Aug 282014
 

Malaysia Airlines ground staff attempted to contact the flight crew of MH370 by satellite phone once it vanished on March 8 from radar, Australian officials announced today. This short phone call is now being used to refine the probable final flight path of the missing Boeing 777-200ER airliner.

Australia’s deputy prime minister, Warren Truss, said analysis of the failed call to the plane, which disappeared on 8 March, “suggests to us that the aircraft might have turned south a little earlier than we had previously expected,” according to The Associated Press and Agence France-Presse.

Warren Truss provided the update, after signing a memorandum of understanding with Malaysia’s Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai in Canberra. The signing followed a meeting between Malaysia and Australia and China’s Vice-Minister of Transport He Jianzhong.

He Jianzhong said the ministers had all agreed that the search would not be interrupted or given up. The missing MH370 Boeing 777-200ER airliner had 153 Chinese passengers on board, the most of any country.

The Deputy Prime Minister said more research had been performed in trying to trace the unsuccessful phone call Malaysia Airlines ground staff made to the plane, when it disappeared from radar on March 8.

“Some work has been done in endeavoring to map the position of the aircraft, when a failed satellite telephone conversation was attempted between Malaysia Airlines on the ground and the aircraft,” Truss said.

He further added: “That has suggested to us that the aircraft may have turned south a little earlier than we had previously expected.”

Truss said “the search area” is still basically unchanged, but further refinement of satellite data points to areas to the south, which investigators find are of “particular interest and priority.”

“The search area remains the same, but some of the information that we now have suggests to us that areas a little further to the south – within the search area, but a little further to the south – are of particular interest and priority in the search area,” he said.

Six Australian nationals were among 239 people on board the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 that disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Suddenly, the Boeing 777-200 airliner lost contact with air traffic control on that early morning March 8, 2014, as it was transitioning between Malaysian and Vietnamese airspace.

Earlier drawing search evidence from eight satellite signals from the British satellite firm, Inmarsat, its automated systems have pointed international teams searching for the Boeing 777-200ER whereabouts inside the southern Indian Ocean off Western Australia. However, today’s satellite phone call is “a new and separate detail.”

“After MH370 disappeared from the radar, Malaysia Airlines ground staff sought to make contact using a satellite phone. That was unsuccessful,” Truss said.

“But the detailed research that’s being done now has been able to … trace that phone call and help position the aircraft and the direction it was travelling.”

What We Know So Far About MH370 Search Investigation?

[Shown below is possible MH370 flight path and Malaysian military radar known positions on March 8, 2014 at Malaysian local times: (1) 12:41 am, (2) 1:19 am, (3) 2:15 am, (4) 2:25 am, (5) 8:19 am, (6) 8:30 am; Search area on April 4 at 1,370 miles off the western Australian coast at Perth (shown in red), (7) April 5-6 Ocean Shield and Bluefin-21 search focus; Previous search areas (shown in pink); Unrelated debris fields seen March 23, 24 and 26 (shown in red dots); Individual unrelated debris spotted March 16-24 (shown in green dots)] Photo Credit: The Telegraph (U.K.)


Australian deputy primer minister, Warren Truss said investigators remain steadfast on their findings that MH370’s whereabouts are along the search zone’s seventh arc, where its flight data communication systems emitted a final satellite “handshake” with an Inmarsat satellite.

“It remains on the seventh arc – that is, there is a very, very strong view that this aircraft will be resting on the seventh arc,” he said, referring to the oceanic area where Australian investigators believe the Boeing 777-200ER airliner exhausted its fuel and crashed, based on the last Inmarsat satellite data received from MH370’s aircraft engine transmitter.

Truss said ongoing mapping of 87,000 square kilometers of the ocean floor had uncovered “quite remarkable geographical features” including the discovery of new undersea volcanoes up to 2,000 meters (6,562 feet) high.

“In one place in particular… the sea depth is as little as 600 meters, and then falls away in just a very short distance to 6,600 meters,” he said, projecting a complicated search for MH370 wreckage and potential black-box recovery beginning next month.

An earlier report a few months ago by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) concluded that the passengers and crew may have died from hypoxia, according to Australian News Service (News.com.au).

Photo Credit: Lukas Coch/EPA. The Australian deputy PM, Warren Truss (left), the Malaysian transport minister, Liow Tiong Lai (center), and China’s vice-minister for transport, He Jianzhong (right), give latest details of the search for MH370.

On Thursday, August 28, Truss and the Malaysian transport minister, Liow Tiong Lai, signed a memorandum of understanding outlining Malaysian-Australian cooperation in the search for the missing Boeing 777-200ER, as the search for flight MH370 relaunches into its next phase in September. The Malaysian-Australian agreement promises cost-sharing of this new phase of search operations conducted by the two countries.

