Tag Archives: Boeing 777

Bluefin submersible fails to find Boeing 777 on designated search area

Bluefin-21 submersible

SYDNEY, April 28

Bluefin-21 submersible has finished the exploration of the area, which was initially designated for it to search for missing Malaysian Boeing 777 and failed to find any objects of interest, according to representatives of the search coordination center that continues operating in Australia’s Perth.

Despite lack of results, the rescuers decided to continue using the submersible: at present, Bluefin-21 is making its 16th immersion and explores the bottom of neighboring sections.

On Sunday, there were no search operations involving planes and ships due to a strong storm in the ocean. On Monday, weather conditions improved, and it made possible to go on with the search operation. In the course of the day, nine planes and 12 ships will be monitoring a 54,920 square km area in some 1,670 km from Perth.

Vanished airliner

Boeing 777-200 of Malaysian Airlines was en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing March 7. It carried 227 passengers and 12 crewmembers onboard. Communication with the jet was interrupted nearly two hours after its departure from the Malaysian capital. Since then, there was no information about the missing airliner.

March 24, the air carrier issued a statement informing about the death of all people who were onboard of the missing plane.

According to experts, the search operation involving 26 countries may become the most expensive in aviation’s history. $44 million are already spent on the search, and the overall expenditures may reach several hundreds of millions of dollars.

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MH370 : Drone finds nothing after scouring two thirds of search area

(CNN) — The underwater drone scanning the ocean for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 ended its eighth mission Monday, having covered about two thirds of its intended territory without finding any sign of the missing plane.

This has been the case for 45 days now, which seems like an eternity for the relatives of the 239 passengers and crew on board, still hoping for a miracle or, at least, closure.

“Emotionally, it’s up and down. You know? Sometimes, I’m OK. Sometimes, so-so. Sometimes — always — very sad,” said Nur Laila Ngah, whose husband worked on the flight’s cabin crew.

The couple had been planning to celebrate their 13th anniversary this year. They have three children, ages 12, 10 and 8.

Recalling a conversation she had with her husband before he left, Laila said: “I was asking him, ‘are we going to have the next 13 years together?’ Of course.”

About their children, she said: “They have faith that their father will be coming back.”

The Bluefin-21 is expected to began its ninth mission sometime Monday, surveying the bottom of the southern Indian Ocean for traces of the Boeing 777.

These efforts may be a main focus of the search, but they aren’t the only part.

Australia’s Joint Agency Coordination Centre announced Monday morning that up to 10 military aircraft and 11 ships would participate in the day’s search.

Previously, acting Malaysian Transport minister Hishammuddin Hussein said that “experts have narrowed down the search area.”

But are they actually closer to finding anything? “It’s difficult to say,” Hishammuddin conceded, adding the search “is at a critical juncture.”

“I appeal to everybody around the world,” he said, “to pray and pray hard that we find something to work on over the next couple of days.”

The failure to find clues to the plane’s disappearance does not mean that the operation will stop, only that other approaches — such as a wider scope or the use of other assets — may be considered, Hishammuddin told reporters. “The search will always continue.”

Still, he said, “With every passing day, the search has become more and more difficult.”

Mother Nature isn’t making this task much easier.

Tropical Cyclone Jack is circulating northwest of the search area. And while it won’t hit directly, this system should increase winds and rains.

Malaysian authorities briefed families of people aboard Flight 370 behind closed doors Sunday afternoon in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Selamat Bin Omar, whose 29-year-old son was a passenger, told CNN that officials dealt with practical matters, such as how the families could make bank transactions.

Hamid Ramlan, whose daughter and son-in-law were on the plane, said he learned nothing new at the briefing.

“I believe that the government didn’t try to hide something, or hide any information from us. They are telling the truth. But then, mostly the members of victims, the families, they do not want to believe,” he said.

His wife falls into that category.

“My wife cannot accept that. She still believes that the airplane was hijacked. She believes that my daughter is still alive.”

