Malaysia Airlines defends battery cargo on missing MH370

Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia Airlines has defended carrying on its missing airliner a consignment of lithium-ion batteries that have previously been blamed for causing fires on aircraft.

The airline’s chief executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said the cargo was not considered hazardous as long as the packaging was done in accordance with international standards.

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Air-safety experts have warned about carrying the batteries that are used in mobile telephones and laptop computers.

They have been linked with the crash of a plane in Dubai in 2010 and a fire on an aircraft in the US in 2006.

The US-based Federal Aviation Administration says there were 141 air incidents involving batteries carried as cargo or baggage between 1991 and February this year.

Ahmad Jauhari told a media briefing in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday night the consignment aboard the ill-fated MH370 was done in compliance with the International Civil Aviation Organisation and the International Air Transport Association requirements.

“Despite the reports, it (the battery cargo) is deemed non-hazardous cargo, provided it is handled in accordance to very specific and strict guidelines and compliance,” he said.

“This is done by all airlines.”

Malaysia’s acting transport minister Hishammuddin Hussein said the cargo manifest of the MH370 was being studied by investigators.

He said preliminary investigation did not show anything in the cargo that could have contributed the disappearance of the Boeing 777 with 239 people on board.

The cargo manifest has not been made public.

Investigators have not ruled out the possibility that an event on board holed the plane’s fuselage causing the cabin to depressurise.

Under this scenario the pilots turned the plane around before becoming unconscious and the plane flew on for hours unpiloted.

The focus of police investigations has been hijacking or sabotage after authorities said it appeared a “deliberate action” on board caused the plane to turn back from its scheduled flight path from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8.

The story Malaysia Airlines defends battery cargo on missing MH370 first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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