Malaysia Suspected MH370 Downed In Murder-Suicide – Former Australian PM

(FILES) This file photo taken on March 7, 2015 shows Indian sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik creating a sculpture of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 on Puri beach in eastern Odisha state.
J .K. Jagdev / AFP

 

Former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott has claimed “very top” level Malaysian officials believed vanished Flight MH370 was deliberately downed by the captain in a mass murder-suicide.

The Malaysia Airlines jet vanished on March 8, 2014 carrying 239 people — mostly from China — en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

No sign of the plane was found in a 120,000-square kilometre (46,000-square mile) Indian Ocean search zone and the Australian-led search, the largest in aviation history, was suspended in January 2017.

A US exploration firm launched a private hunt in 2018 but it ended after several months of scouring the seabed without success.

The disappearance of the plane has long been the subject of a host of theories — ranging from the credible to outlandish — including that veteran pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah had gone rogue.

In an excerpt from a Sky News documentary airing Wednesday, Abbott claims he was told within a week of it vanishing that Malaysia believed the captain had intentionally downed the jet.

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“My very clear understanding from the very top levels of the Malaysian government is that from very, very early on here, they thought it was murder-suicide by the pilot,” he said.

“I’m not going to say who said what to whom but let me reiterate, I want to be absolutely crystal clear, it was understood at the highest levels that this was almost certainly murder-suicide by the pilot — mass murder-suicide by the pilot.”

Zaharie’s family and friends have long strongly rejected such claims as baseless.

Malaysia’s former premier Najib Razak, who was in power during the tragedy, said suspicions over the disappearance weren’t made public and there was no proof that the pilot was responsible.

“It would have been deemed unfair and legally irresponsible since the black boxes and cockpit voice recorders had not been found,” he told online portal Free Malaysia Today.

“There was no conclusive proof whether the pilot was solely or jointly responsible.”

Najib said the scenario involving the pilot was “never ruled out” during the search for the plane.

Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, the former head of Malaysia’s civil aviation regulator, criticised Abbott’s remarks and said there was not sufficient proof to support the idea.

“It is only a theory,” Azharuddin, who led the regulator when Flight MH370 disappeared, told AFP.

“You do this speculation and it will hurt the next of kin. The family of the pilot will also feel very bad because you are making an accusation without any proof.”

In 2016, Malaysian officials revealed the pilot had plotted a path over the Indian Ocean on a home flight simulator but stressed this did not prove he deliberately crashed the plane.

A final report into the tragedy released in 2018 pointed to failings by air traffic control and said the course of the plane was changed manually.

But they failed to come up with any firm conclusions, leaving relatives angry and disappointed.

Six passengers were Australian, including four from Queensland state, where Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk this week suggested authorities may pursue an inquest into their deaths.

Search For Missing Flight MH370 To End, Four Years After

In this file photo taken on September 09, 2014 shows part of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 at the crash site in the village of Hrabove (Grabovo), some 80km east of Donetsk. PHOTO: Alexander KHUDOTEPLY / AFP

 

A private search for Flight MH370 will end in the coming days, an exploration firm said on Tuesday, some four years after the plane disappeared in one of the world’s greatest aviation mysteries.

The Malaysia Airlines jet vanished in March 2014 with 239 people — mostly from China — on board, en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

No sign of it was found in a 120,000-square kilometre (46,000-square mile) Indian Ocean search zone and the Australian-led hunt, the largest in aviation history, was suspended in January last year.

After pressure from families, the Malaysian government struck a deal with US exploration firm Ocean Infinity to restart the search in January on condition it would only be paid if the Boeing 777 or its black boxes were found.

The firm stood to make up to $70 million if successful but found no sign of the airliner despite scouring the seabed with some of the world’s most high-tech search equipment.

The hunt was officially meant to end in late April but was extended. However, the new Malaysian government of Mahathir Mohamad, which came to power after a shock election win this month, announced last week the search was set to end.

Texas-based Ocean Infinity said in a statement Tuesday that “its current search for the wreckage of… Flight MH370 is shortly coming to an end”.

A spokesman added the hunt would end in the coming days, without giving a precise date.

