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Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is officially declared on Thursday, January 29, 2015, an accident and all lives presumed lost on the southern Indian Ocean floor, authorities say, after history’s largest and costliest oceanic airliner search for nearly eleven months as of Monday, February 9, 2015. Officially, this clears the way for Malaysia Airlines to pay compensation to victims’ relatives, while the search for the massive Boeing 777-200ER airliner continues, reports Reuters.

Photo Credit: Malaysia Airlines, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

“We officially declare Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 an accident … and that all 239 of the passengers and crew on board MH370 are presumed to have lost their lives,” Malaysia’s Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) director-general Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said in a statement.

“The announcement is in accordance with standards of annexes 12 and 13 of the International Civil Aviation Organization,” said the Malaysian DCA director-general. “It will allow families of the passengers to obtain assistance through compensation,” he said.

According to Breaking Travel News: “Authorities in Malaysia had originally planned to make the announcement in an afternoon news conference. However, this was abruptly cancelled after distraught next-of-kin rushed to the venue. Instead, the televised announcement was made by the transport ministry at 18:00 local time.”

Halting weather, including stormy oceanic winds up to 90 kilometers per hour in parts of the search area, have virtually halted operations, but conditions are expected to improve, as the summer season emerges off the western coast of Australia, as the Joint Agency Coordination Center (JACC) cautiously remains optimistic about its eventual success in locating the whereabouts of the massive Boeing 777-200ER airliner.

I predicted October 5 inside my LinkedIn Pulse article, “MH370 Found This Week: Officials Say “Not Where, But When”,” the following opening excerpt:

“Beginning today, the next 12 days of continuous deep sea scouring, unabated by harsh hurricane-like underwater oceanic weather conditions, is critical to uncovering the whereabouts of the massive Boeing 777-200ER airliner.”

“Wreckage or debris must be found during these critical 12 days before the underwater sea vessel equipment employed in this next search phase has to return back to shore for refueling and restocking. During this time as the deep sea vessel equipment is away, the conditions of the “priority search area” could change drastically. This could severely hamper and impede the ongoing MH370 search that could delay recovery of the missing Boeing 777-200ER for years.”

The Australian and Malaysian governments worked together to set this date to officially declare MH370 an accident and lost, as budget cuts began to impede the search for the missing airliner.

“… Once we have an official loss recorded we can work with the next-of-kin on the full compensation payments for those families,” Malaysia Airlines commercial director Hugh Dunleavy was quoted as saying in the New Zealand Herald on Tuesday November 4.

The Malaysian flag carrier’s Boeing 777-200ER, Registration Number 9M-MRO, performing as Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, disappeared early morning March 8 with 227 passengers and 12 Malaysia Airlines crew members on board en route from Kuala Lumpur International Airport to Beijing International Airport.

It is generally alleged the massive airliner was in its remaining catastrophic moments, when it was radar tracked as the plane flew far off-course from its intended flight path. Then, turning suddenly back towards the Straits of Malacca, after which the airliner is believed to have mysteriously last flown into the southern Indian Ocean off the coast of Western Australia.


KUALA LUMPUR, March 24 – Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announcing the ending of flight MH370 at Putra World Trade Centre. Also present were Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein (right), Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman (right) and Director General of Department of Civil Aviation Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman (left). Photo Credit: Department of Civil Aviation, Malaysia

Below Photo Credit: Graphic News, Australian Maritime Safety Authority, via The Telegraph (U.K.)

“According to the official account of MH370’s final hours, the missing plane probably did make a sharp left turn to fly west … soon after it lost radio contact with air traffic controllers … MH370 then flew south before running out of fuel and crashing into the ocean about 1,000 miles off the Australian coast, according to an analysis based on satellite tracking data,” as most recently reported in The Week (U.K.).

“The last 54 minutes of cockpit communication aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370” – published on March 21, 2014 exclusively by The Telegraph (U.K.) – “reveals conversations between the co-pilot and the control tower, and other air traffic controllers,” in the final moments as the Boeing 777-200ER was traveling to its last known position over the South China Sea.

“It includes exchanges from a point at which investigators believe the plane had already been sabotaged, as well as the last words of Fariq Abdul Hamid, 27, the co-pilot: ‘All right, good night’.” The Telegraph (U.K.) reported on March 21.