Liow cautioned investigators have advised that it is critical that September’s deep sea search successfully bring forth debris from the Boeing 777-200ER airliner, and actually result in discovery of the aircraft’s black-boxes containing vital cockpit voice recordings and crucial flight data, in order to finally begin to resolve the mystery behind the MH370 aviation tragedy.

“The investigation cannot continue without these search results,” Liow said.

“We need to find the plane, we need to find the black-box in the plane so that we can have a conclusion in the investigation.”

Liow told a news conference in Canberra that the Malaysia and Australia would evenly split the costs of the new search phase of MH370, estimated at up to A$52 million ($48.65 million).

“Malaysia will provide the necessary financial contribution towards the search effort and match Australia’s commitment,” he said.

Liow added: “I want to assure the loved ones of the passengers and crew on-board MH370 that we are resolute in our efforts to search for this aircraft.

“I have been touched by many of the stories I have heard and we will do our best to engage the next of kin and help them find closure,” he told reporters.

Liow, who replaced Hishammuddin Hussein as transport minister in June, added that Malaysia had so far spent about Aus$50 million (US $47 million) on the search and would match Australia’s financial commitments in the tender costs for equipment, according to The Telegraph (U.K.).

Malaysia, as the country where the Boeing 777-200ER airliner was flagged, has overall responsibility for the crash investigation. But Australia has search and rescue responsibility for the area of the Indian Ocean, where the plane is thought to have crashed 1,800 kilometers (1,100 miles) off Western Australia, according to The Associated Press and Agence France-Presse.

Australian government has committed to spending $80-$90 million on the MH370 search operation. Australian authorities has selected a prime contractor in the Dutch vessel firm, Fugro Survey, to oversee this $52 million next phase of the MH370 Boeing 777-200 search, commencing in September. A couple of huge Fugro underwater vehicles will carefully scan 60,000 square kilometers of the sea floor in the southern Indian Ocean, off the west coast of Australia. The sonar data will be sent to two Fugro vessels and interpreted by personnel on board and then reviewed by analysts on shore.

Presently there are two survey ships, the Chinese, Zhu Kezhen, and the Australian-contracted, Fugro Equator, that are dispatched to carry on the mapping tasks. This process is crucial, as it identifies any possible hazards that could affect the scheduled deep-water search. A third vessel, the Malaysian KD Mutiara, has been reported as joined now in August.

The said underwater search for the MH370 airliner will be expected to take as long as one year.

Three vessels towing underwater vehicles equipped with side-scan sonar, multi-beam echo sounders and video equipment would search for the plane, Truss said.

Before the underwater search starts, two survey ships are mapping the entire search area. The overall search costing tens of millions of dollars could take up to a year, Truss said.

Phone Call Adds Validity to Australian MH370 Crash Investigation Report in June.

Australian Transport Safety Bureau chief commissioner Martin Dolan said he would meet with international experts next week to decide whether the 60,000-square kilometre (23,000-square mile) targeted search area should be extended or shifted south based on the new analysis, according to Zee Media Bureau (India).

“We think we may extend that area farther south; that’s the thing we’re currently considering,” Dolan told The Associated Press.

“The new analysis applies to satellite data from the first of two satellite phone calls Malaysia Airlines ground staff attempted to make to Flight 370’s crew,” Zee Media Bureau reports.

Australian investigators have been developing methods analogous to the analysis of the Inmarsat satellite data from the Boeing 777-200ER airliner engine transmitters to analyze the phone calls to ascertain MH370’s final flight path south, India’s Zee Media outlet says.

Zee Media reports further: “By the time the calls were attempted, the plane had become invisible to civilian radar. It had flown west without communications past Sumatra and beyond the range of Malaysian military radar.”

Dolan said the new analysis suggested the jet was already flying south when the first phone call was attempted, less than 20 minutes after the plane dropped off military radar.

“Previously, there was the possibility that it could have been quite a bit later, so we had to do our modeling based on a range of possibilities as to where the aircraft turned,” Dolan said.

“We’re now more confident that it turned comparatively early. That does make a difference to how we prioritize the search along the seventh arc,” he added.

Australian safety teams must determine which oceanic areas should be examined first in early September. Analysis of the recent phone call from Malaysia Airlines ground crew to the MH370 flight deck the early morning on March 8 adds some validity to an Australian Transport Safety Bureau crash investigation report released back in June in which “most of the modeling of the plane’s potential flight paths factored in a relatively early switch to a southerly course,” Zee Media concludes.

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