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New account of MH370 pilot’s final words

1 April 2014

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Authorities revise pilot’s last words to control tower, amid criticism of handling Malaysian jet’s disappearance.

Al Jazeera reports – The last words spoken by one of the pilots of the missing Malaysian Airlines plane to the control tower were “Good night Malaysian three seven zero”, Malaysia’s civil aviation authority said, changing its previous account of the last message as being a more casual “All right, good night”.

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The correction of the official account of the last words was made as Malaysian authorities continued to face heavy criticism for their handling of the disappearance, particularly from families of the Chinese passengers on board Flight MH370 who have accused Malaysia of mismanaging the search and withholding information.

“We would like to confirm that the last conversation in the transcript between the air traffic controller and the cockpit is at 0119 (Malaysian Time) and is “Good night Malaysian three seven zero,” the Department of Civil Aviation said in a statement on Monday, according to the Reuters news agency.

Malaysia’s ambassador to China told Chinese families in Beijing as early as March 12, four days after the flight went missing, that the last words had been “All right, good night.”

“Good night Malaysian three seven zero” would be a more formal, standard sign-off from the cockpit of the Boeing 777, which was just leaving Malaysia-controlled airspace on its route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

Minutes later its communications were cut off and it turned back across Malaysia and headed towards the Indian Ocean.

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Search effort

More than three weeks later, a huge international search effort is taking place in the southern Indian Ocean,off western Australia, but has so far failed to turn up any wreckage.

The statement from the aviation authority came after Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein was questioned at a news conference on Monday about the last words from the cockpit and fended off demands to release the official transcript.

The statement said authorities were still conducting a “forensic investigation” to determine whether the last words from the cockpit were by the pilot or the co-pilot.

Previously, Malaysia Airlines said the words were believed to have come from the co-pilot.

The civil aviation department said the investigating team had been instructed to release the full transcript at the next briefing with relatives.

Malaysia says the plane, which disappeared less than an hour into its flight, was likely to have been diverted deliberately far off course.

Investigators have determined no apparent motive or other red flags among the 227 passengers or the 12 crew.

About two-thirds of the passengers were Chinese nationals.

MH370: Hopes dashed as orange objects turn out to be fishing equipment

31 March 2014

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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (CNN) — Potential leads on the missing Malaysian jetliner keep coming. So do the setbacks and frustrations.

Monday’s search ended without finding anything significant, Australian officials said. Four orange objects spotted by search aircraft and earlier described as promising turned out be nothing more than old fishing gear, they said.

The discarded finds were the latest in a series of false alarms that have also included dead jellyfish and various garbage.

“We are searching a vast area of ocean, and we are working on quite limited information,” Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott told reporters Monday. “Nevertheless, the best brains in the world are applying themselves to this task. … If this mystery is solvable, we will solve it.”

And he vowed to keep looking.

A small memorial outside RAAF Base Pearce north of Perth Pic by Kerris Berrington

A small memorial outside RAAF Base Pearce north of Perth
Pic by Kerris Berrington

“The intensity of our search and the magnitude of our operations is increasing, not decreasing,” he said.

Ten aircraft and 11 ships scouted more than 98,000 square miles (254,000 square kilometers) of Indian Ocean on Monday looking for the missing plane, Malaysia’s acting Transportation Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said Monday.

Flight 370 vanished March 8 while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

A new Australian Joint Agency Coordination Center is being formed to synchronize search efforts among Australian agencies and other countries taking part in the search, Hishammuddin said.

And Malaysia will ask the United States about the possibility of deploying more military assets, he said.

Race against time

An Australian ship fitted with a pinger locator from the United States is set to join the search.

The ship, the Ocean Shield, left Australia on Monday evening and is expected to arrive in the search area on Thursday.

Finding the pinger — the locator beacon attached to the plane’s flight data recorder — would be the fastest way to help solve the mystery of what happened to Flight 370.

But the pinger’s batteries are designed to last 30 days — a fast-approaching deadline. And authorities say they still don’t have a good place to deploy the device, which isn’t designed to be used to search quickly across vast distances.

U.S. Navy Cmdr. William Marks told CNN’s “State of the Union” that his team needs a conclusive piece of debris to narrow down the search area before deploying the equipment.

