Commentary on the economic , geopolitical and simply fascinating things going on. Served occasionally with a side of snark.
Saturday, April 5, 2014
Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 Mystery Day 29 April 5 , 2014 ( IT'S A COVER UP: M'sian govt deliberately CONCEALING INFO on MH370 - Anwar Ibrahim - Malaysia Chronicle covers The Telegraph detailed interview of former finance Minister Anwar Ibrahim who explains why he believes Malaysia Authorities are lying about what they know ) ...... As we approach the thirty time period for the black boxes ( after which they may cease to ping ) , news and views of the day ........MH370 Tragedy: China ship detects 'pulse signal' in Indian Ocean ....... Rolls-Royce and Boeing should be more involved in handling the case of missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 instead of letting MAS alone to face the media and grieving family members, said Advanced Air Traffic System ........ Malaysia has established three new ministerial committees to streamline and strengthen the ongoing efforts made by the government in handling the MH370 case ( more red tape , baffle with bull shit ) ......... Press Briefing from Transport Minister , no real hard breaking news ...... Former Finance Minister Anwar was quoted in a British daily, The Telegraph, as saying the Malaysian government had deliberately concealed information that would help explain the missing plane - says Marconi radar system he had installed in 1994 , based near the South China Sea and covering Malaysia's mainland and east and west coastlines which would be able to detect the radar from the plane...... Questions and Answers considered for first month of mystery , as the hunt to find debris from the plane ( which might lead to locating the plane itself and the black boxes ) ..... Did Malaysian Airlines fail to replace the black box pinger batteries in 2012( the manufacturer says the recorders were not returned for overhaul and battery replacement in 2012 ) ? If so , the pinger might already be dead and the search in the Indian Ocean just an exercise in futility !
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia Airlines chief executive officer (CEO) Ahmad Jauhari Yahya today confirmed that the batteries of the black box pingers of the missing Malaysia Airlines (MAS) Flight MH370 were due for replacement in June.
"And as far as the batteries are concerned, we confirm that there is a maintenance programme whereby the batteries are replaced prior to its expiry.
"We do know that the batterries are due for replacement only in June 2014," he said at a briefing on the search operation for MH370, here today.
Ahmad Jauhari said this in respond to a question from the floor whether the pinger batteries were due for replacement in 2012, as claimed by its US based manufacturer Dukane Seacom Inc.
On Friday, Dukane Seacom Inc president Anish Patel told CNN that the recorders were scheduled for battery replacements in 2012, but they were never returned for the overhaul.
All commercial aircraft are required to carry pingers, known as underwater locator beacons, to help investigators locate them should they crash into water.
One is attached to the flight data recorder (FDR) and another to the cockpit voice recorder (CVR).
The FDR and CVR make up the flight recorders, also known as the black box. The pings sound about once per second, and can be detected from two nautical miles away by towed pinger locators (TPLs).
Asked about the MAS avionic workshop, Ahmad Jauhari said the workshop conducted repair and service avionic equipment on board all aircraft, and were certified to do so.
Commenting on the fuel capacity of flight MH370 on March 8, Ahmad Jauhari said he knew the aircraft was filled with eight hours of fuel.
However, the exact figure is still with the investigation team.
"In terms of the weight of the fuel, when we correlate that versus the last known signal, which is about 8.11 am, is about 8 hours of flight. So we do not have any more (information) after that.
"I know that they are looking for some more (information), but that's it. The aircraft just ran out of fuel," he added.
MH370, carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew members, went off radar on March 8 just one hour after taking off from KL International Airport at 12.41 am.
The flight was supposed to land at Beijing International Airport at 6.30 am on the same day. -- BERNAMA
Malaysia Airlines Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ahmad Jauhari Yahya speaks to journalist during an interview inside a hotel in Kuala Lumpur April 5, 2014.Four weeks after the disappearance of a Malaysia Airlines jetliner, searchers on Saturday launched the most intensive hunt yet in the southern Indian Ocean, trying to find the plane's black box recorders before their batteries run out. REUTERS
05 April 2014| last updated at 11:39PM
MH370 Tragedy: Pulse signal could not be verified: JACC chief coordinator
PERTH : The Chief Coordinator of the Joint Agency Coordination Centre, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston (Ret'd), said reports that the Chinese ship, Haixun 01, had detected electronic pulse signals in the Indian Ocean related to MH370 could not be verified at this point in time.
"I have been advised that a series of sounds have been detected by a Chinese ship in the search area.
The characteristics reported are consistent with the aircraft black box. A number of white objects were also sighted on the surface about 90 kilometres from the detection area.
However, there is no confirmation at this stage that the signals and the objects are related to the missing aircraft," Air Chief Marshal Houston (Ret'd) said.
"Advice tonight from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority's Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC) and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau is that they cannot verify any connection to the missing aircraft.
"The RCC in Australia has spoken to the RCC in China and asked for any further information that may be relevant.
"The deployment of RAAF assets to the area where the Chinese ship detected the sounds is being considered.
