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: Why did investigators search in the wrong area?

24 March

After closing their search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 investigators admitted they had been looking in the wrong location and the most recent data indicates the plane is most likely to the north of the previous search area.

MH370 disappeared on a routine flight from Beijing to Kuala Lumpur in 2014. The search centred on the southern Indian Ocean, but two years on, no wreckage was found and the investigation was subsequently closed.

Where did investigators look?

Search teams scoured a 46,332sq-mile area of the southern Indian Ocean.

However, in November, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), which oversaw the search, mounted a review of the investigation that concluded: "There is a high degree of confidence that the previously identified underwater area searched to date does not contain the missing aircraft."

Why was the search unsuccessful?

After putting together new flight simulations, modelling drift patterns based on debris matched to the missing plane and conducting further analysis of satellite communications, experts now believe an area immediately to the north of the current search area is most likely to contain the missing plane, the BBC says.

"The participants of the First Principles Review were in agreement on the need to search an additional area representing approximately 25,000 sq km (9,700sq-miles)," says the broadcaster.

Will a new search be carried out in this area?

Probably not. Australia's transport minister Darren Chester said the search will not be resumed, given the new report doesn't identify a "specific location" for the aircraft.

What has the reaction been?

Pressure is building from families of the victims for authorities to resume the search for the missing plane.

Sheryl Keen, of the international victims' advocacy group Voice370, personally handed letters from the relatives to Malaysian transport minister Liow Tiong Lai when he visited Australia this month.

"The general content is urging him to continue the search," Keen said. "I do believe some of them are quite heartfelt and others are quite brief."

During his visit to Perth, however, Liow reiterated that the underwater search would only be restarted if "credible new evidence" was discovered about the location of the MH370.

He said: "We will continue to work on the debris… We are committed to continue with the search for the debris, and from today on we hope we can get more credible evidence."

Families have also called on Australia to continue the search. However, Darren Chester said the Australian Transport Safety Bureau's conclusion was that it could not extend its investigation any further and that resuming the operation was "primarily Malaysia's call", the BBC reports.

Could it happen again?

In the wake of the disappearance of the MH370, questions were asked about why it is so difficult to trace the exact location of all aircraft while they are in the air.

This may be set to change at the end of 2018, when satellite communications firm Iridium launches 66 new satellites that will be able to track planes' altitude, position and speed across the entire globe.

"For the first time, we're getting aviation traffic from all over the world, including the oceans," Daniel Colussey, Iridium's former chief executive, said at a conference. "It's the first time a plane has ever been surveilled over the poles."

Two of the company's satellites launched in January have already been switched on and begun sending back data.

According to Singapore's The Independent newspaper, over the course of 62 hours, "one satellite collected the unique codes and positional data of 17,000 aircraft, including those over oceans and in remote locations where radar can't reach".

The success of the launch means positioning of aircraft may soon be significantly more precise, making it far more difficult for aircraft to disappear the way the MH370 did.

MH370: Malaysia's response was 'sloppy and shocking'

16 March

A Malaysian politician has criticised his country's handing of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 and called for continued efforts to solve the mystery.

Lim Kit Siang, who fronts the DAP, Malaysia's largest opposition party, said the government’s response to the Boeing-777’s disappearance was “sloppy” and “shocking”, reports Free Malaysia Today.

He added that Malaysians have since "been ashamed to admit they are from this country" and called for investigations into the final resting place of the plane to continue.

MH370 vanished in March 2014, en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in China, with 239 people on board. Officials decided earlier this year to end the search for the plane, which is thought to have vanished over the southern Indian Ocean, after investigators admitted they had probably been looking in the wrong location.

The Malaysian government has been widely criticised in the mishandling of the tragedy.

Relatives of those who died on board the plane travelled to Madagascar in December 2016 to perform their own search for debris and take the investigation into their own hands.

MH370: Officials reject 'extra passenger' hijack theory

10 March

Investigators have rejected a report suggesting there was a 'mystery passenger' on board missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

Andre Milne, an expert from navigation technology company Unicorn Aerospace, told the Daily Express he had uncovered documents showing there was an unaccounted person on board who may have brought the plane down.

His report, released to coincide with this week's third anniversary of MH370's disappearance, found a discrepancy on the plane's cargo manifest between the number of people it reported and the official figures cited by the airline.

