Archive for March 18th, 2014

EXCLUSIVE: Did MH370 crew succumb to fire catastrophe?

by Aimee Turner
Air Traffic Management
March 17, 2014

The former head of security for the United States’ Federal Aviation Administration insists that rather than portraying the crew of the missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 as saboteurs, the pilots struggled heroically to save their aircraft until overcome by smoke from a catastrophic cargo fire.

Billie Vincent who served as the FAA’s civil aviation security chief played a key policy and crisis management role in the handling of all hijackings of US aircraft in the 1980s. He was also in charge of the agency’s armed Federal Air Marshals and served as an expert witness in the trial of the Pan Am 103 terrorist bombing.

After leaving the FAA he led an international consulting firm which was contracted in the 1990s to design and implement the security system of Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur International Airport where Flight 370, carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew, started its journey at 12.41 am on March 8 before disappearing from civilian radar en route to Beijing at 1.21 am.

Officials in Malaysia claim that, based on ‘pings’ sent from the aircraft to an Inmarsat satellite, the aircraft was deliberately diverted and may have flown as far north as Central Asia or south over the Indian Ocean. They suspect that someone on board the aircraft first disabled one of its communications systems – the Aircraft and Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) around 40 minutes after takeoff before switching off the aircraft’s transponder in a systematic effort to render the aircraft invisible to air traffic surveillance.

Speaking exclusively to Air Traffic Management, Vincent dismisses the likelihood of a bomb being detonated on board which would have ruptured the pressure hull of the aircraft citing the fact that the aircraft was tracked by a series of satellite ‘pings’. That would indicate that Flight MH370 flew for up to seven more hours which would not have been possible if it had been compromised. Read the rest of this entry »


Were the Phones on Flight MH370 Ever Connected?

By Lance Ulanoff

It’s been more than a week since Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, flying out of Malaysia and bound for Beijing, China, disappeared. The search for the plane, now part of a criminal investigation, spans thousands and thousands of miles. With the missing Boeing 777 are 239 souls, their fate unknown and the possibilities heart-wrenching.

The desperation for resolution is so keen that the idea that technology could somehow, even now, reconnect the lost with their loved ones is seized upon -– only to be debunked by clearer heads.

Technology is so often the solution that it’s hard to imagine it could fail us so completely. So we soldier on with new theories. Read the rest of this entry »

1 Comment

What MH370 hijacking theories can’t explain

By Adam Taylor
Washington Post
March 17 2014

With so few clues in the case of Malaysia Airlines MH370, the theories surrounding the missing plane are taking on a life of their own. One widespread idea is that the plane may have flown to Central Asia somewhere, flying low to avoid the radar of multiple states (or simply exposing their radar systems’ weakness). This theory, explained very well by Jeff Wise over at Slate, uses satellite data that appears to indicate that the plane was heading north at 8:10 a.m. Malaysia time March 8, and could probably have ended up in Western China or somewhere nearby.

There’s one very obvious reason this idea is enticing: It allows the possibility that the 239 passengers and crew on board the plane could be alive. Few other theories, such as a terrorist attack, a pilot suicide or some kind of mechanical failure with the plane offer much hope there. It also seems to assume that that the plane was hijacked by crew or passengers.

It doesn’t explain, however, the one thing that most high-profile hijackings, from the 1970s to the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, have in common: Everyone knew what happened to the plane. Read the rest of this entry »

1 Comment

MH370 was programmed to turn around, investigators claim

The Malay Mail Online
March 18, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, March 18 — The “air turnback” made by Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 was executed using the plane’s navigational computer inside the cockpit, the New York Times reported.

Citing unnamed US law enforcement officials, the newspaper said the plane was not piloted manually as initially believed, adding to the mounting evidence that the person or persons behind the “deliberate action” to divert the plane from its Beijing-bound route was intimately familiar with the Boeing 777-200ER.

Malaysia on Saturday said it was now refocusing its investigations on the 12 crew and 227 passengers of the missing plane.

According to the US officials, the crucial piece of information was contained in the final transmission of the plane’s Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) at 1.07am on March 8.

Previous information by Malaysian authorities that the ACARS was shut off prior to the plane’s last broadcast of “All right, good night” by co-pilot Fariq Ab Hamid at 1.17am, had led to suspicion falling on the two aviators at the helm.

Yesterday, MAS cleared up confusion over when the ACARS aboard MH370 was switched off, saying it could have taken place any time between 1.07am and 1.37am, when it was due to make its next transmission but never did.

But the revelation from the US investigators that the plane’s path was altered via the Flight Management System prior to the final ACARS transmission indicates that the plan to divert the plane may have been set in motion even before then. Read the rest of this entry »


Mechanical v human: Why do planes crash?

By Finlo Rohrer & Tom de Castella
BBC News Magazine
14 March 2014

Mystery still surrounds the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH 370 but the speculation going on reveals something about lay people’s assumptions of air crashes.

What is likely to be the main cause of a passenger plane crashing?

Mechanical failure? Or human error?

There are many people whose first assumption – after terrorism or hijacking is discounted – when a plane is lost is that some physical part has failed catastrophically. But mechanical failures alone account for only a small proportion of airliner crashes.

For fatal accidents, one calculation puts the primary cause as “pilot error” in 50% of all cases.

One of the most common scenarios for a plane crash (more than a fifth of all fatal accidents between 2006-11, according to the International Civil Aviation Organization) is known as “controlled flight into terrain” (CFIT), referring to aircraft that were piloted into the ground, water, mountains or other terrain. Read the rest of this entry »

1 Comment

Malaysia under scrutiny as plane mystery drags on

The Malaysian Insider
March 18, 2014

Malaysia vehemently denies mishandling crucial information on the fate of missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370, but questions persist as to whether early missteps and secrecy contributed to the disappearance of a huge passenger plane on a clear night.

