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'RMAF sent plane after MH370, DCA not told'
Published:  Apr 10, 2014 12:58 AM
Updated: Apr 11, 2014 1:33 AM

Latest developments

  • Report says RMAF had scrambled search aircraft

 

  • Final words by pilot, not co-pilot
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  • Minister: Search costs is peanuts
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  • Search plane picks up new acoustic signals
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  • MP calls for higher compensation for families of MAS crew members
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    Follow us as we bring the latest updates and coverage for the search of Flight MH370:

    RMAF only informed 3 days later

    7.30pm: CNN reports that the Royal Malaysia Air Force (RMAF) had indeed scrambled its search aircraft on the morning of Flight MH370's disappearance, but did not inform authorities until three days later.

    Quoting a senior Malaysian government official and another source involved in the investigation, CNN states, “Malaysian air force search aircraft were scrambled around 8am, soon after Malaysia Airlines (MAS) reported that its plane was missing early March 8.”

    It reports that aircraft were scrambled before authorities could corroborate data indicating the Boeing 777 turned westward from its northbound flight path.

    The unnamed source states RMAF had “not informed the Department of Civil Aviation or search and rescue operations until three days later, March 11".

    It further reports Flight MH370 disappeared from military radar for some 120 nautical miles after it crossed back over Peninsular Malaysia.

    "Based on available data, this means the plane must have dipped in altitude to between 4,000 and 5,000 feet," claims the senior government official.

    Also on the final words “Good night Malaysian three-seven-zero” spoken to Subang air traffic control before Flight MH370 disappeared from radar, CNN claims these were spoken by pilot Captain Zaharie Ahmad, and not the co-pilot as initially claimed.

    “The Malaysian sources told CNN there was nothing unusual about the voice and there was no indication of stress.

    "One of the sources, an official involved in the investigation, told CNN that police played the recording to five other MAS pilots who knew the pilot and co-pilot.

    “There were no third-party voices,” it says.

    Hisham dismisses search costs as 'peanuts'

    7pm: The cost to find MH370 is "peanuts" in comparison to the value of human lives, says acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein despite various news reports calling ongoing search efforts the most expensive in aviation history just after a month.

    Hishammuddin, in an interview with BBC News Asia, also reiterates that he is confident the plane will be found and all questions will be answered in time.

    He says this as he bats away criticism that Malaysia's air defense had failed to intercept MH370 when it re-entered the country on March 8 and that search operations will fail as the plane's black box battery will deplete as it has exceeded the 30-day lifespan.

    Read full story here .

    Search chief: New underwater signal acquired

    5.43pm: A possible new signal have been picked up in today’s search in the vicinity of where Australian vessel Ocean Shield detected transmissions this week, says the Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC).

    This time, JACC chief Angus Houston confirms in a statement, the "possible signal" was picked up by Australian navy P-3 Orion search plane this afternoon, which has been dropping sonobuoys into the water near where the area the initial signals were heard.

    “The acoustic data will require further analysis overnight but shows potential of being from a man-made source,” Houston says.

    Don't forget low-tech help in search

    4.06pm: The search for MH370 is not just underwater but also on the surface area. Here, a sharp pair of eyes, professional divers and sonobuoys are more useful than any high-tech equipment, Reuters reports.

    These low-technologies may not compare to underwater robots like Bluefin-21 or the US' towed pinger locators (TPL) but they are also essential in the race to locate MH370's wreckage, the report says, quoting US Navy officers.

    "With all the technology we have, nothing is as important as looking at things with your eyes," US Navy Lieutenant Ken Savage says.

    He says Australia is also using World War II-era technology, the sonobuoy, to complement the TPL in its search for the black box recorders.

    All 84 sonobuoys are equipped with a hydrophone listening device, which is dangled some 305 metres below the water surface and can transmit data to search aircraft via radio signals.

    Also, sonobuoys are in the hands of the divers from the Royal Australian Navy who may finally be picking up verifiable MH370 debris from the ocean.

    RM90k MAS crew compensation 'unfair'

    4.25pm: An opposition MP is asking if Malaysia Airlines (MAS) will consider giving more than RM90,000 to the next-ofkin of each MH370 crew member who may have perished.

