Commentary on the economic , geopolitical and simply fascinating things going on. Served occasionally with a side of snark.
Thursday, March 27, 2014
Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 Mystery Day 20 , March 27 , 2014 --Key questions and some possible answers , including -- Has Malaysia been keeping key information on MH370 SECRET ? WILL THE BLACK BOX HELP INVESTIGATORS IF FOUND ? ( THE black box from the doomed Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 may have over written key data, preventing investigators from ever knowing what happened during crucial moments of the flight. ) ...... WHY HASN"T DEBRIS ALLEGEDLY OBSERVED BEEN CONFIRMED ? ( Air search for new 'debris' comes up EMPTY: MH370 continues to hide or be hidden ) from searchers ) ........ WHY didn't crew, passengers try to get into cockpit to check with pilots once it was obvious SOMETHING HAD GONE WRONG ? Will Bad Weather hamper search efforts significantly at this critical time by scattering alleged debris or relocating it outside of the search zones ? ( Thunderstorms and gale-force winds grounded the international search for wreckage from Flight MH370, frustrating the luckless effort yet again just as new satellite images of floating objects sparked hopes of a breakthrough. It marked the second suspension within three days for the planes and vessels from several nations that have fought a losing battle against fierce winds and mountainous seas in the remote southern Indian Ocean as they hunt for hard evidence that the plane crashed. )
Thursday, 27 March 2014 07:42
Has M'sia been keeping key information on MH370 SECRET?
The disappearance of a routine flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 227 passengers and 12 crew aboard remains shrouded in uncertainty. With wildly differing theories about the loss of the Malaysia Airlines jet, the MH370 mystery is becoming to the early 21st century what the JFK assassination was to the 20th. We look at the key questions – and offer some cautious answers.
Has Malaysia been keeping information secret?
Information has certainly been ineptly managed since the Boeing 777 went missing on 8 March, but I have not seen convincing evidence that it has been deliberately withheld by Malaysia Airlines or the Malaysian government. They have both stressed the need to communicate openly with the relatives of the 239 people on board, but also to verify information before it has been released.
The key accusation that the Malaysians must answer, once the search is completed, is why it failed to act immediately on the key data supplied by Inmarsat about the jet’s last hours? The London-based firm told investigators of the vital information three days after the disappearance of the Beijing-bound flight. But it took a further four days before the futile search in the South China Sea was abandoned, and prolonged the unimaginable anguish of the relatives.
How significant is the lack of a distress signal from the pilots, and of evidence of passengers using their mobile phones?
Very significant. Starting on the flight deck: the order of priorities of any pilot is clear: aviate (ie keep the aircraft flying), navigate (achieve the desired course and altitude), communicate. If the crew were dealing with a complex and unforeseen problem, they would quite properly focus on the issue rather than contacting the ground or other aircraft. But it appears that a number of manoeuvres were performed that would seem to allow enough time for one or other pilot to broadcast a warning.
If passengers became aware of an unusual or sinister development, it is highly likely that at least some of them would switch on their mobile phones – a few of which would be expected to register on networks while briefly flying over the Malayan peninsula. But the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission reports no such contact. It is possible that passengers were unaware of the change in course, or that they were incapacitated, for example by depressurisation of the cabin.
Once the aircraft was some distance from land, any contact with ground stations would be impossible.
Were the pilots involved?
“Probably a suicidal pilot,” says the aviation expert Chris Yates. “I see no other conclusion to draw, other than a vague possibility that a passenger or passengers took control.” There has been much speculation about the backgrounds and states of mind of the captain and first officer. However, many other theories have been put forward. Could something as trivial as a spilt cup of coffee on the flight deck cause an electrical short circuit, which smouldered and produced enough smoke to overcame the pilots before they could broadcast a Mayday? Or could some other event have disabled the communications systems and incapacitated the flight crew?
Has hijacking/terrorism now been discounted?
The suicidal terrorism demonstrated to such deadly effect on 9/11 was aimed at mass murder and targeting iconic structures. Had these been the motives with MH370, then the obvious targets would be the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur - until a decade ago the tallest buildings in the world. Traditional hijacking involves the perpetrator demanding to be flown to a different destination, and does not usually result in the destruction of the aircraft. So unless a macabre new strain of evil has been devised, it is difficult to identify a motive. In addition, no credible claims have been made by any terrorist group for the loss of the jet.
