Tag Archives: Malacca Strait

Missing Malaysia Plane Forces Countries to Weigh Security Secrets

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The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 launched an international hunt for any sign of the plane, causing dozens of countries to wrestle with putting aside national security and military secrets to try and find the plane.

After Malaysia admitted that its civilian air radar lost contact with the plane early Saturday morning, attention quickly turned to more advanced methods of detection, including military radar and satellites.

Now, all of the countries involved in the search – numbering at least 25 – are wrestling with how to share helpful information without giving away data that could threaten their safety later.

  • Malaysia was accused of being coy with satellite and radar data in the early days of the investigation, not releasing key radar data showing the plane’s turn-around until four days after the disappearance. The Minister of Foreign Defense said that the country was willing to put its own national security aside to try and find the plane.
  • Thailand waited 10 days after the plane disappeared to mention publicly that its military radar detected a plane that may have been Flight 370. Thai authorities said they didn’t share the information earlier because they weren’t specifically asked for it.  
  • China’s proposal to send four warships to help search for the plane was in jeopardy by India, which said it didn’t want to allow Chinese military access to its strategic Andaman and Nicobar islands, where India has a military base, according to the Times of India.
  • As the search moved from the South China Sea and Strait of Malacca to the Indian Ocean off Australia, Australian authorities would not describe what satellite imagery they used to determine where to search for plane wreckage. Australian and U.S. military have satellites controlled from Australia, but the investigators would not answer questions about the satellites due to proprietary state secrets.
  • The search has also forced countries with tense relationships to work together, including the United States, Pakistan and Iran. As U.S. investigators focused on hijacking as a possible cause for the disappearance, they quickly vetted two Iranian nationals who used fake passports to get on the plane, casting suspicion that Iranian terrorists had hijacked 370.
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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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China satellites spot suspected Malaysia Airlines plane debris

This aerial picture taken from aboard a Vietnamese Air Force Russian-made MI-171 helicopter shows a ship, as seen from the cockpit, sailing below during a search flight some 200 km over the southern Vietnamese waters off Vietnam’s island Phu Quoc on March 11, 2014 as part of continued efforts aimed at finding traces of the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370.

Chinese satellite images show three floating objects suspected to be debris from the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, according to reports. Coordinates place the fragments in the South China Sea between Malaysia and Vietnam

The three objects are sized 13×18, 14×19, and 24×22 (meters), according to CNN.

The images, from China’s State Administration for Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense, were taken on Sunday morning but only released Wednesday, the BBC reported.

Flight MH370 went missing on Saturday morning local time. The China-bound plane left Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with 239 people on board. The plane lost communication about an hour after taking flight.

If the location holds true, it would indicate that the plane crashed not far from the last confirmed radar contact with MH370. It would also contradict reports this week that the plane had turned around, heading back to Malaysia as far as the Strait of Malacca.

“It also ties in with an earlier claim from an oil rig worker who claimed he saw a plane on fire over the South China Sea, southeast of Vietnam,” the Guardian wrote.

Malaysian authorities who met with the relatives of the flight’s passengers on Wednesday told them that the last radio transmission from MH370 was either “All right, roger that,” or “All right, good night,” according to different reports.

RT 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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