Commentary on the economic , geopolitical and simply fascinating things going on. Served occasionally with a side of snark.
Thursday, May 1, 2014
Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 Mystery Day 53 -- May 1 , 2014 -- AT LAST, MH370 searchers ask Bangladesh to send ships to check on Bay of Bengal lead , two Frigates sent into Bay of Bengal to the location identified by GeoResonance ........... Meanwhile back to the search in the Indian Ocean , cost becomes a major issue moving forward ( and which countries pay said costs of the search ) ...... The way forward ( or the search - set to be discussed as the preliminary search report set to be released , Malaysia set for meetings with Aussies next week to discuss the plan for the search moving forward .
Thursday, 01 May 2014 12:52
'We're a LARGE group of scientists & we were being IGNORED' - Aussie firm on its MH370 'FIND'
The Australian company GeoResonance claims it has found the wreckage of a plane in the Bay of Bengal. The company is not saying that what they found is missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, but it is urging official searchers to take a look. So far, Malaysian officials say they are investigating the credibility of the claim, while Australian searchers and a satellite company say they are confident that the plane is in a different area.
What is GeoResonance?
GeoResonance specializes in geophysical surveys. The company's technology has been used to find oil and gas, groundwater, uranium, even diamonds.
The technology the company uses was originally created to search for nuclear, biological and chemical weaponry under the ocean or beneath the earth in bunkers, said David Pope, the company's director.
A graphic from GeoResonance shows images depicting underwater "anomalies" suggesting deposits of various metals in the approximate formation of a passenger airliner on the floor of the Bay of Bengal.
Photos: The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
Company: These images may be MH370
Company: 'Confident' we found wreckage
"Subsurface exploration has never been so precise -- we detect the nuclei of targeted substances," the company says on its website.
In addition to finding natural resources, the company has also used its resources to located submerged structures, including ships and aircraft.
It analyzes super-weak electromagnetic fields captured by airborne multispectral images.
"And what we do is we look at the nuclei of an atom, copper or nickel or iron. And so we knew we had the tools to search for the plane," Pope said.
For their search of MH370, the company began by looking for aluminum, which makes up about 70% of the Boeing 777, Pope said.
Once it got a hit for aluminum, it looked for other metals such as titanium, copper, steel, nickel, iron and chromium, he said.
The result is a set of images that show what could be the parts of an intact plane.
Where is this site?
Pope declined to give the precise coordinates for GeoResonance's find, but said it was about 120 miles (190 kilometers) south of Bangladesh in the Bay of Bengal. The search officials do have the exact location, he said.
The current official search area is in the southern Indian Ocean, and is being coordinated by the Australians. The site where GeoResonance says it found the wreckage is several thousand miles away in an area that was ruled out weeks ago.
Pope said his company began searching that area at a time when search efforts were in the Bay of Bengal. The search moved on, but his team sent their findings to officials repeatedly, he said.
Did officials ignore the company's findings?
According to GeoResonance, yes, its e-mails and phone calls to the official searchers went unanswered. That is one of the factors that pushed the company to release its findings publicly.
Pope says he did not want to share the findings publicly at first, but it was possibly the only way to get heard.
"We're a large group of scientists, and we were being ignored, and we thought we had a moral obligation to get our findings to the authorities," he said.
The strategy appears to have worked, according to Pope.
On the same day he released the findings, Malaysian officials reached out and listened to a 1½-hour technical presentation by his team. Malaysian acting Transportation Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said Malaysia "is working with its international partners to assess the credibility of this information."
Australia's Joint Agency Coordination Centre, which is leading the multinational search, dismissed the claim. The officials are "satisfied" with data that show the plane likely is in the southern Indian Ocean, and not in the Bay of Bengal. - CNN
Thursday, 01 May 2014 13:03
AT LAST, MH370 searchers ask Bangladesh to send ships to check on Bay of Bengal lead
Even as they were rejecting as far-fetched an Australian company's assertion that it may have identified the resting place of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 -- thousands of miles from where investigators have been searching -- experts acknowledged Wednesday that they have little choice but to check it out.
"The investigators are going to be hard-pressed to blow this off," said Mary Schiavo, a former inspector general for the Department of Transportation. "I think, at this point, because of the lack of results where they've been searching for six weeks, they're almost stuck. They have to go look."
The Adelaide-based firm GeoResonance has said that electromagnetic fields captured by airborne multispectral images some 118 miles (190 kilometers) off the coast of Bangladesh in the Bay of Bengal showed evidence of aluminum, titanium, copper and other elements that could have been part of the Boeing 777-200ER, which disappeared from radar on March 8 while en route from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing.