"I will provide further updates if, and when, more information becomes available."
05 April 2014| last updated at 09:49PM
MH370 Tragedy: China ship detects 'pulse signal' in Indian Ocean
BEIJING: A Chinese ship searching for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 detected a “pulse signal” in the southern Indian Ocean Saturday, but there was no evidence yet that it was linked to the missing plane, state media said.
The signal picked up by the vessel’s black box detector had a frequency of 37.5kHz per second, the official Xinhua news agency said — identical to the beacon signal emitted by flight recorders.
The announcement came nearly a month after the Malaysian jetliner disappeared off radar screens en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board, triggering an unprecedented international search.
Australian and British vessels are currently involved in a round-the-clock underwater search in the southern Indian Ocean, hoping to pick up a signal from the plane’s black box recorder, but the battery powering those emissions is nearing the end of its roughly 30-day life span.
The Chinese search ship Haixun 01 picked up the pulse signal at about 25 degrees south latitude and 101 degrees east longitude, Xinhua said in a brief dispatch.
“Suspected pulse signal picked up by Haixun 01 has not been identified yet,” the China Maritime Search and Rescue Center said on a verified microblog.
Australian Defence Minister David Johnston said he had not received a report on the signal and warned that it may not be from the plane.
“This is not the first time we have had something that has turned out to be very disappointing,” he told ABC television.
“I’m just going to wait for (JACC chief) Angus (Houston) and the team and my team to come forward with something that’s positive because this is a very very difficult task.”
Up to 10 military planes, three civilian jets and 11 ships are currently involved in the protracted search for the Boeing 777, but have so far failed to find any sign of the plane.
Authorities still have no idea how or why the plane vanished, and warn that unless the black box is found, the mystery may never be solved.
Earlier in Kuala Lumpur, Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said Malaysia would, in line with international agreements, appoint an independent “investigator in charge” to lead an international team to probe what happened to MH370.
The team will include Australia, China, the United States, Britain and France.
Hishammuddin again declined to provide any detail from Malaysia’s ongoing investigation, however, saying he remained focused on finding the plane and its black box.
“In spite of (the long odds), our determination remains undiminished,” he told a press briefing.
Australia is leading the hunt for the plane, which concentrated Saturday on about 217,000 square kilometres of the Indian Ocean some 1,700 kilometres (1,054 miles) northwest of Perth.
Malaysian authorities believe satellite readings indicates MH370 crashed in the Indian Ocean, far off Australia’s western coastline, after veering dramatically off course during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
But no proof has been found that would indicate a crash site, and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has described the oceanic search as “the most difficult in human history”.
The JACC said Australia’s Transport Safety Bureau was continuing “to refine the area where the aircraft entered the water” using further analysis of satellite data and aircraft performance.
Several nations that normally do not work together — notably the United States and China — have rallied to help look for clues in one of the world’s greatest-ever aviation mysteries.
Authorities still have no idea how or why the plane vanished, and warn that unless the black box is found, the mystery may never be solved.
The Ocean Shield, which is carrying a US Navy “black box” detector, and HMS Echo, which has a similar capability, are searching a 240-kilometre track of ocean in hopes of detecting sonic pings from the recorder.
However, progress is painstaking as vessels must move slowly to improve readings, and officials have acknowledge there is no solid evidence the plane went down in that stretch of sea.
“The search using sub-surface equipment needs to be methodical and carefully executed in order to effectively detect the faint signal of the pinger,” Commodore Peter Leavy said.-- AFP
A file picture dated 29 March 2014 showing the Chinese ship Nan Hai Jiu pictured from the flight deck of a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) P-3K2 Orion aircraft searching for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 over the southern Indian Ocean. A Chinese ship involved in the search for the missing Malaysian Airlines plane has detected a pulse signal in the southern Indian Ocean, the Xinhua state news agency reported 05 April 2014. The pulse signal discovered by the Haixun 01 ship had a frequency of 37.5 kHz, it said. State broadcaster CCTV reported that it was still unclear whether the signal could be from the black box of flight MH370. EPA
05 April 2014| last updated at 07:06PM
MH370 Tragedy: Rolls-Royce & Boeing should be more involved
SHAH ALAM: Rolls-Royce and Boeing should be more involved in handling the case of missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 instead of letting MAS alone to face the media and grieving family members, said Advanced Air Traffic System (AAT) Sdn Bhd.
Its chairman Datuk Zolkipli Abdul said Rolls-Royce as the engine maker and Boeing, the aircraft manufacturer are both liable to answer for the incident as the investigations have not ruled out their involvement with the incident yet.
"We have been seeing MAS handling the press conferences alone and answering on behalf of Boeing and Rolls-Royce all these while and it seems like they are trying to put the burden of proof on MAS alone.
"Even when we were told that the two agencies have cooperated with the United States aviation security investigation team, as the manufacturer for Boeing 777-200ER, Boeing should have the technical capacities to significantly contribute to MH370's search and rescue operation (SAR).
