International Crisis Management Team for MH370?

Yesterday afternoon, Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak gave the media conference about “Transponder and ACARS are switched of and hijacked”  and “Inmarsat picked up ‘pings’ as of 0811hrs”, which summed up the latest development of the missing B777-200 with tail no. 9M-MRO designated as MH370 KUL-PEK on 8 March 2014.

NST story:

15 March 2014| last updated at 04:15PM

MISSING MH370: Summary of PM’s statement

By SK THANUSHA DEVI | skthanusha@nst.com.my
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Highlights of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s statement on MH370

  • It is confirmed that the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) was disabled just before the aircraft reached the East coast of peninsular Malaysia.
  • Later, the aircraft’s transponder was switched off near the border between Malaysian and Vietnamese air traffic control.
  • The aircraft shown in Royal Malaysian Air Force primary radar previously is confirmed as flight MH370. This is based on raw satellite data that was obtained from the satellite data service provider.
  • MH370 did indeed turn back. It then flew in a westerly direction back over peninsular Malaysia before turning northwest.
  • The last confirmed communication between the plane and the satellite was at 8:11AM Malaysian time on Saturday, March 8.
  • Up until the point at which it left military primary radar coverage, these movements are consistent with deliberate action by someone on the plane.
  • The investigations team is making further calculations which will indicate how far the aircraft may have flown after this last point of contact to refine the search.
  • The plane’s last communication with the satellite was in one of two possible corridors: a northern corridor stretching approximately from the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to northern Thailand, or a southern corridor stretching approximately from Indonesia to the southern Indian ocean.
  • Authorities have refocused investigation into the crew and passengers on board.
  • Despite media reports that the plane was hijacked, authorities would still investigate all possibilities as to what caused MH370 to deviate from its original flight path.
  • Malaysia ends operations in the South China Sea and reassessing the redeployment of assets.
  • Authorities are working with the relevant countries to request all information relevant to the search, including radar data.
  • As the two new corridors involve many countries, the relevant foreign embassies have been invited to a briefing on the new information today by the Malaysian Foreign Ministry and the technical experts.
  • The Foreign Ministry has been instructed to provide a full briefing to foreign governments which had passengers on the plane.
  • Malaysia Airlines has been informing the families of the passengers and crew of these new developments since this morning.
  • 14 countries, 43 ships and 58 aircraft involved in the search to date
  • Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) are part of the investigation team together with relevant Malaysian authorities.

Read more: MISSING MH370: Summary of PM’s statement – Latest – New Straits Timeshttp://www.nst.com.my/latest/font-color-red-missing-mh370-font-summary-of-pm-s-statement-1.514433#ixzz2w4Kdi1ZN

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The whole week, there has been a roller coaster ride of what seemingly to many as ‘Contradicting points and statements’, which added to the anxiety, confusion and compounding the complication to the flow of information to the public at large. Worse still, to the international community.

The actual fact is that media, especially internationally based, are playing up stories based on unconfirmed reports and their counterparts attending the daily media conferences by either Transport Minister Dato’ Seri Hishamuddin Hussein, DG of DCA Dato’ Azharuddin Abdul Rahman or Armed Forces Chief Jen Tan Sri Zulkifli Md Zain or RMAF Chief Jen. Tan Sri Rodzali Daud TUDM and they are pushing their stories as the truth.

Example is the satellite report from China story, as reported by the Malay Mail:

Hishammuddin: China says satellite imagery released ‘by mistake’

BY ZURAIRI ARMARCH 13, 2014UPDATED: MARCH 13, 2014 07:44 PM

DCA chief Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein and MAS CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya at a press conference on MH370 today at KLIA in Sepang, on March 13, 2014. — Picture by Choo Choy MayDCA chief Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein and MAS CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya at a press conference on MH370 today at KLIA in Sepang, on March 13, 2014. — Picture by Choo Choy May

]

SEPANG, March 13 — China has confirmed that the publication of the satellite image allegedly showing possible signs of MH370 in the sea had been sent by accident, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said today.

The Defence and acting Transport Minister told a press conference here that Putrajaya had received a note on the matter from China’s Ambassador to Malaysia Dr Huang Huikang.

“We have contacted the Chinese embassy who notified us this afternoon that the images were released by mistake, and did not show any debris from MH370,” Hishammuddin said.

