Jun 222014
 
Photo Credit: Malaysia Airlines pilot, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, as shown in his uniform on Facebook.

Photo Credit: Malaysia Airlines pilot, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, as shown in his uniform on Facebook.

An official police investigation into the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 has identified the captain as the prime suspect — if it is proven human intervention was involved in the possible catastrophic chaos on-board the Boeing 777-200 airliner’s last moments on March 8, 2014.

Captain Zaharie Shah became the focus of the special investigation by police in Malaysia after all other passengers were cleared of any suspicion, as international reports are emerging with the breaking news early this morning in The Sunday Times (U.K.) and The Sydney Morning Herald.

The criminal inquiry by Malaysian police does not rule out the possibility the plane was lost due to mechanical failure or terrorism. However, the police view is that if allegedly the missing Boeing 777-200ER airliner was the result of human action or foul play, Captain Zaharie was allegedly the most likely perpetrator.

Malaysian police special criminal investigative branch focused the inquiry on Captain Zaharie Shah, 53, after intelligence checks failed to substantiate any suspicions about the other people on board the Boeing 777-200 airliner, which was lost on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 passengers and crew.

Given Malaysia Airlines flight MH370’s disappearance on March 8 and given this morning’s shocking announcement of the findings of the Malaysian police probe, “This is now the greatest mystery in aviation security history,” as I said on March 11 in “Boeing 777 airplanes do not vanish or fall out of the sky,” on March 12 in Government Security News, and on March 13 on Fox News Hannity.

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After conducting 170 interviews, including MH370’s first officer Fariq Abdul Hamid, according to The Sunday Times (U.K.), police investigators noted strange behavior by the pilot. Captain Zaharie Shah had made no future plans – socially or professionally – and his home flight simulator was programmed with a flight path into the depths of the southern oceanic corridors of the world, before landing the plane on an island with a small runway. The drills were deleted from the pilot’s computer. However, specialists were able to retrieve the files, reports The Sunday Times (U.K.).

According to Newsweek, Captain Zaharie Shah posted an image of his flight simulator on Facebook last year.

An FBI review of the two pilots’ hard drives, including one in the flight simulator Zaharie had built at his home, had not turned up a “smoking gun,” a U.S. official with knowledge of the investigation told CNN in March.

The pilot of the missing Malaysia Airlines jet used his personal flight simulator to practice journeys to remote parts of the Indian Ocean, U.S. sources told NBC News. Deleted files recovered by investigators show Zaharie Shah, 53, also embarked on virtual trips on many other routes and there did not appear to be any patterns, NBC News correspondent Tom Costello reported on Tuesday’s NBC TODAY.

There is also further speculation the pilot’s home life was fraught with difficulties, though this has been denied by Captain Shah’s family.

The Sunday Times suggests although the criminal inquiry is continuing and the results of the current inquiry have not been released publicly, the initial findings have been shared by those close to the Malaysian police investigation. Besides this, the police probe results have only been selectively revealed to foreign governments and MH370 airliner crash investigators.

Malaysian police said in a statement:

The police investigation is still ongoing. To date no conclusions can be made as to the contributor to the incident and it would be [prejudicial] to say so. Nevertheless, the police are still looking into all possible angles.”

The investigation is “ongoing” on all angles, with nothing conclusive at this time, Malaysian police spokeswoman Asmawati Ahmad told CNN just recently this morning.

“We did not make any statement to say that Captain Zaharie was the prime suspect,” Ahmad said, refuting an article in London’s The Sunday Times that says Zaharie is now the sole focus of the investigation.

So many more questions still remain.

The findings of the Malaysian police probe gives additional, though not necessarily definitive, information about what happened on board MH370, until the police inquiry report is released. One may surmise, nonetheless, about a clearer possibility of something happening of a catastrophic nature inside the cockpit and cabin of the Boeing 777-200, operating as flight MH370 during the early morning moments of March 8.