“We have to be careful not to send it in the wrong place,” he said. “But we also wanted to get it out there as close as we can to what we believe is the right place.”

Under favorable sea conditions, the pingers can be heard 2 nautical miles away. But high seas, background noise, wreckage or silt can all make pingers harder to detect.

Relatives’ demands

Family members of people on board Flight 370 have accused Malaysian officials of giving them confusing, conflicting information since the plane vanished more than three weeks ago.

On Monday, dozens of Chinese family members visited a Kuala Lumpur temple. They chanted, lit candles and meditated.

“Chinese are kindhearted people,” said Jiang Hui, the families’ designated representative. “But we can clearly distinguish between the good and evil. We will never forgive for covering the truth from us and the criminal who delayed the rescue mission.”

Jiang asked Malaysia to apologize for announcing March 24 that the plane had crashed, despite the lack of any “direct evidence.”

At the daily press briefing, Hishammuddin responded, saying Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak had not used the word “crash” or mentioned a lack of survivors in his announcement that the plane’s flight had “ended” in the southern Indian Ocean.

And, he said, Malaysian authorities were not hiding anything by declining to release some details of the missing flight. Some details are part of ongoing investigations into what happened to the plane, he said.

“We are not hiding anything. We are just following the procedure that is being set.” he said.

He described a meeting Saturday between Malaysian authorities and Flight 370 relatives as “the most difficult meeting I’ve ever attended.”

“The families are heartbroken. For many, the strain of the past few weeks has been unbearable,” he said.

He said Malaysia will hold a high-level briefing for families where experts will explain some of the data and methodology used to guide the search.

He also said authorities have discussed with the families what happens if they are unable to find debris from the missing plane. But he declined to discuss it with reporters Monday, saying “to be fair to the families, that is something I would not want to share with the public at the moment.”

Beijing has also publicly slammed Malaysia’s efforts to find the Boeing 777. Of the 239 people aboard the jetliner, 154 were Chinese. But Malaysia says it’s done its best with what it has.

“History will judge us as a country that has been very responsible,” Hishammuddin said.

CNN’s Dana Ford, Mitra Mobasherat, Kyung Lah, Yuli Yang and Paula Hancocks contributed to this report. KJ Kwon reported from Kuala Lumpur; and Faith Karimi wrote from Atlanta.

China mulls global satellite surveillance after flight 370 riddle

31 MARCH 2014

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Beijing mulls launching network of dozens of satellites, giving it the ability to monitor the whole world, in wake of lost flight 370

The South China Morning Post reports – China is considering massively increasing its network of surveillance and observation satellites so it can monitor the entire planet, scientists working on the project said.

The government is mulling building more than 50 orbiting probes, which Chinese researchers said would make the nation’s satellite surveillance network on par with, or even larger than, that of the United States.

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Frustration with the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines aircraft over the past three weeks had led the project to win strong backing from decision makers in Beijing, the researchers said.

“If we had a global monitoring network today, we wouldn’t be searching in the dark. We would have a much greater chance to find the plane and trace it to its final position,” said Professor Chi Tianhe, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth.

“The plan is being drafted to expand our regional monitoring capability to global coverage.”

The number of surveillance and observation satellites now operated by China, which largely focus on the nation and surrounding region, is a state secret, but Chi estimated the US operated about 50 similar satellites.

It was not known when the project might start, but if approved by the government the satellites could be launched in as few as two years, according to Chi.

The search for missing Malaysian Airlines plane MH370 has been reliant on satellite images, but the technology is being pushed to its limits.

The search for missing Malaysian Airlines plane MH370 has been reliant on satellite images, but the technology is being pushed to its limits.

A satellite costs about 400 million yuan (HK$503 million) to build, according to estimates from experts in the mainland’s space industry, meaning the total budget for the project would be at least 20 billion yuan.

After the Malaysia Airlines flight went missing, the Chinese Academy of Engineering submitted a letter from senior scientists to state leaders urging them to start construction of a global satellite-surveillance network as soon as possible, according to sources close to the academy.

Professor Liu Yu, a remote-sensing expert at Peking University’s school of earth and space sciences, said the project had “almost incredible ambition” and if approved would be a game changer for China’s ability to carry out observation from space.