He later read out from Huang’s note, which said that the Chinese government “neither authorises nor endorses this behaviour, which is now under investigation.”

Late yesterday, China’s State Administration for Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence (SASTIND) released three pictures showing large floating objects in the South China Sea, which was suspected to be from the missing MH370 aircraft.

According to a report on SASTIND’s website, the images showed pieces as large as 24 metres by 22 metres, and were taken on March 9, a day after the Boeing 777 aircraft fell off the radar.

Hishammuddin said a Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) surveillance plane was dispatched this morning to investigate the potential debris but “found nothing”.

He slammed the media today for reporting China’s satellite image, which he said had slowed down search efforts.

The media frenzy over the satellite images was the latest in a series of false signals given to the multi-national search team that has been combing 93,000 square kilometres, an area the size of Hungary, for the Boeing 777-200ER.

IN THE GALLERY


  • Police officers with a dog walk past passengers at Beijing International Airport days after the Beijing-bound Malaysian jetliner MH 370 went missing, March 13, 2014. ― Reuters pic

  • Search area is seen on an iPad of a military officer onboard a Vietnam Air Force AN-26 aircraft, during a mission to find the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, off Con Dao island, March 13, 2014. ― Reuters pic

  • Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff Senior Colonel Do Duc Minh sits in the cockpit of a Vietnam Air Force Casa 212 before take-off on a mission to find the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, at a military airport in Ho Chi Minh city March 13, 2014. ― Reuters pic

  • Malaysia’s acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Tun Hussein (C) speaks during a news conference about the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport March 13, 2014. — Picture by Choo Choo May

  • A military officer works on a map onboard a Royal Malaysian Air Force CN235 aircraft during a Search and Rescue (SAR) operation to find the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, in the Straits of Malacca March 13, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • A helicopter at Phu Quoc airport, where Vietnamese search and rescue operations are located. — Picture by Choo Choo May

  • Military ships at the naval base in Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam. — Picture by Choo Choo May

  • A helicopter at Phu Quoc airport, where Vietnamese search and rescue operations are located. — Picture by Choo Choo May

  • A plane at Phu Quoc airport, where Vietnamese search and rescue operations are located. — Picture by Choo Choo May

  • The air traffic control tower at Phu Quoc airport, where the Vietnamese authorities hold press conferences twice a day. — Picture by Choo Choo May

  • A crew member from the Royal Malaysian Air Force looks through the window of a Malaysian Air Force CN235 aircraft during a Search and Rescue (SAR) operation to find the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, in the Straits of Malacca March 13, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • Crew members from the Royal Malaysian Air Force prepare a Malaysian Air Force CN235 aircraft for a Search and Rescue (SAR) operation to find the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, in the Straits of Malacca March 13, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • Two girls writing their message at the viewing gallery in KLIA. — Picture by Choo Choo May

  • A woman writing her message at the viewing gallery in KLIA. — Picture by Choo Choo May

  • Muslim perform their maghrib prayers and Yasin recitation for MH370 at KLIA airport. — Picture by Choo Choo May

  • Muslim perform their maghrib prayers and Yasin recitation for MH370 at KLIA airport. — Picture by Choo Choo May

  • A child stands alongside other Muslims to perform their maghrib prayers and Yasin recitation for MH370 at KLIA airport. — Picture by Choo Choo May

  • Muslim perform their maghrib prayers and Yasin recitation for MH370 at KLIA airport. — Picture by Choo Choo May

Images from Chinese satellite on March 9 shows an object that might be possibly debris from MH370. China’s Ambassador to Malaysia Dr Huang Huikang today confirmed that these images had been sent by accident and did not show any debris. — Today picImages from Chinese satellite on March 9 shows an object that might be possibly debris from MH370. China’s Ambassador to Malaysia Dr Huang Huikang today confirmed that these images had been sent by accident and did not show any debris. — Today pic

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This report by Chinese media based on photocs obtained by a Chinese satellite is an example how information which was not processed by the co-ordinating agency which is the Malaysian DCA, could provide false hope to many of the families of the 239 souls onboard.

Everyday, the media conferences provide the latest information which has been corroborated with the relevant Malaysian and international agencies and these updates supersede previously released information or statements, made which were thought the best available information at the point of time.

