MH370: Details of who was on missing plane are being withheld, says airline chief
Sir Tim Clark also raises doubts about the role of the Malaysian military on the night flight MH370 went missing
A senior airline executive has said that he believes information about who was on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is being withheld and called into question the role of the Malaysian military the night that the plane went missing.
Sir Tim Clark, chief executive of Emirates, also dismissed the theory that one of the pilots had deliberated crashed the Boeing 777. A suicidal pilot would have dived straight into the sea, he said, rather than performing the complex procedure that would disable the aircraft's navigation beacons.
"That requires you to leave the flight deck and go down through a trap door in the floor," he said. "But somehow this thing was disabled so much so that the ground tracking capability was eliminated."
In it he suggested that people involved in the investigation into flight MH370, which disappeared on 8 March with 239 people on board, are concealing information about who was on the plane.
"We need to know who was on this aeroplane in the detail that obviously some people do know," he said, and "we need to know what was in the hold of the aeroplane, in the detail we need to know, in a transparent manner.
"I think we will know more if there is full transparency of everything that everybody knows. I do not believe that the information held by some is on the table,"
Clark also questions why the Malaysian military allowed the aircraft to proceed unhindered on its unusual course.
"This is a very busy part of Southeast Asia, the notion that we should not be able to identify if it is friend or foe, or we can on primary radar and do nothing about it, is bizarre," he said. "What would have happened if the aircraft would have turned back to fly into the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur?
In excerpts of the interview previously published by Der Spiegel, Clark questioned whether flight MH370 had even ended up in the southern Indian Ocean, where search teams are now scouring the ocean floor for the aircraft's wreckage.
"We have not seen a single thing that suggests categorically that this aircraft is where they say it is, nothing, apart from this 'handshake', which calls my electronic engineers to start thinking 'what is all this about?'."
The "handshake" refers to a weak electronic signal believed to have come from flight MH370, although Clark says it may have come from another source.
In an article he wrote for the Wall Street Journal in May, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, said criticism of his government was misplaced.
"Without physical evidence, or a clear explanation for why this happened, peoples' attention has naturally focused on the authorities – and Malaysia has borne the brunt of the criticism," he wrote.
"In the passage of time, I believe Malaysia will be credited for doing its best under near-impossible circumstances."
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Malaysia Airlines "could not comment on whether pilots were trained to disable Acars or how many people on board the flight would have known how to stop the system, as the matter was under investigation".
MH370 debris 'will start washing up in Indonesia'
Wreckage from flight MH370 will soon start appearing on Indonesian beaches, according to the man co-ordinating the search for the missing plane.
"We've had many people handing things into the local police," said Peter Foley of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau. "We send it off to Boeing and they identify it, but as yet we haven't positively identified anything from the aircraft."
In the nine months since MH370 vanished en route from Kuala Lumpur to Bejing, no trace of the aircraft has been found – but Foley remains optimistic.
"Something is going to wash up somewhere on the beach, most probably in Sumatra," he said. "Things in the ocean take a long time to come ashore."
According to the Daily Mirror, the search for the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 employs 180 people. It is believed that 239 people died on board the aircraft, although no body has ever been found.
"Two vessels are still working around the clock using 'side-scanning' sonar equipment," the Mirror reports. "Crews of up to 40-people man the ships working in shifts to ensure the search never pauses."
MH370: video explains why missing plane has not been found
International investigators searching for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 have released a video blaming rough conditions, a remote location and deep water for the slow progress in finding the missing plane.
The four-minute video, posted by the Joint Agency Coordination Centre on YouTube, gives an overview of the search, explaining how experts identified the area in which the missing plane, a Boeing 777, is most likely to have gone down, what equipment is being used in the search and the most significant challenges they have encountered so far.
According to the government-funded video: "Searching for MH370 is a complicated task. The search area is a long way from land, the water is very deep and the seafloor is largely uncharted."
It adds: "To help find the missing aircraft a bathometric survey of the seafloor was carried out, followed by a detailed underwater search using submersible vehicles fitted with sonar systems which will be used to detect the aircraft."
The area being investigated is described as "a thin long line that identifies all the possible points the last communication between the aircraft and the communication satellite could have taken place".
Some locations under investigation lie four miles below the surface. According to the video "daylight can only penetrate in some areas" and on the "deep sea floor there is no sunlight, which makes has made progress in the search slow.
Last week, a senior Malaysia Airlines official, Hugh Dunleavy, appeared to suggest that the search for MH370 could be abandoned by the end of the year and the missing plane officially declared "lost", the Daily Mail reports.
But the JACC video seems to suggest that the investigation will not conclude any time soon: "The governments of Australia, Malaysia and the People's Republic of China will all continue to provide information and support as the search continues," the video concludes.
Families of missing MH370 passengers were left "shocked and confused" after a Malaysia Airlines official suggested the plane could be declared "lost" by the end of this year, raising fears that search efforts in the Indian Ocean could be called off.
The airline's commercial director Hugh Dunleavy allegedly told the New Zealand Herald that the Australian and Malaysian governments were trying to set a date to formally announce the loss of MH370 and that this was likely to be set by the end of the year.
"We don't have a final date but once we've had an official loss recorded we can work with the next of kin on the full compensation payments for those families," he is quoted as saying.
This raised fears that the huge undersea search for the missing plane would be terminated.
Voice 370, an association set up for families of those on board the aircraft, said relatives had been left "shocked and confused" by Dunleavy's "astounding" comments, especially since the second phase of the search had only just begun.
"Such [a] unilateral declaration brings intense agony and confusions to family members and makes us lose faith in the search effort," it said.
Malaysia Airlines has since issued a statement to say the comments were Dunleavy's "personal opinion". The only official updates would be coming from the Australia-based Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC), it said.
JACC has acknowledged that Dunleavy's comments were "greatly disturbing" for the families and loved ones of the passengers and crew.
"Australia continues to lead the search for MH370 on behalf of Malaysia and remains committed to providing all necessary assistance in the search for the aircraft," it said. "We owe this to the families of those on board MH370."
The Malaysia Airlines plane disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on 8 March with 239 people on board. The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has only recently signed a multimillion dollar contract to search a large swathe of the southern Indian Ocean.
Voice 370 said JACC has assured families that all possible efforts will be exhausted before the search is called off.
More about Flight MH370:
MH370: Indian Ocean crash theory in doubtFlight MH370: official report claims plane 'spiralled' into seaGhost 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 ·