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Massive task!

Debris from MH370 is expected to wash up along the Western Australian coast over the next few months as search crews race against the impending winter weather to locate the Boeing 777.

The herculean task of locating MH370 will be the most complex international effort in aviation history and it may be years before the main body of wreckage is located.

It took almost two years to find Air France Flight 447 and that was in calmer mid Atlantic waters, after debris was found just six days after the crash in 2009.

According to the lead investigator of the AF447 crash Alain Bouillard, searches face a “colossal task” that is “far, far harder”.

Mr Bouillard London’s Telegraph the location of MH370 is “one of the most hostile environments in the world”.

However, searchers are expected to learn from the lessons of the AF447 recovery, observers said.

In that recovery a team led by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution operating full ocean depth autonomous underwater vehicles used sidescan sonar, to locate the main debris field at a depth of 4000m. More than 104 bodies were recovered.

Without doubt the biggest challenge in locating and recovering MH370 will be the sea condition with winter swells as high as 25m (75ft).

The location of the MH370 is at the convergence of three currents – the South Indian Ocean Current, which becomes the West Australian Current, the Leeuwin current and the Antarctica Circumpolar Current.

Those underlying currents work below the sea swells which move in a broad easterly and north-easterly direction depending upon the frontal activity.

Oceanographer Dr Erik Van Sebille told Channel 7’s Sunrise the currents are extremely strong at up to 2cm a second and would get worse.

“The current varies every day and has vortices and debris can move 100km a day [in all directions].”

With the new satellite data from Inmarsat, along with increasing amounts of drift data searchers will try to zero in on MH370’s initial impact area.

An Australian warship is expected to be tasked with deploying US locator equipment. Yesterday a 5m long 800kg Bluefin drone and a Towed Pinger Locater arrived in Perth aboard a special G550 jet from the US.

MH370’s black boxes are key to solving the mystery of why the plane veered so far off course. In theory, the black boxes containing flight data and cockpit voice recordings will continue emitting tracking signals for about another two weeks, with an average audible range of 2 to 3km.

“Picking up a signal from the beacon seems an outside chance,” a member of the team that hunted the black boxes from Air France flight AF447 said.

In that accident the signals were not heard at all as one transmitter had failed and the other had fallen off on impact and was never found.

The sea bed where MH370 is thought to be is up to 5km deep. But the cockpit voice recorder only tapes the last between 30 minutes and two hours – depending upon the model – of the pilot’s conversation and investigators will never hear what happened around the time the plane first changed course.

MH370 Tributes Page


A significant finding by aircrew

Chinese aircrew have spotted “suspicious objects” in the southern Indian Ocean whilst looking for vanished Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, the official Xinhua news agency says. They have reported that the crew of the Ilyushin-76 have found “white, square objects” floating in the Southern Indian Ocean at co-ordinates – 95.1113 degrees east and 42.5453 south.

The significance of this finding over the satellite images that have been released over the past few days is that this sighting is in “real time” meaning the debris can be tracked and monitored. Satellite images whilst extremely useful can be up to four days old with debris having moved hundreds of kilometers by the time the image is received.

As a precaution, the US Navy is sending a black box locator to the area. Commander William Marks, a spokesman for the US Seventh Fleet, said in an email “If a debris field is confirmed, the Navy’s Towed Pinger Locator 25 will add a significant advantage in locating the missing Malaysian aircraft’s black box,”

The Chinese icebreker Xuelong is now making its way to the area and should reach there tomorrow.

The area where the devris has been spotted is 2174 kilometres from Perth will continue to update this story as it develops

