|On the eighth day of Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight MH370's disappearance, investigators conclude that the plane was deliberately led off course.|
The last confirmed satellite communication of MH370 was at 8.11am on March 8, but its exact location could not be determined due to the type of satellite data.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak revealed this new information pertaining to the search of missing Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight MH370 at a press conference at the Sama-Sama Hotel in Sepang at 2pm today.
Najib said that based on new information received early this morning, the unidentified flight which was detected by the Malaysian military’s primary radar as flying west an hour after air traffic control lost contact with MH370 was confirmed to be the missing plane.
“We can confirm that the aircraft shown in the primary radar data was flight MH370.
“After much forensic work and deliberation, the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA), National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) and Malaysian authorities, working separately on the same data, concur,” said Najib.
He said the investigation team was making further calculations which would indicate how far the aircraft may have flown after this last point of contact.
“However, based on this new data, the aviation authorities of Malaysia and their international counterparts have determined that the plane’s last communication with the satellite was in one of two possible corridors,” said Najib.
These two corridors were either a northern corridor stretching approximately from the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to northern Thailand, or a southern corridor stretching approximately from Indonesia to the southern Indian ocean.
“We are working with the relevant countries to request all information relevant to the search, including radar data.
“As the two new corridors involve many countries, the relevant foreign embassies have been invited to a briefing on the new information today by the Malaysian Foreign Ministry and the technical experts.
“I have also instructed the Foreign Ministry to provide a full briefing to foreign governments which had passengers on the plane,” he said.
As such, Najib said they were ending Search and Rescue operations in the South China Sea and their assets were to be redeployed.
On the plane’s satellite communication, he said that the new information obtained showed that the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) was disabled just before it reached the east coast of the Peninsular Malaysia.
Meanwhile, shortly after, the aircraft transponder was switched off when the plane reached near the border between Malaysia and Vietnamese air traffic controller.
“Based on new satellite communication, we can say with a high degree of certainty that the aircraft’s ACARS was disabled just before the aircraft reached the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia,” he said.
“Up until the point where it left primary radar coverage, these movements are consistent with deliberate action of someone on the plane,” said Najib.
He also said the direction taken by the plane was purposeful and prompted investigators to refocus their investigation into the crew and passengers on the missing flight.
Prior to the press conference this afternoon, international news agency AP had quoted an unnamed Malaysian government official who confirmed that investigators concluded that MH370 was hijacked.
Although AP said the official was not authorised to brief the media, AP was told that “hijacking was no longer a theory” however no motive was given yet and they are unclear as to where the plane was taken.
In the news report, the official mentioned that the hijacking could have involved “one of the pilots or someone else with flying experience.”
MH370 lost radio contact early morning on March 8, prompting a massive search and rescue operation to locate the aircraft that was carrying 239 passengers, of which 38 were Malaysians, and 12 crew members.
The aircraft left the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) at 12.41am and was expected to land in Beijing at 6.30am.
Tower however lost contact with the flight about 120 nautical miles off Kota Bharu, Kelantan.
The aircraft’s last known coordinates based on civilian radar were 065515N and 1833443E.