More than 1,000 satellites now orbit the earth, but most are for communications. About 150 are earth-observation, remote-sensing and military-surveillance satellites, according to statistics from the US-based Union of Concerned Scientists.

“International earth-observation services today are dominated by the US and European countries, but if China launches more than 50 satellites for this purpose, the whole landscape will be changed,” Liu said.

“The more Chinese satellites there are in space, the easier our work becomes. By analysing data from numerous satellites positioned at different locations and equipped with different sensors, we can understand much better an area of interest.”

The project faces technological challenges even if it does get approval from the government.

China launches about 15 conventional satellites a year and would need to nearly double that if it was to meet its target of swiftly deploying a global network.

That would stretch the limit of existing space centres such as Jiuquan , Taiyuan and Xichang , which are also involved in other missions, including lunar exploration and manned space flights.

But the upgrade of China’s largest launch centre at Wenchang in Hainan province is complete, with the first launch scheduled this year.

This would significantly boost China’s rocket-launch capacity and make the project possible, space-industry experts said.

Scientists also need to improve the technical quality of the imaging equipment used in satellites, according to Liu, although progress has been made.

Professor Guo Ziqi, who also works at the Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth, said the 50 or so new satellites would be run by numerous ministries, making co-ordination difficult.

China did not have a central agency to co-ordinate the positioning or tasks of satellites, he said.

Professor Zhao Chaofang , an oceanographer at the Ocean University of China in Qingdao , said China would also need to build many more ground stations at home and overseas to maximise the speed of sending back data.

“Many Chinese satellites can only offload their data when they are flying over China, so the data we receive is sometimes only a fraction of the amount collected by the satellites,” he said.

“To build up a global monitoring network as efficient as that of the US, our ground stations overseas must be expanded as well.”

MH370: New object sightings fuel hopes as search resumes

31 March 2014

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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (CNN) — New hope, more frustration.

As the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 turned up fresh potential clues, dozens of anguished Chinese relatives on Sunday demanded that Malaysia provide them with evidence on the fate of their loved ones aboard the missing Boeing 777.

Ideal weather conditions gave one Australian aircraft crew the opportunity to detect many objects in the water west of Perth.

It spotted four orange items of interest, took photos and sent the coordinates, but Flight Lt. Russell Adams said the crew couldn’t determine whether the objects were from the airliner, which officials believe went down in the southern Indian Ocean.

If mystery is solvable, we’ll solve it’

Search team reports ‘promising leads’

First look at objects found by ship

Photos: The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
Photos: The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

The items were more than 2 meters (6.5 feet) long, he said.

Authorities will analyze the images and then decide whether to send a ship to the debris location.

Adams called the discovery of the four objects one of the “most promising leads” searchers have come across.

The search resumed Monday, with 10 aircraft and 10 boats set to look for signs of the missing plane.

“We are searching a vast area of ocean, and we are working on quite limited information. Nevertheless, the best brains in the world are applying themselves to this task. … If this mystery is solvable, we will solve it,” Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott told reporters Monday.

Speaking from the Royal Australian Air Force base where search teams have been headquartered, Abbott said he wouldn’t set a time frame for how long the hunt for the missing plane could take.

“We can keep searching for quite some time to come. We will keep searching for quite some time to come. … The intensity of our search and the magnitude of our operations is increasing, not decreasing,” he said.

Search efforts Sunday ended with no confirmed sightings of debris from the plane, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said.

Objects picked up by ships on Saturday turned out to be fishing equipment and other items, officials said.

‘We want truth’

The family members arrived in Kuala Lumpur and held a news conference at their hotel, imploring officials to be more transparent.

“We want evidence, we want truth and we want our family,” said Jiang Hui, the families’ designated representative. The crowd chanted the same words.

“We are here to call for the following three things,” he said. “First, the Malaysian side should provide us with timely and comprehensive evidence and answer the families’ questions.”

He also asked Malaysia to apologize for releasing confusing information and for announcing on March 24 that the plane had crashed even though there was no “direct evidence.”

Relatives wore white T-Shirts with the words ” Pray for MH370 … return home safely.” Some wept.