Aviation experts have said the sequence of messages appeared “perfectly routine.” They opine further, nonetheless, a small inconsistency stood out as somewhat strange, which only heightened the mysterious nature of the officially declared aviation accident.

Communications from MH370’s flight deck at 1.07 am, saying the Boeing 777-200ER airliner was flying at 35,000 feet (shown in the Mandarin to English translated message stream below between the Kuala Lumpur (KL) control tower and the flight deck of MH370 at altitude 350). This was unnecessary as it repeated a message delivered six minutes earlier.

Many international aviation safety experts and news accounts over the last eleven months agree, “This is now the greatest aviation security mystery in aviation history,” which I first stated on March 12 to Government Security News, and the following day on March 13 to Fox News Hannity, talking about the “Missing Malaysia Flight 370 Mystery,” further adding:

Boeing airplanes do not vanish or fall out of the sky. Boeing planes go up in the air and they come back down without incident.”

Shortly thereafter, on March 16, the remarkable missing MH370 mysterious story broke internationally.

“(MH370) is the most serious aviation occurrence ever to involve the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) and its precursors, and is arguably the most mystifying, expansive and difficult search operation ever undertaken in the history of commercial aircraft,” ATSB Chief Commissioner Martin Dolan said Monday, November 3 to The Daily Mirror (U.K.).

Costliest Search and Recovery Mission in International Aviation History

According to CNN International, “the investigation into the ill-fated flight is the most expensive in aviation history.”

Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss announced a $50 million (Australian dollars) contract back in August to fund several searches for the missing airliner and 227 passengers and 12 Malaysia Airlines crew members, according to David Soucie, former FAA safety inspector, and CNN aviation analyst.

Soucie added: “If and when the aircraft is found, the retrieval and causal investigation would conceivably add $50 million or more to the enormous cost of the MH370 search.”

Australian Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, former defense head, reportedly estimated the government allocation at $89.9 million with as much as $25 million has been paid to the defense force for the visual search it conducted.

“There’s another $60 million that’s been allocated for the underwater search,” inside the southern Indian Ocean.

“That money has been allocated but we’re still to crunch, or still to negotiate the burden-sharing with, for example, Malaysia.”

Malaysia has spent substantially well over the $27.6 million ringgit ($8.6 million) figures officially announced by the Malaysian government on June 9, marking three months of the search for MH370.

Other countries involved in the search have reportedly put aside sizable sums. The U.S has spent $11.4 million, officials at the Pentagon told NBC in April. Chinese officials have not disclosed the amount the country has spent, though Chinese warships are estimated to cost at least $100,000 per day to operate. Another 22 countries have contributed manpower, machines, and monies to the search efforts, says TIME Business Aviation.

“All of this adds up to so much more than the estimated $160 million in recovery costs for Air France Flight AF447 off the coast of Brazil in 2009 (see also “Five-Year Anniversary of AF447: MH370 Déjà vu?” on LinkedIn Pulse Airlines and Aviation Channel). The search area for that Airbus A330 airliner was much smaller in scope to just five square miles within weeks. Remarkably, it took nearly two years to find and recover the fuselage wreckage of the Airbus A330 aircraft,” CNN aviation analyst Soucie chronicles.

He contrasts further: “the search and recovery area for MH370 is substantially greater, at some 23,000 square miles, and may therefore be exponentially more expensive.”

Even the families of the missing 227 passengers and 12 crew members on board MH370 launched an initiative to raise $5 million to encourage anyone with information about the plane’s whereabouts to come forward.

Malaysia Airlines commercial director Hugh Dunleavy is confident that the crew had nothing to do with the lost airliner. Thus, the official declaration of MH370 as an accident, announced today.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau’s annual report says ten transport investigators have departed after the transport safety agency cut its staff from 116 to 104 since July 2013. This represents about 12 percent of the agency’s technical workforce due to $2 million in budget cuts, reports The Daily Mirror (U.K.).

“We have more than 12 per cent fewer staff and we have been required to task some of our investigation and administration staff to the major and ongoing investigations into the two Malaysia Airlines disasters,” ATSB Chief Commissioner Martin Dolan said.

