MH370: Malaysia '99.9% sure' missing plane will be found
Despite new doubts about the fate of flight MH370, defence minister says missing plane will almost certainly be found
With the underwater search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 intensifying, the country's defence minister has said that he is "99 per cent sure" that the missing plane will be found.
Hishammuddin Hussein was speaking at the launch of the GO Phoenix, a ship equipped with a probe designed to scour the sea bed for signs of the lost Boeing 777.
"This is cutting-edge technology, he told Sky News. "My personal view based on experts' opinion [is] 99.9 per cent sure" that the plane will be found.
His comments come two weeks after British satellite company Inmarsat acknowledged that "significant uncertainty" remains about MH370's final flight path.
"The aircraft remained operational for at least seven hours after the loss of contact as the satellite terminal continued to transmit messages during this period," the company said, but analysis of the data could not conclusively determine the plane's final resting place.
Sir Tim Clark, the president and chief executive of Emirates, recently said that he was unsatisfied with the investigation into the fate of flight MH370.
"There hasn't been one overwater incident in the history of civil aviation – apart from Amelia Earhart in 1939 – that has not been at least 5 or 10 per cent trackable," he told Der Spiegel. "But MH370 has simply disappeared. For me, that raises a degree of suspicion. I'm totally dissatisfied with what has been coming out of all of this.
"Every single second of that flight needs to be examined up until it, theoretically, ended up in the Indian Ocean – for which they still haven't found a trace, not even a seat cushion."
He also questioned whether data exchanged between the aircraft and Inmarsat's satellite, which has been used to predict the aircraft's flight path, was reliable.
"We have not seen a single thing that suggests categorically that this aircraft is where they say it is," he said, "apart from this so-called electronic satellite 'handshake', which I question as well."
On Wednesday, Hishammuddin dismissed the suggestion that the search had been mishandled.
"All that could have been done to find the plane at this point has been done," he said.
A second ship, the Fugro Discovery, has now joined the underwater search for the remains of MH370 in a remote area of the southern Indian Ocean more than 1,000 miles west of Australia.
Flight MH370 went missing on 8 March with 239 people on board.
MH370: were Tony Abbott's black box claims 'reckless'?
Tony Abbott has come under pressure to explain why he expressed confidence that early pings detected in the search for the missing flight MH370 were from the plane's black box.
The Australian prime minister had received no official briefing from his department or the special search envoy before making the comments, according to a report from The Guardian.
Christine Milne, the leader of Australia's opposition Greens Party, questioned whether Abbott acted recklessly in making the statement. In a Senate hearing yesterday, she pressed him to explain where he had obtained his information.
Abbott's comments came in the weeks after the Malaysia Airlines plane disappeared on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board.
At a press conference in China, he said that the search area had been "very much narrowed" after acoustic noises, or pings, were detected. He added that he was "very confident" that the pings were coming from the plane's black box.
However, Angus Houston, head of the Australian team co-ordinating the search, released a statement on the same day to stress that there had been "no major breakthrough".
Scientists later condemned Abbott's announcement as premature and lacking in detailed analysis – and the area that Abbott was talking about was subsequently discounted as the final resting place of MH370.
Families of passengers on board told Sky News at the time that they felt "helpless" and "angry", and questioned where Abbott had got his evidence from.
Australia's Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC) last night said that Abbott had spoken without an official briefing from its staff, but insisted that he had been in constant discussion with the search team.
However, opposition leader Milne said that neither the Australian Maritime Safety Authority nor the Bureau of Transport and Safety had provided the advice to the prime minister.
"It was pretty reckless, surely, to go and make a statement like that if there's no detailed analysis at all of the substance," she told the Senate.
MH370: Indian Ocean crash theory in doubt
The fate of Malaysia Airlines' missing flight MH370 has been thrown into doubt once again after a British satellite company central to the search said that there was "significant uncertainty" about the final flight path of the Boeing 777.
As underwater searches for the aircraft continue in the southern Indian Ocean, Inmarsat – one of the companies whose analysis of satellite data has been critical to helping refine the investigation – has published a report on the data analysis techniques in the Journal of Navigation.
The report goes into "extraordinary detail" about the so-called "handshakes" between MH370 and satellite communication equipment prior to the plane's disappearance, News.com.au reports.
Through close analysis of the satellite data it is possible to deduce that "the aircraft remained operational for at least seven hours after the loss of contact as the satellite terminal continued to transmit messages during this period", but it is not possible to be certain about the plane's final resting place, Inmarsat concluded.
