News / Asia

Malaysia Releases MH370 Report, Calls for Flight Tracking

A man walks in front of a flight board at Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2) in Sepang, Apr. 30, 2014.
A man walks in front of a flight board at Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2) in Sepang, Apr. 30, 2014.
Reuters
Malaysia on Thursday released its most comprehensive account yet of what happened to missing Flight MH370, in a preliminary report that detailed the route the plane probably took as it veered off course and revealed the confusion that followed.
 
The document, dated April 9, also contributed to a growing safety debate by urging the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the U.N. body that oversees aviation, to consider introducing a system for tracking commercial jets in real time.
 
The call comes ahead of a meeting at the Montreal-based agency later this month to address mounting pressure for improvements to fill communications blind spots over the world's oceans, but until now regulators have said such systems still need to be proven despite lobbying by the satellite industry.
 
The Malaysian government and military have come under intense criticism for their handling of events on and after March 8, when the Malaysia Airlines flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing disappeared with 239 passengers and crew on board.
 
Although the preliminary report issued by the Ministry of Transport leaves many key questions about what happened nearly eight weeks ago unanswered, and is not intended to resolve speculation about the cause, Malaysia may be hoping it sets the record straight on at least some contentious issues.
 
The fate of Flight MH370 remains a mystery despite the biggest search operation in commercial aviation history, and relatives of the passengers on board are desperate for confirmation of what happened to their loved ones.
 
Boeing, the manufacturer of the 777 aircraft, will also be keen to learn exactly what caused the plane to veer sharply off course and disappear from sight, and in particular whether it was mechanical failure or human intervention.
 
While not ruling out technical faults, a parallel Malaysian police investigation has so far focused on the pilots amid signs that the aircraft followed a twisting and deliberate course for at least the first hour of its journey off course.
 
Thailand and Indonesia
 
The report confirmed that military radar tracked a plane as it turned in a westerly direction across the Malaysian Peninsula on the morning of March 8, and said the radar operator took no further action because the aircraft was deemed “friendly”.
 
In an accompanying statement, Defense and Acting Transport  Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said the military data was played back that morning and after he and Prime Minister Najib Razak were informed of the possible turnback, military ships and an aircraft were sent to look for MH370 in the Straits of Malacca.
 
The report also described what appeared to be frantic attempts to trace the aircraft, with air traffic control in Kuala Lumpur contacting counterparts in Singapore, Hong Kong and Phnom Penh, Cambodia, when something appeared to have gone awry.
 
Kuala Lumpur was initially informed of a problem when air traffic controllers in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, who were meant to take over monitoring MH370 around the time the plane disappeared, said they had not heard from its pilots.
 
They told their Malaysian counterparts the “radar blip” had disappeared at a navigation point called BITOD about half way between Malaysia and Vietnam. Investigators suspect the aircraft's radar transponder was turned off at about that time.
 
Released to the public for the first time were recordings of conversations between the cockpit of MH370 and Kuala Lumpur air traffic control and maps showing MH370's probable flight path.
 
The pilot recordings, ending with a deadpan “good night” and the call sign, begin with the first contact on the ground and appear business-like, without any obvious signs of stress.
 
According to the maps, MH370 turned back from the South China Sea, cut across the southernmost tip of Thailand near the border with the Malaysian state of Kelantan and then flew across the Malaysian Peninsula.
 
It made a turn to the west in the Straits of Malacca near Penang and flew beyond the limits of Malaysian military radar.
 
Electronic Handshakes
 
From this point, investigators have had to rely on an estimated course based on electronic handshakes picked up by a UK satellite, which came to light days after the disappearance.
 
After leaving Malaysian military radar coverage, investigators believe MH370 turned south and flew over the northern tip of Indonesia's Sumatra Island before heading for the southern reaches of the Indian Ocean off Australia's western coast, where a massive underwater search is now concentrated.
 
The course, contradicting reports the plane skirted round Indonesian airspace, raises potentially awkward questions over why Indonesia did not identify the aircraft on its own radar. Sensitivities over the sharing of data have been a recurring theme in the search for the jet, according to people involved.
 
The report identified three areas in the southern Indian Ocean where they can say with different levels of certainty that the jet crashed, but although searchers identified pings from its black boxes a thorough seabed search has been fruitless.
 
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said that the seabed search over a wider area could take six-eight months, but some experts say it could take even longer, possibly years.
 
Fuelling the debate over tracking, Malaysia's Transport Ministry pointed to the disappearance of Flight MH370 and Air France Flight AF447 in 2009 as evidence that a system for real-time tracking would help to locate missing aircraft more easily.
 
Details of the initial findings including the audio tapes were shared before the report's publication with mainly Chinese relatives who have protested about Malaysia Airlines' handling of the case, in particular the use of text messages to inform some relatives when the aircraft was deemed to have crashed.
 
The airline urged families who have remained in Kuala Lumpur to return home, saying they would be kept informed, and pledged to pay early compensation to those who qualified. Such payments would not affect their rights to claim additional compensation.

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infectionsi
X
November 28, 2014 3:31 PM
South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infections

South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.

All About America

AppleAndroid