Will they ever give up looking for the aircraft?
Compared with the search for traces of Air France flight 447, which crashed in the Atlantic between Rio and Paris five years ago, looking for MH370 is an order of magnitude more difficult. The distance from the shore is much greater, the sea conditions much heavier and the clues about possible locations much less certain. It is an extraordinarily expensive business. But so much is riding on finding out what happens, that the search is likely to continue indefinitely. The need for some sort of closure for the relatives is clear. But the aviation community is also desperate to learn more – in case there is some previously unidentified issue with the aircraft, and to establish responsibility before the legal process begins.
If they find it, will they raise it?
Search teams will want to recover as much as possible of the debris, to get clues about the aircraft’s final moments – and the sequence of events that led to the loss. They will home in on the flight data recorder, which keeps details of commands from the flight deck, and the cockpit voice recorder. The latter, though, may not yield many clues since it has only a two-hour capacity, and therefore cannot reveal what happened over the Gulf of Thailand.
Has bad news about a crash been given by text message previously?
Not as far as I can tell – but there has never been an event like this. With the unexplained loss of a large passenger jet, we are in uncharted territory – or at least territory that has been uncharted for decades. Thankfully air disasters are so rare that “normal” is difficult to define. But in previous events, relatives have tended to learn the worse from the media, rather than the airline. -www.independent.co.uk
THE black box from the doomed Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 may have over written key data, preventing investigators from ever knowing what happened during crucial moments of the flight.
Search for the wreckage of the plane continues today with the detection of 122 “credible” floating objects in the Indian Ocean, but an expert has warned the black box may be “impossible” to find.
According to The Telegraph UK, a United States black box detector is due to arrive on April 5, just two days before the black box’s pinger is due to run out of battery.
This image released by Malaysian authorities seems to show unknown objects clustered together, they were sighted by MRSA on March 23. Picture: Supplied.Source: Supplied
By that time it will be 28 days since the plane disappeared but Cranfield University aviation specialist David Barry said a weakened signal may continue for another 10 days.
“Given the remoteness of the site and the depth of the water and the weather down there, the black box will be almost impossible to find,” he said.
“It will then be a case of digging through the wreckage field, possibly for a couple of years.”
Even if the black box is located, it may not provide the answers that investigators are hoping for.
The plane’s communications systems were disabled in the first hour of the flight, before it took a sharp turn westward and continued flying silently for about seven hours.
The black box records cockpit communication on a two hour loop and then deletes all but the last two hours.
Flight data would have survived but Mr Barry said: “The bit we are interested in – where they lost contact with air traffic control – would have been overridden unless power to the recorder was lost”.
Commercial airliners are obliged to carry two black boxes, the Digital Flight Data Recorder which contains data about the speed, altitude and direction, while the Cockpit Voice Recorder keeps track of cockpit conversations and other sounds and announcements in the pilots' cabin. -News.com.au
Thursday, 27 March 2014 07:51
Air search for new 'debris' comes up EMPTY: MH370 continues to hide from searchers
Aircraft and ships scouring the southern Indian Ocean for wreckage of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 were racing to beat bad weather on Thursday and reach an area where new satellite images showed what could be a debris field.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), which is co-ordinating the search for the plane out of Perth on the southwestern coast of Australia, said Wednesday that the last aircraft had left the search zone without spotting any remnants of the missing jetliner, which is believed to have gone down somewhere in the southern Indian Ocean.
Australia's Bureau of Meteorology warned that weather was expected to deteriorate again Thursday with a cold front passing through the search area that would bring rain thunderstorms, low clouds and strong winds.
A French satellite scanning the ocean for signs of the plane found a possible debris field containing 122 objects, a top Malaysian official said early Wednesday, calling it "the most credible lead that we have."
Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said the objects were in the same area — about 2,500 kilometres southwest of Perth — where a desperate, multinational hunt has been going on since other satellites detected possible jet debris.
Later, AMSA sent a tweet saying three more objects were seen. The authority said two objects seen from a civilian aircraft appeared to be rope, and that a New Zealand military plane spotted a blue object.