The main problem for analysts, the report said, is that the information they are working from cannot be refined significantly enough to confidently identify the plane's final resting place.
"A potential flight path has been reconstructed that is consistent with the satellite data ... but it is stressed that the sensitivity of the reconstructed flight path to frequency errors is such that there remains significant uncertainty in the final location," the report said.
The new report comes just two days after airline chief Sir Tim Clark, the head of Emirates, criticised the search for MH370 in Der Spiegel newspaper.
Clark, whose fleet has 127 aircraft identical to the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, said: "Our experience tells us that in water incidents, where the aircraft has gone down, there is always something. I am saying that all the 'facts' of this particular incident must be challenged and examined with a full transparency. We are nowhere near that."
He added: "There is plenty of information out there, which we need to be far more forthright, transparent and candid about. Every single second of that flight needs to be examined up until it theoretically ended up in the Indian Ocean – for which they still haven't found a trace, not even a seat cushion."
Flight MH370: official report claims plane 'spiralled' into sea
Missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 spiralled into the Indian Ocean as its fuel ran out, according to the first official account of the plane's final moments.
The report, by the Australian Transportation Safety Board, concludes that the Boeing 777's right-hand engine was likely to have cut out first, followed by the left engine.
"This scenario resulted in the aircraft entering a descending, spiralling, low bank angle left-hand turn and the aircraft entering the water a relatively short distance after the last engine flame out," said the report, which is based on months of flight simulations and complex mathematical models.
For the report, investigators assumed that the plane was flying on auto pilot at around 35,000ft and at a speed in excess of 460mph.
The conclusion will provide "fresh encouragement" that the plane is likely to be found close to where analysis of satellite communications suggests it hit the sea, about 1,120 miles off the west Australian coast, says The Times.
ATSB is coordinating the search for the missing plane and its 239 passengers and crew, who disappeared seven months ago on their way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. The first of three specialist ships contracted to search the sea-floor arrived in the search zone on Monday.
The official findings dispute theories that the aircraft glided hundreds of miles in an unknown direction after its engines stopped.
In an earlier report in June, ATSB said the most likely theory was that the passengers and crew, including the pilots, had been incapacitated by oxygen starvation early in the flight and that the plane flew for more than six hours as a ghost flight.
The board believes the aircraft descended along the so-called "seventh arc" – an area within which the plane is believed to have made its final satellite "handshake". However, the report has moved estimates of where the aircraft hit the water slightly to the south.
Flight MH370: officials optimistic missing plane will be found
The man leading the underwater search for flight MH370 has said he is "cautiously optimistic" that the missing plane will be found, as the next phase in the search operation began today in the southern Indian Ocean.
A ship contracted by the Malaysian government, the GO Phoenix, equipped with specialised sonar equipment, arrived in the area in which experts believe the missing plane went down.
Ananlysis of satellite data suggests that the Boeing 777, which disappeared on 8 March with 239 people on board, crashed into the ocean northwest of the Australian city of Perth.
Martin Dolan, chief commissioner of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, which is leading the underwater search, told the ABC that he was cautiously optimistic about finding the missing plane.
"Cautious because of all the technical and other challenges we've got," he said, "but optimistic because we're confident in the analysis. But it's just a very big area that we're looking at."
The previous search for the plane was halted four months ago to allow officials to conduct a massive underwater mapping exercise to survey the seabed using sonar devices.
The maps are regarded as essential to the search effort because the area being investigated is peppered with volcanoes, deep clefts and mountainous ridges. Such vast topographical features could damage the delicate equipment that will be dragged by the search team just 100 meters above the seabed.
"You can imagine if you're towing a device close to the seafloor, you want to know if you're about to run into a mountain," said Stuart Minchin, chief of the environmental geoscience division at Geoscience Australia.
Later this month, the GO Phoenix will be joined by two ships, the Equator and Discovery, sent by Dutch contractor Fugro, the BBC reports. Each ship will have a crew of 25 to 35 people who will work 24 hours a day for periods of up to 30 days at a stretch before returning to port to refuel and resupply.
"The most efficient way is to keep going," Dolan said. "But you have to be careful with the well-being of your crews, to be sure you're not pushing them too hard."
The operation is expected to last at least a year.
Flight MH370: search teams release images of 'mountainous' ocean floor
The Australian team leading the hunt for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has released new images of the "priority" search area that show deep clefts and huge ridges that on dry land would reach higher than the European Alps.