Passengers’ relatives list questions

It was early on March 8 when Flight 370 set off from the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur, destined for Beijing.

The plane never made it.

What happened has been a confounding mystery, with the frustration of passengers’ family members compounded by a scarcity of details from authorities.

New bits of information that have come out six weeks later may help round out the picture but don’t answer the main question: Why did the plane go off course, and where is it now?

These recent developments include a senior Malaysian aviation source’s assertion that the jetliner deviated from its flight path while inside Vietnamese airspace.

It turned left, then climbed to 39,000 feet — below its maximum safe limit of 43,100 feet — and maintained that altitude for about 20 minutes over the Malay Peninsula before beginning to descend, the source said.

Malaysia Airlines has declined to answer CNN’s questions on various matters — including the fact that, according to the source, the missing jet was equipped with four emergency locator transmitters. When triggered by a crash, ELTs are designed to transmit their location to a satellite.

Relatives of people aboard the jetliner have drawn up 26 questions that they want addressed by Malaysian officials, who are to meet with them next week in Beijing. Most of the Flight 370 passengers were Chinese.

Among them: What’s in the flight’s log book? Can they review the jet’s maintenance records? Can they listen to recordings of the Boeing 777 pilot’s conversations with air traffic controllers just before contact was lost?

Hishammuddin has defended his government’s handling of the operation and accused members of the media of focusing on the Chinese families. He said relatives of passengers and crew from other nations represented have not had problems.

“The most difficult part of any investigation of this nature is having to deal with the families,” he said.

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Missing Malaysian jet’s black box batteries may have died

The Associated Press

A U.S. Navy P8 Poseidon takes off from Perth Airport en route to rejoin the ongoing search operations for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in Perth, Australia, Sunday, April 13, 2014.

Following four strong underwater signals in the past week, all has gone quiet in the hunt for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet, meaning the batteries in the plane’s all-important black boxes may finally have died.

Despite having no new transmissions from the black boxes’ locator beacons to go on, air and sea crews were continuing their search in the southern Indian Ocean on Sunday for debris and any sounds that may still be emanating. They are desperately trying to pinpoint where the Boeing 777 could be amid an enormous patch of deep ocean.

No new electronic pings have been detected since Tuesday by an Australian ship dragging a U.S. Navy device that listens for flight recorder signals. Once officials are confident that no more sounds will be heard, a robotic submersible will be sent down to slowly scour for wreckage.

“We’re now into Day 37 of this tragedy,” said aviation expert Geoffrey Thomas. “The battery life on the beacons is supposed to last 30 days. We’re hoping it might last 40 days. However, it’s been four or five days since the last strong pings. What they’re hoping for is to get one more, maybe two more pings so they can do a triangulation of the sounds and try and narrow the (search) area.”

Recovering the plane’s flight data and cockpit voice recorders is essential for investigators to try to figure out what happened to Flight 370, which vanished March 8. It was carrying 239 people, mostly Chinese, while en route from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing.

After analyzing satellite data, officials believe the plane flew off course for an unknown reason and went down in the southern Indian Ocean off Australia’s west coast. Investigators trying to determine what happened to the plane are focusing on four areas – hijacking, sabotage and personal or psychological problems of those on board.

Two sounds heard a week ago by the Australian ship Ocean Shield, which was towing the ping locator, were determined to be consistent with the signals emitted from the black boxes. Two more pings were detected in the same general area Tuesday, but no new ones have been picked up since then.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has expressed confidence that the pings picked up by the Ocean Shield were coming from the plane’s two black boxes, but he cautioned that finding the actual aircraft could take a long time.

“There’s still a lot more work to be done and I don’t want anyone to think that we are certain of success, or that success, should it come, is going to happen in the next week or even month. There’s a lot of difficulty and a lot of uncertainty left in this,” Abbott said Saturday in Beijing, where he was wrapping up a visit to China.

