In Brief

MH370: mysterious 89kg load ‘added to cargo flight list after take-off’

Discovery by French investigators fuel theories that plane was hijacked by stowaway

MH370: experts believe pilot ‘deliberately’ crashed plane

14 May

Aviation experts examining the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 believe the pilot may have crashed the plane on purpose after deliberately avoiding detection on radar.

According to a panel assembled for Australian TV programme 60 Minutes, the 239 passengers of MH370, which disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in 2014, were the victims of a “criminal” act of murder-suicide carried out by the plane’s captain, Zaharie Ahmad Shah.

The experts, who include former Australia Transport Safety Bureau boss Martin Dolan, say that evidence indicates Shah executed a series of manoeuvres to evade radar detection and ensure the plane disappeared in a remote location, The Sun reports.

They all agreed the likelihood of the disappearance being an accident was “one in a trillion”, accusing Shah of “deliberately” downing the plane.

According to Simon Hardy, a senior Boeing 777 pilot and instructor, Shah avoided detection by Malaysian and Thai military radar by flying along the border, crossing in and out of each country’s airspace. It was while on the border that the plane’s transponder suddenly turned off, something that could be done manually by the pilot.

“As the aircraft went across Thailand and Malaysia, it runs down the border, which is wiggling underneath, meaning it’s going in and out of those two countries, which is where their jurisdictions are,” Hardy told the programme.

“So both of the controllers aren’t bothered about this mysterious aircraft. Because it’s, ‘Oh, it’s gone. It’s not in our space any more.’”

Hardy believes that Shah took an unusual flight path in order to pass directly over his hometown of Penang, Malaysia, for an “emotional goodbye”, before ditching it in the Southern Indian Ocean “where it could never be found”.

MH370: $70m gamble backfires as search comes up empty

2 May

A $70m gamble by a private seabed exploration firm to find Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 looks to have backfired as the search nears its conclusion with no sign of the missing plane.

The fate of MH370 has become one of aviations greatest mysteries and spawned countless conspiracy theories since it disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in March 2014 with 239 people on board.

An international search effort, which lasted over three years and cost in excess of £144m, was finally called off early last year, but following pressure from relatives, in January the Malaysian government signed a 90-day $70m “no find, no fee” deal with Texas-based Ocean Infinity to resume the hunt for the plane.

At the time, officials said there was an 85% chance of finding the debris in a 25,000 sq km (9,650sq mile) search area identified by experts as the most likely resting place of the plane.

Yet four months and nearly 80,000 sq km later, Ocean Infinity has yet to find any sign of the plane.

It is worrying news for the families of those who disappeared on the flight who are desperate to know what happened to their loved ones, but also for the US firm who “were so confident of success they agreed they would only be paid if the missing aircraft was found”, says News.com.au.

Now it looks like its $70m gamble has failed to pay off.

Under its contract with the Malaysian government, Ocean Infinity has 90 days – not including rest stops – to find the plane and, most importantly, its black box. “The company will only be paid if it finds the plane, with the fee rising the longer the operation takes”, says The Guardian.

In a noticeably downbeat statement, Ocean Infinity’s chief executive Oliver Plunkett said it was “disappointing” the search had failed to find any sign of MH370, but added “there was still some search time remaining” and stressed that everyone at the company “remains absolutely determined for the remainder of the search”.

Currently refuelling in Freemantle, Western Australia, before heading out for its final outing, “Ocean Infinity is likely to end its operation before mid-June, as the southern hemisphere's winter could make the conditions at sea too dangerous for the search to continue”, says the Daily Express.

The Malaysian government has also confirmed that the search will end in mid-June meaning, unless a breakthrough is made in the next month, the fate of MH370 will most likely remain a mystery forever.

Missing plane ‘found’ using Google Earth and ‘riddled with bullet holes’

13 March

An Australian engineer claims to have found the wreckage of the missing Malaysian Airways flight MH370 while looking on Google Earth.

MH370 disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board in March 2014. It led to one of the biggest and most expensive seabed searches in history but four years on it remains one of aviation’s greatest ever mysteries and has spawned countless conspiracy theories.

In January 2017, a joint multinational search between Malaysia, China and Australia which cost more than £115 million was called off. Following pressure from relatives, in January this year the Malaysian government hired private seabed exploration firm Ocean Infinity for one final 90-day $70 million (£50m) ‘no find, no fee’ search mission over a 25,000 sq/km area identified as the most likely resting place for the aircraft.

Yet despite the cost of the search now running into hundreds of millions of dollars, an amateur crash investigator insists he has discovered the location of the missing aircraft, miles away from the main search area.

Peter McMahon, who claims to have worked in crash investigations for more than 25 years, says he has used Google Maps and Nasa images to locate the aircraft 10 miles south of small islet Round Island, near Mauritius, “an area which was not included in the search operation by experts” says The Metro.

One image released to the press appears to show the outline of a plane underneath the water, while another apparently details the front part of the cabin south of Rodrigues Island, also near Mauritius.

Debris was found by volunteers clearing a beach in St Andre, Reunion in 2015 and Australia released satellite imagery in 2017 showing 12 objects floating near the suspected crash site, reports The Sun.

McMahon says he has sent his findings to the Australian Transport and Safety Bureau, which confirmed it could be the missing craft.

However, the Daily Star says US officials have reportedly instructed Ocean Infinity to stick to their assigned area of the Indian Ocean.