MH370 lost in Southern Indian Ocean

The Malaysian Prime Minster Najib Razak announced at 2pm (GMT) that Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 with 239 and passengers and crew aboard ended its flight in the Southern Indian Ocean southwest of Perth, Western Australia.
In a sombre and emotion charged announcement Mr Razak said that Immarsat the British based satellite company working with the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch had used new analysis techniques and determined “beyond doubt” that MH370 had been lost and no-one had survived.
“Therefore it is with deep sadness and regret that according to new data that MH370 ended its flight in the Southern Indian Ocean,” said Mr Razak.
Searches yesterday found more debris thousands of kilometres southwest of Perth which is expected to be confirmed as coming from Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 which disappeared 18 days ago.
In a day of high drama, two new debris fields were spotted by Australian and Chinese search planes between 2100km and 2500km south-west of Perth in a zone identified by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority based on US and British intelligence.
Earlier Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott told Parliament last night that HMAS Success was in the process of recovering two objects spotted by an RAAF Orion at 11.45am.
The crew aboard the Orion reported seeing “grey or green circular object” and an “orange rectangular object”, Mr Abbott said after emerging from a Cabinet meeting.
He said the objects identified by the RAAF Orion were separate to the objects reported by the Chinese Ilyushin IL-76.
A US Navy P-8A Poseidon aircraft attempted to relocate the objects reported by the Chinese plane but were unable to do so.
The P-8A, a second RAAF P3 Orion and a Japanese P3 Orion were expected to search their designated search areas until about 8pm last night.
The Chinese icebreaker Xue Long is racing to the area where spotters aboard the Chinese IL-76 sighted what they termed “significant suspicious objects”.
MH370, with 239 passengers and crew aboard, vanished 16 days ago on a flight from Kula Lumpur to Beijing.
A Xinhua correspondent aboard the Ilyushin aircraft reported that searchers saw “two relatively big floating objects with many white smaller ones scattered within a radius of several kilometres”.
The Ilyushin was returning to Perth and was at an altitude of 36,000 feet when the debris was spotted. It did not have enough fuel to descend for a closer look.
Two Chinese IL-76s joined the search yesterday and departed Perth Airport at 8.45am and 9.20am as Rescue 801 and 802. They returned mid-afternoon.
The sighting is 2174km south-west of Perth and in the general area of the Chinese satellite% image taken four days ago.
AMSA yesterday launched 10 aircraft to search for MH370.
As well as the two Chinese IL-76s, there were two RAAF P3 Orions, three ultra-long range civil jets, the US Navy P-8A Poseidon and two Japanese P3 Orions.

MH370 Tribute Page

Three satellites now showing possible debris in the southern corridor

A French Satellite with images as recent as Friday has also shown images of possible debris that could be related to flight 370. Malaysia received the new satellite images from the French authorities on Sunday March 23rd which show potential objects in the vicinity of the southern corridor. Malaysia immediately relayed these images to the Australian rescue co-ordination centre.  

Just one day earlier on Saturday March 22nd, images from a Chinese satellite identifing  an object in the Indian Ocean measuring 22.5 metres long and 13 metres wide were released.  Whilst authorities were reluctant to say anything until they had confirmation, experts believed this could well be part of the 777s wing.

The Chinese media reported that the object was sighted just 120 kilometres from where Australia first sighted possible debris in the search area a few days earlier.  The exact location of the latest French satellite images in relation to the earlier finds is yet to be released. 

Seventeen days into the search, civil and military aircraft from Australia, New Zealand, Malaysai, India, South Korea, Norway, Indonesia, the US, China and Japan are all taking part in the massive search for the Malaysia Airlines plane.  Unfortunately the search area is today expected to experience poor weather  which may hamper efforts somewhat.

AirlineRatings will continue to update this story as we receive more factual news


Biggest aircraft investigation in history

Perth has become the centre of the largest air crash investigation in history with the apparent discovery of wreckage of MH370 some 2,700km south-west of Western Australia.

Investigators from Malaysia, Australia, the United States and Great Britain have arrived in Perth along with an armada of ships and more planes.  

AirlineRatings understands that three Chinese and two Japanese aircraft are to join the search today.  Two Australian commercial VIP aircraft will also joint the search with expert spotters on board.  In addition to this, three Chinese warships are also en route to the area.
The weather forecast for today is fair however a storm front is expected to reach the area tomorrow which will no doubt hamper search efforts.

As well as air crash investigators the US FBI and other criminal agencies are expected to take part in the investigation – which will be the most difficult ever attempted.

The wreckage is located in the Great Southern Ocean where the ocean floor is up to 10,0000ft deep and the seas very rough.
These ingredients would make the recovery of the Boeing 777 almost impossible.

The Cockpit Voice Recorder and the Digital Flight Data Recorder will be recovered by a deep sea submersible probably from Us based Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

WHOI is the world’s most experienced oceanographic research group and found the black boxes from Air France Flight 447.
However the recovery of the wreckage would be conducted by deep sea salvage experts that may include the US Navy which would use the expertise and equipment used to recover crippled submarines.
But finding crash debris does not mean that searches will find the plane.
It took two years to find the actual fuselage of Air France 447 which crashed in June 2009.
And it has been two weeks since MH370 disappeared with ocean current taking debris hundreds of kilometres.
Below the surface at lower depths ocean currents often move in vastly different directions making locating the Boeing 777 even more challenging.
And the sea state will play havoc with recue attempts with swells often well over 30 metres in winter.
South Indian Ocean swells are already topping 17 mtrs and winter is only a couple of months away.

