Flight MH370: probe lost after collision with undersea volcano

Jan 25, 2016

Sonar vehicle breaks free on bottom of Indian Ocean during search for missing airliner

The search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has hit a snag: an underwater sonar probe has been lost on the floor of the Indian Ocean.

The deep-water "towfish" was being towed by the Furgo Discovery on Sunday when it collided with an underwater mud volcano rising 1.3 miles from the sea floor.

Together with the 2.7 miles of cable that attached it to the ship, the unit, which was fitted with survey instruments, is now on the bottom of the ocean, although it is hoped it will be possible to recover it, says the Daily Telegraph.

The Furgo Discovery is currently making its way back to the west Australian port of Fremantle so a replacement cable can be fitted. It  is expected to reach port on Saturday.

MH370 vanished with 239 people on board on 8 March 2014, while on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Last July, a six-feet piece of the plane's wing was washed up on Reunion island in the Indian Ocean.

A second barnacle-encrusted piece of metal was found on the Thai coast this weekend, but ocean modelling suggests it is unlikely to be part of the missing Boeing-777, says The Guardian.

Meanwhile, earlier this month, the Australian team searching for M370 identified the previously unknown wreck of a 19th century ship, the second antique shipwreck uncovered during the search so far.

MH370: relatives say missing loved ones are still alive

8 January 

Relatives of the 154 Chinese and Taiwanese passengers on board the missing Malaysian Airlines MH370 flight say their families are being held against their will at an undisclosed location.

They added that they were willing to absolve the captors if they released their relatives.

"We believe our loved ones may still be alive and are being held at an undisclosed location for unknown reasons," said the group in a statement issued in Kuala Lumpur.

"In the absence of proof to the contrary, we believe it is possible the missing may still be alive.

"If this is so, we would willingly grant to the perpetrators amnesty in return for the release of the missing."

The plane disappeared on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in March 2014, carrying 239 people. Families of the 154 Chinese and Taiwanese passengers have rejected official statements about the aircraft's fate. They also dismissed the discovery of a jet-wing part that washed up on the Indian Ocean island of Reunion last July.

French officials confirmed that the part belonged to MH370, suggesting that the plane had broken up as it crashed into the southern Indian Ocean.

However, the families said: "We do not believe any of the series of official statements starting from 24 March 2014 up to and including that of 3 September 2015. There is no real proof justifying any of these statements."

Their comments came as Australia's Joint Agency Coordination Centre said its search for the plane in a 120,000 square kilometre area in the Indian Ocean was likely to finish in mid-2016.

"Three vessels – Fugro Discovery, Fugro Equator and Havila Harmony – are currently deployed for the underwater search. As at January 2016, more than 80,000 square kilometres had been searched," it said.

MH370: new analysis supports engine 'flame-out' theory

3 December

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is likely to have suffered an engine "flame-out" rather than a controlled ditching, according to new analysis conducted by the Australian Defence Science and Technology Group (DST).

The plane disappeared in March 2014 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board.

A report from DST, released today, said the most likely scenario was that the plane's right engine flamed out, followed by the left engine, causing it to crash into the Indian Ocean.

"Given the amount of fuel uplifted in Kuala Lumpur and historic fuel burn data for each engine, it is estimated that the left engine could have continued to run for up to 15 minutes after the right engine flamed out," said the report.

It added that it would be reasonable to assume the engine flame-out triggered a back-up power unit, which would have restored power to the satellite data unit and sent the last transmissions from the flight, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

The analysis contradicts the theory put forward by some industry observers, including Captain Simon Hardy, who believe the pilot made a controlled ditch after flying for several hours.

They believe this would provide a logical reason why no wreckage was found on the ocean's surface: the only physical evidence of the crash so far has been a flaperon that washed up on a beach at Reunion Island near Madagascar.

Australian officials have said they are confident that they are searching in the right area. The new data analysis showed that the plane is "probably in the southern end of the Indian Ocean search zone, where the operation will now be focused", reports the BBC.

The search team has been combing a 120,000 sq km area of seabed about 2,000km off the coast of Perth.

MH370: British pilot claims plane could be found in 'weeks'

24 November

A British pilot believes the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 could be found "in a matter of weeks" after the deep sea hunt for the plane shifted to a remote part of the Indian Ocean.

Following extensive analysis, Simon Hardy claims the area, which will be searched next month by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), is the missing plane's most likely resting place.

The experienced Boeing 777 pilot told The Australian newspaper: "I am fairly confident that the wreckage will be found within the next four to eight weeks."

However, Australian authorities stressed they were not being guided by Hardy's analysis. Martin Dolan, ATSB's chief commissioner, said the location had been chosen because the southern hemisphere weather had made the extreme conditions in the southern ocean calmer.

Hardy spent six months analysing known MH370 data and concluded that the plane was intentionally landed on the Indian Ocean and sank intact just 20 nautical miles (37km) outside an area that was being searched in April this year. The ATSB described his theory as "credible" at the time.

He suggested that MH370's captain, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, who comes from Penang, performed a U-turn after turning off the flight's transponder.

After flying along the border between Malaysia and Thailand, the aircraft reached Penang and made three turns in quick succession.

"It took me months to work out what this was," Hardy told The Sunday Times. "The clue was Ayers Rock [in Australia]. I have done the same manoeuvre there, to look down and get a great view. Somebody was taking a last emotional look at Penang."

China, which lost 153 citizens in the air disaster on 8 March 2014, has also pledged an additional £9.5m to help with the search.

In July, a wing part known as the flaperon washed up on Reunion Island. Experts said that the debris almost certainly came from the missing Malaysia Airlines flight, but nothing further was found and that stage of the search was subsequently called off.

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