Chủ Nhật, 8 tháng 6, 2014

Missing MH370 latest: Families for $5m reward to whistleblower

LATEST UPDATE: Several families of those aboard Flight MH370 on Sunday launched a drive to raise $5 million to reward any insider who comes forward and resolves the mystery of the plane’s disappearance exactly three months ago.

The “Reward MH370″ campaign launches on fundraising website Indiegogo and aims to raise at least $5 million “to encourage a whistleblower to come forward with information”, the families said in a press release.

“We are convinced that somewhere, someone knows something, and we hope this reward will entice him or her to come forward,” said Ethan Hunt, a technology company chief who is heading the “Reward MH370″ project.

Sarah Bajc, partner of American passenger Philip Wood, said a handful of families were behind the campaign to look at the unprecedented aviation mystery with “a fresh set of eyes”.

“Governments and agencies have given it their best shot but have failed to turn up a single shred of evidence, either because of a faulty approach or due to intentional misdirection by one or more individuals,” she said in the release.

Malaysia and Australia, which is leading the search far off its western coast, have promised that the hunt for the plane will continue.

An international team is now determining an expanded search zone of up to 60,000 square kilometres (24,000 square miles) based on where the aircraft last communicated with an Inmarsat satellite.

Australia has also released a request for tenders for a company to be engaged as a prime contractor and provide the expertise, equipment and vessels needed to carry out the deep-sea search from August.

Malaysia — ruled by the same coalition since 1957 with a history of sweeping scandals aside — has taken the brunt of criticism from upset relatives.

The Southeast Asian country has insisted it is doing all it can and working closely with Australia, China and other countries to find the jet.

Conspiracy Theories:

No firm evidence have been provided as to what really happened to missing flight MH370.

World’s conspiracy theorists have weighed in with explanations of their own for the Malaysian Airlines plane’s disappearance.

The plane was shot down

A new book, Flight MH370 – The Mystery, suggests that the missing Malaysian Airways plane may have been shot down accidentally by US-Thai joint strike fighters in a military exercise in the South China Sea. The book also claims that search and rescue efforts were deliberately sent in the wrong direction as part of a cover-up, the Daily Mail reports.

Alien abduction

Five per cent of Americans surveyed by believe that the plane was abducted by aliens. Some bloggers have pointed to a number of recent UFO sightings in Malaysia as evidence for extraterrestrial intervention.

The Bermuda Triangle

The plane didn’t actually fly anywhere near Bermuda, but some people – including one Malaysian minister – pointed out that the area where MH370 vanished is on the exact opposite side of the globe to the Bermuda Triangle. Unfortunately those people are wrong; the exact opposite side of the globe is closer to the Caribbean than Bermuda, The Sunday Times notes.

High-tech hijacking

The disappearance of flight MH370 may be down to the world’s first cyber hijack, according to the Sunday Express. It says that hackers could have accessed the aircraft’s flight computer and reprogrammed the speed, altitude and direction.

MH370 itself could be used as a weapon

Some people have expressed concern that the aeroplane may have been hijacked by terrorists and landed somewhere, to be used as a weapon at a later date.

Search to focus on ’7th arc’ in Indian Ocean 

Based on new data and analysis, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) told the media that the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 will mainly focus on the “7th arc” in the Indian Ocean.

The total extent of the arc is from latitude 20 degrees south to 39 degrees south, reports ABC.

The ATSB added that the underwater search area will mostly likely be brought down to 60,000 square kilometres.

Australia probes British witness account









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Australia was Wednesday investigating an account from a sailor who said she may have seen Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 on fire, as officials said the underwater hunt for the plane could dive much deeper.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), which is leading the search at the request of the Malaysian government, is looking at the claim from a British yachtswoman made this week.

“The ATSB received… a message from a member of the public, reporting that they had seen what they believed to be a burning aircraft in the sky above the Indian Ocean on the night of the disappearance of MH370,” a spokesman told AFP in an email.

“That information has been forwarded to the ATSB’s MH370 Search Strategy Working Group for review.”

Flight MH370, which was en route from Kuala Lumpur to the Chinese capital Beijing when it inexplicably diverted, is believed to have crashed in the southern Indian Ocean.

An extensive search for the plane, which vanished on March 8 with 239 people on board, has so far found nothing, including an intensive underwater hunt with a mini-sub that could dive to 4,500 metres.

The ATSB on Wednesday released a request for tenders for a company to dive even deeper, to depths of up to 6,000 metres (19,800 feet).

It said the successful bidder would be engaged as a prime contractor and provide the expertise, equipment and vessels needed to carry out the search for the Boeing 777 from August.

“The successful tenderer will use the data from a bathymetric survey (already under way) to navigate the search zone, which has water depth between 1,000 and 6,000 metres,” it said.

Bathymetry refers to the study of underwater depths of oceans or lakes.

An international team is now determining a search zone of up to 60,000 square kilometres (24,000 square miles) based on where the aircraft last communicated with an Inmarsat satellite.

‘A glowing plane’

British yachtswoman Katherine Tee added to speculation about the location of a possible crash site by revealing she saw a glowing plane over the Indian Ocean in March.

The 41-year-old said she told Australian authorities of her sighting of a plane with “what appeared to be a tail of black smoke coming from behind it” while she travelled from Kochi in India to Phuket in Thailand.

“There were two other planes passing higher than it — moving the other way — at that time,” she wrote on sailing site Cruisers Forum, a firm for which she also works.

“I recall thinking that if it was a plane on fire that I was seeing, the other aircraft would report it.”

She said she told no one at the time because she and her husband, who was onboard but asleep, had been having difficulties and had not spoken for about a week.

“And most of all, I wasn’t sure of what I saw,” she said. “I couldn’t believe it myself.”

But after confirming her yacht’s position using GPS data in recent days, she said she knew she was in the “right place at the right time” and told authorities.

MH370′s last known position as tracked by military radar was roughly west of Phuket, although the search area has focused on a zone hundreds of kilometres (miles) further south.

In what could be another clue, researchers at Western Australia’s Curtin University revealed Wednesday they had detected a low-frequency underwater sound which could have come from the plane.

A listening station off Rottnest Island, close to the Western Australia coast, picked up the signal at 0130 GMT on March 8.

Alec Duncan, from Curtin’s Centre for Marine Science and Technology, said the noise could have come from the plane crashing.

“I wouldn’t totally rule it out … it’s not impossible,” he told AFP, but said it was more likely to have originated from a natural source, such as an earth tremor.

Iata to enhance aircraft tracking options

Following the disappearance of MH370, the International Air Transport Association (Iata) has announced plans to establish an industry task force to develop recommendations to improve global flight tracking.

Iata confirmed that the Aircraft Tracking Task Force (ATTF) expects to be in a position to deliver draft options for enhanced global aircraft tracking to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (Icao) in September, leading to presentation to the industry before year-end.

“Aviation stakeholders are united in their desire to ensure that we never face another situation where an aircraft simply disappears,” said Kevin Hiatt, Iata Senior Vice-President, Safety and Flight Operations.

“While states work through Icao to develop and implement performance-based global standards, the industry is committed to moving forward with recommendations that airlines can implement now,” he added.

The commitment made at the time of the task force announcement was to have them available by the end of 2014. Iata invited Icao and key stakeholders throughout the aviation industry to participate in the ATTF. The first meeting of the group was held on May 13, 2014.

Separately, but in conjunction with Iata, Icao held a Special Multi-disciplinary Meeting on Global Flight Tracking on May12-13. An outcome of the Icao meeting was a consensus among member states and the international air transport industry sector on the near-term priority to track airline flights. Icao will also begin considering performance-based international standards, on a priority basis, to ensure broader adoption of airline flight tracking across the aviation system.