The fact is that the Transport Minister, DG of DCA, CEO of Malaysia Airlines, Chief of the Armed Forces, Chief of the Air Force, Chief of the MMEA and other relevant agency heads meet and communicate very regularly. They also consult domestic and international security and intelligence agencies and transport authorities such as FAA, NTSB and corporations like Boeing and Rolls Royce on the latest available information.

Then, they would processed whats the latest available and share it with their now globally famous daily media conferences.

If these statements and information are taken piece-meal, they may look incongruent and not in-synced and probably some contradict each Heads of agency’s information. However, if they are plotted into the big picture it would make more sense.

Example is when the IGP and DG of Immigration met the media a few days ago. Both of them talk about their different area of operations but some of it over lapped, which was about the two Iranians who used stolen European passport to get into Europe via China. Neither is believed to be members of terrorist organisations.

The Guardian UK, summing up the week long statements and information:

What we know for certain – and what’s still speculation

Why this particular flight, why no earlier searches, and more questions in this aviation mystery
Najib Razak

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, centre, with Minister for Transport Hishamuddin Hussein, left, and civil aviaition director Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, delivering a statement to the media this weekend. Photograph: Wong Maye-E/AP

Why did it take so long before anyone realised the plane was missing? 
It didn’t. Malaysia’s acting transport minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, has confirmed that the plane ceased communicating with ground control about 40 minutes into its flight to Beijing, but this information was not made public for many hours. Malaysia has faced accusations of not sharing all of its information or suspicions about the plane’s final movements. It, however, says it would be irresponsible to narrow the focus of the search until there is firm evidence of the plane’s flight path. Malaysia’s reluctance to go public with the news that one of its planes had vanished is perhaps understandable. The disappearance of the Boeing 777 – one of the safest commercial jets in service – is one of the most baffling in aviation history. It is extremely rare for a modern passenger aircraft to disappear once it has reached cruising altitude.

Why did no one see the plane veering so far off course? 
They did. The New York Times, quoting American officials and others close to the investigation, said radar signals recorded by the Malaysian military appeared to show the airliner climbing to 45,000ft, higher than a Boeing 777’s approved limit, soon after its disappearance from civilian radar, then making a sharp turn to the west. The radar tracking then shows the plane descending unevenly to 23,000ft, below normal cruising levels, before climbing again and flying north-west towards the Indian Ocean. What the military did with this information is not known.

Why this flight?
Here we enter the realm of wild speculation: the internet is awash with theories. It could be that Malaysia was geographically convenient. Some suggest that, if it is a hijack, it is probably the work of Uighur separatists in Xinjiang, western China, or Islamic terrorists. On 1 March attackers armed with knives killed at least 29 people and injured more than 100 in Kunming station in southern China. Chinese authorities and state media were quick to describe this as a terror attack by Uighurs in their “jihad”. Hijacking a plane would be by far their most spectacular achievement. The plane had fuel to get as far north as Kazakhstan, according to some experts, which means it could have been flown to Pakistan or Afghanistan. However, given that the jet was not detected by these two militarised countries, this seems unlikely. Some say a flight from Malaysia to China was a softer target than, say, a transatlantic flight, but there is little evidence for this. There are, say pilots, many softer targets.

Why are the pilots’ homes being searched only now?
This does raise questions about Malaysia’s handling of the situation. The lengthy delay appears to bolster criticism that Malaysia has been ineffective in this crisis. Numerous false sightings of wreckage may have convinced the authorities that they were dealing with a disaster, not terrorism, which could explain why they did not immediately search the men’s homes.

Why did Vietnam not raise the alarm? 
Once an aircraft is more than 150 miles out to sea, radar coverage fades and crews keep in touch with air traffic control and other aircraft by high-frequency radio. About 40 minutes in, the flight was still the “property” of Malaysian air traffic control, which we know made contact with the plane just minutes before it disappeared. All seemed fine as the pilot reported “all right, good night”. This last verbal communication came at the boundary between Malaysian and Vietnamese airspace. Malaysian air traffic control told the pilots the flight was being passed to Ho Chi Minh control. The Vietnamese authorities may never have assumed responsibility for the plane as it never entered their airspace. This would be consistent with where the search has now moved to.

