Probe after Malaysia Airlines flight from New Zealand to KL deviates from normal route

A silhouetted man looks out at aircraft operated by Malaysian Airlines standing on the tarmac at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
A silhouetted man looks out at aircraft operated by Malaysian Airlines standing on the tarmac at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Investigations will be carried out after a Malaysia Airlines (MAS) pilot questioned why the flight path from Auckland to Kuala Lumpur differed slightly on Christmas Day, according to a report.

The New Zealand Herald said the pilot on flight MH132 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 (7.23am Malaysian time) was heading towards Melbourne rather than a more direct flight path to Kuala Lumpur, it said.

The Auckland Oceanic control centre informed him that the flight plan had been given to Airways, which managed air traffic control for New Zealand and the South Pacific.

The report said the plane continued continued across the Tasman Sea before heading north-west to Kuala Lumpur. There was no apparent safety concerns with the flight path.

Airways confirmed it was investigating the incident. A spokesman was quoted saying an internal safety team would be looking into the matter.

"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.

Airways said it will work with MAS to find out how the confusion came about.

The report said New Zealand aviation commentator Peter Clark praised the pilot for his actions.

"The pilot has done a very good job by noticing it, querying it and not just blindly flying off and ending up in the Southern Ocean," he told the daily.

Flights on the route often travel around the bottom of Australia to avoid bad weather or headwinds, Mr Clark said.