Searchers want to pinpoint the exact location of the source of the sounds – or as close as they can get – before sending the Bluefin 21 submersible down. It will not be deployed until officials are confident that no other electronic signals will come, and that they have narrowed the search area as much as possible.

The underwater search zone is currently a 1,300-square-kilometre patch of the seabed, about the size of Los Angeles.

The sub takes six times longer to cover the same area as the ping locator, and will need about six weeks to two months to canvass the current underwater zone. The signals are also coming from 4,500 metres below the surface, which is the deepest the sub can dive.

The surface area being searched on Sunday for floating debris was 57,506 square kilometres) of ocean extending about 2,200 kilometres northwest of Perth. Up to 12 planes and 14 ships were participating in the hunt.

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MH370 lost, plane went down in Indian Ocean, no survivors – Malaysia Airlines

malaysia-flight.si

Malaysian airlines have announced beyond any reasonable doubt that flight MH370 has been lost and that none of those on board have survived.

The airline has informed the relatives of those on board the doomed flight that the plane is “lost” with no survivors.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has made an announcement, saying “It is therefore with deep sadness and regret that according to this new data, flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean.”

The Boeing 777-200 disappeared from civilian radar screens on the night of the March 8 after taking off from Kuala Lumpur with 239 people on board, en route for Beijing.

There were reports that military radar picked up an unidentified plane, after the stricken jet lost contact with air traffic controllers, which had made a sharp turn as well as descending to a much lower altitude before heading out into the Indian Ocean.

There have been no confirmed sightings of the plane or any debris that can be conclusively linked to it after an international search that has lasted two weeks. The search over the Indian Ocean entered its fifth day on Monday.

The UK Air Accidents Investigations Branch told the Malaysian authorities that the planes final location was above the southern Indian Ocean.

By this he meant satellite data automatically sent by the stricken plane, concluded that the flight ended in an air corridor over the southern Indian Ocean.

“We share this information out of a commitment to openness and respect for the families, two principles guiding this information.”

A crewman of a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) AP-3C Orion aircraft looks at a screen while searching for the missing Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 over the southern Indian Ocean March 24, 2014.

A crewman of a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) AP-3C Orion aircraft looks at a screen while searching for the missing Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 over the southern Indian Ocean March 24, 2014.

His somber announcement comes just a few hours after the Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot said that an Australian navy plane searching the area had spotted debris floating in the sea and that a ship from the Australian navy, HMAS Success, was just a few hours away and would hopefully be able to identify the floating objects.

Many theories have been put forward by a range of experts on what could have happened to the missing plane. One of the most convincing was by a Canadian pilot, Christopher Goodfellow, who said there may have been an electrical fire on board, which would have disabled many of the plane systems, although not all of them.

The pilots would have dropped altitude quickly and changed course to try and land the crippled plane at the nearest available airport, but before they could do this they and everybody else on board would have been overcome by smoke inhalation, while the plane flew on auto pilot before running out of fuel over the Indian Ocean.

Also earlier today a Chinese plane sighted objects in the search area, but different to those seen by the Australian air crew.

Three areas were identified for operations on Monday, totaling 20,000 square nautical miles with 10 aircraft being used.

While Australia is currently the only country to have a ship in the area, a number of Chinese vessels will arrive on Tuesday together with a further three aircraft – two from Japan and one from the UAE.

While 6 Malaysian ships are in the north part of the southern corridor and HMS Echo, a British survey ship, is in the Maldives refueling and will sail to the southern corridor on Monday evening.

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Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 : Investigators trying to restore deleted data from flight simulator in pilot’s home

Experts are trying to restore data that was deleted from the flight simulator found in the home of the pilot of missing Flight MH370, officials have said. They hope that by restoring the information they may obtain something that can help pry open the mystery.