Icao and Iata are working together to conduct a survey of vendors to identify options. Over the next few months, the ATTF will develop a set of performance-based recommendations to better ensure global aircraft tracking – meaning that there will likely be a number of options that airlines can consider.

These recommendations will be developed through an assessment of available products and services used for tracking commercial aircraft against specific criteria, including factors such as performance parameters, coverage, security, and cost. Additionally, the ATTF will define a minimum set of performance requirements that any system should achieve.

The ATTF includes representatives from Iata, Icao, Airlines for America, Association of Asia Pacific Airlines, Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation, Flight Safety Foundation, International Coordinating Council of Aerospace Industries Associations, International Federation of Air Line Pilots Associations, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Airbus SAS, Bombardier Aerospace, and Embraer Commercial Aviation. [Staff]


Undersea sound detected

A team of Australian researchers looking into the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 released data on Wednesday about an unusual underwater sound recorded around the time the plane vanished, though the lead scientist acknowledged the chances it is linked to the jet are slim.

The low-frequency sound was picked up by underwater listening devices in the Indian Ocean off the west coast of Australia on March 8, the same day the Boeing 777 disappeared on a flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing with 239 people on board. Researchers at Curtin University in Western Australia have been analyzing the signal to see if it may be the sound of the plane crashing into the ocean.

But Alec Duncan, who’s heading up the research, said the sound appears to have originated well outside the jet’s projected flight path that officials determined based on satellite and radar data, and is therefore unlikely to have come from the plane.

“It’s one of these situations where you find yourself willing it all to fit together but it really doesn’t,” said Duncan, senior research fellow with Curtin’s Center for Marine Science and Technology. “I’d love to be able to sit here and say, ‘Yeah, we’ve found this thing and it’s from the plane’ — but the reality is, there’s a lot of things that make noise in the ocean.”

The noise could have come from a natural event, such as a small earthquake, Duncan said. He put the chances of it being linked to Flight 370 at less than 20 per cent.

Soon after the search for the plane moved to the southern Indian Ocean, scientists from Curtin decided to check the data from their underwater acoustic recorders off Rottnest Island, near Perth, to see if they’d picked up anything of interest. The scientists normally use the recorders for environmental research, such as studying whale sounds. This time, however, the data showed a signal that they initially thought might be the aircraft crashing into the ocean — an event that would have produced a low-frequency sound that can travel thousands of kilometers (miles) under the right conditions, Duncan said.

Sailor reports seeing flight on fire

Meanwhile, a British sailor – who was at sea sailing from Cochin, India, to Phuket, Thailand with her husband on the night when the Malaysian plane disappeared – believes she saw a burning aircraft over the Indian Ocean.

She was alone on the deck when she sighted the plane and has filed an official report with authorities, reports DailyMail.

Chinese search ship in latest glitch

A Chinese ship mapping the ocean floor ahead of an intensive underwater search for missing Flight MH370 was returning to port Saturday due to a technical problem, officials said.

The massive Indian Ocean search for the Malaysia Airlines plane, which disappeared on March 8 carrying 239 people, has so far failed to find any sign of the Boeing 777.

The Chinese survey ship, Zhu Kezhen, was conducting a bathymetric survey — or mapping of the ocean floor — to help experts determine how to carry out the next stage of the search on the previously unmapped ocean seabed.

“Zhu Kezhen suffered a defect to its multibeam echosounder and is coming into port to conduct the necessary repairs,” Australia’s Joint Agency Coordination Centre said in a statement.

“The journey is expected to take a couple of days.”


Search on right track: Australia transport chief

The head of Australia’s transport safety bureau has defended the fruitless hunt for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, saying he is confident that search teams are targeting the right area.

Satellite analysis in the days after the Boeing 777 went missing on March 8 with 239 people onboard placed the jet somewhere in a huge tract of the Indian Ocean stretching from near Indonesia south towards Antarctica.

But in a setback, the area believed to be the jet’s most likely resting place based on the detection of acoustic “pings” was Thursday ruled out after an extensive underwater search.

Australia’s Transport Safety Bureau chief commissioner Martin Dolan told AFP the source of the acoustic transmissions, thought to be man-made, was still a mystery.

“To be frank, we don’t know. We like to be the experts but sometimes we just don’t know the answer,” he said, refusing to speculate on whether they came from the Australian vessel hunting for signals from the aircraft’s black boxes.

Dolan, whose organisation is playing a key role in the search effort, said the four signals detected in April were then the best lead in the hunt for the plane, which mysteriously diverted from its Kuala Lumpur to Beijing route.

“This was the best area to look at the time. We still don’t have anything that confirms that it’s the wrong place. But we will do our analysis and we will determine the best search area for the next phase.”

Dolan said while experts were reassessing the satellite data that led the search to the southern Indian Ocean, the linear arc produced by analysis of this information still likely represented the plane’s flight path.

“That arc is definite. We know that somewhere close to that very long arc is where the aircraft will be found,” he said in an interview late Thursday.

The arc was produced by analysing satellite signalling messages, also referred to as “handshakes”, between the ground station, the satellite and the aircraft’s satellite communication system.

Dolan said experts believed the aircraft would be found near the area representing the last of these signals, thought to be have been sent when the plane ran out of fuel.

“The thing that we’re absolutely confident of is somewhere on that long arc we will find the aircraft,” he said.

“But because it’s so long we have to be able to find a much smaller segment of the arc to concentrate our search and that’s what our analysis is looking at defining.

“So we are reanalysing all the satellite data and aircraft performance information and everything else to define an area of up to 60,000 square kilometres, which is the most likely one for the location of the aircraft.”

The next phase will focus on using the satellite data to confirm a search area, completing mapping of the sea floor and getting towable sonar and other equipment to carry out an intensive deep water search, which could take up to a year.

Dolan voiced confidence that investigators had been given all the information available, but said he could understand the anger of relatives still looking for answers almost three months after the plane went missing.

“We’re conscious that people don’t have a particular confidence in the analysis,” he said. “We have a much higher confidence. But we are nevertheless doing a cross check to verify it.”

Dolan said the search was considered unique because there was so little information to go on, likening it to a worst-case scenario for aviation safety authorities.

“In an organisation like mine you work out what’s the worst thing that will ever happen and hope that it never does,” he said.

“And Australia has been very good at managing the safety of aviation, but our worst case scenario is a widebody passenger aircraft in mid-ocean.

“We’ve actually got plans to deal with this sort of thing, we just hoped we would never have to use those plans for real.”

Malaysia releases satellite data

Malaysia’s aviation authority released on Tuesday satellite data used to determine that flight MH370 went down in the southern Indian Ocean following demands from sceptical relatives of those on board.

The Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) said in a statement it had worked with Inmarsat to provide 47 pages of data communication logs recorded by the British satellite operator as well as explanatory notes for public consumption.

Family members of the 239 people on board the Malaysia Airlines plane, which vanished on March 8, had demanded that raw satellite data be made public for independent analysis after an initial undersea search found no wreckage.

AFP was not immediately able to interpret the highly technical numerical data, which used the Doppler effect – the change in frequency of waves from a moving object – to decipher the Boeing 777′s final flight path.

The DCA has previously stressed that satellite data was just one of several elements being examined by investigators.

Malaysian authorities have been tight-lipped on details, saying they can only divulge information once it has been verified and when its release will not affect ongoing investigations into the plane’s disappearance.

