Saturday, May 17, 2014

Put MH370 back on the flight board – Lokman Mustafa

The atmosphere at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) belies the fact that the aviation industry has yet to answer several pertinent questions surrounding the disappearance of Malaysia Airline flight MH370 bound for Beijing.

Two months after the Boeing 777 jet piloted by Captain Zaharie Ahmad departed at 12.41am (Malaysia Time) on March 8, 2014, and fell off the radar upon reaching waypoint Igari, KLIA exudes a sense of normalcy, as though the commercial aviation industry has not been affected at all by the biggest mystery in the history of commercial flight.

That the airport was the last place where passengers gathered before boarding the ill-fated jetliner now seems to have escaped everyone’s attention.

Nevertheless, this was the meeting point for 12 Freescale Malaysia employees before heading to Tianjin on a month-long assignment.

This was where a group of 19 artists from the Republic of China bid farewell to organisers of an art exhibition which they had duly attended.

This was where IBM executive Philip Wood texted his partner to say that he was about to meet her soon.

This was the place where a newlywed couple were overcome with excitement before embarking on their long awaited honeymoon.

It was here that Mongolia bound engineer Paul Weeks wrote that he had already started missing his family.

And this was also the location where 227 passengers – from China, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, France, Canada, Australia, etc – plus 12 crew members were last seen before their supposedly routine flight to the Chinese capital city.

Two months on, KLIA seems to have lost sight of the fact that MH370 took off from its runway.

Beijing Capital International Airport waited in anticipation but never got to see it touch down.

The flight board at Beijing Capital International Airport read: “MH370, Scheduled Time of Arrival: 6.30am” and was written in red. It was removed when military vessels from various countries began scouring the South China Sea, Straits of Malacca as well as the Indian Ocean in search of the missing aircraft.

As the extensive search and rescue operation taking place in the southern Indian Ocean seems unable to bear any signs of success, details of flight MH370 should once again be put on the flight board in both KLIA dan Beijing Capital International Airport.

Why? Because the aviation industry owes it to the families of the passengers and crew members, and air travellers from around the globe.

As a symbolic gesture of corporate responsibility, Malaysia Airport Holdings Berhad (MAHB) must reinstate details of MH370 including its Scheduled Time of Arrival, Estimated Time of Arrival and Remarks (MISSING) on its flight board at the departure hall. At the same time, Beijing Capital International Airport must also put up the details at its arrival hall.

Such a reminder should continue to be on display until Malaysian Three Seven Zero is found, be it in the ocean or on land.

This way, guests to these airports will continue to be reminded that the disappearance of flight MH370 and everyone on board will be of utmost concern to the relevant parties as long as there is no proper closure in sight.

Perhaps it is true that the MH370 saga has slowly dropped off the media glare and no longer draws attention from the general public, but for KLIA, Beijing Capital International Airport, MAS, Department of Civil Aviation, governments of Malaysia and The Republic of China, Boeing, Rolls Royce, Inmarsat as well as families of passengers and crew members, such a gesture will drive home the message that we are still awaiting their return. – May 17, 2014.

* Lokman Mustafa reads The Malaysian Insider.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.

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