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

Flight MH370: search area to double if plane not found

16 April

The search area for missing flight MH370 will be doubled to 46,000 square miles – six times the size of Wales – if it is not found in the core target area currently being trawled.

Speaking in Kuala Lumpur today, ministers from Australia, China and Malaysia said the extended search could take up to a year in light of "adverse" weather conditions expected in the upcoming winter months.

The whereabouts of the Malaysia Airlines flight, which disappeared on 8 March 2014 with 239 people on board, has become one of the biggest mysteries in aviation history.

Investigators are currently hunting for the wreckage on a rugged 23,000 square mile patch of sea floor, 1,000 miles west of Perth, Australia. The search, which has so far found no trace of the plane, is expected to finish next month.

In a joint statement, Australia's deputy prime minister Warren Truss, Malaysian minister of transport Liow Tiong Lai and Chinese minister of transport Yang Chuangtang said 60 per cent of the current search area had been explored.

"Should the aircraft not be found within the current search area, ministers agreed to extend the search by an additional 60,000 sq km to bring the search area to 120,000 sq km and thereby cover the entire highest probability area identified by expert analysis," they said.

Flight Global says the extended area would cover 95 per cent of MH370's final projected flight path.

"We're following the seventh arc, the seventh handshake and that is the flight path. We will extend north, south, east and west, expanding the area within the high priority area," said Liow.

The announcement comes after Captain Simon Hardy, a senior Boeing 777 captain with a major commercial airline, claimed to have pinpointed the location of the wreckage.

Hardy spent six months analysing the known MH370 data and concluded that the plane was intentionally landed on the Indian Ocean and sank intact just 20 nautical miles (37km) outside the current search area. The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), which is leading the search, described his theory as "credible". 

MH370: Investigators 'to examine Germanwings connection'

27 March

Officials investigating the Germanwings plane crash are reportedly going to examine whether the co-pilot – who appeared to deliberately fly the aircraft into the French Alps – was inspired by the MH370 tragedy.

French prosecutors said yesterday that the co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz, had a "deliberate desire to destroy" the plane. The 27-year-old was "alone at the controls" and refused to open the door of the cockpit to the pilot as he intentionally put the plane into descent, killing all 150 people on board, they said.

"Investigators will now be looking to see if the apparently deliberate actions by the Germanwings co-pilot were inspired by any other recent disasters including the ongoing mystery of Malaysia Airlines MH370," says the Daily Telegraph.

The newspaper says there are "striking similarities" between this week's crash and some of the leading theories about Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which disappeared in March 2014.

Several experts and former pilots have said that MH370 could only have swerved off its course from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on 8 March due to sabotage.

Evidence to show what happened to MH370 is limited and circumstantial, but the "rogue pilot theory" has emerged as the most plausible explanation among several, said the New York Times, just before the first anniversary of the plane's disappearance.

Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah has been identified by Malaysian police as the prime suspect, although his family have vehemently defended him.

Captain Simon Hardy, a senior Boeing 777 captain with a major commercial airline, spent six months analysing the known MH370 data and concluded that the plane was intentionally landed on the Indian Ocean and sank intact.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), which is leading the search, has since been in contact with Hardy to discuss his findings and has described his theory as "credible".

There are also "chilling similarities" between the Germanwings crash and the Mozambique Airlines flight TM470 disaster in November 2013, says the Telegraph.

Investigators said Captain Herminio dos Santos Fernandes locked himself inside the cockpit, ignored warning signals and did not allow his co-pilot back in moments before the plane crashed in the swamps of Namibia's Bwabwata National Park, killing all 33 people on board.

MH370: black box battery was dead before take-off

10 March

More than a year after Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 vanished en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing new details have emerged about the circumstances surrounding its disappearance. Chief among them is the revelation that the battery on the underwater locator beacon attached to the missing plane's black box had expired in December 2012, 15 months before the doomed aircraft took off.

On Sunday, the first anniversary of flight MH370's disappearance, investigators published an interim statement detailing technical information about the missing plane. Compiled by an international  team established by the Malaysian government, the short report is supported by 585 pages of supplementary information which summarises the facts of the case.

This contains information about the MH370's maintenance record, the background of the crew, military radar tracking records and cargo consignments – although much of the detail confirms what experts had already established over the last year. Air traffic controllers lost radar contact with the aircraft less than 40 minutes after it took off from Kuala Lumpur. Based on satellite data and military radar, the plane is believed to have departed dramatically from its planned route and ended up in the Indian Ocean.

On the release of the report, Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak said: "Together with our international partners, we have followed the little evidence that exists. Malaysia remains committed to the search, and hopeful that MH370 will be found."

Here's what we learnt from the interim statement:

Black box battery had expired

The battery for the underwater locator beacon attached to the flight-data recorder expired in December 2012, more than a year before the plane's disappearance, with no evidence that it had been replaced. The report said there was a "definite possibility" that the battery could still operate past its expiry date, but said "it is not guaranteed that it will work or that it would meet the 30-day minimum requirement". Greg Waldron at Flightglobal says this could have limited the search team's ability to locate the aircraft. However, the battery on the locator beacon of the cockpit voice recorder was working.

Last voice transmission clarified

The report states that the aircraft's final nine voice transmissions came from Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah. This includes the final communication "Goodnight Malaysian three-seven-zero" at around 1.19am (local time), a minute or so before the aircraft's transponder ceased transmitting.

No unusual behaviour by crew

Investigators said they found no indications of unusual behaviour by the pilots or cabin crew before the plane took off. "There were no behavioural signs of social isolation, change in habits or interest, self-neglect, drug or alcohol abuse of the captain, first officer and the cabin crew," said the report. The team looked at CCTV recordings of the captain and first officer and said "no significant behavioural changes" were observed. They added that the captain's ability to handle stress at work and home was "good" and he had no known history of apathy, anxiety or irritability. "There were no significant changes in his lifestyle, interpersonal conflict or family stresses," it added. Investigators found no unusual health issues or financial irregularities either.

Batteries not screened

Investigators found that a shipment containing 221kg of lithium ion batteries on the flight was "inspected physically" in Penang, but did not go through additional security screening before it was loaded onto the plane. The batteries were not regulated as dangerous goods because the packing adhered to International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) regulations. The batteries, a known fire hazard on flights, were part of a 2,453kg shipment by Motorola that also contained chargers and radio accessories.

Few answers

Despite the report going into hundreds of pages of detail, critics say it offers few fresh insights into the plane's disappearance and gives no explanation about what happened to the flight once it dropped off the radar. Heinrich Grossbongardt, an independent aviation expert, told German broadcaster Deutsche Welle: "As of today there are absolutely no indications of what may have happened on board. What we can say, is that there is no known technical failure mode, which would explain the aircraft's deviation from its planned flight path. So far as it's humanly possible to tell, we have to assume that it is the result of deliberate action."​

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MH370 search could be scaled back as fly-past theory gains support

5 March

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has warned that the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 cannot go on in its current form forever.

Almost a year after the plane's disappearance, Abbott promised families of the missing passengers that the authorities would keep searching.

"My pledge is that we are taking every reasonable step to bring your uncertainty to an end," he said during an address to Australia's Parliament. "I can't promise that the search will go on at this intensity forever. But I do reassure the families of our hope and our expectation that the ongoing search will succeed."

Flight MH370 left Kuala Lumpur on 7 March 2014 with 239 people on board, but disappeared on its way to Beijing.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), which is leading the search, has scoured 26,800 square kilometres of the ocean floor but has so far found nothing, says the Sydney Morning Herald.

"It has been the largest ever underwater search carried out to date and so far only covered 40 per cent of the designated search area," it says.

But analysis by a British pilot, who believes the plane performed a final "fly-past" of Penang island before intentionally landing in the sea, suggests the search team might be looking in the wrong place.

Captain Simon Hardy, a senior Boeing 777 captain with a major commercial airline, spent six months analysing Inmarsat's satellite communication "handshake" arcs and using mathematical "reverse engineering" to arrive at his conclusion.

He believes that the missing Malaysia Airlines plane was intentionally landed on the water and sank intact about 100 nautical miles away from where ATSB is currently conducting its search, and outside the core target area being trawled.

His theory was first published on the aviation website Flight Global last year, but ATSB has since been in contact with Hardy to discuss his findings and has described his theory as "credible".

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

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

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

He believes the "fly-past" holds the key to the perpetrator, suggesting that Shah did a "nice long turn and looked down on Penang".

David Learmount, an aviation expert from Flight Global, who spent weeks checking Hardy's calculations, says the theory is "thoroughly plausible".

Meanwhile, Australia, Indonesia and Malaysia are due to trial a new method of tracking planes, which enables flights to be tracked every 15 minutes rather than the current 30 to 40 minutes, reports the BBC. The tracking rate is expected to increase to five minutes or less if there is any deviation from a plane's expected route.

Flight MH370: pilot 'carried out final fly-past of Penang'

2 March

A British pilot's theory that flight MH370 performed a final "fly-past" of Penang island before intentionally landing in the sea has been described as "credible" by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.

Captain Simon Hardy, a senior Boeing 777 captain with a major commercial airline, spent six months analysing Inmarsat's satellite communication "handshake" arcs and using mathematical "reverse engineering" to arrive at his conclusion.

