Tag Archives: Hishammuddin Hussein

Flight MH370 families start fund to uncover truth about vanished jet

A Chinese relative of passengers on Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 prays in front of candles.

Not satisfied with the lack of progress being made on locating Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, relatives of passengers are planning to launch a $5 million fundraising campaign aimed at triggering another investigation.

According to a report by USA Today, the campaign will seek $3 million to reward a whistleblower for coming forward with new information and $2 million for private investigators to look into any other leads that emerge.

The campaign has been dubbed “Reward MH370: The Search for the Truth,” and will officially launch on Monday through the crowd-funding website Indiegogo. Composed of families from the United States, Australia, France, India, and New Zealand, the campaign does not include the participation of Chinese or Malaysian families, whose relatives were the primary travelers on the plane.

As for why these families decided they needed to start such an effort, American Sarah Bajc – whose partner, Philip Wood, was on the plane when it disappeared – said it’s necessary considering the failure to locate the plan up to this point.

“We are taking matters into our own hands,” Bajc told USA Today. “There is no credible evidence” the plane is somewhere in the southern Indian Ocean. “I’m convinced that somebody is concealing something.”

Although Bajc is certainly not alone in feeling that way, these accusations have been denied by officials conducting the search.

“Nothing important is being concealed in any way,” said Angus Houston, the head of Australia’s joint agency managing the search. “My approach has always been to be as open as I could possibly be.”

Houston acknowledged that not all the information is out in public just yet, but that a complete review is underway and should be finished sometime in June.

Meanwhile, Malaysian officials have also denied that transparency is an issue, though the country’s acting transport minister, Hishammuddin Hussein has stated that “requests made by next-of-kin and international media cannot be accommodated 100%.”

While Bajc is hopeful and believes outside action must be taken, she is also cautioning those who donate. Even if the campaign is fully funded, results are not guaranteed.

“Granted, $2 million in investigation services won’t go very far,” Bajc told USA Today. “Clearly, they’ve already spent $100 million, and they’ve gotten nothing. But we’re not going to approach it with boats in the ocean. We’re going to approach it with human intelligence.”

As far as the official search goes, the US Navy’s deputy director of ocean engineering Micheal Dean said at the end of May that the four pings believed to have been coming from MH370’s black box were actually coming from an unrelated source. As RT reported then, Dean said there was no evidence suggesting the pings came from the black boxes, and the international group charged with finding the plane halted its search for debris in the suspected area of the Indian Ocean.

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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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Hunt begins to find black boxes for doomed Flight MH370

 

Now that satellite data has confirmed that the missing Malaysian airliner crashed into the Indian Ocean, the race is on to find the crucial voice and data recorders, the so-called black boxes, before a battery-powered homing device runs out.

After a 17-day wait for confirmation that the Boeing 777, one of the world’s most reliable planes, was lost with 239 people on board somewhere over the southern Indian Ocean, a United Nations search team is working round the clock to try and pinpoint the so-called black boxes.

Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said Tuesday that the search area had been narrowed down to an area about the size of Texas and Oklahoma combined.

But Air Marshal Mark Binskin, Australia’s deputy defense chief, issued a sobering reminder of how challenging the search will be.

“We’re not searching for a needle in a haystack – we’re still trying to define where the haystack is.”

The search is made all the more urgent because the battery-powered ping the black boxes emit, a kind of homing signal to help locate them, is only sent out for around 30 days after a crash – before the batteries run out. This leaves another 15 days or so to find them.

But so far the growing international team scouring the southern Indian Ocean has not found any wreckage or debris that can definitely be linked to the plane.

Although British satellite company Inmarsat has said for sure that Flight MH370 went down in a southern corridor of the Indian Ocean and several countries have reported finding floating debris, the exact position of where the plane crashed into the sea is still a mystery.

Eight satellite pings were sent by the aircraft between 1.11 am and 8.11 am – over eight hours after it officially lost contact with air traffic controllers.

