FLIGHT INCIDENT: Drop in cabin pressure an isolated incident
WE refer to the letter "Flight incident: Check safety measures" (NST, Sept 19) by C. Sathasivam Sitheravellu on the Airbus A330-200 flight from Chennai to Kuala Lumpur that was diverted to Penang due to a gradual lowering of the aircraft's cabin pressure during the journey's final phase on Sept 15.
This partial loss of cabin pressurisation was caused by a technical malfunction of the air-conditioning system, which prevented the stabilising of cabin pressure to the level required during the cruising altitude of 37,000 feet.
As a result, the crew took the decision to normalise the cabin pressure by quickly descending the aircraft to a lower altitude.
As part of standard operating procedures (SOPs), oxygen masks were released for the 195 passengers on board.
While the crew was in full control of the aircraft movement, the accelerated speed of descent and sudden change in altitude contributed to heightened vibration of the aircraft. This caused concern for passengers.
The initial plan was to land at the nearest airport, Medan. However, following stabilisation and normalisation of the cabin pressure at 10,000 feet, the decision was made to climb to 15,000 feet and proceed to Penang, as this would enable us to support and manage our guests more effectively in home territory.
MH181 landed without any incident.
We regret the situation our guests experienced. Malaysia Airlines operates an average of more than 300 flights a day, and this was an isolated occurrence.
We do not compromise on the safety of our guests. In this situation, our team activated the necessary SOPs to ensure safe operations.
There is also the concern that some oxygen masks in the aircraft were not activated during the emergency. We are investigating this matter to establish the root cause and will take corrective actions as necessary.
Nevertheless, we apologise to our passengers for the discomfort they experienced.
Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, group chief executive officer, Malaysia Airlines, Subang, Selangor