    Kuantan MP and PKR vice-president Fuziah Salleh says although this was the maximum compensation stipulated under a union agreement with MAS, it was still an unfair amount.

    “The families are worried if this is what they will end up getting. They have already gone through so much over the past month,” Fuziah says.

    Read the full story here .

    'Will no one ever be blamed for MH370?'

     

    1:55 pm: "We only get denials and apologies but is no one going to take the blame for MH370?” asks a Malaysian in an open letter published on Astro Awani 's website.

     

    Azrai Izet, whose wife Fadzilah Abdul Rahim was on the still missing plane, questions why authorities cannot own up to mistakes or give the truth.

    He says that more than "false comforts" offered by MAS, the passenger's families really wanted the truth.

     

    "I am sure Malaysians don't want 239 people to perish for no good reason. We want an assurance that such an incident cannot happen again to anyone else," Azrai writes in Malay.

     

    Specifically, Azrai adds, he wants to know:

     

    "Who is responsible for passenger and aircraft safety, airline industry standards and for guarding Malaysia's airspace? And has anything been changed since?"

     

    He notes that authorities have yet to explain why the army and the airport control tower can't trace or intercept the flight in time and how two stowaways boarded using false passports.  

     

    Read his full letter here .

    Now 'Raja Bomoh' heads for Australia

    12.15pm: Since his last 'raise the dead' ritual on Pulau Sembilan late last month didn't get any clear signals from the afterworld, self-styled 'Bomoh King' Ibrahim Mat Zain is now saying that the passengers on board MH370 could still be alive.

    In his latest offering, Ibrahim says he will go to Australia so that Malay traditional methods can work hand-in-hand with “science and technology” methods now being used in the search operation.

    "In my view, as a Raja Bomoh, they are alive. It (the plane) can be in the air, on an island somewhere, but surely not in the ocean," Ibrahim says in a YouTube video uploaded by Suara TV yesterday.

    Speaker: No intention to mislead with 'assumption'

    12pm: Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia finds that Deputy Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Bakri did not intend to confuse Parliament when he initially claimed the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) had "assumed" the missing Flight MH370 was ordered to turn back by air traffic control.

     
    The speaker said today he accepts Rahim's added-on explanation that the latter had relayed his own personal "assumption" when informing MPs on March 26 that that was the reason the RMAF did not act to intercept the plane when it had the chance to on the day it went missing.

    Read more here .

    M'sia needs 'more than PR exercise'

    11.40 am: Bloomberg columnist William Pesek says the Malaysian government has much to do, much more than a major PR exercise, to regain its reputation that in the aftermath of the MH370 crisis, saying it must be "nothing less than a political revolution".

    Ahead of the possible  visit of US President Barack Obama - the first by a US leader to Kuala Lumpur in 50 years - Pesek recommends that Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak ends all affirmative action policies based on ethnicity, which he dubbed "apartheid economics."

    Writing from Tokyo, Pesek urges Najib to also take a break from his punitive campaign against the opposition and the ‘Allah’ issue.

    "The Flight 370 crisis has fully exposed the dangers of allowing one party to rule a nation for six decades," Pesek writes in an editorial on Bloomberg View .

    US: Deigo Garcia conspiracy untrue

    11.18am: The United States denies the conspiracy theory that the missing jetliner is at its Indian Ocean naval base Diego Garcia.

    "The speculation that passenger Philip Woods had sent a photo message from Diego Garcia is not true...

    "There is no sign that MH370 flew anywhere close to the Maldives or Diego Garcia," an unnamed spokesperson for the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur is quoted by Sinar Harian as saying.

    The spokesperson adds that it only provides information upon request and Malaysia has not requested for data from US satellite located in Pine Gap, Australia.

    What is the black box?

    11am: The black box contains a cockpit voice recorder and a flight data recorder. In 1960, Australia became the first country in the world to make black boxes mandatory for all commercial aircraft.

    The black box is especially useful in the aftermath of a plane crash, with its underwater locator beacon (ULB). The ULB is activated as soon as the recorder hits water and can transmit from a depth of up to 14,000 feet (4.3 kilometres).