"It is not acceptable for Rolls-Royce being the engine maker of an engine that costs more than RM500 million to not have the technology to track the engine from the plane.
"We can use the same analogy as buying a luxury car, every engine will be installed with a tracker that allows the maker to track the engine in case of theft or loss.
"MAS spend a great deal of money to secure the best services from both Boeing and Rolls-Royce but when this incident happened, both of them seemed to have clammed up," he said at the Fun Walk event and doa recital for MH370 in conjunction with AAT 20th anniversary, today.
It is believed that MAS owns 15 Boeing 777-200ER plane and Boeing, through an official release from the United States government had expressed its dissatisfaction with the late exchange of information between them and the Malaysian government.
It was said that Boeing was only informed of the plane's dissapearance by MAS three hours after it went off the radar at 2:40am (Malaysian time) on March 8 and the delay in information exchanged was dubbed 'unusual'.
On speculations made by some quarters that the country's radar system was unequipped to efficiently detect the airplane on the day that it went missing, Zolkipli said that the current radar system called Marconi is capable of detecting any airplane coming from the West and East direction heading towards the West Coast, as well as airplanes coming from the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean.
"However the radar's accuracy also depends on the airplane's transponder that was supposed to send complete information on the plane, especially identifying whether it is a commercial or military flight, and the speed that it is going. When the transponder is switched off, such information would not be available but the radar will still be able to detect the airplane in the form of 'bleeps'," he said.
On Friday, opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim took his crave for attention amid the incident to another level when he appeared in UK daily, The Telegraph's article, condemning the government's handling of the incident.
He was quoted as saying that the lack of leads in the investigation conducted by the Malaysian government is 'baffling'.
He also said that the Marconi's radar system was purchased by the government when he was the then Deputy defense minister.
05 April 2014| last updated at 07:07PM
MH370 Tragedy: Three new committees to handle case
KUALA LUMPUR : Malaysia has established three new ministerial committees to streamline and strengthen the ongoing efforts made by the government in handling the MH370 case.
Acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said the three committees will each be handling matters relating to the next of kin of those boarded the ill-fated flight, technical aspects of the investigation team and asset deployment for the Search and Rescue operations (SAR) respectively.
“The next of Kin committee will be handled by Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Hamzah Zainuddin. This committee will oversee all aspects regarding the Next of Kin of those on board MH370, providing families with information on the search operation, and offering support after the search operation has been concluded,” said Hishammuddin at a press conference in Putra World Trade Centre on Saturday.
He added that the committee will co-ordinate with relevant foreign governments, and will complement the work already being done for the families by Malaysian Airlines (MAS).
“The second committee oversees technicalities, specifically, the formation and the appointment of the investigation team. Abdul Aziz Kaprawi, the Deputy Minister of Transport, leads this committee,” he said.
Hishammuddin said the third committee would take over issues related to the deployment of assets for the search operation, led by Deputy Defense Minister, Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri.
“This committee will work with foreign counterparts involved in the search operation, and liaise closely with the Australian Joint Agency Co-ordination Centre,” said Hishammuddin.
Hishammuddin said although the mission had been difficult and complex, the SAR effort will be conducted with the same level of intensity and that finding the aircraft remains the upmost focus of the operations.
KUALA LUMPUR: Full press briefing by acting Defence Minister and Acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein
It’s been almost a month since MH370 went missing.
The search operation has been difficult, challenging and complex.
In spite of all this, our determination remains undiminished.
We will continue the search with the same level of vigour and intensity.
We owe this to the families of those on board, and to the wider world.
We will continue to focus, with all our efforts, on finding the aircraft.
2. Investigation into MH370
As per the requirements set out by the ICAO in Annex 13 of the International Standards and Recommended Practices, Malaysia will continue to lead the investigation into MH370.
As per the ICAO standards, Malaysia will also appoint an independent ‘Investigator In Charge’ to lead an investigation team.
The investigation team will include three groups:
· an airworthiness group, to look at issues such as maintenance records, structures and systems;
· an operations group, to examine things such as flight recorders, operations and meteorology;
· and a medical and human factors group, to investigate issues such as psychology, pathology and survival factors.
The investigation team will also include accredited countries.
Malaysia has already asked Australia to be accredited to the investigation team, and they have accepted.
We will also include China, the United States, the United Kingdom and France as accredited representatives to the investigation team, along with other countries that we feel are in a position to help.
3. Formation of committees
In addition to the new investigation team mentioned above, the Government - in order to streamline and strengthen our on-going efforts - has established three ministerial committees.
Firstly, we have established a Next of Kin Committee. Hamzah Zainuddin, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, leads this committee.
This committee will oversee all aspects regarding the Next of Kin of those on board MH370, providing families with information on the search operation, and offering support after the search operation has been concluded.
The committee will co-ordinate with relevant foreign governments, and will complement the work already being done for the families by Malaysian Airlines.
The second committee oversees technicalities, specifically, the formation and the appointment of the investigation team. Abdul Aziz Kaprawi, the Deputy Minister of Transport, leads this committee.
