Flight plans led MAS pilot to clarify with traffic control

PETALING JAYA: Questions raised by a Malaysia Airlines (MAS) pilot over his Auckland-Kuala Lumpur flight path arose after different flight plans were issued.

MAS said in a statement yesterday that the pilot of MH132 was given the latest flight plan by the airline's Operations Dispatch Centre while Auckland's Air Traffic Control was given an earlier flight plan.

"The two routes were following an approved flight path and the aircraft had enough fuel for both," it said.

The airline, which said it was investigating the matter, explained that flight plans were generated based on conditions at the time, covering issues such as weather, air traffic notices and route efficiency.

The New Zealand Herald yesterday reported about the pilot questioning the flight path and that investigations were underway to find out how the confusion had arisen.

The pilot had reportedly raised concerns eight minutes after take-off when his Airbus A330 was instructed to fly further south than usual.

The plane, which left at 2.23am on Christmas Day (9.23pm Malaysi­an time, Christmas Eve), was heading towards Melbourne, the paper said.

It added that the pilot, during discussions with air traffic controllers at the Auckland Oceanic centre, was informed of the flight plan his airline had given to Airways, which manages air traffic control for New Zealand and South Pacific.

The pilot then continued across the Tasman Sea before heading north-west to Kuala Lumpur.

An Airways spokesman confirmed it was investigating the incident.

"The flight plan the airline filed with us was going to Kuala Lumpur but via a slightly different route than the pilot was expecting," the spokesman said.

New Zealand aviation commentator Peter Clark praised the pilot for noticing the difference in routes and seeking clarification over it.

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