According to Milne, the manifest showed 228 seats had been sold, not including the two children sitting on their parents' laps.

He told the Express: "It has been ‘claimed’ that four people did not board plane. That would make final number of seats used down at 224. Add the two children and you get 226 passengers. Now add the 12 crew."

Milne's tally comes to 238 people; the airline's official count is 239.

"So now we have an ‘extra’ person on board MH370," he said. "The extra passenger likely acted in conjunction with larger external operational support to take full command and control of the cockpit of MH370."

However, MH370 investigators denied there was any discrepancy. "The actual number of passengers on board was 227," a spokesperson told the Express.

As the cargo manifest was sent two hours prior to the plane taking off, late alterations were possible, he added: "The actual figures can differ from that transmitted on the load sheet due to last-minute changes."

MH370: Pilot flew south to 'create the world's greatest mystery'

3 March

Former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott says the hunt for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 should be resumed in a radius further south from the previous search area.

Speaking just prior to the third anniversary of the flight's disappearance, the politician said he thought there was more work that could be done to retrieve the missing plane.

"There's absolutely no doubt that while there is any, any reasonable prospective places to search we should still be searching, no doubt about that in my mind," he told the Adelaide Advertiser.

Areas both further north and south of the previous site should be explored, he added.

"I have always said the most plausible scenario was murder-suicide and if this guy wanted to create the world's greatest mystery why wouldn't he have piloted the thing to the very end and gone further south?" he said.

"Then there was the analysis that suggested there might be a prospective place to the north.

"When you've got nearly 240 people missing - the greatest mystery of modern times - as long as there is any reasonable prospective place to search you just keep searching."

Flight MH370 vanished during a routine flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in March 2014, with 227 passengers and 12 crew on board. The search for it, the largest ever in aviation history, came to an end last month after a fruitless two-year investigation.

Murder-suicide was one theory investigators considered, "but there was little to no evidence uncovered to support it", the Adelaide Advertiser says.

One person who does support Abbott's theory is investigative journalist Mark Williams-Thomas, who said this week that in his view, the plane crash was almost certainly an intentional act by the pilot.

As evidence, he said a piece of the wings found in Reunion Island, 3,000 miles from the search area, was "in an extended position that only a pilot could've done" and that the only explanation for the wing's position at the time of impact was that the plane had been brought down intentionally.

Larry Vance, a Canadian flight accident investigator, also thinks the pilot should be held accountable for the crash.

"There's no other explanation for it," he said. "One of the pilots landed [the plane] intentionally on the water so it would sink and would never be seen again."

An unnamed pilot told the Daily Mirror it is possible to successfully bring a plane down on water, as evidenced by the actions of Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, a US pilot who became a hero after landing his damaged plane on the Hudson River in New York. 

"The impact on the water would be survivable - which we've seen from Sully," the pilot said.

MH370: Possible new part found in South Africa   

30 January

Images of a plane part that could be from the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 have been posted on a South African aviation forum.

A message on chat forum Aviation Communication (Avcom), under the topic name: "Aircraft parts wash up on local beach – Transkei", shows pictures of plane debris said to have been washed up on a beach outside East London, on the south-east coast of South Africa.

Forum member Steve Onions said: "This morning, a local person found some items that washed up on a beach on the Transkei coast near East London that looked like they could be from an aircraft. They sent the cell phone pics taken of these parts to one of our local aviators and the pics have been sent to our local [air traffic control] who will circulate them and notify the relevant authorities."

Other posts said the parts looked like "wing to body fairing or flap track canoe fairing" which could have come either from a Boeing 747 or 777.

The MH370, which went missing during a routine flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing three years ago, was a Boeing 777.

A member of the Air Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) in Malaysia contacted the forum on Saturday with advice on how to handle the debris so as not to damage or contaminate it, reports Free Malaysia Today.

However, no one is travelling to South Africa to see the parts yet as "it is still too premature in the course of this discovery", it added.

Flight MH370 vanished on 8 March 2014 with 227 passengers and 12 crew on board. It is believed to have crashed somewhere in the southern Indian Ocean.

A multi-million pound hunt for the missing plane officially ended two weeks ago, after an extensive three-year search of 46,000sq-miles of the Indian Ocean west of Australia failed to find the wreckage.

