TIME Aviation

Malaysia Vows to Continue Hunt for Missing Jet as Search Reaches 100 Days

A milestone is greeted with promises to forge ahead

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Malaysian authorities promised Sunday not to give up the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, as the massive international hunt passed the 100-day mark.

Families of some of the passengers who were aboard gathered in Beijing to pray, BBC reports. The flight disappeared March 8 with 239 people aboard en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Authorities believe it went down in the Indian Ocean with no survivors, and it has since led to the largest, longest, and most expensive search in modern commercial aviation history.

“This search effort is unprecedented in sheer scale and complexity,” Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said in a statement Sunday, the Associated Press reports. “We reaffirm our commitment with renewed vigor to locate the missing MH370.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak also expressed his sympathy and support for the families on Sunday. “On this hundredth day since went missing, remembering those on-board & their families,” he wrote on Twitter. “M’sia remains committed to the search effort.”

TIME Aviation

Australia Says Missing Jet Is Outside Search Area

Malaysia Airline Search Area
A member of staff at satellite communications company Inmarsat, who helped analyze "pings" via satellite, works in front of a screen showing subscribers using their service throughout the world at their headquarters in London on March 25, 2014. Andrew Winning—Reuters

The search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 will now shift again

The Malaysia Airlines plane missing since March is outside the region of the Indian Ocean that search teams have been scouring for weeks, officials said on Thursday.

A U.S. Navy underwater vehicle had been searching the ocean floor for Flight 370 since early April, after searchers detected acoustic signals in the area that they believed to be coming from the plane’s black box. But the Australia-based joint search agency said Thursday the plane isn’t in the vicinity of those pings.

“The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has advised that the search in the vicinity of the acoustic detections can now be considered complete and in its professional judgement, the area can now be discounted as the final resting place of MH370,” the Joint Agency Coordination Centre said in a statement.

The plane bound from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing went missing on March 8 with 239 people aboard, and has become the longest disappearance—and the most expensive search—in modern commercial aviation history. Transmission data suggests the plane took a sharp turn off course and landed somewhere in the Indian Ocean. The search will now move to a much wider section of the ocean, encompassing up to 23,166 square miles.

TIME movies

MH370 Movie Plumbs New Depths of Bad Taste at Cannes

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 and the 239 people aboard haven't even been found yet, but an opportunistic filmmaker is already shopping a movie in Cannes telling the "true" story of what happened to the vanished jet

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If the Cannes Film Festival had an award for most squirm-inducing production, it would surely go to the producers of a new thriller telling the “real” story of the still-missing Malaysian Airlines jet.

The Vanishing Act: The Untold Story of the Missing Malaysian Plane is the brainchild of Indian film company Rupesh Paul Productions, and purports to tell the hidden story of Flight 370 based on an investigative report that was widely discredited, as the director himself remarked to CNN. “It is definitely controversial,” said Rupesh Paul.

Little more than two months have passed since the Malaysia Airlines jet vanished with 239 people on board, and in that time the film production team has given the film a title, printed 8-page promotional brochures, edited a trailer and, according to Paul, courted interested investors from China and Malaysia.

Paul’s previous productions include the “epic of all epics” Kamasutra 3D and Saint Dracula 3D.

[CNN]

 

TIME Media

Dear CNN: Sometimes Our Opinions Just Don’t Matter

The fact that CNN is polling about a missing flight and otherworldly beings says nothing good about anyone involved

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So CNN issued the results of a poll today about the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Should the search continue? Are the searchers looking in the right area? Oh, and could the plane’s vanishing have been caused by “space aliens, time travelers or beings from another dimension“? (At least “somewhat likely,” said 9%.)

Now there are a couple of ways you might react to this:

* Ha ha, some people think aliens might have made Flight 370 disappear! Stupid people!

* Ha ha, CNN asked people if aliens made Flight 370 disappear! Stupid CNN!