The third committee takes over issues related to the deployment of assets for the search operation. Abdul Rahim Bakri, the Deputy Minister of Defence, leads this committee.
This committee will work with foreign counterparts involved in the search operation, and liaise closely with the Australian Joint Agency Co-ordination Centre.
4. US-ASEAN Defence Forum
This morning, I returned from the US-ASEAN Defence Forum, which I attended in my capacity as Defence Minister.
At the forum, I updated our ASEAN counterparts, and the United States, on the latest developments in the search for MH370.
I also spoke to officials from other countries involved in the multi-national search operation.
The spirit of co-operation at the meeting, and the support offered, was commendable.
During my bilateral meeting with US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Secretary Hagel reiterated his commitment that the United States would continue to support the search operation, and will provide whatever assets are deemed necessary.
I thanked Secretary Hagel for the United States’ unwavering support, which has included both the deployment of naval and air assets, sophisticated underwater search equipment, and assistance from the FBI, the NTSB and the FAA.
At the Forum, I also received strong support from our ASEAN partners in the search for MH370.
I would like to read out the joint statement issued by the ASEAN Ministers, which I believe underscores the tremendous spirit of co-operation within ASEAN, in the face of this difficult search operation:
“We, the Defence Ministers of the member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations express our deepest sympathies to the family members of the passengers and crew on board the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.
“We acknowledge that the member nations of ASEAN have participated in the search operations directly and indirectly since the plane went missing on 8th March 2014.
“From the South China Sea, the Andaman Sea to the Indian Ocean - ASEAN has continued to assist in every way possible, true to the spirit of regional cooperation and friendship without any hesitation in sharing of information, assets and expertise.
“We believe that Malaysia has done its level best in its response to this unprecedented predicament given the sheer scale of the Search and Rescue (SAR) operation which is the biggest and most complex we have ever seen.
“We reaffirm our commitment for greater cooperation between each member nation especially in the field of disaster management under the framework of the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response. This incident stressed upon us the importance of information and resource sharing as we strive to be in the utmost state of readiness in mitigating potential calamities and risks.
“ASEAN’s unity will remain solid and is totally committed to assisting Malaysia in coordinating this massive SAR to locate MH370. We are resolute in finding a closure to this tragic chapter in aviation history. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the families in these difficult times.”
5. Concluding remarks
Before I end, let me touch on some unfounded allegations made against Malaysia.
These allegations include the extraordinary assertion that Malaysian authorities were somehow complicit in what happened to MH370.
I should like to state, for the record, that these allegations are completely untrue.
As I have said before, the search for MH370 should be above politics.
And so I call on all Malaysians to unite; to stand by our armed forces as they work in difficult conditions, with their foreign counterparts, thousands of miles from home; and to support all those who are working tirelessly in the search for MH370.
Lastly, as I mentioned on Wednesday, while I was at the US-ASEAN Defence Forum, I spoke by telephone to the British Secretary of State for Defence, Phillip Hammond, regarding the nuclear-powered submarine HMS Tireless.
I hereby confirm that the submarine is now in the search area and helping in the search operation.
I shall now invite the Chief of the Defence Force to update you on the submarine’s capabilities.
press briefing by acting Defence Minister and Acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein. Pix by NSTP/Yazit Razali
05 April 2014| last updated at 01:44PM
MH370 Tragedy: Anwar's claims on The Telegraph baseless
PUTRAJAYA: The Malaysian government is not hiding any crucial information pertaining to the missing MH370 flight from the public as suggested by opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said it was a tragedy that no one had hoped for in the first place and was baseless for Anwar to say that crucial information was hidden.
Labelling Anwar as a "crazy chap", the Federal Territories Minister also said that the public should be rational and assess the news that have been given by the relevant authorities on the tragedy.
He hoped that the people would understand that the government is doing the best they can to locate the Boeing 777-200ER and they should be a better judge on how the authorities are handling the mission that has involved the help from various countries.
Anwar was quoted in a British daily, The Telegraph, as saying the Malaysian government had deliberately concealed information that would help explain the missing plane.
He also said that when he was Finance Minister in 1994, he had authorised the installation of "one of the most sophisticated radar" systems in the world, known as Marconi, based near the South China Sea and covering Malaysia's mainland and east and west coastlines which would be able to detect the radar from the plane.
From Malaysian Chronicle......
Friday, 04 April 2014 16:35
IT'S A COVER UP: M'sian govt deliberately CONCEALING INFO on MH370 - Anwar Ibrahim
Malaysia’s government is deliberately concealing information that would help to explain what happened to missing Flight MH370, the country’so pposition leader has claimed.
In a wide-ranging interview that cast doubt on the official investigation into the disappearance of the plane, Anwar Ibrahim said the country’s “sophisticated” radar system would have identified it after it changed course and crossed back over Malaysia.
Mr Anwar, who personally knew the pilot of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 that went missing in the early hours of March 8 during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, called for an international committee to take over the Malaysian-led operation because “the integrity of the whole nation is at stake”.