MH370: Pressure builds for search to resume 

24 January

Relatives of the passengers and crew lost on Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 are urging authorities to resume the search for the missing plane.

Sheryl Keen, of the international victims' advocacy group Voice370, said she will personally hand Malaysian transport minister Liow Tiong Lai letters from relatives during his visit to Perth this week, Yahoo News reports.

She said: "The general content is urging him to continue the search. I do believe some of them are quite heartfelt and others are quite brief."

Voice370 said it will continue its appeal for Malaysia and Australia to resume the search for the plane, which was called off last week.

It said: "A quick decision to extend the search would avoid the immediate demobilisation of the equipment on board the search vessel, Fugro Equator, and additional costs at a later date for mobilisation of vessels."

Flight MH370 vanished with 239 people on board on 8 March 2014, after deviating from its scheduled course during a routine flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing.

The extensive three-year search of 46,000sq-miles of the Indian Ocean west of Australia failed to find the plane.

Australian transport minister Darren Chester said the decision to stop the search "was not taken lightly."

He added: "I understand the disappointment and frustration felt by the families. Not knowing the final resting place of their loved ones only adds to the tragedy of the situation."

MH370: What next in hunt for missing plane? 

20 January 

The Australian and Malaysian governments announced on Tuesday that the official search for MH370, which disappeared on 8 March 2014, had come to an end. Authorities are seemingly no closer to discovering the ultimate fate of the plane than they were almost three years previously.

Relatives of the missing passengers had hoped that several pieces of debris from the plane found along the coast of east Africa could lead search teams to the location of the wreck, but investigators from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) now believe they were looking in the wrong place.

Based on the drift patterns of the debris and currents in the region, the ATSB has calculated that the wreckage is located in an area immediately north of the official search zone, leading some relatives to call for a new search based on the recalculated zone.

However, Australia's Transport Minister, Darren Chester, confirmed that the government did not consider the ATSB's conclusions sufficient grounds to extend the costly search, adding that resuming the operation was "primarily Malaysia's call", the BBC reports.

Malaysian officials have echoed their Australian counterparts, saying that only concrete evidence pointing to a specific location would prompt a new search. Relatives of the passengers have expressed scepticism that Malaysia ever will pick up the torch.

KS Narendran from Chennai, India, whose wife was among the passengers on MH370, told The Guardian: "Malaysia has from very early on given the impression that either it was not up to the task, or was keen to fold up the search and investigation."

The best hope for the families of those on board the missing plane now lies in privately-funded search efforts.

The Malaysian government's announcement last week that it is prepared to pay "millions" of ringgits, equalling hundreds of thousands of pounds, for information leading to MH370's recovery is sure to invigorate private parties who want to finally solve the mystery.

There has been one unusual beneficiary of the otherwise fruitless search for MH370, says Reuters – the region's fishing fleets, which stand to increase their profits thanks to the unprecedentedly detailed images of the Indian Ocean's underwater landscape produced by the search teams.

Charitha Pattiaratchi, professor of Coastal Oceanography at the University of Western Australia, told Reuters that the new maps revealed the location of undersea mountains that attract schools of fish.

"If you know where these mounts are, it means money," he said. "They are areas where you can find high-priced fish."

MH370: Reward offered for find missing plane

19 January

Malaysia will offer a cash reward to private parties who can provide "substantial information or evidence" about the location of missing Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370, deputy transport minister Abdul Aziz Kaprawi announced today.                                                   

"We are opening up the options because the government of Malaysia is committed to continue the search," he said.

"There will be cash rewards in the millions [of Malaysian ringgits] for those who are able to find substantial information or evidence like the fuselage."

Kaprawi also appealed to experts from various relevant industries "such as the oil and gas sector, mining and those in maritime and defence industries" to assist with the search, SBS reports.

On Tuesday, Australian, Chinese and Malaysian investigators announced an end to the unsuccessful £120m hunt to find Flight MH370, which went missing with 239 people on board during a routine flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in March 2014.

Small pieces of potential debris have subsequently washed up, but the main wreckage has never been located, despite an international search of 46,000sq-miles of the southern Indian Ocean.

MH370: Families urge officials to continue hunt for missing Malaysia Airlines plane

17 January

Families of the victims of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 have urged officials to continue the search.