Dolan added: “For the foreseeable future, we will be able to undertake fewer investigations and we will need to carefully consider and constrain the scope of investigations initiated.”

Consequently, in the last eleven months of the disappearance of MH370 and the shooting down of MH17, Dolan was cautiously resolved in saying, “It was indeed sobering to see more than 200 years of combined corporate and investigation experience leaving the ATSB.”

Big Ships Deployed Makes MH370 Accident Most Expensive Search Mission

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has been missing for nearly eleven months on Monday, February 9, 2015 without a trace. Many aviation experts and safety investigators now believe that the whole plane is submerged in the southern Indian Ocean off the western coast of Australia, perhaps inside a deep trench of the mountainous ocean floor, already mapped out as the so-called 23,000 square mile (37,037 square kilometer) “priority search area” (as indicated in the chart below), along the British firm Inmarsat’s final 7th arc of satellite radar bands that MH370 is calculated to have crossed.

The priority search area, off the coast of Western Australia near Perth, was established by the Australian Transportation Safety Bureau (ATSB) and Australia’s Joint Agency Coordination Center (JACC) using the Inmarsat analysis of electronic “pings” that provided in the final moments of flight MH370 bursts of data transmitted by the missing Boeing 777-200ER airliner and simultaneously detected by Inmarsat satellites.

Photo Credit: ATSB/JACC/AFP

Prohibitive weather has significantly slowed the search for the massive airliner, believe to continue beyond May 2015. But, conditions are expected to improve over summer emerging in the region, upon which vessels could (supposedly as Malaysian, Chinese, and Australian shared costs permit on federal government funds reallocated) continue to scour the southern Indian Ocean floor off the western coast of Australia.

More than 3,000 square kilometers has been scoured so far, and more than 160,000 square kilometers (99,360 square miles) has been mapped, earlier reports 9News Live Feed (Sydney, Australia) confirmed back in November.

However, the later reports as of December 15 are “investigators from Australia’s Joint Agency Coordination Center say they have now covered two-thirds (or over 107,200 square kilometers, or 66,571 square miles) of the priority (search) zone,” aiming for completion of the entire 160,000 square kilometers (99,360 square miles) mapped out six months from now.

The local Australian news outlet added: Additional bathymetric survey operations continue and could perhaps step up again earnestly ideally as new developments of the whereabouts of the massive Boeing 777-200ER become clearer, the Joint Agency Coordination Center said in its latest update last November.

Huge vessels, employing specialized sonar technology for deep oceanic salvage recovery, continued to search the ocean floor, where the plane is believed to have crashed inside the southern Indian Ocean, according to pinpointed search area defined by the Australian Transportation Safety Bureau and the Australia’s Joint Agency Coordination Center.

Contracted deep sea vessel GO Phoenix resupplied in Fremantle and began its underwater search on Monday, November 3.

Fugro Discovery deep sea vessel was searching in the priority area in early November, but had to suspend operations on Friday, October 31 due to severe gale force winds and storms, that were regularly slamming the southern Indian Ocean, according 9News Live Feed (Sydney, Australia).

The deep tow vehicle was recovered to a safe depth and its operations resumed on Monday, November 3, when the then-stormy weather conditions subsided.

The companion deep sea vessel, Fugro Equator, returned to Fremantle on Friday, October 31, “after being reconfigured to accommodate a deep tow vehicle identical to the one on Fugro Discovery,” reports 9News Live Feed (Sydney, Australia).

Following The Week (U.K.) most recent reports on December 18: “The Fugro Discovery, one of three ships involved in the operation developed a “system issue” with a component of its search equipment,” according to investigators from Australia’s Joint Agency Coordination Center (JACC), who have been leading the mission.

As a result, its “search activities have been suspended while the issue is remedied”, they told Sky News Australia. However, “the search efforts conducted by two other vessels will continue throughout the Christmas period and into the New Year.”

“This means the search of the priority zone, a 23,000 square mile arc in the Indian Ocean, will be not be finished by May (2015), as had previously been predicted,” The Week (U.K.) reported on December 18.

