BALPA calls for tech investments after pilots' role in MH370 disappearance "put to bed"

LONDON -- The British Airline Pilots' Association is calling for more investment into new cabin technologies following the release of a report on Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

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LONDON -- The British Airline Pilots' Association is calling for more investment into new cabin technologies following the release of a report on Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

Speculation over the pilots' role in the disappearance of MH370 whilst en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing has run rampant since the Boeing 777 plunged into the Indian Ocean in March 2014, killing 239 passengers and crew.

And though the report does little to pinpoint the exact cause of the crash, the 495-page report released yesterday by the Malaysian International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) at least offers some vindication for the pilots.

"We have examined the pilot and the flight officer," said chief investigator Kok Soo Chon, speaking at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur. "We are quite satisfied with their background, with their training, with their mental health and mental state.

"We are not of the opinion that it could have been an event committed by the pilot."

The report also opens the door for "unlawful interference by a third party," Kok said, given the plane's transponders and other systems were turned off as the flight veered thousands of miles off-course.

"People found it incredible that in this day and age we could lose track of an aircraft in this way," said Dr. Rob Hunter, Head of Flight Safety for the British Airline Pilots' Association (BALPA), adding that "it is irresponsible to slander the reputation, professionalism and memory of a pilot who was as much a victim of this accident as anyone else, without any evidence."

Upgrades to electronics should be a key consideration, according to BALPA, though it will take a widespread effort to fully address.

"For example, computer interfaces and navigation functions still use the old 1980s-style typed commands, and this issue does feature as being contributory to a number of accidents," Hunter said.

Still, the fate of MH370 is already serving as a catalyst for change.

"This accident has led to an industry-wide response to develop better systems for aircraft tracking and the recovery of flight data recorders from stricken aircraft, which we support," Hunter said.

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