How do investigators know the communications systems were shut off and did not just go wrong? 

This is based on information from the Malaysian authorities who, admittedly, have given contradictory reports. The prime minister, Najib Razak, said investigators now had a “high degree of certainty” that one of the plane’s communications systems, the aircraft and communications addressing and reporting system (Acars), was disabled before the aircraft reached the east coast of Malaysia. Shortly afterwards, someone on board switched off the aircraft’s transponder, which communicates with civilian air traffic control.

How do we know the plane flew on after the transponder was switched off?
Routine, automated signals from the aircraft – known as electronic handshakes or pings – registered on the Inmarsat satellite network. MH370’s last ping suggested it was in one of two flight corridors: one between Thailand and Kazakhstan, and another between Indonesia and the southern Indian Ocean. The last confirmed communication was made at 08:11, which would indicate that the Boeing continued flying for nearly seven hours after contact was lost. As a result, its location will be extremely difficult to pinpoint quickly. Without further radar/satellite/eye-witness testimony, say experts, it is very much like looking for a needle in a haystack. A source familiar with US assessments of the Inmarsat satellite pings said it appeared the plane turned south over the Indian Ocean, where it would presumably have run out of fuel and crashed into the sea.

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Yesterday, Transport Minister Hishamuddin almost snarled at the foreign media about ‘Speculating on unconfirmed reports’, especially at their end.

It is a very stressful situation and circumstance to handle, but so far the information made available daily to the public via all of the media conferences shed a bit of light and rather systematic, considering that the search for the missing B777-200, 239 souls onboard and what actually happened spirally deeper from ‘looking for a needle in the haystack’ to literally ‘looking for a drop of colour in the ocean’.

Prime Minister Najib’s media conference confirmed that Inmarsat picked up pings transmitted by one of the redundant communication system onboard the B777-200 9M-MRO at 0811hrs on 8 March 2014, six hours after the last time the RMAF Air Defence Radar tracked the 260MTOW jetliner 200 nautical miles north west of Pulau Perak.

The Inmarsat arch of the probable route of the missing B777-200

The Inmarsat arch of the probable route of the missing B777-200

It means that there is a high possibility the aircraft was still on air, maximising the what is left on the tanks of B777-200 which was designed to reach Western Europe from KUL.

What ever the information that arise from this new revelation is no different on how it was shared to the public via the media corp, camped at the Sama Sama Hotel in KLIA. Transport Minister Hishamuddin, DG of DCA Azharuddin and the services Chiefs would update on their latest available information, after deliberation amongst themselves and corroborated with the corresponding international agencies.

Deputy DG of MMEA, GCEO of MAS, DG of DCA, Chief of MAF and Panglima for Air Defence Corp in an MH370 media conference

It is believed that an International Crisis Management Team has been formed since a few days ago. American consultants now sit inside what originally was a Crisis Management Team comprises of Chiefs if not very senior officials from MOT, DCA, MAF, RMAF, RMN, RMP, MMEA, MKN and MAS.

The roles and objective of these American consultants are not clear. Whether they are sophisticated public relation specialists or intelligent services agents disguised as PR consultants, have not been ascertained nor their presence in these daily meetings have been confirmed.

What is certain is that if there are foreigners present in these meetings which discuss in details of the operation to search for the missing B777-200 and they have access to classified information and documents, then some sensitive information on operations, procedures, control, protocol and even command of Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) and related services and agencies are or have been compromised.

This is must be unacceptable, in so many counts and at so many angles.

If there is any truth in this, then the Malaysian public would want to know which idiot or bunch of idiots made this decision to include and authorise these ‘American consultants’ to be part of the Crisis Management Team.

Published in: on March 16, 2014 at 14:30  Comments (14)  

Najib: MH370 deliberately diverted by someone on the plane

Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak confirmed the transponder and ACARS on the missing B777-200 with tail number 9M-MRO designated MH370KUL-PEK was “Deliberately turned off by someone on the plane’.

15 March 2014| last updated at 04:20PM

MISSING MH370: PM’s statement on missing airliner

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Below is the full text of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s full statement of the missing MAS MH370 flight.

Seven days ago Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 disappeared. We realise this is an excruciating time for the families of those on board. No words can describe the pain they must be going through. Our thoughts and our prayers are with them.

