Government to Take Over Troubled Malaysia Airlines

Malaysia’s government will carry out a “complete overhaul” of its troubled national airline in an attempt to revive company after it was hit by two devastating disasters this year.

The move on Friday to de-list Malaysia Airline System and take it private had been expected since ticket sales slumped in the wake of the baffling disappearance of MH370 on March 8 with 239 passengers and crew. The airline’s crisis deepened on July 17 when another jet, Flight MH17, was shot down over Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board.

State investment fund Khazanah Nasional’s [KHAZA.UL] proposed 1.4 billion ringgit ($436 million) buy-out of the shares it does not own paves the way for it to take steps such as cutting back on less-profitable routes, trimming the bloated payroll and installing a new management team.

A full-scale rebranding of the airline, which has reported losses for the past three years, could also be considered as it grapples with shaky customer confidence following the twin tragedies.
Khazanah said it will need cooperation “from all parties” to undertake the restructuring, covering the airline’s operations, business model, finances, staff and the regulatory environment.

“Nothing less will be required in order to revive our national airline to be profitable as a commercial entity, and to service its function as a critical national development entity,” it said in a statement.
Political considerations will play a important role in the restructuring of the company, which like other state-owned firms, has been used by the government to promote development goals such as affirmative action policies for majority ethnic Malays. Reuters first reported on the possible restructuring in July.
Khazanah has injected more than 5 billion ringgit ($1.6 billion) into MAS over the last 10 years, as it has increasingly struggled in the face of competition from upstart budget airlines such as AirAsia Bhd.

POLITICAL SENSITIVITIES
Attempts to restructure the airline over the years have been politically fraught due to heavy opposition to job losses from its influential labor union.

“There is no point in going to another airline or getting some private equity team involved or anything like that because the government will effectively have to offer some sweeteners to the union to diminish their power and diminish their size,” said Timothy Ross, Asia transportation analyst at Credit Suisse. “They probably employ 5,000 people too many.”

The carrier has a fleet of 151 planes and a total staff of nearly 20,000 employees.
The head of Malaysia Airline’s main labor union said it would support the plan only if the current top management team, led by chief executive Ahmad Jauhari, was replaced.

“Ahmad Jauhari has had three years to turn things around. We’ve made it very clear, we will support a new team that has the aviation knowledge and integrity for the job,” Mohd Jabarullah Abdul Kadir told Reuters.
Khazanah will offer 27 sen for each share in the company it does not own, amounting to 1.38 billion ringgit, a 12.5 percent premium to the closing share price on Thursday, MAS said in a statement after suspending its shares.

“DRAMATIC IMPACT”
Khazanah, which owns 69.37 percent of MAS and is chaired by Prime Minister Najib Razak, said it expected to give more details of the planned restructuring by the end of August after it has secured approval from shareholders.
The airline and its key stakeholders are in talks with banks for a strategic overhaul that could include the partial sale of its engineering unit and an upgrade of its ageing fleet.

The company turned in its worst quarterly performance in two years in the January-March period and has been burning through its operating cash.

The carrier warned in May of a “dramatic impact” on passenger traffic from the loss of Flight MH370. The July 17 disaster, in which MH17 was believed to have been shot down by Russian-backed rebels in Ukraine, sped up government efforts to restructure the airline, sources said.

Sources had told Reuters in July that planned to take the airline private as the first step in a major restructuring. The state investor is working with CIMB Investment Bank on the restructuring, the sources added.
“This is the sensible way forward given that massive surgery is required,” said Christopher Wong, a senior investment manager at Aberdeen Asset Management Asia.

Mohshin Aziz, an analyst from Maybank Investment Bank Research, said the price offered by Khazanah was a fair deal for minority investors.

Source: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

Malaysia Airlines, or an Airline Fighting to Keep Their Employees.

Malaysia’s beleaguered flag carrier will be paying each employee RM2,000 as a token of gratitude for standing by the airline despite its financial losses made worse by the loss of two Boeing planes this year.

The Edge Financial Daily reported today that Malaysia Airlines (MAS) chairman Tan Sri Md Nor Yusof announced the ex-gratia payment two days before the Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebrations and that all 19,577 staff can expect the payment as early as next month.

“The management, in consultation with the government, has agreed to give RM2,000 in ex-gratia payment to all staff,” an unnamed industry source was quoted saying.

According to the report, the payment is expected to total RM39 million and will drive MAS — already reeling from the loss of MH370 in March and more recently MH17 — further into the red.