The joint investigation between Australia, China and Malaysia was called off this morning after nearly three years of scouring 46,000sq-miles in the southern Indian Ocean. The location of the plane's wreckage is still a mystery.

 

"Today the last search vessel has left the underwater search area," investigators said. "Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has not been located…

 

"Despite every effort using the best science available, cutting-edge technology, as well as modelling and advice from highly skilled professionals who are the best in their field, unfortunately, the search has not been able to locate the aircraft."

 

Voice370, which represents the relatives, criticised the decision and urged officials to continue the search.

 

It said. "In our view, extending the search to the new area defined by the experts is an inescapable duty owed to the flying public in the interest of aviation safety…                                                                       

 

"Having already searched 120,000 square kilometres, stopping at this stage is nothing short of irresponsible and betrays a shocking lack of faith in the data, tools and recommendations of an array of official experts assembled by the authorities themselves."

 

The group also accused investigators of not being willing to investigate new possible sites. "Expecting to determine the 'precise location of the aircraft' before continuing the search was at best an erroneous expectation and at worst a clever formulation to bury the search," it said.

 

"Why would you search if you already knew the precise location of the aircraft?"

 

MH370 vanished with 239 people on board in March 2014, after it changed course during a scheduled flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. The radio equipment was switched off and the Boeing 777 flew across Malaysia to the Andaman Sea, south-east of the Bay of Bengal, before heading south, The Australian says.

 

MH370: Is missing Malaysia Airlines jet about to be found? 

Investigators looking for missing Malaysia Airline flight MH370 made a "high-speed dash" to a new search site, the Daily Beast reports.

On Friday, Dutch-owned vessel Equator reportedly raced to an area in the southern Indian Ocean recently identified as being a more likely location for the plane's debris. It pushed further north on Saturday before tracking back slightly.

Dr Richard Cole, of University College London, who has been following the hunt, said: "After its run north, Equator has now tracked back south-west at high speed to a point at 35.3 degrees south where it seems that the [autonomous underwater vehicle] is deployed again."

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), which is directing the search, admitted in late December that the area it has scoured for 26 months was unlikely to contain the wreckage of the MH370.

Spokesman Dan O'Malley told the Beast yesterday: "Equator is completing its final swing and gathering some sonar data in areas we haven't previously completed. Equator's search operations are expected to be completed by the end of January."

Flight MH370 disappeared without trace while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in March 2014. There were with 239 people on board.

The current search, which began in October 2014, is scheduled to end this month. However, families of the victims are stepping up pressure to fund a new investigation in an area to the north of the previous search site.

 Voice 370, which represents the relatives, said: "Extending the search to the new area defined by experts is an inescapable duty owed to the flying public in the interest of aviation safety."

MH370: Search 'to continue after funding runs out'

6 January

Malaysian and Australian officials say the hunt for missing flight MH370 will continue after the original 46,000sq-mile search has concluded, the Daily Beast reports.

Since June 2014, two ships using sonar have been combing the area in the southern Indian Ocean where the Malaysia Airline plane was believed to have come down. 

The search, which has so far cost £122m, is almost over - the Daily Mail says it could end in just two weeks - but nothing has been found.

Last July, Australia, Malaysia and China agreed that "in the absence of credible new evidence leading to the identification of a specific location of the aircraft, the search would be suspended on completion of the existing search area".

When asked about this by the Daily Beast this month, the Joint Agency Co-ordination Centre in charge of the search said the position of the three countries "has not changed".

However, says the website, "24 hours later", the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) told the website: "Ministers have reiterated that this does not mean the termination of the search," prompting it to ask: "Will Malaysia fund a new search?"

The Beast also claims there will be a continuation of the "cutting-edge scientific effort" to find the plane's wreckage, which utilises "resources from all over the world, including from the US". Tests are being carried out to establish how the pieces of wreckage found so far might have floated.

The ATSB confirmed two weeks ago it now believes the entire search has been a waste of time because the ships have been looking in the wrong place, CNN reported. Investigators also did not believe the wreckage would be found in the last few weeks of looking.

It said: "Given the high confidence in the search undertaken to date, the experts agreed that the previously defined [search] area is unlikely to contain the missing aircraft."

