|
|
The Daily Guide - Waynesville, MO
  • Search for Malaysian Airlines jet expands

  • The search for the missing Malaysian jetliner expanded east and west on Friday after American officials said it was emitting signals to satellites for hours after its last contact with air traffic control nearly a week ago over the South China Sea.
    • email print
  • The Associated Press
    KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — The search for the missing Malaysian jetliner expanded east and west on Friday after American officials said it was emitting signals to satellites for hours after its last contact with air traffic control nearly a week ago over the South China Sea.
    Malaysian officials insisted that investigators had yet to reach a definitive conclusion on what radar and satellite data showed, and said the search was being expanded because efforts in current areas have not found any wreckage from the Boeing 777.
    The possibility that the plane, carrying 239 people, flew many hundreds of miles (kilometers) beyond its last known location without any contact with the ground has strengthened speculation that its transponders and other communication devices were turned off deliberately.
    That opens the possibility that one of the pilots, or someone with flying experience, wanted to hijack the plane for some later purpose, kidnap the passengers or commit suicide by plunging the aircraft into the sea.
    Given the amount of fuel it had on board, the plane could in theory have reached anywhere in a large swath of South and Southeast Asia. In the absence of more information on its movements, finding it could be a massive task.
    Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said the search was expanding further afield into the eastern stretches of the South China Sea and on the western side of the Malay Peninsula, northwest into the Andaman Sea and further into the India Ocean.
    Beijing-bound Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 last communicated with air traffic base stations east of Malaysia in the South China Sea, which initially was the focus of the search. The theory that the plane turned back and flew west has been strengthened because Malaysia says it has military radar records showing unidentified blips that could indicate the plane doing this.
    "I will be the most happiest person if we can actually confirm that it is the MH370, then we can move all assets from the South China Sea to the Strait of Malacca," Hishammuddin said.
    India said it was searching hundreds of small, uninhabited islands in the Andaman Sea more than 1,200 kilometers (745 miles) to the west of the plane's last known position. Spokesman Col. Harmit Singh of India's Tri-Services Command said it began land searches after sweeping seas to the north, east and south of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
    Malaysian officials declined to discuss when — or even whether — they had information about signals to satellites, and said they would release details only when they were verified.
    "I hope within a couple of days to have something conclusive," Hishammuddin told a news conference.
    Page 2 of 2 - A team of five U.S. officials with air traffic control and radar expertise — three from the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board and two from the Federal Aviation Administration — has been in Kuala Lumpur since Monday to assist Malaysia with the investigation.
    If the plane had disintegrated during flight or suffered some other catastrophic failure, all signals — pings to satellites, data messages and the transponder — would be expected to stop at the same time. Experts say a pilot or passengers with technical expertise might have switched off the transponder in the hope of flying undetected.
    No theory, however, has been ruled out in one of modern aviation's most puzzling mysteries.
    Malaysia has faced accusations it isn't sharing all its information or suspicions about the plane's final movements. It insists it is being open, and says it can only narrow the focus of the search when there is undeniable evidence of the plane's flight path.
      • calendar