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As the hunt for missing MH370 continues, it has emerged that Malaysia Airlines lost all the black box voice recorder data from a plane after an engine failure forced it to turn back to London’s Heathrow Airport nearly two years ago, a report by British investigators said Thursday.
Shortly after the Boeing 747 took off on August 17, 2012 for Kuala Lumpur, the number two engine failed, findings by the U.K.'s Air Accident Investigation Branch revealed. The crew shut it down and jettisoned fuel before manually landing the aircraft -- with 340 passengers and 22 crew on board -- at Heathrow.
However when investigators examined the cockpit voice recorder (CVR), they found it had “continued to run for some time after the aircraft had landed and as a result all relevant recordings were lost.”
The CVR records on a continuous loop, so after around two hours it will record over what was previously logged, according to aviation expert Adrian Gjertsen of U.K.-based Airsupport Aviation Services Limited.
The report described the event as a “serious incident.”
“Flight crew communications were considered important to this investigation and the CVR should have provided further insight,” the report said, noting that the International Civil Aviation Organization rules dictate that the operator should preserve all related flight recorder records.
Instead, Malaysia Airlines' flight operation policy manual (FOPM) made no mention of this “and no obligation is placed on the commander to preserve them in the event of a serious incident.”
“The investigation determined that the operator’s procedures for the preservation of flight recordings were not sufficiently robust to ensure that recordings would be preserved in a timely manner following an incident or accident,” the report said.
British investigators said the airline had "expressed willingness" to address the issue and had proposed changes to their manual.
At the time of publication Malaysia Airlines had not responded to a request for comment.