Malaysian Airlines Disaster Recovery

Crisis Management Lessons Learned: Malaysia Airlines

Without a doubt, 2014 hasn’t been a good year for Malaysia Airlines. First, in March, flight 370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing vanished without a trace with 239 passengers and crew onboard—and still has not been recovered. In July, flight 17 was scheduled to fly from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur but crashed in a contested area of Ukraine. All passengers and crew were lost. Although you may be counting your blessings that you’re not part of Malaysia Airlines’ leadership team, the reality is that any organization can and should benefit from the crisis management lessons learned through these tragedies, because you never know when a disaster of this scale may impact your organization.

Technology Matters
Is your firm using the latest technology to support you in the event of a disaster? Unfortunately, the airline industry is often crippled with its reliance on the “black box”. If the black box is never recovered or it takes years to recover it as was the case in the Air France flight 447 crash in 2009, valuable time and money is wasted to get to answers. Modern aircraft still rely on radar, while most of our vehicles are equipped with technologically superior communication. If your organization is relying on yesterday’s technology, it may not weather a tragedy as well as it could.

Communicate to Stakeholders with the Appropriate Tools
Malaysia Airlines made the foolhardy mistake of notifying families that all aboard were lost—via text message. This type of sensitive message needs to be conveyed with compassion—something texting lacks. The communication tool used is just as important as the message and your firm needs to be sure it’s considering both when crafting communication in the event of a disaster.  How communications are delivered in a disaster situation has dramatic impact on long-term company reputation.

Don’t Be Myopic; Deal with Facts
At the onset of an incident, all causes should be on the table; jumping to conclusions regarding fault can led to costly delays. For example, a focus on terrorist activity as being the cause of flight 370’s disappearance may have sidetracked an important investigation into the mechanical systems that could have caused it. Your organization’s crisis management actions need to be based on facts.

In times of crisis, leadership must be clearly defined. Difficult decisions need to be made and efficient operations need to take place in the face of chaos, so there can be no question regarding the decision-making process and who is in charge. In the case of Malaysia Airlines, international flight crashes impacted several countries with often opposing leadership styles.

Plan for A, B, C
Things can and do go wrong multiple times and when we may least expect them. The more effort you and your organization put into disaster recovery plans, the better you will be equipped to face them. You want to explore as many what-if scenarios as you can imagine when creating disaster recovery plans, so when the event happens all you need to do is follow the plan.

How to Use This Information
It might seem easier to think, “This won’t happen to me,” but time and time again, as was the case this year with Malaysia Airlines, we see examples where an unthinkable tragedy strikes and shows us it can happen. By learning from the experiences of other organizations, you can build those lessons into your own disaster recovery plans. We’d be happy to help you craft your strategy and disaster recovery tools.

MissionMode’s smarter emergency notification system and incident management applications enable organizations to take control of crises, and reduce the time and cost of the response. Contact us today for more information or to schedule a demonstration.