MH370 search narrows

The search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean has moved closer to Australia with experts halving the target area.
Though efforts so far have failed to find signs of the jet, search co-ordinators at the Australian Maritime Safety Authority remain confident.
“With a smaller area closer to Perth and more aircraft, I hope we will do better tomorrow, ” the authority’s emergency response chief John Young said yesterday.
He said though the search area had been significantly refined, it was still a very big area.
Australian, New Zealand and US planes made four sorties yesterday, focusing on the refined 305,000sqkm — an area about one-third bigger than Victoria.
The search for the plane with 239 passengers and crew has entered its 13th day and Australia continues to co-ordinate the search in the Indian Ocean.
Mr Young said the planes given the job included two RAAF AP-3C Orions, a US Navy P-8 Poseidon and a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K Orion.
Five merchant ships responded to a broadcast to shipping on Monday night to keep a lookout in the area.
Three had traversed the zone with another two going through today but, like the air search, they made no sightings.
Search conditions in the area yesterday were moderate.
“This area is vast and remote, ” Mr Young said. “It will take several weeks to cover and it is a challenging operation.”
The combined search for flight MH370 now involves 7.68 million sqkm, an area slightly bigger than Australia, after Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said on Saturday the plane flew seven hours towards an unknown destination after it vanished off radar.
The 26 countries involved are covering a northern corridor over south and central Asia as well as the Australian southern zone deep into the Indian Ocean.
Thailand’s military says its radar detected a plane just minutes after the jetliner’s communications stopped. It said it did not share the information with Malaysia earlier because it was not specifically asked for it.
The twisting path took a plane to the Strait of Malacca, where Malaysia tracked MH370.
A French expert who took part in the search for Air France Flight 447, which crashed in the South Atlantic in 2009, said finding the Malaysian plane would be much tougher.
“Here we simply have no idea of the location of the aircraft because there were no ACARS signals, ” Jean-Paul Troadec, a special adviser with France’s civil aviation accident investigation agency, said.
Chinese state media reported on Tuesday that China was expanding its search to waters south-east of the Bay of Bengal and west of Indonesia.
Xinhua said nine Chinese ships would be involved and would focus on seas near Sumatra in western Indonesia.
United Arab Emirates armed forces have joined the search and will cover a zone south over the Indian Ocean to Australia and north over south and central Asia.

MH370 found??


Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced on Thursday afternoon that a Royal Australian Air Force Orion was being diverted to check on two objects that may be the wreckage of MH370 which disappeared on March 8 on a flight to Beijing.
Mr Abbott said that three more aircraft including the P8 would be over the area later on Thursday.
Mr Abbott said he has informed Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak of the developments.
However he warned against drawing any premature conclusions or hopes on the search.
“We must keep in mind the task of locating these objects will be extremely difficult and it may turn out that they are not related to the search for flight MH370,” Mr Abbott said.
One of the objects is 24m in length.

Here is the statement from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority:

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority is coordinating the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines aircraft, with assistance from the Australian Defence Force, the New Zealand Air Force and the United States Navy.
AMSA’s Rescue Coordination Centre Australia has received satellite imagery of objects possibly related to the search for the missing aircraft, flight MH370.
RCC Australia received an expert assessment of commercial satellite imagery on Thursday.
The images were captured by satellite. They may not be related to the aircraft.
The assessment of these images was provided by the Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation as a possible indication of debris south of the search area that has been the focus of the search operation.
The imagery is in the vicinity of the search area defined and searched in the past two days.
Four aircraft have been reoriented to the area 2500 kilometres south-west of Perth as a result of this information.
A Royal Australian Air Force Orion aircraft arrived in the area about 1.50pm.
A further three aircraft have been tasked by RCC Australia to the area later today, including a Royal New Zealand Air Force Orion and United States Navy P8 Poseidon aircraft.
The Poseidon aircraft is expected to arrive at 3pm. The second RAAF Orion is expected to depart RAAF Base Pearce at 6pm.
The New Zealand Orion is due to depart at 8pm.
A RAAF C-130 Hercules aircraft has been tasked by RCC Australia to drop datum marker buoys.
These marker buoys assist RCC Australia by providing information about water movement to assist in drift modelling. They will provide an ongoing reference point if the task of relocating the objects becomes protracted.
A merchant ship that responded to a shipping broadcast issued by RCC Australia on Monday is expected to arrive in the area about 6pm.