He believes that the missing Malaysia Airlines plane was intentionally landed on the water and sank intact about 100 nautical miles away from where ATSB is currently conducting its search, and outside of the core target area being trawled.

His theory was first published on the aviation new website Flight Global last year, but ATSB has since been in contact with Hardy to discuss his findings.

The plane, which has been missing for almost a year, left Kuala Lumpur on 7 March 2014 with 239 people on board but disappeared on its way to Beijing.

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

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

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

He believes the "fly-past" holds the key to the perpetrator, suggesting that Shah did a "nice long turn and looked down on Penang".

David Learmount, an aviation expert from Flight Global, who spent weeks checking Hardy's calculations, says the theory is "thoroughly plausible".

Meanwhile, Australia, Indonesia and Malaysia are due to trial a new method of tracking planes, which enables flights to be tracked every 15 minutes rather than the current 30 to 40 minutes, reports the BBC. The tracking rate is expected to increase to five minutes or less if there is any deviation from a plane's expected route.

MH370: Missing plane 'deliberately flown towards Antarctica'

25 February

New evidence suggests that the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 may have been deliberately flown off course in the direction of Antarctica, a documentary team has found. 

Aviation disaster experts analysed data from the night the plane went missing and confirmed that the Boeing 777 flew on for "several hours" after it lost radio contact.

The team's examination shows that the plane, which vanished last March, executed three separate manoeuvres after its final radio call, first turning left, then turning twice more to fly west and then south towards Antarctica. 

Malcolm Brenner, an aviation disaster expert interviewed for a new National Geographic documentary, said that the manoeuvres appeared to indicate that someone in the cockpit "deliberately flew MH370 off course", the Daily Mail reports.

The theory comes against a backdrop of renewed hope for families of the MH370 passengers that the missing plane will be found, after the man in charge of the current underwater search expressed confidence that wreckage would be discovered in the next three months. 

Australian Transport Safety Bureau Chief Commissioner Martin Dolan said he was confident that his team's underwater search would locate the plane.

"I don't wake up every day thinking 'this will be the day' but I do wake up every day hoping this will be it, and expecting that sometime between now and May that will be the day," he said.

"It's been both baffling and from our point of view unprecedented – not only the mystery of it, but also the scale of what we're doing to find the aircraft. As we keep on pointing out, we don't have a certainty, only a confidence that we'll find the missing aircraft."

The absence of any surface debris from the missing plane has confounded many involved in the search, but Dolan said his team was not surprised that no remnants of the missing plane have yet been found, News.com.au reports.

It "would have been good to have found surface wreckage", he said, but his team was not expecting it. "We don't know how much debris there would've been on the surface in the first place, and it's possible any floating wreckage might have sunk," Dolan added.

MH370: couple on trial for stealing from passengers

10 February

A married couple in Malaysia are on trial for allegedly stealing more than £20,000 from the bank accounts of four passengers on missing flight MH370 in the months after the plane disappeared.

HSBC employee Nur Shila Kanan and her husband Basheer Ahmad Maula Sahul Hameed are accused of making dozens of illegal transfers and withdrawals from four accounts, amounting to RM110,643 (£20,320 in today's exchange rate).

The bank discovered the withdrawals during an accounts audit in July last year, four months after the Malaysia Airlines flight vanished on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board.

The accounts belonged to two Chinese victims Tian Junwei and Ju Kun, and two Malaysian victims Hue Pui Heng and Tan Sze Hiang, reports The Star.

According to Ravi Arumugam, an HSBC customer service manager who gave evidence today, a bank staff member must have overseen the illegal cash transactions.

Money was transferred from the accounts of victims Ju, Hue and Tan into the account of the fourth victim Tian and then removed through dozens of ATM withdrawals at locations across Kuala Lumpur.

A further RM35,000 (£6,400) was transferred from Hue's account to a local bank account belonging to one "Ali Farhan Khan" and withdrawn by a person using that name.

Nur Shila faces 12 charges of illegally transferring cash; theft; cheating to obtain approval for a debit card and a new internet banking application; and using forged documents at a branch of HSBC.

Her husband, a mechanic, faces four charges of allegedly using a debit card and an ATM card to withdraw cash from the bank accounts.

Last month, an arrest warrant was issued for the couple after they failed to appear in court to answer the charges. They later turned up in court on 13 January.

Flight MH370 search hit by two tropical cyclones

04 February

Two tropical cyclones in the southern Indian Ocean have forced a temporary suspension of the search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

Three ships involved in the search had to halt operations on Sunday as tropical cyclones Eunice and Diamondra were expected to whip up waves of up to 12 metres. The search is expected to resume tomorrow as the weather calms.

The Boeing 777, which had 239 people on board, has been missing for almost 11 months after it disappeared on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on 8 March 2014.

According to an update from the Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC), hi-tech equipment such as the Autonomous Underwater Vessel dangling under the sea by kilometres of cable, was retrieved safely before the severe weather conditions set in.

Three vessels, Fugro Discovery, Fugro Equator and Fugro Supporter, then left the area or "battened down" to see out the storm.

A fourth ship, GO Phoenix, is currently picking up supplies at the Port of Fremantle, Perth.

Around a third of the priority search area in the southern Indian Ocean has been scoured by the four vessels, jointly funded by Australia and Malaysia, without success, reports News.com.au.

The JACC has described the search as "unprecedented", with the "remote and previously unmapped" area reaching depths of 6,000 metres. "The search area contains underwater mountains, crevasses, ridges and 2,000 metre sheer cliffs, all of which may slow down the search," it explained.

The delay comes just days after the Malaysian government formally declared flight MH370 an "accident", opening the gateway for families of the passengers to seek compensation payments.

"This declaration is by no means the end," it added. "We will forge ahead with the cooperation and assistance of the governments of China and Australia. MH370, its passengers and its crew will always be remembered and honoured."

MH370 shot down by US, says former airline CEO

27 January

The former director of French airline Proteus has suggested that a US military jet shot down Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 over the Indian Ocean to prevent it being used to attack an airbase on Diego Garcia. 

Marc Dugain also said that he had been warned off delving too deeply into the fate of flight MH370 by a British intelligence officer who told him that he was taking "risks", according to France Inter.

The Independent reports that Dugain had travelled to the Maldives and interviewed witnesses "who reportedly told him they had seen a 'huge plane flying at a really low altitude' towards the island bearing the Malaysia Airlines colours".

MH370 conspiracy theories: what happened to the missing plane?

According to the official account of MH370's final hours, the missing plane probably did make a sharp left turn to fly west towards the American base on the British territory of Diego Garcia soon after it lost radio contact with air traffic controllers.

However, it is believed to have made another left turn thousands of miles before it reached the base, which is about halfway between Indonesia and East Africa. MH370 then flew south before running out of fuel and crashing into the ocean about 1,000 miles off the Australian coast, according to an analysis based on satellite tracking data.

In an article for Paris Match, Dugain rejects this theory and says the plane will not be found in the search zone.

Instead he argues that in order to cover up evidence of its actions the US sent air accident investigators on a wild goose chase. He said it was not possible that an object the size of a Boeing 777 could disappear without trace unless someone was deliberately concealing its whereabouts.

Since Malaysia Airlines lost contact with the plane in March last year, MH370 conspiracy theories have proliferated. Meanwhile investigators continue their search in the southern Indian Ocean.

Hackers post 'plane not found' message on Malaysia Airlines website

21 December 

Malaysia Airlines' website has been hacked by a group describing itself as the "Lizard Squad - Official Cyber Caliphate" and claiming links with Islamic State.

Airline officials confirmed that the website has been 'compromised' but assured customers that bookings and other personal data were still safe and undamaged, the BBC reports. The website was back to normal soon after the attack.

The hackers chose to replace the front page of the website with an image of a tuxedo-wearing lizard and the message "404 - Plane Not Found", a reference to the missing flight MH370 which is believed to have crashed off the coast of Australia last March.

The Lizard Squad previously claimed a cyber attack on Sony and Microsoft online networks.

It is unclear why the IS-linked hackers chose to attack a Malaysian company. However, The Guardian says that Malaysia has recently joined the debate about the recruitment of foreign fighters for the terrorist organisation.

Last week Malaysian authorities said they detained 120 people suspected of having sympathies with IS or planning to travel to Syria to join the extremist group. 

MH370: Hunt for missing plane delayed by technical fault

18 December

The search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is not expected to finish as early as previously thought, due to a technical fault on board one of the vessels scouring the Indian Ocean.

The Fugro Discovery, one of three ships involved in the operation developed a "system issue" with a component of its search equipment, according to investigators from Australia's Joint Agency Co-ordination Centre (Jacc), who have been leading the mission.

As a result, its "search activities have been suspended while the issue is remedied", they told Sky News Australia. However, the search efforts conducted by two other vessels will continue throughout the Christmas period and into the New Year. 

This means the search of the priority zone, a 23,000 square smile arc in the Indian Ocean, will be not be finished by May, as had previously been predicted.

Flight MH370 disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on 8 March this year with 239 people on board. No trace of the plane or its passengers has been discovered since, despite an extensive £57m search operation off the western coast of Australia. 

Nine months later, relatives of those on board the plane say they still believe that their loved ones will be found, The Guardian reports. "I still have hope. Maybe 1 per cent – maybe half a per cent – but I still keep the hope," said one family member.