But no sign of the plane has been found despite a massive and costly search for the flight that mysteriously diverted from its Kuala Lumpur-Beijing route 11 weeks ago.

Australia, which is leading the hunt in the Indian Ocean, has committed up to US$84 million towards the search operation over two years.

Promo of ‘missing plane’ film at Cannes… Click here

The director of a movie based on the Malaysian Airlines plane disappearance says he rushed the trailer of the project so he could bring it to the Cannes Film Festival.

“I was seeing the festival calendars and I could not miss Cannes. And so I told my team to make a trailer immediately,” said Rupesh Paul of his planned film, “The Vanishing Act.”

It wasn’t until he arrived at the festival that he faced questions over the timing of the film’s promotion and whether he was being sensitive to the families of the missing passengers.

“These things came in to my thoughts only after I came here,” said Paul, also a producer, in an interview on Saturday. “From the very first interview I was only asked about this fact that we did not even think of much when we were pitching this in India. Nobody asked this question in India actually. When we came to Europe this was the only question I faced.”

The 35-year-old director says he never thought his actions might upset anyone but insists “that nobody will be hurt (by) this movie.”

“Why should I gain out of somebody’s pain?” said Paul.

The trailer for “The Vanishing Act” shows two crew members kissing as a third looks at them angrily. It’s something the director says will not be included in the main feature.

“This trailer was not even meant to get released on the Internet online,” said Paul. “It was meant to show some investors and producers that the movie will be dramatic and thrilling. Somehow it got released, we had to give it to many people, it got out of my hands. And there is no love triangle in this movie at all and there is no romance in this movie.”

A handgun is also featured in the movie, but Paul said it isn’t what it seems.

“Everyone that has flown once on even a small flight will definitely understand that it is impossible to carry a gun inside, whatever you do,” he said. “So it’s impossible, but there is a weapon in the story.”

The director is keeping tight-lipped about his theory on how the plane disappeared and what will be shown in the film. He said that although he “cannot reveal the climax, it will not be a tragic climax.”

The trailer, which also shows commotion and horror on the plane, has garnered more than 300,000 views on YouTube.

Paul is aiming for a September release.



Underwater search resumes; 5 conspiracy theories

A mini-sub searching for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 recommenced its operations on Thursday after technical problems, as it enters its final week of scouring the Indian Ocean seabed for signs of the aircraft.

Australia is leading the search for the plane which vanished on March 8 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people onboard and is using the Bluefin-21 mini-sub until new equipment can be obtained.


“The autonomous underwater vehicle, Bluefin-21, was deployed from the vessel around 2:00 am this morning. It remains underwater on its search mission,” the Joint Agency Coordination Centre said.

The US Navy Bluefin-21, which can plunge to a depth of some 4,500 metres (15,000 feet), was brought back to shore last week to fix technical issues which saw it pulled from the water.

It resumed its search in the remote area of several transmissions believed to have come from the missing aircraft’s black box recorders.

“Over the next week, Bluefin-21 will search the remaining areas in the vicinity of the acoustic signals detected in early April by the towed pinger locator… that are within its depth operating limits,” JACC said.

“This continues the process that will ultimately enable the search team to discount or confirm the area of the acoustic signals as the final resting place of MH370.”

The Australian ship which deployed the Bluefin-21, Ocean Shield, is expected to leave the search area on May 28 and return to Perth on May 31 to demobilise the mini-sub.

MH370 is believed to have crashed into the southern Indian Ocean but despite a massive air and sea and underwater search, no sign of any wreckage has yet been found.

While the aerial and sea surface searches have been scaled down, the operation is moving to the next phase which will involve using sophisticated equipment to scan the unmapped ocean bed.

Negotiations are underway to engage contractors to do this work.

JACC said Chinese survey ship Zhu Kezhen left the west Australian port of Fremantle Wednesday to start mapping areas of the ocean floor in preparation for the commercially contracted deep ocean search.

Another Chinese ship Haixun 01 was Thursday to depart for the area to support this operation, tasked with delivering survey data to Fremantle weekly for processing by Australian officials.

JACC said work was continuing to review and analyse all the data and information relating to the likely flight path of MH370.

“This work will confirm the best areas on which to focus an effective future search,” it said.


5 conspiracy theories gaining traction

The fruitless MH370 search has breathed new life into conspiracy theories on the plane’s fate, with a book, two films and even a former prime minister pushing ideas ranging from diversion by the CIA to an accidental shoot-down.

A host of wild theories including a Taliban hijack or meteor strike had emerged to fill the information vacuum in the days following the plane’s disappearance on March 8 with 239 aboard as authorities across Asia scrambled to figure out what happened.

The speculation abated after Malaysia said in late March the plane was believed to have gone down in the Indian Ocean for unknown reasons, but has revived due to the failure of an international search effort to find any trace of the plane.

In a blog posting Sunday, former Malaysian premier Mahathir Mohamad put his weight behind online rumours that the Boeing 777 had a feature allowing the plane’s controls to be taken over remotely.

The still-influential Mahathir, 88, said the US Central Intelligence Agency might have taken control of the American-made plane after it was commandeered by terrorists, adding it was possible “the plane is somewhere, maybe without MAS (Malaysia Airlines) markings”.

“Can it not be that the pilot of MH370 lost control of their aircraft after someone directly or remotely activated the equipment for seizure of control of the aircraft?” Mahathir wrote.

“Someone is hiding something. It is not fair that MAS and Malaysia should take the blame,” said Mahathir. 

Two films about MH370 were touted Sunday to potential distributors at the Cannes Film Festival in France, with a trailer for one of them – ‘The Vanishing Act’ – showing terrified passengers and a gun being brandished.

The film was pitched as “the untold story of the missing Malaysian plane”.

One of the first books about MH370 went on sale Monday, suggesting it could have been shot down during a military drill in the South China Sea and the incident covered-up.

London-based author Nigel Cawthorne said there had been a joint Thai-US military exercise at the time and which was to include live-fire exercises.

“Say a participant accidentally shot down Flight MH370. Such things do happen. The cruiser USS Vincennes shot down Iran Air Flight 655 over the Persian Gulf in 1988,” he wrote.

“No one wants another Lockerbie, so those involved would have every reason to keep quiet about it,” he added, referring to the blowing up of Pan Am flight 103 in 1988 over Lockerbie, Scotland. A Libyan intelligence officer was convicted of that bombing.

Singapore-based aviation analyst Terence Fan said without evidence of the wreckage, “you can’t rule anything out but this is very unlikely”.

Malaysia to release satellite data on missing jet amid pressure from passengers’ families

Malaysia says it will publicly release satellite data used to narrow down the search for the missing jetliner to the southern Indian Ocean.

The Civil Aviation Department and British company Inmarsat said in a joint statement Tuesday said they would do this “in line with our commitment to greater transparency.”

Some family members of the 239 people on the plane have demanded raw satellite data to be made public for independent analysis.



Malaysia to review all data to pinpoint flight

Malaysia, China and Australia have agreed to re-examine all data related to missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 to better pinpoint the search area, Malaysia’s acting transport minister said on Thursday, as the hunt for the jet enters a new phase.

The three countries also agreed at a meeting in Canberra last week to undertake a survey to map the ocean floor and procure more deep-sea search vehicles and other equipment to scour it, minister Hishammuddin Hussein told reporters in Kuala Lumpur.

“I have briefed the Malaysia cabinet yesterday on the outcome of the meeting and it has been deliberated. I now have the  mandate to announce that the details of the transition phase have been approved by the Malaysian government,” he said.