The report cited Maybank Investment Bank Bhd airline analyst Mohshin Aziz as saying MAS only has cash in hand of RM500 million, adding that the amount would see the airline only through another 200 days.

According to Mohshin, the airline has a cash flow of RM3.25 billion as at March 31, but as much as RM2 billion was derived from forward ticket sales while another RM400 million was meant as aircraft deposits.

MAS has been operating at a loss of about RM5 million a day since January, he added.

The carrier posted a net loss of RM1.15 billion for financial year 2013 and is due to announce its second quarter result in August.

On July 19, MAS announced it will waive charges for customers who wanted to make amendments to their flight itineraries to any destination, including cancelling and getting a full refund.

The airline offered the waiver to those who would be traveling between July 18 and December 31 this year.

MAS has been bleeding money for the past few years but its fortunes worsened after its Boeing 777 flight MH370, carrying 239 people on board disappeared mid-flight to Beijing on March 8, while its second jumbo jet, flight MH17 was shot down over war-torn eastern Ukraine on July 17, killing all 298 people aboard.

Source:  The Malay Online

Can Malaysia Airlines Survive this New Tragedy?

The airline industry depends largely on inspiring confidence to its users, the cumulative impact of two disasters on which 537 people lost their lives in a period of five months is bleeding Malaysia Airlines.

No airline had previously suffered two consecutive losses of wide body aircraft, in this case two Boeing 777.
The tragic end of flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine last week adds to the loss of another flight, MH370, in March somewhere in the Indian Ocean.

Malaysia Airlines MH17 wreckage, hit by a missile over Ukraine.

Malaysia Airlines MH17 wreckage, hit by a missile over Ukraine.

The airline has suffered an extraordinary dose of bad luck. It is unclear how or why the first aircraft was lost, the MH370. In the second tragedy, the plane was on a route approved by the authorities when he was apparently hit by a missile.

Regardless of whether Malaysia Airlines had any guilt, for many potential users, the name of the firm has acquired a negative connotation.

And so it is not surprising that many customers are avoiding the Asian carrier, which according to analysts, loses about $ 1.7 million a day.

Speaking to the BBC, Mohshin Asiz, financial analyst at Maybank in Kuala Lumpur ensures that the obstacles faced by Malaysia Airlines are “insurmountable” without a significant injection of new money, ensures, that airline will survive not more than a year.

Experts speculate that the savior could come from the Malaysian government, which is already the majority investor in the airline, through its state investment fund Khazanah National.

But even if the airline got this new funding, it is not clear that is viable in the long term.
The market value of the firm has fallen over 40% in the last nine months.

The BBC asked Chris de Lavigne, consultant specialized firm Frost & Sullivan, what might be the options that remain with the airline.

“They can continue as they are, throwing more and more money to the airline, but I think that’s a viable long-term option,” he says.

“Secondly you can try something like what Japan Airlines did, to invoke protection laws bankruptcy and try to fix it from there.”

And thirdly they may attempt to privatize the airline, changing the name and image of the company, says Chris de Lavigne.

The expert believes that either option will be costly and complex.
Moreover, he warns, disasters that hit Malaysia Airlines have affected the rest of the aviation industry in the region.

“The lack of security, which is the number one concern of any airline, we will create problems for consumers”.

 

Capt. Ivan

Photos:

– Reuters

– Getty

Malaysia Airlines B777-200 Crash in Ukraine

A Malaysia Airlines B777-200, flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur with 280 passengers and 15 crew was enroute at FL330 50 NM northwest of Donetsk (Ukraine) when suddenly dissapeared from the air traffic control radar.

Latest reports indicate that the burning wreckage was discovered near the Ukrainian – Russian border. There were no survivors. A government agency declared that the aircraft has been shoot down. The investigation continues.

Malaysia Airlines has confirmed the accident.Malaysia Airlines have confirmed an incident, the aircraft did not enter Russian Airspace so far, about two hours after the estimated entry into the airspace. At 15:40Z Malaysia Airlines tweeted: “Malaysia Airlines has lost contact of MH17 from Amsterdam. The last known position was over Ukrainian airspace.

Capt. Ivan

Two Weeks after Malaysian Airlines B777 Disappearance, There is Only Frustration and Suspicions

Two weeks after the Malaysia Airlines B777-200/ER went missing with 239 people on board, officials are bracing for the “long haul” as searches by more than two dozen countries turn up little but frustration and fresh questions.

