Whoops: Malaysia Airlines Plane Flies the Wrong Way

Pilot noticed plane out of New Zealand was flying south instead of north
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 28, 2015 11:37 AM CST
Whoops: Malaysia Airlines Plane Flies the Wrong Way
A fleet of Malaysia Airline planes are shrouded in haze at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Malaysia, on Sept. 27, 2015.   (AP Photo/Joshua Paul)

Searchers are still looking for the rest of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, while the airline's Flight 17 downed in Ukraine remains the subject of a criminal investigation. Now a new incident has come to light, and it isn't likely to help the airline's reputation: A Christmas Day flight from New Zealand's Auckland airport to Kuala Lumpur started off its journey flying in the wrong direction, the Independent reports. Flight MH132 usually shoots northwest over Australia on its way toward the Malaysian capital, but this time FlightRadar24.com shows a path that took the plane south instead. "The flight plan the airline filed with us was going to Kuala Lumpur but via a slightly different route than the pilot was expecting," says a spokeswoman for Airways, the company that manages New Zealand's air traffic control. And the pilot was indeed alarmed, noticing the different path just eight minutes into the flight and asking air traffic controllers why the plane was headed that way.

"The pilot [did] a very good job by noticing it, querying it and not just blindly flying off and ending up in the Southern Ocean," aviation expert Peter Clark tells the New Zealand Herald. Clark explained that while flights headed to Kuala Lumpur sometimes take a more southern route when there's bad weather or strong headwinds, it appears in this case there was simply an error. A statement posted Sunday on the Malaysia Airlines website notes that "on December 24th 2015 our flight MH132 from Auckland to Kuala Lumpur was given the latest flight plan by the airline's Operations Dispatch Centre (ODC) whilst Auckland's Air Traffic Control (ATC) was inadvertently given an earlier flight plan. Both routes were following an approved flight path and the aircraft had enough fuel for both routes." It adds that the airline would investigate, per the Sydney Morning Herald. (More Malaysia Airlines stories.)

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