The police probe findings announced today (to be released later), do however, gives us some credible threads in the long and enormous chain of evidence still to be established underlying the MH370 Boeing 777-200 airliner search.

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Who really knows anything at this point?

We just have to wait and see more, once the MH370 ‘black-boxes’ are recovered, if ever. The Dutch engineers’ and Australian Joint Agency Coordination Center investigators‘ deep-oceanic salvage and recovery challenges here are enormous, as history is not on our side here, since 1948.

The police findings only give us further inferences that might explain the Inmarsat satellite receipts of the “ping handshakes,” and that explain the “seven arcs” directing MH370’s last flight moments into the southern Indian Ocean.

The Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak hinted on March 15, the government believed it was possible a “deliberate action by someone on the plane” was behind the MH370 mystery.

Later, the Inmarsat satellite compelling evidence then led to the March 24, 2014 shocking revelation at Putra World Trade Center (Kuala Lumpur) of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, announcing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 ended its journey on March 8 in the southern Indian Ocean.

March 24, 2014 – Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announcing the ending of flight MH370 at Putra World Trade Center, Kuala Lumpur. 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

March 24, 2014 – Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announcing the ending of flight MH370 at Putra World Trade Center, Kuala Lumpur. 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

However, today’s police probe findings also cautions all of us around the world to pause and not immediately conclude that the findings completely resolves the riddle of the missing MH370 safety and security mystery. Indeed, the overall investigation of the Boeing 777-200 airliner’s disappearance still has not ruled out the possibility of terrorism or mechanical failure.

“Captain Zaharie had previously come under suspicion due to rumored marital and financial instability,” says The Sydney Morning Herald. “He was also said to be an enthusiastic supporter of Malaysia’s opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, whose 2012 acquittal on [other criminal offense] charges had just been overturned. But Slate reports Mr Anwar’s People’s Justice Party is a politically moderate group and there is little evidence Captain Zaharie was a ‘fanatic’, as he has sometimes been described.”

Family and friends of MH370 Pilot Captain Shah claim he was a good man. And, the truth will be revealed when MH370 search investigators find the missing ‘black-boxes’.

MH370’s Boeing 777-200 airliner disappeared on March 8 and no debris evidence of the massive jet has been found. Dutch engineers are now mapping the southern Indian Ocean floor. Such maps will provide essential survey data and information on the ocean’s mountainous terrain for use in anticipation of the next phase of the search for the airliner’s whereabouts, and for the possible recovery of flight MH370’s ‘black-boxes’. Hopefully, these ‘black-boxes’ will shed some further light to construct the full chain of evidence underlying the shocking Malaysian police probe findings announced early morning of June 22.

UPDATE (JUNE 26, 2014): Next phase of MH370 search heads south.

Experts believe the missing MH370 flew on autopilot until it ran out of fuel, as an assumption Australian safety investigation officials are pronouncing in establishing that an underwater search must go further south to find the Malaysia Airlines jet’s most likely resting place, South China Morning Post and The Guardian (U.K.) report.

After analyzing data between the plane and a satellite, officials believe Malaysia Airlines flight 370 was on autopilot the entire time it was flying across a vast expanse of the southern Indian Ocean, Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) Chief Commissioner Martin Dolan said.

Investigators searching for flight MH370 now believe a catastrophic event, leading to oxygen starvation, is the most likely scenario in the disappearance of the Boeing 777-200 airliner.

The Australian-led search team say that the plane was flying on autopilot on a consistent course when it finally crashed into the southern Indian Ocean when its engines flamed out.

ASTB Chief commissioner Dolan said it was “highly, highly likely” that MH370 was on autopilot for hours before it crashed, because of the orderly path the plane took.

“Certainly for its path across the Indian Ocean, we are confident that the aircraft was operating on autopilot until it ran out of fuel,” Dolan said.

Asked whether the autopilot would have to be manually switched on, or whether it could have been activated automatically under a default setting, Dolan replied: “The basic assumption would be that if the autopilot is operational it’s because it’s been switched on.”