I have been appraised of the on-going search operation round the clock. At the beginning of the operation, I ordered the search area to be broadened; I instructed the Malaysian authorities to share all relevant information freely and transparently with the wider investigation team; and I requested that our friends and allies join the operation. As of today, 14 countries, 43 ships and 58 aircraft are involved in the search. I wish to thank all the governments for their help at such a crucial time.

Since day one, the Malaysian authorities have worked hand-in-hand with our international partners – including neighbouring countries, the aviation authorities and a multinational search force – many of whom have been here on the ground since Sunday.

We have shared information in real time with authorities who have the necessary experience to interpret the data. We have been working nonstop to assist the investigation. And we have put our national security second to the search for the missing plane.

It is widely understood that this has been a situation without precedent.

We have conducted search operations over land, in the South China Sea, the Straits of Malacca, the Andaman Sea and the Indian Ocean. At every stage, we acted on the basis of verified information, and we followed every credible lead. Sometimes these leads have led nowhere.

There has been intense speculation. We understand the desperate need for information on behalf of the families and those watching around the world. But we have a responsibility to the investigation and the families to only release information that has been corroborated. And our primary motivation has always been to find the plane.

In the first phase of the search operation, we searched near MH370’s last known position, in the South China Sea. At the same time, it was brought to our attention by the Royal Malaysian Air Force that, based on their primary radar, an aircraft – the identity of which could not be confirmed – made a turn back. The primary radar data showed the aircraft proceeding on a flight path which took it to an area north of the Straits of Malacca.

Given this credible data, which was subsequently corroborated with the relevant international authorities, we expanded the area of search to include the Straits of Malacca and, later, to the Andaman Sea.

Early this morning I was briefed by the investigation team – which includes the FAA, NTSB, the AAIB, the Malaysian authorities and the Acting Minister of Transport – on new information that sheds further light on what happened to MH370.

Based on new satellite information, we can say with a high degree of certainty that the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) was disabled just before the aircraft reached the East coast of peninsular Malaysia. Shortly afterwards, near the border between Malaysian and Vietnamese air traffic control, the aircraft’s transponder was switched off.

From this point onwards, the Royal Malaysian Air Force primary radar showed that an aircraft which was believed – but not confirmed – to be MH370 did indeed turn back. It then flew in a westerly direction back over peninsular Malaysia before turning northwest. Up until the point at which it left military primary radar coverage, these movements are consistent with deliberate action by someone on the plane.

Today, based on raw satellite data that was obtained from the satellite data service provider, we can confirm that the aircraft shown in the primary radar data was flight MH370. After much forensic work and deliberation, the FAA, NTSB, AAIB and the Malaysian authorities, working separately on the same data, concur.

According to the new data, the last confirmed communication between the plane and the satellite was at 8:11AM Malaysian time on Saturday 8th March. The investigations team is making further calculations which will indicate how far the aircraft may have flown after this last point of contact. This will help us to refine the search.

Due to the type of satellite data, we are unable to confirm the precise location of the plane when it last made contact with the satellite.

However, based on this new data, the aviation authorities of Malaysia and their international counterparts have determined that the plane’s last communication with the satellite was in one of two possible corridors: a northern corridor stretching approximately from the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to northern Thailand, or a southern corridor stretching approximately from Indonesia to the southern Indian ocean. The investigation team is working to further refine the information.

In view of this latest development the Malaysian authorities have refocused their investigation into the crew and passengers on board. Despite media reports that the plane was hijacked, I wish to be very clear: we are still investigating all possibilities as to what caused MH370 to deviate from its original flight path.

This new satellite information has a significant impact on the nature and scope of the search operation. We are ending our operations in the South China Sea and reassessing the redeployment of our assets. We are working with the relevant countries to request all information relevant to the search, including radar data.

As the two new corridors involve many countries, the relevant foreign embassies have been invited to a briefing on the new information today by the Malaysian Foreign Ministry and the technical experts. I have also instructed the Foreign Ministry to provide a full briefing to foreign governments which had passengers on the plane. This morning, Malaysia Airlines has been informing the families of the passengers and crew of these new developments.

