Just as the mystery that surrounds the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH 370 was fading into distant memory, a new book is set to enflame passions and arguments that support a conspiracy theory.
The book, authored by a pilot and journalist from New Zealand, claims to show readers that the tragedy was no accident.
According to a report on stuff.co.nz Ewan Wilson, a commercial pilot and journalist Geoff Taylor, said: “For the first time we present a detailed analysis of the flight, the incredible route it took, and who we believe was in charge of the aircraft as it plunged into the Indian Ocean.”
The book, called ‘Good Night Malaysian 370: The Truth behind the loss of Flight 370’ will shock readers, the report said.
The authors use a process of investigative elimination that removes all possible scenarios, except one.
$50,000 in initial compensation
Malaysia Airlines’ insurer has begun paying the families of passengers onboard Flight MH370 $50,000 each in initial compensation three months after the jet disappeared, a government official said Thursday.
So far six Malaysian and one Chinese family have received the advance payment, to which all the families of the 239 passengers and crew onboard are entitled, said Malaysian deputy foreign minister Hamzah Zainudin.
Talks with 40 more Chinese families are underway to ascertain they are the rightful claimants, said Hamzah, who heads a committee to support the missing passengers’ next-of-kin.
The Boeing 777 inexplicably disappeared on March 8 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, with no sign of wreckage found despite an extensive search off western Australia.
Full payment to the families – who can claim up to more than three times the amount of the initial payout – would be made later, Hamzah said.
The government was not yet prepared to declare the plane lost, he added.
“When we talk about the full payment, we have to wait until we announce the issue on the tragedy MH370 is over… whether the plane is found, whether we announce the plane is lost,” he said.
Passengers’ families can claim up to about $175,000 under International Civil Aviation Organisation rules, regardless of fault, in a plane crash.
Malaysia Airlines’ insurer, a consortium led by Germany’s Allianz, is making the payments.
Malaysia and Australia have promised they will not give up looking for the plane in a vast deep-sea area in the southern Indian Ocean where the jet is believed to have crashed, based on satellite data.
But angry relatives of some of those on board have accused Malaysia and its national carrier of reacting too slowly and covering up information. Two-thirds of the passengers were Chinese.
A handful of families on Sunday launched an online campaign to raise $5 million to reward a “whistleblower” who comes forward with information to help find the plane.
So far, they have raised more than $25,000.
“The government has been very transparent from day one,” said Hamzah on Thursday.
The next phase of the hunt will see authorities comb a 60,000 square-kilometre (24,000 square-mile) search zone based on the plane’s last satellite communication.
Chinese relatives meet wall of silence from airline
Frustrated Chinese relatives of passengers onboard missing Flight MH370 Wednesday visited the offices of Malaysia Airlines in Beijing to confront officials after regular briefings by the airline were halted.
The relatives had previously been given regular updates on the search for the plane by airline officials at a hotel in Beijing. But the briefings were cancelled last month, to the fury of many who say they no longer have any way of making their voices heard.
Relatives organised a visit to the Beijing office of the airline to “demand answers”, a message posted on their official online account said, but were turned away and refused access to airline staff.
A heavy security presence blocked journalists from entering the building and reporters interviewing relatives outside were closely watched by police, as five marked police vans were parked nearby.
“I came here today to get answers but I am not allowed to see anyone,” said Dai Shuqin, who added her younger sister was on the plane.
As relatives around her collapsed onto the floor, crying in each others arms, Dai then began shouting: “I only want to find foreign journalists. I have a lot things to say to them. I want the whole world to find out what we’re encountering.”
The visit to the airline’s Beijing office was planned as Chinese families prepare to mark 100 days since the plane disappeared on June 16. In China, the mourning period for deceased loved ones commonly lasts for 100 days.
“Almost 100 days have gone and we continue to feel tortured, helpless, and angry, said Jiang Hui, a 41-year-old IT worker.
“I am over 40 years old and I never knew the true meaning of suffering before. But over these past three months, I now know its meaning,” added Jiang, whose 70-year-old mother was on the plane.
A woman answering the phone at the airline’s Beijing office refused to comment when contacted by AFP.