Twelve days after the Boeing 777 and its 239 passengers and crew disappeared without a trace, Malaysia’s Transport Minister said additional efforts were being made to search one of two “corridors” possibly flown by the plane after it disappeared from civilian radar.

The minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, said it was important that pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 57, along with the other members of the crew and the passengers, should be considered innocent until something was found to the contrary. He also stressed that Mr Zaharie’s family were cooperating with the police.

“Local and international expertise has been recruited to examine the pilot’s flight simulator,” Mr Hussein told reporters. “Some data had been deleted from the simulator and forensic work to retrieve this data is ongoing.”

But other pilots said there was nothing suspicious about deleting data from such a simulator and likened it to getting rid of unwanted files from a computer. Amin Said, who runs a commercial fight simulator in Kuala Lumpur and who recreated Flight MH370’s path for The Independent earlier this week, said such a move was usual. “It takes a bit of memory,” he said. “Sometimes it would just conflict.”

Mr Hussein said that while Malaysia was still coordinating the search for the missing plane, other countries were increasingly taking responsibility in their own territory, and in other sectors. He said that Australia and Indonesia were leading the search of the southern Indian Ocean.

He said some countries, but not all, had provided radar information and that he was hoping other countries would provide the data. He refused to reveal what data had been provided. There has been growing speculation that the search is being undermined to some extent by an unwillingness of some countries to hand over information they believe could be harmful to their national security.

The Independent.

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Investigators look for motive in Malaysia plane disappearance

A police car is seen coming from the compound of the home of pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah, the captain of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, in Shah Alam, near Kuala Lumpur

A police car is seen coming from the compound of the home of pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah, the captain of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, in Shah Alam, near Kuala Lumpur

(Reuters) – Malaysian police are investigating the personal, political and religious backgrounds of the pilots and crew of a missing jetliner, a senior officer said on Sunday, as they try to work out why someone aboard flew the plane hundreds of miles off course.

The government also appealed for international help in the search for the Malaysia Airlines plane across two corridors stretching from the Caspian Sea to the southern Indian Ocean, diplomats said.

No trace of the Boeing 777-200ER has been found since it vanished on March 8 with 239 people on board, but investigators believe it was diverted by someone who knew how to switch off its communications and tracking systems.

“We are not ruling out any sort of motivation at the moment,” a senior police official with knowledge of the investigation told Reuters.

The disappearance of Flight MH370 has baffled investigators, aviation experts and internet sleuths since the plane vanished from civilian air traffic control screens off Malaysia’s east coast less than an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur en route to Beijing.

At a news conference on Saturday, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said investigators believed somebody steered the plane west, far from its scheduled route.

Electronic signals it continued to exchange periodically with satellites suggest it could have continued flying for nearly seven hours after being last spotted by Malaysian military radar off the country’s northwest coast.

The satellite data revealed by Najib suggests the plane could be anywhere in either of two arcs: one stretching from northern Thailand to the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, or a southern arc heading from Indonesia to the vast southern Indian Ocean.

A source familiar with official U.S. assessments said it was thought most likely the plane had headed south into the Indian Ocean, where it would presumably have run out of fuel and crashed. Air space to the north is much busier, and the plane would likely have been detected.

Underlining the scale of the task ahead, Malaysian officials listed more countries they were contacting for assistance in searching along the two arcs, which they said were of equal importance.

They range from the former Soviet central Asian republics to the north to Australia in the south, along with France, which administers a scattering of islands deep in the southern Indian Ocean uninhabited except for a handful of researchers.

The Indian Ocean is one of the most remote places in the world and also one of the deepest, posing potentially enormous challenges for efforts to find wreckage or the flight voice and data recorders that are the key to solving the puzzle.

PILOTS’ HOMES SEARCHED

Najib said that in light of the mounting evidence that the plane was deliberately diverted, the investigation into the aircraft’s crew and passengers would be stepped up.