"The company is not declaring this is MH370, however it should be investigated," GeoResonance said Tuesday in a news release.
GeoResonance Managing Director Pavel Kursa, citing intellectual property concerns, would not explain how the imaging works.
Bangladesh sends 2 navy frigates to search & verify Geo's information
Photos: The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
Nevertheless, the company got its wish on Wednesday, when Bangladesh sent two navy frigates into the Bay of Bengal to the location cited by GeoResonance. "As soon as they get there, they will search and verify the information," Commodore Rashed Ali, director of Bangladesh navy intelligence, told CNN in Dhaka.
The chief coordinator of the Joint Agency Coordination Centre, retired Chief Air Marshal Angus Houston, held out little optimism that any such search would prove fruitful. He told Sky News International that the search area in the Indian Ocean had been set based on pings believed to have emanated from one or both of the plane's voice and data recorders. "The advice from the experts is that's probably where the aircraft lost power and, somewhere close to that, it probably entered the water."
CNN aviation expert Miles O'Brien said GeoResonance's claims are not supported by experts. "My blood is boiling," he told CNN's "New Day." "I've talked to the leading experts in satellite imaging capability at NASA, and they know of no technology that is capable of doing this. I am just horrified that a company would use this event to gain attention like this."
He called on company officials to offer "a full explanation" for their assertion, which he said appeared to be based on "magic box" technology.
Sending investigators to the Bay of Bengal would draw away from the limited resources that are focused in the southern Indian Ocean, O'Brien said.
But that won't stop them from going, he predicted. "I think they have to," he said. "It's a public relations thing now."
David Gallo, director of special projects at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, also expressed skepticism. "It's so revolutionary, and I don't know anyone that knows of this kind of technology," he told CNN. "And I know most of the people in this business."
'We were being ignored'
The company's director, David Pope, said he had not wanted to go public, but did so only after his information was disregarded.
"We're a large group of scientists, and we were being ignored, and we thought we had a moral obligation to get our findings to the authorities," he told CNN's "New Day" on Tuesday.
GeoResonance's technology was created to search for nuclear, biological and chemical weaponry under the ocean's surface or beneath the earth in bunkers, Pope said.
Published: Thursday May 1, 2014 MYT 8:52:00 AM Updated: Thursday May 1, 2014 MYT 9:29:09 AM
MH370: Cost pressures mount as search drags on
But despite U.S. President Barack Obama publicly promising to commit more assets, the United States appears keen to begin passing on the costs of providing sophisticated sonar equipment that will form the backbone of the expanded hunt. Operators aboard the Australian Defense Vessel Ocean Shield move the U.S. Navy's Bluefin 21 autonomous underwater vehicle into position for deployment in the Southern Indian Ocean, as the search continues for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, in this handout picture taken April 14, 2014. REUTERS/U.S. Navy
SYDNEY: With the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 entering a new, much longer phase, the countries involved must decide how much they are prepared to spend on the operation and what they stand to lose if they hold back.
The search is already set to be the most costly in aviation history and spending will rise significantly as underwater drones focus on a larger area of the seabed that Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Monday could take six to eight months to search.
But despite U.S. President Barack Obama publicly promising to commit more assets, the United States appears keen to begin passing on the costs of providing sophisticated sonar equipment that will form the backbone of the expanded hunt.
That means Australia, China and Malaysia - the countries most closely involved in the operation - look set to bear the financial and logistical burden of a potentially lengthy and expensive search.
"We're already at tens of millions. Is it worth hundreds of millions?" a senior U.S. defense official told Reuters last week. "I don't know. That's for them to decide."
He made it clear that Washington was intent on spending less from now on, making it the first major donor country to scale back its financial commitment to the search.
"We're not going to pay to perpetually use the equipment on an indefinite basis. Basically from here on out - starting next week or so - they need to pick up the contract," he said.
At least $44 million was spent on the deployment of military ships and aircraft in the Indian Ocean and South China Sea in the first month of the search, about the same as was spent on the whole underwater search for Air France's Flight AF447, which crashed into the Mid-Atlantic in 2009.
The Malaysian jetliner carrying 239 people disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing more than seven weeks ago, and huge surface and underwater searches have failed to solve the mystery of what happened.
That mystery has major implications for airline manufacturers such as Boeing, which builds the 777 model that crashed and is awaiting a verdict as to what went wrong.
RESOLVING THE "WHO PAYS?" QUESTION
Malaysia is leading an investigation into the crash, but Australia has a key role in coordinating the hunt since the plane is believed to have crashed in its search and rescue zone.
Abbott said finding any wreckage on the ocean surface was now highly unlikely and Australia would forge ahead with the upcoming phase of the search despite it likely costing A$60 million ($55.69 million).