Wednesday's search focused on three regions within the same area that cumulatively covered about 80,000 square kilometres.
Objects not seen on 2nd pass
Clouds obscured the latest satellite images, but dozens of objects could be seen in the gaps, ranging in length from one metre to 23 metres. Hishammuddin said some of them "appeared to be bright, possibly indicating solid materials."
The images were taken Sunday and relayed by French-based Airbus Defence and Space, a division of Europe's Airbus Group; its businesses include the operation of satellites and satellite communications.
None of the objects that were spotted by Australian and New Zealand aircraft were seen on a second pass, a frustration that has been repeated several times in the hunt for Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370, missing since March 8 with 239 people aboard. It remains uncertain whether any of the objects came from the plane; they could have come from a cargo ship or something else.
"If it is confirmed to be MH370, at least then we can move on to the next phase of deep sea surveillance search," Hishammuddin said.
Various floating objects have been spotted by planes and satellites over the last week but none have been retrieved or positively identified as being parts of Flight MH370.
A total of 11 planes and five ships from the United States, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand were participating in the search Thursday, hoping to find even a single piece of the jet that could offer tangible evidence of a crash and provide clues to find the rest of the wreckage.
Malaysia announced Monday that a mathematical analysis of the final known satellite signals from the plane showed that it had crashed in the sea, killing everyone on board.
Malaysia's acting transport minister Hishammuddin Hussein talks about the latest information gleaned from a new set of satellite images showing objects that could possible be debris from Flight MH370 in Kuala Lumpur Wednesday. (Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters)
Australia 'throwing everything we have' at search
The new data greatly reduced the search zone, but it remains huge — an area estimated at 1.6 million square kilometres, about the size of Alaska.
The remoteness of the region also makes it difficult for search crews trying to get there. Aircraft must travel about four hours from Perth to get to the area and have about two hours to search before they must fly the four hours back to their base of operations so they don't run out of fuel.
A map showing the three areas that were the focus of Wednesday's search, covering a total of 80,000 square kilometres. The yellow lines with arrows show two possible flight paths of MH370. (Australian Maritime Safety Authority)
"We're throwing everything we have at this search," Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott told Nine Network television on Wednesday.
"This is about the most inaccessible spot imaginable. It's thousands of kilometres from anywhere," he later told Seven Network television. He vowed that "we will do what we can to solve this riddle."
Also on Wednesday, Lloyd's of London, the world's oldest insurance market, says it stands ready to pay out claims for the loss of Flight MH370.
It's still far too early to speculate about the cost of the disaster, which will depend in part on what happened to the plane, said Lloyd's Chairman John Nelson. By way of example, he said it took two to three years to sort out what led to the crash of an Air France plane in 2009.
Debris would dash last hope
In Beijing, some families still held out a glimmer of hope their loved ones might somehow have survived. About two-thirds of the missing were Chinese, and their relatives have lashed out at Malaysia for essentially declaring their family members dead without any physical evidence of the plane's remains. Many also believe Malaysia has not been transparent or swift in communicating information about the status of the search.
Wang Chunjiang, whose brother was on the plane, said he felt "very conflicted."
"We want to know the truth, but we are afraid the debris of the plane should be found," he said while waiting at a hotel near the Beijing airport for a meeting with Malaysian officials. "If they find debris, then our last hope would be dashed. We will not have even the slightest hope."
Middle school students pray for passengers aboard Malaysia Airline MH370 in Lianyungang, China, on March 25. The search for the Malaysian airliner that disappeared 18 days ago resumed on Wednesday in the southern Indian Ocean. (China Daily/Reuters)
China dispatched a special envoy to Kuala Lumpur, Vice-Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui, who met Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and other top officials Wednesday, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.
China, which now has Chinese warships and an icebreaker in the search zone, has been intent on supporting the interests of the Chinese relatives of passengers, backing their demands for detailed information on how Malaysia concluded the jet went down in the southern Indian Ocean.
That also is the likely reason why Chinese authorities — normally extremely wary of any spontaneous demonstrations that could undermine social stability — permitted a rare protest Tuesday outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing, during which relatives chanted slogans, threw water bottles and briefly tussled with police who kept them separated from a swarm of journalists.