But exactly when the Boeing 777 began running on autopilot is still not known.

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“Autopilot theory would explain plane’s ‘orderly path’,” says Australian Transport Minister, Warren Truss (shown in photo pointing to the new MH370 search area in the southern Indian Ocean).

“We could not accurately nor have we attempted to fix the moment, when [the Boeing 777-200 airliner] was put on autopilot,” Truss said. “It will be a matter for the Malaysian-based investigation to look at precisely when [the airliner] may have been put on autopilot.”

Efforts to find the Boeing 777-200 airliner is now focusing on an area near to where the original search off Australia’s west coast began, upon the March 24 shocking revelation of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, announcing the airliner ended its journey on March 8 in the southern Indian Ocean.

“We are now shifting our attention to an area further south of [the 7th] arc – broadly in the area where our first search efforts were focused,” Truss said.

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MH370’s search effort now focused further south, notwithstanding, Australian Joint Agency Coordination Center officials said the seabed where the Dutch engineers are conducting the deep oceanic survey map is largely unexplored and contains hundreds of pieces of unrelated garbage not connected to the Boeing 777-200 wreckage.

“The area being mapped is largely uncharted,” Luijnenburg said to Reuters, “since the area’s remoteness and depth at 6,000 meters, places it beyond the reach of the oil industry, which is largely extending down to depths approaching 3,000 meters.”

Two survey ships are mapping uncharted areas of the southern Indian Ocean in the new search zone before the sonar scanning starts.

The search area has changed multiple times in the over three months since Malaysia Airlines flight 370 disappeared from air traffic control, as officials struggled to make sense of the limited data the flight left in its wake after it dropped off radar. The new search zone was largely identified by an analysis of hourly transmissions, or “handshakes,” between the plane and an Inmarsat satellite, South China Morning Post reports.

An initial search focused off the coast of Vietnam in the South China Sea after the plane vanished during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8 with 239 passengers and crew aboard.

“The new priority area is still focused on the same seventh arc in the southern Indian Ocean where the aircraft last communicated with satellite,” Truss said.

The new area of interest has been subject to an aerial and visual search for wreckage and debris but “now we will move to an underwater search,” Truss added.

A new assessment by a team of scientists has now led Australia’s air accident experts “to the view that the new search area is the most likely place where the aircraft is resting.”

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The new search area is located several hundred kilometers southwest of the most recent suspected crash site, about 1,800 kilometers off Australia’s west coast, said Australian Transport Safety Bureau Chief Commissioner Martin Dolan (shown in photo). Powerful sonar equipment will scour the seabed for wreckage in the new search zone, which officials calculated by reanalyzing the existing satellite data.

The shift was expected, with Dolan saying last week, the new zone would be south of an area where a remote-controlled underwater drone spent weeks fruitlessly combing 850 square kilometers. That search area was determined by a series of underwater sounds initially thought to have come from the lost airliner’s ‘black-boxes’. But those signals are now widely believed to have come from some other source.

The new 60,000 square kilometer search area falls within a vast region of the southern Indian Ocean that air crews have already scoured for floating debris, to no avail. Officials have since called off the air search, since any debris would likely have sunk long ago, reports the South China Morning Post.

The hunt is now focused underwater. Beginning in August, private Dutch contractors will use powerful side-scan sonar equipment capable of probing ocean depths of 7 kilometers to map the ocean floor in the new search zone. The job is expected to take 12 months to complete.

Truss said he was optimistic that the latest search zone is, indeed, the most likely crash site. But he warned that finding the plane would be a huge task.

“The search will still be painstaking,” he said. “Of course, we could be fortunate and find it in the first hour or the first day – but it could take another 12 months.”

This news comes as a Malaysia Airlines official reportedly said it might take “decades” to find the remains of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which disappeared March 8, an hour after leaving Kuala Lumpur en route to Beijing. The new search area is estimated to cover 20,000 square miles of the southern Indian Ocean.

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