Meanwhile, French businessman Ghyslain Wattrelos, whose wife and teenage son and daughter were on the plane, said in an interview with French Europe Radio 1 that he is convinced foul play was involved in the plane’s disappearance.
“For us there’s no doubt,” he told the radio station. “The aircraft was hijacked.”
“We get the impression that they (the authorities) are hiding something,” he added.
Wattrelos called on Paris to take a more active role in the search for the plane, including handing over satellite data.
France, he said, “says Malaysia is officially in charge of the investigation and that they cannot intervene. But nothing prevents France from sending its satellites to see what happened on 8th March”.
Countries at sea on cost-sharing
Countries searching for the missing Malaysian plane have yet to agree on how to share costs, an Australian search leader said Tuesday.
Malaysian officials were in the Australian capital Canberra to discuss the next phase of the seabed search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 that is thought to have crashed in the southern Indian Ocean on March 8 with 239 passengers and crew on board.
Malaysia is in charge of the search because the Boeing 777 is registered in that country. But Australia is coordinating the search because it is the closest country to where the plane is thought to have crashed. Most of the passengers were Chinese and their government is playing an active role in the search.
“We’re still to negotiate the burden-sharing with, for example, Malaysia,” Australia’s Joint Agency Coordination Center head Angus Houston told Australian Broadcasting Corp. television.
A seabed search of the most likely crash site, using an unmanned remote controlled submarine, ended last month without finding any trace of the plane.
Australia is contracting private operators to embark on a much larger search using powerful sonar equipment. The new search is expected to take more than eight months.
Malaysia says spent $8.6 million on search
Malaysia has spent a total of 27.6 million ringgit ($8.6 million) so far on the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, authorities said on Monday, giving a specific cost figure for the first time.
“The figure of 27.6 million ringgit was only the sum spent by Malaysian agencies, we do not know how much other countries spent,” Department of Civil Aviation chief Azharuddin Abdul Rahman told a news conference, saying he was unsure of the cost breakdown.
The search for MH370, which disappeared carrying 239 passengers and crew on March 8, is already set to be the most costly in aviation history and spending will rise significantly as the search expands to a wider swathe of the Indian Ocean off Australia. Experts have suggested the cost of searching for the missing jetliner could reach hundreds of millions of dollars.
The search has been dealt setbacks, most recently when Australian officials said last last month that wreckage from the aircraft was not on the seabed in the area they had identified, based on acoustic pings thought to be from the plane’s black box recorders.
Azharuddin said Malaysian officials would travel to Australia on Tuesday and China later this week to discuss the latest analysis of satellite and other data being used to refine the new search area. About two-thirds of the passengers were Chinese nationals.
Asked where the new search area would be, Azharuddin said he did not know but that it “will not be very far away from where the search is now”.
“The Australian and Malaysian investigators have done their analysis and are in the process of exchanging notes with Inmarsat,” he said, referring to the British satellite firm whose analysis of signals from the plane is the basis for the current search area.
A Wall Street Journal report on Sunday cited sources as saying investigators were revising some of their basic assumptions about the plane’s last position and could make an announcement on the new search area by mid-June.
The search area has already been extended to a 60,000 sq km (23,000 sq mile) zone that is being surveyed by a Chinese vessel. It will then be searched by a commercial operator in a mission expected to start in August and take up to a year, at a cost of A$60 million ($55 million) or more.
Officials are opening the search operations to bids by private firms. Malaysia’s deputy defence minister, Abdul Rahim Bakri, said those costs would be shared equally by Malaysia and Australia.
Families for $5m reward to whistleblower
Several families of those aboard Flight MH370 on Sunday launched a drive to raise $5 million to reward any insider who comes forward and resolves the mystery of the plane’s disappearance exactly three months ago.
The “Reward MH370” campaign launches on fundraising website Indiegogo and aims to raise at least $5 million “to encourage a whistleblower to come forward with information”, the families said in a press release.
“We are convinced that somewhere, someone knows something, and we hope this reward will entice him or her to come forward,” said Ethan Hunt, a technology company chief who is heading the “Reward MH370” project.