‘Nothing hidden’

Ocean Infinity chief executive Oliver Plunkett said the failure to find the wreckage was “extremely disappointing” but he hoped that his company would be able to “again offer our services in the search for MH370 in future”.

Malaysia’s new government has not indicated that it wants to revive the search but has pledged to be more open about the mystery. Transport Minister Anthony Loke said Monday that a full report into MH370’s disappearance would be published soon.

“There will not be any edits, nothing will be hidden,” he told reporters.

Ocean Infinity said it had scoured over 112,000 square kilometres of seabed, including 25,000 square kilometres north of the original search zone which scientists later identified as the most likely crash site.

The ship conducting the hunt, Seabed Constructor, was a Norwegian research vessel carrying 65 crew, including two members of the Malaysian navy as the government’s representatives.

It used eight autonomous drones equipped with sonars and cameras, able to operate at depths up to 6,000 metres (20,000 feet).

Only three confirmed fragments of MH370 have been found, all of them on western Indian Ocean shores, including a two-metre wing part known as a flaperon.

The jet’s disappearance remains one of the most enduring aviation mysteries of all time and has spawned a host of theories, with some blaming a hijacking or even a terror plot.

AFP

MH370 Search: Plane Debris Arrives In Paris

MH370A piece of debris that experts believe could be from missing flight MH370 has arrived in Paris from the French Island where it was found on Wednesday.

The object, believed to be part of a wing of a Boeing 777, was flown to the French capital from Reunion in the Indian Ocean.

From there it would be transported to a Defence Ministry laboratory in Toulouse for analysis.

Martin Dolan, who heads Australia’s search efforts, had earlier said that the operation was continuing “in the right place” in the southern part of the ocean.

The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing vanished in March 2014.

There were 239 passengers and crew on board.

Australia, Others To Try New System In Search Of Flight MH370

mh370Australia, Indonesia and Malaysia are to try a new method of tracking planes, almost a year after a Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, carrying 239 people, disappeared en route Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

The trial system enables planes to be tracked every 15 minutes, an increase on the current 30 to 40 minutes.

Extensive search has been carried out to contact the flight MH370, since it disappeared in March 2014.

The new tracking device uses technology already installed on most long-haul jets.

The system is expected to increase the tracking rate to five minutes or less if there is any deviation from a plane’s expected route.

‘No silver bullet’

Australian Transport Minister, Warren Truss, said the new system was a “world first”. But he stressed the new technology would not necessarily have solved the mystery of MH370.

“It would have been very difficult, one would imagine, without knowing what precisely occurred in the case of flight MH370, to have intervened from outside,” he said.

“But at least it would have tracked the aircraft to within 15 minutes.”

Airservices Australia Chairman Angus Houston, who helped lead the search for the missing MH370, agreed it was “no silver bullet”.

“But it is an important step in delivering immediate improvements to the way we currently track aircraft while more comprehensive solutions are developed,” Angus Houston added.

The trial will begin in the Australian city of Brisbane before being extended to Indonesia and Malaysia.

Investigators searching for flight MH370 are focusing on an area of the Indian Ocean off the coast of western Australia.

Flight MH370, which is said to be operating a Boeing 777-200ER aircraft, last had contact with air traffic controllers 120 nautical miles off the east coast of the Malaysian town of Kota Bharu.

Malaysia Airline Crew Resign After Twin Tragedies

twin Malasia Airlines. MH17 on July 17 over rebel-held eastern Ukraine.About 200 cabin crew have cited fears for their safety as they resigned from Malaysia Airlines which was hit by two deadly tragedies this year, the carrier said on Tuesday.

The flag carrier, which prior to this year had a good safety record, has been in the spotlight in the past six months following the disappearance of flight MH370 on March 8 and the shooting down OFC on July 17 over rebel-held Eastern Ukraine.

The airline said 186 crew had left in the first seven months of this year, with many blaming family pressure prompted by the tragedies.

“Following the MH17 incident, there was a spike in crew resignations but the number has now decreased to acceptable and routinely expected levels,” it said in a statement

“Many cited ‘family pressure’ as the reason for their resignation due to the MH17 and MH370 tragedies.”

