Sunday, March 16, 2014

Missing Malaysia plane: Malaysia requests countries' help


Malaysian authorities' news conference on missing plane
Malaysian officials say they are requesting assistance from a number of countries along the two possible routes the Malaysian plane that disappeared over a week ago may have taken.
The search now covers a very wide area - from central Asia to the southern Indian Ocean.
The move comes after the authorities said the communications systems of flight had been deliberately disabled.

The Kuala Lumpur-Beijing flight is believed to have then changed course.
Investigators are focusing on trying to obtain the radar data from any of the countries that flight MH370 may have passed over.

Malaysian officials are contacting countries including Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, China, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Australia and France.

They are also asking countries to provide assistance in the search for the plane, including satellite data and analysis, ground-search capabilities, and maritime and air assets.

The police are also reportedly looking at the family life and psychological state of the plane's pilot, Zaharie Shah, and co-pilot, and searched their homes on Saturday.

Officers spoke to relatives of the pilot and experts are examining the pilot's flight simulator.
Those who know Mr Zaharie insist he is a normal family man, reports the BBC's Jonah Fisher in Kuala Lumpur.

Fifty-three years old - with 18,000 hours of flying experience - he is a self-confessed "aviation geek" and proudly posted pictures online of the flight simulator he built at home.
As well as the crew and passengers, police are investigating the engineers who may have had contact with the aircraft before take-off.
'Two corridors' According to satellite evidence, the Boeing 777 could have continued flying for a further seven hours after its last radar contact, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said on Saturday.

He added the plane could be anywhere from Kazakhstan to the Indian Ocean. The two corridors are being treated with equal importance in the search efforts.

The flight left Kuala Lumpur for Beijing at 00:40 local time (16:40 GMT) on 8 March and disappeared off air traffic controllers' screens at about 01:20.

ACARS system

  • Aircraft and Communications Addressing and Reporting System is a service that allows computers aboard the plane to "talk" to computers on the ground, relaying in-flight information about the health of its systems.
  • Messages are transmitted either by radio or digital signals via satellites, and can cover anything from the status of the plane's engines to a faulty toilet.
  • This provides ground crews with vital diagnostic information, allowing maintenance to be carried out more quickly.
One of the aircraft's communications systems - the Aircraft and Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) - was disabled just before it had reached the east coast of Malaysia, Mr Razak said.

ACARS is a service that allows computers aboard the plane to "talk" to computers on the ground, relaying in-flight information about the health of its systems.

Shortly afterwards, near the crossover point between Malaysian and Vietnamese air traffic controllers, the plane's transponder - which emits an identifying signal - was switched off, he said.

According to a military radar, the aircraft then turned and flew back over Malaysia before heading in a north-west direction.

A satellite was able to pick up a signal from the plane until 08:11 local time - more than seven hours after it lost radar contact - although it was unable to give a precise location, Mr Razak said.

He went on to say that based on this new data, investigators "have determined the plane's last communication with a satellite was in one of two possible corridors":
  • a northern corridor stretching from the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan through to northern Thailand
  • a southern corridor stretching from Indonesia to the southern Indian Ocean
Along with the Chinese passengers, there were 38 Malaysians and citizens of Iran, the US, Canada, Indonesia, Australia, India, France, New Zealand, Ukraine, Russia, Taiwan and the Netherlands on board.

An extensive search - involving 14 countries, 43 ships and 58 aircraft - since the plane disappeared has proved fruitless.
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