KUALA LUMPUR, March 19 — The pilots of the missing Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight MH370 should be able to land the large Boeing 777-200 ER on shorter runways if they have the skills required, an aviation expert said.
Mustapha Kamal Abdul Rahman, who was a former Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) traffic controller, said that pilots would always try to land safely during emergencies, noting that the runway for a Boeing 777-200ER jumbo jet has to be at least 11,000 feet or 3.35 kilometres long.
“All the aircrafts would have the required landing procedure to prevent any accidents.
“Therefore, the long and large MH370 aircraft needs to land at a runway that is over 11,000 feet long,” he was quoted as saying by local daily Sinar Harian today when commenting on the plane's ability to land on short runways during emergencies.
Mustapha also agreed that skilful pilots could land the MH370 plane on disused runways on a few islands, but noted that there was a risk of minor accidents such as the plane skidding off the runway or imbalance due to a sudden halt.
But Dr Mohd Tarmizi Ahmad, an aviation expert from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), spoke about the high risks of a plane crashing when trying to land on short runways.
“Because the plane needs power and time to make a landing based on the aircraft's capacity.
“If the momentum is not stable, the possibilities of a plane having an accident even when on the runway is very high,” he was quoted saying by Sinar Harian.
Yesterday, Malay-language daily Berita Harian reported that investigators have discovered the runways of five airports near the Indian Ocean loaded into Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah’s home-made flight simulator.
An unnamed source told Berita Harian that while it was too early to make any conclusions on the new finding, it was still considered an important element in the probe on the whereabouts of the plane and its 239 people.
The runways were said to be based on those of the Male International Airport in Maldives, the Diego Garcia base owned by the US, and three other runways in India and Sri Lanka, which are all at least 1km long.
The police had seized the flight simulator from the 53-year-old pilot’s house in Shah Alam on Saturday and reassembled it at the police headquarters where experts are conducting checks.
The authorities are also conducting background checks on all passengers and crew members of the MH370 flight which carried 239 people and has been missing since March 8.
The search by 26 countries is focused on two areas - the northern corridor which will largely be a land search crossing several countries stretching from Thailand to Kazakhstan, while the southern corridor covers an arc that extends from the southern tip of Sumatra towards the Indian Ocean.