“We are here struck with sadness and urgency,” Jiang said. “The meetings recently in China were not fruitful with (Malaysia Airlines) officials.”

Mixed messages

Family members have accused Malaysian officials of withholding information since the plane vanished more than three weeks ago.

Of the 239 people aboard the doomed jetliner, 154 were Chinese.

Last week, relatives were told everyone aboard had died. But Hishammuddin Hussein, Malaysia’s acting transportation minister, told reporters Saturday he had not closed the door on the hope that there could be survivors.

Flight attendant’s husband wants to give children answers, but has none

Frustrating search

Beijing has publicly slammed Malaysia’s efforts to find the Boeing 777, which went missing March 8 on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

And as the frustrating three-week search resumed Monday, China was among the countries scouring the choppy waters of the southern Indian Ocean for signs of the plane.

Ten aircraft were set to fly over the search area about 1,150 miles (1,850 kilometers) west of Perth, Australian officials said.

Ten ships were also involved in the search, including the Australian navy ship Ocean Shield, which was fitted with a “black box” detector and an autonomous underwater vehicle.

On Saturday, crew members aboard a Chinese plane dropped buoys to mark three suspected debris sites, China’s state-run CCTV reported. It later said Sunday an orange “suspicious object” spotted by a Chinese plane Saturday turned out to be a dead jellyfish.

Amid the confusion, Malaysia said it has done its best with what it has.

“History will judge us as a country that has been very responsible,” Hishammuddin said.

Relatives said they hope to meet the transport minister in Kuala Lumpur. They also asked Malaysia to plan meetings with the various companies involved, including Boeing, the plane’s manufacturer.

Race against time

Malaysian officials under fire

New details in Flight 370 search

Partner: My world is upside down

Missing Malaysia flight stirs old memories

Experts said the clock is ticking.

The batteries on the flight data recorder, commonly referred to as the black box, are designed to last about 30 days. The plane disappeared March 8 — 22 days ago.

“We certainly have our challenges in front of us,” said Cmdr. Mark Matthews of the U.S. Navy.

“What we’re trying to find is an acoustic emission from one of the pingers on the flight data recorder (and) the cockpit voice recorder. Typically these last, the batteries last about 30 days, usually they last a little bit longer, and that’s what we’re trying to find. But what is critical is that the teams that are out there searching for the surface debris, they get good position data on that and they feed it back to the oceanographers, to help us determine a probable point of impact for where the aircraft went in.”

An American pinger locator and undersea search equipment were loaded onto the Ocean Shield. The ship is set to depart by Monday morning, and will take up to three days to reach the search area.

U.S. Navy Cmdr. William Marks told CNN’s “State of the Union” that his team really needs a conclusive piece of debris to narrow down the search area, due to the range of the pinger locator.

“We have to be careful not to send it in the wrong place, but we also wanted to get it out there as close as we can to what we believe is the right place,” he told CNN’s Candy Crowley.

He said if the batteries on the recorders aboard the missing plane run out, the search would require side-scan sonar, one of which has been loaded on a search ship.

“But like I said, without good visual confirmation of debris, which we really have not had yet, it is tough to even go in the general direction,” he said.

‘They’re still alive’

In Beijing on Saturday, some of the relatives of the missing vented their anguish in the streets.

“They’re all still alive, my son and everyone on board!” yelled Wen Wancheng, 63, whose only son was among the passengers. “The plane is still there, too! They’re hiding it.”

He held aloft a banner that read: “Son, Mom and Dad’s hearts are torn to pieces. Come home soon!”

Relatives implored Hishammuddin to redouble efforts to find the plane.

“What they want is a commitment on our part to continue the search, and that I have given,” Hishammuddin said. “For me, as the minister responsible, this is the hardest part of my life, at the moment,” he told reporters.

“Miracles do happen, remote or otherwise, and that is the hope that the families want me to convey — not only to the Malaysian government, MAS (Malaysia Airlines), but also to the world at large,” he said.

Sea objects

The latest data analysis shows Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 ended up in the southern Indian Ocean.

But officials have offered different assessments of exactly where it could have gone down.

Investigators shifted the search area Friday after concluding that the plane had been traveling faster and burning fuel faster than they previously had thought.

