Tag Archives: Malaysia Airlines

Who Shot Down the Malaysian Airliner over Ukraine ?

A round-up of the latest facts, speculation and the blame game surrounding the alleged shoot down of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine.

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Malaysia Flight MH370 : 11 Terrorists Arrested on Suspicion of Involvement in Disappearance of Flight

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  • Suspects were arrested in the capital Kuala Lumpur and the state of Kedah
  • Said to members of violent new terror group said to be planning attacks
  • Interrogations came after demands from agencies including FBI and MI6
  • Manifest revealed presence of consignment but did not reveal its contents
  • Airline has admitted 200kg of lithium batteries was among the items
  • It refused to say what else, citing ‘legal reason’ related to ‘ongoing’ probe

Terrorists with links to Al Qaeda may have been behind the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

11 terrorists, who were reportedly arrested in the capital Kuala Lumpur and in the state of Kedah last week, have been interrogated on suspicion of being involved in the disappearance of the missing aircraft.

The suspects are said to be members of a violent new terror group who have been planning bomb attacks in Muslim countries.

Aged from 22 to 55, the militants are said to comprise students, odd-job workers, a young widow and business professionals.

An officer with the Counter Terrorism Division of Malaysian Special Branch said the arrests had heightened suspicion that the flight’s disappearance may have been an act of terrorism.

“The possibility that the plane was diverted by militants is still high on the list and international investigators have asked for a comprehensive report on this new terror group,” the officer said.

News of the interrogations comes two months after the Beijing-bound plane with 239 passengers on board disappeared from trace on March 8.

An international search operation was implemented with ships and planes deployed to scour the seas to find the wreckage of the aircraft, which was believed to have gone down in the Indian Ocean.

However, the rescue effort, costing hundreds of millions of pounds, has failed to recover any debris or signs that the aircraft had indeed crashed.

Explanations for its possible disappearance have been focused on a range of theories, from equipment failure, damage to the fuselage, a suicide mission and a terror attack implicating the pilots.

The mystery of the vanished Malaysia Airlines flight took a new twist with the international team probing the incident, considering the possibility that the plane may have landed rather than ended up in the Indian Ocean.

A Russian newspaper had earlier claimed that flight MH370 was hijacked and landed in Afghanistan where passengers were being held hostage.

The theory has been attributed to an alleged source within the country’s FSB secret service, according to newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets.

In interviews conducted so far, suspects have admitted to planning “sustained terror campaigns” in Malaysia, but denied being involved in the disappearance of the airliner.

It was reported that during the trial of Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, Osama Bin Laden‘s son-in-law, Saajid Badat, a British-born Muslim from Gloucester, trained at a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan, said he had been instructed to give a shoe bomb to the Malaysians.

“I gave one of my shoes to the Malaysians. I think it was to access the cockpit,” he said.

Badat, who spoke via video link and is in hiding in the UK, told the New York court the Malaysian plot was being masterminded by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the principal architect of 9/11.

Investigators were earlier exploring the possibility that pilot Zaharie Ahmed Shah had ‘deliberately’ redirected the plane off course.

Shah was also known to be a ‘fanatical supporter’ of Anwar Ibrahim’s People’s Justice Party, the opposition party which has been the principal thorn in the side of the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), which has ruled Malaysia for 56 years.

Relatives of the 239 passengers and crew on board missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 were recently issued with death certificates.

The latest reports of possible terrorist involvement in the flight’s disappearance will further fuel the speculation that the passengers may have been held captive by a terrorist organisation.

The news comes as Malaysia Airlines said it will close assistance centres in Beijing and Kuala Lumpur for the families of the 239 passengers and crew on board the Boeing 777-200ER jet.

Related articles

 

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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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Australian PM says MH370 black box within scope of one kilometer

SHANGHAI, April 11 (Xinhua) — Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said here on Friday that the missing Malaysian flight MH370’s black box is within the scope of one kilometer.

According to earlier media reports, Abbott, who is on an official visit to China, said he was “very confident” that the signals detected are from the missing flight.

In a luncheon in Shanghai, he said the information does not mean that the debris of the plane can be found.

Australia, along with China and other countries involved, will try every effort to continue the search, according to sources who quoted Abbott at the luncheon site.

The plane disappeared on March 8 while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board, including 154 Chinese passengers.

The plane’s black box, or flight recorder, could be used to solve the mystery of why the plane veered so far off course.

 Xinhua 

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Two more “pings” detected in search for MH370

An Australian ship detected two new “ping signals” Tuesday, while searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

An Australian ship detected two new “ping signals” Tuesday, while searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

Two new “ping” signals have been detected in the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, reviving confidence in the month-old hunt, Australian officials said on Wednesday.