RAAF Pilot Flight Lieutenant Brett pilots a RAAF C-130J Hercules as it prepares to launch two Self Locating Data Marker Buoys in the southern Indian Ocean during the search for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370The international team hunting Flight MH370 in the remote southern Indian Ocean yielded no results on Friday, and Australia’s deputy prime minister said suspected debris there may have sunk.

Aircraft and ships have renewed the search in the Andaman Sea between India and Thailand going over areas that have already been exhaustively swept to find some clue to unlock one of the biggest mysteries in modern aviation.

Malaysian officials have been realistic about their ability to lead the operation with a global dynamic that some have said is beyond the country’s technical capabilities and expertise.

“This continues to be a multinational effort coordinated by Malaysia, involving dozens of countries from around the world,” Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said at a briefing on Friday.

Malaysia welcomed “all assistance to continue to follow all credible leads”, said Hishammuddin, who is also acting transport minister.

He said searchers were facing the “long haul” but were conscious that the clock was ticking. The plane’s “black box” voice and data recorder only transmits an electronic signal for about 30 days before its battery dies, after which it will be far more difficult to locate.

Investigators suspect the Boeing 777, which took off from Kuala Lumpur for Beijing shortly after midnight on March 8, was deliberately diverted thousands of miles from its scheduled path. They say they are focusing on hijacking or sabotage but have not ruled out technical problems. A Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion returns from a search for Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 over the Indian Ocean, at RAAF Base Pearce

The search itself has strained ties between China and Malaysia, with Beijing repeatedly leaning on the Southeast Asian nation to step up its hunt and do a better job at looking after the relatives of the Chinese passengers.

 

Hishammuddin has rejected complaints that the country has botched search efforts or refused to share vital information with other governments.

For families of the passengers, the process has proved to be an emotionally wrenching battle to elicit information, their angst fuelled by a steady stream of speculation and false leads.

In a Beijing hotel where the bulk of Chinese families have been awaiting information, the deadlock prompted rage over perceived Malaysian incompetence.

For a handful of Chinese families who chose to be flown to Kuala Lumpur to be closer to the heart of search operations, the flow of information has been no more fluid.

On Wednesday, grief erupted into anger when several family members unfurled a protest banner in front of a throng of journalists, demanding the truth from the Malaysian government. The ruckus prompted police to escort the relatives, including a distraught mother, away from the briefing room.

By Friday, the Chinese families who had been staying at a resort south of Kuala Lumpur had to decamp to another hotel as they were displaced by customers for the upcoming Malaysian Formula One grand prix.

“Tonight all the government could give us was old information. But of course we, the families, want to hear new updates,” Malaysian Hamid Ramlat, the father of a passenger, told reporters after emerging from a briefing on Thursday night.

Some experts have argued that the reluctance to share sensitive radar data and capabilities in a region fraught with suspicion amid China’s military rise and territorial disputes may have hampered the search.

Two people familiar with the investigation said the search had been slowed in some cases by delays over the paperwork needed to allow foreign maritime surveillance aircraft into territorial waters without a formal diplomatic request.

Source:  Reuters

Malaysia Airlines MH370 – 10 Big Questions

Every day brings new details and new questions surrounding the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, a Boeing 777 with 239 people aboard that went missing on March 8 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
Here are 10 questions surrounding what we know and what we don’t know:

1. What do we know about the pilots?
The pilot, Capt. Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53, has 18,365 flying hours. He joined the airline in 1981. For a veteran 777 pilot with Shah’s background, 18,000-plus total career hours in the air is normal.
Who were the men who flew Flight 370? Police search pilot’s home
Shah built a flight simulator in his home. It’s somewhat common among the worldwide community of aviation enthusiasts to use online flight simulator programs to replicate various situations. Simulators allow users to virtually experience scenarios in various aircraft.
Programs can simulate flight routes, landings and takeoffs from actual airports, but pilots say they cannot replace the experience gained from real flying.
Shah is married and has three children, the youngest of whom is in her 20s and lives with her parents. He and his wife have one grandchild.
First Officer Fariq Ab Hamid, 27, joined Malaysia Airlines in 2007. He has 2,763 flying hours and was transitioning from flight simulator training to the Boeing 777-200ER.
The amount of flight time Hamid has could be a bit low for a 777 pilot flying for an American airline, experts said. But the system of pilot advancement is often faster among airlines in smaller nations. Some airlines in these countries offer cadet programs that find talented and promising young pilot candidates and offer them intensive, specialized training, experts say.
Hamid lives with his parents and some of his four siblings, according to a neighbor. A source close to the investigation told CNN that Malaysian police searched Shah’s and Hamid’s homes Saturday.
Read more about the pilots

