Malaysia Airlines MH132 flies in wrong direction for almost an hour | News | DW | 27.12.2015
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Malaysia Airlines MH132 flies in wrong direction for almost an hour

The probe has begun over a Malaysian Airlines plane that appeared to fly in the wrong direction after taking off from New Zealand. Confusion over the flight plan was behind this latest embarrassment for the airline.

New Zealand media reported that MH132 from Auckland to Kuala Lumpur was headed in the wrong direction on Christmas Day, after air traffic controllers had been given the wrong flight plan.

The "New Zealand Herald" newspaper wrote that the pilot queried the route his Airbus A330 was taking only eight minutes into the flight, after he noticed the plane was headed further south than expected. He asked air traffic controllers at the Auckland Oceanic control centre why the plane was heading south towards Melbourne instead of the direct flight path to Kuala Lumpur.

The pilot was later informed that the flight plan of his airline had been given to the Airways agency, which manages air traffic control for New Zealand and the South Pacific.

Flight MH132 then continued across the Tasman Sea before heading northwest to Kuala Lumpur.

The flight usually takes a direct route between Auckland and Kuala Lumpur, heading north-west over Australia. However, the radar data of MH 132 showed it actually heading south for almost an hour.

No safety breach

A Malaysia Airlines statement confirmed that there the flight plans had been mixed up.

"Both routes were following an approved flight path and the aircraft had enough fuel for both routes. The safety of both passengers and crew were never compromised at any time," the statement read.

The airline said it was investigating the incident, as is New Zealand's Airways Corporation, according to the Sunday's edition of Australia's "New Sydney Herald."

The latest incident brings fresh embarassment to the airline. Malaysia Airlines' flight MH370 disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 passengers and crew on board in March 2014. Just over four months later flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine.

Earlier this year, Malaysia Airlines appointed German airline manager Christoph Müller as their chief executive, tasking him with rebuilding the airline after the string of disasters. He is overseeing a three-year restructuring plan, which includes cost-cutting and restructuring.