New facts emerge over missing plane

March 17, 2014 - 4:18:24 am

Crew members on board a P-8A Poseidon assigned to Patrol Squadron (VP) 16 man their workstations while assisting in search and rescue operations for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, over the Indian Ocean, yestesrday.

 

KUALA LUMPUR: The person in control of missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 issued their last communication to air traffic control after the first set of aircraft communications was disabled, Malaysian authorities have confirmed, adding further weight to suspicion that the plane was hijacked.

The latest revelation suggests that the person who delivered the “All right, good night” message to Kuala Lumpur air traffic controllers just before the Boeing-777 disappeared from their radar at 1.22am and diverted from its scheduled flightpath to Beijing was also aware that the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (Acars) had been manually shut down.

Investigations still do not appear to know who was at the helm and what their intentions were when the aircraft disappeared from civilian radar more than a week ago.

Experts on aircraft maintenance have explained that the plane’s communications system can only be disabled manually – a process that requires switching a number of cockpit controls in sequence until a computer screen necessitates a keyboard input.

Authorities have not yet disclosed whether the person who issued the last message to controllers was Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53, or co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid, 27, or an unknown third person. It is also unclear if such messages are recorded by air traffic control and are available for expert analysis to determine who the voice belongs to.

Malaysia Airlines could not be reached for comment and Malaysia’s transport ministry declined to comment.

Malaysia’s police chief, Khalid Bakar, has said authorities were investigating all crew, passengers and ground staff involved with MH370 under a penal code that includes hijacking, sabotage and terrorism. Police had questioned Zaharie’s friends and family, and dismantled and reassembled at headquarters a flight simulator Zaharie kept in his house on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur.

Police also searched Fariq’s home, although it was unclear if anything was confiscated.

According to Malaysia Airlines, the pilot and co-pilot did not ask to fly together, reducing the probability of a co-ordinated plan between the pilots to hijack the aircraft.

THE GUARDIAN

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