The new method “gives the approximate direction of travel, plus or minus about 100 miles, to a track line,” Chris McLaughlin, senior vice-president for external affairs at Inmarsat, told Sky News. “Unfortunately this is a 1990s satellite over the Indian Ocean that is not GPS-equipped.”

With a lack of definite information experts in weather patterns and ocean currents will try and direct those scouring the waves to pinpoint where the plane went down.

We’ve got to get lucky. It is a race to get to the area in time to catch the black box pinger while it’s still working,” John Goglia, a former member of the US National Transportation Safety Board, told AP.

Plan A: Pinger locators from US

The US Navy’s Pacific Fleet is part of the international flotilla amassing over 2,300 kilometers west of Perth, Australia, and one of the Navy’s towed pinger locators is en route to the search area, AP reports.

This crucial bit of kit is a 30-inch long cylindrical microphone, which is towed slowly underwater in a grid pattern behind a ship. It can pick up a ping from a black box – which is actually a red cylinder – from about a mile away.

The microphone is attached to about 20,000 feet of cable and is guided deep underwater by a yellow triangular carrier with a wing span of 3 feet and a shark’s fin on top that looks akin to a stingray.

Human operators and computers on board the ship listen for any signals that may locate the ping.

As well as the towed ping locator, the Australian Navy is sending the ship Ocean Shield to the area, which is equipped with acoustic detention equipment.

Plan B: Sonars to scour seabed

If no strong signals are detected from the black boxes before their batteries run out then the search teams must move to system known as side-scan sonar.

These devises are like sonar used to detect submarines; they send a sound to the sea’s depths and analyze the echo from the seabed to map the ocean floor. They are looking for any abnormalities or unusual shapes on the ocean floor.

The devises can be fitted on unmanned mini-submarines that can dive to the depths of the ocean for up to 20 hours at a time.

Once evidence of debris from the aircraft is found on the seabed, an underwater submersible with a high resolution camera is sent down to visually inspect the area and then using remote control cutting devices and robots pulls the black box out of the wreckage.

Finally, secret intelligence from nuclear submarines may be used, if that can be done without revealing their sophisticated instruments or the location of these clandestine vessels.

Clues in history

Over the past decade there have been crashes similar to the disappearance of light MH370, which may help search teams this time around.

The most obvious is Air France Flight 447, which went down in the middle of the Atlantic, in 2009. It took $40 million, four lengthy search expeditions and a two-year wait before the black boxes were found.

The ensuing data showed that the plane went down mid-cruise largely due to a number of poor decisions by the pilots.

A second example was a Helios jet 737, which lost pressurization and oxygen over Greece in 2005, suffocating the pilot and co-pilot. The plane then flew on autopilot until it ran out of fuel and crashed, but unlike the Malaysian Boeing, it crashed over land and not in one of the deepest and most inaccessible parts of the ocean.

This Underwater Microphone Could Find the Missing Malaysia Airlines Jet | Autopia | Wired.com.

 

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Malaysia flight MH370 : China jets boost Indian Ocean hunt

The two Chinese planes will join six other jets in the search team

Two Chinese military planes have arrived in Perth in Australia to join international search operations for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet.

Crews are set to scour southern areas of the Indian Ocean for a fourth day.

Two sets of satellite images showing floating objects in the area have raised hopes that the jet may be there.

Most of the 239 people on board were Chinese. Beijing has criticised Malaysia’s handling of the search for the plane, now missing for 15 days.

The two Chinese aircraft have been flown in from Malaysia, where they were helping with the search further north.

Six other planes are already at the Perth base, and scoured an area of the Indian Ocean the size of Denmark on Saturday.

But the mission found no debris.

Ships supporting the search are already in the area, or are on their way.

The Australian navy’s HMAS Success, which is large enough to recover any debris if needed, has arrived in the search area.

Crews had another day of fruitless searching on Saturday

Malaysian officials suspect the plane, en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, was deliberately taken off course.

The Boeing-777 disappeared on 8 March; two thirds of the passengers were Chinese.

China on Saturday released a satellite image showing an object floating in the southern Indian Ocean near to the area already being searched, some 2,500 km (1,550 miles) south-west of Perth.

