Investigator: Missing plane turned back over Malaysia, was being piloted by skilled person

Published: March 14, 2014

Perak Island is seen from a Malaysian Air Force CN235 aircraft during a search and rescue (SAR) operation to find the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 plane over the Strait of Malacca on March 14, 2014. MOHD RASFAN/AFP/Getty Images

EILEEN NG and IAN MADER
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Investigators are increasingly certain the missing Malaysian Airlines jet turned back across the country after its last radio contact with air traffic controllers, and that someone with aviation skills was responsible for the change in course, a Malaysian government official said Friday.

A U.S. official said in Washington 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, who wasn’t authorized to talk to the media and spoke on condition of anonymity, said it also was possible the plane may have landed somewhere.

While other theories are still being examined, the official said key evidence for the human intervention is that contact with the Boeing 777′s transponder stopped about a dozen minutes before a messaging system on the jet quit.

The Malaysian official, who also declined to be identified because he is not authorized to brief the media, said only a skilled person could navigate the plane the way it was flown after its last confirmed location over the South China Sea.

Earlier Friday, acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said the country had yet to determine what happened to the plane after it dropped off civilian radar and ceased communicating with the ground around 40 minutes into the flight to Beijing on March 8.

He said investigators were still trying to establish with certainty that military radar records of a blip moving west across the Malay Peninsula into the Strait of Malacca showed Flight MH370.

“I will be the most happiest person if we can actually confirm that it is the MH370, then we can move all (search) assets from the South China Sea to the Strait of Malacca,” he told reporters. Until then, he said, the international search effort would continue expanding east and west from the plane’s last confirmed location.

The Malaysian official said it had now been established with a “more than 50 per cent” degree of certainty that military radar had picked up the missing plane.

On Thursday, a U.S. official said the plane remained airborne after losing contact with air traffic control, sending a signal to establish contact with a satellite. The Malaysian official confirmed this, referring to the process by its technical term of a “handshake.”

Boeing offers a satellite service that can receive a stream of data on how an aircraft is functioning in flight and relay the information to the plane’s home base. Malaysia Airlines didn’t subscribe to that service, but the plane still had the capability to connect with the satellite and was automatically sending signals, or pings, said the U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the situation by name.

Hishammuddin said the government would only release information about the signals when they were verified.

“I hope within a couple of days to have something conclusive,” he told a news conference.

Malaysia has faced accusations it isn’t sharing all its information or suspicions about the plane’s final movements. It insists it is being open, and says it would be irresponsible to narrow the focus of the search until there is undeniable evidence of the plane’s flight path.

No theory has been ruled out in one of modern aviation’s most puzzling mysteries.

But it now appears increasingly certain the plane didn’t experience a catastrophic incident over the South China Sea as was initially seen as the most likely scenario. Some experts believe it is possible that one of the pilots, or someone with flying experience, hijacked the plane for some later purpose or committed suicide by plunging the aircraft into the sea.

Mike Glynn, a committee member of the Australian and International Pilots Association, said he considers pilot suicide to be the most likely explanation for the disappearance, as was suspected in a SilkAir crash during a flight from Singapore to Jakarta in 1997 and an EgyptAir flight in 1999.

“A pilot rather than a hijacker is more likely to be able to switch off the communications equipment,” Glynn said. “The last thing that I, as a pilot, want is suspicion to fall on the crew, but it’s happened twice before.”

Glynn said a pilot may have sought to fly the plane into the Indian Ocean to reduce the chances of recovering data recorders, and to conceal the cause of the disaster.

Scores of aircraft and ships from 12 countries are involved in the search, which reaches into the eastern stretches of the South China Sea and on the western side of the Malay Peninsula, northwest into the Andaman Sea and the India Ocean.

India said it was using heat sensors on flights over hundreds of uninhabited Andaman Sea islands Friday and would expand the search for the missing jet farther west into the Bay of Bengal, more than 1,600 kilometres (100 miles) to the west of the plane’s last known position. Spokesman Col. Harmit Singh of India’s Tri-Services Command said it began land searches after sweeping seas to the north, east and south of the Andaman and Nicobar islands.

A team of five U.S. officials with air traffic control and radar expertise — three from the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board and two from the Federal Aviation Administration — has been in Kuala Lumpur since Monday to assist with the investigation.

Related stories:

——

Lowy reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Ashok Sharma in New Delhi, Jim Gomez in Kuala Lumpur, Tran V. Minh in Hanoi, Vietnam, Thanyarat Doksone in Bangkok, and Rod McGuirk in Canberra, Australia, contributed to this report.

12:55ET 14-03-14

[+]

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,



Readers Comments (0)

Comments are closed.

