Déjà vu, mystery of MH370


In 1976, Malaysia asked Australia to investigate the plane crash which killed then CM Fuad Stephens and his cabinet. The result was kept a secret.

Myles Togoh, FMT

In a curious twist to the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, Australian authorities have again been drawn into an aircraft mystery with its roots in Malaysia.

More than 37 years ago, a Nomad aircraft, a twin-engine turboprop that can seat 12 passengers and two crew, plunged to the ground on its approach to the Kota Kinabalu International Airport here killing all 11 on board.

It came to be known as the Double-Six Crash or Double-Six Tragedy due to the fact it took place on June 6, 1976. The plane was flying in from Labuan when it crashed as it came in to land.

Among those killed was Fuad Stephens, the Chief Minister of Sabah at that time.

The reasons behind the crash remain unknown. Immediately after the accident there were allegations of foul play. The political and economic circumstances at the time did not help.

The Australian government sent a team of four investigators to assist in finding the cause of the accident. Mechanical failure was ruled out.

The cause of the crash remains a mystery while the original report on the incident remains classified.

With no real closure, conspiracy theories have circulated ever since and even been encouraged by ham-handed methods to curb debate on the various anomalies that were exposed prior to and after the crash and new information that has come to light.

A couple of years ago the crash was back in the news after one of those who were supposed to be on the ill-fated flight spoke about his lucky break. It led to a legal suit.

Now the appointment of Australia as Malaysia’s “accredited representative” in the investigation into missing Boeing 777-200 bound for Beijing with 227 passengers brings this nearly four decade-old mystery back to the surface.

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, made the “accreditation” announcement on his visit to Perth earlier this week, even as the search for the missing plane was “further refined” and was shifted to the north.

1976 air crash

Asked his views if could be any parallels drawn from the investigation of the Nomad crash and the current missing airliner probe, former Sabah chief minister Yong Teck Lee said the two incidents were vastly different.

Yong who was sued for asking for a reopening of the investigation of the Nomad crash to help to determine the truth behind the tragedy following new information, said any investigation of the missing airliner would be unlike anything that has taken place before.

In the first instance, he said, the Nomad tragedy was a straightforward crash while the current one is still officially recorded as a missing flight with no evidence of a crash.

The Australian authorities’ involvement in the 1976 crash investigation was due to the fact that the plane was manufactured in that country, Yong said in a telephone interview.

“In this case, it would be similar only if Boeing came in to investigate.

“But this is not like the Nomad tragedy. To use (Prime Minister) Najib’s words, ‘flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean’,” said Yong to stress that any investigation of the missing airliner would be handicapped by the lack of evidence.