Sarah Bajc, partner of American passenger Philip Wood, said a handful of families were behind the campaign to look at the unprecedented aviation mystery with “a fresh set of eyes”.
“Governments and agencies have given it their best shot but have failed to turn up a single shred of evidence, either because of a faulty approach or due to intentional misdirection by one or more individuals,” she said in the release.
Malaysia and Australia, which is leading the search far off its western coast, have promised that the hunt for the plane will continue.
An international team is now determining an expanded search zone of up to 60,000 square kilometres (24,000 square miles) based on where the aircraft last communicated with an Inmarsat satellite.
Australia has also released a request for tenders for a company to be engaged as a prime contractor and provide the expertise, equipment and vessels needed to carry out the deep-sea search from August.
Malaysia — ruled by the same coalition since 1957 with a history of sweeping scandals aside — has taken the brunt of criticism from upset relatives.
The Southeast Asian country has insisted it is doing all it can and working closely with Australia, China and other countries to find the jet.
No firm evidence have been provided as to what really happened to missing flight MH370.
World’s conspiracy theorists have weighed in with explanations of their own for the Malaysian Airlines plane’s disappearance.
The plane was shot down
A new book, Flight MH370 – The Mystery, suggests that the missing Malaysian Airways plane may have been shot down accidentally by US-Thai joint strike fighters in a military exercise in the South China Sea. The book also claims that search and rescue efforts were deliberately sent in the wrong direction as part of a cover-up, the Daily Mail reports.
Five per cent of Americans surveyed by Reason.com believe that the plane was abducted by aliens. Some bloggers have pointed to a number of recent UFO sightings in Malaysia as evidence for extraterrestrial intervention.
The Bermuda Triangle
The plane didn’t actually fly anywhere near Bermuda, but some people – including one Malaysian minister – pointed out that the area where MH370 vanished is on the exact opposite side of the globe to the Bermuda Triangle. Unfortunately those people are wrong; the exact opposite side of the globe is closer to the Caribbean than Bermuda, The Sunday Times notes.
The disappearance of flight MH370 may be down to the world’s first cyber hijack, according to the Sunday Express. It says that hackers could have accessed the aircraft’s flight computer and reprogrammed the speed, altitude and direction.
MH370 itself could be used as a weapon
Some people have expressed concern that the aeroplane may have been hijacked by terrorists and landed somewhere, to be used as a weapon at a later date.
Search to focus on ‘7th arc’ in Indian Ocean
Based on new data and analysis, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) told the media that the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 will mainly focus on the “7th arc” in the Indian Ocean.
The total extent of the arc is from latitude 20 degrees south to 39 degrees south, reports ABC.
The ATSB added that the underwater search area will mostly likely be brought down to 60,000 square kilometres.
Australia probes British witness account
Australia was Wednesday investigating an account from a sailor who said she may have seen Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 on fire, as officials said the underwater hunt for the plane could dive much deeper.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), which is leading the search at the request of the Malaysian government, is looking at the claim from a British yachtswoman made this week.
“The ATSB received… a message from a member of the public, reporting that they had seen what they believed to be a burning aircraft in the sky above the Indian Ocean on the night of the disappearance of MH370,” a spokesman told AFP in an email.
“That information has been forwarded to the ATSB’s MH370 Search Strategy Working Group for review.”
Flight MH370, which was en route from Kuala Lumpur to the Chinese capital Beijing when it inexplicably diverted, is believed to have crashed in the southern Indian Ocean.
An extensive search for the plane, which vanished on March 8 with 239 people on board, has so far found nothing, including an intensive underwater hunt with a mini-sub that could dive to 4,500 metres.
The ATSB on Wednesday released a request for tenders for a company to dive even deeper, to depths of up to 6,000 metres (19,800 feet).
It said the successful bidder would be engaged as a prime contractor and provide the expertise, equipment and vessels needed to carry out the search for the Boeing 777 from August.
“The successful tenderer will use the data from a bathymetric survey (already under way) to navigate the search zone, which has water depth between 1,000 and 6,000 metres,” it said.
Bathymetry refers to the study of underwater depths of oceans or lakes.
An international team is now determining a search zone of up to 60,000 square kilometres (24,000 square miles) based on where the aircraft last communicated with an Inmarsat satellite.