The new search area is closer to Australia’s coast, so it takes less time to reach, meaning more area can be searched. It’s also marked by calmer waters.

The lessons from losing flight MH370

30 March 2014

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The Age  Melbourne (Comment) Amid the heartbreak  of the loss of Malaysia Airlines flight 370, there are important lessons for the aviation industry and governments about how to handle such a crisis and make aviation even safer.

Perhaps the most obvious lesson comes from the Malaysian government’s and Malaysia Airlines’ less than perfect handling of communications with the grieving  families and with the media. Beginning with the failure of the flight to arrive in Beijing, Malaysia Airlines has struggled to meet the needs of highly emotional families, particularly in China, and a voracious appetite in the media for information.

There were few Chinese speakers among the senior staff of Malaysia Airlines in Beijing on that fateful Saturday morning.  By the time the emergency response team arrived in Beijing and swung into action, families of the Chinese passengers – who made up two-thirds of the flight –  had spent nearly 24 hours in paroxysms of grief and frustration.  The airline did the right thing to put them up in a hotel where they could be kept abreast of developments but then failed during the first week to provide sufficient information.  Worse still, there was confusing information from Malaysian officials and a misstep by China in releasing satellite images of debris in the Gulf of Thailand.

Already on a rollercoaster ride of emotions, such erroneous information  undermined confidence in those trying to manage the crisis and in the counselling they provided.

The information flow improved when the Malaysian government sent a high-level envoy to Beijing, but by then families did not trust any Malaysian official.

The moral is that in this age of global digital media, it is much harder for officials to manage the flow of information. Wrong information and rumours can spread like wildfire, so they must work doubly hard to keep everyone informed. There is also an enormous appetite for technical information, and if authorities do not provide it, others will.

The decision of Malaysia Airlines to text families in English 15 minutes before a press conference in Malaysia by Prime Minister Najib Razak in which he declared MH370 ‘‘lost’’ in the southern Indian Ocean might have seemed like a courtesy but riled families even more. There is no substitute for human contact.

The second lesson  is that we have outdated systems to keep track of aircraft, and that they can be turned off,  even though  far more sophisticated technology has been available for nearly a decade.

Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B)  is the airline equivalent of having GPS in a car. It can provide accurate real-time data about an aircraft’s location and altitude and speed virtually anywhere in the world, using a network of satellites and ground stations. But the cost of around $10 a passenger has deterred airlines from implementing it.

ADS-B is in use on the busy North Atlantic route and was introduced in Australia for all aircraft that fly over 29,000 feet from December last year. A progressive rollout is planned for Australian airspace, but clearly it is time to commit to it internationally.

The idea that communications can be turned off in a  plane is also a shock to passengers. While we do not know if MH370’s ceasing to communicate was a deliberate act or the result of a fire or catastrophic event, the fact  a pilot could deliberately disable a plane’s communications system needs addressing. And should not there  be an emergency beacon on board available to the cabin crew in the event of something happening to the pilots, who are locked behind a terrorist-proof door?

Then there is the question of black box flight recorders. Why don’t they float?  And in this era of global satellites, why don’t they send out packets of data mid-flight? The technology is available yet again the issue seems to be cost. Surely there are more advanced solutions than the 1960s technology in use now.

The incident has also revealed holes in airport security. Passport control is not as watertight as we would like to think. Two Iranians boarded MH370 with stolen passports. It appears they were asylum seekers, not terrorists. But the ease with which they boarded  showed how widespread the fake passport racket is, and how there is little cross-checking at airports, particularly on departure.

Interpol has an estimated 40 million lost or stolen passports in its database. Passengers boarded planes a billion times last year without their passports being checked against that database. Surely a computer program could be devised that did this automatically and quickly, and be implemented.

On the positive side, we have learnt  that international co-operation can bring nations together on an enterprise such as this difficult search in an especially hostile environment. This will have lasting benefits.

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/comment/the-lessons-from-losing-flight-mh370-20140330-zqo47.html#ixzz2xR9EEUvI

New Emergency near Antarctica

30 March 2014

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A Royal Australian Air Force P3 Orion searching for has been re-tasked to near Antarctica after a fishing vessels EPIRB activated.