He indicated that it was even possible that there was complicity by authorities on the ground in what happened to the plane and the 239 people on board.
RAAF Warrant Officer Wright looks from a RAAF AP-3C Orion aircraft during the search for flight MH370 (Australian Defence Force)
In an interview with The Telegraph, he said that he had personally authorised the installation of “one of the most sophisticated radar” systems in the world, based near the South China Sea and covering Malaysia’s mainland and east and west coastlines, when he was the country’s finance minister in 1994.
It was “not only unacceptable but not possible, not feasible” that the plane had not been sighted by the Marconi radar system immediately after it changed course. The radar, he said, would have instantly detected the Boeing 777 as it travelled east to west across “at least four” Malaysian provinces.
Mr Anwar said it was “baffling” that the country’s air force had “remained silent”, and claimed that it “should take three minutes under SOP (standard operating procedure) for the air force planes to go. And there was no response.”
He added: “We don’t have the sophistication of the United States or Britain but still we have the capacity to protect our borders.”
It was “clearly baffling”, he said, to suggest that radar operators had been unable to observe the plane’s progress.
A Malaysian soldier at Kuala Lumpur International Airport reads messages about the missing Malaysia Airlines plane (AP)
He said the families of the 153 Chinese victims on board were right to demand information from the Malaysian government, which had permitted a multi-national search operation to spend a week searching in what it must have known was the wrong place.
“Why didn’t we alert the Chinese, the Vietnamese that the operation should cease in the South China Sea and let them spend millions on search and rescue in a place that they know fairly well cannot be the site of the plane?”
As hope fades of recovering the plane’s black box before its batteries start to fail – which could be as early as Monday - Mr Anwar said it was “at the least, incompetence” on the part of the Malaysian government that it is still not known what happened to the plane, but there was also a deliberate “intention to suppress key information”.
“Unfortunately the manner in which this was handled after the first few days was clearly suspect,” he said. “One fact remains. Clearly information critical to our understanding is deemed missing.
“I believe the government knows more than us. They have the authority to instruct the air force … or Malaysia Airlines. They are privy to most of these missing bits of information critical to our understanding of this mysterious disappearance of MH370.”
Mr Anwar indicated that it was a possibility that officials on the ground were complicit in what happened on the plane.
However, he later added that “the realm of possibilities is so vague, I mean, anything can have happened”, adding: “Whether they (the authorities) are complicit in a terrorist act, I’m not in a position to comment.”
A source close to the government claimed that Mr Anwar was attempting to exploit the tragedy for political gain.
“The international media response, completely condemning Malaysia, is unfair. It’s been partly orchestrated by Malaysia’s opposition,” the source said.
“The government has a duty to the families not to release uncorroborated information that leads to false hope or wild goose chases which hamper the investigation. At every step, international investigation protocols have been followed.
“The situation is unprecedented. And the search has actually been handled well. The government is coordinating an enormous operation, and both the commanders on the ground and all the international investigators involved have been complimentary about Malaysia’s efforts.”
Relatives of Chinese passengers onboard the Malaysia Airlines MH370 stand near messages of well wishes (AP)
“Far from avoiding questions or withholding information, since day one the Malaysian authorities, including ministers, military chiefs, the department for civil aviation and Malaysia Airlines have made themselves available to the media daily. As soon as information has been corroborated, it has been released.”
Malaysian authorities did not respond officially to requests for comment on Mr Anwar’s accusations, but have previously accused him of politicising the crisis.
Efforts to recover the plane in the southern Indian Ocean, more than 1,000 miles off the coast of Perth, continued on Thursday night over a search area roughly the size of Poland. A British Trafalgar-class nuclear submarine is helping to hunt for wreckage, including the black box – before it stops emitting pings.
A member of the Australian team continues the search in the Indian Ocean (EPA)
Mr Anwar, 66, was once deputy prime minister in Malaysia’s ruling coalition, which has governed the country since independence from Britain in 1957.
However, after falling out with the country’s leaders, he was charged with sodomy, imprisoned twice and beaten in custody. He now leads a pro-democracy coalition of parties that lost last year’s election despite winning over 50 per cent of the popular vote amid allegations of widespread corruption by the government.
Mr Anwar was convicted for sodomy, an offence under Malaysian law, for the third time just hours before the flight went missing and is currently on bail pending appeal. He claimed that the government moved his court date to stop him standing in provincial elections.
Investigators and media have focused on the plane’s pilot, Capt Zaharie Ahmad Shah, a passionate supporter of Mr Anwar’s pro-democracy opposition coalition, despite there being no evidence against him.
Reports have claimed that Capt Zaharie was a “fanatic” who could have hijacked the plane in despair at the latest setback to the opposition leader.
A graphic showing the north-westerly view of the search area (Geoscience Australia, Dr Beaman, James Cook University)
However, both Mr Anwar and Capt Zaharie’s family have strongly denied any such possibility.
“After personally having been subjected to such unjust accusations, I strongly feel that you should not cast aspersions against people until you have evidence to support it,” he said.