This has fuelled conspiracy theories, with McMahon telling the Star Online it proved there was a government led-cover-up to make sure the plane was never found.

“Four Americans were sent to Australia to oversee the findings of MH370. They have made sure that all information received has been hidden from the public, even our government – but why?” he asks.

McMahon says authorities “do not want it found as it’s full of bullet holes, finding it will only open another inquiry”.

The theory that the plane was shot down either on purpose or accidentally has become one of the most popular conspiracies to emerge surrounding the disappearance of the plane.

Ghyslain Wattrelos, who lost his wife and two children in the crash, says he believes Vietnam, Malayia and Thailand could be withholding vital information.

Speaking to the Star, he said: “All the military from these countries have seen the plane, if we believe that version. Why are they silent? There is something we do not want to say in this story.”

MH370 four years on: report release ‘suspended’ stoking conspiracy theories  

8 March

A full report into missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 will be held back if the plane is found, Malaysian investigators have said, stoking fears of a cover-up.

Four years to the day since the plane disappeared over the Indian Ocean with 239 people on board, and the fate of MH370 remains one of the world's greatest aviation mysteries.

CNBC says the release of a full report into MH370's disappearance has been “suspended” pending the outcome of a new search by private US-based seabed exploration firm Ocean Infinity.

In their annual interim statement sent to families of those aboard the plane, Malaysian investigators said this was because any new evidence uncovered is “likely to significantly affect the investigation” and “in the event that the aircraft is found, the team will conduct further investigations”.

But this has led to accusations the government may be attempting a cover-up by failing to disclose the full findings to the public.

In their first official statement to the media since beginning the hunt just over a month ago, two Malaysian navy officers seconded to the search, said they “remain optimistic” of finding the plane and were “doing their utmost”, even as the search was slowed by bad weather and tricky underwater terrain.

Azmi Rosedee and Adbul Halim Ahmad Nordin told the New Straits Times: “We have gone through a number of rough days. Operations continue even when the sea is rough … but it makes it difficult for us to deploy and recover the AUVs [search vehicles]. This slows us down”.

Both officers send daily updates back to Kuala Lumpur on the search’s progress, and “these have revealed the struggles of the Norwegian search ship while enduring massive seas including 15m waves”, says News.com.au.

Last month the Australian Broadcasting Corporation revealed that the presence of Malaysian military on board the Seabed Constructor search vessel had sparked a “power struggle”, “with concerns the Malaysian government wanted stricter oversight and military control over the search” reports The Guardian.

On Thursday the Malaysian navy chief, Admiral Tan Sri Ahmad Kamarulzaman Ahmad Badaruddin, defended the presence of the naval officers on board the privately owned vessel.

“Since the cost of this search will be borne by the government, it is necessary to have our representatives on board to observe the operation” he said.

He also said the two officers would be his “eyes and ears” and would ensure that the search was carried out smoothly.

More than half of the 25,000 sq/km search area, identified as the “likely” resting place of the missing plane, has already been covered by Ocean Infinity.

Officials initially put the chance of the finding the plane at 85% but as the search has worn on there are growing fears the aircraft will never be found, leaving many questions unanswered and the victims’ families in limbo.

Hopes fade as relatives mark fourth anniversary

5 March

As the relatives of those who went missing on board Malaysian Airways flight MH370 prepare to mark the fourth anniversary of the plane’s disappearance, hope that one of aviation’s greatest ever mysteries will ever be solved is hanging by a thread.

The latest search for the missing plane by a private US seabed exploration firm offers the last realistic chance to find answers, but is set to conclude by June, a Malaysian official has said.

In January, the Malaysian government singed a 90-day $70 million “no find, no fee” deal with Texas-based Ocean Infinity to resume the hunt for the plane, following pressure from relatives.

The fate of MH370 has become one of aviation’s greatest mysteries and sparked one of the largest and most expensive search missions in history, not to mention a host of conspiracy theories.

The plane vanished on 8 March, 2014, while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board.

An international search effort took over three years and cost in excess of £144 million, but was finally called off in January last year.

Officials have said there is an 85% chance of finding the debris in a new 25,000 sq km (9,650sq mile) search area identified by experts, however time is running out.

Malaysia’s civil aviation chief, Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, said the 90-day term will be spread over a longer period because Ocean Infinity’s search vessel, the Seabed Constructor, has to refuel in Australia and bad weather could be a factor.

“The whole world, including the next of kin, have [new] hope to find the plane for closure,” Rahman told reporters. “For the aviation world, we want to know what exactly happened to the plane.”

Family members gathered in Malaysia on Saturday to mark the fourth anniversary of the plane's disappearance and observe a moment’s silence for loved ones, but “most are split over whether the search will be fruitful” says the Associated Press.

Speaking to the news agency, Jiang Hui of China, whose mother was on board the plane, said he was grateful for Ocean Infinity’s willingness to mount the search, and that he hoped it would not be the end if the mission failed. He proposed a public fund be set up to continue the search.

“Without a search, there will be no truth,” he said.

Search ship goes missing fuelling new conspiracy theories

6 February

The search for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 has taken another bizarre turn after the vessel searching for the plane disappeared for three days.

Ocean Infinity, which has leased the Seabed Constructor search ship, has signed a $55 million (£40 million) 90-day “no find, no fee” deal with the Malaysian government to look for the missing plane, which vanished en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur in March 2014 with 239 people on board.