But maybe the aliens are not the real problem here. (Or “beings from another dimension.” Which: what? Demons? Angels? The Observers from Fringe?) Maybe the problem is the whole poll, including the other, more plausible answers.

Because whether you’re talking UFOs or hijackers, you’re still asking for people’s opinions on a matter of objective fact. Flight 370 is at the bottom of the Indian Ocean or it is not. It was crashed intentionally or it was not. It doesn’t matter what your opinion is. It doesn’t matter what feels right to you. That fact may not be known, but unless we are dealing with some kind of Schrödinger’s Cat paradox here, the absolute fact exists, and it has nothing to do with what your gut tells you.

Now of course there are cases where it’s important to poll people’s opinions about objective fact. Climate change, say: if public opinion diverges from scientific consensus, that’s likely to affect politics and thus policy and thus, maybe, whether Ohio someday becomes oceanfront property.

That’s not so much the case with the search for a missing plane. Maybe half the people surveyed believe the searchers are looking in the wrong place, and they may even be right, but it doesn’t matter. This is not a Guess How Many Jellybeans Are in the Jar contest. The authorities may not have found the plane, but presumably they at least have better sources of information than the gut feeling of somebody who answered a random poll, or else God help us all.

And God help us all, too, if we buy into what seems to be the implicit message of the poll: that your opinion always matters, by God, because it’s your opinion and this is a free country you have the right to have it taken seriously, even on matters of incontrovertible, physical fact.

There is one way, I guess, in which this polling might be relevant: if CNN is asking itself whether its heated, speculation-filled marathon coverage, which itself raised the possibility of black holes or supernatural mischief, had so poorly informed the public that a not-insignificant portion of them came to believe the theory.

In which case, well, at least someone is asking the right questions.

TIME Malaysia

MH370 Report Reveals, Families Told ‘Go Home’

A report on the Malaysian flight, which went missing March 8 with 239 on board, also called for real-time position tracking of all commercial flights

A preliminary MH370 report released Thursday calls for real-time position tracking of all commercial flights in the wake of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which has left 239 passengers and crew missing since early March.

The Malaysian Transportation Ministry’s report also contains audio recordings of conversations between the cockpit and air traffic control as well as information on the Malaysian military’s tracking of the plane. However, it adds few details previously unknown about the plane’s fate.

The report, which was first sent to the United Nations’ aviation agency earlier this week, comes just as Malaysia Airlines advised relatives of people on Flight 370 to leave Kuala Lumpur and wait for updates on the search from “within the comfort of their own homes.” The families had been staying in hotels paid for by the airline.

“We have to face the hard reality that there is still no trace of the aircraft, and the fate of the missing passengers and crew remains unknown till this day,“ the airline said in a Thursday statement that signals the search could continue for weeks, months or even years.

The airline also said that it will begin making advanced compensation payments to the next of kin of those aboard the flight.

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 vanished on March 8 with 239 on board while traveling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. A massive international search for the plane has failed to find any wreckage. The aerial search for debris was called off Monday, though investigators are continuing the search using unmanned submarines.

TIME MH370

Video: Inside the Air Search for MH370

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Watch this elite crew of New Zealand air searchers as they survey an area nearly the width of the U.S. for any sign of missing Flight MH370.

TIME Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

Missing-Jet Search Teams Track Pings as Time Runs Out

A S-70B-2 Seahawk (Tiger 75) helicopter approaches the flight deck of Australian Navy ship HMAS Toowoomba to pick up supplies during a vertical replenishment at sea with HMAS Success as they continue to search for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 in this picture released by the Australian Defence Force April 6, 2014.
A Seahawk helicopter approaches the flight deck of Australian navy ship H.M.A.S. Toowoomba during a search for the missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 Australian Defence Force/Reuters

A ship has picked up electronic pulsing signals twice in a small patch of the search zone for Flight MH 370, and all attention has turned to tracking the signals before the ping emitter's battery dies. It is unknown if those are linked to the lost jet

Search teams in the hunt for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 have detected three separate pulse signals that could lead to the plane’s black box, and all attention has turned to tracking the elusive radio signals before the ping emitter’s battery dies.

