Timeline/Response/KL ARCC

MH370 DECODED
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Timeline of events involving the Kuala Lumpur Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre
in response to the in-flight diversion of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370

From 05:30 MYT Saturday, 8 March 2014


Search and Rescue

Annex 12 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation Search and Rescue requires that a rescue coordination centre (RCC) be established in each search and rescue region; and each rescue coordination centre is to be staffed 24 hours a day by trained personnel.

In addition to the processes and procedures covered by Annex 12, the operation of an RCC is guided by the three volumes of the International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue Manual (IAMSAR).

Activation of the Rescue Coordination Centre (Kuala Lumpur)

05:30:00 MYT

Duty ATSC Watch Supervisor activated the Kuala Lumpur Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre (ARCC).


DETRESFA Message

Annex 12 defines three phases of an emergency:-

  • Uncertainty phase. A situation wherein uncertainty exists as to the safety of an aircraft and its occupants.
  • Alert phase. A situation wherein apprehension exists as to the safety of an aircraft and its occupants.
  • Distress phase. A situation wherein there is a reasonable certainty that an aircraft and its occupants are threatened by grave and imminent danger and require immediate assistance.

These phases are also referred to by abbreviations: INCERFA, ALERFA and DETRESFA.

By 5:30 am Saturday, 8 March 2014 when the KL-ARCC was activated, Flight MH370 was clearly in the Distress Phase. Annex 12 Section 5 lists actions to be taken and the known details were communicated to various recipients in a DETRESFA Message.

06:32:00 MYT

KL ARCC issued a DETRESFA message


Singapore Aircraft Deployed

10:30 MYT

Singapore RCC informed KL ARCC that a Hercules aircraft (C-130) would be launched to the search area with clearance from Ho Chi Minh. The Hercules aircraft (C-130) was assigned the radiotelephony callsign as Rescue 71 by Lumpur ARCC.


Other Notifications

Information was also passed to Oil Rig Operators based in the Kota Bharu, Terengganu and Kerteh, on the East coast of Peninsular Malaysia for any possible sighting or reports. This information was also given to helicopters that operate in and out to the oil rig area.

Information was also passed to the Malaysian Control Centre (MCC) for possible reports to police stations (SAR point of contact) throughout the country. The first air SRU to be deployed was RESCUE 101, a Bombardier CL415 from the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA). A vessel, KM AMANAH also from the MMEA, was redirected to the Last Known Position (LKP) of MH370 to conduct a search.

Source: MH370 Search and Rescue Operations and Lesson Learnt[1]

11:30 MYT

At 1130 MYT on Saturday, 8 March 2014 a Bombardier CL415 from the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) took off and headed to the search area.


Joint Investigation Team Convened

Joint Investigation Team (JIT) based in Malaysia comprising experts and specialist from Malaysia, China, USA, UK and France, and other senior government and academic sources.

Source: MH370 Search and Rescue Operations and Lesson Learnt[1]

The JIT subsequently provided technical advice which informed the selection of search areas.


KL-ARCC Informed of Possible Air Turn-back

22:30 MYT

The KL ARCC was informed by the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) of a possible Air Turn Back by MH370 on 8 March 2014, at 10:30pm (1430 UTC). The RMAF also mentioned that the area towards the West of Peninsular Malaysia was the last known position observed on the military radar. At this stage, the KL ARCC was unable to determine whether MH370 did indeed make an air turn back, and it required further analysis and verification. Despite the uncertainties surrounding the ‘latest’ information received, it was decided that both areas to the East and West of Peninsular Malaysia would be searched, and a large number of assets, aircraft and vessels were deployed to search these areas.




8 March to 15 March 2014 - Search Summary

During this phase of the search, the initial focus was east of Malaysia, coordinated by the KL-ARCC:-

Eastern Peninsular Malaysia[1]
  • i. SAR Plan by KL ARCC
  • ii. Search area covered Eastern South China Sea
  • iii. Cumulative search area of 573,000 sq km
  • iv. 28 search aircraft used, from China, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, USA and Vietnam.
  • v. 34 search vessels used from China, Malaysia, Singapore, USA and Vietnam.