Australian ship Ocean Shield detected one ping that lasted for over five minutes on Tuesday afternoon, while a second one was detected on Tuesday night and lasted for about seven minutes, Angus Houston, head of the Australian agency coordinating the search, said.

“Ocean Shield has been able to reacquire the signals on two more occasions, late yesterday afternoon and later last night,” Angus Houston, head of the Joint Agency Coordination Center said.

“I believe we are searching in the right area but we need to visually identify aircraft wreckage before we can confirm with certainty that this is the final resting place of MH370,” Houston added.

The U.S. Navy “ping locater” detected two signals that were consistent with black box beacons. The first lasted for more than two hours while the second was only for about 13 minutes.

Flights’ black boxes record cockpit data, and could provide information on the fate of the plane, but the batteries in the beacons have already exceeded their 30-day life expectancy.

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 left Kuala Lumpur on March 8 carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew members. Its signal disappeared after it flew thousands of kilometers into the Indian Ocean towards Beijing, its destination.

Satellite data analysts and investigators centered the search to an approximate area of 2,261 kilometers northwest Australia’s Perth, in a remote area where they concluded the Boeing 777 could be.

The new signals may allow searchers to narrow the area even more.

“Now hopefully with lots of transmissions we’ll have a tight, small area and hopefully in a matter of days we will be able to find something on the bottom,” Houston said.

While authorities did not rule out the possibility of mechanical problems leading to the disappearance of the plane, they said evidence suggests the plane was deliberately diverted by someone familiar with the aircraft.

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Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 : Ship reportedly detects “pulse” signal

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PERTH, Australia — A Chinese ship involved in the hunt for the missing Malaysian jetliner reported hearing a “pulse signal” Saturday in Indian Ocean waters with the same frequency emitted by the plane’s data recorders.

China‘s official Xinhua News Agency said a black box detector deployed by the ship, Haixun 01, picked up a signal at 37.5 kilohertz (cycles per second). However, Xinhua said it had not yet been determined whether the signal was related to the missing plane, citing the China Maritime Search and Rescue Center.

Malaysia’s civil aviation chief, Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, confirmed that the frequency emitted by Flight 370’s black boxes was 37.5 kilohertz.

Retired Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, chief coordinator of the Joint Agency Coordination Center – the Australian government agency coordinating the search – said Saturday the Haixun’s report of electronic pulse signals could not be verified at this time. U.S. officials from the National Transportation Safety Board and FAA were not able to confirm the report, either.

Houston also said the report of a number of white objects on the water’s surface about 90 kilometers from the signal detection area could not be confirmed to be related to the missing plane.

The deployment of Royal Australian Air Force assets to the area where the Chinese ship detected the sounds is being considered, Houston said.

CBS News transportation safety analyst Mark Rosenker, a former chairman of the NTSB, wondered why there was no report of debris from the Chinese ship that detected the signal: “When you think about what in fact they are saying, which means they believe they have the debris site where the aircraft is laying, it defies logic that we would not be seeing something on the surface as well,” Rosenker said.

But Sky News senior correspondent Ian Woods told CBS News Radio, “The reason it is being given some credibility is because even though there are many items that could be mistaken for wreckage floating round in the ocean, there is only one thing that pulses at 37.5 kilohertz, and that is a ‘black box’ recorder.”

Rosenker also said that, if the signal came from missing plane’s flight data recorder, then it could likely take weeks or possibly longer to target and recover it.

On Thursday, the British navy’s HMS Echo reported one alert as it searched for sonic transmissions from the data recorder, but it was quickly discounted as a false alarm, the Joint Agency Coordination Center overseeing the search said. False alerts can come from animals such as whales, or interference from shipping noise.

With the batteries in the black boxes’ locator beacons due to run out any day, crews are in a desperate race against the clock.

On Friday for the first time, crews launched an underwater search trying to pick up a signal from the black box flight recorders on the Beijing-bound plane before they are expected to fall silent. The batteries last only about 30 days, which would be Monday.

The search for the Boeing 777 — plagued by confusion, and agonizing to relatives of the 239 passengers — has frustrated investigators and left many wondering how long it can go on.

Two naval ships from Australia and the United Kingdom began probing the ocean along a 150-mile route on Friday that investigators hope is close to where Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 went down. The Australian ship, Ocean Shield, is towing a U.S. Navy device that can detect signals or pings from the flight data and cockpit voice recorders, commonly known as the black boxes.

The U.S. Navy’s towed pinger locator can pick up signals to a depth of 20,000 feet, and so should be able to hear the plane’s data recorders even if they are at the deepest part of the search zone, about 19,000 feet.

