A NEW twist in the mysterious disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777-2H6ER 9M-MRO, flight number MH370’, has revealed that the airliner changed course after leaving Malaysian air space. As it headed out of into Vietnam air space, it is now known that someone on board started tampering with the onboard systems. The Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) was switched off and the aircraft disappeared from radar at 0103 local time on March 8. The aircraft with 239 people on board headed west back across Northern Malaysia into the Indian Ocean.
The Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said in a statement on March 15 that there are currently 58 aircraft and 43 ships actively involved in the search. A further eleven countries have also now joined in the operations, making a total of 25 countries now involved in the search.
Razak said that: “Based on new satellite information, we can say with a high degree of certainty that the ACARS was disabled just before the aircraft reached the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Shortly afterwards, near the border between Malaysian and Vietnamese air traffic control, the aircraft’s transponder was switched off.”
“From this point onwards, the Royal Malaysian Air Force’s primary radar showed that an aircraft which was believed – but not confirmed – to be MH370 did indeed turn back. It then flew in a westerly direction back over peninsular Malaysia before turning northwest. Up until the point at which it left military primary radar coverage, these movements are consistent with deliberate action by someone on the plane.”
With the unidentified aircraft being picked up by military radar, the Royal Malaysian Air Force should have scrambled fighters to intercept the aircraft, probably a pair of Su-30MKMs to determine the intentions of the jet. In not doing this serious questions have to be asked of the Quick Reaction Alert status of the RMAF in this post 9/11 era.
“Today, based on raw satellite data that was obtained from the satellite data service provider, we can confirm that the aircraft shown in the primary radar data was flight MH370.” Razak continued.
“Based on this new data, the aviation authorities of Malaysia and their international counter parts have determined that the plane’s last communication with the satellite was in one of two possible corridors: a northern corridor stretching approximately the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to northern Thailand, or a southern corridor stretching approximately from Indonesia to the southern Indian Ocean.”
Razak said that because of this new information the search operations in the South China Sea are being ended and redeployment of assets to new search areas is now being assessed. The new development means that the search area is being considerably widened instead of growing smaller as would be the case in a search and rescue mission that had now been going on for more than a week.
More countries have now been asked to assist with the search mission, including Bangladesh, India, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan. Malaysia has also requested satellite date from China, France and the USA, amongst others. In view of the fact that the aircraft’s movements after the ACARS and transponder were switched off appear to have been due to a deliberate act, investigations by the Malaysian police are now focusing on all those on board the aircraft.