No possibilities ruled out
The plane's bizarre disappearance shortly after it took off from Kuala Lumpur en route to Beijing has proven to be one of the biggest mysteries in aviation.
Investigators have ruled out nothing so far — including mechanical or electrical failure, hijacking, sabotage, terrorism or issues related to the mental health of the pilots or someone else on board.
The search for the wreckage and the plane's flight data and cockpit voice recorders will be a major challenge. It took two years to find the black box from an Air France jet that went down in the Atlantic Ocean on a flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris in 2009, and searchers knew within days where the crash site was.
Race against the clock
There is a race against the clock to find Flight MH370's black boxes, whose battery-powered "pinger" could stop sending signals within two weeks. The batteries are designed to last at least a month.
On Wednesday, AMSA said a U.S. Towed Pinger Locator arrived in Perth along with Bluefin-21 underwater drone. The equipment will be fitted to the Australian naval ship, the Ocean Shield, but AMSA could not say when the locator would be deployed.
David Ferreira, an oceanographer at the University of Reading in Britain, said little is known about the detailed topography of the seabed in the general area where the plane is believed to have crashed.
"We know much more about the surface of the moon than we do about the ocean floor in that part of the Indian Ocean," Ferreira said.
The search for Flight MH370 is now focused on the Indian Ocean southwest of Australia. All distances and areas are approximate. Sources: Reuters, Australia Maritime Safety Authority, Malaysian Remote Sensing Agency, CBC News stories. (CBC)
Kerry Sieh, the director of the Earth Observatory of Singapore, said the seafloor in the search area is relatively flat.
He said any large pieces of the plane would likely stay put once they have completely sunk. But recovering any part of the plane will be tough because of the sheer depth of the ocean in the search area — much of it between about 3,000 and 4,500 metres — and inhospitable conditions on the surface where intense winds and high swells are common. -www.cbc.ca
Wednesday, 26 March 2014 17:32
WHY didn't crew, passengers try to get into cockpit to check with pilots once it was obvious SOMETHING HAD GONE WRONG
If the pilots of missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 wanted to cut passengers and crew off from the outside world for the duration of the doomed flight, they could have, aviation experts say.
However, it would have to be a purposeful decision from the flight deck and could not happened accidentally due to a medical or mechanical emergency.
Earlier, a senior commercial pilot and other aviation experts told Fairfax Media that if the flight’s pilots had become incapacitated, the passengers and cabin crew may have flown for seven hours aware that there was a problem but unable to raise the alarm.
Mystery: A Malaysia Airlines plane prepares to go onto the runway and pass by a stationary Chinese Ilyushin 76 search aircraft (top) at Perth International Airport. Photo: AFP
However, other commercial airline pilots have since revealed there is a secret emergency procedure that would allow airline staff to get into the cockpit in the event that the pilots were, for example, rendered unconscious by a mechanical fault.
Fairfax Media has chosen not to detail the procedure.
But it can be by overridden by the flight deck, meaning the pilots do have the ability to block passengers and crew from contacting the outside world.
Few clues to disaster: Malaysia Airlines Chief Executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya (L) and Chairman of Malaysia Airlines Tan Sri Md. Nor Bin Md. Yusof speak to media. Photo: Reuters
The new information means that if there had been an incident that left the pilots on MH370 physically incapacitated, cabin crew could have sent a message via the cockpit.
But if one or both of the pilots had begun to act suspiciously, the cabin crew could have been denied access and been left helpless.
Mobile phones may have been out of range, and the satellite phones which existed in business class could have been disabled, either purposefully or accidentally, by the same incident that eliminated the plane's tracking systems.
‘‘There are no communications available from the cabin to the ground ... only from the cockpit," said Professor Jason Middleton, head of University of New South Wales School of Aviation.
Professor Middleton said post 9-11 security measures meant passengers and crew were isolated from the outside world if the cockpit was inaccessible.
‘‘It’s the modern world [that says] the only way to protect against illegal activities and hijacking is for the pilots to be safely ensconced so no one can get at them and no one can get at the systems.’’