AMSA responds to emergency beacon activation

Earlier today the Rescue Coordination Centre detected a signal from an emergency distress beacon registered to a fishing vessel in the far southern Indian Ocean near Antarctica.

The RCC was unable to establish communications with the vessel and the nature of distress is unknown.

The beacon islocated about 3,241 kilometres south west o Perth and 648 kilometres north of the Antarctic mainland.

A civil jet with an Aero Rescue search and rescue mission co-ordinator and State Emergency Service air observers has been tasked out of Melbourne to investigate the beacon. It will take five hours to transit the 3,889 kilometres to the location and will have two hours on scene before having to return.

The RCChas re-tasked a Royal Australian AirForce P3Orion from the search fo rMH370  to fly to the area and render assistance if required. The P3 is capable of dropping survival equipment. It will take five hours to reach the location of the beacon.

A civil jet has been brought into replace the P3in today’s search for MH370.

A broadcast to shipping has been issued however due to the remoteness of the location it is unlikely that any other ships will be near the area.

The weather forecast for the area is extremely poor with low cloud,rain, snow and a water temperature of 2oC.

AMSA will provide more information when it becomes available.

Media Enquiries:1300 624 633

 

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Malaysia Airlines MH370: Terrorist theories grow as MI6 and CIA involvement confirmed

30 March 2014

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The Sydney Morning Herald reports – British secret services are investigating the disappearance of flight MH370, Malaysia’s transport minister said on Saturday.

The disclosure that MI6 as well as the CIA are helping the Malaysian authorities will add to speculation the aircraft was hijacked by terrorists.

Hope was growing among the search teams on Saturday night that a part of the wreckage might finally have been found, three weeks after the plane vanished.

The US CIA is involved with the investigation.The US CIA is involved with the investigation. Photo: AFP

A photograph of an object floating in the southern Indian Ocean was taken by a Royal New Zealand Air Force plane which has been combing the seas for clues. Ships have been sent to find the object as one expert warned that it could be part of the equipment found on a shipping trawler.

The New Zealand image followed a few hours after Chinese and Australian teams reported seeing possible debris from the plane in the same area. Until now, all possible debris has proved not to be connected to the missing passenger jet.

As the reports emerged, attention turned again to what might have caused the plane to vanish.

MI6 in London is also helping the Malaysian authorities.MI6 in London is also helping the Malaysian authorities. Photo: Reuters

Hishammuddin Hussein, Malaysia’s acting transport minister, said on Saturday that MI6 and the CIA were working with Chinese spy agencies to determine what happened to the 239 passengers and crew aboard the Boeing 777. Mr Hishammuddin stopped short of plumping for one theory over any other. He said the disappearance was due to “terrorism, hijacking, personal and psychological problems, or technical failure”.

“These scenarios have been discussed at length with different intelligence agencies,” he said.

Crash investigators believe the disappearance of the plane and the decision to disable the communications system appear to have been deliberate. But they have found no evidence of a motive.

MI6 is understood to have helped with extensive background checks on each of the 239 passengers and crew on the plane but nothing suspicious has emerged.

Mr Hishammuddin said MI6 was also examining “pings” emitted by the plane which are being used to plot its route over the seven hours after its communications systems were disabled.

“Now that we are talking about satellite data and imagery, the CIA has been on board, Chinese intelligence has been on board, MI6 has been on board,” Mr Hishammuddin said.

The Malaysia Airlines flight vanished off radar screens on its flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing more than three weeks ago. An explanation for its disappearance has so far proved elusive.

The plane turned wildly off course, its communications systems were “deliberately” disconnected and it carried on flying south over the Indian Ocean. It is thought to have run out of fuel and crashed into the sea off Australia.

The suggestion that intelligence agencies are involved will renew speculation that its disappearance was a criminal act, not mechanical failure.

The Malaysian police investigation has centred on MH370’s pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah. But an examination of a flight simulator seized from his home has uncovered “nothing sinister”, Mr Hishammuddin said.

Zaharie, 53, a father of three and a veteran pilot, used the simulator to play games.

The different theories have done nothing to ease the anguish of families.