Source: MH370 Search and Rescue Operations and Lesson Learnt[1]

Note: The search in areas west of Malaysia were coordinated by the RMAF.



18 March to 23 March 2014 - Search Summary

The search areas during this phase were influenced by the data interpreted from satellite communications by Inmarsat; the terminology of 'northern and southern arcs' defined by 'pings' and 'handshakes'; and the new terminology of Northern and Southern Corridors.

On 15th March 2014, based on data compiled by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) based in Malaysia comprising experts and specialist from Malaysia, China, USA, UK and France, and other senior government and academic sources, the Prime Minister of Malaysia announced that the SAR operations on the Eastern and Western parts of Peninsular Malaysia would be suspended. The experts had drawn up a new search area, comprising the Northern and Southern Corridors.

Source: MH370 Search and Rescue Operations and Lesson Learnt[1]

Search areas defined for both Northern and Southern corridors are shown below. The areas actually searched are noted in the text that follows.

Northern Corridor

Figure 3 Northern Corridor.png

Figure III: Northern Corridor
Source: MH370 Search and Rescue Operations and Lesson Learnt

Southern Corridor

Figure 4 Southern Corridor.png

Figure IV: Southern Corridor
Source: MH370 Search and Rescue Operations and Lesson Learnt

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Malaysia (MOFA) sent Diplomatic Notes to all the relevant countries within the corridors on a government to government basis.

Feedback received from the Diplomatic Note sent to Northern Corridor countries included the following[1]:-

  • countries in the Northern corridor provided information to KL ARCC on their action taken.
  • most of the countries in the Northern corridor responded that there was no sighting of MH370 within their countries area of responsibility.

From 18 to 23 March 2014, the air search within the Southern Corridor (S1, S2 & S3) was coordinated by KL ARCC together with BASARNAS, Indonesia[1].

  • i. Joint SAR Plan by Indonesia and Malaysia
  • ii. Cumulative search area of 1.63 million sq km
  • iii. 8 search aircraft used, from India, Japan, Malaysia, UAE, USA and Republic of Korea


18 March to 28 April 2014 - Search Summary

The surface search in the Indian Ocean was extended further south along the Southern Corridor, centred on the 'seventh arc'. These search areas were within Australia's SAR area of responsibility.

A surface search of probable impact areas along this arc was coordinated by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s (AMSA’s) JRCC Australia in Canberra from 18th March 2014 to 28th April 2014. The search effort involved a multi-national, civil/military SAR response involving aircraft and ships from several countries including Australia, China, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, United Kingdom and the United States of America, plus Australian and international technical experts and liaison officers. AMSA is very grateful to all the States and their many personnel involved for their assistance and expertise.[2]

For the 42 days of searching coordinated by JRCC Australia in the Australian SRR search areas there were[2]:

  • a) 345 flight sorties
  • b) 3177 total flight hours
  • c) Cumulative search area of 4.7 million km2
  • d) 28 search aircraft used, both civil and military, from Australia, China, Japan, Malaysia, Republic of Korea and USA
  • e) Search vessels used, both civil merchant ships and military ships from Australia, China, Malaysia, UK and USA

No debris associated with MH370 was identified by the surface search.

The graphic below[3] shows the cumulative area searched during this period:-

Figure 19: Surface search coverage 18 March to 28 April 2014

The Operational Search for MH370 Figure 19

Source: The Operational Search for MH370 ATSB, using AMSA data


On 28 April 2014, the aerial search concluded and the search moved to an underwater phase.



Notes and References
  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 MH370 Search and Rescue Operations and Lesson Learnt - This paper was presented by Malaysia to the Third Meeting of the Asia/Pacific Regional Search and Rescue Task Force (APSAR/TF/3), Maldives, 25 – 29 January 2015.
  2. 2.0 2.1 MH370 Search and Rescue Response - JRCC Australia
    This paper was presented by Australia to the Third Meeting of the Asia/Pacific Regional Search and Rescue Task Force (APSAR/TF/3), Maldives, 25 – 29 January 2015.
  3. The Operational Search for MH370 Australian Transport Safety Bureau, 2017