Embattled Malaysia Airlines is expected to elicit more negative feedback from the relatives of the 239 people aboard the missing Boeing 777 jet with two new developments on Thursday.
First is the announcement that it would close the Family Assistance Centres in different parts of the world by May 7 and open two similar units in Beijing and Kuala Lumpur.
Second is the release of the preliminary report on the ill-fated Flight 370. Details of the report made by Malaysia's Transportation Ministry said that it took four hours before an official rescue operation was launched, reported CNN.
The plane had actually gone off radar, beginning at 1:21 am of March 8, for 17 minutes before Malaysian aviation officials noticed. Regulations require that the plane crew must contact air traffic control in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, but it appears not to have made that move.
After four long hours, Malaysia finally contacted Singapore, Hong Kong and Cambodia. The report didn't explain why there was a four-hour gap and what happened during those hours.
CNN aviation correspondent Richard Quest found the preliminary report, a copy of which was furnished the International Civil Aviation Organisation, lacking in details in comparison to previous preliminary reports of similar disasters. He cited the Air France 447 report which was 128 pages, issued by the French aviation safety agency just one month after the aircraft disappeared.
The report had one safety recommendation, which CNN actually wrote about last week. That is the need to have real-time tracking of commercial planes. The report pointed out "There have now been two occasions during the last five years when large commercial air transport aircraft have gone missing and their last position was not accurately known ... This uncertainty resulted in significant difficulty in locating the aircraft in a timely manner."