Declaration of Accident Opens Restitution Compensation to MH370 Families

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told reporters “Malaysia should settle claims with the families,” as over 150 passengers on board of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 were Chinese, reports Reuters.

“We hope the Malaysian side honors its promises and fully investigates the incident, settling claims and making peace with the families, especially continuing to make all efforts to find the missing plane and its passengers,” the Chinese Premier said.

“Malaysia Airlines was ready to proceed immediately with the compensation process to the next-of-kin of the passengers on the flight,” Malaysia’s Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) director-general Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said in a statement on Thursday.

“All of the crew on MH370 have been investigated by the various security agencies, and as far as I’m aware, nothing has turned up that is (unexpected and inappropriate or unusual), Malaysia Airlines commercial director Hugh Dunleavy has already alluded.

“We do not believe it is anything to do with how we process or recruit staff, in fact those on board the aircraft had been with us for many years,” he said.

Responding further, he added, “We believe there was nothing related to the crew but we will not know 100 percent until we have access to the black-box.”

Dunleavy in New Zealand for four days back in early November was the highest ranking official of the flag carrier to comment on the unofficial loss of the MH370 aviation tragedy as an accident at that critical stage of the ongoing crisis then, until now, with today’s declaration of MH370 as an accident released officially.

Dunleavy urged relatives of the MH370 passengers and crew lost to be patient, as Malaysia Airlines arranges to pay compensation and battles to rebuild the brand reputation of the flag carrier (see “Huge Cuts Signal ‘Hail Mary’ for Malaysia Airlines” and “Malaysia Airlines Burns $2.16 Million in Cash a Day” on LinkedIn Pulse Airlines and Aviation Channel).

He said the Montreal Convention had set the ceiling on compensation at around US$175,000 (RM$582,000), although the families of the MH370 passengers and crew could take legal action to pursue higher payments.

“We will ensure we do compensate them for the loss of their loved ones through our insurers,” he added.

Dunleavy also said the flag carrier has learned lessons from its crisis management of the MH370 aviation tragedy.

“We’re always learning from situations, but the motivation and drive has been to look after the next-of-kin,” he said. “We are trying to hurry compensation (to the families) as much as we can, but some of these things are outside the scope of the airline itself.”

“If they’re not happy with the compensation, then they (the families are free to) seek legal advice and move ahead then … once they come in, our people will assess them and respond,” Dunleavy offered.

He added that restitution compensation to relatives of those killed in the MH17 aviation disaster in eastern Ukraine is more straightforward, as the flag carrier has a more sound preliminary footing and belief as to what supposedly happened to that Boeing 777-200 crash on July 17 (see also “Dutch Safety Board Releases MH17 Crash Report” on LinkedIn Pulse).

“We know exactly what happened with that aircraft and we can move ahead with the full compensation of family members aboard that aircraft,” Dunleavy said.

He said in the case of MH370, the flag carrier does not know what exactly happened in the aviation tragedy on March 8 until the Boeing 777-200ER wreckage is found.

“The search in the Indian Ocean is still going on and Malaysia is also conducting a criminal investigation,” Malaysia’s Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) director-general Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said in a statement on Thursday, via Reuters.

“Both investigations are limited by the lack of physical evidence at this time, particularly the flight recorders,” he said.

“Therefore, at this juncture, there is no evidence to substantiate any speculations as to the cause of the accident.”

“This declaration is by no means the end,” as the Malaysian DCA director-general reiterates that Malaysia, China, and Australia are still committed to completing the search for as long as it takes.

The DCA plans to release an interim report on the investigation into the missing jetliner on March 7, 2015, a day before the first anniversary of the disappearance, a Malaysian minister said on Wednesday, January 28, Reuters sources.

Now is the Time for Consensus on Recommendations on the Future of International Aviation Safety and Security

In a single year of 2014, we have lost the lives of 699 international passengers and flight crews on three compelling global aviation crash events, comprising the oceanic loss of a Boeing 777-200ER airliner, flown as Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 on March 8, 2014, the shooting down over a war-torn eastern Ukraine region of a Boeing 777-200 airliner, performing as Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on July 17, 2014, and a crash in the Java Sea of an Airbus A320-200 airliner, operating as AirAsia flight QZ8501 on December 28, 2014.