American lawyers acting for the family of a missing passenger believe the disappearance has been caused by some form of mechanical failure. Both Boeing and Malaysia Airlines are facing legal demands to disclose what they knew of those possible faults.

“We are working on the theory that it is a design defect,” said Monica Kelly, a US attorney acting on behalf of Januarai Siregar, whose son, Firman, was on the flight.

The “Petition for Discovery”, lodged in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, is intended to force both Boeing and Malaysia to release all the material they hold on the aircraft.

Until now both Boeing and Malaysia Airlines have steadfastly refused to comment on what may have caused the plane to disappear.

But details of several incidents involving other Boeing 777s have emerged, including a cockpit fire at Cairo Airport in July 2011. Although passengers and crew were moved to safety, investigators found that the blaze was caused by a short circuit igniting an oxygen pipe.

Regulators in America and Europe issued a directive ordering the replacement of the oxygen pipes. The work is estimated to cost about £1500 ($2698) to put right but last week Malaysia Airlines refused to say if the work was done.

A spokesman said: “All mandatory orders issued by aviation authorities relating to aircraft in our fleet have been complied with by Malaysia Airlines.”

In the court petition, Mr Firman’s lawyers, have demanded details of who designed and manufactured the oxygen system. It has also demanded Boeing release documents showing who had information “of the evidence of findings of corrosion and fractures in the fuselage of the aircraft”.

The petition has also demanded Boeing provides details of who was responsible for servicing the plane.

Malaysia Airlines in turn is facing a demand to say who was responsible for training and carrying out psychological evaluations of the crew.

A Chinese surveillance plane on Friday spotted three objects – coloured white, red and orange – in a new zone west of Perth. An Australian P3 Orion spotted further items.

Though the colours of the objects appeared to match Malaysia Airlines’ colours, the source of the objects has yet to be identified.

Several small objects spotted on Friday were picked up by Australian and Chinese ships and were found to be unrelated to the plane.

The Sunday Telegraph, London

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/world/malaysia-airlines-mh370-terrorist-theories-grow-as-mi6-and-cia-involvement-confirmed-20140330-zqop8.html#ixzz2xPYxCgwD

BREAKING NEWS : Frustration Builds as Debris retrieved from Indian Ocean not from MH370

30 March 2014

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Wellington: Authorities have said that some objects scooped out of the ocean off Western Australia are not part of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

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The Australian Maritime Safety Authority ( AMSA) has confirmed a Chinese ship retrieved objects from the southern Indian Ocean on Saturday.

It’s, however, believed that the items are not related to the flight and are more likely fishing objects or rubbish,  said AMSA.

Meanwhile former Defence force chief Angus Houston has been named to co-ordinate the international search effort for the plane carrying 239 passengers and crew, which disappeared more than three weeks ago.

Angus Houston

Angus Houston

Retired Air Chief Marshal Houston will lead a new joint agency co-ordination centre in Perth, News Corp reports.

The search for debris from the doomed flight shifted north on Friday after new analysis of satellite data.

Former Australia defense boss to head MH370 search: reports

30 March 2014

AFP – PERTH, Australia – Former Australian defense chief Angus Houston will take over coordination of the international search effort for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, reports said Sunday, March 30.

The retired air chief marshal will head a new joint agency coordination centre to be set up in Perth which will coordinate the search for the Boeing 777, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.

Sydney’s Daily Telegraph said Houston’s brief was to not only lead the search but also coordinate the often delicate diplomatic contacts with search partners in Malaysia, China, the United States, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.

He will also ensure the joint agency provides a single point where the families of the 239 people who were onboard the flight when it disappeared on March 8 can obtain information, the newspaper reported. (READ: Malaysia Airlines plane carrying 239 missing)

It said services available to the families, most of whom are Chinese, would include up-to-date information and travel assistance, including visa services, accommodation advice, interpreter services and counselling.

The reports did not say when Houston, who was chief of the Australian Defense Force from 2005-2011, was expected to take over.

Many of the families of those missing, particularly the Chinese, have been critical of the way Malaysia has treated them, accusing Kuala Lumpur of providing insufficient information as they endure an agonising wait to learn the fate of their loved ones.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Saturday that international protocols meant Malaysia would remain in charge of the search operation but Australia was ready to assist where possible.