Featured

asdlkfjdal

‘I don’t get turned down by girls:’ Calgary man jailed after stalking university classmate

DARYL SLADE CALGARY HERALD A man who became infatuated with a woman in his university class last year then repeatedly stalked her has been jailed….
Continue Reading »

U.S. Republican lawmaker Curt Clawson. Submitted photo/Twitter.

Republican lawmaker apologizes for mistaking U.S. officials as Indian at congressional hearing

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS WASHINGTON — A freshman Republican lawmaker has apologized for mistaking two senior U.S. government officials as Indian when they testified at a…
Continue Reading »

File photo: A Sierra Leone kabaddi player (R) is tackled by his British opponent during the 4th World Cup Kabaddi Punjab 2013 tournament at a stadium in Chohla Sahib (Tarn Taran), about 55 kms from Amritsar on December 2, 2013. NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images

India’s Pro Kabaddi League signs Canadian TV deal

PATRICK JOHNSTON VANCOUVER DESI Canada’s largest South Asian broadcaster, Asian Television Network (ATN), has signed on with India’s Pro-Kabaddi League. The eight-team league launched on…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

asdlkfjdal

‘I don’t get turned down by girls:’ Calgary man jailed after stalking university classmate

DARYL SLADE CALGARY HERALD A man who became infatuated with a woman in his university class last year then repeatedly stalked her has been jailed….
Continue Reading »

File photo: A Sierra Leone kabaddi player (R) is tackled by his British opponent during the 4th World Cup Kabaddi Punjab 2013 tournament at a stadium in Chohla Sahib (Tarn Taran), about 55 kms from Amritsar on December 2, 2013. NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images

India’s Pro Kabaddi League signs Canadian TV deal

PATRICK JOHNSTON VANCOUVER DESI Canada’s largest South Asian broadcaster, Asian Television Network (ATN), has signed on with India’s Pro-Kabaddi League. The eight-team league launched on…
Continue Reading »

Today in History – Aug. 7

Advance THE CANADIAN PRESS Today in History for Aug. 7: On this date: In AD 117, Roman emperor Marcus Trajan died at age 65. His…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

india flag2

Sporting fans disappointed as Indian flag depicted upside down in Commonwealth Games promotional video

VANCOUVER DESI India is already making headlines as the Commonwealth Games officially kick off in Glasgow – but not for sporting-related reasons. In an official…
Continue Reading »

INDIA_RAPE_PROTEST_217126232

Angry villagers mob alleged suspects after another girl found hanging from tree in India

KOUSHIK DUTTA HINDUSTAN TIMES A 7-year-old girl was found raped, murdered and hanging from a tree in West Bengal on Thursday, resurfacing horrific memories from…
Continue Reading »

525020624_213567324

Indian baby whose head swelled to three times its size smiling and laughing a year later (w/ photos)

VANCOUVER DESI A three-year-old girl in New Delhi who was given little chance of survival after her head swelled to three times its normal size…
Continue Reading »

An Indian private tutor was caught on CCTV camera brutally beating a child. YouTube screenshot

Private tutor who mercilessly beat child finally arrested in Kolkata

IANS Kolkata  – Private tutor Pooja Singh, who was caught on video brutally thrashing a three-and-a-half-year-old child in Kolkata, was finally arrested Friday, police said….
Continue Reading »

child abuse

Indian kidnappers agree to handover boy to parents on condition of swapping him for his sister

CEN AGENCY In a bizarre demand, parents of an Indian boy who has been kidnapped, were told that they could have youngster back if they…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Indian Bollywood Hindi film director Mahesh Bhatt reads during the launch of the book 'Aaliya' in Mumbai on December 5, 2013. STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images

Miffed over fake Facebook account, Mahesh Bhatt heads to police

IANS Mumbai — Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt has warned his fans against a fake Facebook account created under his name and says that he will approach…
Continue Reading »

1KUMAR

Akshay Kumar performance to kick off kabaddi league in London

IANS New Delhi  – Bollywood action star Akshay Kumar will perform on the inaugural day of the Wave World Kabaddi League (WWKL), starting Aug 9…
Continue Reading »

Indian Bollywood actors Jacqueline Fernandez (L) and Salman Khan pose for a photograph during a promotional event for the forthcoming Hindi film Kick, produced and directed by Sajid Nadiadwala, in Mumbai on late June 15, 2014. STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images

Salman Khan’s Eid luck works in favour of Kick release

IANS Mumbai — If you go by the box office collection of Salman Khan’s Kick, you’d agree that the superstar – whose Eid releases like…
Continue Reading »