Local aviation attorney discusses the search for missing Malaysian airliner

CLEVELAND - Watching closely the events unfolding in the search for missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 is local Nurenberg–Paris aviation attorney Jamie Lebovitz.

"In 30 years of practicing I’ve never seen an air crash disaster like this,” said Lebovitz who has been involved in some of the biggest airline crashes over the last three decades.

Beyond the fact that there is still no plane to be found he said he’s been struck by the ever changing stories coming out of Malaysia.

“Breaking news du jour, which is what it seems like,” he said. “It may be indicative of the quality of the investigation and the integrity of the investigation that’s being conducted by the Malaysian authorities.”

"One can only imagine how much more difficult that has made this whole tragedy for the families," he said.

The Boeing 777 disappeared from radar last week around two hours after takeoff with 239 passengers on board.  He said that even though it dropped off radar once over the water he said it should have still been transmitting its location through a number of transponders.

"The fact that that data no longer was fed by the aircraft to any radar system certainly leads one to suspect that something intentional or nefarious took place."

Lebovitz said the Boeing 777 is one of the safest planes in commercial flight, especially newer models like the one involved here. The only incident was the one last July involving Asiana Airlines Flight 214 that crashed while landing in San Francisco. “Which by the way can be attributed to training pilot error,” said Lebovitz.

While much has been made of the two passengers who boarded the flight with stolen passports Lebovitz feels that’s often more an issue of immigration that terrorism. He’d like to know more about the flight crew.

"Have they gone to their homes and retrieved their computers? Have they looked at the websites that they had been searching for the past weeks or months or years have they spoken to family members,” he asked.

He said the crash of Egypt Air Flight 990 after takeoff from New York to Cairo had many similarities in the sense that because of the similarities to the 1999 crash of Egypt Airline Flight 990 not long after takeoff from New York on its way to Cairo. The plane seemingly dropped from the sky not long after reaching cruise altitude.

“A relief pilot went into the cockpit because the captain wanted to take a break and he then pushed the nose down and sent the aircraft into a dive towards the Atlantic Ocean,” he said.

The captain was able to get back into the cockpit and was engaged in a struggle with the co-pilot captured on the black box audio recorder to right the plane but it eventually crashed killing all 217 on board.

“I think that is something that has to be carefully examined,” he said.  “Hopefully as time passes more information about the crew will emerge to either rule one or both of them in or rule them out and look somewhere else.” 

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