MH370: search for missing plane could be over by May

15 December

Search crews scouring the remote area of the Indian Ocean in which the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is believed to have crashed say they could have completed their work by May next year.

The priority zone, a 23,000 square smile arc off the coast of Western Australia, was drawn up using analysis of electronic "pings" - bursts of data transmitted by the missing aircraft and detected by satellites.

Investigators from Australia's Joint Agency Co-ordination Centre (Jacc), who have been leading the search, say they have now covered two thirds of the priority zone. As long as there are no delays with the vessel, equipment or weather, they say, the search will be finished within the next five months.

Flight MH370 was en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing when it vanished on 8 March this year with 239 people on board. No trace of the Boeing 777 or its passengers has been seen since, despite a £57m search operation.

Last week, families of the victims gave investigators DNA samples in order to help identify victims if any wreckage is found, the Australian Associated Press reports.

Danica Weeks, whose husband, Paul, was on the flight told the Australian Sunday Times that his disappearance continues to haunt her and that she will not be able to rest until the wreckage is discovered.

"You are searching the news constantly for any small piece of information that may give you a clue to their whereabouts,"she said, "and your heart pounds every time the phone rings. Is this it? Have they found something?"

Flight MH370: former Boeing  777 pilot points to sabotage

4 December

Missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 could only have swerved off course due to sabotage, a retired Boeing 777 pilot has claimed.

The plane is believed to be located along the so-called 'seventh arc' in the southern Indian Ocean, after it veered off its flight path from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on 8 March.

Byron Bailey, a former RAAF fighter pilot, charter pilot and senior captain with Emirates, said that even if something happened to the flight crew, the plane would have flown itself to Beijing via its pre-programmed computer.

"For it to alter course and fly a different route as alleged would require the deliberate manual intervention of someone with considerable expertise of FMS [flight management computers] protocols, which suggests a pre-planned intention," he writes in Australia's Daily Telegraph.

If the flight had crashed in an accident, "masses of debris would be floating around for a long time afterwards", says Bailey.

He also explains that the 777 has 80 computers and three sets of nearly every system on board – including three radios, three radar transponders, three autopilots and three flight management computers – to ensure a "practically fail safe" operation.

"A failure of one will result in transfer, usually automatically, to another. This means for air traffic control to lose secondary radar contact with MH370 someone had to deactivate all three by manually selecting them to off," says the former pilot.

He cast doubt on the theory of an electrical failure, pointing to the plane's five generators, and ruled out a fire or decompression, saying that there would have been time to contact air traffic control.

"Then there is the hijack theory," he says. "On board were two pilots and 14 cabin crew. None of the passengers came under suspicion and the flight deck is reinforced and kept locked. Airlines have security protocols in place to prevent unauthorised access to the flight deck."

Bailey says he personally believes the plane is still intact and in 6,000m of water. He adds: "If we search long enough it will be found."

MH370: Investigators 'can't agree where missing plane went down'

2 December

The search for flight MH370 is reportedly being hampered by disagreements between five agencies involved in the investigation about the location of the missing plane.

Boeing, the Thales Group, the United States National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), British satellite company Inmarsat and the Australian Defence Science and Technology Organisation are now "divided in their conclusions about where to concentrate the search", the Wall Street Journal says.

Martin Dolan, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau chief commissioner, insists that the various viewpoints are an important part of the multi-agency search for MH370.

"There is no disagreement," Dolan said, "just the deliberate application of differing analysis models."

But differences of opinion have led to search vessels being sent to a range of locations several hundred miles apart, the Daily Mail reports.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 was en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing when it vanished on 8 March this year with 239 people on board. No trace of the Boeing 777 or its passengers has been seen since, despite a £57m search operation.

The airline is facing a negligence case brought by two sons of a businessman who was on board the flight,  and has been given until 15 December to reply in court. 

"The plaintiffs allege that Malaysia Airlines was negligent and failed to take all due safety measures, and that the government did not try to establish contact within reasonable time after the flight disappeared from radar," Australian site 9news.com.au reports.

The lawsuit also blames immigration officials in Kuala Lumpur for failing to spot people travelling with fake identification. Two Iranian passengers are believed to have used forged ID papers to board flight MH370, although investigators have ruled out their involvement in any plot to bring down the aircraft.

Malaysia Airlines last week apologised for a promotional tweet saying: "Want to go somewhere but don't know where?" Commentators suggested that the campaign was in poor taste given the ongoing mystery about the whereabouts of MH370.

MH370: new drift model could 'help find aircraft debris'

27 November

Australian officials tasked with searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 have enlarged the area in which they say wreckage is likely to come ashore.

Scientists are working on a new "drift model" which predicts where debris transported by ocean currents will eventually end up.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau originally thought that the first objects would drift ashore on the Indonesian coast of Sumatra after 123 days, according to Reuters.

"We are currently working ... to see if we can get an updated drift model for a much wider area where there might be possibilities of debris washing ashore," said Australian search coordinator, Peter Foley.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 disappeared more than nine months ago en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. There have since been countless reports of debris being washed ashore on the Australian coastline, but none has so far been linked with the missing Boeing 777.

However, officials remain optimistic. "Something is going to wash up somewhere on the beach, most probably in Sumatra," Foley said. "Things in the ocean take a long time to come ashore." 

It is believed that the 239 people died on flight MH370, although no trace of any passenger has yet been found.

Australian authorities continue to search a large swathe of the southern Indian Ocean for the wreckage. Over 2,600 square miles of sea floor has so far been searched.

MH370: Details of who was on missing plane are being withheld, says airline chief

25 November

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."

The comments came to light in the previously unpublished transcript of an interview conducted by specialist German aviation journalist Andreas Spaeth.

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'

25 November

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

19 November

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.

MH370: 'shock' at claim that plane will be declared 'lost'

11 November

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.

MH370: children of missing passenger sue Malaysia Airlines

31 October

The two children of a Malaysian man who vanished on flight MH370 are suing Malaysia Airlines for negligence.

Jee Kinson, 13, and Jee Kinland, 11, are seeking damages for mental distress, emotional pain and loss of support after their father Jee Jing Hang disappeared with the doomed flight en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in March.

Their lawyers have filed a lawsuit at the Kuala Lumpur High Court claiming that the airline failed to contact the plane within a reasonable amount of time after it disappeared.

The BBC says it is believed to be the first legal case filed in Malaysia since the incident on 8 March.

In June, the Wall Street Journal reported that the families of the 239 victims would each be paid an initial amount of £30,000 in compensation. However, many of the families refused to accept the payment, arguing that it had not been proven that their loved ones had died.

Each family was also given around £3,000 to cover their expenses as they waited in hotels in Kuala Lumpur and Beijing to hear news of the aircraft's fate.

Malaysia's foreign affairs department said a final compensation payment would be decided "when the issue of the tragedy" is over.

Under International Civil Aviation Organisation rules, passengers' relatives can receive up to around £109,500 in compensation. But the final amount can typically only be determined after the plane is found and an inquiry establishes the cause of the crash, said the WSJ.

Nevertheless, Arunan Selvaraj, the lawyer for the Jee children, is hoping that their lawsuit will be successful. "We have waited for eight months. After speaking to various experts, we believe we have sufficient evidence for a strong case," he said. "A big plane missing in this age of technology is really unacceptable."

Their lawsuit accuses the Malaysian government and air force of gross neglect and breach of duty, but Selvaraj says that without evidence and the whereabouts of the plane, it currently looks "very difficult" to bring a suit against the country's government and military. 

MH370: search to 'intensify' as new phase begins

30 October

The hunt for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is about to intensify as another search vessel joins the operation, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has said.

A ship that was involved in the first phase of the operation has finished mapping out the seabed and is expected to join two other vessels in their underwater search for the wreckage "in the coming days".

Multi-beam sonar mapping technology has been used to chart 60,000 square miles of seabed in the remote region of the southern Indian Ocean where flight MH370 is believed to have crashed.

"[This] provided knowledge of the terrain that was essential for the underwater search," says the ATSB.

The two vessels already involved in the latest phase of the operation have so far examined about 1,000 square miles of the search area.

"While it is impossible to determine with certainty where the aircraft may have entered the water, the available data and analysis indicate that the most likely location lies close to a long but narrow arc in the southern Indian Ocean (where the aircraft last communicated with a ground station through a satellite)," ATSB noted.

In recent weeks, some airline industry insiders have raised new doubts that flight MH370 did end in the Indian Ocean. Tim Clark, head of Emirates, is among those calling for a fundamental review of the case.

The search efforts have been co-ordinated by Australian authorities and jointly funded by the Malaysian and Australian authorities. The total cost of the operation is expected to exceed $150 million.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 went missing on 8 March with 239 people on board.

MH370: Malaysia '99.9% sure' missing plane will be found

24 October

With the underwater search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 intensifying, the country's defence minister has said that he is "99 per cent sure" that the missing plane will be found.

Hishammuddin Hussein was speaking at the launch of the GO Phoenix, a ship equipped with a probe designed to scour the sea bed for signs of the lost Boeing 777.

"This is cutting-edge technology, he told Sky News. "My personal view based on experts' opinion [is] 99.9 per cent sure" that the plane will be found.

His comments come two weeks after British satellite company Inmarsat acknowledged that "significant uncertainty" remains about MH370's final flight path.

