On March 8th 2014, a Malaysian-registered Boeing 777 aircraft with registration 9M-MRO turned off its transponder after 1:21 AM, thus disabling itself from being detected by secondary radar, which is used by air traffic controllers to detect movements of aircraft.
The aircraft made few turns and altitude adjustments and all of the movements can be seen with primary radar, which is not used by air traffic controllers.
If we see 9M-MRO as a potential safety hazard, we would scramble our fighter jets to be near with the aircraft and take necessary steps to force it to land.
Because the aircraft could hit densely-populated areas like KL. Or it might be heading to an unknown place, like Southern Indian ocean.
In a report by Malaysia Ministry of Transport, data from primary radar was made available to them.
However, no information is given on why we did not treat 9M-MRO as potential safety hazard. It is a civilian aircraft. WTC at New York has collapsed in September 2001 after being hit by two civilian aircraft.
Report from MOT shows that our primary radar(s) is working.
Is there anyone monitoring it in case of any civilian aircraft illegally deviated from original route without any apparent safety concern, such as bad weather? We are (relatively) lucky because 9M-MRO did not hit densely-populated areas. However, until today, we still do not know where is the aircraft and what happened to those onboard.
Two military aircaft engines were lost in May 2008. Two years later, we learned the engines are not in Malaysia anymore. It took us two years to know current location of the engines.
Perhaps someone in RMAF can answer the question in bold type for us. Maybe it is classified to reveal radar capability to public, but our action/inaction on March 8th 2014 has indicated how serious we are in dealing with potential risk.
When will we learn?
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