Clearly, the search for MH370 has entered a new phase. Over the last seven days, we have followed every lead and looked into every possibility. For the families and friends of those involved, we hope this new information brings us one step closer to finding the plane.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak delivers his statement on the Flight MH370 during the press conference held at Sama-Sama Hotel in Sepang, KLIA today. Accompanying him are Acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein (left) and Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) director-general Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman (right). Pix by Mohd Fadli Hamzah

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Although the primary exercise is to locate the missing B777-200 and the 239 souls onboard, the investigation has now centered on the crew and passengers onboard the flight. Particularly the technical crew, who were trained and skilled to operate the aircraft.

Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah has been described as a ‘Political Fanatic’

The Sunday Mail UK story:

Doomed airliner pilot was political fanatic:

Hours before taking control of flight MH370 he attended trial of jailed opposition leader as FBI reveal passengers could be at a secret location

  • Police investigate data from home flight simulator of captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53
  • Investigators speak of his ‘obsessive’ support for opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim
  • Police officers fear Ibrahim being jailed could have left Shah profoundly upset
  • Flight MH370 disappeared more than a week ago with 239 people on board
  • Despite a huge multinational search effort, no signs of the plane or a crash have been found
  • Malaysian Prime Minister said yesterday that the plane was deliberately steered off course

By SIMON PARRY IN KUALA LUMPUR

PUBLISHED: 22:08 GMT, 15 March 2014 | UPDATED: 22:51 GMT, 15 March 2014

Police are investigating the possibility that the pilot of missing Flight MH370 hijacked his own aircraft in a bizarre political protest.

The Mail on Sunday has learned that Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah was an ‘obsessive’ supporter of Malaysia’s opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim. And hours before the doomed flight left Kuala Lumpur it is understood 53-year-old Shah attended a controversial trial in which Ibrahim was jailed for five years.

Campaigners say the politician, the key challenger to Malaysia’s ruling party, was the victim of a long-running smear campaign and had faced trumped-up charges.

Police sources have confirmed that Shah was a vocal political activist – and fear that the court decision left him profoundly upset. It was against this background that, seven hours later, he took control of a Boeing 777-200 bound for Beijing and carrying 238 passengers and crew.

Timeline: The above graphic shows how the situation may have developed

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Sudden ascent and dive points to cockpit takeover

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Sudden ascent and dive points to cockpit takeover

 

 

The final picture: The missing jet is pictured her in February this year above Polish airspace

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The final picture: The missing jet is pictured her in February this year above Polish airspace

 

Yesterday, Malaysian police searched his house in the upmarket Kuala Lumpur suburb of Shah Alam, where he had installed a home-made flight simulator. But this newspaper can reveal that investigators had already spent much of last week examining two laptops removed from Shah’s home. One is believed to contain data from the simulator

Confirming rising fears, Malaysia’s prime minister Najib Razak announced yesterday that MH370 was deliberately steered off course after its communication system was switched off. He said it headed west over the Malaysian seaboard and could have flown for another seven hours on its fuel reserves.

It is not yet clear where the plane was taken, however Mr Razak said the most recent satellite data suggests the plane could have been making for one of two possible flight corridors. The search, involving 43 ships and 58 aircraft from 15 countries, switched from the South China Sea to the Bay of Bengal in the Indian Ocean.

US investigators say faint ‘pings’ were being transmitted for several hours after the flight lost contact with the ground.

Meanwhile, military radar showed the jet climbed to 45,000ft – above its service limit – which could have been a deliberate attempt to knock out the passengers and crew.

 

Anwar Ibrahim is a broadly popular democracy icon and former deputy prime minister whose prosecution on a charge of sodomy is seen by many Malaysians as political persecution.

The raids on Captain Shah’s home appeared stage-managed as a display of intent after the Prime Minister said the focus of the investigation was now on ‘crew and passengers’ as a result of the latest leads.

But investigators have told the Mail on Sunday inquiries into the background of the pilot actually began days earlier.

Malaysian police, helped by FBI agents from the US, are looking into the political and religious backgrounds of both Zaharie and his co-pilot. Zaharie’s home was sealed off yesterday as police spent an hour inside.

However, a senior investigation source said two laptops were taken from the property in low-key visits by police early last week despite a series of denials by officials that his home had been searched or raided.

One laptop taken away is thought to contain data from the flight simulator while a second contained little information. Zaharie’s personal laptop was not found, and is thought to have been with him in the cockpit of the plane, the source said.

