KLIA and MH370

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Kuala Lumpur International Airport and Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370

Prior to Departure, Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 registered 9M-MRO was parked at Gate C1 at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

Flight MH370 departed from Runway 32 Right, KL International Airport (KLIA) at 00:42 MYT Saturday, 8 March 2014

This article provides background for these details.

About KLIA

Kuala Lumpur International Airport is about 50 km from Malaysia's capital, Kuala Lumpur.

The airport was opened in 1998 and a second terminal, KLIA2, was opened just 2 km away from KLIA’s Main Terminal in May 2014, later than flight MH370.

Kuala Lumpur International Airport currently has three runways (the first in the ASEAN region to do so) and plans for a total of five.

KLIA is simply an abbreviation an abbreviation of the airport name. The aviation codes are:-

  1. the IATA code KUL which is used on passenger documentation, and
  2. the ICAO code WMKK which is used in flight documents.

KLIA Runway Descriptions

The first two runways are parallel and are oriented approximately south-east/north-west. The closest bearings are 1400 and, in the opposite direction, 3200.

As they need to be identified as either Left or Right, the runways are named 14L/32R and 14R/32L.

A third runway is numbered 33.

Runway 32R

Runway 32R has a length of 4019 m (13185 ft) and a width of 60 m (197 ft).

MH370 departed from Runway 32 Right, Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) at 00:42 MYT on Saturday, 8 March 2014.

KLIA Runway 32

Kuala Lumpur International Airport - Runway 32R
Source: Google Earth

Note: The coordinate shown is one of the Data Points recovered from Captain Zaharie Shah's personal Flight Simulator and was probably the default starting point for many simulated flights.

Departure from Runway 32R

A standard departure from runway 32R to flight route R208 is directed through the waypoint PIBOS, to the north-east.

This was the route in the Filed Flight Plan for MH370, but at 0042:53 MYT Air Traffic Control (Lumpur Departure) cleared MH370 to climb to 18,000 feet and to cancel the Standard Instrument Departure (SID) clearance by tracking direct to waypoint IGARI.

Runway Numbering Convention

Runways are numbered from one to thirty-six.
Parallel runways are identified by L, C or R for Left, Centre or Right.

The number corresponds to the orientation of the runway measured in degrees based on a compass bearing, rounded to the nearest 10 degrees (and divided by 10). However, the direction is important. If the runway can be used in either direction then it will have two names, reflecting the compass bearing in each direction.

Common bearings are:

  • North = 00 or 3600
  • East = 900
  • South = 1800
  • West = 2700

For example:-

  • a runway oriented east-west will be named 09 when approached from the west, or facing East (90 / 10) = 09
  • the same runway will be named 27 when approached from the east, or facing West (270 / 10) = 27
  • a runway oriented on a compass bearing of 3200 will be named 32
  • in the opposite direction the bearing would be 3200-1800 = 1400, so the same runway will have a number (320 - 180)/10 = 14

At KLIA, the runway is oriented on a true magnetic bearing of 3260. This has been rounded down to 3200 and it is named 32 Right, or 32R.