New analysis of ocean currents at the time of the plane's disappearance and the positions of the 20 or so pieces of wreckage washed up thousands of miles away suggest the actual crash site was 9,600 miles further north.

In fact, says the Beast, scientist now have a far more precise estimate of where the plane came down than the one used to determine where the sonar survey took place.

Responding to the ATSB report in December, Australia's transport and infrastructure minister, Darren Chester, said the search would not be extended without new evidence. 

Putting himself at odds with the ATSB, Chester said: "We are very close to completing the 120,000 square kilometre underwater search area, and we remain hopeful that we will locate the aircraft."

Flight MH370 disappeared on 8 March 2014, flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board.

MH370: Boeing could fund private search for plane

3 January

A private company is likely to take up the search for the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, according to a distinguished aviation safety expert.

John Goglia, a member of the US National Transportation Safety Board, says the private sector will step in after the official Australian-led salvage efforts are called off.

"The search will continue, but it will be privately run," he told Popular Mechanics. "It'll be smaller and more focused, but that's probably better."

Several aviation experts have suggested that Boeing is the most likely candidate as the plane, which disappeared on a routine flight from Beijing to Kuala Lumpur in March 2014 with 239 people on board, was a Boeing 777. The US manufacturer has not commented on the rumours.

A joint search operation by Australian, Malaysian and Chinese authorities, led by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), is due to end in January, despite evidence that a revised search zone could hold the key to the plane's final resting place.

In its latest report, the ATSB concluded that investigators have been looking in the wrong place for the wreckage of the plane and called for an extension of the search operation to examine the recalculated search area, which lies to the north of the current site.

The Australian government has rejected the idea on the grounds that the new evidence is not sufficiently specific to warrant further funding.

MH370: Families hit out at decision to abandon search

22 December

Families of the 238 people who died on Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 have condemned the Australian government's announcement that the search for the plane is coming to an end, with investigators still no closer to finding the crash site.

Flight MH370 lost contract with air traffic controllers and went off radar in March 2014, before apparently crashing somewhere over the Indian Ocean, where the hunt has been focussed.

This week, however, a panel of experts from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) concluded the plane "is probably not in the stretch of ocean a $200 million, Australian-led search effort has combed for the past two years," the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

Based on new analysis of MH370's final moments and drift patterns of debris found on east African beaches, investigators now believe the likely location is within a 15,000sq-mile area to the north of the current search zone and have recommended that salvage teams be redeployed there.

However, the final resting place of the passengers and crew is likely to remain a mystery, as the Australian government confirmed that countries working on the search were planning to end the costly operation in January unless the ATSB could produce a more specific location.

Families of the victims responded with anger and disbelief to the news. Danica Weeks, whose husband Paul was among the passengers, described the decision as "a kick in the guts", the Herald reports.

"We've had so much hope and then each time we've got the hope up and it's been washed away," she said.

Jiang Hui, whose 72-year-old mother Cuiyun was on the flight, told Fairfax Media "three governments all told us the search would be continuous, would not end, and would not be given up on".

He said: "It is a promise to all families and to the international community."

 

MH370 search: What do families of passengers hope to find in Madagascar?

5 December

Relatives of passengers lost on Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 are in Madagascar to personally search for debris from the missing aircraft.

The group of families, known as Voice 370, has called on the governments of Malaysia, China and Australia to search for wreckage along the east African coast.

"All debris thought to be from the plane has so far been found in east Africa," says the BBC. At least six pieces from the area are considered "certain or highly likely" to have come from the missing flight.Flight MH370 disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on 8 March 2014. A search operation was launched shortly afterwards, but the main wreckage is yet to be found. Investigators believe it crashed into the Indian Ocean, killing all 239 passengers and crew on board.

The search is expected to be suspended by around January or February 2017, when an Australian-led team completes its scouring of a 46,000sq-mile target area.

However, Voice 370 has expressed its disappointment at the scale and effectiveness of the search effort.Grace Subathirai Nathan, whose mother, Anne Daisy, was on the flight, has made the self-funded trip along with three relatives from Malaysia, two from China and one from France.

They plan to speak to as many people as possible on the island and hand out leaflets about how to recognise plane parts.

"We can talk to people who work as fishermen, people who live on the coastline. We hope that we can raise awareness, teach them how to identify debris, how to collect debris, what to do with it when they find it," she said.

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