Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said this would enable the department to obtain credible evidence as to where the plane had crashed. NSTP file pic

PUTRAJAYA: The Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) has been directed to study the Australian Transport Safety Bureau's final report which was released yesterday, on the search of the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said this would enable the department to obtain credible evidence as to where the plane had crashed.

"We can't continue the search for the plane if we don't have credible evidence.

"This is because we can't simply give false hope to the famillies of those who had lost their lives. This is important as we are responsible for whatever actions we undertake.

"Rest assured that we are still looking into all possible elements to find any new leads. We haven't given up to find the plane," he told reporters at the ministry today.

Liow was responding to news reports on ATSB's final report which said it was almost inconceivable and certainly societally unacceptable in the modern aviation era with 10 million passengers boarding commercial aircraft every day, for a large commercial aircraft to be missing and for the world not to know with certainty what became of the aircraft and those on board.

On March 8, 2014, flight MH370 with 239 people on board, had dropped off radar shortly after taking off from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, sparking a massive underwater search in the southern Indian Ocean which ended in January.

Liow said the report released by the ATSB was not the final report, adding it was only a search report.

"We are taking note of the report and we thank ATSB for putting in a lot of efforts in helping Malaysia to search for the MH370 wreckage," he added.

The final report, he said, would be issued by the International Investigation Team which was set up to probe the MH370, led by former Department of Civil Aviation director-general Datuk Kok Soo Chon.

"At least one year will be needed for the team to come up with the final report from the time the suspension of the search was announced," he added.

Liow also said that many companies such as Ocean Infinity has shown interest to offer Malaysia help to conduct search.

"Unless we have credible leads, only then we will continue the search.

"We also need to discuss whatever new evidence with China and Australia in our commitment as a tripartite party. As of now, we haven't met with them because there is no leads so far," he added.

Liow said the ministry was also currently preparing a cabinet paper to detail out the whole search operation and also on the way forward.

On when the cabinet paper would be submitted to the cabinet, he said after the ministry had looked into and studied all reports related to MH370 including the latest ATSB's search report.

"The cabinet paper will then be presented in the cabinet for deliberation. This is important to provide some closure for the next of the kin of the ill-fated flight," Liow added.

He said the country has spent easily RM500 million for the search of MH370 during its three years of search.

In its 440-page report, the ATSB also said the "understanding of where MH370 may be located is better now than it has ever been".

"The underwater search has eliminated most of the high probability areas yielded by reconstructing the aircraft's flight path and the debris drift studies conducted in the past 12 months have identified the most likely area with increasing precision," the bureau said.

The ATSB also said the incident had led to some important lessons about locating missing aircraft.

"Requirements and systems for tracking aircraft have been enhanced and will continue to be enhanced.

"Steps are being taken to advance other aircraft systems including emergency locator transponders and flight recorder locator beacons," it added.

After spending more than three years, scouring thousands of square miles of the Indian Ocean, only three fragments of MH370 have been found.

The fragments that washed up on western Indian Ocean shores included a two-metre wing part known as a

flaperon.

keywords: Department of Civil Aviation, DCA, Australian Transport Safety Bureau, final report, Malaysian Airlines flight, MH370, Transport Minister, Liow Tiong Lai

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