2. What do we know about communications to and from the plane?
Photos: The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 Photos: The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
More countries join Flight 370 search Timeline: Takeoff to satellite contacts
Key clues about the plane have come from developments surrounding data and voice communications. The plane is equipped with a standard voice communication radio and two other kinds of communication technology: transponders and the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System, known by the acronym ACARS.
The last known voice communication from the 777’s cockpit was these words: “All right, good night.”
We don’t know whose voice spoke the words, but they were uttered as the plane neared Vietnamese air traffic control airspace at about the same time the transponder was shut off, according to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Because of the vital information a transponder provides, it would be highly unlikely for a pilot to shut it off. Transponders are considered reliable, but they occasionally fail, which is why there is a backup transponder.
One way to hide a plane’s flight information from air traffic controllers would be to turn off the transponder. Experts give conflicting opinions about what the transponder shutoff could mean: One theory points to someone — perhaps a hijacker — wanting to hide the plane before changing course; another theory is the transponder could have stopped transmitting because of a catastrophic power failure.
A series of “handshakes” — or electronic connections — from the plane’s ACARS was transmitted to satellites for four to five hours after the transponder stopped sending signals, a senior U.S. official told CNN.
ACARS includes air traffic service communications. The automated system generally sends routine messages to the airline, such as when the aircraft lifts off or lands and how much fuel it may have, he said. It can also be used to communicate text messages, for instance when the aircraft encounters turbulence. ACARS typically beams down engine parameters, temperatures, the amount of fuel burned and any maintenance discrepancies.
According to Malaysia Airlines, all of its aircraft are equipped with ACARS. “Nevertheless, there were no distress calls, and no information was relayed,” the airline said.
The aircraft’s ACARS was sending pings more than five hours after the transponder last emitted a signal, an aviation industry source told CNN on Friday.
These pings don’t provide information about speed or altitude, but they do indicate the plane was intact for that long, since an aircraft has to be powered and have structural integrity for the ACARS to operate, the source said.
The pings were detected by satellites and were used, with radar and other data, to calculate where the plane might have traveled. A U.S. official, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity, said a satellite recorded electronic “handshakes” with the 777 that were later analyzed.
The information gleaned from this analysis — which the U.S. official described as “unprecedented” — supports the conclusion that the aircraft turned toward the west, away from the Gulf of Thailand and toward the Indian Ocean. Referring to the five- to six-hour range in which the plane may have flown after its transponder cut off, the same official said, “We believe we have the time of the loss of the airplane within an hour.”
But on Saturday, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib said that “based on new satellite communication, we can say with a high degree of certainty that … ACARS was disabled just before the aircraft reached the east coast of peninsular Malaysia.”
Snapshots of the passengers

3. Where could the plane be? What could have happened to it?
The mystery of Malaysia Air 370 Will mystery of Flight 370 be solved?
The evidence is growing that the plane flew for hours after losing contact with air traffic control.
Malaysia’s aviation authorities, with agreement from U.S. and British government experts, concluded the plane’s last communication with the satellite was in one of two possible corridors. One stretches from the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to northern Thailand; the other from Indonesia to the southern Indian Ocean.
The latest data and calculations provided by Malaysian officials show an arc of places the aircraft could have traveled. Because the northern reaches of the arc include some tightly guarded airspace over India, Pakistan and U.S. installations in Afghanistan, U.S. authorities believe it more likely the aircraft crashed south of India into waters outside the reach of radar, one U.S. official said.
Had it flown farther north, it would likely have been detected by radar, the official said.
A classified analysis of electronic and satellite data suggests Flight 370 likely crashed either in the Bay of Bengal or elsewhere in the Indian Ocean, CNN learned Friday.
The analysis, conducted by the United States and Malaysian governments, used radar data and satellite pings to calculate that the plane diverted to the west, across the Malay Peninsula, and then either flew in a northwest direction toward the Bay of Bengal or southwest into another part of the Indian Ocean. Malaysian military radar registered dramatic changes for Flight 370 in altitude and it cut an erratic path across Malaysia in what are some of the last known readings of its location, according to a senior U.S. official.
The same official, who is familiar with analysis of the data and declined to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the information, cautioned that this assessment is not definitive. The readings may not be wholly reliable because of the distance of the plane from the radars that detected it, the official said.
Tracking key moments