‘A glowing plane’
British yachtswoman Katherine Tee added to speculation about the location of a possible crash site by revealing she saw a glowing plane over the Indian Ocean in March.
The 41-year-old said she told Australian authorities of her sighting of a plane with “what appeared to be a tail of black smoke coming from behind it” while she travelled from Kochi in India to Phuket in Thailand.
“There were two other planes passing higher than it — moving the other way — at that time,” she wrote on sailing site Cruisers Forum, a firm for which she also works.
“I recall thinking that if it was a plane on fire that I was seeing, the other aircraft would report it.”
She said she told no one at the time because she and her husband, who was onboard but asleep, had been having difficulties and had not spoken for about a week.
“And most of all, I wasn’t sure of what I saw,” she said. “I couldn’t believe it myself.”
But after confirming her yacht’s position using GPS data in recent days, she said she knew she was in the “right place at the right time” and told authorities.
MH370’s last known position as tracked by military radar was roughly west of Phuket, although the search area has focused on a zone hundreds of kilometres (miles) further south.
In what could be another clue, researchers at Western Australia’s Curtin University revealed Wednesday they had detected a low-frequency underwater sound which could have come from the plane.
A listening station off Rottnest Island, close to the Western Australia coast, picked up the signal at 0130 GMT on March 8.
Alec Duncan, from Curtin’s Centre for Marine Science and Technology, said the noise could have come from the plane crashing.
“I wouldn’t totally rule it out … it’s not impossible,” he told AFP, but said it was more likely to have originated from a natural source, such as an earth tremor.
Iata to enhance aircraft tracking options
Following the disappearance of MH370, the International Air Transport Association (Iata) has announced plans to establish an industry task force to develop recommendations to improve global flight tracking.
Iata confirmed that the Aircraft Tracking Task Force (ATTF) expects to be in a position to deliver draft options for enhanced global aircraft tracking to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (Icao) in September, leading to presentation to the industry before year-end.
“Aviation stakeholders are united in their desire to ensure that we never face another situation where an aircraft simply disappears,” said Kevin Hiatt, Iata Senior Vice-President, Safety and Flight Operations.
“While states work through Icao to develop and implement performance-based global standards, the industry is committed to moving forward with recommendations that airlines can implement now,” he added.
The commitment made at the time of the task force announcement was to have them available by the end of 2014. Iata invited Icao and key stakeholders throughout the aviation industry to participate in the ATTF. The first meeting of the group was held on May 13, 2014.
Separately, but in conjunction with Iata, Icao held a Special Multi-disciplinary Meeting on Global Flight Tracking on May12-13. An outcome of the Icao meeting was a consensus among member states and the international air transport industry sector on the near-term priority to track airline flights. Icao will also begin considering performance-based international standards, on a priority basis, to ensure broader adoption of airline flight tracking across the aviation system.
Icao and Iata are working together to conduct a survey of vendors to identify options. Over the next few months, the ATTF will develop a set of performance-based recommendations to better ensure global aircraft tracking – meaning that there will likely be a number of options that airlines can consider.
These recommendations will be developed through an assessment of available products and services used for tracking commercial aircraft against specific criteria, including factors such as performance parameters, coverage, security, and cost. Additionally, the ATTF will define a minimum set of performance requirements that any system should achieve.
The ATTF includes representatives from Iata, Icao, Airlines for America, Association of Asia Pacific Airlines, Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation, Flight Safety Foundation, International Coordinating Council of Aerospace Industries Associations, International Federation of Air Line Pilots Associations, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Airbus SAS, Bombardier Aerospace, and Embraer Commercial Aviation. [Staff]
Undersea sound detected
A team of Australian researchers looking into the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 released data on Wednesday about an unusual underwater sound recorded around the time the plane vanished, though the lead scientist acknowledged the chances it is linked to the jet are slim.
The low-frequency sound was picked up by underwater listening devices in the Indian Ocean off the west coast of Australia on March 8, the same day the Boeing 777 disappeared on a flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing with 239 people on board. Researchers at Curtin University in Western Australia have been analyzing the signal to see if it may be the sound of the plane crashing into the ocean.