The grainy image was released by China’s State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense.

The find was announced by Malaysia’s Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein amid a routine briefing in Kuala Lumpur.

The Xinhua state news agency said the latest satellite image was taken at about 04:00 GMT on 18 March and showed objects about 120km “south by west” from the first site.

Other satellite images of possible aircraft debris in a nearby area were released earlier in the week.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the sightings were encouraging signs.

“Obviously we have now had a number of very credible leads and there is increasing hope – no more than hope, no more than hope – that we might be on the road to discovering what did happen to this ill-fated aircraft,” he said.

After operations ended for the day on Saturday, Australia’s Maritime Safety Authority said an aircraft had reported sighting a number of small objects with the naked eye within a radius of five kilometres, including a wooden pallet.

However the floating object seen in the new satellite image was not spotted.

At his briefing, Acting Transport Minister Hussein also said investigations of the plane’s cargo manifest did “not show any link to anything that may have contribution to the plane’s disappearance”.

He also referred to the angry scenes as Malaysian officials briefed Chinese relatives in Beijing.

“Government of Malaysia, tell us the truth – give us back our loved ones,” relatives shouted at the Lido Hotel.

Mr Hussein admitted the briefing had been “tense” and an investigation was under way to try to improve the situation.

The search has been in two distinct corridors – one stretching to the north-west of the last known location in the Malacca Straits and one to the south-west.

The locations were based on a data “ping” apparently sent to a satellite from the missing plane hours after it vanished from other indicators.

However, on Saturday, Mr Hussein said that China, India, Pakistan, Myanmar (Burma) and several other nations had informed Malaysia that analysis of their radar records had revealed no evidence of flight MH370 crossing their airspace.

BBC News

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Chinese satellite spots possible MH370 flight debris

Australian Flight Lieutenant Jason Nichols (L), on board a Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion, looks ahead towards the HMAS Success as they search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 debris or wreckage in the southern Indian Ocean on March 22, 2014.

Chinese satellites have discovered a new object in the waters of the southern Indian Ocean that may be wreckage from Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which went missing with 239 people on board.

The Chinese finding was first announced by Malaysia’s defense minister and acting transport minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, who was handed a note with details during his press conference in the country’s capital, Kuala Lumpur.

“The news that I just received is that the Chinese ambassador received satellite images of floating objects in the southern corridor and they will be sending ships to verify,” he said. “Beijing is expected to make an announcement in a few hours.”

The discovered object is around 22 meters long and 13 meters wide, the Chinese State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (SASTIND) said on its website.

It was spotted on March 18 in a remote area off the western Australian coast by China’s high-definition earth observation satellite, Gaofen-1, SASTIND.

According to the Chinese side, the new finding has been spotted about 120 kilometers from the location where possible wreckage was sighted by another satellite on March 16, and south by west of the possible debris, which was announced by Australia on Thursday.

A satellite image of an object spotted in the southern Indian Ocean by the Gaofen-1 high-resolution optical Earth observation satellite CNSA

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, carrying 239, people left Kuala Lumpur on March 8 destined for Beijing, but mysteriously disappeared from radar screens around an hour after takeoff.

For the last two weeks, over 20 countries have been making efforts to establish what happened to the Boeing 777 plane, but their efforts have so far proved fruitless.

In recent days, the international search has switched to the southern Indian Ocean far off Australia’s western coast, after floating objects were photographed by the satellites in the area, described by Australian PM, Tony Abbott, as “the most inaccessible spot that you can imagine on the face of the Earth.”

Six planes and two ships are currently taking part in the operation, with two Chinese aircrafts arriving in Perth on Saturday and two more planes from Japan expected on Sunday.

“This search is an intensive operation,” Warren Truss, Australian deputy prime minister, is cited as saying by the Guardian newspaper. “While these aircraft are equipped with very advanced technology, much of this search is actually visual.”

