Wires Cut at Kuala Lumpur
A commercial aircraft
headed from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Perth, Australia, was
grounded Thursday after a pre-flight inspection showed someone had
cut wires to navigation and flight control systems.
The Malaysia Airlines Airbus A330 was two hours from take-off
when ground crews spotted what appears to have been sabotage and
reported it to authorities.
Chances are slim-to-none that the aircraft would have left the
ground if workers at the gate hadn't discovered the damage. Warning
systems would have told the pilots something was terribly wrong
long before they were number-one on the runway.
"Any fault no matter how minor would be detected by the
aircraft's monitoring systems," one air safety source said. The
Airbus A330, which entered service in the early 1990s has never
been involved in an airline accident.
"What's certain is that the damage was quite severe and now we
are focusing on who is responsible for this," a police source told
the native-language Mingguan Malaysia newspaper Saturday.
Malaysia Airlines confirmed the incident Saturday. "The plane
was not released when pre-departure checks indicated inoperable
wiring on board," said corporate services senior general manager
Mohamaddon Abdullah. "Upon further inspection, it was learnt that
there could be a possible security breach and the police were
promptly notified. There were some discrepancies in the aircraft's
systems. The matter is now in the capable hands of the police
investigating team with whom we are working very closely."
"I wouldn't be as concerned about what was done to the aircraft.
I would however have been deeply worried about what may have been
hidden on board," said a safety expert who declined to be named. "I
very much doubt that this damage was done by an airline employee,
because they would know that any sabotage would be picked up by the
pre-flight checks. It is more likely the action of a contract
worker, perhaps a cleaner, who has little knowledge of aircraft or
Security at Kuala Lumpur's international airport has been
tightened up as a result of the incident. It's not the first time
that a wiring problem was discovered on an outbound aircraft there.
Another Perth-bound aircraft, a Boeing 777, was grounded after
crews found a rat onboard. The flight crew was worried that the
rodent might have partially chewed through a control cable. This
time, authorities said, it appears a rat of a different kind got
into the machinery of the A330.