But Alec Duncan, who’s heading up the research, said the sound appears to have originated well outside the jet’s projected flight path that officials determined based on satellite and radar data, and is therefore unlikely to have come from the plane.
“It’s one of these situations where you find yourself willing it all to fit together but it really doesn’t,” said Duncan, senior research fellow with Curtin’s Center for Marine Science and Technology. “I’d love to be able to sit here and say, ‘Yeah, we’ve found this thing and it’s from the plane’ — but the reality is, there’s a lot of things that make noise in the ocean.”
The noise could have come from a natural event, such as a small earthquake, Duncan said. He put the chances of it being linked to Flight 370 at less than 20 per cent.
Soon after the search for the plane moved to the southern Indian Ocean, scientists from Curtin decided to check the data from their underwater acoustic recorders off Rottnest Island, near Perth, to see if they’d picked up anything of interest. The scientists normally use the recorders for environmental research, such as studying whale sounds. This time, however, the data showed a signal that they initially thought might be the aircraft crashing into the ocean — an event that would have produced a low-frequency sound that can travel thousands of kilometers (miles) under the right conditions, Duncan said.
Sailor reports seeing flight on fire
Meanwhile, a British sailor – who was at sea sailing from Cochin, India, to Phuket, Thailand with her husband on the night when the Malaysian plane disappeared – believes she saw a burning aircraft over the Indian Ocean.
She was alone on the deck when she sighted the plane and has filed an official report with authorities, reports DailyMail.
Chinese search ship in latest glitch
A Chinese ship mapping the ocean floor ahead of an intensive underwater search for missing Flight MH370 was returning to port Saturday due to a technical problem, officials said.
The massive Indian Ocean search for the Malaysia Airlines plane, which disappeared on March 8 carrying 239 people, has so far failed to find any sign of the Boeing 777.
The Chinese survey ship, Zhu Kezhen, was conducting a bathymetric survey — or mapping of the ocean floor — to help experts determine how to carry out the next stage of the search on the previously unmapped ocean seabed.
“Zhu Kezhen suffered a defect to its multibeam echosounder and is coming into port to conduct the necessary repairs,” Australia’s Joint Agency Coordination Centre said in a statement.
“The journey is expected to take a couple of days.”
Search on right track: Australia transport chief
The head of Australia’s transport safety bureau has defended the fruitless hunt for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, saying he is confident that search teams are targeting the right area.
Satellite analysis in the days after the Boeing 777 went missing on March 8 with 239 people onboard placed the jet somewhere in a huge tract of the Indian Ocean stretching from near Indonesia south towards Antarctica.
But in a setback, the area believed to be the jet’s most likely resting place based on the detection of acoustic “pings” was Thursday ruled out after an extensive underwater search.
Australia’s Transport Safety Bureau chief commissioner Martin Dolan told AFP the source of the acoustic transmissions, thought to be man-made, was still a mystery.
“To be frank, we don’t know. We like to be the experts but sometimes we just don’t know the answer,” he said, refusing to speculate on whether they came from the Australian vessel hunting for signals from the aircraft’s black boxes.
Dolan, whose organisation is playing a key role in the search effort, said the four signals detected in April were then the best lead in the hunt for the plane, which mysteriously diverted from its Kuala Lumpur to Beijing route.
“This was the best area to look at the time. We still don’t have anything that confirms that it’s the wrong place. But we will do our analysis and we will determine the best search area for the next phase.”
Dolan said while experts were reassessing the satellite data that led the search to the southern Indian Ocean, the linear arc produced by analysis of this information still likely represented the plane’s flight path.
“That arc is definite. We know that somewhere close to that very long arc is where the aircraft will be found,” he said in an interview late Thursday.
The arc was produced by analysing satellite signalling messages, also referred to as “handshakes”, between the ground station, the satellite and the aircraft’s satellite communication system.
Dolan said experts believed the aircraft would be found near the area representing the last of these signals, thought to be have been sent when the plane ran out of fuel.
“The thing that we’re absolutely confident of is somewhere on that long arc we will find the aircraft,” he said.