Yet just ten days into its search, the multi-million dollar vessel, which is fitted with a sophisticated Automatic Identification System (AIS) went offline after turning off its tracker.

It finally reconnected on Sunday after 80 hours of undocumented travel “but the reason for its disconnection remains unclear, with its whereabouts during this period undocumented”, says The Sun.

The disabling of the search vessel's AIS transmission has stoked conspiracy theories and led to comparisons with MH370, which disappeared after its communication systems were switched off an hour after taking off.

Ocean Infinity’s progress is being closely monitored by aviation enthusiasts, search experts and conspiracy theorist alike so its disappearance has been widely reported and caused massive speculation as to its fate.

Some suggested it had found the wreckage of the plane but had turned off its location tracking system until it had confirmed its fee from the Malaysian government. Others claimed it had failed to find the missing plane and instead detoured towards the wreckage of what is believed to be the S.V. Inca - a Peruvian transport ship that vanished on the way to Sydney more than 100 years ago.

So far neither Ocean Infinity or the Malaysian government have explained the outage, or where the ship travelled in those three days.

This has led to criticism of the way the Texas-based private company is conducting the search.

Families of the victims have called for greater transparency over the ship’s temporary disappearance, and the wider search in general.

Speaking for the victims’ relatives, KS Narendran told The Guardian: “I found the development quite odd, and worrying. If this silence and becoming invisible was intentional, to ward off suspicion, a satisfactory explanation is due. If it was for other reasons, then in the interests of transparency, we ought to be told what caused it”.

“There are no journalists and no family members on board the search ship. I wish there were some ... We watch on in good faith. I hope ongoing official disclosure is of such a high order that there is little room for speculation, controversy or a whiff of conspiracy.”

Yet there could be a more prosaic excuse for the three-day black out says Kevin Rupp, a precision machinist who has been publicly tracking Seabed Constructor.

“If the ship detected possible contacts [with MH370] its most likely action would be to move to the spot of the detections and lower an ROV – a tethered remote-controlled small vehicle,” he said.

“To do this, Seabed Constructor would have to sit still in one place for a long period of time and this would be very noticeable to those of us watching through our AIS tracking apps ... I believe they may have turned the AIS transmitter to low power mode to prevent us from speculating that they had found something and causing undue distress for the next of kin.”

However, “with little to no information coming from the ship, it remains unclear what, if anything, it has found” says the Daily Mail.

The fate of MH370 has become one of aviation’s greatest mysteries and sparked one of the largest and most expensive search missions in history, taking over three years and costing in excess of £144 million.

Bodies likely ‘perfectly preserved in time capsule’

29 January

The bodies of those aboard missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 will most likely be perfectly preserved “like a time capsule” when they are found, a US oceanographer and salvage expert has claimed.

Dr David Gallo, who led the search for Air France 447 which went down in the Atlantic Ocean in 2009, killing all 228 people on board, says due to the depth, temperature and stillness of the southern Indian Ocean where the plane is believed to have crashed, the passengers corpses will not have deteriorated.

“It's just like a crime scene… an underwater crime scene” Gallo told the Daily Star, adding that if the bodies are preserved they could offer vital clues as to why the aircraft went down.

Citing his experience on the Air France salvage mission, he said that even if the plane had been ripped to pieces upon hitting the ocean, the bodies would still be intact.

"In some places bodies don't last very long at all, and even the sea water dissolves bones so that there's nothing that remains”, he said. But in the case of Air France, “there were bodies that were, in a way, preserved. Normal processes of decomposition don't happen”.

The fate of MH370, which vanished with 239 people on board en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in March 2014, has become one of the world’s greatest aviation mysteries and spawned a host of conspiracy theories.

However, the revelation that people’s loved ones could be resting fully preserved at the bottom of the ocean has given extra impetus to find the missing aircraft.

Ocean Infinity, a private seabed exploration firm, has begun a 90-day ‘no cure, no fee’ search for the plane, focusing on a 25,000 sq/mile area of sea identified as the most likely location for the wreckage.

On Saturday, Sky News revealed that a London-based hedge fund millionaire was financing the search. The broadcaster has learnt that Anthony Clake, an executive at Marshall Wace Asset Management, is the key figure behind the Texas-based company.

Clake, who ‎oversees billions of pounds of clients' money at Marshall Wace, is understood to have invested in Ocean Infinity after being impressed by its advanced technology, although his involvement ‎in the hunt for the missing aircraft is restricted to a financing role, and he has no day-to-day role in the operation.

Ocean Infinity could receive as much as $70 million if they find the plane and recover its cockpit recorder, with shareholders footing the bill if the company returns empty-handed.

Race against time as search resumes

22 January

The search for the missing Malaysian Airways flight MH370 is set resume today, but aviation and recovery experts remain divided as to the chances of success.

US-based seabed exploration firm Ocean Infinity has agreed a $70 million (£51 million) “no cure, no fee” deal with the Malaysian government to search for the wreckage. They will focus on a 25,000 sq/km area in the Indian Ocean identified the Australian Transportation Safety Board (ATSB) as the most likely resting place for the plane.

Malaysian authorities have placed a 90-day time limit on the search and prioritised recovering the plane’s black box and cockpit voice recorder.

Ocean Infinity plans to concurrently deploy a series of multi-sensor, untethered autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) which will report back to the host ship, Seabed Constructor.

