Friday, March 14, 2014

The Posiedon flies high (in the Andaman sky)

This is the latest Reuters story. Satellite data confirms that MH-370 was in-flight for as long as four hours. Military radar indicates that the plane was heading towards Andaman Islands.


Malaysia Airlines missing jet transmitted its location repeatedly to satellites over the course of five hours after it disappeared from radar, people briefed on the matter said, as searchers zeroed in on new target areas hundreds of miles west of the plane's original course. The satellites also received speed and altitude information about the plane from its intermittent "pings," the people said. The final ping was sent from over water, at what one of these people called a normal cruising altitude. They added that it was unclear why the pings stopped. One of the people, an industry official, said it was possible that the system sending them had been disabled by someone on board. 

The vast Indian ocean now holds the key to the missing airline.One thing is now clear: there was definite foul play- the communications systems were switched off deliberately and the plane was traveling on a known path.

It is chilling to even think about what happened, however IMO suspicion will now fall strongly on the pilot(s), like what happened with Egypt Air Flight 990.

It will be now up to USA, India and China to find the plane (if ever).

India’s defense ministry said Friday a third Coast Guard vessel, the CGS Sagar, is en route from Singapore to join a widening search effort already underway in the Andaman Sea near the Malacca Strait. The ship, when it arrives, will join the INS Kumbhir, an amphibious warfare ship, and INS Saryu, a patrol vessel, along with a host of military aircraft (Navy, Coast Guard and Air Force) searching the waters west of Malaysia.

In a far more detailed description of military radar plotting than has been publicly revealed, two sources told Reuters an unidentified aircraft that investigators suspect was missing Flight MH370 appeared to be following a commonly used navigational route when it was last spotted early on Saturday, northwest of Malaysia.


That course - headed into the Andaman Sea and towards the Bay of Bengal in the Indian Ocean - could only have been set deliberately, either by flying the Boeing (BA.N) 777-200ER jet manually or by programming the auto-pilot. A third investigative source said inquiries were focusing more on the theory that someone who knew how to fly a plane deliberately diverted the flight hundreds of miles off its scheduled course from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. "What we can say is we are looking at sabotage, with hijack still on the cards," said the source, a senior Malaysian police official.

The U.S. Navy was sending an advanced P-8A Poseidon plane to help search the Strait of Malacca, a busy sealane separating the Malay Peninsula from the Indonesian island of Sumatra. It had already deployed a Navy P-3 Orion aircraft to those waters. U.S. defence officials told Reuters that the U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer, USS Kidd, was heading to the Strait of Malacca, answering a request from the Malaysian government. The Kidd had been searching the areas south of the Gulf of Thailand, along with the destroyer USS Pinckney.

Satellites picked up faint electronic pulses from the aircraft after it went missing on Saturday, but the signals gave no immediate information about where the jet was heading and little else about its fate, two sources close to the investigation said on Thursday.

The fact that the plane - if it was MH370 - had lost contact with air traffic control and was invisible to civilian radar suggested someone on board had turned off its communication systems, the first two sources said. They also gave new details on the direction in which the unidentified aircraft was heading - following aviation corridors identified on maps used by pilots as N571 and P628 - routes taken by commercial planes flying from Southeast Asia to the Middle East or Europe.

An already difficult search task has been complicated in some areas by a choking haze caused by burning forest and farmland that has enveloped much of Malaysia and spilled into the Strait of Malacca. The haze, exacerbated by a prolonged dry spell, has reached hazardous levels in several spots. "The haze will affect the search and rescue operations for sure. The visibility at the ground level has dropped to less than 3 km (1.9 miles)," Amirzudi Hashim, a senior meteorologist at the National Weather Center, told Reuters.

India had deployed ships, planes and helicopters from the remote Andaman and Nicobar Islands, at the juncture of the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea, an Indian military spokesman, Harmeet Singh, said on Friday. Two Dornier aircraft were searching the land mass of the Andaman and Nicobar islands, a total area of 720 km by 52 km, Singh said.

China, which had more than 150 citizens on board the missing plane, has deployed four warships, four coastguard vessels, eight aircraft and trained 10 satellites on a wide search area. Chinese media have described the ship deployment as the largest Chinese rescue fleet ever assembled.


regards