Malaysian crash investigators have now concluded that MH370 with 239 passengers and crew was hijacked last Saturday March 8.
More details will follow shortly from a press conference in Kuala Lumpur.
Both passengers and crew are under investigation according to Malaysia’s Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein.
In the latest twist it appears that the plane’s ACARS and transponders were shutdown at different times.
ACARS, which sends limited data related to the plane’s engines and systems stopped operating at 1.07am and the transponders which send location and identity to air traffic control stopped at around 1.21am.
The systems could have been shut down manually or may be part of a wider electrical failure. However they cannot be accidently shutdown and require knowledge of the 777 cockpit and systems to be turned off.
While the ACARS was shut down the US military believes that they may have an “indication” that MH370 went down in the Indian Ocean near the Andaman Islands and have dispatched a ship to investigate.
This relates to an hourly interrogation of the plane’s satellite transmitting antenna associated with the 777’s Health Management program. Apparently signals were received during the next four of five hourly checks. Inmarsat describes the signals as “routine” and “automated”. The information was passed to the airline.
According to a report from ABC News, American military forces were moving the USS Kidd to the area to begin the search.
White House press secretary Jay Carney acknowledged Thursday US time that there are yet-to-be conclusive claims about the plane being much further west off course than initially believed.
“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 point to make conclusions about what happened, unfortunately,” Mr Carney said.
When questioned about the “indication” regarding the Indian Ocean, Mr Carney said that the White House is “looking at information, pursuing possible leads [and] working within the investigation being led by the Malaysian government, and it is my understanding that one possible piece of information — or collection of pieces of information — has led to the possibility that a new area, a search area, may be opened in the Indian Ocean.”
Indian aircraft are combing the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, made up of more than 500 mostly uninhabited islands, for signs of the missing plane.
The search for MH370 has expanded dramatically in the past week and is now the largest search in aviation history.
Satellite images released by China on Thursday that showed wreckage have been found to be false.
The search for MH370 has been dogged by conflicting information and false leads drawing accusations that Malaysia has bungled the response.
However, many of the false leads originated elsewhere.
In all, 56 surface ships with 10 shipboard helicopters and 48 fixed-wing aircraft from 14 countries searching waters mainly between Malaysia and Vietnam.
The engine fitted to flight MH370 was the subject of a directive from Europe’s aviation safety regulator which last month that warned of “fire related” failures if it wasn’t fixed.
The European Aviation Safety Agency issued an airworthiness directive to airlines on February 4 relating to Rolls Royce Tent 800 engines, the model used on MH370.
It told airlines to install software that would prevent one of the engine’s turbines going into an over speed (too fast) condition and warned of “fire related failure modes.”
“This condition, if not corrected, could lead to uncontained multiple turbine blade failures” or far worse a “turbine disc burst, possibly resulting in damage to, and reduced control of, the aeroplane,” the directive said.
The software fix was supposed to be installed within 14 days of the directive. It is unclear whether the engine on MH370 had been fixed by the time the plane left Kuala Lumpur on Friday night.
Reports on Wednesday that Boeing 777s had been the subject of a separate service bulletin last year did not relate to MH370.
Boeing issued service bulletins relating to 777s having cracks underneath the satellite communication antenna adapter on the top of the fuselage.
But MH370 did not have the particular SATCOM antenna adapter and was not impacted by the AD.