The Secretary-General of the Employees Union, Abdul Malek Ariff, said some “are now afraid to fly”.

Abdul Malek, quoted by the Edge Financial daily Monday, also said crew shortages were forcing staff to work up to 12 hours a day.

The union represents about 8,000 of Malaysia Airlines’ 19,500-strong workforce.

The carrier said it was providing emotional and psychological support to its staff.

The two aviation tragedies killed 537 people including 27 crew members.

Flight MH370 disappeared mysteriously in March en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. No trace has been found despite an intensive search in the southern Indian Ocean.

The airline was widely criticised for its handling of the crisis.

On July 17, MH17 was shot down over war-torn eastern Ukraine, with another 298 people killed.

The carrier has struggled amid intense competition, losing $1.3 billion over the past three years even before the two disasters.

For this year’s first quarter the airline posted a net loss of 443 million ringgit ($137 million) citing MH370’s impact on bookings.

It was the fifth straight quarterly loss.

 

Missing Plane MH370: Australian Prime Minister Confident Over Signals

AbottThe search for the missing Malaysian plane is still on and Australian leader, Tony Abbott has said that authorities were confident that signals heard in the Indian Ocean were coming from the “black box” flight recorders of the missing aircraft.

Speaking in China, he said teams had “very much narrowed” the search area.

On Friday, as many as 15 aircraft and 13 ships were involved in the search operation in a remote area of the southern Indian Ocean, where officials believe flight MH370 crashed.

As planes combed a large search zone, thousands of kilometres West of Australia, for possible floating debris, ships were focusing on a smaller area where signals have been picked up consistent with the jet’s flight recorders.

Prime Minister, Tony Abbott said that teams were confident the signals were from the black boxes.

“We have very much narrowed down the search area and we are very confident that the signals that we are detecting are from the black box on MH370.”

“We are confident that we know the position of the black box flight recorder to within some kilometres. But confidence in the approximate position of the black box is not the same as recovering wreckage from almost four and a half kilometres beneath the sea or finally determining all that happened on the flight.”

Ships continued to listen for acoustic signals, although authorities have admitted that the most recent signal picked up by a plane on Thursday was thought unlikely to be linked to flight MH370.

Vessels will use the towed pinger locator to track transmissions until officials are sure the black-box batteries – which last about a month – have run out.

Once they die, a submersible drone would be sent down to the ocean floor for wreckage, but this would be a laborious and pain-staking task made difficult by silt., and it will be a long time before anyone is any closer to knowing what happened to flight Mh370 and the 239 people on board.

The Malaysian plane vanished on March 8, with 239 people on board.

It was flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing when it lost contact with air traffic controllers.

New ‘Pings’ Stoke Optimism For Malaysia Plane Hunt

Gunner Brown of Transit Security Element looks through binoculars as he stands on lookout with other crew members aboard Australian Navy ship HMAS Perth as they continue to search for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370A new acoustic signal was detected in the hunt for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 on Thursday, further boosting confidence that officials are zeroing in on the missing plane after weeks of searching.

The signal, which could be from the plane’s black box recorders, brings to five the number of “pings” detected in recent days within the search area in the Indian Ocean.

The first four signals were detected by a U.S. Navy “Towed Pinger Locator” (TPL) aboard Australia’s Ocean Shield vessel, while the latest was reported by an aircraft picking up transmissions from a listening device buoy laid near the ship on Wednesday.

“Whilst conducting an acoustic search this afternoon a RAAF AP-3C Orion aircraft has detected a possible signal in the vicinity of the Australian Defence Vessel Ocean Shield,” Angus Houston, head of the Australian agency co-ordinating the search, said in a statement.

The data would require further analysis overnight but it showed the potential of being from a “man-made source”, he said.

The mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which disappeared more than a month ago, has sparked the most expensive search and rescue operation in aviation history, but concrete information has proven frustratingly illusive.

The black boxes record cockpit data and may provide answers about what happened to the plane, which was carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew when it vanished on March 8 and flew thousands of kilometres off its Kuala Lumpur-to-Beijing route.

But the batteries in the black boxes have already reached the end of their 30-day expected life, making efforts to swiftly locate them on the murky ocean floor all the more critical.