“If you say or suggest that the pilot may have been involved, what about the concealing (of information)? He could not have concealed the radar readings. He could not have instructed the air force to remain completely silent. Or the prime minister to remain completely silent. The investigations have got to be far-reaching and open.”
Describing him as an “ardent supporter”, Mr Anwar said he had had several exchanges with Capt Zaharie and that he “was nice, smart, articulate – but there was clearly a strong passion for justice. He is known to be very attached to the family, a family man.
Mr Anwar (AFP)
“To condemn a person because he is a supporter of democracy is totally unjustified. Having said that, there’s nothing stopping the police or the authorities from conducting an open and fair investigation into anybody – including the radar operators, the defence minister – why are they concealing this information?”
The disappearance of MH370 has placed the Malaysian government under unprecedented international scrutiny, with persistent criticism that the release of official information has been both inaccurate and inconsistent.
Hishammuddin Hussein, Malaysia’s defence and transport minister was criticised on Thursday for claiming that MH370’s disappearance was a “blessing in disguise” because its loss meant he now “understood the beauty of unity, the sweetness of having each other”.
Mr Anwar said that “to save the image of the country and to save the country”, an international committee should be established consisting of representatives of countries whose nationals were among the passengers, who included Chinese, Vietnamese, Malaysians and Australians. -www.telegraph.co.uk
It is four weeks since Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 went missing during a routine flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, with 239 passengers and crew on board. Very little evidence has emerged in that time, creating a mystery that has no modern parallel. Simon Calder, our travel correspondent, has been following events closely since the first report of the disappearance of the Boeing 777, and tackles some of the key questions.
How well have the Malaysian authorities performed – and is there evidence of concealment?
Any government confronted with so inexplicable a chain of events would struggle to present a coherent story to the interested parties. Yet there have been significant oversights and inconsistencies that have served to confuse investigators and the watching world, and perhaps deepen the grief of the relatives of those on board. Even the most basic facts - the sequence of events between take-off and the flight’s disappearance - has been altered. Initially the last verbal communication from the aircraft was said to be “Alright, goodnight,” spoken by the first officer (co-pilot), but the transcript shows it was a fairly standard sign-off – "Good night Malaysian three seven zero” - and it is not clear whether the captain or first officer spoke.
There is also the inexplicable delay in the release of the first significant data, obtained by the British company, Inmarsat. The firm analysed some fragmentary satellite data, found that the aircraft has been flying for far longer than previously thought, and notified the Malaysian authorities of its discovery within 72 hours of the disappearance. But that was revealed only after a week – meaning that four days were wasted searching the South China Sea.
Relatives of the passengers, as well as political opponents in Malaysia, have accused the government of concealing vital information. It is likely to be the case that a number of agencies from the nations involved are keeping secret some details pertaining to their military capabilities and limitations. But the notion of any kind of conspiracy seems far-fetched compared with the much more likely scenario of a cock-up.
How confident can we be that the search operation is now being conducted in the right area?
Pretty confident. While some senior figures in aviation have questioned the accuracy of the analysis of the sparse satellite “pings,” Inmarsat’s calculations have been cross checked by the UK’s Air Accident Investigations Branch, which is very highly regarded.
When will the black box “pinger” run out?
The flight data recorder, which contains details of the aircraft’s performance and the pilots’ commands, and the cockpit voice recorder, are collectively known as the “black box”. International aviation rules stipulate that they must have enough battery life to transmit for up to 30 days, but in practice the duration is likely to be significantly longer.
They are now searching for the “black box” underwater. Does that mean they are getting close?
No, but since a “towed pinger locator” is available it is being deployed in the very slender hope that it might be able to pick up a signal. It is rather like throwing a dart at random at a board and hoping to hit a treble 20.
Shouldn’t the aircraft have other ways to reveal its location?
It does. Indeed, you may recall that last summer there was a fire at Heathrow on a parked and empty Boeing 787. It is believed to have started at an Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) in the upper fuselage. But ELTs have to be activated, and for whatever reason this does not appear to have happened.
What scenarios can be ruled out?
In the first few hours after the disappearance was revealed, I drew up a range of possible explanations. Four weeks on, the spectrum of possibilities has hardly diminished. Some form of catastrophic airframe failure or a weather event looks most unlikely, but the possibility of the crew being incapacitated by smoke or depressurisation remains – as does the possibility that the jet was deliberately downed, whether by a hi-jacker or one of the pilots.
Why has no debris be found?
Some aviation figures have speculated that the aircraft did not simply run out of fuel and plunge into the Indian Ocean, but that it was deliberately ditched in such a way that would minimise the impact with the water surface and reduce the likelihood of widely spread debris field. However, it is also entirely plausible that in so wide an area, with very little shipping, the search teams have simply been unlucky.
Will it ever be?
There are thankfully few crashes involving large passenger aircraft over open seas (or anywhere else). But experience of the most comparable recent event - Air France 447, which was lost over the Atlantic in 2009 en route from Rio to Paris – suggests that some debris will turn up – perhaps washed up on a lonely beach in Western Australia.
