responsible, which was Malaysia in this case,” he said.
“All relevant information about our failure to establish communication with MH370 was sent to Kuala Lumpur ACC the moment its whereabouts became unknown.”
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