A Chinese ship detected one radio ping on Friday, and then a second ping on Saturday about 1.4 miles away as it recombed the search area of Australia’s west coast, reports the Associated Press. The radio signal was set to a frequency of 37.5 kilohertz, the same frequency emitted by flight-data recorders aboard the missing plane, Chinese media reported. The second ping lasted 90 seconds.

The British navy ship H.M.S. Echo, equipped with sound-locating equipment, is expected to arrive in the area early Monday.

Retired Australian Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, who is coordinating the search, confirmed the Chinese ship had detected the search signals but was unable to confirm they are linked to the missing plane.

A third radio ping was detected Sunday 300 nautical miles away by an Australian ship using sophisticated deep-sea sound equipment supplied by the U.S. Navy. The Australian ship, Ocean Shield, will head to assist the Chinese after investigating the third pulse.

Every plane’s black box is equipped with a radio transmitter that serves as an acoustic homing beacon and has a battery life of 30 to 45 days, depending on environmental factors. The ping frequency of 37.5 kilohertz is specifically chosen to be unique from all the buzzes, clicks and other sounds of nautical animals.

But Houston, who is coordinating the search, said it was too early to draw a firm connection with the missing Boeing 777, which disappeared March 8 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing and flew wildly off course. “We are working in a very big ocean and within a very large search area, and so far since the aircraft went missing we have had very few leads which allow us to narrow the search area,” he said, as reported by BBC. He insisted the signal should be treated as unverified “until such time as we can provide an unequivocal determination.”

The flight recorder’s battery could die within days, increasing the urgency for the multinational search team as it races against the clock. Twelve military aircraft and 13 ships are searching three vast areas about 1,240 miles northwest of Perth, Australia.

[AP]

TIME Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

‘Pulse Signal’ Detected in Search for Missing Jet

Chinese patrol ship Haixun 01 is pictured during a search for the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370, in the south Indian Ocean
Chinese patrol ship Haixun 01 is pictured during a search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, in the south Indian Ocean April 5, 2014, in this photo courtesy of China News Service. Haixun 01 detected a pulse signal in the south Indian Ocean on Saturday, the state news agency Xinhua reported, in a possible indicator of the underwater beacon from a plane's "black box". CNSphoto/Reuters

Australian authorities said that the radio pings a Chinese search team reported "are consistent" with Flight MH370's black box, but there was no confirmation they were related to the missing plane. Meanwhile, the batteries for the flight's recorders are due to run out

Updated 2:30 p.m. ET

A Chinese patrol ship searching for the missing Malaysia airlines jet in the Indian Ocean detected a pulse radio signal at the frequency of a black box Saturday, but has been unable to determine with certainty whether the pulse belongs to Flight MH370.

The frequency detected, 37.5 kHz per second, is the international standard frequency for the locator beacon on the plane’s black box, Reuters reports.

Australian authorities said that the radio pings China reported “are consistent with the aircraft black box,” but said there was no confirmation they were related to missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370.

The search for the missing airliner has become increasingly desperate as the batteries in the flight and voice recorders are due to run out early next week. The electronic “pings” sounded by such boxes could be crucial in finding the missing jet deep under the ocean.

Malaysia vowed to continue the search to find the missing jetliner as a multinational team including 13 military and civilian planes and 11 ships scoured a remote area of the Indian Ocean Saturday, the Associated Press reports.

“I can only speak for Malaysia, and Malaysia will not stop looking for MH370,” Hishammuddin Hussein, Malaysia’s defense minister and acting transport minister said.

The missing Boeing 777 disappeared March 8 while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, with 239 people aboard. The circumstances of the disappearance remain a mystery.