The 378-foot vessel departed Durban, South Africa last week with 65 crew members from Ocean Infinity, two Malaysian Navy officials and eight AUVs armed with cameras and sensors, and has arrived at the search area. Among the crew are two experts who were involved it the successful search for Air France Flight 447, which crashed in the Atlantic Ocean in 2009, killing 288 people on board.

Each AUV can search 460 sq/miles per day at depths up to nearly 20,000 feet, 10 times the rate achieved by the previous search and nearly 5,000 feet deeper.

The Seabed Constructor is due to remain at sea for three weeks at a time before returning to Perth to refuel and refresh the crew.

Oliver Plunkett, CEO of Ocean Infinity said: “Whilst there can be no guarantees of locating the aircraft, we believe our system of multiple autonomous vehicles working simultaneously is well suited to the task at hand”.

Announcing the deal at the beginning of January, Malaysia’s Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said there was an 85% chance of finding debris in the new search area.

Don Thompson, a member of The Independent Group of volunteer engineers and scientists who have advised the authorities investigating the disappearance, said he thinks that the new search has “at least a 70% chance” of finding the wreckage. The chances increase the farther north that the search extends, he told AIN.

However, others are less confident. University of Kuala Lumpur test pilot Prof Dr Mohd Harridon Mohamed Suffian said interpreting sonar data and translating it into credible 3D images that can be used to identify debris will be the primary challenge for the Seabed Constructor vessel, while bad weather could also hamper the search.

“It is a race against time because a window of more moderate weather that makes a search possible closes by the end of April” says the Daily Beast.

Ahmad Maulan Bardai, a researcher at a local airline, told The Sun Daily that after almost four years, any wreckage would have been buried deeper by other seabed debris and components and might not be found.

Even then, “it is unclear how much investigators could learn in the event Ocean Infinity finds the jet” says ABC News.

Even if the black box is retrieved and still functioning after years at the bottom of some of the world’s deepest oceans, the cockpit voice recorder operates on a loop and the mysterious early moments of the flight would most likely have been erased.

“One key question however may be answered upon discovery of the cockpit,” says ABC: “who was in control during the plane's final moments?”

Malaysian Airways flight MH370 disappeared in March 2014 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board and has since become one of the greatest mysteries in aviation history, spawning countless conspiracy theories.

The latest hypothesis suggests the plane may have been ditched in the Indian Ocean by the pilot, who flew the aircraft right until the very end.

According to reports in The Australian, lead air crash investigator Captain John Cox believes evidence from the recovered wing flaps suggests the doomed plane was dumped intentionally.

“Based on that analysis I think it is likely, possibly highly likely, that there was an attempt to ditch the airplane,” he said.

Around 20 pieces of debris believed to be from MH370 have washed up on coastlines around the Indian Ocean. The most significant of these was the remains of a wing flap, which was found on Reunion Island off the coast of east coast of Africa in 2015, and has since been positively identified as belonging to the missing Malaysian Airways flight.

However, “Captain Cox’s suggestion of a ditched aircraft does not support the popular theories that the plane was destroyed in a ‘death dive’ or a ‘ghost flight’” says the Daily Mail.

Widow sues Boeing as new search begins

15 January

As the search resumes for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, the widow of one of the passengers has launched a lawsuit against the plane’s manufacturer Boeing.

Australian mother of two Danica Weeks, whose husband was on board the plane when it went missing in March 2014, claims it was a fault on the aircraft that caused the crash and is suing Boeing to pick up the bill should the wreckage been found.

Private US-based seabed exploration firm, Ocean Infinity, is to set begin its search for the missing aircraft this week as part of a £70 million deal with the Malaysian government.

A ship chartered by the company, the Seabed Constructor, is expected to reach and begin searching the 25,000 sq/km area in the Indian Ocean identified as the most likely resting place of the plane on Wednesday. The company has been given a three month deadline and will only be paid if the plane is found.

Weeks, who has also filed proceedings against Malaysian Airlines, said Boeing needed to prove its aircraft were safe and helping to pay for MH370's recovery if it is found would help to do that.

"I'm not suing for money” she said. “The beauty of aviation law is they have to prove they weren't negligent, not the other way round.”

"So let's hear from them, let's hear from the horse's mouth that those planes are safe, because quite frankly their silence has been pretty scary.”

Weeks said her action was the only way to get the world’s largest aerospace firms to talk, claiming she is not able to hold a memorial service for her husband until she knows what happened to him.

There is precedent for manufactures footing at least part of the bill for one of their planes’ recovery. Boeing’s main rival Airbus help fund the search for Air France flight 477, which crashed in the Atlantic Ocean in 2009, killing 228 people.

MH370: new private search has ‘85% chance of success’

10 January

The search of missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 is to resume, after the Malaysian government signed a multi-million dollar deal with a private US firm to find the missing aircraft.

Two hundred and thirty-nine people disappeared aboard the flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in March 2014, in what has become the world’s greatest aviation mysteries and spawned countless conspiracy theories.

A three year $157 million search by Australian, Chinese and Malaysian authorities was called off in January last year having covered more than 120,000 sq. km of seabed.

The decision to end the search caused outrage among the victims’ families; especially after new evidence emerged suggesting the most likely location for the remains of the plane was a 25,000 sq-km area further to the north of the original search area.

