by Muzliza Mustafa
The Malaysian Insider
May 28, 2014
The families of MH370 passengers have reacted with scepticism to raw tracking data released by the global satellite company Inmarsat yesterday on the missing jetliner, saying the fact that the data was not in its original format has raised suspicions that it may have been edited and manipulated.
Lokman Mustafa, whose sister was on board the plane, said although he appreciated Inmarsat’s move to publish the data, he could not help wondering why the British satellite company decided to publish it with an explanation and analysis instead of raw computer pages.
“The satellite company has extracted crucial lines from the logs and published it with an explanation and analysis. In addition, they have not published the raw computer pages and this raises the question ‘why not?’
“Surely the authorities know that all our hopes are pinned on the data,” he said, adding that delay in releasing the data has also caused resentment among families.
“With this release, crowdsourcing with the aim of narrowing down the search region can now be carried out by various individuals.
“Hopefully, the announcement that flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean can now be validated (or invalidated) by a wider group of technical experts working voluntarily to solve one of the biggest mysteries in commercial aviation history,” he said.
Malaysia’s Department of Civil Aviation and Inmarsat yesterday released the data used to determine the path of the lost plane following mounting calls from passengers’ relatives for greater transparency.
The data communications log comprises 14 pieces of data from seven “handshakes,” or pairs of numbers, between the aircraft and the satellite, Inmarsat said last week. One number is time information, the other is frequency.
Sarah Bajc, partner of passenger Philip Wood voiced scepticism over the released data, saying instead of releasing it in its original format, “they” chose to “manage” what was released.
“There should have been a file version including the ‘logfile’ data in data form, not in pdf form; it’s a little tweak to make people work harder needlessly,” she said.
Although the data itself is meaningless to her and the average person who may not be able to interpret a log file, Sarah said it is not something hard to crack for industry experts.
She also questioned the delay in releasing the data more than two months after the plane vanished on March 8.
“The report is anti-climactic. Our original request for the data was over two months ago. We were trying help in the investigation. A few other family members and I had solicited input from some reputable experts in the industry who were willing to take a crack at cross-validating the formulas, assumptions and analysis,” she said.
She said the release of Inmarsat data was only one of the things that the families had asked from the government and those involved in the investigation.
“This was one of dozens of things we asked for, and it was only partially given.” she added.
Inmarsat used a wave phenomenon to analyse the seven pings its satellites picked up to determine the route of MH370.
The findings led Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to conclude on March 24 that the Boeing 777 crashed thousands of miles away in the southern Indian Ocean, killing all on board.
The pings, automatically transmitted every hour from the aircraft after the rest of its communications systems had stopped, indicated it continued flying for hours after it disappeared from its flight path from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
From the time the signals took to reach the satellite and the angle of elevation, Inmarsat was able to provide two arcs, one north and one south that the aircraft could have taken.
Britain’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch was also involved in the analysis. – May 28, 2014.