Emirates chief Tim Clark has reportedly questioned why fighter jets did not intercept Malaysia Airlines flight 370 when it veered widely off course, but said he believed the missing plane will be found.
Clark said that more information on the disappearance of the Boeing jet, which was carrying 239 people from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, was needed before the industry changes its aircraft tracking procedures.
The Emirates boss told The Australian Financial Review at an annual airlines conference in Doha that the plane would have been intercepted by military aircraft if it had flown off course over other countries.
“If you were to fly from London to Oslo and then over the North Sea you turned off and then went west to Ireland, within two minutes you’d have Tornadoes, Eurofighters, everything up around you,” he said.
“Even if you did that over Australia and the US, there would be something up. I’m not quite sure where primary radar was in all of this.”
His comments came as the International Air Transport Association conference looked at ways of improving the tracking of aircraft through flight data transmissions or technologies to monitor their movements.
The International Civil Aviation Organisation has also formed a working group to explore tracking methods.
“In my view we are all plunging down a path that [says] ‘we have got to fix this’,” Clark said. “This is the door closing after the horse has gone 25 miles down the track.
“We need to know more about what actually happened to this aeroplane and do a forensic second-by-second analysis of it. I think we will find it and get to the bottom of it.”
Australia is leading the hunt for MH370, which is believed to have crashed in the Indian Ocean, but there have been no signs of the plane since it vanished over the South China Sea on March 8 despite an intense air, sea and underwater search.
Malaysia’s air force has acknowledged that military radar tracked what it called an “unidentified object” - later determined to be MH370 - crossing back through Malaysian airspace and out toward the Indian Ocean after the plane diverted.
The air force said it took no action because the aircraft was not deemed “hostile”, drawing heavy criticism over the lost opportunity to intercept or further track the plane.
Malaysia’s government has defended the air force decision, without elaborating on how it was made, but Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein has said military procedures would be reviewed in the wake of MH370.