He added that while private companies under contract to Australia would soon be taking over from the military assets dispatched in the wake of the crash, he would be "seeking some appropriate contribution from other nations."
Malaysia has repeatedly said cost is not an issue, but with searchers once again facing a potentially vast stretch of ocean, it acknowledged on Wednesday that money was up for discussion.
"I will be going to Australia to discuss the next phase. As we go into deep sea search it's important that cost is discussed and we'll discuss with all stakeholders," Defence Minister and Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told reporters.
"Hopefully by next week we will announce the cost sharing. But we won't know what the cost will be until we decide where we're going to search, what assets we will use and who will deploy those assets."
Some safety experts fear the financial wrangling could take longer than expected and frustrate the next phase of operations.
"This risks delaying the next phase of the search. They need a new plan and they basically have to start from scratch," an international search veteran said, asking not to be named.
The two-year search for Air France 447 was only completed after bitter rows over a cash crisis that saw searchers trade down to a cheaper ship, while accepting indirect contributions from planemaker Airbus and the airline.
The unprecedented donations of 8 million euros each had to be handled via specially created funds to avoid seeming to tarnish the probe's independence, and experts say the delicacy of dividing up funding for the MH370 probe may be even greater.
At least 153 of the flight's passengers were Chinese citizens, putting pressure on authorities there to keep up the search as distraught family members demand answers.
China has not addressed what portion of the funding it is prepared to take on as the search moves into the new phase.
"On the specific questions you just asked (about money), we will maintain communication and coordination with the Australian and Malaysian sides," saidForeign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang.
A Western diplomat based in Beijing who has closely followed the case said that there was huge domestic pressure to find the aircraft, and for China to be the country which does so.
"China has made such a show of looking for the plane and so the pressure at home is enormous," the diplomat said. "They've set expectations so high."
Some of that pressure is being shifted onto Malaysia, which is desperate to limit the damage the missing flight has done to its international profile as a modern, successful Asian state.
"The Malaysian government will find the money for this search. The country's reputation is at stake and you don't want to risk that," a source there involved in the search said.
Australia has a strong diplomatic incentive to provide funding, a former government official with foreign policy experience said, as the relationship with Malaysia is more valuable than the costs it is likely to incur.
Regardless of whether the plane is found, the official said, the kind of personal relationships that are forged during a crisis of this kind are seen as diplomatically advantageous.
Down the road, it could try to cash in on goodwill on issues including Malaysia's role as a transit country for asylum seekers coming to Australia by boat or getting better treatment for Australian tourists detained on drug charges in Malaysia.
Published: Thursday May 1, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM Updated: Thursday May 1, 2014 MYT 9:03:12 AM
SEPANG: The preliminary report on the disappearance of Flight MH370 is expected to be made public today.
Acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said he would reveal the contents of the report tabled to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) by the Department of Civil Aviation.
“I don’t think it’s an issue for us to make (the report) public. This is the way forward,” he told reporters at the opening of the ERL (express railway link) station at KLIA2 here yesterday.
Flight MH370 disappeared with 239 passengers on board on March 8 after diverting from its path to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur.
A multinational search for the missing aircraft has been launched since, with the area of search now focused on the southern Indian Ocean.
Hishammuddin said the next phase of action for the MH370 search and rescue mission was to be discussed in Australia next week.
He said he would travel to Australia to discuss cost-sharing matters related to the search for the missing plane.
“As we go into deep sea search, it is important that the cost be discussed with all stakeholders.
“When we have consensus and agreement, probably by next week, we will announce the cost-sharing.
“But we won’t know what the cost will be until we have ascertained where we will be searching, what assets will used and who is going to supply (the assets),” Hishammuddin said.
Published: Wednesday April 30, 2014 MYT 5:15:00 PM Updated: Wednesday April 30, 2014 MYT 6:14:13 PM
MH370: Hisham to discuss next phase of search with Australian authorities next week
SEPANG: Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein will travel to Australia sometime next week to discuss the next phase in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight MH370.
Hishammuddin, who is also Acting Transport Minister, said he would also discuss cost sharing matters related to the search and rescue (SAR) operation.
“As we go into deep-sea search, it is important that cost be discussed with all the stakeholders,” Hishammuddin said.
He said that an announcement with regard cost sharing would be made once an agreement was arrived at.
“However, we won’t know what the cost will be because we don’t know what assets will be used and who is going to supply it, and that is being done by the three committees that have been formed,” Hishammuddin said in a press conference after opening the ERL (express railway link) station at KLIA2, here, Wednesday.
He added that he would reveal the preliminary report of the MH370 tragedy in a press conference on Thursday.