Professor Middleton said the approach usually worked but that so far flight MH370 had proved to be an "unprecedented case".
The flight path of the doomed Malaysia Airlines jet, established by British satellite company Inmarsat through the plane’s "ping" data, has shown that it flew for more than seven hours after it turned back from its scheduled flight path over the South China Sea on March 8.
Nobody yet knows why the plane deviated from its trajectory, or whether the pilots acted intentionally or were thwarted by some mechanical fault.
One theory already reported is that a catastrophic loss of pressure rendered all aboard unconscious, leaving the plane to fly on auto-pilot as a "ghost flight" until it crashed into the southern Indian Ocean.
An Australian commercial pilot, who did not want to be named, said flight MH370 would have had a reinforced cockpit door for security reasons. If the crew could not access the cockpit because they were being kept out by the pilots, they would be effectively helpless.
"There is no way they could raise the alarm," he said.
There has been much speculation as to why no phone calls or messages were received from passengers or crew on the missing flight.
American airline pilot and aviation author and blogger Patrick Smith said the lack of calls did not necessarily support the theory because unless a plane was flying low and within range of a mobile phone tower, mobile phones would not work.
Vincent Lau, an electronics professor specialising in wireless communications at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, also told the New York Times that the altitude of the plane might have meant mobile phones could not connect with ground stations.
According to the Malaysia Airlines website, in-flight entertainment systems in business class on a Boeing 777-200, the model of flight MH370, are equipped with satellite phones.
Mr Smith said that this entertainment system could, however, be disabled as was the jet’s transponder and Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS). No one yet knows how and why these systems were not working. -www.smh.com.au
New Straits Times........
27 March 2014| last updated at 02:36PM
MH370 Lost in Indian Ocean: Search called off due to bad weather
PERTH, Australia: Thunderstorms and gale-force winds grounded the international search for wreckage from Flight MH370, frustrating the luckless effort yet again just as new satellite images of floating objects sparked hopes of a breakthrough.
It marked the second suspension within three days for the planes and vessels from several nations that have fought a losing battle against fierce winds and mountainous seas in the remote southern Indian Ocean as they hunt for hard evidence that the plane crashed.
“Today’s search operations have been suspended due to bad weather,” the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), which is coordinating the search, said on its Twitter account.
“All planes are returning to Perth & ships are leaving search area.”
Malaysia had said late Wednesday that images taken in recent days by a French satellite showed “122 potential objects” adrift in the vast area, but nothing has been recovered yet that would confirm the plane’s fate.
The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 is presumed to have crashed on March 8 in the Indian Ocean with 239 people aboard after mysteriously diverting from its Kuala Lumpur-Beijing path and apparently flying for hours in the opposite direction.
Malaysia believes the plane was deliberately re-directed by someone on board, but nothing else is known.
AMSA had said earlier the new images were in an area authorities have pinpointed as a potential crash zone some 2,500 kilometres (1,550 miles) southwest of Perth.
Six military planes from Australia, China, Japan and the United States had been set to fly sorties throughout Thursday, along with five civil aircraft, scouring two areas covering a cumulative 78,000 square kilometres.
Five ships from Australia and China also had been set to resume searching the zone.
The search was also suspended Tuesday due to bad weather, causing mounting concern as the clock ticks on the signal emitted by the plane’s “black box” of flight data.
The data is considered vital to unravelling the flight’s mystery but the signal, aimed at guiding searchers to the device on the seabed where it hopefully can be recovered, will expire in under two weeks.
The drama is playing out in a wild expanse of ocean described by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott as “about as close to nowhere as it’s possible to be”, and known for gale-force winds and towering waves.
The new satellite images provided by European aerospace giant Airbus depicted some objects as long as 23 metres (75 feet), Acting Malaysian Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said.
Focus has also been on the pilot, Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, with the FBI Wednesday saying it was close to completing an analysis of data from a flight simulator taken from his home.
Malaysian authorities had sought FBI help to recover files deleted from the hard drive.
So far, no information implicating the captain or anyone else has emerged.--AFP
27 March 2014| last updated at 08:28AM
MH370 Lost in Indian Ocean: Planes, ships race to beat bad weather
SYDNEY: Aircraft and ships scouring the southern Indian Ocean for wreckage of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 were racing to beat bad weather today and reach an area where new satellite images showed what could be a debris field.