4. Couldn’t a pilot just ‘fly under the radar’?
Theoretically, yes. As a tool intended to keep track of what’s going on in the sky, radar doesn’t acquire data all the way to the ground.
Military pilots are trained to take advantage of this when they need to go undetected. But their aircraft are also equipped with terrain-evading radar and other features intended to help fighter and helicopter pilots hug the ground, said aviation consultant Keith Wolzinger of the Spectrum Group. Understandably, Boeing doesn’t offer those features on its commercial airliners.
“Airline pilots are not trained for radar avoidance,” said Wolzinger, himself a former 777 pilot. “We like to be on radar.”
Also, unlike military craft, civilian airliners don’t have gear to detect when they’ve been spotted on radar. So any efforts to fly undetected would be rudimentary.

5. Could the plane have landed somewhere?
One theory U.S. officials are considering, according to a Wall Street Journal report, is that someone might have taken the plane to be used for some other purpose later. So it’s theoretically possible that the plane could have landed at a remote, hidden airstrip.
There are some large holes in that theory. The 777 is a big plane. It requires, at minimum, nearly a mile to land. And, says CNN aviation correspondent Richard Quest, there’s the matter of getting it someplace without setting off alarm bells.
“You can’t just fly a 777 and not have a radar trace,” he said. One senior U.S. official, citing information Malaysia has shared with the United States, told CNN that “there is probably a significant likelihood” that the aircraft is on the floor of the Indian Ocean.
Hijacking theories

6. How likely is hijacking or terrorism in this situation?
Expert: My money is on hijacking
The CIA and FBI aren’t ruling it out, but authorities aren’t ruling out much at this point. It’s highly suspicious that the plane seems to have turned around. Those suspicions are further fueled by the loss of communications with the plane, considering the aircraft had “redundant electrical systems” that would have had to be disabled.
Robert Francis, former vice chairman of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, said his first thought upon hearing the circumstances of the flight’s mysterious disappearance was that it blew up, but even an explosion would not be proof of terrorism.
The two men who used stolen passports to board the plane were identified by Interpol as Iranians Pouri Nourmohammadi, 18, and Delavar Seyed Mohammad Reza, 29. Malaysian investigators say neither of them has any apparent connection to terrorist organizations.
Stolen passports don’t necessarily indicate terrorism. In fact, passengers flew without having their travel documents checked against Interpol’s lost-and-stolen passport database more than a billion times in 2013, according to the international police organization. Among the reasons someone might use a stolen passport: to emigrate to another country, to export goods without paying taxes or to smuggle stolen goods, people, drugs or weapons.
Opinion: Plane takeovers a dangerous reality

7. Could mechanical failure explain it?
Flight 370: Mechanical or sabotage?
It’s one of the possibilities, but less so since Najib said on Saturday that the plane’s movements “are consistent with deliberate action by someone on the plane.”
The absence of a debris field could suggest that the pilot might have made an emergency landing on water and the plane then sank intact, but there was no distress signal.
However, aviation consultant Kit Darby has said there might have been a power failure, and during the hour when he had backup power, the pilot was attempting to return to “the airports and a region he knows.” There’s also the possibility that the tail or a wing tore from the fuselage. This particular Boeing had suffered a clipped wingtip in the past, but Boeing repaired it.
Another possibility is that a window or door failed, which would cause the temperature inside the plane to drop to 60 degrees below zero, creating a freezing fog and giving crew members only seconds to don oxygen masks before becoming disoriented and then incapacitated.

8. What other theories and speculation have been offered?
Conspiracy theories on missing flight
Lithium batteries: Investigators are looking into the possibility that lithium batteries, which have been blamed in previous crashes, played a role in the disappearance, according to U.S. officials briefed on intelligence and law-enforcement developments. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
If lithium batteries were being carried in the cargo hold, they could have causes a crash-inducing fire. But that would not explain other anomalies, such as why the plane appears to have turned west. A pilot’s likely first instinct if lithium batteries were smoldering would have been to turn around and return to the airport of origin — not to fly an additional five hours, said Arthur Rosenberg, an aviation expert who is a pilot, engineer and partner in the New York-based law firm Soberman & Rosenberg.
Meteor: A meteor was reported in the area around the time Flight 370 took off, but this seems to be atop a list of strange theories popping up in the absence of empirical data explaining the plane’s disappearance. Given what little is known about the flight path, and the astronomical odds against such an event, a meteor strike seems like an ultralong-shot explanation.