The Boeing 777 with 239 passengers and crew disappeared on March 8 during a scheduled service between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing, and is believed to have gone down in the Indian Ocean, off western Australia. About two-thirds of the passengers were Chinese nationals.

Australia would have responsibility for procuring new search assets from commercial contractors, Hishammuddin said, while Malaysia and China would assign additional equipment and services for the search.

Hishammuddin said he would discuss the possibility of more U.S. technical help with U.S. Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel at a summit in Singapore later this month.

Hishammuddin said it was vital to carry out the undersea bathymetric survey to map the new search area so that the expensive and scarce deep-sea autonomous vehicles and towed sonar scanners could be deployed safely.

“It is important the bathymetric survey and deep water search needs to be seamless,” said Hishammuddin, who is also defence minister.

The three governments would hold weekly video conferences to coordinate the search, starting on Monday.

Malaysia to deploy underwater vehicles in MH370 search

Malaysia is considering deploying underwater vehicles as authorities prepare for a long-term search effort for missing flight MH370, an official said on Thursday.

Deputy defence minister Abdul Rahim Bakri said national oil company Petronas would provide two autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) to help search for the Malaysia Airline Boeing 777-200, which disappeared without a trace.

“Up to now Petronas has given full commitment, dedicating at least two AUVs to help the search,” he said in a press conference.

As the so-far futile search continues, he said Petronas was also mulling providing underwater sonar equipment and remotely operated vehicles.

Abdul Rahim said Malaysia’s oil and gas firm Sapura Kencana was offering a multibeam echo-sounder which was being considered by the government.

Meanwhile, a resumption of the search was hindered Wednesday by technical troubles, with a mini-sub lasting only two hours in the water before it had to be raised.

Australian vessel Ocean Shield, carrying the US Navy Bluefin-21 submersible, arrived back in the southern Indian Ocean search zone Tuesday following a port visit to Perth after the air and sea hunt was scaled back.

The plan was for it to resume scouring the seabed where transmissions believed to have come from the plane’s black box flight recorders were heard last month.

MH370 vanished on March 8 with 239 people on board after mysteriously diverting from its Kuala Lumpur-Beijing route.

It is believed to have crashed into the sea far off Australia’s west coast.

Air and sea searches over vast stretches of the Indian Ocean have failed to find any sign of the plane.

Australia, which is leading the hunt, has stressed that it believes it is looking in the right area based on satellite communications from the plane.

Officials have said an intensified undersea mission will begin once new and more sophisticated equipment to complement Bluefin-21 can be obtained to search at depths of more than 4,500 metres (15,000 feet).

The ocean bed in the prospective search zone is not just deep but largely unmapped, meaning specialist sonar equipment and other autonomous vehicles are needed.

Malaysia has vowed to continue the search for the missing MH370 plane until it was found.

After disaster Malaysian PM wants real-time tracking planes

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has called for real-time tracking of planes and improving their communication system to prevent a repeat of the mysterious disappearance of Flight 370.

In an opinion piece Wednesday in the Wall Street Journal, Najib called for changes that would “make it harder for an aircraft to simply disappear, and easier to find any aircraft that did.”

“One of the most astonishing things about this tragedy is the revelation that an airliner the size of a Boeing 777 can vanish, almost without a trace. In an age of smartphones and mobile Internet, real-time tracking of commercial airplanes is long overdue,” he said.

The Malaysia Airlines plane carrying 239 people was traveling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8 when it disappeared. The search is focused in the Indian Ocean, west of Perth, Australia, but it has not been found.

Inmarsat Plc, a British provider of global mobile satellite communications services, said Monday it will offer free basic tracking services for planes flying over oceans. The service will be available to most of the world’s long-haul commercial fleet.

The Malaysian plane sent a signal to an Inmarsat satellite, but not location data. Engineers conducted a novel analysis of those signals to determine the plane’s flight path, but the effort took time.

Najib also urged the aviation industry to consider changing planes’ communications systems so that they can’t be disabled midair. The government has said someone severed the plane’s communication systems with the ground and deliberately diverted Flight 370.

He said the capacity of the cockpit data recorder, one of a plane’s two black boxes, should be extended from two hours currently to recording the entire flight, while its location beacons should be made to last at least 90 days, instead of 30 days now.

“The global aviation industry must not only learn the lessons of MH370 but implement them,” he added.

Najib reiterated that Flight 370 was one of world’s greatest aviation mysteries. “Nobody saw this coming, nobody knows why it happened, and nobody knows precisely where it is,” he said.

He said the government has done its best but admitted there were mistakes in the early days of the crisis, with a disorderly public communication and a slow start to search efforts. He said an independent investigation is ongoing so the government can learn from mistakes.

Najib assured families of passengers that Malaysia will “keep searching for the plane for as long as it takes.”

Australia is leading the search, which is moving into a second phase in which commercial underwater operators will be contracted to scour a vast expanse of seabed with sonar equipment looking for wreckage for the next one year.

An Australian ship on Tuesday returned to the area where underwater sounds consistent with black boxes were heard in April, the search coordination center said. The ship had returned to port briefly to be resupplied. The Ocean Shield is carrying a robot submarine, the Bluefin 21, to survey the ocean floor. 


Aircraft tracking changes mulled

Tracking aircraft by satellite, cloud storage of black box data and other technological innovations were being considered Monday by aviation officials in the wake of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370′s disappearance.

Families urge leaders to release data

More than 300 bereaved family members of the 239 passengers and crew aboard the ill-fated Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 are urging Malaysian, Australian and Chinese leaders to release the raw Inmarsat data so that “it can be subject to broader analysis by relevant experts.”

In an open letter signed by family members from China, Malaysia, India, the US and New Zealand, Voice370, short for MH370 Victim Families and Crew Association, has urged “all relevant authorities to carefully reconsider the data anew, without predetermination or bias as to any possible or probable outcome.

The open letter, addressed to Prime Minister of Malaysia Datuk Seri Najib Razak, Prime Minister of Australia Tony Abbott, and President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping, Voice 370 said that “[d]ue to the lack of physical evidence that MH370 ended in the Southern Indian Ocean, the families are in urgent need for the conclusion, based on Inmarsat data analysis, that the aircraft”s flight ended in that Ocean to be reconsidered to confirm its accuracy.”

“Further, if Inmarsat”s analysis is unable to rule out other flight paths as a possibility, that fact must be acknowledged. Given the lack of tangible evidence of what happened to MH370, in our view, data analysis that only indicates a probable southern flight path is an insufficient basis to support a definitive conclusion that no other flight path was possible,” the family members wrote in the letter.

“We implore the Malaysian Government to share and release the raw Inmarsat satellite engine ping data for 9MMRO (every ping from Friday, March 7 12:00 until the final signal was received globally so that it can be subject to broader analysis by relevant experts,” it added.

The families are demanding the release of raw satellite data to solve the over two-month-long aviation mystery.

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 (MH370) was a scheduled international passenger flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing that lost contact with air traffic control on March 8, 2014, at 01:20 local time, less than an hour after takeoff.

At 7.24, Malaysia Airlines reported the flight missing. The aircraft, a Boeing 777-200ER, was carrying 12 Malaysian crew members and 227 passengers from 14 nations.

Despite a multinational search and rescue effort, reportedly the largest in history, there has been no confirmation of any flight debris and no crash site has been found so far, two months after the aircraft first disappeared.



MH370 puzzle seen leading to out-of-court settlements

The lack of any evidence indicating what caused flight MH370′s disappearance raises a legal conundrum that is expected to force Malaysia Airlines into out-of-court settlements with angry next-of-kin, aviation law experts said.