"The aircraft remained operational for at least seven hours after the loss of contact as the satellite terminal continued to transmit messages during this period," the company said, but analysis of the data could not conclusively determine the plane's final resting place.

Sir Tim Clark, the president and chief executive of Emirates, recently said that he was unsatisfied with the investigation into the fate of flight MH370.

"There hasn't been one overwater incident in the history of civil aviation – apart from Amelia Earhart in 1939 – that has not been at least 5 or 10 per cent trackable," he told Der Spiegel. "But MH370 has simply disappeared. For me, that raises a degree of suspicion. I'm totally dissatisfied with what has been coming out of all of this.

"Every single second of that flight needs to be examined up until it, theoretically, ended up in the Indian Ocean – for which they still haven't found a trace, not even a seat cushion."

He also questioned whether data exchanged between the aircraft and Inmarsat's satellite, which has been used to predict the aircraft's flight path, was reliable.

"We have not seen a single thing that suggests categorically that this aircraft is where they say it is," he said, "apart from this so-called electronic satellite 'handshake', which I question as well."

On Wednesday, Hishammuddin dismissed the suggestion that the search had been mishandled.

"All that could have been done to find the plane at this point has been done," he said. 

A second ship, the Fugro Discovery, has now joined the underwater search for the remains of MH370 in a remote area of the southern Indian Ocean more than 1,000 miles west of Australia.

Flight MH370 went missing on 8 March with 239 people on board.

MH370: were Tony Abbott's black box claims 'reckless'?

21 October

Tony Abbott has come under pressure to explain why he expressed confidence that early pings detected in the search for the missing flight MH370 were from the plane's black box.

The Australian prime minister had received no official briefing from his department or the special search envoy before making the comments, according to a report from The Guardian.

Christine Milne, the leader of Australia's opposition Greens Party, questioned whether Abbott acted recklessly in making the statement. In a Senate hearing yesterday, she pressed him to explain where he had obtained his information.

Abbott's comments came in the weeks after the Malaysia Airlines plane disappeared on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board.

At a press conference in China, he said that the search area had been "very much narrowed" after acoustic noises, or pings, were detected. He added that he was "very confident" that the pings were coming from the plane's black box.

However, Angus Houston, head of the Australian team co-ordinating the search, released a statement on the same day to stress that there had been "no major breakthrough".

Scientists later condemned Abbott's announcement as premature and lacking in detailed analysis – and the area that Abbott was talking about was  subsequently discounted as the final resting place of MH370.

Families of passengers on board told Sky News at the time that they felt "helpless" and "angry", and questioned where Abbott had got his evidence from.

Australia's Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC) last night said that Abbott had spoken without an official briefing from its staff, but insisted that he had been in constant discussion with the search team.

However, opposition leader Milne said that neither the Australian Maritime Safety Authority nor the Bureau of Transport and Safety had provided the advice to the prime minister.

"It was pretty reckless, surely, to go and make a statement like that if there's no detailed analysis at all of the substance," she told the Senate.

MH370: Indian Ocean crash theory in doubt

15 October

The fate of Malaysia Airlines' missing flight MH370 has been thrown into doubt once again after a British satellite company central to the search said that there was "significant uncertainty" about the final flight path of the Boeing 777.

As underwater searches for the aircraft continue in the southern Indian Ocean, Inmarsat – one of the companies whose analysis of satellite data has been critical to helping refine the investigation – has published a report on the data analysis techniques in the Journal of Navigation.

The report goes into "extraordinary detail" about the so-called "handshakes" between MH370 and satellite communication equipment prior to the plane's disappearance, News.com.au reports.

Through close analysis of the satellite data it is possible to deduce that "the aircraft remained operational for at least seven hours after the loss of contact as the satellite terminal continued to transmit messages during this period", but it is not possible to be certain about the plane's final resting place, Inmarsat concluded.

The main problem for analysts, the report said, is that the information they are working from cannot be refined significantly enough to confidently identify the plane's final resting place.

"A potential flight path has been reconstructed that is consistent with the satellite data ... but it is stressed that the sensitivity of the reconstructed flight path to frequency errors is such that there remains significant uncertainty in the final location," the report said.

The new report comes just two days after airline chief Sir Tim Clark, the head of Emirates, criticised the search for MH370 in Der Spiegel newspaper.

Clark, whose fleet has 127 aircraft identical to the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, said: "Our experience tells us that in water incidents, where the aircraft has gone down, there is always something. I am saying that all the 'facts' of this particular incident must be challenged and examined with a full transparency. We are nowhere near that."

He added: "There is plenty of information out there, which we need to be far more forthright, transparent and candid about. Every single second of that flight needs to be examined up until it theoretically ended up in the Indian Ocean – for which they still haven't found a trace, not even a seat cushion."

Flight MH370: official report claims plane 'spiralled' into sea

09 October

Missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 spiralled into the Indian Ocean as its fuel ran out, according to the first official account of the plane's final moments.

The report, by the Australian Transportation Safety Board, concludes that the Boeing 777's right-hand engine was likely to have cut out first, followed by the left engine.

"This scenario resulted in the aircraft entering a descending, spiralling, low bank angle left-hand turn and the aircraft entering the water a relatively short distance after the last engine flame out," said the report, which is based on months of flight simulations and complex mathematical models.

For the report, investigators assumed that the plane was flying on auto pilot at around 35,000ft and at a speed in excess of 460mph.

The conclusion will provide "fresh encouragement" that the plane is likely to be found close to where analysis of satellite communications suggests it hit the sea, about 1,120 miles off the west Australian coast, says The Times.

ATSB is coordinating the search for the missing plane and its 239 passengers and crew, who disappeared seven months ago on their way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. The first of three specialist ships contracted to search the sea-floor arrived in the search zone on Monday.

The official findings dispute theories that the aircraft glided hundreds of miles in an unknown direction after its engines stopped.

In an earlier report in June, ATSB said the most likely theory was that the passengers and crew, including the pilots, had been incapacitated by oxygen starvation early in the flight and that the plane flew for more than six hours as a ghost flight.

The board believes the aircraft descended along the so-called "seventh arc" – an area within which the plane is believed to have made its final satellite "handshake". However, the report has moved estimates of where the aircraft hit the water slightly to the south.

Flight MH370: officials optimistic missing plane will be found

6 October

The man leading the underwater search for flight MH370 has said he is "cautiously optimistic" that the missing plane will be found, as the next phase in the search operation began today in the southern Indian Ocean.

A ship contracted by the Malaysian government, the GO Phoenix, equipped with specialised sonar equipment, arrived in the area in which experts believe the missing plane went down.

Ananlysis of satellite data suggests that the Boeing 777, which disappeared on 8 March with 239 people on board, crashed into the ocean northwest of the Australian city of Perth.

Martin Dolan, chief commissioner of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, which is leading the underwater search, told the ABC that he was cautiously optimistic about finding the missing plane.

"Cautious because of all the technical and other challenges we've got," he said, "but optimistic because we're confident in the analysis. But it's just a very big area that we're looking at."

The previous search for the plane was halted four months ago to allow officials to conduct a massive underwater mapping exercise to survey the seabed using sonar devices.

The maps are regarded as essential to the search effort because the area being investigated is peppered with volcanoes, deep clefts and mountainous ridges. Such vast topographical features could damage the delicate equipment that will be dragged by the search team just 100 meters above the seabed.

"You can imagine if you're towing a device close to the seafloor, you want to know if you're about to run into a mountain," said Stuart Minchin, chief of the environmental geoscience division at Geoscience Australia.

Later this month, the GO Phoenix will be joined by two ships, the Equator and Discovery, sent by Dutch contractor Fugro, the BBC reports. Each ship will have a crew of 25 to 35 people who will work 24 hours a day for periods of up to 30 days at a stretch before returning to port to refuel and resupply.

"The most efficient way is to keep going," Dolan said. "But you have to be careful with the well-being of your crews, to be sure you're not pushing them too hard."

The operation is expected to last at least a year.

Flight MH370: search teams release images of 'mountainous' ocean floor

29 September

The Australian team leading the hunt for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has released new images of the "priority" search area that show deep clefts and huge ridges that on dry land would reach higher than the European Alps.

The search team is currently carrying out an extensive sonar survey of an area in the Southern Indian Ocean in which the plane is thought to have gone down. Three-dimensional images produced during the operation show remnants of ancient volcanoes, huge peaks and 1,400-metre trenches.

Richard Westcott, the BBC's transport correspondent, says that until now "there were better maps of Mars than of this bit of the sea floor".

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau, the agency leading the search, said in a statement that the underwater survey "has revealed many of these seabed features for the first time".

The new images underline the complexity of the search for flight MH370. Since the Boeing 777 disappeared on 8 March this year with 239 people on board, 26 countries have helped with the investigation but so far nothing has been found.

The 23,000-square-mile search area was determined through analysis of a series of so-called "hello" messages sent by MH370 and received by a satellite before the plane disappeared.

Experts say that mapping the key features of the priority search area is the first step of the underwater search phase of the operation, which is due to begin next month.

Flight MH370: six months on emotions run high 

08 September

Relatives of the passengers on board Malaysia Airlines' missing flight MH370 have gathered at a Beijing temple to commemorate six-months since the disappearance of the plane.