How will onboard procedures change in future flights?
They are already changing. It is believed that Malaysia Airlines’ standard operating procedures now require a member of cabin crew to be in the cockpit if one of the pilots leaves the flight deck. Similar changes may be made on other airlines.
Will aircraft locations be more precisely recorded?
Yes. A key recommendation of the accident report into AF447 was that better identification of an aircraft’s location should be implemented. This is now likely to move ahead. There is also pressure for the information presently stored on the black box to be transmitted to the airline’s HQ – otherwise it is analogous to losing your laptop with all the back-up files on the same device.
Is it possible we will never know?
The mystery has so many strange dimensions that this cannot be ruled out. But given the vast resources that national governments and the aviation industry appear prepared to invest, the chances are that we will at least find out much more than we do now. -www.independent.co.uk
PERTH, Australia - Four weeks after the Malaysia Airlines jet vanished, two ships deployed sound locators Friday in the southern Indian Ocean in a desperate attempt to find the plane’s flight recorders before their signal beacons fall silent.
Officials leading the multinational search for Flight 370 said there was no specific information that led to the underwater devices being used for the first time, but that they were brought into the effort because there was nothing to lose.
The air and sea search has not turned up any wreckage from the Boeing 777 that could lead searchers to the plane and perhaps its flight data and cockpit voice recorders, or “black boxes.”
The recorders could help investigators determine why the Malaysia Airlines plane, which disappeared March 8 while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people aboard, veered so far off-course.
Beacons in the black boxes emit “pings” so they can be more easily found, but the batteries only last about a month.
Two ships with sophisticated equipment that can hear the pings made their way Friday along a 240-kilometer (150-mile) route investigators hope may be close to the spot where officials believe Flight 370 went down.
“No hard evidence has been found to date, so we have made the decision to search a sub-surface area on which the analysis has predicted MH370 is likely to have flown,” Cmdr. Peter Leahy, the commander of military forces involved in the search, said in a statement.
Australian Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, head of the joint agency coordinating the operation, acknowledged the search area was essentially a best guess. He noted that time is running out to find the recorders.
“The locator beacon will last about a month before it ceases its transmissions — so we’re now getting pretty close to the time when it might expire,” Angus Houston said.
The Australian navy ship Ocean Shield towed a pinger locator from the U.S. Navy, while the British navy’s HMS Echo, equipped with similar gear, looked for the recorders in an area that investigators’ settled on after analyzing hourly satellite pings the aircraft gave off after it disappeared.
That information, combined with data on the estimated speed and performance of the aircraft, led them to that specific stretch of ocean, Houston said.
Because the U.S. Navy’s pinger locator can pick up signals to a depth of 6,100 meters (20,000 feet), it should be able to hear the plane’s data recorders even if they are in the deepest part of the search zone — about 5,800 meters (19,000 feet). But that’s only if the locator gets within range of the black boxes — a tough task, given the size of the search area and the fact that the pinger locator must be dragged slowly through the water at just 1 to 5 knots, or 1 to 6 mph.
The type of locator being used is a 70-centimeter (30-inch) cylindrical microphone that is towed underwater in a grid pattern behind a ship. It’s attached to about 6,100 meters (20,000 feet) of cable and is guided through the ocean depths by a yellow, triangular carrier with a shark fin on top. It looks like a stingray and has a wingspan of 1 meter (3 feet).
Finding floating wreckage is key to narrowing the search area, as officials can then use data on currents to try to backtrack to where the plane hit the water, and where the flight recorders may be.
But with no wreckage found so far, officials can’t be confident they’re looking in the right place, said Geoff Dell, discipline leader of accident investigation at Central Queensland University in Australia.
“They might be lucky and they might start smack bang right over the top of it,” Dell said. “But my guess is that’s not going to be the case and they’re in for a lengthy search.”
The area where crews are looking for the devices lies within a larger 217,000-square-kilometer (84,000-square-mile) search zone that 14 planes and nine ships crisscrossed Friday in hopes of finding floating debris. The search zone is about 1,700 kilometers (1,100 miles) northwest of Perth on Australia’s west coast.
Ships sighted a number of objects but none were associated with the missing plane.
The search area has shifted each day as investigators continue to analyze what little radar and satellite data is available while factoring in where any debris may have drifted.
Australia is coordinating the ocean search, and the investigation into the plane’s disappearance is ultimately Malaysia’s responsibility. Australia, the U.S., Britain and China have all agreed to be “accredited representatives” of the investigation.
Four Australian investigators were in Kuala Lumpur to help with the investigation and ensure information on the aircraft’s likely flight path is fed back to search crews, Houston said. -washingtonpost.com
Saturday, 05 April 2014 19:51
TICK TOCK: What happens after MH370's pingers die?
They are inaudible to humans, but they would be sweet music to searchers hoping to find clues to the fate of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
They're the sounds believed to be emanating from the underwater locator beacons -- known as pingers -- that were attached to the jet's cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder.