The international search team has been bolstered to 11 military and civilian aircraft and five ships that will criss-cross the remote search site with weather conditions forecast to deteriorate later in the day.
New satellite images have revealed more than 100 objects that could be debris from the Boeing 777, which is thought to have crashed on March 8 with the loss of all 239 people aboard after flying thousands of miles off course.
"We have now had four separate satellite leads, from Australia, China and France, showing possible debris," Malaysian Acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein told a news conference in Kuala Lumpur late Wednesday.
"It is now imperative that we link the debris to MH370."
The latest images were captured by France-based Airbus Defence & Space on Monday and showed 122 potential objects in 400 sq km (155 sq mile) area of ocean, Hishammuddin said. The objects varied in size from one metre to 23 metres (75 ft) in length, he said.
Flight MH370 vanished from civilian radar screens less than an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur bound for Beijing, and investigators believe someone on the flight may have shut off the plane's communications systems.
Theories range from a hijacking to sabotage or a possible suicide by one of the pilots, but investigators have not ruled out technical problems.
Partial military radar tracking showed the plane turning west off its scheduled course over the South China Sea and then recrossing the Malay Peninsula, apparently under the control of a skilled pilot.
The logistical difficulties of the search have been highlighted by the failure so far to get a lock on possible debris despite the now numerous satellite images and direct visuals from aircraft and ships.
The search area some 2,500 km (1,550 miles) southwest of Perth has some of the deepest and roughest waters in the world, roiled by the "Roaring Forties" winds that cut across the sea.
The winds are named for the area between latitude 40 degrees and 50 degrees where there is no land mass to slow down gusts which create waves higher than six metres.
The search was called off for a full day this week because conditions were too dangerous for the search crews, which come from Australia, the United States, New Zealand, China, Japan and South Korea. Meteorologists say the current break in the stormy weather will be short.
"This is only going to be a narrow window of opportunity by the looks of things, because another weather system is moving in for Thursday, which looks like that will bring an increase in winds again and also lead to a reduction in visibility through the rain associated with the cold front," said Neil Bennett, a spokesman for Australia's Bureau of Meteorology. --REUTERS
Flight Engineer Ron Day on board a Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion, searches for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in the southern Indian Ocean. AP Photo
26 March 2014| last updated at 12:19PM
MH370 Lost in Indian Ocean: Pinger Locator ready to roll
KUALA LUMPUR: The Towed Pinger Locator 25 (TPL-25), a United States Navy equipment has arrived in Perth, Australia to assist in the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370.
The United States Navy's 7th Fleet in their Facebook posting said the TPL-25 system would help in locating emergency relocation “pingers” (short high-pitched signals for purposes of detection) from MH370 black box.
The new equipment enable the team to locate the flight recorder at a maximum depth of 20,000 feet.
The system consists of the tow fish, tow cable, winch, hydraulic power unit, generator, and topside control console.
The TPL-25 would be towed behind a vessel at slow speeds, generally from 1 - 5 knots depending on the depth.
Recovery of the “pingers” which usually mounted directly on commercial aircraft flight recorder was critical in the accident investigation.
Most “pingers” transmit every second at 37.5 kHz, however the TPL-25 can detect any “pinger” transmitting between 3.5 kHz and 50 kHz at any repetition rate.
The received acoustic signal of the “pinger” was transmitted up the cable and presented to either a Oscilloscope, or Signal Processing Computer.
The Pinger Locator is designed to detect the black box and will be used to assist search operation of MH370. Pix courtesy of US Navy
China's still wondering what the heck is going on ......Conduct of Malaysia authorities and repeated contradictions during the investigation aren't inspiring confidence in Malaysian competence and honesty regarding these ongoing events ! Ergo , conspiracy theories take flight......
The 13th Man: 'Extra' MH370 crew member fuels conspiracy theories
Malaysia Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, right, announces at a press conference on March 25 that flight MH370 crashed in the southern Indian Ocean. (Photo/CNS)
An innocent blunder or another sign that Malaysian authorities are withholding something about the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370?