The search team is currently carrying out an extensive sonar survey of an area in the Southern Indian Ocean in which the plane is thought to have gone down. Three-dimensional images produced during the operation show remnants of ancient volcanoes, huge peaks and 1,400-metre trenches.
Richard Westcott, the BBC's transport correspondent, says that until now "there were better maps of Mars than of this bit of the sea floor".
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau, the agency leading the search, said in a statement that the underwater survey "has revealed many of these seabed features for the first time".
The new images underline the complexity of the search for flight MH370. Since the Boeing 777 disappeared on 8 March this year with 239 people on board, 26 countries have helped with the investigation but so far nothing has been found.
The 23,000-square-mile search area was determined through analysis of a series of so-called "hello" messages sent by MH370 and received by a satellite before the plane disappeared.
Experts say that mapping the key features of the priority search area is the first step of the underwater search phase of the operation, which is due to begin next month.
Flight MH370: six months on emotions run high
Relatives of the passengers on board Malaysia Airlines' missing flight MH370 have gathered at a Beijing temple to commemorate six-months since the disappearance of the plane.
But prayers soon turned into a demonstration, with relatives demanding answers and accountability from the airline as well as the Chinese and Malaysian governments. Police reportedly attempted to disperse people, sparking a confrontation.
"Where are our children?" one woman shouted. "Mum and dad are waiting for you!" said another.
"I think Malaysia Airlines and the Malaysian government are cheating people – and while the whole world is watching, nobody will tell us anything," Dai Shuqin told The Guardian, whose sister was on the plane.
Investigators are no closer to solving "the greatest aviation mystery in recent history," the paper says, six months after flight MH370 disappeared on March 8 with 239 people on board.
At the end of this month the Dutch company Fugro will begin the next phase of the search for the missing aircraft, with officials saying they still remain "cautiously optimistic" that that the missing plane will be found.
However, not everyone shares their confidence. "We need to remember … that it took two years to find Air France flight AF447, whose last position was known with much more precision," Daniel O'Malley from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau told the Sydney Morning Herald. "We're dealing with a much more challenging set of circumstances."
Relatives have been offered $50,000 in compensation from the airline but most have refused to accept it, according to Bian Liangwei, whose brother was on board the flight. "All we care about is getting back our relatives," said Bian. "Without any proof that they're dead, we can only assume they're still alive."
Malaysia Airlines in 'bucket list' gaffe after MH370 and MH17
Malaysia Airlines has been forced to rename a new "bucket list" competition condemned as "macabre" in the wake of the MH370 and MH17 disasters.
The beleaguered airline announced last week that it would give out 12 return tickets to Malaysia to its Australian and New Zealand customers as part of a promotion entitled "My Ultimate Bucket List".
Customers were asked to tell the airline which destinations were on their bucket list, a term often used to refer to the things someone wants to do before they die – or "kick the bucket".
Critics immediately attacked the airline for the tasteless marketing ploy. Time magazine called it "macabre" and "horrific" given that 537 people lost their lives flying on the airline this year, while even the Malaysian Insider admitted it "was not exactly the best choice of words".
All 298 people on flight MH17 died when the plane was shot down on the Russian-Ukraine border on 18 July and 239 people on flight MH370 are missing and believed dead after the plane disappeared on 8 March. MH370 inexplicably vanished on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Investigators believe it went down in the Indian Ocean but no trace of the aircraft has been found.
"Malaysia Airlines has withdrawn the title of a recent competition running in Australia and New Zealand, as it is found to be inappropriate at this point in time," a statement by the airline said today. "The competition had been earlier approved as it was themed around a common phrase that is used in both countries. The airline appreciates and respects the sentiments of the public and in no way did it intend to offend any parties."
The contest has now been renamed "Win an iPad or Malaysia Airlines flight to Malaysia", with entrants invited to share their "life's ultimate to-do list".
More about Flight MH370:
Ghost flight theory 'most likely' explanationPilot had rehearsed landing on island runwayMystery cargo continues to raise questionsRelatives to offer $3m reward for informationBook claims missing plane was shot downFlight MH370: flight path suggests plane went 'rogue'Former PM accuses Malaysia of cover-up Plane 'has crashed with no survivors' Pilot of missing plane deleted simulator data'Deliberate action' diverted Malaysian airlinerPhantom phone calls cause upset for families ·