9. What about reports that passengers’ cell phones continued operating after the flight’s disappearance?
When phones are disabled or turned off — which would presumably happen after a plane crash — calls to those cell phones go directly to voice mail. Friends and loved ones of the missing passengers, however, reported ringing when they called. Technology industry analyst Jeff Kagan says a call would connect first to a network before trying to find the end user, and the ringing sound callers hear masks the silence they would otherwise hear while waiting for the connection to be made.
“If it doesn’t find the phone after a few minutes, after a few rings, then typically, it disconnects, and that’s what’s happening,” he said.

10. Is this the first time a plane has vanished?
No. In 2009, Air France Flight 447 crashed in the South Atlantic between Rio de Janeiro and Paris during turbulent weather conditions. It took four searches and almost two years before the bulk of the wreckage and majority of bodies were recovered. The voice and data recorders weren’t found on the ocean floor until May 2011.

Source:  CNN

Photo:  CNN

 

NTSB Says there’s “conclusive” evidence Malaysian MH370 was hijacked by someone with “extensive flying xperience”

There are three pieces of evidence that aviation safety experts say make it clear the missing Malaysia Airlines jet was taken over by someone who was knowledgeable about how the plane worked.

TRANSPONDER

One clue is that the plane’s transponder — a signal system that identifies the plane to radar — was shut off about an hour into the flight.

In order to do that, someone in the cockpit would have to turn a knob with multiple selections to the off position while pressing down at the same time, said John Goglia, a former member of the National Transportation Safety Board. That’s something a pilot would know how to do, but it could also be learned by someone who researched the plane on the Internet, he said.

ACARS

Another clue is that part of the Boeing 777’s Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) was shut off.

The system, which has two parts, is used to send short messages via a satellite or VHF radio to the airline’s home base. The information part of the system was shut down, but not the transmission part. In most planes, the information part of the system can be shut down by hitting cockpit switches in sequence in order to get to a computer screen where an option must be selected using a keypad, said Goglia, an expert on aircraft maintenance.

That’s also something a pilot would know how to do, but that could also be discovered through research, he said.

But to turn off the other part of the ACARS, it would be necessary to go to an electronics bay beneath the cockpit. That’s something a pilot wouldn’t normally know how to do, Goglia said, and it wasn’t done in the case of the Malaysia plane. Thus, the ACARS transmitter continued to send out blips that were recorded by the Inmarsat satellite once an hour for four to five hours after the transponder was turned off. The blips don’t contain any messages or data, but the satellite can tell in a very broad way what region the blips are coming from and adjusts the angle of its antenna to be ready to receive message in case the ACARS sends them. Investigators are now trying to use data from the satellite to identify the region where the plane was when its last blip was sent.

GUIDED FLIGHT

The third indication is that that after the transponder was turned off and civilian radar lost track of the plane, Malaysian military radar was able to continue to track the plane as it turned west.

The plane was then tracked along a known flight route across the peninsula until it was several hundred miles (kilometers) offshore and beyond the range of military radar. Airliners normally fly from waypoint to waypoint where they can be seen by air traffic controllers who space them out so they don’t collide. These lanes in the sky aren’t straight lines. In order to follow that course, someone had to be guiding the plane, Goglia said.

Goglia said he is very skeptical of reports the plane was flying erratically while it was being tracked by military radar, including steep ascents to very high altitudes and then sudden, rapid descents. Without a transponder signal, the ability to track planes isn’t reliable at very high altitudes or with sudden shifts in altitude, he said.

Source: AP

Missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777, Presumed Crashed

A Malaysia Airlines flight carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew went missing off the Vietnamese coast on Saturday and was presumed to have crashed.

There were no reports of bad weather and no sign why the Boeing 777-200ER would have vanished from radar screens about an hour after it took off from Kuala Lumpur for Beijing. There were no signs of sabotage nor claims of a terrorist attack.image

However, in Europe, news reports and officials said at least two people on board may have been carrying stolen passports.

The Italian foreign ministry said in Rome that an Italian was listed on the flight’s manifest although no national from the country was on board.

