Missing Malaysian Flight MH370: 'Most Botched Aircraft Investigation in History'

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By Athena Yenko | March 18, 2014 2:19 PM EST

On Monday, Prime Minister Tony Abbott confirmed accepting Malaysia's request for Australia to lead the search on the southern Indian Ocean.

"In light of developments in the investigation, he requested that Australia assumes responsibility in coordinating that part of the search efforts that is focusing on the southern Indian Ocean. I told Prime Minister (Datuk Seri) Najib (Razak) that Australia stands with Malaysia at this very difficult time and would be pleased  to take on this additional responsibility," Mr Abbott said during the press conference.

However, in the opinion of Geoffrey Thomas, editor of the Web site airlineratings.com, Australian officials should tell Malaysia point blank that Malaysia is not competent to conducts its own search investigations.

Mr Thomas was Australasian Aviation Journalist (AAJ) of the Year in 2001, 2002, 2009 and 2011, Aviation Editor for The West Australian newspaper and Airlines Editor for Australian Aviation.

Speaking with The World Today, Mr Thomas said that with Malaysia handling its own search of the missing MH370, it became "one of the most botched aircraft investigations in modern history."

"Unfortunately we have not been told by the Malaysians in a timely fashion about the shutting off of the ACARS, the shutting off of the transponder, the plane going to the west. Millions of dollars has been wasted, days have been wasted searching in the wrong area. I think this is without doubt one of the most botched aircraft investigations in modern history," Mr Thomas said.

Mr Thomas reiterated that Malaysian authorities learnt that the planes ACARS had been shut off since March 8, but it decided to conceal this detail. He said that if this information was confirmed by Malaysia promptly then those 10 or 15 countries helping the search would not have wasted time looking in the South China Sea and headed directly over the Indian Ocean, west of Malaysia.

"Critical time has been lost here and it's just inexcusable and it's dashed the hopes of the relatives and given them a torturous seven days of theory, then no theory, then counter-theory. All of that could have been dashed and we could have been looking in the right place. You'd have to say, without further clarification, the Malaysian air investigation, the Department of Civil Aviation in Malaysia is to blame. They're running the investigation. It's not Malaysian Airlines' fault. It's the fault of the authorities and the military in Malaysia as well," Mr Thomas explained.

Mr Thomas theorised that if indeed the missing Malaysian Airlines MH370 veered away above the Indian Ocean then the chances of finding it are "remote."

"This aeroplane may join a long list of planes that have disappeared over the last century with no trace whatsoever," Mr Thomas said.

Meanwhile, Defence Minister David Johnston expressed confidence with Australia's communications from Malaysian authorities.

"I am satisfied with them. I think they're as perplexed as we are and, you know, I've seen an absolute parade of experts on television stations pontificating and hypothesising about what has happened to this aircraft," he said.

And although scenes surrounding the missing MH370 were "most mysterious", Mr Johnston said that Defence is equipped to continue search for weeks.

"I think we are locked in to do what we can to assist the Malaysians as best we can for as long as it takes. That doesn't mean we will be there for the next 12 months but nevertheless we've got to really make a big effort in these next two or three weeks, certainly, to get to the bottom of what has happened here."

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