Search for MH370 widens

The search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has now been expanded deep into the southern hemisphere off the south-west coast of Western Australia.

An armada of 10 planes has arrived in Perth Western Australia to search for the missing Boeing 777.

Malaysian investigators say Flight MH370 was deliberately diverted during its flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8 and then flew on for up to seven hours.

Investigators suggest hijacking, sabotage, or pilot suicide, and are examining the backgrounds of all 227 passengers and 12 crew members. They are also looking into backgrounds of ground crew.

Malaysian Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein has not ruled out finding the plane intact.
“The fact that there was no distress signal, no ransom notes, no-one claiming responsibility, there is always hope,” said Mr Hishammuddin.

Australian search authorities says that they have evidence that the missing plane may be off WA and major search assets have been re-deployed to Perth from Malaysia.

Leading the search is the US Navy’s latest sub hunter the P8A Poseidon.

It’s a commercial plane but with a sting!

The Boeing P-8A is based on the world’s biggest selling plane, the 737, but comes with a suite of electronics and armaments designed to find and destroy the most elusive submarines and ships.

It can fly for 7,500km and has been strengthened to make 60 degree turns and operate just 60m off the ocean.
And once it has detected the enemy it can launch an array of bombs or missiles – in fact 10,000kgs of them.

These include torpedoes, depth charges, SLAM-ER missiles and Harpoon anti-ship missiles.
It has the very latest in communications with over 10 separate radios and data links across the VHF, UHF, HF and SATCOM spectrums.

Like the Lockheed Orion it is designed to replace the P-8A has advanced sensors and mission systems which include advanced multi-mode radar, a high definition electro-optic camera, sonar buoys and an acoustic system.

However, rather than hunt submarines the P-8 and the four Lockheed P3 Orions will be searching for metal debris, such as tail or wing of MH370 Boeing 777 that may be floating on the water.

They will also be using their underwater detection ability to search for a large object.

The P-8 can cover an area of 38,850 square kilometres in a nine-hour flight.

Watch Geoffrey Thomas on Channel 7 Sunrise:

MH370 hijacked by stowaway?

Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 may have been hijacked by terrorists that stowed away in its under floor electronics bay located just behind the cockpit.

According to Philip Baum, editor of trade journal Aviation Security, the hijackers may not have been on a passenger list but hiding on board the 777.

“Stowaways on planes are not new,” he said. “Whilst most stowaways had clambered into wheel wheels, some had secreted themselves on board aircraft, often disguised as airport staff.”

On 7 July 2012, two stowaways penetrated the perimeter at Iceland’s Keflavik International Airport and then, dressed as airport staff, boarded an Icelandair aircraft.

 But Mr Baum said “they were found by alert crewmembers prior to departure”.

“The same cannot be said in the case of a China Airlines flight which landed in San Francisco on 22 October 2012,” he said. “A passenger from Shanghai had flown from Shanghai to Taipei and on to the US, where he claimed asylum, having boarded the aircraft wearing a cleaner’s uniform and avoided detection in Taipei by concealing himself in an electrical compartment on board.”

 Mr Baum said the industry had long been concerned about the insider threat.

“At almost every major international airport in the world, criminal activity of one type or another takes place in what are supposed to be sterile zones,” he said. “It is certainly a possibility that, in an airport the size of Kuala Lumpur International Airport, individuals, with or without the knowledge of the crew of MH 370, and with or without technical knowledge as to how to disable an aircraft’s communication systems, could have managed to secrete themselves on board.”

On the Boeing 777, the perfect pace to stowaway is in the main equipment bay that is located below the main deck just behind the cockpit.

Access is via a door in the cabin floor in close proximity to the main passenger entry door.

This is typically hidden by carpet.

There is no access between the MEB and the cockpit but hijackers could just wait until the pilots came back to the toilet or waited till the flight attendants took drinks to the cockpit.

While cockpit doors are supposed to be locked for the duration of the flight the reality is that access at different times is essential.

“A week ago, many would have argued that the scenario we are witnessing would have been an impossibility but it is happening and we don’t know how or why,” said Mr Baum.

 See Geoffrey Thomas on Australia’s Channel 7 Sunrise program;

MH370 hijacked!


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.









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