The passenger list provided by the airline includes Luigi Maraldi, 37, an Italian citizen. Newspaper Corriere Della Sera reported that Maraldi’s passport was stolen in Thailand last August. The Italian Interior Ministry was unable to immediately comment on the report.

In Vienna, the Austrian foreign ministry said an Austrian listed among the passengers was safe and had reported his passport stolen two years ago while he was travelling in Thailand.

Asked for a possible explanation for the plane’s disappearance, Malaysia Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya told a news conference: “We are not ruling out any possibilities.”

By late on Saturday night, there were no confirmed signs of the plane or any wreckage, over 20 hours after it went missing. Operations will continue through the night, officials said.

Vietnam said its rescue planes had spotted two large oil slicks and a column of smoke off its coastline, but it was not clear if they were connected to the missing plane.

“We sent two maritime boats and some military boats there to clarify, each boat with about 20 people,” Pham Quy Tieu, vice minister of transportation, told Reuters by telephone on Saturday evening. “The oil spills are about 15km long. Those boats will be there in about three to four hours.”

A crash, if confirmed, would likely mark the U.S.-built airliner’s deadliest incident since entering service 19 years ago. And it would also mark the second fatal accident involving a Boeing 777 in less than a year.

An Asiana Airlines Boeing 777-200ER crash-landed in San Francisco in July 2013, killing three passengers and injuring more than 180.

Boeing said it was monitoring the situation but had no further comment.

MASSIVE SEARCH

A large number of planes and ships from several countries were scouring the area where the plane last made contact, about halfway between Malaysia and the southern tip of Vietnam.

“The search and rescue operations will continue as long as necessary,” Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak told reporters in Kuala Lumpur. He said 15 air force aircraft, six navy ships and three coast guard vessels had been pressed into service by Malaysia.

image

Vietnam dispatched two navy boats from Phu Quoc island and sent two jets and one helicopter from Ho Chi Minh City to search for the missing airliner. It was readying a further seven planes and nine boats to join the search effort.

Other than Vietnamese and Malaysian search operations, China and the Philippines have also sent ships to the region to help. The United States, the Philippines, and Singapore also dispatched military planes.

China has also put other ships and aircraft on standby, said Transport Minister Yang Chuantang.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters in Beijing that China was “extremely worried” about the fate of the plane and those on board.

Search and rescue vessels from the Malaysian maritime enforcement agency reached the area where the plane last made contact at about 4:30 p.m. local time (0830 GMT) but saw no sign of wreckage, a Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency told Reuters.

The 11-year-old Boeing, powered by Rolls-Royce Trent engines, took off at 12:40 a.m. (1640 GMT Friday) from Kuala Lumpur International Airport and was apparently flying in good weather conditions when it went missing without a distress call.

RELATIVES ANGRY

The disappearance of the plane is a chilling echo of an Air France flight that crashed into the South Atlantic on June 1, 2009, killing all 228 people on board. It vanished for hours and wreckage was found only two days later.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 last had contact with air traffic controllers 120 nautical miles off the east coast of the Malaysian town of Kota Bharu, Malaysia Airlines chief executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said in a statement.

Earlier on Saturday, the airline had said people from 14 nationalities were among the 227 passengers, including at least 152 Chinese, 38 Malaysians, seven Indonesians, six Australians, five Indians, four French and three Americans.

Flight tracking website flightaware.com showed the plane flew northeast over Malaysia after takeoff and climbed to an altitude of 35,000 feet. The flight vanished from the website’s tracking records a minute later while it was still climbing.

Chinese relatives of passengers angrily accused the airline of keeping them in the dark, while state media criticized the carrier’s poor response.

“There’s no one from the company here, we can’t find a single person. They’ve just shut us in this room and told us to wait,” said one middle-aged man at a hotel near Beijing airport where the relatives were taken.

“We want someone to show their face. They haven’t even given us the passenger list,” he said.

Another relative, trying to evade a throng of reporters, muttered: “They’re treating us worse than dogs.”

In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Airlines told passengers’ next of kin to come to the international airport with their passports to prepare to fly to the crash site, which has still not been identified.

About 20-30 families were being kept in a holding room at the airport, where they were being guarded by security officials and kept away from reporters.

Malaysia Airlines has one of the best safety records among full-service carriers in the Asia-Pacific region.

It identified the pilot of MH370 as Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, a 53-year-old Malaysian who joined the carrier in 1981 and has 18,365 hours of flight experience.

Source: Reuters

Photo Credits:  Reuters

 

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