But prayers soon turned into a demonstration, with relatives demanding answers and accountability from the airline as well as the Chinese and Malaysian governments. Police reportedly attempted to disperse people, sparking a confrontation.

"Where are our children?" one woman shouted. "Mum and dad are waiting for you!" said another.

"I think Malaysia Airlines and the Malaysian government are cheating people – and while the whole world is watching, nobody will tell us anything," Dai Shuqin told The Guardian, whose sister was on the plane.

Investigators are no closer to solving "the greatest aviation mystery in recent history," the paper says, six months after flight MH370 disappeared on March 8 with 239 people on board.

At the end of this month the Dutch company Fugro will begin the next phase of the search for the missing aircraft, with officials saying they still remain "cautiously optimistic" that that the missing plane will be found.

However, not everyone shares their confidence. "We need to remember … that it took two years to find Air France flight AF447, whose last position was known with much more precision," Daniel O'Malley from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau told the Sydney Morning Herald. "We're dealing with a much more challenging set of circumstances."

Relatives have been offered $50,000 in compensation from the airline but most have refused to accept it, according to Bian Liangwei, whose brother was on board the flight. "All we care about is getting back our relatives," said Bian. "Without any proof that they're dead, we can only assume they're still alive." 

Malaysia Airlines in 'bucket list' gaffe after MH370 and MH17 

3 September

Malaysia Airlines has been forced to rename a new "bucket list" competition condemned as "macabre" in the wake of the MH370 and MH17 disasters.

The beleaguered airline announced last week that it would give out 12 return tickets to Malaysia to its Australian and New Zealand customers as part of a promotion entitled "My Ultimate Bucket List".

Customers were asked to tell the airline which destinations were on their bucket list, a term often used to refer to the things someone wants to do before they die – or "kick the bucket".

Critics immediately attacked the airline for the tasteless marketing ploy. Time magazine called it "macabre" and "horrific" given that 537 people lost their lives flying on the airline this year, while even the Malaysian Insider admitted it "was not exactly the best choice of words".

All 298 people on flight MH17 died when the plane was shot down on the Russian-Ukraine border on 18 July and 239 people on flight MH370 are missing and believed dead after the plane disappeared on 8 March. MH370 inexplicably vanished on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Investigators believe it went down in the Indian Ocean but no trace of the aircraft has been found.

"Malaysia Airlines has withdrawn the title of a recent competition running in Australia and New Zealand, as it is found to be inappropriate at this point in time," a statement by the airline said today. "The competition had been earlier approved as it was themed around a common phrase that is used in both countries. The airline appreciates and respects the sentiments of the public and in no way did it intend to offend any parties."

The contest has now been renamed "Win an iPad or Malaysia Airlines flight to Malaysia", with entrants invited to share their "life's ultimate to-do list".

Flight MH370 'veered off course earlier than thought'

29 August

After further analysis of satellite data, authorities searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 now believe the plane may have changed course earlier than had previously been thought.

As a result, they will focus their efforts on the southern part of the search area identified in the Indian Ocean.

The decision was based on refinement of satellite data relating to the final known movements of the Boeing 777 airliner, the BBC reports.

If the new analysis is correct, the final resting place for the wreckage of the MH370 may lie in a remote area of the ocean to the west of the Australian city of Perth.

The aircraft vanished with 239 people onboard while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on 8 March. Investigators still do not know what happened to the flight, and say that finding the plane's black box recorders will be the key to understanding the aviation mystery.

In a press conference yesterday, the Australian deputy prime minister Warren Truss said that experts now believe that the jet "might have turned south a little earlier than we had previously expected".

The Dutch contractor Fugro Survey will begin a new search in three weeks using underwater vehicles equipped with side-scan sonar – a system than can create images of large areas of the sea floor – multi-beam echo sounders and video equipment to try to recover the missing plane, Truss said.

Malaysia maintains overall responsibility for the search, but Australia has taken on a practical role in coordinating the operation. China – the country that had the most citizens onboard the flight – reaffirmed that the search will "not be interrupted or given up".

Malaysia Airlines announced today that it will cut a fifth of its staff, including its chief executive, in a bid to revive the company's ailing fortunes and avert the threat of total collapse. The Malaysian government said that through its radical restructuring plan it hopes to achieve "sustained commercial viability" in four to five years.

Flight MH370: new book claims pilot shut off cabin air supply 

20 August

One of the pilots in command of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 deliberately turned off the passengers' oxygen supply before performing a controlled ditching in the sea, a new book has claimed.

Goodnight Malaysian 370 suggests that all 227 passengers on board the Malaysia Airlines plane died of oxygen starvation up to four hours before aircraft sunk into the sea.

The book is written by Ewan Wilson, who holds qualifications as a transport safety investigator, and Geoff Taylor, deputy editor of New Zealand's Waikato Times newspaper.

The two men spent four months analysing the available evidence and conducting interviews with authorities in Malaysia and families of those on board.

Wilson believes the most likely scenario is that pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah deliberately depressurised the cabin, depriving those on board of air, reports the Daily Mirror.

Oxygen masks would have dropped down in the cabin but the supply was limited to just 20 minutes, he says. Wilson suggests that Shah may have had access to a more extensive air supply and locked his co-pilot out of the cockpit. A controlled ditching in the sea would also explain why no debris has been found, says Wilson.

An earlier report from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau concluded that passengers may have died from hypoxia, while Malaysian authorities previously named Ahmad Shah as their prime suspect. However, investigators have not found any evidence to prove that the pilot was responsible for the disappearance of the plane.

Wilson, a former commercial pilot, was chief executive of the cut-price New Zealand airliner Kiwi Air in the 1990s. However, the airline collapsed in 1996 and Wilson was subsequently found guilty on four counts of fraud relating to statements about his financial position at the time, reports the New Strait Times.

Goodnight Malaysian 370, which does not appear to offer conclusive evidence to support its theory, adds to the growing speculation about MH370's fate. Five months after the Malaysia Airlines flight vanished on 8 March there is still no trace of wreckage or debris from the Boeing 777.

Flight MH370: £21,000 stolen from four missing passengers

15 August

At least two people have been arrested after £21,000 disappeared from the bank accounts of four passengers from the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

A bank in Kuala Lumpur noticed suspicious activity in one of the victim's accounts during an internal audit last month. It discovered that cash had been transferred into it from three other bank accounts belonging to MH370 passengers.

More than £6,500 was then transferred online to a local bank account under the name "Ali Faran" on 14 July. A person using this name withdrew the cash at a local bank and the remaining money was withdrawn from several ATMs around Kuala Lumpur and its suburbs, according to Malaysian newspaper the New Strait Times.

Kuala Lumpur's commercial crime investigation department said the bank lodged a police report on 2 August.A police source told the New Strait Times that the suspect was "believed to be a foreigner because a passport number was used to open an account".

Officers have arrested a 33-year-old female bank employee who is suspected of approving the renewal of a bank card belonging to one of the passengers. Her husband was also arrested.

The police source added: "More individuals are believed to be involved and we are in the midst of tracking and identifying them."

When asked if the bank accounts of other MH370 victims faced a similar fate, the source said it was "possible".The money appears to have gone missing four months after the plane vanished on 8 March on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 227 passengers and 12 crew members on board.

The search to find the missing plane has become one of the most expensive in aviation history. Teams are currently scanning a 60,000-square-kilometre area in the Indian Ocean, with a deep-water search planned for September.

Flight MH370: Dutch firm gets $52m contract to find plane

6 August

A Dutch firm has been awarded a contract worth $52 million to look for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

Warren Truss, Australia's deputy prime minister, said he was still 'cautiously optimistic' that MH370 will be found, the Guardian reports.

Truss said the Dutch company Furgo was chosen because it offered "the best value-for-money technical solution". 

The announcement comes five months after MH370 went missing between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing with 239 passengers on board. Investigators are still no closer to discovering what happened to the plane, but believe that it crashed in the southern Indian Ocean.

Furgo will take charge of a new phase of the search operation in September, which will last for up to a year. The team will use sonar scanning to explore 23,000 square miles of seabed, roughly the size of Tasmania, which a surveying company has been mapping for the past several weeks.

Martin Dolan of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau said he hoped the team would at least find "traces of where the aircraft has entered the water so we can provide closure to the families involved and information to support the investigation". 

Truss said that the downing of flight MH17 had not affected their search for MH370 but did admit that both the airline and the Malaysian government were forced to focus on the most recent of "two extraordinary circumstances".

Flight MH370 families were 'punched' by Chinese police

28 July

Two grieving family members of flight MH370 passengers claim they were "punched and beaten" by Chinese police officers, while two children were among 16 relatives to be locked up for nearly 24 hours.

The two female relatives said they were dragged and punched by six local police officers on 19 May after asking for the release of two other family members – a father and daughter – who had been detained. They claim the attack left them with numerous bruises and the elder of the two women had to stay in hospital for three days.

In a separate incident, 16 relatives were reportedly detained by police for nearly 24 hours on 14 July after asking to see Malaysia Airlines' official video footage of passengers boarding the doomed flight.

The nine men, five women and two boys – aged six and four – had gone to a Malaysia Airlines office in the northern suburbs of Beijing after learning that Malaysian relatives had seen the footage.

Police then came and detained them. "The police accused us of being an organised group, and said that we had an agenda," one relative told the South China Morning Post. "All we wanted was to find our loved ones – people with whom we share the same blood."