Malaysia’s acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein holds up a note that he has just received on a new lead in the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, during a news conference at Kuala Lumpur International Airport March 22, 2014. (Reuters / Edgar Su)

The search will go on as long as necessary because “it is important from the perspective of those who have families… and indeed for the future of the aviation,” Warren promised.

Several people familiar with the matter told Reuters that India has informed Malaysian investigators that it hadn’t any evidence of the missing plane flying through its airspace, which makes the satellite debris lead more solid.

Meanwhile, the hunt has also resumed in the Andaman Sea between India and Thailand (areas already exhaustively swept), to be re checked for possible leads.

The plane ordeal has reportedly sparked tensions between China and Malaysia, with Beijing slamming Kuala Lumpur for not treating the relatives of the flight MH370 passengers well enough, and demanding a step-up in the search.

The Beijing families of those on board the plane issued a statement on Saturday, accusing the Malaysian delegation of “concealing the truth” and “making fools” of the relatives, after they failed to get all the answers during a meeting.

“This kind of conduct neglects the lives of all the passengers, shows contempt for all their families, and even more, tramples on the dignity of Chinese people and the Chinese government,” the statement is cited by Reuters.

Investigators suspect flight MH370 was deliberately diverted thousands of miles from its scheduled path, and are focusing on hijacking or sabotage, adding that technical problems aren’t also ruled out as well.

 RT News.

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Suspected debris of missing Malaysia plane may have sunk – Australia

A photo taken on March 21, 2014, shows a crew member on a Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion aircraft participating in the Australian Maritime Safety Authority-led search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in the Southern Indian Ocean.

An international search has failed to find traces of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in the Indian Ocean location where two objects were spotted on Sunday. Australia‘s deputy prime minister said the suspected debris may have sunk.

Two objects were spotted on satellite images in the Indian Ocean about 2,500 kilometers southwest of Perth on Sunday, Australian authorities said on Thursday. There have been no signs of wreckage, but the debris was considered a credible lead and sparked a massive search.

Bad weather hampered search operations on Thursday, but conditions improved on Friday. Despite clear weather and visibility, the search team failed to find the debris.

“Something that was floating on the sea that long ago may no longer be floating,” Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss told journalists in Perth. “It may have slipped to the bottom.”

The search for flight MH370 has so far yielded no results. The plane, traveling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, vanished on March 8 with 239 people on board, around one hour after takeoff. American officials suggested this week that it changed course via the cockpit’s computerized Flight Management System, not by manual control.

The announcement made by Australian authorities on Thursday regarding the possible plane debris raised hopes of a breakthrough.

“Now it could just be a container that’s fallen off a ship. We just don’t know, but we owe it to the families and the friends and the loved ones to do everything we can to try to resolve what is as yet an extraordinary riddle,” said Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott during his visit to Papua New Guinea on Friday.

The search for the longest civil aircraft disappearance in modern history continues. Aircrafts and ships have renewed monitoring in the Andaman Sea between India and Thailand.

Australian, New Zealand, and US rescue forces will be joined by Chinese and Japanese ships and planes over the weekend.

Japan will provide tools to assist with the search, including two P-3 Orions based in Perth, said Malaysian transport minister Hishammuddin Hussein. He added that China has deployed five ships and three helicopters to assist with the search.

India said it was also deploying two aircrafts – a Poseidon P-8I maritime surveillance aircraft and a C-130 Hercules transporter – to join the hunt in the southern Indian Ocean and another P-8I and four warships to search in the Andaman Sea.

A number of merchant vessels have also participated in the search, according to Australia’s deputy prime minister. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Tony Abbott noted while in Papua New Guinea that “it’s about the most inaccessible spot that you can imagine on the face of the Earth, but if there is anything down there, we will find it.”

 RT News

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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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MH370’s endless enigma : Nine things to know about the international effort to find missing Malaysia Airlines jet

A handout picture made available by the US Navy on 17 March 2014 shows sailors inspecting the flight deck of the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Kidd at sea in the Indian Ocean, 16 March 2014. Photo: US Navy/EPA

A handout picture made available by the US Navy on 17 March 2014 shows sailors inspecting the flight deck of the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Kidd at sea in the Indian Ocean, 16 March 2014. Photo: US Navy/EPA

The search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 moved into the northern and southern hemispheres as Day 10 of rescue efforts still found no clue as to the whereabouts of the vanished jet. Here’s nine things to know about the international effort to locate the plane.