According to Chinese state media reports, the official statement released by Malaysia Airlines at 10:15pm on March 24 informing relatives that everyone on flight MH370 likely died in a crash made a reference to "226 passengers and 13 friends and colleagues."
Up until that point, all 22 official statement released by the airline since the plane disappeared on March 8 had stated that there were 227 passengers and 12 crew on board.
The discrepancy has fueled conspiracy theories that the mystery "13th crew member" was the person who hijacked or assisted in the hijack of the plane, and that Malaysian authorities are withholding the truth from the public.
On Wednesday, a staff member in Malaysia Air's media department, told the Beijing Youth Daily that the mysterious 13th crew member is a Chinese employee for the airline who happened to be on the flight as a passenger. Due to the overlap the man was categorized as a "passenger" in earlier press releases, the staff member said before denying requests to identify the individual.
The newspaper also stated that a written response provided later by an airline staffer named Adlina Azharuddin explained that there were 226 passengers, 12 crew and an additional Malaysia Airline staff member on board the flight, but did not elaborate on the earlier verbal response.
A further mystery lies in flight MH370's cargo manifest, which has still not been made public. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority told the Beijing Youth Daily that it had requested a copy of the cargo manifest some time ago from Malaysia Airlines in order to match potential debris discovered during the search, but has yet to receive any response.
Meanwhile, the Chinese government has requested that Malaysia immediately turn over all data leading to its conclusion that flight MH370 had crashed into the southern Indian Ocean despite no physical evidence of the wreckage being retrieved thus far from multinational search efforts.
Malaysia's prime minister, Najib Razak, declared at a press conference Tuesday that the latest analysis of satellite data indicated that flight MH370 was still 30,000ft in the air when it delivered its last "ping" at least five hours after it disappeared off radar screens. As the plane was in a remote part of the Indian Ocean with no landing strips and was out of fuel, investigators concluded that the plane crashed, with the loss of all 239 lives on board.
US State Department spokersperson Marie Harf said at a news briefing that US experts are cooperating with Malaysia and are working to verify the satellite data and analysis used to conclude the plane's fate, adding that there is "no reason to believe it's not true."
In China, hundreds of relatives of passengers have refused to accept the announcement, condemning Malaysia for pronouncing the loss of everyone aboard the flight before any conclusive evidence of its wreckage has been discovered. A protest was organized outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on Tuesday with demonstrators holding banners with messages such as "Return my family" and "We want the truth." A statement released to media accused Malaysia of being the "executioner" of their loved ones through trying to "delay, conceal, cover up and deceive."
Malaysia Airlines said it will pay US$5,000 to the family of each passenger on flight MH370, not as compensation but as a "condolence," and will organize flights for relatives to Perth, where the search is being coordinated, as soon as debris from the plane is located and confirmed.
Australia's prime minister, Tony Abbott, also announced that his government would waive visa fees for families of the plane's passengers should they want to travel to Australia. The search for debris has currently been suspended due to bad weather conditions but efforts will continue with a focus on finding the remains of the plane and the cause behind the crash, he said.
While the prevailing theory is that a catastrophic mechanical failure incapacitated everyone on flight MH370 before it crashed, investigators are continuing to target the flight's 53-year-old captain, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, despite a preliminary probe failing to link anyone on board in a potential hijack or sabotage motive. There are reports that police are currently looking into claims that the captain received a two-minute call from a mysterious woman using a number obtained from a false identity shortly before take off, and that the FBI is pressuring Malaysian authorities to interview Shah's estranged wife, who reportedly moved out of the family home with their three children a day before the flight.
On Wednesday, an Indian aviation security expert lended support to the pilot suicide theory. In an article published in the local daily the Hindu, captain A Ranganathan said the sequence of events surrounding flight MH370 "has an eerie similarity" to two previous air tragedies — Indonesia's SilkAir flight MI185 in 1999 and EgyptAir flight 990 in 2009 — in which all passengers died after the pilot deliberately crashed the plane into water.
Ranganathan theorized that a pilot of MH370 may have killed all people on board by causing depressuraization which would lead to "brain death" within 15 seconds of all in the cabin, while the cockpit had unlimited access to oxygen.