But no wreckage from the plane has been found, so officials cannot even be sure they are looking in the right location. The 84,000-square-mile search area, about 1,100 miles northwest of Perth, was already shifted almost 700 miles to the north after investigators decided that the plane was traveling faster than originally thought.Plus, the pinger locator — consisting of a 30-inch cylindrical microphone attached to about 20,000 feet of cable — must be dragged slowly through the water at just 1 to 5 knots (or 1 to 6 mph) in a grid pattern.

Meanwhile, up to the 11 military planes, four civilian jets and 11 ships were to assist in Saturday’s search, led by the Australia Maritime Safety Authority. Australian officials continue to refine the area where the plane entered the water based analysis of satellite communication and the aircraft’s performance.

The Malaysia Airlines jet left Kuala Lumpur on Saturday, March 8, at 12:41 a.m. headed for Beijing. But investigators believe someone re-programmed the plane’s flight management system, and two minutes after the last conversation between air traffic controllers in Malaysia and the cockpit, the plane’s transponder was turned off. The plane went dark on civilian radar, and then made a left turn back toward Malaysia.

Sources have said it followed an established aviation corridor over several navigational “waypoints.”

The Malaysian military tracked an unidentified object now believed to have been Flight 370 on its radar traveling west towards the Strait of Malacca. At 2:15 a.m., it disappeared from the military radar, about 200 miles northwest of Penang.

Investigators say the plane’s antenna signaled to a satellite multiple times over the next several hours, with the last signal recorded at 8:11 a.m., about the time the plane would have run out of fuel.

Experts says the search in the southern Indian Ocean might have been easier had the plane been outfitted with so-called “deployable black box” technology, essentially flight recorders that eject and float when a plane crashes.

The U.S. Transportation Safety Administration tested the technology, employed on U.S. Navy jets such as the F/A-18 for more than two decades, and found that it would enhance safety on commercial aircraft. But three years after the study, no U.S. commercial airline has installed the technology. The price tag per plane is about $60,000.

As the search for the missing Malaysian jet entered its fifth week, Australian Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, head of the joint agency coordinating the operation, has acknowledged the search area was essentially a best guess.

“They might be lucky and they might start smack bang right over the top of it,” said Geoff Dell, discipline leader of accident investigation at Central Queensland University in Australia. “But my guess is that’s not going to be the case and they’re in for a lengthy search.”

CBS News

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MH370 search could take years, U.S. navy official says, as nations race to find black box before its too late

The search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 could take years, a senior U.S. Navy official said Sunday, as search and rescue officials raced to locate the plane’s black box recorder days before its batteries are set to die.

Ten ships and as many aircraft are searching a massive area in the Indian Ocean west of Perth, in Australia, trying to find some trace of the aircraft, which went missing more than three weeks ago and is presumed to have crashed.

The Malaysian government announced moves to tighten airport security, but the head of the U.S. senate intelligence committee said there was no evidence that terrorism had any role to play in the flight’s disappearance. “There’s speculation, but there’s nothing,” said Senator Dianne Feinstein. “This is a very difficult mission.”

Among the vessels to join the search is an Australian defence force ship, the Ocean Shield, that has been fitted with a sophisticated U.S. black box locator and an underwater drone.

Captain Mark Matthews, a U.S. navy officer who is in charge of the black box pinger detector, said the search area of 123,000 square miles needs to be significantly reduced before there is any serious prospect of finding the black box.

“Right now the search area is basically the size of the Indian Ocean, which would take an untenable amount of time to search,” he said.

Todd Curtis, an aviation expert and former Boeing engineer, warned that the hunt for the plane could last for years.

He said the black box was unlikely to be found before its 30-day pinger, which helps searchers to locate both the box and the plane, runs out of battery life in about a week.

“The likelihood of finding the plane quickly, especially given the pinger will soon end, is going down astronomically,” he told The Daily Telegraph.

“Even if they found the debris today, there is the problem of estimating where it drifted over the past three weeks and then estimating the new area. It all has the potential to take much more than two years.”

Dr Curtis said the search was likely to be “very prolonged” and may end in failure. “There is a chance they will never find the plane,” he said.

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Related

MH370 searchers reveal objects found in Indian Ocean not related to missing Malaysia Airlines plane

MH370 black box may never give up its secrets … even if it isn’t ‘impossible’ to find

MH370 searchers struggle after days staring out at the empty Pacific expanse: ‘It is incredibly fatiguing work’

The failure to find any wreckage from the plane has been harrowing for the families of the 239 passengers, many of whom continue to cling to the hope that survivors will be found.

Twenty-nine distraught Chinese family members flew to Malaysia yesterday, demanding that the authorities “reveal the truth” and “hand over the murderer.” At an emotive press conference they chanted: “We want the evidence, we want the truth, we want our families back.”

 National Post.

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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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