Now it appears Malaysian authorities, who are leading the investigation, have bowed to public pressure and agreed a $70 million deal with Ocean Infinity, a private US-based seabed exploration firm, which first offered to resume the search back in the autumn.

Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said the Houston-based comapny would search for MH370 in that 25,000-sq-km priority area on a “no-cure, no-fee” basis, meaning it will only get paid if it finds the plane.

“After looking into their expert’s view, there’s an 85% probability of finding the wreckage at this new area,” Liow told reporters after the signing ceremony in Malaysia.

According to Reuters, Ocean Infinity will be paid $20 million if the plane is found within 5,000 sq km, $30 million if it is found within 10,000 square km and $50 million if it is found within an area of 25,000 square km. Beyond that area, Ocean Infinity will receive $70 million.

The US firm, which predominantly focuses on gas and oil discovery, aims to use eight autonomous underwater vehicles that can operate at depths of up to 6km to look for the plane. Still, “the technology is relatively new and the vehicles have mainly been tested in the North Atlantic” says the Wall Street Journal.

The deal does, however, come with a time-limit. Liow said its priority is to locate the wreckage or the flight and cockpit recorders, and present credible evidence to confirm their location within 90 days.

“They cannot take forever or drag it on for another six months or a year” he stressed.

MH370: new search to begin by January

8 November

A month after Malaysia received offers from three firms to reopen the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, the government announced it is negotiating terms with US seabed exploration firm Ocean Infinity to restart the hunt either next month or in January.

Ocean Infinity offered to conduct the search for free and only seek compensation if the aircraft is found.

The Malaysian government will make a decision on the search soon, once the transport minister, Liow Tiong Lai meets his counterparts from Australia and China next month, the director general of Malaysia’s Department of Civil Aviation told Channel News Asia.

Ocean Infinity told Free Malaysia Today that if given the green light the firm will use six autonomous underwater vehicles capable of operating at depths of up to 6,000 metres.

Australian officials suspended the original three-year search, after only finding debris from the Boeing 777 plane that was lost in 2014 but never locating the main wreckage or any of the 239 people on board, much to the dismay of the families of the missing.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau vowed only to reopen its investigation if new evidence presented itself.

The $200 million (£159 million) 120,000sq km search had been carried out by Australia, Malaysia and China after the flight which was travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, veered off course and crashed. The investigation concluded that the plane is most likely located in the Southern Indian Ocean, somewhere to the north of the original search area.

When Ocean Infinity first presented its proposal last month, Voice370, a support group for the families of those on board was in favour of the new mission.

The support group asked in a statement obtained by The Australian, “Why hasn’t Malaysia accepted this win-win offer?”

MH370: US team to be be paid £15 million for finding plane

13 November

A US company will be paid between $20 million and $70 million (£15 to £53 million) if it finds any trace of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 within 90 days of beginning a new search.

The search for the missing MH370 “could begin anew early next year, once the Malaysian government finalises a contract with international subsea exploration company Ocean Infinity,” says Free Malaysia Today

Malaysia's deputy transport minister said the nation's cabinet has accepted “in principle” an offer from Ocean Infinity to search a 25,000 square kilometre area for the plane.

Ocean Infinity offered to search for the plane on a “no-find, no-fee” basis.

Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Ab Aziz Kaprawi said that cabinet ministers had agreed “to prepare a special allocation to the Ministry of Transport amounting to between $20 million up to $70 million if MH370 aircraft wreckage is successfully found within 90 days”.

MH370 vanished from radar screens on March 8, 2014, with 227 passengers and 12 crew on board. Analysis of satellite data showed the plane had flown for six hours after contact was lost.

A sonar search of the seabed was suspended in January this year after failing to find any aircraft debris.

The Australian newspaper reports that Texas-based Ocean Infinity had indicated it would use far more advanced technology to conduct the search than that used previously. 

It plans, for instance, “to use eight ­pilotless miniature submarines at any one time to run sonar scanning missions,” the website adds.

Ocean Infinity will focus on searching the seafloor in an area that has previously been identified by experts as the next most likely location to find MH370, just to the north of the original search area.

The Australian newspaper quoted Australian Transport Minister Darren Chester as saying that at Malaysia’s request, Australia would provide technical assistance to the Malaysian government and Ocean Infinity.

“Australia has developed considerable experience given its role in the search to date, and stands ready to support the extended search if it goes ahead,” Chester was quoted as saying.

MH370: three companies offer to start new search for missing plane

18 October

Three private companies have offered to resume the search for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, nearly a year after it was officially called off.

In January, Australian officials suspended the nearly three-year search for the plane which disappeared in March 2014 with all 239 people on board as it journeyed from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

Its disappearance prompted the biggest search in aviation history with more than $200 million (£159 million) spent covering 120,000sq/km in a multinational effort carried out by Australia, Malaysia and China.

The subsequent investigation concluded that the plane is most likely located in a 9,700 sq-mile area in the Southern Indian Ocean but the Australian Transport Safety Bureau vowed only to reopen its underwater search if new evidence presented itself. 

Now, in the absence of an official investigation, the three companies are looking to pick up where government search teams left off.

Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai says that proposals to restart the search have been received from US seabed exploration firm Ocean Infinity, Dutch firm Fugro, which was part of the original underwater search, and an unidentified Malaysian company, Reuters reported.

“We won’t be deciding anything now on whether we are embarking on a new search or not,” Liow said. “We have to discuss with the companies. It will take some time as it’s some detailed discussions.”