[AP]

TIME Aviation

Fate of Missing Jet May Never Be Known, Officials Concede

Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Airborne Electronics Analyst Sergeant Patrick Manser looks out of an observation window aboard a RAAF AP-3C Orion aircraft during the search in the southern Indian Ocean for debris from the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 in this picture released by the Australian Defence Force April 1, 2014.
Royal Australian Air Force Airborne Electronics Analyst Sergeant Patrick Manser looks out of an observation window aboard a RAAF AP-3C Orion aircraft during the search in the southern Indian Ocean for debris from the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370. Australian Defence Force/Reuters

Investigators are contemplating defeat in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, with no plane debris found, ocean currents buffeting the search area and the black box’s battery close to running out of power

Officials raised the possibility on Wednesday that the fate of the Malaysia Airlines plane missing for almost a month may never be determined, even as they said its disappearance is now being treated as a criminal investigation.

“Investigations may go on and on and on. We have to clear every little thing,” Malaysia police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said, the Associated Press reports. “At the end of the investigations, we may not even know the real cause. We may not even know the reason for this incident.”

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared on March 8 soon after departing Kuala Lumpur for Beijing, and subsequent analysis of data transmission indicates it eventually crashed somewhere in the southern Indian Ocean. All 239 passengers and crew are presumed lost to the chilly and tempestuous waters.

Khalid said the criminal investigation is still focused on three possibilities — hijacking, sabotage and psychological problems of anyone aboard the Boeing 777. More than 170 statements have been taken, and investigators plan to take even more, he said. All passengers on the flight have been cleared of any role in hijacking, sabotage, or having personal psychological issues that could have led to the plane’s disappearance, CNN reports.

Meanwhile, the sonar-equipped British submarine H.M.S. Tireless has joined the search team, which on Wednesday numbered 10 planes and nine ships. But without tracing any debris to an impact point, authorities are left to comb about 85,000 sq. miles (220,000 sq km) of ocean — roughly the size of Utah — some 930 miles (1,500 km) west of Perth, Australia.

Experts point to the 60 years it took to find H.M.A.S. Sydney and the 80 years to find the Titanic as an indication of the arduous task ahead. “And both of those are considerably bigger than the poor old 777,” Jason Middleton, an aviation professor at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, tells TIME. “The chances of finding it are very, very small.”

Even the largest possible floating objects, such as empty fuel tanks that have not ruptured or remain attached to heavy engines, have likely sunk by now. “They would almost certainly be on the bottom,” Middleton says. “Otherwise [anything floating] will be seat cushions and people’s sneakers.”

Chinese ships have already ruled out 11 locations in the southern Indian Ocean where suspicious objects had been seen floating, reports China’s state news agency Xinhua.

While the submarine will certainly boost search efforts, there is no telling how long it will stay in the area. If the flight recorder’s pinger battery dies before it is found — as with Air France Flight 447, which crashed in the Atlantic in 2009 — then searchers will have to trawl the ocean with submerged side-scan sonars looking at the ocean floor.

“But when you’re towing something which is 5 km deep, your towline is 20 km long, and you’ve got to worry about running into seamounts,” Middleton says.

Even if the black box is recovered — it took two years for Air France Flight 447 — there is no guarantee that all questions will be answered. Only information such as the heading, altitude and speed of the aircraft will almost certainly be accessible, as will two hours of recorded “noise” from the cockpit. “So even when they find it there will still be a lot of piecing together of information,” Middleton says.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was due to arrive in Perth late on Wednesday to inspect the search-and-rescue operations. He is expected to meet his Australian counterpart Tony Abbott on Thursday amid fresh controversy after it emerged that the final communication transcript from the cockpit was the standard “good night Malaysian 370” rather than the more casual “all right, good night” initially proffered by authorities. No explanation has been given for the discrepancy, the latest in a string to plague the investigation.

On Wednesday, Malaysian authorities held a closed-door briefing for relatives of people who were on the flight. “We had a very good meeting with them, and we answered all their questions,” Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, director general of Malaysia’s Department of Civil Aviation, told reporters.

Relatives of the 153 Chinese nationals on board MH 370 have been vigorous in their continued criticism of Malaysia’s handling of the disaster.

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