More than two months since MH370 disappeared, no wreckage has been found to even confirm a crash, let alone apportion blame.

But relatives of the 239 people on board can still come after Malaysia Airlines because under international aviation law it is an airline’s responsibility to prove it was not to blame for an accident.

“On the surface, (Malaysia Airlines) is responsible,” said Jeremy Joseph, a Malaysian attorney specialising in transport law.

The “burden of proof” rests on the national carrier to clear its name, he added.

Under International Civil Aviation Organisation rules, next-of-kin in an air crash are entitled to an automatic minimum of about $175,000 per passenger, regardless of fault, payable by an airline’s insurance company.


Search heads to site of first “ping”

An Australian naval vessel carrying an underwater drone involved in the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 left port on Saturday on its second mission to scan part of the Indian Ocean where the longest sonar “ping” was heard over a month ago.

The Ocean Shield is heading to the area where a signal was first located and heard for some two hours on April 5, about 1,600 km (1,000 miles) northwest of Perth to launch the Bluefin-21 submersible.


2 months since disappearance, the mystery deepens

Exactly two months after Malaysia Airlines’ ill-fated MH370 went missing, the search for the aircraft that disappeared along with 239 passengers and crew members is getting deeper, broader, and more expensive.

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 (MH370) was a scheduled international passenger flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing that lost contact with air traffic control on March 8, 2014, at 01:20 local time, less than an hour after takeoff. At 07:24, Malaysia Airlines reported the flight missing. The aircraft, a Boeing 777-200ER, was carrying 12 Malaysian crew members and 227 passengers from 14 nations. Despite a multinational search and rescue effort, reportedly the largest in history, there has been no confirmation of any flight debris and no crash site has been found so far, two months after the aircraft first disappeared.

Officials from Malaysia, China and Australia reportedly met yesterday to plan the next steps in the quest for MH370, which may take up an additional $60 million.

European safety officials on Tuesday proposed tougher rules for ‘black box’ flight recorders in the strongest regulatory reaction yet to the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) said it would propose increasing the recording time on cockpit voice recorders to 20 hours from two to make it easier to understand plane accidents and prevent vital evidence being overwritten.

Newly published proposals would also bring into force recommendations made by French crash investigators after the loss of an Air France jet in the Atlantic in 2009, but which remain bogged down in talks among regulators.

These include the addition of a new pinger frequency making it easier to locate the recording devices under water, where lower frequencies travel further.

The proposals appeared in an opinion published by EASA on Tuesday and confirmed details reported by Reuters.

They have been submitted to the European Union’s executive Commission which will use them as the basis for a change in law.

New search to cost about $55m

Australia, China and Malaysia pledged on Monday not to give up searching for the Malaysia Airlines jetliner that disappeared almost two months ago, despite lingering questions about how to proceed and who will pay.

With the air and surface search now halted, a new search phase costing around A$60 million ($55 million) will begin after existing visual and sonar search data is analysed and a contractor is found to lease the sophisticated equipment needed, officials said after meeting in Canberra.

Financial responsibility is a major focus of the talks and Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss seemed to open the door to manufacturers including Boeing, which produced the 777-200ER jet, and engine maker Rolls Royce, to contribute financially.

“They also have a vested interest in what happened on MH370 so they can be confident about the quality of their product, or take remedial action if there was some part of the aircraft that contributed to this accident,” he told reporters.

“So, I think we will be looking for increasing involvement from the manufacturers, and their host countries.”


New search equipment two months away

Officials said on Monday it could be up to two months before new, more sophisticated equipment will be in the water to help in the search for flight MH370 across what will be largely unmapped ocean floor.

Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss admitted the hunt will take time, with the ocean bed in the prospective search zone several kilometres deep and largely unmapped, meaning specialist sonar equipment and other autonomous vehicles are needed.

He said a tender process would start soon to acquire them, but it would likely be two months before the equipment was actually in the water, while more oceanographic mapping was required to better understand where they would be looking.

“We are optimistic that we can do most of this in the space of one to two months so we will actually have more hardware in the water within a couple of months,” he said after meeting Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein and Chinese counterpart Yang Chuantang.

“In the interim we’ll still have the Bluefin-21 working and we’ll get going on the oceanographic work that needs to be done so they’ll be no long interruptions in this search.”


Experts speak of human interference

The Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 could not have disappeared without human input, according to latest media reports.

According to senior Boeing 777 captain and a former crash investigator, “human input was essential” for the flight to end the Indian Ocean, reported

“To change course requires the pilot to either disengage the flight management computer and dial in a new heading to the autopilot/flight director or fly manually,” the captain said.

The plane’s flight path shows multiple course changes and altitude changes, according to Malaysian authorities.

Meanwhile, a former crash investigator, said, “There are a variety of scenarios,” for the flight disappearing. “It could have gone into a spiral or maybe a flat spin… Another scenario is an aerodynamic stall with a nose pitched up and then a roller coaster ride down.”


Terror link resurfaces with arrests

A group of 11 terrorists with links to Al Qaeda were yesterday being interrogated on whether they are behind the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, according to the Daily Mail.

According to the report, the request for the move came from international agencies, including FBI and MI6, who asked for the suspects, ages range from 22 to 55, including students, odd-job workers, a young widow and business professionals, to be questioned intensively about MH370.

First funerals

The first funerals for passengers on board the missing Malaysia Airlines jet will be held this weekend, relatives said on Friday, as a Malaysian official urged relatives of those presumed dead to “face reality” and leave support centres.

Meanwhile, family and friends of Rod and Mary Burrows, two of six Australians on board the flight, will hold a memorial service in Brisbane today [Sunday], according to a statement on behalf of the family released by police.

The family, it said, sought “privacy and request their solitude be respected during this difficult time”.

On Friday, Malaysia’s deputy foreign minister said it was time for relatives to be “realistic”.

“We have been waiting to come up with a statement and all of us, be it the family members or the whole world, is actually looking for the answer,” Hamzah Zainudin told a news conference.

The airline, he said, had been looking after and supporting family members in Beijing for 55 days.

“And that’s the reason it”s about time for us to actually accept the reality that the family members should go back and wait for the answer in their hometowns.”

Families, Malaysian officials said, would be told of developments in the search and those who qualified would receive prompt compensation.

Some families in Beijing have left for home, but others were resisting.

Panel to probe

Malaysia’s defence minister said an independent panel would look into the delay in ordering a search and rescue operation.

“We created the independent body with experts from around the world,” Hishammuddin Hussein, who doubles as acting transport minister, told the Kuala Lumpur news conference.

“There were things that Malaysia has done well and there were things we could have done better. If that’s something the panel says, we won’t be reluctant to take the relevant action.”


4-hour delay, 17-minute ATC call-gap deepens mystery

Did a four-hour delay between the plane’s disappearance and the authorities’ response a key factor in the “losing” of the Malaysia Airline plane MH370?

An independent panel formed by the Malaysian government will now decide if that is inded the case.

However, in a report published by the asiaone website, Transport Minister Hishammuddin Tun Hussein defended the response time, even invoking the seven-hour gap during the Air France incident.

“Each case is different. In this case, we took four hours to respond to the disappearance.

“I was informed that in the Air France case, it was six to seven hours before any response.

“We leave it to the independent panel to judge the four-hour gap,” he said at a press conference on Friday .

The report also states that at the same press conference, the Civil Aviation Department said the independent panel could decide on the 17-minute gap between the plane’s last connection with air traffic control and the call from Ho Chi Minh saying there was no contact established with the plane.