Ocean Infinity representatives offered to conduct the search for free, saying they would only require payment if the plane was found.

“The terms of the offer are confidential, but I can confirm that Ocean Infinity have offered to take on the economic risk of a renewed search,” Ocean Infinity spokesman Mark Antelme told The Australian.

“We’re in a constructive dialogue with the relevant authorities and are hopeful that the offer will be accepted.’’

Voice370, a support group for the families of those on board, questioned why Malaysia hadn’t gone forward with the offer.

“Why hasn’t Malaysia accepted this win-win offer?” the support group asked in a statement.

Liow says the proposals must also be presented to Australia and China before any final decision can be made.

Amid the news of a possible new search, Malaysia Airlines’ Chief Executive Officer Peter Bellew is expected to leave his position and return to his post as Chief Operations Officer of Ryanair after the airlines’ pilot-shortage debacle, CNN reported.

Bellew was rehired by Ryanair to improve relationships with pilots and will rejoin the airline in December. He is the third CEO to resign from Malaysia Airlines in the last three years, having only been in the role for a year.

Earlier this year Bellew denied rumours he would rejoin Ryanair and said he was focused on being a part of the turnaround at Malaysia Airlines after the airline saw two disasters in 2014.

“I think this will be the greatest turnaround in the history of aviation and maybe even of any business,” he previously told CNN.

 

MH370 final report: will missing plane ever be found?

4 October

The official report into the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has delivered a damning assessment of the search effort, saying it is “almost inconceivable” that the aircraft has not been found

 

The hunt for the missing plane - which disappeared with 239 people on board in March 2014, less than an hour into its flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing - became the largest and most expensive surface and underwater searches in aviation history, eventually covering more than 46,000 sq miles. The multinational operation, which cost more than $160m, and involved ships and aircraft from countries including India, China, the US and Australia, was indefinitely suspended in January, after 1,046 days.

 

In its final report, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), which coordinated the underwater search on behalf of the Malaysian government, said the understanding of MH370’s location “is better now than it has ever been” and reiterated earlier estimates that the most likely location of the downed plane was a 9,700 sq-mile area to the north of the earlier search zone in the southern Indian Ocean.

 

However, it also said: “It is almost inconceivable and certainly societally unacceptable in the modern aviation era with 10 million passengers boarding commercial aircraft every day, for a large commercial aircraft to be missing and for the world not to know with certainty what became of the aircraft and those on board.”

 

ATSB chief commissioner Greg Hood admitted as much when he said: “It remains a great tragedy and we wish that we could have brought complete closure to the bereaved. I hope, however, that they can take some solace in the fact that we did all we could do to find answers.”

 

It has never been confirmed what happened to the aircraft after it lost contact seven hours into its journey. The search initially focused on the sea off the western coast of Australia but debris, confirmed to be from the missing aircraft that washed up along the eastern coast of Africa and the beaches of Indian Ocean islands, prompted investigators to widen their search area.

 

“Analysis of the last satellite readings from the missing plane showed it was spiralling fast towards the sea when it stopped transmitting”, says CNN.

 

Despite protests from the victims' families the Australian government has confirmed that only “credible” new evidence will cause the search to be resumed. And with ATSB admitting that “the reasons for the loss of MH370 cannot be established with certainty until the aircraft is found” the fate of MH370 is likely to remain one of aviation's greatest enduring mysteries and further fuel the countless conspiracy theories surrounding its disappearance.

 

MH370: investigator's murder reignites conspiracy theories

7 September

The murder of a man who spent years investigating the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 has reignited conspiracy theories about the fate of the missing plane.

Honorary Consul of Malaysia Zahid Raza was shot dead in Madagascar's capital Antananarivo last week in an apparent assassination.

While authorities have yet to identify a motive, "some have expressed concern about possible links between his death and his work to piece together the puzzle of the doomed Malaysian Airlines flight", says The Independent.

US lawyer and amateur investigator Blaine Gibson who has spent the last three years searching for debris around the Indian Ocean said Raza had been due to deliver new items of wreckage to Malaysian investigators when he was killed and told Malay Mail that the diplomat "appeared to have been specifically targeted".

Last December Reuters reported that Raza had assisted Gibson in transferring the custody of pieces believed to be from MH370 from Madagascar to Malaysia, after which time Gibson claims he began receiving death threats.

On Tuesday, Malaysia's transport minister Liow Tiong Lai confirmed that officials from Malaysia's Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) had been dispatched to Madagascar to receive and probe newly found suspected plane debris but said it was too early to tell "whether [Raza's death] was linked to MH370 or not".

None the less, the timing of the assassination has fuelled speculation that Raza's death is directly linked to his search for the missing plane. However, The Sun has cited local reports "that suggest Raza was a marked man long before Mr Gibson came along".

The French-language news website Zinfos 974 speculated Raza was killed as payback for his alleged involvement in the 2009 abduction of several residents of Indo-Pakistani descent known collectively as Karens.

Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, which disappeared in March 2014 with 239 people on board,  remains one of the world's greatest aviation mysteries. Various pieces of wreckage including a barnacle entrusted flaperon and at least one section of interior cabin have been confirmed as having come from the missing Boeing 777 after washing up on islands off Africa's south-east coast.

However neither the fuselage nor black box have ever been found, fuelling countless conspiracy theories about how, where and why the plane went down.