SYSTEM SHUTDOWN

Malaysian authorities have been criticized for giving contradictory accounts over aspects of the investigation into the disappearance of Flight MH370. Authorities have now added to the confusion surrounding a key communications system. On Sunday, Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said the aircraft’s communications addressing and reporting system (ACARS) had been “disabled” at 1:07 a.m. on March 8. This was before co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid gave the last verbal message from the plane — “All right, good night” — to ground controllers and would have been the clearest indication yet of something amiss in the cockpit before it went off course.

Journalists stand outside the home of Fariq Abdul Hamid, the co-pilot of the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, in Shah Alam, outside Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Photo: AP

Journalists stand outside the home of Fariq Abdul Hamid, the co-pilot of the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, in Shah Alam, outside Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Photo: AP

But Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, chief executive of Malaysia Airlines, clarified at a news conference Monday the communications system had worked normally at 1:07 a.m., then failed to send its next regularly scheduled update at 1:37 a.m. “We don’t know when the ACARS system was switched off,” he said. In response, Hishammuddin waved off numerous questions about why he had said a day earlier CARS had been disabled at 1:07 a.m. “What I said yesterday was based on fact, corroborated and verified,” he said.

MORE QUESTIONS

The new description of what happened to the ACARS system appeared to reopen the possibility the aircraft was operating normally until a transponder ceased sending signals two minutes after its last radio message at 1:19 a.m. The new uncertainty could raise additional questions about whether the plane was deliberately diverted or suffered mechanical or electrical difficulties that crippled its communications and resulted in it flying an aberrant course that involved turning around, heading back over peninsular Malaysia, while rising and falling rapidly, and finally flying out over the Strait of Malacca to an unknown location.

The Malaysian Navy ship KD Kasturi arrives at the Kuantan Naval Base to refuel and restock on March 15, 2014 in Kuantan, Malaysia.

STILL HOPE

Hishammuddin said finding the plane was still the main focus and he did not rule out finding it intact. “The fact that there was no distress signal, no ransom notes, no parties claiming responsibility, there is always hope,” he said. Investigators have not ruled out hijacking, sabotage, pilot suicide or mass murder. They are checking the backgrounds of all 227 passengers and 12 crew, as well as the ground crew, to see if links to terrorists, personal problems or psychological issues could be factors.

SEARCH TEAMS

Malaysia’s government sent out diplomatic cables to all countries in the search area, seeking more planes and ships for the search, as well as to ask for any radar data that might help narrow the task. About 26 countries are involved in the search, which initially focused on seas on either side of peninsular Malaysia, in the South China Sea and the Strait of Malacca. China, where most of the passengers were from, is providing several planes and 21 satellites.

FRENCH HELP

French investigators have arrived in Kuala Lumpur to lend expertise garnered in the two-year search for an Air France jet that crashed into the Atlantic Ocean in 2009. In that case, they were able to rely on distress signals. But that vital tool is missing in the Malaysia Airlines mystery because Flight 370’s communications were deliberately severed before its disappearance, investigators say. “It’s very different from the Air France case. The Malaysian situation is much more difficult,” said Jean Paul Troadec, a special advisor to France’s aviation accident investigation bureau.

ITEMS SEIZED

Malaysian police confiscated a flight simulator from the pilot’s home Saturday and also searched the home of the co-pilot in what Malaysian police chief Khalid Abu Bakar initially said was the first police visits to those homes. But the government issued a statement Monday contradicting that account by saying police first visited the pilots’ homes as early as March 9, the day after the flight.

MOVING HAYSTACK

The search area for Flight MH370 is now up to about 80 million square kilometres, according to several estimates. The leader of one of the Malaysia search missions, Captain Fareq Hassan, said: “This is not just a needle in a haystack, it’s a haystack that gets bigger and shifts under us, due to the [ocean’s] drift.”