“But because it’s so long we have to be able to find a much smaller segment of the arc to concentrate our search and that’s what our analysis is looking at defining.
“So we are reanalysing all the satellite data and aircraft performance information and everything else to define an area of up to 60,000 square kilometres, which is the most likely one for the location of the aircraft.”
The next phase will focus on using the satellite data to confirm a search area, completing mapping of the sea floor and getting towable sonar and other equipment to carry out an intensive deep water search, which could take up to a year.
Dolan voiced confidence that investigators had been given all the information available, but said he could understand the anger of relatives still looking for answers almost three months after the plane went missing.
“We’re conscious that people don’t have a particular confidence in the analysis,” he said. “We have a much higher confidence. But we are nevertheless doing a cross check to verify it.”
Dolan said the search was considered unique because there was so little information to go on, likening it to a worst-case scenario for aviation safety authorities.
“In an organisation like mine you work out what’s the worst thing that will ever happen and hope that it never does,” he said.
“And Australia has been very good at managing the safety of aviation, but our worst case scenario is a widebody passenger aircraft in mid-ocean.
“We’ve actually got plans to deal with this sort of thing, we just hoped we would never have to use those plans for real.”
Malaysia releases satellite data
Malaysia’s aviation authority released on Tuesday satellite data used to determine that flight MH370 went down in the southern Indian Ocean following demands from sceptical relatives of those on board.
The Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) said in a statement it had worked with Inmarsat to provide 47 pages of data communication logs recorded by the British satellite operator as well as explanatory notes for public consumption.
Family members of the 239 people on board the Malaysia Airlines plane, which vanished on March 8, had demanded that raw satellite data be made public for independent analysis after an initial undersea search found no wreckage.
AFP was not immediately able to interpret the highly technical numerical data, which used the Doppler effect – the change in frequency of waves from a moving object – to decipher the Boeing 777’s final flight path.
The DCA has previously stressed that satellite data was just one of several elements being examined by investigators.
Malaysian authorities have been tight-lipped on details, saying they can only divulge information once it has been verified and when its release will not affect ongoing investigations into the plane’s disappearance.
But no sign of the plane has been found despite a massive and costly search for the flight that mysteriously diverted from its Kuala Lumpur-Beijing route 11 weeks ago.
Australia, which is leading the hunt in the Indian Ocean, has committed up to US$84 million towards the search operation over two years.
The director of a movie based on the Malaysian Airlines plane disappearance says he rushed the trailer of the project so he could bring it to the Cannes Film Festival.
“I was seeing the festival calendars and I could not miss Cannes. And so I told my team to make a trailer immediately,” said Rupesh Paul of his planned film, “The Vanishing Act.”
It wasn’t until he arrived at the festival that he faced questions over the timing of the film’s promotion and whether he was being sensitive to the families of the missing passengers.
“These things came in to my thoughts only after I came here,” said Paul, also a producer, in an interview on Saturday. “From the very first interview I was only asked about this fact that we did not even think of much when we were pitching this in India. Nobody asked this question in India actually. When we came to Europe this was the only question I faced.”
The 35-year-old director says he never thought his actions might upset anyone but insists “that nobody will be hurt (by) this movie.”
“Why should I gain out of somebody’s pain?” said Paul.
The trailer for “The Vanishing Act” shows two crew members kissing as a third looks at them angrily. It’s something the director says will not be included in the main feature.
“This trailer was not even meant to get released on the Internet online,” said Paul. “It was meant to show some investors and producers that the movie will be dramatic and thrilling. Somehow it got released, we had to give it to many people, it got out of my hands. And there is no love triangle in this movie at all and there is no romance in this movie.”
A handgun is also featured in the movie, but Paul said it isn’t what it seems.
“Everyone that has flown once on even a small flight will definitely understand that it is impossible to carry a gun inside, whatever you do,” he said. “So it’s impossible, but there is a weapon in the story.”
The director is keeping tight-lipped about his theory on how the plane disappeared and what will be shown in the film. He said that although he “cannot reveal the climax, it will not be a tragic climax.”
The trailer, which also shows commotion and horror on the plane, has garnered more than 300,000 views on YouTube.
Paul is aiming for a September release.