“We are still a long way to go, but things are more positive than they were some time ago,” Martin Dolan, Chief Commissioner of the Australian Transport Safety Board, which is involved in the search mission, told Reuters.

Missing Malaysian Plane Search Gets Promising Lead

malaysiaSearch for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane has recorded a major breakthrough with the detection of signals consistent with those from “black box” flight recorders.

An Australian vessel, the Ocean Shield, picked up the signal twice, once for more than two hours.

A retired air chief marshal leading the search, Angus Houston, called it the “most promising lead” so far, but said more information was needed: “We haven’t found the aircraft yet and we need further confirmation”.

Malaysia’s Acting Transport Minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, said he had been briefed by Air Chief Marshal Houston and was “cautiously hopeful that there will be a positive development in the next few days if not hours”.

Two Separate Detections

ACM Houston said the signals were detected using the towed pinger locator deployed on the Ocean Shield.

Two separate detections occurred, he said. The first was held for two hours and 20 minutes before being lost while the second was detected on the return-leg and was held for 13 minutes.

“On this occasion two distinct pinger returns were audible. Significantly this would be consistent with transmissions from both the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder,” ACM Houston said.

“I’m much more optimistic than I was a week ago,” he said.

“We are now in a very well defined search area, which hopefully will eventually yield the information that we need to say that [Malaysia Airlines flight] MH370 might have entered the water just here.”

The Ocean Shield was still in the area, about 1,040 miles (1,680 km) north-west of the Australian city of Perth, but had not been able to reacquire the signals since, he said.

The position of the signals needed to be fixed, ACM Houston said. Once that happened, the Ocean Shield could lower the Bluefin 21 underwater autonomous vehicle to try to locate wreckage on the sea floor.

Batteries Due To Run Out

The signal had been heard in sea with a depth of 4,500m, he added, which was at the limit of the capability of the Bluefin 21.

He cautioned that the next steps would take time.

“It could take some days before the information is available to establish whether these detections can be confirmed as being from MH370,” he said. “In very deep oceanic water, nothing happens fast.”

The search operation is in a race against time as the flight recorders’ batteries are due to run out, meaning a signal would no longer be emitted.

A Chinese search vessel, Haixun 01, also said it briefly heard signals over the weekend in a different search area.

Those signals are now being investigated with the help of a British naval vessel, HMS Echo, which is equipped with sophisticated sound-locating equipment.

Reports said the crew of the Chinese ship had been using a sonar device called a hydrophone to pick up sounds.

Experts said it was technically possible but unlikely that the sounds heard with this equipment related to the missing plane.

Chris Portale, a director of the US company Dukane which makes the device that emits signals from flight recorders, said looking for the Malaysian plane’s “black boxes” was like “looking for a suitcase on the side of a mountain” but under water.

But he said he thought searchers were now in the right area and had a “very good hope” of spotting debris, if the signal was from the aircraft.

“I believe they have got three to four more days of good, solid output [from the flight recorders],” he told the BBC.

The plane, carrying 239 people, was flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8 when it disappeared. Malaysian officials say they believe it crashed in the southern Indian Ocean.

Malaysian Police Say Reasons For Plane Disappearance May Never Be Known

malaysiaThe search for the missing Malaysian plane is still on but the Malaysian Police has warned that the reasons for the plane’s disappearance may never be known.

The warning comes as the country’s Prime Minister, Najib Razak, heads to Australia for talks on the search.

Ten planes and nine ships will search the southern Indian Ocean on Wednesday, with a UK submarine joining the hunt.

Flight MH370 disappeared on March 8, as it was travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. It was carrying 239 people, with majority of them, Chinese nationals.

Malaysian authorities held a meeting on Wednesday with the relatives of the Chinese passengers who were aboard the missing aircraft.

“We had a meeting with the next of kin of the Chinese passengers, 29 of them. It was a closed door meeting and it went well. We answered all their questions but I cannot give you the specifics of the meeting,” the Director General, Malaysian Department of Civil Aviation, Datuk Rahman.

The relatives of the Chinese passengers have accused the Malaysian authorities of keeping information from them.