Within hours, special branch officers had searched the homes of the captain, 53-year-old Zaharie Ahmad Shah, and first officer, 27-year-old Fariq Abdul Hamid, in middle class suburbs of Kuala Lumpur close to the international airport.

A journalist films the home of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid in Shah Alam, near Kuala Lumpur

A journalist films the home of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid in Shah Alam, near Kuala Lumpur

An experienced pilot, Zaharie has been described by current and former co-workers as a flying enthusiast who spent his off days operating a life-sized flight simulator he had set up at home.

The Transport Ministry said experts were examining the simulator but appealed to the public “not to jump to conclusions regarding the police investigation”.

The senior police official said the flight simulator programs were looked at closely, adding they appeared to be normal ones that allowed players to practice flying and landing in different conditions.

Postings on his Facebook page suggest the pilot was a politically active opponent of the coalition that has ruled Malaysia for the 57 years since independence.

A day before the plane vanished, opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was convicted of sodomy and sentenced to five years in prison, in a ruling his supporters and international human rights groups say was politically influenced.

Asked if Zaharie’s background as an opposition supporter was being examined, the senior police officer would say only: “We need to cover all our bases.”

Malaysia Airlines has said it did not believe Zaharie would have sabotaged the plane, and colleagues were incredulous.

“Please, let them find the aircraft first. Zaharie is not suicidal, not a political fanatic as some foreign media are saying,” a Malaysia Airlines pilot who is close to Zaharie told Reuters. “Is it wrong for anyone to have an opinion about politics?”

Co-pilot Fariq was religious and serious about his career, family and friends said, countering news reports suggesting he was a cockpit Romeo who was reckless on the job.

EXPERTS DOUBT MILITANT GROUPS INVOLVED

No details have emerged of any passengers or crew with militant links that could explain a motive for sabotaging the flight.

Southeast Asia’s homegrown Islamist militant groups, such as Jemaah Islamiah (JI), which carried out the Bali bombings in 2002, have been quiet in recent years after security forces either arrested or shot dead numerous members.

Experts said they doubted the remaining militants had the skills or capabilities to carry out a complex hijacking.

“JI has not been involved with violence in the region since 2007,” said Sidney Jones, director of the Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict.

“The other groups that are active in Indonesia, in trying to make terrorist plots, are all not very competent. I would be extremely surprised if any group from Indonesia, the Philippines or Malaysia itself would be directly involved.”

Malaysia said the latest analysis of satellite data showed the last signal from the missing plane at 8:11 a.m. local time, almost seven hours after it turned back over the Gulf of Thailand and re-crossed the Malay peninsula.

The data did not show whether the plane was still flying or pinpoint its location at that time, presenting searchers with a daunting task. Seven hours’ more flying time would likely have taken it to the limit of its fuel load.

India had been searching in two areas, one around the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and a second further west in the Bay of Bengal, both in the direction the plane was heading when it dropped off Malaysia’s military radar. Both searches have been “paused” awaiting further instructions from Malaysia, defense officials said on Sunday.

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Missing Malaysia plane : Investigators study pilots’ background

Malaysian police have searched the homes of the pilots of the Malaysia Airlines plane that vanished eight days ago with 239 people on board.

The police are also reportedly looking at the family life and psychological state of pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53, and co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid, 27.

This comes after the authorities said the communications systems of the plane had been deliberately disabled.

The Kuala Lumpur-Beijing flight is believed to have then changed course.

According to satellite evidence, the Boeing 777 could have continued flying for a further seven hours after its last radar contact, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said.

He added that the plane could be anywhere from Kazakhstan to the Indian Ocean.

Mr Razak stopped short of saying it was a hijacking, saying only that they were investigating “all possibilities”.

In a separate development, India on Sunday suspended its search for the plane around the remote Andaman and Nicobar Islands and also in the Bay of Bengal.

Delhi said it acted at the request of the Malaysian authorities.

China – which had 153 citizens on board flight MH370 – has urged Malaysia to continue providing it with “thorough and exact information” on the search.