Abbott’s office could not be immediately contacted for comment on Houston’s reported appointment. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority, which has so-far coordinated the Perth-based search effort, declined to comment. – Rappler.com

Flight MH370: Malaysians convinced missing airliner was hijacked

29 March 2014

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The THE GUARDIAN dot com reports – Investigators are now convinced the missing Malaysia Airlines plane was hijacked by one or more people with significant flying experience, who switched off communications and diverted the flight, an official involved in the investigation said on Saturday.

But they do not know the motive or where the plane was taken, the unnamed source told Associated Press.

“It is conclusive,” said the Malaysian official, who spoke anonymously because he is not authorised to brief media.

The huge multinational search was focused on the Bay of Bengal early on Saturday, one week after flight MH370 vanished, as US officials confirmed they had directed surveillance aircraft to patrol the area for debris.

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There were reports that Malaysian military radar indicated the plane made at least two distinct changes of course after apparently turning back from its route towards Beijing. US officials indicated that they believed the plane had crashed in the Indian Ocean and said that an aerial search of the area would begin on Saturday.

The Malaysian official said it had been established with a “more than 50 percent” degree of certainty that military radar had picked up the missing plane after it dropped off civilian radar.

But a new report has claimed the Malaysian Airlines plane could have been flown off the coast of Australia – still over the Indian Ocean, but thousands of kilometres south of the focus of the search.

Bloomberg cited a person familiar with the analysis, who said the last contact with a satellite showed MH370 around 1,000 miles west of Perth, but added that might not indicate where the plane ended up.

If the missing airliner crashed in the Indian Ocean, which plunges to depths of 7,000m (23,000ft), it would mean a significant escalation in scale of the challenge facing investigators. Any debris could have been swept far from the original crash site.

The last communication with the crew was made at around 1.20am, 40 minutes into the flight, as it headed east over the South China Sea towards Vietnam. The plane had enough fuel to fly for another five hours – meaning its potential range was enormous.

Investigators believe that one or more people switched off communications devices and steered the plane off course, according to the AP source.

The new search zone

The new search zone

Both military radar readings and the plane’s automatic attempts to establish contact with satellites have offered key clues to its whereabouts, suggesting it flew for four to five hours and was last seen heading north-west towards the Andaman Islands.

Experts say that while changes in altitude could be caused by fuel burning off, they would not account for the changes in direction. The New York Times also reported that the changes appear to have taken the plane both above and below usual cruising levels for a Boeing-777 at various points in its journey, with it climbing to 45,000 feet before turning west and descending to 23,000 feet as it approached Penang.

Earlier, an American official told AP that investigators are examining the possibility of “human intervention” in the plane’s disappearance, adding it may have been “an act of piracy.”

The official suggested a key piece of evidence suggesting intentional interference with communications was that that contact with the Boeing 777’s transponder stopped about a dozen minutes before a messaging system on the jet quit – making it less likely a sudden catastrophic failure was to blame.

Some experts have said sequential failures due to technical problems were not impossible – for example if there was a fire – though they would be unusual.

It also appeared to be steered to avoid radar detection.

Malaysian police said earlier this week they would be investigating the backgrounds of two pilots, ten crew members and all 227 passengers.

The Wall Street Journal reported that manually dismantling communications systems – such as the transponder, which communicates the aircraft’s position, speed and call sign to air traffic control radar – would have required detailed knowledge of the workings of the Boeing-777.

It said investigators are also trying to determine why the plane stopped pinging satellites after five hours while apparently cruising over the Indian Ocean. That could be caused by disconnecting the system – an extremely complex task – or by something catastrophic happening to the flight, an expert told them.

The Malaysia Airlines flight was bound for Beijing when it vanished. Numerous nationalities were among the 239 on board but about two-thirds were Chinese.

A commentary carried by China’s state news agency Xinhua demanded: “Why is the silence on the flight being kept so long?”

Complaining that officials had been largely silent, it added: “Mounting evidence points to the theory that, including the possibilities of pilot error or terrorist activity, the loss of MH370 with 239 people on board is a man-made event rather than the result of a mechanical breakdown.

“If sabotage is not ruled out, withholding information from the public can be dangerous, even lethal.”