Another relative told the newspaper: "We were also warned that more than ten people gathering together is illegal."

It also emerged this week that several families of the flight MH370 victims have been offering counselling to the relatives of those who died last week on the downed flight MH17.

Jacquita Gonzalez, the wife of MH370 in-flight supervisor Patrick Francis Gomez, told The Guardian: "No one deserves to go through what they're going through. Right now they [the MH17 bereaved] are like we were in the beginning: quiet and wanting their space. But we are here for them, we actually know what they're going through, we know this is so painful, so hard."

Flight MH370 search 'will not be diminished' by MH17 crash

23 July

The downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine will not distract from the search for flight MH370, Australia's deputy prime minister Warren Truss has said.

Concerns were raised after Angus Houston, head of the operation to find MH370, was dispatched to Ukraine to oversee the recovery of the Australian victims who died in last week's MH17 crash.

But Truss insisted that Australia's commitment to MH370 was "not in any way diminished" by MH17, which is believed to have been shot down by pro-Russian rebels.

"Clearly there have been things needed to be done urgently in relation to 17 but there is absolutely no interruption to the program for 370," he said.

However, he conceded that some meetings with Malaysian officials to agree the next stage of the search might be delayed "because they have so much on their plate".

No trace has been found of MH370, which disappeared while carrying 239 passengers from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

The underwater search, which is expected to take up to a year, has been pushed back from August to September as an Australian-contracted ship Fugro Equator and a Chinese survey ship Zhu Kezhen map a 23,000 square-mile area of the Indian Ocean.

The survey of the ocean floor will allow a subsequent search using deep sea remote vehicles to avoid any hazard, reports The Australian.

Truss said there had been a "good response" for tenders for the major search operation, with a wide range of proposals in terms of cost. "It's a high profile search so it attracted, I think, some keen interest," he said.

Houston's role has been temporarily filled by Judith Zielke, a senior Australian civil servant.

"We remain fully committed to conducting a thorough undersea search of the likely impact zone in the Indian Ocean," said Truss in a press statement. "Australia owes it to the families of all of those on board MH370, the travelling public and indeed the wider world to solve this mystery."

Flight MH370: 'too little done' to prevent new disappearance

16 July

More than four months after the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, industry insiders have said that not enough is being done to prevent a repeat of the disaster.

They say the absence of any firm information about what happened on board the missing Boeing 777, along with airlines' fears about the cost of new regulations and the difficulty of securing international agreement, has meant that little has changed.

"Despite promises to ensure that such an event never recurs, there are doubts about how effectively the authorities will implement any recommendations to track commercial airliners," the Financial Times reports.

Remy Jouty, head of the French air safety body the BEA, told the paper that he had encountered resistance from airlines during previous attempts to tighten up aircraft monitoring.

Flight MH17: Malaysia Airlines plane 'shot down'

After Air France flight AF447 crashed en route from Rio de Janeiro in June 2009, its flight recorders were not found for almost two years. 

In response, French air accident investigators recommended that all large aircraft flying over water should be tracked continuously, and would be required to broadcast their position, altitude, speed and heading on a regular basis.

Neither of those recommendations was implemented.

"While the tracking technology exists," the paper reports, "Mr Jouty pointed to 'a need for governments at the international level to reach an agreement'. Although ICAO had discussed the proposals, he said 'one aspect' of its failure to require tracking was lobbying by airlines concerned about cost – a view corroborated by a senior airline executive."

As the search for flight MH370 continues, an Australian blog suggests that a new analysis of data released by independent investigators supports the theory that systems on board the aircraft may have been sabotaged soon after it left Malaysian airspace.

"The jet, with 239 people on board, flew in a circular or complex path for 52 minutes off the northern tip of Sumatra," it states, "before then flying an apparently straight course southwards for more than four hours before running out of fuel off the Indian Ocean coast of Western Australia."

Flight MH370: $3m private investigation campaign flops

10 July

Families of passengers on board the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 have failed to raise $5m to fund a private investigation into what happened to the missing plane.

Some families, frustrated by the failure of official inquiries to answer their questions, had sought donations through a crowd-funding website.

Due to the shortfall, the campaign's managers have extended the money-raising project by 30 days and lowered their target to just $100,000. They also announced that they would supplement public pledges with money raised through "other avenues".

In the weeks since it was launched on the popular crowd-funding site Indiegogo, the campaign, named The Reward MH370: The Search for the Truth, has raised just $92,000 from 935 funders – well short of its original multimillion dollar target.

In the campaign's update section, organiser Ethan Hunt wrote: "Today we have extended our campaign for another 30 days. We have done this to ensure we have every opportunity to raise the funds required to meet our objectives."

Originally scheduled to end this month, the campaign will now be extended until August 8.

According to the campaign's organisers, recent world events such as the World Cup tournament, fighting in Iraq and renewed clashes in Israel had distracted attention from their fundraising efforts.

The project hopes to offer a cash reward to any whistleblower who can reveal the truth about what happened to the missing plane, MSN reports.

"Reward MH370 is about air safety, knowing what happened and why it happened and then preventing it from happening again," Hunt said in his update.

Sarah Bajc, whose partner Philip Wood was one of the 239 passengers who was onboard the plane when it disappeared on 8 March, said: "We hope this will motivate people to continue to contribute to our efforts. Investigations take time, energy and money, but if done correctly, will yield results."

Flight MH370: airline called missing plane just twice in six hours

3 July

An Australian investigation into the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 – last seen with 239 passengers onboard on 8 March – has found that the airline's staff called the missing plane just twice in six hours. 

News.com.au says "close examination" of the report, published by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau last week, reveals that 1hr 17min after the pilots made their final contact, ground staff tried to ring the plane's satellite phone. 

When there was no answer, they left an "astounding" five hours before the next attempted call. A serving Qantas pilot, Captain Richard Woodward, told the site: "Five hours is a long time if you're trying to search for the aeroplane."

He said that if the ground crew had made more calls to the plane it would have left rescuers with a clearer idea of where the flight might have ended up. He explained: "If they'd been calling the plane, the satellite would have tried to log on and the aircraft pinger would have tried to respond.

"That would have given you a distance from the station and they would have got a more accurate idea where the aircraft went. The very act of the pinging would have narrowed down where to look."

News.com.au says the report reveals that "numerous" other emergency procedures were not followed, including notifying other jets of the danger and asking them to try to make contact with MH370. It says the report paints a "woeful picture of air safety in the region". 

According to Woodward, the report also shows that the jet was not pre-programmed by its pilot to crash. No one in the cockpit had used 'waypoints' to a course south over the Indian Ocean but this does not rule out the possibility that Zaharie Ahmad Shah used the autopilot to send the plane south.

Meanwhile, a surveying company has accused the Australian authorities of failing to investigate wreckage found in the Bay of Bengal, off the coast of Bangladesh. GeoResonance says it has no evidence that the debris comes from flight MH370, but argues that the possibility should be ruled out.

The company also criticised the British satellite firm Inmarsat for releasing only data that supported the theory that the missing plane flew south. 

"The families and friends of those on board MH370 are dismayed that Inmarsat admitted the raw data released was only enough to prove their original model," the GeoResonance said, according to International Business Times.

"Everyone was expecting all of the raw data to be released, which would have allowed alternative models to be created. This could have shown up any errors that may exist in the original model which 'assumes' MH370 ended up in the Southern Indian Ocean."     

Flight MH370: mysterious power outage 'a deliberate act' 

30 June

The missing Malaysia Airlines plane appeared to suffer a mysterious power cut during the early stages of its flight, which experts believe was a deliberate attempt to hijack or sabotage the aircraft.

report from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, which is investigating the disappearance, has revealed that the plane made an unusual "log on" request – known as a "handshake" – to a satellite less than 90 minutes into the flight. The investigators said this was "not common" in the middle of a flight and likely to be caused by a "power interruption".

David Gleave, an aviation safety expert from Loughborough University, told the Daily Telegraph it could have been caused by someone attempting to turn off the plane's communications and other systems.

"A person could be messing around in the cockpit which would lead to a power interruption," he said. "It could be a deliberate act to switch off both engines for some time. By messing about within the cockpit you could switch off the power temporarily and switch it on again when you need the other systems to fly the aeroplane."

Another aviation expert, Peter Marosszeky, from the University of New South Wales, said it was likely to be a "deliberate act of turning power off" by someone who knew what they were doing. "It would have to be a deliberate act to hijack or sabotage the aircraft," he said.

In the report, released last week, investigators said it was possible that the plane had flown on autopilot and crashed into the sea once the fuel ran out. They suggested that the crew and passengers may have been unconscious in the final stages of the flight following a climb that caused oxygen starvation. However, they stressed that the theory was only a "working assumption".

Inmarsat, the company that officially analysed the flight data, has said it does not know why the aircraft experienced a power failure. "It is another little mystery," said a spokesman. "We cannot explain it. We don't know why. We just know it did it."

Flight MH370: Ghost flight theory 'most likely' explanation

27 June

Contrary to recent reports pointing the finger at the captain of Malaysia Airlines' missing flight MH370, Australian investigators have said they believe the most likely scenario was a "catastrophic event" that led to oxygen starvation on board the flight.

