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Australia investigates Malaysia Airlines flight's safety procedures

Staff Writer |
Australia's national transport safety body has launched an investigation into the safety procedures of a Malaysia Airlines flight after a near-disaster earlier in July, officials said Wednesday.

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The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) on Wednesday opened a probe into flight MH134 after equipment failure forced it to return to Brisbane Airport shortly after take-off on July 18.

Airspeed indicators on the A330-200 failed on take-off, forcing the pilots to dump fuel and return to Brisbane Airport where the plane could not return to the gate after a heavy landing, forcing the airport to close the runway for 90 minutes.

The flight was bound for Kuala Lumpur with 226 passengers and crew on board.

Preliminary investigations indicated that the incident was due to a failure to remove covers from pitot tubes that measure airspeed and altitude.

A similar problem was found to be responsible for Air France Flight 447 crashing into the Atlantic Ocean in 2009, killing all 228 people on board.

The failure to remove the covers has been described as a "shocking" oversight by aviation experts.

"There should be an engineer checking the aircraft before it ­departs and then the pilot should check it. If those checks are not happening, they shouldn't be flying a plane," Steve Purvinas, secretary of the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association, told News Corp Australia on Wednesday.

He said that the rough landing was no surprise given that the pilots didn't know their altitude as they descended.

A spokesperson for the airline said they were "unable to comment while investigations are in progress."

The incident came only one month after Malaysia Airlines resumed flights between Brisbane and Kuala Lumpur after suspending the service in 2014.

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