The preliminary report

Malaysia released its most comprehensive account yet of what happened to missing Flight MH370, in a preliminary report that detailed the route the plane probably took as it veered off course and revealed the confusion that followed.

It showed four hours elapsed between the first sign that the Malaysia Airlines jet had failed to report in when expected to and the decision to mount a search operation – and that time included lapses of communication and a false lead from the airline itself.

The document, dated April 9, also contributed to a growing safety debate by urging the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the UN body that oversees aviation, to consider introducing a system for tracking commercial jets.

The call comes ahead of a meeting at the Montreal-based agency later this month to address mounting pressure for improvements to fill communications blind spots over the world’s oceans, but until now regulators have said such systems still need to be proven despite lobbying by the satellite industry.

Although the preliminary report issued by the Ministry of Transport leaves many key questions about what happened nearly eight weeks ago unanswered, and is not intended to resolve speculation about the cause, Malaysia may be hoping it sets the record straight on at least some of the contentious issues.

The fate of Flight MH370 remains a mystery despite the biggest search operation in commercial aviation history, and relatives of the passengers on board are desperate for confirmation of what happened to their loved ones.

Boeing, the manufacturer of the 777 aircraft, will also be keen to learn exactly what caused the plane to veer sharply off course and disappear from sight, and in particular whether it was mechanical failure or human intervention.

While not ruling out technical faults, a parallel Malaysian police investigation has so far focused on the pilots amid signs that the aircraft followed a twisting and deliberate course for at least the first hour of its journey off course.


The report confirmed that military radar tracked a plane as it turned in a westerly direction across the Malaysian Peninsula on the morning of March 8, and said the radar operator took no further action because the aircraft was deemed “friendly”.

In an accompanying statement, Defence and Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said the military data was played back that morning and after he and Prime Minister Najib Razak were informed of the possible turnback, military ships and an aircraft were sent to look for MH370 in the Straits of Malacca.

The report also described what appeared to be frantic attempts to trace the aircraft, with air traffic control in Kuala Lumpur contacting counterparts in Singapore, Hong Kong and Phnom Penh, Cambodia, when something appeared to have gone awry.

Kuala Lumpur was initially informed of a problem when air traffic controllers in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, who were meant to take over monitoring MH370 around the time the plane disappeared, said they had not heard from its pilots.

They told their Malaysian counterparts the “radar blip” had disappeared at a navigation point called BITOD about half way between Malaysia and Vietnam. Investigators suspect the aircraft’s radar transponder was turned off at about that time.

The airline at first wrongly told controllers the jet was over Cambodia and later that it had passed over Vietnam, but this turned out to be a projection rather than real information.

Released to the public for the first time were recordings of conversations between the cockpit of MH370 and Kuala Lumpur air traffic control and maps showing MH370′s probable flight path.

The pilot recordings, ending with a deadpan “good night” and the call sign, begin with the first contact on the ground and appear business-like, without any obvious signs of stress.

According to the maps, MH370 turned back from the South China Sea, cut across the southernmost tip of Thailand near the border with the Malaysian state of Kelantan and then flew across the Malaysian Peninsula.

It made a turn to the west in the Straits of Malacca near Penang and flew beyond the limits of Malaysian military radar.


From this point, investigators have had to rely on an estimated course based on electronic handshakes picked up by a UK satellite, which came to light days after the disappearance.

After leaving Malaysian military radar coverage, investigators believe MH370 turned south and flew over the northern tip of Indonesia’s Sumatra Island before heading for the southern reaches of the Indian Ocean off Australia’s western coast, where a massive underwater search is now concentrated.

The course, contradicting reports the plane skirted round Indonesian airspace, raises potentially awkward questions over why Indonesia did not identify the aircraft on its own radar. Sensitivities over the sharing of data have been a recurring theme in the search for the jet, according to people involved.

The report identified three areas in the southern Indian Ocean where they can say with different levels of certainty that the jet crashed, but although searchers identified pings from its black boxes a thorough seabed search has been fruitless.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said that the seabed search over a wider area could take 6-8 months, but some experts say it could take even longer, possibly years.

Fuelling the debate over tracking, Malaysia’s Transport Ministry pointed to the disappearance of Flight MH370 and Air France Flight AF447 in 2009 as evidence that a system for real-time tracking would help to locate missing aircraft more easily.

Details of the initial findings including the audio tapes were shared before the report’s publication with mainly Chinese relatives who have protested about Malaysia Airlines’ handling of the case, in particular the use of text messages to inform some relatives when the aircraft was deemed to have crashed.

Malaysia releases missing flight report, calls for real-time tracking

Malaysia released a preliminary report on missing Flight MH370 on Thursday in which it recommended that the U.N. body overseeing global aviation consider introducing a system for tracking commercial aircraft in real time.

In the report dated April 9, but only just made available to the media, the ministry pointed to the disappearance of the Malaysian Airlines aircraft and Air France Flight AF447 in 2009 as evidence that such real-time tracking would help to locate missing aircaft more easily in future.

“There have now been two occasions during the last five years when large commercial air transport aircraft have gone missing and their last position was not accurately known,” the Transport Ministry said.

“This uncertainty resulted in significant difficulty in locating the aircraft in a timely manner.”

The report called on the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to “examine the safety benefits of introducing a standard for real-time tracking of commercial air transport aircraft”.

Flight MH370, which had 239 passengers and crew on board, disappeared off civilian radars while on a scheduled flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8.

The search for the Boeing 777-200ER is already the biggest in aviation history, and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said it had entered a new phase which could take six to eight months to complete.

Families of the missing passengers, the majority of whom are Chinese, have directed their anger largely at Malaysia’s authorities and military for failing to do enough to track the aircraft after it turned back after takeoff.

The report confirmed that military radar tracked a plane as it turned in a westerly direction across the Malaysian peninsula on the morning of March 8, and that it took no further action because the plane was deemed “friendly”.

However, it did not explain why Flight MH370 had been categorised as friendly even through its transponder was switched off by the time it turned back, one of many mysteries surrounding its fate that remain unanswered.

Still unknown is who or what led to MH370 veering off its original flight path and eventually ending up several thousand kilometres (miles) away in the southern Indian Ocean.

Malaysia Airlines to end hotel stays for MH370 families

Malaysia Airlines will cease to provide hotel accommodation for relatives of missing flight MH370 passengers by May 7, the airline said on Thursday.

The Malaysian flag carrier has provided hotel accommodation for relatives in a number of countries — most of them in Malaysia and China — where it provided them periodic updates on the situation since shortly after the flight mysteriously disappeared on March 8.

But relatives’ tempers have repeatedly flared, particularly at the Lido Hotel in Beijing where Chinese families have regularly lashed out at officials from the Malaysian government and the airline over their inability to explain the plane’s disappearance.

“Instead of staying in hotels, the families of MH370 are advised to receive information updates on the progress of the search and investigation and other support by Malaysia Airlines within the comfort of their own homes, with the support and care of their families and friends,” the airline said in a statement.

“In line with this adjustment, Malaysia Airlines will be closing all of its family assistance centres around the world by 7 May 2014.”

Wen Wancheng, whose son was on the flight, said that relatives have come under pressure from time to time to leave the hotel and go back home, but was adamant that they would refuse.

“Today MAS brought this up officially and we’re not going to accept it,” he told AFP, referring to the airline.

“They made the commitment in March that they wouldn’t drive us out of the Lido until any wreckage was found,” he said.

The government-controlled carrier also said it would soon make advance compensation payments to the next-of-kin of the 239 people onboard the plane, part of a final package to be agreed upon later.

It did not specify the amounts.