 

Activist: Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah

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Also raided: Fariq Abdul Hamid

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Investigation: Pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah, left, was a political activist who attended a tense trial on the day of the flight, investigators believe. He was flying service MH370 alongside Fariq Abdul Hamid, right, from whom investigators have been keen to deflect suspicion

 

 

 

Hunt: Investigators have riaded the houses of both pilots. Pictured is where co-pilot Hamid lives in an upmarket Kuala Lumpur suburb

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Hunt: Investigators have riaded the houses of both pilots. Pictured is where co-pilot Hamid lives in an upmarket Kuala Lumpur suburb

 

Zaharie’s co-workers have told investigators the veteran pilot was a social activist who was vocal and fervent in his support of Ibrahim.

‘Colleagues made it clear to us that he was someone who held strong political beliefs and was strident in his support for Anwar Ibrahim,’ another investigation source said. ‘We were told by one colleague he was obsessed with politics.’

JAILED FOR FIVE YEARS: MALAYSIA’S OPPOSITION LEADER

Anwar Ibrahim is a broadly popular democracy icon and former deputy prime minister whose prosecution on a charge of sodomy is seen by many Malaysians as political persecution.

Campaigners say the politician, the key challenger to Malaysia’s ruling party, was the victim of a long-running smear campaign and had faced trumped-up charges.

Captain Shah, who is thought to have attended the trial in Putrajaya hours before flying, is thought to be incensed by the verdict.

Co-workers have told investigators the veteran pilot was a social activist who was vocal and fervent in his support of Ibrahim.

Investigators said: ‘We are looking into the theory that Zaharie’s political beliefs may be a factor. There are huge sensitivities surrounding this but we cannot afford not to pursue any angle brought to our attention.’

In their interviews, colleagues said Zaharie told them he planned to attend the court case involving Anwar on March 7, just hours before the Beijing flight, but investigators had not yet been able to confirm if he was among the crowd of Anwar supporters at court.

Zaharie is believed to be separated or divorced from his wife although they share the same house, close to Kuala Lumpur’s international airport. They have three children, but no family members were at home yesterday: only the maid has remained there.

In the days after Flight MH370 disappeared, Zaharie was affectionately described as a good neighbour and an eccentric ‘geek’ who had a flight simulator at home simply because he loved his work so much.

Malaysian officials initially appeared keen not to direct any suspicion towards Zaharie or his co-pilot, 27-year-old Fariq Abdul Hamid, who was last week revealed to have invited two women passengers into the cockpit and smoked on an earlier flight to Phuket.

But evidence of the way the plane’s transponder and communication systems were disabled and the way the plane was expertly flown over the Indian Ocean apparently using navigational waypoints meant only a skilled aviator could have been at the controls. Investigators were also baffled by why, if hijackers took over the plane, there was no Mayday call or signal from the two pilots to say the cockpit had been breached.

At yesterday’s press conference, the suspicion over the pilot’s involvement mounted as prime minister Najib Razak said that investigators had found ‘deliberate action’ on board the plane resulted in it changing course and losing contact with ground crews.

As a result of the new information, Malaysian authorities had ‘refocused their investigation on crew and passengers aboard’, he said. Police sealed off the area surrounding Zaharie’s home and searched the house shortly after the press conference.

Mr Razak said the new satellite evidence shows ‘with a high degree of certainty’ that the one of the jet’s communications devices – the Aircraft and Communications Addressing and Reporting System  was disabled just before it had reached the east coast of Malaysia. ACARS is a service that allows computers aboard the plane to relay in-flight information about the health of its systems back to the ground.

Shortly afterwards, near the cross-over point between Malaysian and Vietnamese air traffic controllers, the plane’s transponder, which emits an identifying signal, was switched off or, less likely, failed.

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

Search: Investigators from countries around the world have been scouring the oceans

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Search: Investigators from countries around the world have been scouring the oceans

 

 

 

A satellite was able to pick up a ‘ping’ from the plane until 08:11 local time, more than seven hours after it lost radar contact, although it was unable to give a precise location. Mr Razak went on to say that based on this new data, investigators ‘have determined the plane’s last communication with a satellite was in one of two possible corridors – north from the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan through to northern Thailand, and south from Indonesia to the southern Indian Ocean.