Given that international commercial passenger air travel is expected to explode in the next decade (according to Boeing and Airbus industry projections), particularly in Southeast Asia, which is highly dependent upon air travel across deep seas and remote oceans for millions of people in the Southeast Asia and Oceania region, consensus on recommendations of global flight tracking of commercial passenger airliners, jet black-box data streaming, and ejectable flight data recorders, must be reached quickly among airline chiefs, aviation experts, and government officials at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) “Second High-level Safety Conference” on February 2-5, 2015 at its headquarters in Montréal, Canada.

Photo Credits: Malaysia Airlines, Boeing 777-200ER, Registration Number 9M-MRO

APPENDIX

RECENT MEDIA STATEMENTS by Malaysia Airlines

Released at 8.05 p.m. GMT (local time) on Thursday, January 29, 2015

Malaysia Airlines and the world are in mourning after the declaration of the accident to flight MH370 today. It has been more than 10 agonising months since the ill-fated flight went missing.

Following the announcement today, Malaysia Airlines’ representatives will be contacting the appointed next-of-kin to proceed with the compensation process. The airline remains steadfast to ensure that fair and reasonable compensation is paid to the families of all MH370 passengers in accordance with the applicable laws.

Malaysia Airlines will deploy further resources at its Family Support Centre (FSC) which had been set up in Kuala Lumpur. In order to facilitate and expedite the compensation process, besides proactively providing updates to family members around the world, the airline has installed additional phone lines. The FSC will be the main point of contact for NOK in Malaysia and other parts of the world, along with our various regional offices, apart from China.

Operations at the Family Communications and Support Centre (FCSC) in Beijing continue. For the convenience of family members, the Centre will be supported by additional Mandarin-speaking personnel.

Malaysia Airlines’ personnel from the Human Resources department remain the main point of contact for the NOK of the airline’s cabin and technical crew lost in the tragedy.

As has been the case since the beginning of the crisis, Malaysia Airlines continues to provide assistance to the families of the passengers and crew. We understand this is an especially distressing time for all of them.

The management and staff of Malaysia Airlines wish to thank the public for their outpouring of support throughout this challenging time. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the families of the 239 passengers and crew on board flight MH370.

Press Statement by the Director General of Malaysian Department of Aviation on January 29, 2015, 6.00 pm GMT (local time)

Here is the PDF version of Press Statement by the Director General of Malaysian Department of Aviation.

Mandarin Version

English Version

-end-

Malaysia Airlines Media Statement Released at 7.30 p.m. GMT (local time) on Monday, November 10, 2014

Malaysia Airlines refers to recent news articles speculating on an official declaration of loss of flight MH370.

Addressing the speculation to family members via letters, the airline highlighted that any course of action is always guided by the advice of the technical team in charge of the search operations.

The assurances given to us are that the ongoing search and recovery operations will remain and will not be discontinued.

Recent speculation in the press regarding a declaration of loss followed the expression of a personal opinion only. Any information regarding MH370, the search and recovery operations and any matters related to the missing aircraft will only be communicated by the Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC).

Malaysia Airlines is hopeful that we will find closure to this tragedy and we support and thank our government as well as the governments of Australia and China for their invaluable assistance in this time of crisis.

The airline shares the pain and anguish of family members in having to deal and come to terms with this situation, as such we have assured them that locating the aircraft and recovering the flight data recorders remain the key priority. Every party involved in this complex operation is as determined as the families and Malaysia Airlines to find answers to our many questions.

With regard to the level of compensation available pursuant to the Montreal Convention, or similar applicable legal regime, the airline has made it very clear that payments are determined by law to take account of proven passenger and family circumstances and will be assessed accordingly.

Malaysia Airlines and its insurers remain steadfast to ensure that fair and reasonable compensation is paid to the families of all MH370 passengers in accordance with the law when the families are ready to discuss the issue. We have stated this publicly on many occasions and we reiterate that the airline will honour any commitments that we have made.

The well-being of the family members is always our main priority, and we will continue to communicate on any updates as and when we have them.

Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the families of passengers and crew of MH370.

-end-

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