A Malaysia Airlines flight from Beijing to Kuala Lumpur was forced to turn back yesterday owing to a pressurization problem.
The incident is reported in The Aviation Herald. The flight was operated by an Airbus A330-300 registered as 9M-MTG. The aircraft departed Beijing’s Daxing Airport yesterday, Wednesday 1 January, operating flight MH319.
Malaysia Airlines MH319 is the daily 09:30 departure from Daxing down to Kuala Lumpur. Flight time is normally six and a half hours.
Details of the incident
The Aviation Herald is reporting that the aircraft experienced pressurization issues on the climb out of Beijing, with the pilots stopping the ascent at 2,800 meters. The report also noted that a passenger said there was work done on a door seal just before departure.
After leveling off, the aircraft circled to the west of Beijing, burning off fuel. It landed safely back in Beijing some two and a half hours after departure.
The issue was repaired and the aircraft later took off and completed the flight to Kuala Lumpur, landing later in the evening, some six hours late.
No passengers or crew were injured in the incident.
This particular aircraft has a clean health record
Malaysia Airlines has a fleet of 24 A330 aircraft comprising both A330-300s and A330-200s. This particular aircraft, 9M-MTG is only seven and a half years old. The aircraft, like most of Malaysia Airlines’ A330 fleet, operates short and medium-haul flights around the Asia Pacific region. Searches of online databases indicate this is the first time this aircraft has been involved in any incidents.
While the FAA recently downgraded Malaysia’s safety rating from category one to category two, this is a reflection on the local aviation safety regulator rather than local airlines. Malaysia Airlines has always enjoyed a strong reputation for safety and the limited amount of incidents and accidents the airline has been involved in reflects this.
Human malfeasance the cause of problems at Malaysia Airlines
The two most notorious incidents impacting upon Malaysia Airlines were both due to unforeseen human malfeasance rather than a lapse in safety per se. In July 2014, a surface to air missile launched out of Ukraine took down a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER with 298 casualties. Months before another Malaysia Airlines 777 had disappeared off the radar and was never seen again, an incident widely attributed to a pilot gone rogue.
Before these two incidents, you have to go back 10 years to find an incident of note involving Malaysia Airlines. In 1995, a Fokker 50 overshot a runway in Sabah, resulting in 34 casualties. Pilot error was blamed.
As yesterday’s smooth handling of the minor incident over Beijing attests, it’s not technical and mechanical safety issues airlines like Malaysia have to worry about, it is human issues.
The aircraft in yesterday’s incident, 9M MTG, remains on the ground in Kuala Lumpur at the time of writing but is expected to operate to its normal schedule today.