AVOIDING RADAR

Malaysia’s [ital]New Straits Times[endital] reported investigators were considering the possibility the Boeing 777 dropped to 1,500 metres or possibly even lower to avoid detection by radar. It said the plane “had flown low and used ‘terrain masking’ during most of the eight hours it was missing from the radar coverage of possibly at least three countries.” One official told the paper, “It’s possible that the aircraft had hugged the terrain in some areas, that are mountainous to avoid radar detection.” There was no official comment on the report.

NO SERVICE

Passengers on MH370 probably didn’t have any service on their phones to call or text, say experts. Ted Lennox, president of LPS Avia Consulting, an Ottawa company that does aviation and airport planning, suggested the plane could have been out of reach of cellphone towers. The unavailability of a co-operating carrier could also have played a role in why passengers didn’t send texts or calls. Their cellphones, which were likely on a Malaysian carrier, might not have been able to connect to carriers in countries the plane passed over.

via MH370’s endless enigma: Nine things to know about the international effort to find missing Malaysia Airlines jet | National Post.

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Missing Malaysian Airlines plane could have flown into Taliban-controlled Pakistan

Military officer Pham Tuan Minh looks through a window of a Vietnam Air Force AN-26 aircraft during a mission to find the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, off Con Dao island March 13, 2014.

Malaysia is reportedly investigating a theory that flight MH370 could have slipped under Pakistani radars and landed a Taliban base close to the Afghan border. The pilots’ possible role in the plane’s disappearance is also being examined.

Citing sources, UK newspaper The Independent reported that Malaysian investigators had requested permission from the Pakistani government to follow up a theory that the missing passenger jet had landed close to the border with Afghanistan. The Boeing 777, carrying 239 people, disappeared from radars last week on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Since then, authorities have been unable to ascertain the whereabouts of the plane, and have not found any wreckage from a crash.

The Pakistani government says it has no record of the craft entering its airspace, but has told the Malaysian investigators it is ready to share all available information. In addition, The Kazakh Civil Aviation Committee has said that although the Malaysian Airlines plane could have reached Kazakhstan, their radars would have picked it up.

“No information about the Malaysian plane is available at our radar as it has not entered our airspace,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Tasnim Aslam told reporters when asked to comment on the Malaysian government‘s request. “Our radar system has no information about the Malaysian aircraft as it has never contacted our control tower.”

Pakistan is now one of 25 countries participating in the search for the missing plane.

The Malaysian authorities are investigating a myriad of theories of how the plane disappeared and have not ruled out a possible terrorist attack.

On Saturday, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said that investigators had reliable information that someone on the plane had “deliberately disabled” communications systems before the plane vanished. Furthermore, investigators said that it would have taken someone with pilot training to be able to switch off the Aircraft and Communications Addressing and Reporting System, or ACARS. This system automatically sends engine data and other information to the airline.

‘All right, good night’

On Sunday, Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told a news conference that the last words to be spoken to air traffic control from onboard the plane were “All right, good night.” This was said after the ACARS system had been switched off and there was no mention of any inflight problems.

In connection with this new information, authorities are now investigating the pilot, 53-year-old Captain Zaharie Shah. On Sunday authorities searched his home, interviewed his family and took away for analysis a flight simulator he used to practice with in his spare time. The home of co-pilot Fariq Abdul, 27, was also searched.

In light of the new information, Hussein said that we must not jump to conclusions too quickly as the two pilots did not request to be onboard together and they had also not asked for any extra fuel.

Malaysian authorities have almost completely ruled out the possibility that one of the passengers had a hand in disabling the communications systems. Khalid Abu Bakar, inspector general of Malaysia’s police, said that they had “cleared” most of the passengers on the plane.

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Flight MH370 : last message to Malaysia sent ‘after communications disabled’

Revelation suggests person who delivered ‘All right, good night’ message from missing plane knew system had been shut down

The person in control of missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 issued their last communication to air traffic control after the first set of aircraft communications was disabled, Malaysian authorities have confirmed, adding further weight to suspicion that the plane was hijacked.