If as suspected the plane was diverted into the Indian Ocean, the task of the search teams becomes more difficult, as there are hundreds of uninhabited islands and the water reaches depths of around 23,000ft.

Countries in the plane’s potential flightpath have now joined a huge effort to locate the missing passengers, but China described the revelation as ‘painfully belated’. And FBI investigators say the disappearance of MH370 may have been ‘an act of piracy’ and that the possibility that its hundreds of passengers are being held at an unknown location has not been ruled out.

 

 

Meanwhile, leading aviation lawyer James Healy–Pratt, who is helping relatives, said Malaysian Airlines had declined to buy Boeing’s Airplane Health Management system, which monitors systems in real time and could have alerted it to any potential problems, rather than having to recover a black box.

‘If the transponder was manually disabled then one can only hope that the black boxes were not also manually disabled,’ he said. ‘Otherwise, the truth will never be known.’

The revelations about Zaharie’s political affiliations are highly sensitive in a country where political dirty tricks are widespread.

One of the investigation sources said: ‘We are looking into the theory that Zaharie’s political beliefs may be a factor. There are huge sensitivities surrounding this but we cannot afford not to pursue any angle brought to our attention.’

Separately, a police source told the Mail on Sunday: ‘I can confirm our investigations include the political and religious leanings of both pilots.’

Zaharie joined Malaysia  Airlines in 1981. He became a captain about ten years later  and has clocked up 18,360 hours of flying experience.

  • Additional reporting: Ian Gallagher

I GOUGED HIJACKER’S EYE AND SAVED 398 – BY BA PILOT WHO RESCUED HIS PLANE 14 YEARS AGO

By CAPTAIN BILL HAGAN

A British Airways pilot who tackled a maniac on his packed jet reveals how the threat of hijack can spring from anywhere – and tells how the fate of Flight MH370 has brought details of his horrific encounter flooding back to him…

I was asleep in my bunk when I was jolted awake by the sudden lurching of the plane, British Airways flight BA 2069 from Gatwick to Kenya.

I knew there was something seriously wrong but I thought maybe the aircraft had been damaged. It was only when I heard my co-pilot shouting for help and opened the door that I saw there was an intruder. He looked like a terrorist.

I knew we were all in grave danger as he had seized the controls and we were plummeting at full speed towards the ground. If I had considered it necessary to kill him to save everyone else on board, I would have. My wife and two of my children were on the flight, as were singer Bryan Ferry and five
members of the Goldsmith family.

I didn’t speak – I just punched the man hard and managed to pull his body back just enough to make the plane pitch up from its dive. The week before I had been speaking to my young son about how to survive a shark attack, by sticking your finger in its eye, and that gave me the inspiration to do that to the intruder.

After I had gouged his eye he came away from the controls to fight me, allowing the co-pilot to stabilise the aircraft. I shouted loudly for help and three
male passengers rushed to my aid. They grabbed the hijacker – who I later learned was a 27-year-old mentally ill Kenyan student called
Paul Kefa Mukonyi – and dragged him to the back of the plane and tied him up.

If he had been at the controls for just a few extra seconds we could all have died. The plane stalled three times, nearly went upside down and
was plummeting to the ground.

While I was still catching my breath I made an announcement to reassure the 398 passengers on board that it was over. I forgot about any rule book and just said: ‘A bad man has tried to kill us all, but everything is fine now.’

The plight of the Malaysia Airlines flight has brought the horror of that day, December 29, 2000, flooding back to me.

If there was an explosion, debris would have been spotted by now. I believe this must have been a deliberate and planned act. Pilots are encouraged to secure the safest outcome, which may well mean you comply with the demands of the hijackers.

On long-haul flights a pilot will notify air traffic control of the aircraft’s exact location every 30 minutes. I would be asking the Malaysian authorities to check the voice of whoever made the last call from the plane to see if it was the pilot.

I just hope there are answers soon, for the families who are facing this awful wait.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2581817/Doomed-airliner-pilot-political-fanatic-Hours-taking-control-flight-MH370-attended-trial-jailed-opposition-leader-sodomite.html#ixzz2w4j9qskz
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Published in: on March 16, 2014 at 06:01  Comments (4)