Emirates president Tim Clark says missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370 would have in most countries been intercepted by fighters if it flew off course, and says the industry should not change aircraft tracking until it has more facts about the disappearance.
“In my view we are all plunging down a path that [says] ‘we have got to fix this’,” he said on the sidelines of the International Air Transport Association annual meeting in Doha, Qatar.
“This is the door closing after the horse has gone 25 miles down the track. We need to know more about what actually happened to this aeroplane and do a forensic second by second analysis of it. I think we will find it and get to the bottom of it.”
Emirates is a major operator of Boeing 777s, the aircraft type of MH370. The aircraft has been widely considered one of the safest ever built.
Mr Clark questioned why MH370 wasn’t circled by fighter jets after it was spotted by Malaysian’s military on primary radar.
“If you were to fly from London to Oslo and then over the North Sea you turned off and then went west to Ireland, within two minutes you’d have Tornadoes, Eurofighters everything up around you,” he said.
“Even if you did that over Australia and the US, there would be something up. I’m not quite sure where primary radar was in all of this.”
IATA chief executive Tony Tyler said the disappearance of an aircraft without a trace for so long was “unprecedented” in the history of modern aviation.
“It must not happen again,” he said.
“IATA, [International Civil Aviation Organisation] and experts from around the world are working together to agree on the best options to improve global tracking capabilities.”
He said a draft of recommendations would be given to ICAO in September.
“Data will guide this and other safety improvements,” he said.
Mr Tyler said IATA was moving forward with the Global Aviation Data Management project which would create the world’s largest resource of operational information.
He said the focus for now was on tracking aircraft rather than real-time streaming of data because “you are going to end up with masses and masses of data” if the latter was done.
“That may be manageable, but it may not be manageable,” he said.
When asked by a Chinese journalist whether he knew the cause of the MH370 disappearance, Mr Tyler said he personally had no idea what had happened and he doubted anyone else did either.
“I am currently not prepared to add to the speculation,” he said.
The reporter travelled to Qatar as a guest of IATA and Qantas