But the clock's ticking: Their batteries are not guaranteed to work for more than 30 days, and Friday marks day 28.
And they may not even make it that long: The recorders had been scheduled for battery replacements in 2012, but they were never returned for the overhaul, the manufacturer told CNN on Friday.
That revelation leaves three possibilities, said Anish Patel, president of beacon manufacturer Dukane Seacom of Sarasota, Florida:
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• Malaysia Airlines could have replaced the old pingers with new ones;
• The airline could have hired another company to perform the necessary maintenance;
• It could have done nothing.
If it chose the third, and the original batteries were still driving the pingers when the Boeing 777-200ER disappeared from radar screens, their life likely would have dropped from 30 days to 25 or 20 days, Patel said.
The pingers would not die immediately but would continue to emit signals with "progressively lower output levels until the unit shuts down," he said.
Malaysia Airlines did not respond to a question from CNN about the devices. But the airline said in an e-mail last week, "We are unaware of any issue with the ULB (underwater locator beacon) or its batteries."
"This battery is not replaceable," the airline said. "The battery is built-in inside the (pinger) and installed by OEM -- Original Equipment Manufacturer," the airline said.
On Saturday, the Malaysia Airlines CEO said the acoustic pinger batteries on the airlines' black boxes were due for replacement in June 2014.
"We can confirm there is a maintenance program. Batteries are replaced prior to expiration," Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said.
What happens if they sputter out? Is there any hope left of finding the jet that was carrying 239 people when it disappeared from view March 8?
What are pingers, and how do you find them?
All commercial airplanes are required to carry pingers -- underwater locator beacons -- to help investigators locate them should they crash into water. One is attached to the flight data recorder, another to the cockpit voice recorder.
The pings sound about once per second, and can be detected from two nautical miles away by towed pinger locators, or TPLs.
The pinger locator is equipped with a sensor that looks like a 35-inch, 70-pound yellow stingray. It can recognize the flight recorder's chirps up to 20,000 feet below the water surface.
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The Australian ship dragging a TPL in the Indian Ocean is on loan from the United States.
What are the challenges of hunting for the plane by pings?
Not only will the batteries powering the pinger die after about 30 to 45 days, but their sound can be obscured by weather, noise or silt.
And pinger locators must be towed slowly -- it could take days to cover the 150-mile (240-kilometer) track that officials have identified as the latest, best guess for where the plane might be.
"It is a very slow proceeding search, 2 to 3 knots depending on the depth that you want the hydrophone, that tow pinger locator trailed at," said Capt. Mark M. Matthews, the U.S. Navy's head of TPL operations. "It's going to take time. ... Again, we're searching on what information we do have, our best guess at where it would have been lost. It's the best we can do at this time."
So is all hope lost in finding a plane after the pinger dies?
No. Take, for example, Air France Flight 447, which disappeared in 2009 as it was flying from Rio de Janeiro to Paris. A towed pinger locator looked -- without success.
But two years later, searchers using an autonomous underwater vehicle found the flight data recorder and the bulk of the wreckage hundreds of miles off Brazil.
What other high-tech gadgets can searchers use to find Malaysia Airlines Flight 370?
One of the Australian search ships is equipped with an underwater robot called the Bluefin-21, which can scour the ocean bed looking for signs of wreckage.
But the robot, on loan from the United States, would be deployed only if the searchers get a clear fix on the beacons sending out the pings, Matthews said.
Searchers could also use autonomous underwater vehicles, or AUVs, which are typically used in the oil and gas industry to conduct deep-water oilfield surveys.
"The smaller ones are only going to go down to about 5,000 feet," analyst David Soucie said. "The next class is a much more expensive, much larger device. It's 15 by 25 feet because it adds a lot of battery capability and a lot of hydraulic capability."
One of the most sophisticated AUVs owned by Phoenix International was activated and flown to Perth, Australia, to help with the search for Flight 370. The device is yellow, 17.2 feet long and has an in-air weight of 1,600 pounds.
It can search 20,000 feet below the water surface and travel 2 to 4.5 knots, using side-scan sonar to map the seafloor. Its probe, equipped with a still camera, moves rapidly.
"A picture will scroll, and you will see the seafloor be painted in front of you," said Jami Cheramie, vice president of systems development and IT support for C&C Technologies Inc., whose AUV has been used to search for plane debris in the past.
Have these underwater vehicles found plane wrecks in the past?
Yes. AUVs helped find the downed Air France flight, the wreckage of the plane that was carrying Italian fashion designer Vittorio Missoni when it disappeared last year off Venezuela, and the HMS Ark Royal, a ship sunk by a German U-81 submarine in World War II. The AUV provided black-and-white images of the wreckage site.
Will the mystery of Flight 370 be solved once the data recorders are found?
Not necessarily. The voice recorders retain only the last two hours of recordings. And, since officials believe Flight 370 flew almost seven hours beyond the point where something went terribly wrong, crucial data have almost certainly been erased.
On the positive side, the depletion of the battery will not wipe out data. Data has been known to survive years in harsh sea water conditions on modern recorders.