Azharuddin resigns as CAAM chairman

The former DCA DG vacates his position following the MH370 Safety Investigation Report

by ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

CIVIL Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) chairman Datuk Seri Azharuddin Abdul Rahman (picture) has vacated his position following the MH370 Safety Investigation Report released on Monday.

The 1,500-page report provided key summaries on what transpired after flight MH370 left the Kuala Lumpur International Airport’s tarmac, including the failure of air traffic controllers (ATCs) to observe certain protocols under emergency.

CAAM — formerly known as the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) — was responsible for the operations of the Kuala Lumpur Air Traffic Control Centre.

The MH370 tragedy, dubbed as the most mysterious disappearance in aviation history, took the lives of 239 people, including the crew. Search teams had scoured more than 60,000 sq km of areas, costing more than US$55 million (RM223.3 million) to find the wreckage of the ill-fated Boeing 777.

Azharuddin was the head at DCA when the tragedy occured and had been the figure to lead in the various investigations and searches for the missing plane.

“Over the past four years, I have tried my level best to assist in the search for MH370 and I am ever resolute in finding answers we all seek towards this unfortunate tragedy, as we owe it to the families and loved ones. I am saddened to have to leave under these circumstances,” he said in a statement.

His resignation will be effective 14 days from yesterday.

CAAM reiterated that the safety report does not suggest that the MH370 incident was caused by the agency.

“Serving the industry for more than 40 years has been the greatest honour of my life and I apologise for not being able to fulfil the remainder of my tenure,” he said.

The Temerloh, Pahang-born aviation enthusiast was also involved in the MH17 loss, the flight that was shot down in Donetsk, Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Transport Minister Anthony Loke confirmed Azharuddin’s resignation at the Parliament lobby yesterday.

He said the ministry will form a special committee to study the MH370 report and make the necessary recommendations to the ministry on further actions to be taken.

“After the release of the report yesterday, the then DCA DG — who is today’s CAAM chairman — has tendered his resignation, with immediate effect.

“Based on the report, we knew that there are ATCs who did not follow the SOPs (standard operating procedures) — some of them have retired, some are currently serving in CAAM. The special committee will look into it, and see what are the further actions that should be taken against them,” he said.

Loke said the formation of the committee is ongoing and did not name the committee members. He also declined to reveal the number of ATCs that failed to follow the SOPs during the disappearance of flight MH370 on March 8, 2014.

The report suggested that the Boeing 777’s controls were more likely to have been manipulated than to have suffered mechanical issues. However, due to lack of evidence, investigators are unable to determine who was responsible.