MH370: Major breakthrough in hunt for missing plane

16 August

Australian scientists claim to have found new evidence pinpointing the possible location of missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, potentially solving one of the greatest aviation mysteries in history.

"Groundbreaking evidence" from previously discarded French satellite imagery and refined ocean drift modelling appears to show mad-made items located across four areas of the Indian Ocean, north of the original search area, Huffington Post Australia reports.

The findings, released by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) and Australia's main scientific agency the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), represent a major "breakthrough" says The Australian, in the search for the missing airline that disappeared in 2014 with 239 people on board.

CSIRO's David Griffin told Reuters he could pinpoint the location of the plane with "unprecedented precision and certainty" and "it is hoped the data will provide a crucial starting point for a sweep of a 9,700 mile stretch of water identified last November as the likely resting place of the plane" says the Daily Mail.

The images taken by a French Military satellite two weeks after the crash lie outside the original search zone. They were discarded by authorities in late March 2014 based on data available at the time about the plane's flight path but were passed to CSIRO for analysis in May as part of a 'systematic process of review' after initial searches failed to find the jet.

Greg Hood, Chief Commissioner of the ATSB, struck a more cautious note adding that "these objects have not been definitely identified as MH370 debris".

Regardless, "the tantalising new information will reignite pressure to locate the passenger plane, [that remains] one of aviation’s greatest mysteries" says The Guardian.

The underwater search for the Boeing 777 in the southern Indian Ocean was suspended indefinitely in January to an outcry from families of the missing. While the Australian government has said it has not ruled out resuming the hunt for the plane, it said the latest findings are not specific enough to warrant a new search.

A private US firm, Ocean Infinity, has offered to resume the search for free and the new findings will pile more pressure on Malaysia, China and Australia to accept their offer.

MH370: Artificial intelligence will 'eventually' find lost plane, says airline boss

14 May

Artificial intelligence could one-day help locate the wreckage of lost Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, the company's chief executive has said.

Speaking to The Australian newspaper, Peter Bellew claimed that "advances in science" as well as "the availability of artificial intelligence that's coming on stream," will "eventually" allow searchers to track down the remains of the aircraft.

"[There are people] who are spending a lot of their own resources at the moment and co-ordinating with authorities... I do think somebody will make a breakthrough somewhere around this, or a combination of people," he said.

Australia, Malaysia and China called off a £122 million, two-year search for the plane in January, amid protests from the families of tho who died onboard.

Now a private US company has offered to resume the search in a bid to solve one of the world's greatest aviation mysteries, which claimed the lives of 239 people onboard.

Grace Nathan, a Malaysian lawyer whose mother Anne Daisy was on the plane, told Reuters that US seabed exploration firm, Ocean Infinity, had offered to resume the search for free and had asked for a reward only in the event that the aircraft was found.

The company, which claims to have the world's most advanced fleet of autonomous underwater vehicles for use in underwater mapping, survey and search, told the AP news agency on Friday that it had "offered to take on the economic risk of a renewed search" and that it was in "constructive dialogue with the relevant authorities and was hopeful the offer will be accepted".

Ben Sandliands, the editor of aviation news website Plane Talking, says the offer by Ocean Infinity puts authorities in Malaysia, Australia and China "on the spot in terms of support", given the controversial suspension of the official tripartite search contrary to a recommendation by Australian scientists to make a final examination of a comparatively small section of the southern Indian Ocean seabed.

According to Al Jazeera, "Malaysia, Australia and China say the newly identified area is too big to justify resuming the publicly funded search" but now the relatives of those killed onboard have stepped up pressure on the Malaysian government to demand they accept the private offer to take up the hunt for the aircraft.

Voice370, a support group for families, said the terms of the offer represented a "win-win" for all involved as Ocean Infinity "would like to be paid a reward if and only if it finds the main debris field".

Malaysian officials have yet to formally comment on the latest developments but Sky News reports that the country's deputy transport minister Aziz Kaprawi has previously said the agreement of China, where most of the passengers came from, and Australia, would be needed for a deal to be reached.

Australian Transport Minister Darren Chester also declined to comment on the possibility of a private search, and said that while Australia has coordinated the search on its behalf, "Malaysia, as the state of registry for the aircraft, retains overall authority for any future search and any questions regarding possible future search efforts should be directed there."

MH370: Widow of missing passenger determined to discover truth

24 May

A widow of one of the 239 people on board missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 has spoken of her resolve to discover the truth.

Danica Weeks, from Perth, Australia, says she will never give up on the search to find out what happened to her husband Paul, a mechanical engineer who was on his way to Mongolia for work when the flight vanished.

She also called on the aviation industry, including the aircraft manufacturers, to join the search.

"I think the aviation industry should get involved, but most of all Boeing - it was their plane. I want them to prove the plane is safe by finding it and the truth," she told the Irish Sun.

"It is important it is found, not just for the justice we and our loved ones deserve, but for the safety of the aviation industry as whole, for as long as the cause of the disappearance of MH370 remains a mystery, so too does the risk that it can happen again."

Weeks spoke of the turmoil of trying to explain to her two sons "what really happened to Daddy". She took the young boys to Kuala Lumpur on the third anniversary of the plane's disappearance and said she never flies without them "just in case something happens, as I have seen the pain of them losing one parent".

She added: "I just try to be there for them, but they have questions and most I can’t answer as I don’t know the answers myself, like, 'What really happened to Daddy?' I just hope one day in the future I will have the answers they so desperately want and deserve," she said.