Wen, the Chinese relative, expressed concern about the payments.

“It has to have a legal basis,” he said. “Is this for relatives’ mental damages or the casualties of our family members onboard?”

About two-thirds of those aboard the missing plane, which vanished from radar en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, were Chinese nationals.

The airline also had provided psychiatric support at hotels for families trying to cope with the tragedy.

The carrier said it would establish centres in Beijing and Kuala Lumpur to provide “follow-up support and services” but gave no further specifics.

A Malaysia Airlines spokeswoman declined to offer further details when contacted by AFP.

The cut-off of accommodation is likely to upset some family members who continue to demand answers from the airline and Malaysian government.

The airline said last week that 10 of its staff were held against their will for more than 10 hours at the Lido Hotel by angry relatives.

Hotel-staying next-of-kin could not immediately be reached for comment.

The plane is believed to have inexplicably diverted from its course and crashed in the Indian Ocean.

However, a multi-nation search for plane wreckage has failed to find any evidence despite weeks of looking.

Malaysia to release missing report

Malaysia will release a preliminary report Thursday on the disappearance of flight MH370 nearly two months after it went missing, according to a transport ministry official.

Malaysian media reported Transport and Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein as saying Wednesday that the report would be made public but gave no other details.

According to state news agency Bernama, Hishammuddin said the report would be similar to the one forwarded to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

“I don’t think there’s going to be any problem to issue it. But we have decided it as a team, that it’s going to be issued tomorrow,” he was quoted as saying.

A transport ministry official confirmed the reports but could not comment further.

Malaysia has been accused by angry relatives of the 239 people aboard the plane of hiding information — a claim the Southeast Asian nation has persistently denied.

Malaysian officials said last week that the report already had been sent to ICAO.

ICAO requires countries to submit a factual run-down of what is known so far in any air crash within 30 days.

Prime Minister Najib Razak last week vowed to release the report “in the name of transparency”.

The Malaysia Airlines flight vanished on March 8 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

It is believed to have crashed in the southern Indian Ocean, but a massive hunt for the wreckage has been fruitless so far.

US pilot claims to have found plane on satellite image

The sightings are beginning to increase. And the anguish for the families is only going to get worse.

A day after a US pilot claimed a satellite image he saw was the wreckage of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, Adelaide-based GeoResonance was quoted in Malaysian media and by Australia’s Channel Seven as saying it had detected possible debris from a plane 5,000 kilometres (3,100 miles) from the current search location – in the Bay of Bengal.

However, Australian authorities on Wednesday dismissed claims by a marine exploration company that material found in the Bay of Bengal could be from missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

On Tuesday, Malaysia’s acting transport minister Hishammuddin Hussein said he was verifying the information but Australia’s Joint Agency Coordination Centre, which is fronting the search, downplayed any link.

“The location of MH370 suggested by the GeoResonance report (in the Bay of Bengal) is not in the Australian search and rescue zone,” a spokesman for the government agency told AFP.

“The Australian led search is relying on information from satellite and other data to determine the missing aircraft’s location. The location specified by the GeoResonance report is not within the search arc derived from this data.

“The joint international team is satisfied that the final resting place of the missing aircraft is in the southerly portion of the search arc.”

GeoResonance, which specialises in geophysical surveys to find oil and gas, groundwater, and uranium, said its research using images from satellites and aircraft had identified elements on the ocean floor consistent with material from a plane.

The company said it surveyed over 2,000,000 square kilometres.

“We identified chemical elements and materials that make up a Boeing 777… these are aluminium, titanium, copper, steel alloys and other materials,” company representative Pavel Kursa told Channel Seven.

Another company representative, David Pope, told the broadcaster: “We’re not trying to say that it definitely is MH370, however it is a lead we feel should be followed up.”

Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said Tuesday that China and Australia were aware of the announcement. “Malaysia is working with its international partners to assess the credibility of this information,” a statement from his office said.

Pilot’s claim

Is this the wreckage of missing Malaysia Airline MH370? Six weeks into the search for the missing airliner, with absolutely no sign of any debris to prove that the airline did go down into the Indian Ocean, websites across the globe have reported that a US pilot quoted on US channel WIVB believes he has found an image of MH370.

As part of a global search on TomNod, a crowd-sourcing website that has been sharing online satllite imagery in the hope of finding the airline, New York pilot Michael Hoebel, 60, believes he has found an image of what appears to be the wreck.

Where is it? According to the reports, quoting Hoebel, in the Gulf of Thailand.

Quoted by the TV news channel, Hoebel refuted it was a shark image, saying: “That’s a 210ft shark.

The lighter skin where the wing attaches to the fuselage – you see that lighter skin.”

Air search called off… Only underwater now

The air search for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet has been called off but the underwater search will be expanded.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has declared a new phase in the search for MH370, saying it is now “highly unlikely” any wreckage will be found on the ocean’s surface.

“By this stage, 52 days into the search, most material would have become waterlogged and sunk,” he was quoted as telling reporters in Canberra on Monday.

Authorities will instead focus all their efforts on the underwater search of the probable impact zone – an area of about 700km by 80km of the remote Indian Ocean.

Most of the ocean in the area is between 4,000 and 4,500 metres deep.

“We will search it all,” Mr Abbott said.

Report awaited

Malaysia is set to release a comprehensive report on its investigation and search into the missing Malaysia Airline flight MH370 this week.

With several surprising new developments this week, not least the reported CNN interview where Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak is quoted as saying military radar tracked an aircraft on March 8.

The Malaysian PM said he initially didn’t believe it but was told that the military radars have some capability. The authorities are not sure whether it was MH370 or any other aircraft.

There is also the question of whether the search is going on in the right area to begin with.

These theories will ensure the conspiracy angle stays alive, however, all eyes will be on the report set to come out and if more “secret revelations” are to made by Malaysia.

The atoll of Diego Garcia is forever hovering in the background and will continue to drive internet discussion until there is closure on the case.

Confident signals

Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said he was “very confident” that signals from the black box had been detected.

The undersea search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 is to be extended beyond the small area identified as its most likely resting place as the quest for any sign of the missing plane enters its 50th day on Saturday.

The submarine drone Bluefin 21 has so far searched about 95 per cent of a 10 square km area of the Indian Ocean seabed, pinpointed after the detection of acoustic pings believed to be from the plane’s black box flight recorders.

Bluefin 21 had to abort the search on Friday and resurface due to a software malfunction. Technicians fixed the drone overnight and its 14th, 16 hour trip to the sea floor at depths of more than 4.5 km was underway on Saturday.

“If no contacts of interest are made, Bluefin-21 will continue to examine the areas adjacent to the 10km radius,” Australia’s Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) in in charge of the search said in a statement.

Obama in Malaysia

US President Barack Obama offered support to Malaysia on Saturday in the baffling mystery over missing flight MH370, an official said.

Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, who is leading Malaysia’s efforts to determine the fate of the passenger jet, said he spoke briefly with Obama after the president’s arrival for an official visit.

“He said he knows it is a tough, long, road ahead. We’ll work together. There is always support,” Hishammuddin said.

“I’m very happy to hear (this) because it is a long journey.”

Malaysian military radar tracked an aircraft after MH370 went missing, says PM

A Malaysian military aircraft did track an unidentified aircraft in the country’s airspace when at the time of MH370 losing contact with the ground control, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said.

Quoting a CNN interview, the Daily Mail said the radar tracked aircraft after it had turned back on its from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8.

The Malaysian PM said he initially didn’t believe but was told that the military radars have some capability.

But the authorities are not sure whether it was MH370 or any other aircraft.