Members of the search team said that they believe the plane was flying on autopilot on a consistent course when it crashed into the ocean.

They stressed that the theory was only a "working assumption", The Guardian says, but a report from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau found parallels with other accidents which, in conjunction with the satellite data about the plane's flight path, suggested that the likely cause of the crash was "depressurisation and hypoxia rendering the crew unconscious".

The most recent example of a so-called "ghost flight", in which the aircraft flies on after all crew and passengers have died, was Helios Airways flight ZU522, which crashed in 2006 killing 121 people. 

The theory that something similar happened aboard flight MH370 emerged as investigators announced a new search area, focused on a narrow arc of the Indian Ocean to the south of where the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 was originally believed to have come down.

"The new priority area is still focused on the seventh arc, where the aircraft last communicated with the satellite," the Australian deputy prime minister said. "We are now shifting our attention to an area further south along the arc based on these calculations."

The next phase of the search operation is expected to begin in August. The team estimates that it will take at least a year to trawl the 23,000 square miles of ocean floor and could cost more than £30 million.

The search is already the most expensive operation in aviation history.

Flight MH370: pilot had rehearsed landing on island runway

26 June

The missing Malaysia Airlines plane was almost certainly on autopilot when it crashed into the southern Indian Ocean, it has emerged, as investigators continue to focus their attention on the captain of flight MH370.

"It is highly, highly likely that the aircraft was on autopilot otherwise it could not have followed the orderly path that has been identified through the satellite sightings," Australia's deputy prime minister Warren Truss said.

He made the comments while announcing that teams searching for the missing plane will switch their attention further south, to an area 1,100 miles off the west coast of Australia.

Earlier this week it emerged that investigators have shifted their attention to Captain Zaharie Shah, who was in command of flight MH370, after discovering that he had used his own flight simulator to practise landing on a short island runway in a remote area of the Indian Ocean. 

Although he had deleted the drills before the ill-fated flight, The Sunday Times reports that computer experts were able to retrieve them.

On Tuesday, Zaharie's wife confirmed that he made the final radio message sent from the aircraft, not his co-pilot, as Malaysia Airlines had initially said. The airline had also initially misreported the words spoken in the message – "good night, Malaysian 370" – which gave no hint of any problem on board.

Police have so far failed to turn up any hard evidence against the pilot, but he reportedly remains the prime focus of the criminal investigation after intelligence checks cleared all other passengers and crew.

"Investigators have previously refused to 'clear' the captain’s flight simulator of suspicious activity," The Independent reports. "It now appears they found evidence of routes programmed to take a plane far out into the Indian Ocean and practising landing using a short runway on an island."

Detectives, who have conducted over 170 interviews, also found that Zaharie had made no social or professional commitments beyond the date of the missing flight, in contrast to his co-pilot and the rest of the flight’s crew.

The investigation has not ruled out the possibility that flight MH370 was lost due to mechanical failure or terrorism, but the police view is that if it was the result of human action, the captain is the most likely perpetrator.

Malaysia’s prime minister, Najib Razak, gave the first hint about the government’s suspicions of "deliberate action by someone on the plane" on March 15.

Zaharie's relatives have defended him against any suggestion of wrongdoing and Malaysia's acting transport minister has dismissed the claims. Malaysian police have refused to confirm the contents of their interim report.

"The police investigation is still ongoing," they told The Sunday Times. "To date no conclusions can be made as to the contributor to the incident."

Nevertheless, the newspaper says that initial findings from the investigation have been sent to foreign governments and investigators.

Flight MH370: mystery cargo continues to raise questions

28 May

Questions continue to circle around a mystery shipment that was on board Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 when it disappeared more than two months ago.

NNR Global Logistics, a Penang-based company that handled some of the cargo, has refused to reveal its contents.

The company admitted that 200kg of lithium-ion batteries formed part of the shipment. But a senior official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Engineering and Technology (E&T) Magazine this formed only part of the consignment, which weighed a total 2,453kg.

He said that NNR Global has been told by its solicitors not to disclose details of the cargo because of the ongoing investigations into the missing aircraft.

E&T says that "what is even more surprising" is that the company that produced the batteries has also not been named.

Neither NNR Global Logistics nor Malaysia Airlines have been willing to identify the manufacturer, saying that it was "highly confidential".

When questioned, the airline said that the remaining weight was "radio accessories and charges" but this was not documented in the cargo manifest.

The manifest stated only that NNR shipped 133 pieces of one item, weighing a total of 1990kg, and 67 pieces of another item, weighing a total of 463kg.

There were also strict instructions on the manifest that the batteries should be handled with care and that there was a flammability hazard. However, several experts have ruled out the theory that the plane might have caught fire, as it would have struggled to fly on for several hours afterwards.

According to Malaysian newspaper The Star, NNR Global's base is less than 100m from Penang International Airport. "The complex is guarded by the police and only those with passes are allowed entry," said the newspaper.

Meanwhile, the underwater hunt for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane is continuing despite questions from some relatives of those onboard about whether investigators are looking in the right place.

The Malaysian government and the British satellite company Inmarsat yesterday released the data used to calculate the probable final resting place of Flight MH370.

"The newly-released technical data details satellite communications from before MH370's take-off on the Saturday morning at 12.41am to a final, 'partial handshake' transmitted by the plane at 8.19am," The Independent reports.

"The data includes a final transmission from the plane eight seconds later, after which there was no further response, as well as two “telephony calls” initiated from the ground at 2.39am and 7.13am that went unanswered by the plane."

Independent experts will now analyse the data and compare their conclusions with those of the official investigation.

However, Sarah Bajc, whose partner was on the missing aircraft, said the data released was incomplete. Some information had been omitted "to improve readability", she said, and the authorities had not provided data from previous flights following the same route, as families had requested.

Flight MH370: relatives to offer $3m reward for information

June 6

Relatives of some of the passengers last seen boarding the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 on 8 March are starting a crowd-funding campaign to raise millions of dollars to help resolve the mystery of their disappearance.

A group of family members believes "somebody is concealing something" about the plane and wants to raise $3m (£1.7m) to offer as a reward for information, says USA Today. They're seeking an additional $2m to hire a private investigator to look for the plane.

Relatives of passengers from the USA, Australia, New Zealand, France and India have launched a campaign on the crowd-funding site Indiegogo. It is not supported by families of the majority of passengers, most of whome were from China or Malaysia.

Sarah Bajc, a Beijing-based US citizen whose partner Philip Wood was on the flight, said: "We are taking matters into our own hands. I'm convinced that somebody is concealing something.

"If we just sit back on our heels and allow the existing path to continue, I don't think this will ever be solved."

She added she hoped to find "a whistle-blower who says, 'I know where to find this'" or a flight controller who can access new data. But she admitted the fund would inevitably be targeted by "unethical people".

However, the former Air Chief Marshal of Australia overseeing the southern Indian Ocean search, Angus Houston, rejected Bajc's claims. He said: "Nothing important is being concealed in any way. My approach has always been to be as open as I could possibly be."

Malaysian officials have always insisted the investigation is completely transparent, while acknowledging not all requests for information from relatives or the media can be met.

Meanwhile, The Times reports the Australian government has now put a contract to find the wreckage of the plane out to private tender. The government has budgeted $60m over the next year to fund the search and will give the winning bidder 300 days to get results.

Flight MH370: book claims missing plane was shot down

20 May

A new book claims that the missing Malaysia Airways flight MH370 may have been shot down accidentally by US-Thai joint strike fighters in a military exercise that went wrong in the South China Sea. The book also claims that search and rescue efforts were deliberately sent in the wrong direction as part of a cover-up, the Daily Mail reports.

Flight MH370 – The Mystery, by British writer Nigel Cawthorne, bases its theory on the account of a New Zealand oil rig worker Mike McKay who says he saw a jet liner "burst into fire" on the evening the flight went missing.

McKay said that he saw something "burning at high altitude" over the oil rig on which he works, the Songa Mercur located off Vung Tau, on the south east coast of Vietnam.

Cawthorne suggests that such evidence indicates that there may have been a cover-up over the disappearance of the MH370.

In the book's introduction, Cawthorne says that relatives of the plane's passengers will "almost certainly" never know the fate of those who went missing.

The family of Rod Burrows, an Australian man who was aboard the flight, criticised the timing of the book's release, 71 days after the jet went missing.

Irene Burrows, his mother, told the Melbourne Herald Sun that the publication of the book was premature. "Nobody knows what happened so why would anyone want to put out a book at this stage?" she said. "There's absolutely no answers. It's devastating for the families. It's ten weeks tomorrow and there's nothing," she said.

In a blog post, Malaysia's former prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, wrote that he believes the US Central Intelligence Agency must know something about the plane's fate.

"Airplanes don't just disappear," he wrote on his blog. "Certainly not these days with all the powerful communication systems, radio and satellite tracking and filmless cameras which operate almost indefinitely and possess huge storage capacities.

"For some reason, the media will not print anything that involves Boeing or the CIA."

In an effort to counter the increasing swirl of rumours, Malaysia said today that it would release data from the British satellite company Inmarsat which had been used to define the search area for the missing plane.

"In moving forward it is imperative for us to provide helpful information to the next of kin and general public, which will include the data communication logs as well as relevant explanation to enable the reader to understand the data provided," the Malaysian government said in a statement.

