Correcting the Record
Inaccurate media coverage on the search for MH370
18 April 2017
On 17 April 2017, The Australian published an article, “ATSB shuts down details on MH370 search” by Ean Higgins. That article contained misrepresentations.
Mr Higgins stated that “(the) Australian Transport Safety Bureau has invoked draconian legislation in refusing to release material about its search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, warning that any bureau employee who provides such information to the public or a court could face two years in jail.”
The ATSB did not issue any such warning.
The Transport Safety Investigation Act 2003 (TSI Act) applies to ATSB investigations and reports, requiring investigators to protect evidence from disclosure other than in accordance with performing their functions under the Act. Consistent with international standards, the ATSB does not publish all the documents forming part of the investigation or report. This is to ensure cooperation and the future free flow of information to safety investigations.
However, while not all documents from a safety investigation are released, the results of the investigation are published. The ATSB has published a number of reports concerning its search for MH370 on the ATSB website.
In his article, Mr Higgins claimed that the TSI Act covers a request relating to documents for a “ghost flight” scenario. These are not the ATSB’s words and do not accurately reflect the request made by Mr Higgins. The ATSB has made it clear in previous publications that rigorous examination and analysis of the sequence of events and the SATCOM data matches most closely with a scenario in which there was no human intervention during the final phase of the flight.
Without providing any evidence, Mr Higgins suggested that some ATSB officers had second thoughts about the ATSB’s position in relation to the end of flight scenario. The ATSB is not aware of any officers who have concerns with the ATSB’s reported findings in this regard.
The ATSB’s work in the search for MH370 has always been characterised by a willingness to listen to new ideas, and to apply all the known facts to lead the underwater search.
The ATSB does not make any statement lightly, nor does it approach any issue with pre-conceived conclusions.