She added she was "completely puzzled and disappointed" that the Malaysian government had not searched a site highlighted by Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, based on where debris of the missing plane had been discovered.

"Why wouldn’t a site identified using 'actual' debris not be credible information to start a new search?" she asked.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 vanished en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on 8 March 2014, with 227 passengers and 12 crew on board. Australian officials called off the search for the missing Boeing 777 in January this year.

MH370: Air accident experts stand firm on refusal to release analysis 

19 May

Australian accident investigators have refused to publish their analysis of where missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 might have crashed into the ocean, after claims they should have admitted earlier they were looking in the wrong place.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) turned down a plea from the families of passengers to disclose working documents from the early days of the search.

Refusing a Freedom of Information (FoI) request for the same documents earlier this week, was made by The Australian newspaper, the bureau said making them public "would, or could reasonably be expected to, cause damage to the international relations of the Commonwealth".

The newspaper asked for the papers after it reported that scientists warned "long ago" that the search was being made in the wrong place.

The documents include international assessments of satellite tracking data from the last few hours of the plane's known flight path, which led the ATSB to conduct an underwater search in the southern Indian ocean.

In a report last December, the bureau said it was confident the 46,000sq-mi search had been conducted around 300 miles too far south and the most likely crash site was between the latitudes 40°S and 30.5°S.

The Australian reported last month that drift modelling, carried out after a flaperon from the plane washed up on Reunion, had led scientists to believe as early as July 2015 that investigators were not in the right place.

"The University of Western Australia scientist who led the independent drift modelling study, Charitha Pattiaratchi, said as soon as the flaperon was discovered in July 2015, it was pretty obvious the ATSB was looking in the wrong place," said the paper.

The newspaper added that it was 15 months before investigators came to the same conclusion "after stubbornly continuing to search the southern zone".

ATSB chief Greg Hood write to the newspaper accusing it of "inaccurate reporting" and stating his concern that the paper was misleading the families of the missing passengers.

One relative, Danica Weeks, accused Hood of putting "diplomatic niceties" ahead of "the sensitivities of the families and friends" of the people who had been on board the plane.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 vanished on 8 March 2014 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, carrying  239 people.

MH370: Fresh evidence raises hope of finding missing plane

21 April 

Scientists in Australia say they are more confident than ever that a three-year search for the wreckage of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 took place too far south.

After monitoring the movement of an actual aircraft part released into the ocean, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation says it has pinpointed an area of around 10,000sq-miles in which it believes the plane came down.

However, Australian transport minister Darren Chester said the new finding did not satisfy the requirement to relaunch the search, which was called off in January until "credible new evidence" was found.

He added: "This body of 'drift modelling' work, along with review of satellite imagery, forms part of the ongoing activities being undertaken by the ATSB in the search for MH370.

"But it is important to note that it does not provide new evidence leading to a specific location of MH370."

An underwater search of some 46,000sq-miles carried out between October 2014 and January 2017 found of trace of the missing plane, which vanished on 8 March 2014 with 239 people on board.

Last December, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau released a report concluding the search had taken place too far south in the Indian Ocean and the real crash site was somewhere between the latitudes 40°S and 30.5°S.

This was based on computer modelling of ocean currents, working backwards from the discovery of wreckage from the plane thousands of miles away off the coast of Africa on the island of Reunion.

A flaperon found washed up on the island in July 2015 was confirmed as having been part of MH370. Other pieces of debris have since been found in the same general area. 

Malaysia Airlines announced this week that it will become the first airline to monitor all its jets from space, delivering "minute-by-minute, 100 per cent global, flight-tracking data".

The technique will mean the airline – which has struggled to fill its flights after also losing MH17, which was shot down over the Ukraine – will know exactly where every plane is, even when they are passing over a remote stretch of ocean or desert.

MH370: Details of search to remain secret

20 April 

Australian officials have faced a backlash after saying some details about the hunt for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 will be kept confidential.

Employees at the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) have been warned they face prison time if they reveal certain information about the search.

Families of the 239 passengers who died on board the flight expressed outrage, saying it made the agency "look more guilty" of a cover-up.

News of the decision came after The Australian filed a freedom of information (FOI) request to see documents regarding the ATSB's "ghost flight" theory.

The bureau says expert analysis has led them to believe pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah was unconscious or dead when the plane vanished en route to Beijing in March 2014. This theory was used as the basis for their ultimately fruitless search for the crash site.

However, some aviation experts and amateur sleuths claim Shah deliberately steered his plane off course before crashing it and argue the ATSB should recalculate a new search area based on this assumption.

Documents requested in the FOI request include the opinions of international experts from the UK and US air crash agencies, British satellite group Inmarsat and Boeing.

However, the ATSB said releasing the information could "cause damage to the international relations of the Commonwealth".

ATSB chief commissioner Greg Hood added: "The activities of the ATSB with respect to assisting the Malaysian investigation are covered by the Transport Safety Investigation Act."

The act stipulates that any "serving or former ATSB staffer or consultant" who publicly discloses restricted information is liable to face two years in prison.

Danica Weeks, whose husband Paul is among the missing, told Free Malaysia Today she was "stunned" by the decision.

"I cannot come up with any solid reason why they wouldn't release the information other than it makes them or the Malaysian government look incompetent," she added.

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