By PAOLO MARENGHI and MIKE TREW
March 20, 2014
A British satellite company said today that it had indications that the missing Malaysia Airlines plane may have crashed into the Indian Ocean as early as two days after the plane’s disappearance.
The search for the jetliner did not move into the Indian Ocean until more than a week after the plane vanished in the middle of the night from Malaysian airspace on March 7.
“This is very troubling, just thinking of the time wasted and what was ever on the water moving farther away,” said ABC News consultant Tom Haueter, a former National Transportation Safety Board investigator.
Inmarsat, the maker of satellites, told ABC News that they had an “initial idea” on March 9 and by March 10 were “fairly certain” that the search parties should look in the south Indian Ocean for the vanished plane.
Inmarsat shared their data with a partner company the following day, on March 11, and with Malaysian investigators on March 12.
It was not until three days later, on March 15, that Malaysian authorities acknowledged that satellite data suggested the plane was not in the Strait of Malacca or the South China Sea and began redirecting search efforts to the Indian Ocean.
Asked whether the company was concerned Malaysia took so long to act on their information, Inmarsat spokesman Chris McLaughlin told the BBC that theirs was just one small piece of data in the Malaysian investigation.
“No, it’s not our place to be concerned,” McLaughlin said. “Our position was we shared data and an idea that could be tested against other data with the correct authorities on the Tuesday. We can’t possibly know what other data was in the investigation or what routes the Malaysian government were following.”