‘Elaborate suicide’

The Kuala Lumpur homes of Mr Zaharie and Mr Fariq were searched on Saturday, a senior police officer familiar with the investigation was quoted as saying by Reuters.

“We are not ruling out any sort of motivation at the moment,” the official said.

The authorities have so far released no new details on the pilots’ investigation.

However, nothing has been ruled in or out – so terrorism, piracy or even an elaborate suicide are all options now being considered, the BBC’s Jonah Fisher in Kuala Lumpur reports.

Mr Zaharie joined Malaysia Airlines more than 30 years ago, and was considered a very experience pilot.

Mr Fariq recently recently graduated to the cockpit of a Boeing 777. It is believed that he was considering marriage.

It was also reported that Mr Fariq had drawn scrutiny after he and another, unnamed pilot invited two female passengers to sit in the cockpit during a flight in 2011, according to the Associated Press.‘Two corridors’

The flight left Kuala Lumpur for Beijing at 00:40 local time (16:40 GMT) on 8 March and disappeared off air traffic controllers’ screens at about 01:20.

Mr Razak told a news conference on Saturday that new satellite evidence shows “with a high degree of certainty” that the one of the aircraft’s communications systems – the Aircraft and Communications Addressing and Reporting System – was disabled just before it had reached the east coast of Malaysia.

ACARS is a service that allows computers aboard the plane to “talk” to computers on the ground, relaying in-flight information about the health of its systems.

Shortly afterwards, near the cross-over point between Malaysian and Vietnamese air traffic controllers, the plane’s transponder – which emits an identifying signal – was switched off, he said.

According to a military radar, the aircraft then turned and flew back over Malaysia before heading in a north-west direction.

A satellite was able to pick up a signal from the plane until 08:11 local time – more than seven hours after it lost radar contact – although it was unable to give a precise location, Mr Razak said.

He went on to say that based on this new data, investigators “have determined the plane’s last communication with a satellite was in one of two possible corridors”:

  • a northern corridor stretching from the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan through to northern Thailand
  • a southern corridor stretching from Indonesia to the southern Indian Ocean

The BBC’s Jonah Fisher in Kuala Lumpur says investigators will now focus on trying to obtain the radar data from any of the countries the Boeing 777 may have passed over.

This could include Thailand, Myanmar, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India and Pakistan.

Along with the Chinese passengers, there were 38 Malaysians and citizens of Iran, the US, Canada, Indonesia, Australia, India, France, New Zealand, Ukraine, Russia, Taiwan and the Netherlands on board.

An extensive search – involving 14 countries, 43 ships and 58 aircraft – since the plane disappeared has proved fruitless.

BBC News –

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Confusion grows over missing Malaysian Airlines plane

Last Updated Mar 12, 2014 2:43 AM EDT

The mystery over the fate of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 became even more convoluted Wednesday when Malaysia’s air force chief denied earlier remarks that the missing plane had reversed direction and reached the Strait of Malacca before vanishing.

The Boeing 777 was traveling from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing with 239 people on board when air traffic controllers lost contact with it. Five days later, officials seem to have no idea where the plane may have ended up.

Malaysian air force chief Gen. Rodzali Daud was quoted as saying in local media report Tuesday that the military had radar data showing the plane had turned back from its original course, crossed the country and made it to the Strait of Malacca to the west of Malaysia. The Associated Press said it contacted a high-level military official, who confirmed the remarks.

But on Wednesday, Daud issued a statement denying that he had said any such thing.

“I wish to state that I did not make any such statements,” he said.

Instead, he reiterated a comment from Sunday, when he said that the air force had “not ruled out the possibility” that the plane had turned back. But Daud said there was no evidence the jetliner had reached the Strait of Malacca.

Separately, a senior Malaysia Airlines executive told the Reuters news service Wednesday the carrier has “no reason to believe” anything the plane’s crew did led to its disappearance.

