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Tuesday 30 September 2014

US believes vanished Malaysia Airlines plane may have crashed into Indian Ocean

  • Hugh Dunleavy, commerical director of Malaysia Airlines: captain was a very seasoned pilot with an excellent record.
  • US investigators suspect missing Malaysian plane flew for hours past last confirmed location
  • Malaysian authorities deny WSJ report that plane flew on for four hours
  • Two million participants in 'crowd sourcing' search for plane
  • Malaysia probes passenger backgrounds for clues on missing flight
  • Investigators were focussing on four areas - hijacking, sabotage, psychological problems
  • Published 13/03/2014 | 18:05

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    Military officer Pham Tuan Minh looks through a window of a Vietnam Air Force AN-26 aircraft during a mission to find the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, off Con Dao island March 13, 2014. A search by two Vietnamese aircraft responding to information provided by a Chinese satellite has failed to locate objects suspected of being wreckage from the missing Malaysian airliner, a Reuters journalist on board a search plane said on Thursday. Aircraft repeatedly circled the area over the South China Sea but were unable to detect any objects, said the journalist, who flew aboard a Antonov 26 cargo plane for three hours. REUTERS/Kham (VIETNAM - Tags: DISASTER TRANSPORT MILITARY)
    Military officer Pham Tuan Minh looks through a window of a Vietnam Air Force AN-26 aircraft during a mission to find the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370
    A military officer works on a map onboard a Royal Malaysian Air Force CN235 aircraft during a Search and Rescue (SAR) operation to find the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, in the Straits of Malacca March 13, 2014. REUTERS/Samsul Said (MALAYSIA - Tags: TRANSPORT DISASTER MILITARY)
    A military officer works on a map onboard a Royal Malaysian Air Force CN235 aircraft during a Search and Rescue (SAR) operation to find the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, in the Straits of Malacca March 13, 2014. REUTERS/Samsul Said
    A relative cries as she arrives at a hotel designated as a holding area for family members of passengers on board the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner MH370, Wednesday, March 12, 2014, in Sepang, Malaysia. More than four days after a Malaysian jetliner went missing on route to Beijing, authorities acknowledged Wednesday they didn't know in which direction the plane and its 239 passengers was heading when it disappeared, vastly complicating efforts to find it.  (AP Photo/Joshua Paul)
    A relative cries as she arrives at a hotel designated as a holding area for family members of passengers on board the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner MH370, Wednesday, March 12, 2014, in Sepang, Malaysia. More than four days after a Malaysian jetliner went missing on route to Beijing, authorities acknowledged Wednesday they didn't know in which direction the plane and its 239 passengers was heading when it disappeared, vastly complicating efforts to find it. (AP Photo/Joshua Paul)

    A new search area may be opened in the Indian Ocean as authorities try to determine what happened to a missing Malaysian airliner, the White House said on Thursday.

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    A new search area may be opened in the Indian Ocean as authorities try to determine what happened to a missing Malaysian airliner, the White House said on Thursday.

    "It's my understanding that based on some new information that's not necessarily conclusive - but new information - an additional search area may be opened in the Indian Ocean," White House spokesman Jay Carney said. "And we are consulting with international partners about the appropriate assets to deploy.

    Carney did not specify the nature of the "new information."

    Carney sidestepped a question as to whether the United States has confidence in the investigation being conducted by the Malaysian government.

    "I just don't have an evaluation to make," he said. "What I can tell you is that we're working with the Malaysian government to try to find the plane; find out what happened to it for the sake of the families and, obviously, for the sake of knowing what caused the plane to disappear."

    The United States has been helping in the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, including the deployment of U.S. Navy vessels. It also has sent National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration officials there.

    "There are a number of possible scenarios that are being investigated as to what happened to the flight. And we are not in a position at this time to make conclusions about what happened, unfortunately. But we're actively participating in the search," Carney told a regular news briefing.

    "We're looking at information, pursuing possible leads, working within the investigation being led by the Malaysian government."

    U.S. defense officials told Reuters the guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd was en route to Strait of Malacca, west of the Malaysian peninsula, to continue the search for the missing jetliner, answering a request from the Malaysian government. The officials said they were unaware of any new evidence indicating where the plane might have crashed.

    The Kidd had been searching the areas south of the Gulf of Thailand, along with the destroyer USS Pinckney. A U.S. defense official noted that a Navy P-3 Orion aircraft had already searched the Strait of Malacca.

    Earlier Malaysian officials denied reports that the aircraft had continued to send technical data and said there was no evidence that it flew for hours after losing contact with air traffic controllers early Saturday after taking off from Kuala Lumpur en route to Beijing.

    The Wall Street Journal had reported that U.S. aviation investigators and national security officials believed the Boeing 777 flew for a total of five hours, based on data automatically downloaded and sent to the ground from its engines as part of a standard monitoring program.

    Sources familiar with the investigation reiterated that neither Boeing nor Rolls-Royce had received any engine maintenance data from the jet after the point at which its pilots last made contact. Only one engine maintenance update was received during the normal phase of flight, they said, speaking on condition on anonymity.

    That said, the latest evidence of an electronic whisper from the plane, extending an electronic handshake to satellites but containing no data, suggests the aircraft was at least capable of communicating, though nothing else is known about its situation or whereabouts.

    There is still no evidence that demonstrates the plane's disappearance was related to foul play, U.S. security sources stressed, though the officials said they still have not ruled out the possibility of terrorism.

    Reuters reported on Monday that the aircraft had made no automatic contact with the ground after vanishing with 239 people on board.

    Modern aircraft can communicate with airline operations bases and sometimes with the headquarters of its manufacturers automatically in order to send maintenance alerts known as ACARS messages. It was this system that sent out the regular ping, which may have lasted for several hours, the sources said.

    Airlines can also subscribe to an expanded service that collects more data about the performance of the aircraft and sends it back to maintenance control rooms at the airline and Boeing.

    But Malaysia Airlines had not signed up for Boeing's Airplane Health Management system, people familiar with the matter told Reuters this week.

    Reuters

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