    According to the National Geographic Channel , the cockpit voice recorder picks up all sounds within the cockpit, including pilot and crew banter, engine noise, warning pings and pops. Located in the tail end of a plane, it records on a two-hour loop.

    In the case of MH370, other than recording the last words of the pilots before the plane went down, this recorder may not be able to shed much light at to the reason it deviated course as the plane had continued to fly for more than two hours after it ceased contact with air traffic control.

    The flight data recorder, meanwhile, picks up the plane's altitude, airspeed and direction among others. It can help generate computer video reconstructions of a flight to help investigators visualise a crash and can record for 25 hours straight.

    Also, to help investigators find them: a black box is not actually black at all, but bright orange.

    Total four pings detected from man-made device

    10am: To recap, the towed pinger locator being used by Ocean Shield has to date detected four ping signals northwest of Perth - two on Saturday and another two were reacquired on Tuesday.

    Acoustic analysis of the first two transmissions assessed they were not of natural origin, but were emitted from a man-made electronic equipment, most likely a flight data recorder such as those contained in a plane's black box.

    The signals were, however, getting weaker, possibly indicating that the black box battery is dying out as it has surpassed its 30-day expected lifespan.

    According to a map from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, the four pings heard so far came from a triangular zone with one side almost 30 kilometers long.

    Yesterday, JACC chief Angus Houston ( left ) told reporters it would be a " matter of days " before a torpedo-like mini-submarine drone is deployed to the bottom of the ocean, some 4.5kilometres down.

    Searchers want to exhaust use of the pinger locator until they are certain the black box’s emergency beacon has ceased all transmissions.

    The underwater device, called Bluefin-21 and loaned from the US Navy, will hopefully give conclusive evidence as to MH370's “final resting place”, he said.

    Nazri to visit Chinese ambassador

    9am: In his capacity as Inter-Parliamentary Union Malaysia chairperson, Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Abdul Aziz, along with several other MPs, will visit Chinese ambassador Huang Huikang today.

    The Star Online reports that the visit is an "expression of solidarity" with the Chinese people who are grieving over missing Flight MH370.

    Nazri ( right ) also reiterates that he is halting all tourism roadshows in China until there is closure for MH370.

    "So long as there is no closure, I do not think it is appropriate to continue the roadshows in China."

    China is Malaysia's third largest market for tourism and the MH370 incident, with 152 China nationals on board, have affected tourist arrivals during Visit Malaysia Year 2014.

    Search area significantly reduced

    6am: The Australia-led search for Flight MH370 has successfully narrowed the search area by nearly four-fold after discovering four transmissions, a from likely black box, by using a towed pinger locator to comb the south Indian Ocean from last Friday.

    As the eight-nation backed search enters its 34th day, the Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) says today they are now confident of spotting the Boeing 777 within an area of 58,000 square kilometre northwest of Perth.

    This compares to the initial search area of 217,000 sq km when the pinger locator was first deployed into the waters on April 4.

    Up to 10 military aircraft, four civil aircraft and 13 ships will assist today's search, while the main underwater search will still be led by Australia’s defence vessel (ADV) Ocean Shield, assisted by Chinese ship Haixun 01 and the HMS Echo.

    "Aircraft and ships reported spotting a large number of objects during yesterday's search, but only a small number were able to be recovered.

    "None of the recovered items were believed to be associated with MH370," JACC adds in its daily statement.

    On the weather, JACC ays it expects moderate winds and isolated showers, although visibility is expected to be fair.

    Background:

    • The Beijing-bound Boeing 777-200ER aircraft went missing not long after taking off from KL International Airport in the early hours of March 8, with 12 crew members and 227 passengers.

     

  • Authorities have determined the plane intentionally turned back and altered its course shortly after cutting communications with tower controllers for unknown reasons.
  •  

  • "Groundbreaking" data analysis on the six last 'pings' between MH370 and British company Inmarsat's communications satellite has yielded clues to the aircraft's position and heading, leading investigators to narrow down the search area to the south Indian Ocean.
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  • Australia leads the search in the south Indian Ocean. As of March 30, the Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) is tasked with overseeing the operations, led by retired air marshal and former defence chief Angus Houston.
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