Hugh Dunleavy, the commercial director of Malaysia Airlines, said in an interview, “We have no reason to believe that there was anything, any actions, internally by the crew that caused the disappearance of this aircraft.”

Authorities began their search for the missing aircraft at the position it was last reported to be over the sea between Malaysia and Vietnam. But they have also said search operations were ongoing in the Malacca strait.

With no debris found yet, authorities have not ruled out any possible cause, including mechanical failure, pilot error, sabotage or terrorism.

Crews from several nations, including the United States, have been scouring the area for any sign of the missing plane. On Wednesday, Vietnam said it was scaling back its search in its waters.

China, however, said it would add two planes to the rescue mission and would broaden its search to include land areas.

Earlier, investigators had focused on two passengers who were traveling on stolen passports. But authorities later identified the two men as Iranians with no apparent ties to terrorism. They bought their tickets through an Iranian middleman and were both scheduled to fly on to Europe, where investigators believe they planned to seek asylum.

via Confusion grows over missing Malaysian Airlines plane – CBS News.

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Missing Malaysia plane ‘may have turned back’

Malaysian Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said the names of the passengers were being investigated

Malaysian authorities announced that they were now investigating the possibility a missing Malaysian Airlines plane had turned back before disappearing, and were widening the search area accordingly.

As the search of the Malaysia Airlines flight continues into a second day on Sunday, Malaysian aviation authorities said it was “fearing the worst” and that radar displays indicated the plane could have turned around.

Al Jazeera‘s Scott Heidler, reporting from Kuala Lumpur, said the search would now be extended to the west coast of Malaysia.

“This raises a lot of unanswered questions,” he said. “If the pilots had the wherewithal to turn around why did they not communicate with any of the towers. Still the officials saying there wasn’t a distress call.”

No weather problems had been reported in the area before the plane dropped out of contact, and the pilots did not send a distress signal – something that has been highlighted by experts as unusual for a modern jetliner.

There was still no confirmed sighting of wreckage from the Boeing 777 in the seas between Malaysia and Vietnam where it vanished from screens early Saturday morning en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur.

The identities of four passengers on board the missing jetliner are being investigated over ‘airline security fears’ as planes and ships from across Asia resumed the hunt for the plane that disappeared with 239 people on board.

Stolen passports

Foreign Ministry officials in Rome and Vienna said names of two nationals listed as passengers matched passports reported stolen in Thailand. Malaysian Transport Minister Hishamuddin Hussein said authorities were also checking the identities of two other passengers.

“All the four names are with me,” said Hishamuddin, who is also defence minister. “I have indicated to our intelligence agencies and I have also spoken to international intelligence agencies for assistance.”

He said help was also being sought from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). However, an attack was only one of the possibilities being investigated.

“We are looking at all possibilities,” he said. “We cannot jump the gun. Our focus now is to find the plane.”

Vietnamese naval boats sent from the holiday island of Phu Quoc patrolled stretches of the Gulf of Thailand, searching for any wreckage, scouring the area where an oil slick was spotted by patrol jets just before nightfall on Saturday.

On Sunday, the search efforts were increased, with 22 aircraft and 40 ships from various authorities now scouring the original search area and the area to the west that could have been reached if the plane did turn around.

Li Jiaxiang, administrator of the Civil Aviation Administration of China, said some debris had been spotted, but it was unclear whether it came from the plane.

Vietnamese authorities said they had seen nothing close to two large oil slicks they saw Saturday and said might be from the missing plane.

Finding traces of an aircraft that disappears over sea can take days or longer, even with a sustained search effort.

Terrorism is always considered a possibility, but the sudden disappearance of Flight MH370 has given extra emphasis to speculation a bomb might have been on board.