The latest revelation suggests that the person who delivered the “All right, good night” message to Kuala Lumpur air traffic controllers just before the Boeing-777 disappeared from their radar at 1.22am and diverted from its scheduled flightpath to Beijing was also aware that the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (Acars) had been manually shut down.

Investigations still do not appear to know who was at the helm and what their intentions were when the aircraft disappeared from civilian radar more than a week ago.

Experts on aircraft maintenance have explained that the plane’s communications system can only be disabled manually – a process that requires switching a number of cockpit controls in sequence until a computer screen necessitates a keyboard input.

Authorities have not yet disclosed whether the person who issued the last message to controllers was Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53, or co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid, 27, or an unknown third person. It is also unclear if such messages are recorded by air traffic control and are available for expert analysis to determine who the voice belongs to.

Malaysia Airlines could not be reached for comment and Malaysia’s transport ministry declined to comment.

Malaysia’s police chief, Khalid Bakar, has said authorities were investigating all crew, passengers and ground staff involved with MH370 under a penal code that includes hijacking, sabotage and terrorism. Police had questioned Zaharie’s friends and family, and dismantled and reassembled at headquarters a flight simulator Zaharie kept in his house on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur.

Police also searched Fariq’s home, although it was unclear if anything was confiscated.

According to Malaysia Airlines, the pilot and co-pilot did not ask to fly together, reducing the probability of a co-ordinated plan between the pilots to hijack the aircraft.

Khalid told reporters that all 239 people on board – 228 passengers and 11 Malaysian crew – were being investigated for suspicious activity, but that police were waiting for background information from some of the nations whose citizens were on the plane.

Eight days after the Boeing-777 vanished, with no concrete leads on its whereabouts, investigators are now searching for the plane along two possible flight corridors from the its last known location at 2.15am last Saturday over the Malacca strait – one stretches south from Indonesia towards the Indian Ocean, a vast expanse with very little radar coverage; the other reaches north from Thailand up towards central Asia, a heavily militarised area whose airspace is carefully scrutinised.

There are 25 countries assisting in the search, said Malaysia’s defence and acting transport minister, Hishammuddin Hussein – raising the additional challenges of co-ordinating ground, sea and aerial efforts as well as the delicate diplomatic issue of sharing significant sensitive information, from satellite data to primary and secondary radar playback, as well as any ground, sea and aerial co-ordination efforts.

“This is a significant recalibration of the search,” Hishammuddin told reporters on Sunday. “From focusing mainly on shallow seas, we are now looking at large tracts of land, crossing 11 countries, as well as deep and remote oceans.

The search was already a highly complex, multinational effort. It has now become even more difficult.”

Malaysia’s prime minister, Najib Razak, has already spoken with the heads of state of Bangladesh, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and India; the foreign ministry has briefed at least 22 countries regarding the new search efforts as well as any additional countries that may be able to provide assistance.

Those countries include Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Australia, with special assistance regarding satellite data requested from the US, China and France.

Surveillance airplanes and maritime vessels will also be needed in the search for the missing jet along the southern corridor, where the Indian Ocean can reach depths of two miles and radar coverage is patchy at best.

Malaysia Airlines has confirmed that the plane departed for Beijing with enough fuel only to reach its scheduled destination, so it would have been likely to run out after about seven hours’ flight time – if flying at normal cruising altitudes. But with reports emerging that the aircraft may have been flying at altitudes as high as 45,000ft, authorities also confirmed on Sunday that the plane need not have been flying for the duration of the period it was picked up by satellites.

The satellite “pings” that were last read at 8.11am on Saturday – six hours after Malaysian military radar last detected the aircraft over the Malacca strait at 2.15am – could still have been transmitting data from the ground, if the plane were to have landed, said Malaysia’s civil aviation chief, Abdul Rahman.

“The plane can still transmit pings from the ground as long as there is electrical power,” he said.

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