System malfunction forced Sabah-bound Malaysia Airlines flight to return to Kuala Lumpur

A file photo of Malaysia Airlines' logo (left). A Malaysia Airlines flight allegedly flew erratically on April 3, 2022. PHOTOS: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK, TRAVEL JIMAT/TWITTER

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Tawau-bound Malaysia Airlines Flight MH2664 was forced to return to Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) due to a technical issue, said the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM).

"Based on initial reports extracted from the flight data recorder (FDR), it was determined that a technical issue occurred during flight due to a malfunction of the pitot-static system," said CAAM chief executive Captain Chester Voo.

The pitot static system is a set of air pressure-sensitive instruments used to determine an aircraft's airspeed and altitude.

"The malfunction produced a false speed indication on board, resulting in the aircraft pitching up and deactivating its autopilot. In response to this, the immediate reaction of the pilot in command to regain positive control of the aircraft was correct," said Captain Voo.

"This is crucial to ensure that the aircraft remains under pilot control, based on remaining accurate indications by using remaining instruments. During this manoeuvre, safety data showed an abrupt input from the pilot during attempts to regain control," he added.

Captain Voo then said these manoeuvres resulted in the pitch and altitude changes that matched both the report from the pilots and what the passengers experienced on board.

"These corrective manoeuvres were compounded by bad weather which created passenger discomfort in the cabin," he said in a statement on Saturday (April 9).

On the actions of the pilots, Captain Voo said the initial actions taken by the pilots and the performance of the abnormal recovery checklist as per standard operating procedure were sufficient.

He added that this was based on an investigation of the initial reports and an examination of data from the aircraft's flight data recorder.

Captain Voo also said that CAAM has instructed Malaysia Airlines to immediately implement its recommendations, which includes enhancing their Upset Prevention and Recovery Training programme to emphasise initial reaction and the time taken to respond to issues.

"This will be mandated by CAAM to all commercial aircraft operators," said Captain Voo.

He added that Malaysia Airlines has been instructed to issue an enhanced safety memo to mandate the need for improved initial action, reaction, and reinforcing compliance to the abnormal recovery checklist among other recommendations from the CAAM.

These recommendations include a review of an analysis of information from the aircraft's manufacturer Boeing of the failure and to troubleshoot root causes with enhanced corrective action to improve the maintenance programme.

Other recommendations are a Malaysia Airlines review with the CAAM of the reliability report to focus on similar faults reported for recorded in-flight issues for the Boeing 737-800 fleet, as well as a pitot-static inspection.

Captain Voo said this inspection will cover all areas, including a probe heating and resistance test on all Boeing 737-800 aircraft in the Malaysia Aviation Group fleet.

He added that the affected aircraft has been grounded until further notice and is currently awaiting technical analysis from Boeing.

In a statement last Wednesday, Malaysia Airlines said that Flight MH2664 from KLIA turned back due to "technical issues" with the aircraft and that the technical problems "were compounded by bad weather en route".

Malaysia Airlines added that the pilot turned back to KLIA as a precautionary measure in the interest of passenger safety, but did not offer more details at the time.

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