Malaysia will release a preliminary report next week on the disappearance of flight MH370, Prime Minister Najib Razak said, as his government battles criticism over the transparency of its investigation.

“I have directed an internal investigation team of experts to look at the report, and there is a likelihood that next week we could release the report,” Najib told CNN in an interview aired late Thursday.

Malaysian officials said Wednesday the report already had been sent to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which requires countries to submit within 30 days a factual run-down of what is known so far in any air crash.

Search for missing Malaysian jet to take years

The search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 is likely to drag on for years, a senior U.S. defence official told Reuters on Friday, as an underwater search for any trace of the plane’s wreckage off west Australia appeared to have failed.

The official, speaking under condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to comment on the search effort, said two weeks of scouring the Indian Ocean floor with a U.S. Navy submersible drone had turned up no wreckage.

He said the search for the jetliner, which vanished on March 8 with 239 people on board, would now enter a much harder phase of scouring broader areas of the ocean near where the plane is believed to have crashed.

“We went all in on this small area and didn’t find anything. Now you’ve got to go back to the big area,” the official said. “And now you’re talking years.”

On Friday, the undersea drone Bluefin-21 is expected to finish what may be the last of its 16-hour trips to depths of more than 4.5km (2.8 miles) searching a 10 square km (6.2 square mile) stretch of seabed about 2,000 miles northwest of Perth.

Authorities had identified the area as their strongest lead in determining the plane’s final resting place after detecting what they suspected was a signal, or “ping”, from the plane’s black box recorder on April 4.

But the U.S. official said Malaysia would have to decide how to proceed with the search, including whether to bring in more underwater drones, even with the understanding that the search could continue for years without a refined search area.

Searchers face tough choices on what next

Searchers for missing Flight MH370 face tough choices on how to proceed after almost seven fruitless weeks, with only a fraction of a deep-sea zone still left to be scanned.

After 11 dives seeking wreckage from the Malaysia Airlines jet which mysteriously disappeared on March 8, an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) has come up empty-handed.

“Bluefin-21 has now completed more than 90 percent of the focused underwater search area,” the Joint Agency Coordination Centre managing the search said early Thursday. “No contacts of interest have been found to date.”

Australia is leading the search for the missing Boeing 777, which is believed to have crashed in the southern Indian Ocean after veering dramatically off course from its Kuala Lumpur to Beijing route.

JACC refused to speculate on what the next steps would be if the Bluefin-21 ended its 3D sonar scanning some 4,500 metres (15,000 feet) below the surface without result, but said the search would continue.

“We are currently consulting very closely with our international partners on the best way to effect this for the future,” it said.

For now, it will not give up on the 400 square km search zone which has offered the best hopes so far of finding the aircraft, based on seabed signals consistent with those emitted by black box data recorders.

“At the moment, we are focused on pursuing the best lead we have in relation to missing Flight MH370,” the agency said.

“It is important this lead is pursued to its completion so we can either confirm or discount the focused underwater area as the final resting place of MH370. This is clearly of great importance to the families of those on board.”

Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said that while the search would not abandoned, it could face a “re-think”. Defence Minister David Johnston has suggested a more powerful sonar scanner could be deployed.

Malaysia’s Transport and Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein has also insisted the search for the passenger jet, which was carrying 239 people, would not stall but could move on to different technology.

“I can confirm that in fact we are increasing the assets that are available for deep-sea search… that involves commercial ventures,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

“And in the next few days, we will be talking to other entities to look at the possibility of increasing the assets for the next phase,” adding that these would not be deployed in the next few days.

“What is more important is that the search continues and this is an assurance we will give to the families of the passengers,” he added.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has also reportedly suggested that the search zone could be broadened, if calculations about the plane’s position when it likely ran out of fuel and crashed are revised.

“The area for focus of the search… has already been moved twice, and there’s always a possibility that further work will move it again,” the bureau’s chief commissioner Martin Dolan told CNN.

As the painstaking aerial and surface searches over the vast and remote ocean continued, the discovery on Wednesday of potential debris on a Western Australian beach was ruled out as a lead.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau said the unidentified material found on the far south coast of Western Australia was not associated with MH370.

The JACC said up to 11 military aircraft and 11 ships would assist in the search on Thursday, with most concentrating on a visual search of 49,567 square km some 1,584 km northwest of Perth.

The visual search has for days been frustrated by weather related to ex-tropical Cyclone Jack, and authorities said it could again be suspended with sea swells expected of three to four metres.


Debris found on Australian beach not from MH370

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau ruled out Thursday any link between material found on a beach in southwestern Australia and the missing Malaysia Airlines jet.

Debris described as “unidentified material” was found Wednesday on a beach near Augusta, more than 300 kilometres (180 miles) south of Perth, by a member of the public and handed to police.

The ATSB decided to examine photographs of the material to determine whether it was linked to the search for the missing jet.

Photographs were also provided to the Malaysian investigation team.

However ATSB chief commissioner Martin Dolan scotched any hope of a breakthrough.

“We’ve carefully examined detailed photographs that were taken for us by the police, and we’re satisfied that it’s not a lead in terms of the search for MH370,” Dolan told ABC radio.

“We want to pursue every possible lead that will help us find MH370 but sadly this is one that isn’t going to help that search,” he said.

Dolan had Wednesday night declared the material, apparently sheet metal with rivets, “sufficiently interesting for us to take a look at the photographs”.

However he had added a note of caution. “The more we look at it, the less excited we get.”

The Boeing 777 with 239 people aboard was flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8 when it mysteriously diverted.

It is thought to have crashed into the remote Indian Ocean off Western Australia, where a huge search is underway.

‘Missing Malaysia Airline MH370 may have landed, not crashed’; Diego Garcia?

The search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 may be forced to re-investigate the possibility that the passenger jet with 239 on board landed, according to new reports.

A report in the Financial Express, quoting The New Strait Times has quoted sources close to the probe that the investigation teams are considering revisiting the possibility that the plane did not crash into the ocean and had landed safely at an unknown location.

“The thought of it landing somewhere else is not impossible, as we have not found a single debris that could be linked to MH370. However, the possibility of a specific country hiding the plane when more than 20 nations are searching for it, seems absurd,” the sources told the NST.

This latest report will once again put the spotlight on the island of Deigo Garcia and the conspiracy theory that the small atoll is the most likely spot the plane could have landed.

Click to read: Diego Garcia and MH370 conspiracy of a ‘lost’ island in middle of it all

All options on table

It”s the kind of news that families of passengers of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 will dread, but as long as the search goes on in vain cyclone or not, the fact is, all options are on the table.

According to a report on website, quoting the New Straits Times, members of the International Investigation Team (IIT) in charge of the search are considering the possibility that the search is going on in the wrong area.

Quoting sources within the team based in Kuala Lumpur, the possibility that the jet had landed somewhere else, instead of ending up in the southern Indian Ocean, is now back on the table.

“The thought of it landing somewhere else is not impossible, as we have not found a single debris that could be linked to MH370,” the report said.

As the remote controlled submarine was expected to complete its ninth mission on Tuesday, four days after the coordination centre gave the five-day timeframe, the centre confirmed that it had covered about two thirds of its target search area and had found “no contacts of interest”.

The dawning prospect of the Bluefin-21, initially seen as the search’s most promising aid, completing its mission without a trace of the missing aircraft has authorities under pressure to determine which strategy to take next.

The daily search involving some two dozen nations is already shaping up to be the most expensive in aviation history.

For latest updates on search for MH370… Click here

Missing MH370 latest: Families for $5m reward to whistleblower

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