 

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Malaysia Airlines : four passengers’ identities under investigation

No trace of plane found and airline ‘fearing the worst’ as scrutiny of two passengers who travelled on stolen passports widens

Malaysia Airlines staff at a media conference in Beijing on Sunday. Photograph: Feature China/Barcroft Media

The identities of four passengers aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight are under investigation, the country’s transport minister said on Sunday, as the company confirmed that it was “fearing the worst”.

Investigators are examining the entire passenger manifest after European diplomats said late on Saturday that two of the 227 passengers were travelling on stolen passports. Hishamuddin Hussein, who is also defence minister, said Malaysia would work with the FBI and other international agencies and that two more names were being checked.

“All the four names are with me,” he said, according to Reuters.

He spoke as the multinational hunt for any sign of the Malaysia Airlines flight missing with 239 people on board widened on Sunday, with officials saying search and rescue teams had so far found no trace of it.

Hishammuddin also said there was a chance the aircraft had turned back in mid-air.

“We are looking at the possibility of an aircraft air turn back, in which case different locations will have to be identified,” he said.

Citizens from 14 nations were on board, though the vast majority were Chinese. The 12-strong flight crew were all from Malaysia.

On Saturday night, diplomats confirmed that two Europeans listed on the passenger manifest – an Italian, Luigi Maraldi and an Austrian, Christian Kozel – had not been on the flight and were safe and well. Maraldi had his passport stolen in Thailand last year and Kozel’s was stolen in the region two years ago.

The flight was a codeshare with China Southern and the two people named as Maraldi and Kozel on the list booked together via the Chinese airline, Chinese media reported.

The company said it had CCTV footage of the two people who checked in as Maraldi and Kozel.

The Boeing 777 disappeared from radar screens just 40 minutes into its flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in the early hours of Saturday morning. It was last detected over the seas between Malaysia and Vietnam.

On Sunday morning the Malaysian director-general of civil aviation, Azaruddin Abdul Rahman, told reporters the search had expanded to a larger area of the South China Sea area and west coast of Malaysia, the Straits Times reported.

Warships from Singapore and China were heading to the area and the United States also offered vessels and aircraft.

In a statement issued on Sunday morning, Malaysia Airlines said: “More than 24 hours after the loss of contact with Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, the search and rescue teams are still unable to detect the whereabouts of the missing aircraft.

“In fearing for the worst, a disaster recovery management specialist from Atlanta, USA will be assisting Malaysia Airlines in this crucial time.”

An earlier statement began with the words: “Malaysia Airlines humbly asks all Malaysians and people around the world to pray for flight MH370.”

Vietnam’s deputy transport minister, Pham Quy Tieu, said no wreckage had been seen in the vicinity of two oil slicks detected late on Saturday, but that the search continued.

The pilot of another flight told a Malaysian newspaper he had made brief contact with the plane via his emergency frequency, at the request of Vietnamese aviation authorities who had been unable to reach it as expected. Vietnam has said it believes the flight never entered its airspace.

The unnamed man said his Japan-bound plane was deep into Vietnamese airspace when officials asked him to relay to MH370 to establish its position, and that he succeeded at about 1.30am local time.

“The voice on the other side could have been either Captain Zaharie [Ahmad Shah, 53,] or Fariq [Abdul Hamid, 27], but I was sure it was the co-pilot.

“There were a lot of interference … static … but I heard mumbling from the other end.

“That was the last time we heard from them, as we lost the connection,” he told the New Straits Times.

He sakd he did not think any more of it at the time, as losing connections was common.

Malaysia Airlin

es executives have said the flight was at 35,000 feet when it vanished and had given no indication of problems when last in contact.

William Waldock, who teaches accident investigation at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical university in Arizona, told Associated Press the lack of a distress call ‘‘suggests something very sudden and very violent happened”.

Both Malaysia Airlines and Boeing-777s have strong safety records.

CNN reported that an FBI team was flying to Malaysia to assist in the investigation because three Americans were on board. It cited an unnamed official.

via Malaysia Airlines: four passengers’ identities under investigation | World news | theguardian.com.

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