Relatives of those on board Flight MH370, who have been critical of Malaysia's response, have previously claimed that Inmarsat's data did not "support a definitive conclusion that no other flight path was possible," The Guardian reported.

Flight MH370: flight path suggests plane went 'rogue'

2 May

THE flight path of the missing Malaysia Airlines plane suggests that it tried to dodge military radar and avoid flying over land, according to a preliminary report from Malaysian authorities.

Nearly two months after the plane disappeared on 8 March, families of the missing passengers were yesterday told to return home from the hotels in Beijing and Kuala Lumpur provided by the government.

Authorities also released an interim report, including a detailed map showing the flight's unusual route. The map suggests that the plane did not, as previously believed, follow a series of predetermined navigational waypoints, says the Daily Telegraph. Instead, it flew directly above the Strait of Malacca in a northwesterly direction and then turned again and travelled south for about seven hours before crashing in the Indian Ocean.

This route would have reduced the risk of detection by avoiding Indonesian territory, although it may have passed over the northern tip of Sumatra.

Aviation expert David Learmount told the Daily Telegraph: "It does look like the plane was trying to avoid Indonesian air space. It was an aircraft that has gone rogue. It didn't need to follow waypoints. There are no roads in the sky – pilots can go wherever they want."

Malaysia's government has come under fire for the way it has handled the incident, particularly for its contradictory statements. Authorities yesterday admitted that it took air traffic controllers 17 minutes to realise the flight had gone missing and four hours to activate a rescue operation. The interim report was dated 9 April but no explanation was given as to why it took three weeks to release the document.

The report also confirms that investigators still have no idea why the Boeing 777, which was supposed to fly from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board, flew off course.

Australian officials leading the hunt for the missing aircraft have said a full search of the suspected crash area could take up to a year.

Flight MH370: former leader accuses Malaysia of cover-up

April 4

MALAYSIA'S opposition leader has accused the government of deliberately concealing information about the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

Anwar Ibrahim has told the Daily Telegraph that the country's "sophisticated" military radar system would have identified the plane after it changed course and crossed back over Malaysia.

Anwar, former deputy prime minister of Malaysia, said it was "not only unacceptable but not possible, not feasible" that the plane had not been sighted immediately after it changed course.

An unidentifiable aircraft flying through the country's airspace would normally lead to military planes being quickly scrambled, but in this case there was no response, he said.

"We don't have the sophistication of the United States or Britain," he added, "but still we have the capacity to protect our borders."

Anwar has called for an international committee to take over the Malaysian-led operation because "the integrity of the whole nation is at stake".

He suggested that it was even possible that authorities on the ground were involved in the plane's demise. "One fact remains. Clearly information critical to our understanding is deemed missing," said Anwar. "I believe the government knows more than us."

A source close to the Malaysian government told the Telegraph that Anwar was attempting to exploit the tragedy for political gain, and described the criticism of Malaysia as "unfair". They said the situation is "unprecedented" and the "search has actually been handled well".

The plane's pilot, Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, was a passionate supporter of Anwar's pro-democracy opposition coalition. Anwar was convicted of sodomy just hours before the flight went missing, leading investigators to ask if the pilot had crashed the plane in an act of protest, but so far no evidence has been found to support the theory.

Flight MH370 is believed to have crashed into the Indian Ocean with no survivors, after disappearing on 8 March with 239 passengers on board.

The underwater search for the plane's black box began today. Two ships with capabilities to locate the black box's 'pinger' will search a 150 mile path. However, the locator beacon on the black box only has the battery power to last about a month before it ceases transmissions, that gives searchers just a few days left to find it.

 

Flight MH370: Plane 'has crashed with no survivors'

24 March

FLIGHT MH370 is assumed to have crashed in the southern Indian Ocean with no survivors, Malaysian officials have announced.

Malaysia’s prime minister Najib Razak held an emergency press conference today, after objects were spotted in the ocean hundreds of kilometres south-west of Perth.

Razak said he had been briefed by the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch, which had performed extensive analysis of satellite signals. They concluded that MH370 flew along the southern corridor and that its last location was in the southern Indian Ocean, reports The Guardian.

“With deep sadness and regret, according to this new data, we must conclude Flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean,” he said.

Malaysia Airlines also released a statement to say: “We deeply regret that we have to assume beyond any reasonable doubt that MH370 has been lost and that none of those on board have survived... We must now accept all evidence suggests the plane went down in the southern Indian Ocean.”

Chinese media has reported the families of victims will be taken from Beijing to Australia. Razak said the past few weeks have been "heartbreaking" for relatives and added: "I know this news must be harder still."

Objects were first spotted on satellite images of the area of ocean last week. Today, a Chinese military flight crew found new "suspicious" objects in the water, described as white and square-shaped. A Chinese ship was sent to the spot, along with the US Pacific command's black box locator. The US equipment, which is pulled behind a vessel at slow speeds, has highly sensitive listening capability that can detect pings from a plane's black box down to a depth of 6,100m.

An Australian plane subsequently saw four or five more objects, of different colours, in a different area of the ocean.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that one of the missing flight's pilots, Fariq Abdul Hamid, was on his first outing as a co-pilot on the Boeing 777 without a "check co-pilot" supervising him.

The plane, which had 239 people on board, had been missing since 8 March.

   

Flight MH370: Pilot of missing plane deleted simulator data

19 March

INVESTIGATORS say the pilot of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 had deleted data from the flight simulator he had in his home. 

"Local and international expertise have been recruited to examine the pilot's flight simulator," Malaysia's acting transport minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, told reporters today.

Quoted in the Straits Times, he said: "Some data has been deleted from the simulator, and forensic work to retrieve this data is on-going."

All crew and passengers are currently being treated as innocent, officials insist, but focus on the pilots has increased since investigators said last week that the plane had been steered off course by a deliberate act. 

The captain of the missing plane, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, had built a Boeing 777 simulator using parts and software he had bought off the shelf. 

Hussein said that data logs had been cleared on 3 February, a month before Flight MH370 vanished, but he declined to comment on whether the deletion of data was considered unusual.

More than a week after the flight from Kuala Lumpur disappeared from radar screens, investigators seem no closer to establishing what happened to the missing plane.

The Wall Street Journal reports that an intensive search of the pilots and their families and associates has turned up no clues.

It says that "Malaysian and foreign intelligence agencies haven't reported anything in their backgrounds that suggests links to terrorist or criminal organizations, a person familiar with the situation has said."  

'Deliberate action' diverted Malaysian airliner

15 March

COMMUNICATIONS systems on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight were deliberately disabled, the Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak has confirmed.

The plane then changed course and could have continued flying for a further seven hours, according to satellite and radar evidence. Razak says the new evidence is “consistent with the deliberate action of someone on the plane”.

In light of the new evidence, he added, the investigation has "entered a new phase" and will now focus on the crew and passengers on board. A senior Malaysia police official says the home of the missing flight’s pilot is being searched.

A Malaysian government official tells the Associated Press that investigators have concluded the plane was hijacked. The unnamed official says one or more people with significant flying experience hijacked the jet, switched off communication devices and steered it off-course.

However, Razak has stopped short of declaring that the plane was hijacked. When pressed on this point, he said: "We are still investigating all possibilities as to what caused MH370 to deviate."

Searches will now focus on two "corridors" - a northern corridor from the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan through to northern Thailand, and a southern corridor from Indonesia to the southern Indian Ocean.

The plane disappeared a week ago with 239 people on board. A search of the seas around Malaysia - involving 14 countries, 43 ships and 58 aircraft - has failed to locate the craft.

Flight MH370: phantom phone calls cause upset for families

12 March

FAMILIES of passengers from the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 reported that their loved ones' phones were "still ringing" days after the plane disappeared.

Relatives of the missing flight have grown increasingly desperate for information, with some throwing water bottles at airline officials and accusing them of "empty talk".

Several families said that when they dialled passengers' numbers, they could hear ringing tones on the other side even though the calls were not picked up, according to the Washington Post. Some believe this means the plane may have crashed onto land rather than water and raised hope that the authorities could simply triangulate the GPS signal of the phones.

However, Professor William Webb, from the Royal Academy of Engineering, told the Daily Mail that the phones "definitely won't be working" and that some mobiles simply ring before going to voicemail, similar to when they are out of coverage.

Meanwhile, ten countries, including the US, are currently helping in the search for the missing plane, which has expanded to cover an area stretching from China to the Andaman Sea.

Military sources have said the plane may have flown 350 miles after it last transmitted its location, while Malaysian police are carrying out psychological profiles of everyone on board the plane, says the Daily Telegraph.

The head of the American CIA, John Brennan, has said that "no theory can be discounted" in the hunt for clues. The possibility of pilot suicide or terrorism has not been ruled out, he said. However, authorities believe that at least one of the two Iranian men travelling with a stolen passport was not a terrorist but an asylum seeker.

It emerged yesterday that one of the pilots had previously entertained female passengers in the cockpit. He allegedly smoked and chatted to his guests, who stayed on the flight deck for take-off and landing, in breach of the airline's rules.

It was also disclosed that US authorities had only recently warned of the potential for a critical fault on Boeing 777 aircraft. Officials warned four months ago of a potential for corrosion in the aircraft fuselage, which could lead to rapid decompression and even to the aircraft breaking up in mid-air.

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