Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 had been missing for 17 minutes from the civilian radar before air traffic controllers took notice.
The time lapse effectively created a ripple effect. It took Malaysian authorities a whopping four hours to organise and dispatch a search and rescue team.
These were the glaring findings contained in the preliminary report released by the Malaysian government on Friday which tackled the circumstances leading to the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines MH370.
However, apart from these, not much of the report's contents were new as it was the same report already sent to the International Civil Aviation Organisation, the U.N. body for global aviation. It was dated April 9.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak had meant the report to be a confidential matter but rising demands from families of the passengers of the missing plane pressured him to eventually release it to the public.
- Confirmed the plane's disappearance from Malaysian radar at 1:21 am on March 8 with 227 passengers and 12 crew on board.
- Vietnamese air traffic controllers only queried about the missing plane at 1:38 am with their Malaysian colleagues.
Malaysian authorities immediately coordinated with control centres in Singapore, Hong Kong, Cambodia and an operations centre at Malaysia Airlines and began frantically searching for the plane. None could find any trace of it.
It was only at 5:30 am local time that a Rescue Coordination Centre in Kuala Lumpur was activated. Four hours had passed. The report did not state what happened in those four hours which could prove crucial to the plane's mysterious disappearance.
"I can certainly understand that the authorities had more pressing matters in finding the plane than writing a long report, when there will be plenty of other chances to do so," CNN aviation correspondent Richard Quest had said, "but this report is the barest possible they could get away with."
The report, very brief at only five pages, was emailed to media organisations. There was no way that media could further raise questions about it since it was not presented before a conference.
The report, though, noted one safety recommendation, and that was the need for real-time tracking.
Coinciding with the release of the report, Malaysia Airlines has advised families of passengers to move out of hotels and return to their respective homes as they wait for news on the search for the plane.
It noted that by May 7 it would be closing its family assistance centres around the world. Families should receive search updates from "the comfort of their own homes."