Foreign media reports, especially those in China’s state media, have accused the Malaysian authorities of incompetence, misleading the public and exacerbating the suffering of the relatives of those missing.

Two-thirds of the passengers on the Boeing-777 that effectively vanished 11 days ago were Chinese nationals.

The Malaysian government has pleaded for patience and understanding, arguing it has no choice but to hold back information that has not been painstakingly verified.

Critics say the lack of progress in the search for the plane is symptomatic of an inefficient ruling elite unused to tough questioning.

“The Malaysian leadership is not used to being held to account on anything,” Michael Barr, an Asian politics expert at Flinders University in Australia, told AFP.

“They are more used to controlling the press and silencing critics,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »


Hishammuddin’s “For BN MPs only” briefing on MH370 very negative and divisive, inimical to Parliament’s role to conduct full investigations into MH 370 tragedy after SAR operation

Today is the 11th day of the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370.

What is traumatic and excruciating for the families, relatives and friends of the 239 passengers and crew on board as well as an international community united in their prayer for their safety is that despite spawning the largest-ever multi-national air-sea search – involving over a hundred ships and aircrafts from 26 countries – there is nothing to indicate the whereabouts of the aircraft or the people on board.

This is the time for everyone regardless of race, religion, politics or nationality to continue to unite as one to pray and hope for the safety of the 239 people on board the missing MH370.

As I said in my speech in Parliament last Thursday (the sixth day of the missing MH370): Read the rest of this entry »


Flip-flop over ACARS switch off time, FBI help, adding to MH370 muddle, say reports

The Malaysian Insider
March 18, 2014

The search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has taken another confusing twist, after authorities backtracked on when a crucial communications system on the aircraft was switched off.

The airline’s group chief executive officer Ahmad Jauhari Yahya told a news conference yesterday that it was unclear exactly when one of the plane’s automatic tracking systems had been disabled and the last words from the cockpit, believed to be from the co-pilot, could have been done before the communication system was switched off.

This contradicts an earlier statement by Acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein that the communications system had been “disabled” at 1.07am on March 8 – before the verbal sign-off was given to air traffic controllers at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, said a report in The Sydney Morning Herald.

Jauhari told yesterday’s press conference that the communications system, known as the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS), had worked normally at 1.07am but then failed to send its next regularly scheduled update at 1.37am.

“We don’t know when the Acars system was switched off,” he said.

Jauhari said that the verbal signoff was given by radio from the aircraft at 1.19am which was between the two scheduled transmission times for the ACARS system.

A second communications system, a transponder that communicates with ground-based radar, then ceased working at 1.21am. Read the rest of this entry »


Planning could hold key to disappearance of Flight MH370

By Siva Govindasamy and Tim Hepher
Mar 17, 2014

(Reuters) – Whether by accident or design, whoever reached across the dimly lit cockpit of a Malaysia Airlines jet and clicked off a transponder to make Flight MH370 vanish from controllers’ radars flew into a navigational and technical black hole.

By choosing one place and time to vanish into radar darkness with 238 others on board, the person – presumed to be a pilot or a passenger with advanced knowledge – may have acted only after meticulous planning, according to aviation experts.

Understanding the sequence that led to the unprecedented plane hunt widening across two vast tracts of territory north and south of the Equator is key to grasping the motives of what Malaysian authorities suspect was hijacking or sabotage. Read the rest of this entry »


Southerly route ‘most likely’ for missing MH370, says ex-CIA agent

The Malay Mail Online
March 18, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, March 18 ― Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight MH370 would have triggered the military alarms of numerous nations if it had flown a northerly course as some investigators suspect, a former US intelligence agent said.

Mike Morell said the passenger plane carrying 239 people onboard had most likely gone the southern route where it would have better chances of escaping radar detection.

“There are a lot of defence radars up there with China and India and the US and Afghanistan.

“So again, it is most likely the southern route,” the former deputy director of the US Central Investigation Agency (CIA) said in an interview yesterday on US broadcast programme, CBS This Morning. Read the rest of this entry »

No Comments

Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan says detected no unidentified planes when flight MH370 vanished

The Malaysian Insider
March 17, 2014

Central Asian neighbours Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan said on Monday no unidentified planes had crossed their air space on March 8, making it unlikely that a missing Malaysia Arlines jetliner could have been diverted along a northern route via Thailand.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which vanished with 239 people aboard, could hypothetically have reached Kazakhstan’s air space, but it would have been detected there, the Kazakh Civil Aviation Committee said in a detailed statement sent to Reuters.

“Even if all on-board equipment is switched off, it is impossible to fly through in a silent mode,” said the statement signed by the committee’s deputy head Serik Mukhtybayev. “There are also military bodies monitoring the country’s air space.”

Malaysia Airlines planes had made nine regular flights to and from Europe over Kazakhstan’s territory on March 8, Mukhtybayev said. Read the rest of this entry »

1 Comment

US ship withdraws from search for missing flight MH370

The Malaysian Insider
March 18, 2014

A US naval ship that has been aiding the international search for the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 airplane will be withdrawn from the effort, Pentagon officials said yesterday.

The decision was taken because the search area was now so extensive that it was more efficient to look for the jet using surveillance aircraft, officials said.

The guided missile destroyer, the USS Kidd, had joined the massive search last week and had shifted its focus west to the Andaman Sea on the request of the Malaysian government.

The Kidd, with a MH-60 helicopter on board, had completed a search of 15,000 square miles but “no debris or wreckage associated with an aircraft was found,” it said. Read the rest of this entry »

1 Comment