and Lizzie Parry
and Leon Watson
Debris from the missing Boeing 777 flight is believed to have been found off Vietnam as Interpol investigates whether up to four passengers boarded the plane using stolen passports.
A Vietnamese search team has found what they believe is part of a door
and an airplane’s tail in the first major breakthrough in the hunt for
The suspected fragments have been located around 50 miles from south-west of Tho Chu Island, the Wall Street Journal reported.
It comes as Interpol criticised Thailand’s lax airport security after it emerged at least two passengers boarded the Malaysia Airlines flight MH307 with stolen passports – giving rise to the possibility that the missing 239 passengers are victims of a terrorist attack.
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From above: A picture taken by personnel on a Vietnamese search aircraft and made available by Tienphong.vn shows what is believed to be a piece of debris of missing Malaysia Airlines airplane at an undisclosed location
Italian tourist Luigi Maraldi, 37, shows his current passport during a press conference at a police station in Phuket island, southern Thailand
Italian national Mr Maraldi had reported his passport stolen in August 2013
The possibility of a further two
stolen passports used on the same flight is now being investigated as it
emerges that no cross checks were carried out against Interpol’s lost
and stolen database.
Procedural checks would have revealed that at least two passengers were travelling on stolen passports stolen.
passports were used to buy tickets booked in the names of Italian Luigi
Maraldi and Austrian Christian Kozel on March 6, 2014, and issued in
the Thai city of Pattaya, a popular beach resort south of the capital
Luigi Maraldi, 37, the owner of one of the passports, was listed as the
sole Italian national on the missing flight. This afternoon he told how the document was stolen while he was holiday in July
last year on the island Phuket.
Mr Maraldi said it happened when a deal
went wrong at a motorcycle shop in Patong.
called us early this morning to reassure us he was fine, but we didn’t
know about the accident,’ his father Walter Maraldi told NBC News. ‘Thank God he heard about it before us.’
The owner of the other stolen passport was Austrian citizen Christian Kozel, 30, who’s name also appeared on the
Mr Kozel discovered he had been listed when uniformed police officers turned up at his home in Salzburg at the weekend.
said: ‘I was pretty shocked when I saw them at my door, and was
relieved to find out that although I was dead, at least it was only on
Relatives of victims from the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 plane arrive for a meeting with airline officials in Beijing
Malaysia said a missing airliner carrying 239 people may have inexplicably turned back as authorities launched a terror probe into the plane’s sudden disappearance
But it still
left him with a lot of worried friends and relatives that he had to
reassure after it was reported that he was dead. He said he had reported
the passport as stolen while he was in the same part of Thailand two years ago, and that
it had apparently then been used by someone illegally.
In a statement issued today, the France-based international police body said
information about the thefts was entered into its database after they
were stolen in Thailand.
from Italy and Austria also confirmed that the travel documents of both men
were reported stolen in Thailand.
said it was now investigating all other passports used to
board flight MH370 and was working to determine the ‘true identities’ of
the passengers who used the stolen passports.
it is too soon to speculate about any connection between these stolen
passports and the missing plane, it is clearly of great concern that any
passenger was able to board an international flight using a stolen
passport listed in Interpol’s databases,’ Interpol Secretary General
Ronald Noble said in a statement.
expressed frustration that few of Interpol’s 190 member countries
‘systematically’ search the database to determine whether documents
being used to board a plane are registered as lost or stolen.
is a situation we had hoped never to see. For years Interpol has asked
why should countries wait for a tragedy to put prudent security measures
in place at borders and boarding gates,’ he said.
Rescue operation: A Vietnamese air force pilot touches the controls of a transport plane today
Rescue vessel Rescue 101, loaded with a Chinese emergency response team, departs from Sanya Port
PILOT ENJOYED FLYING SO MUCH HE HAD HIS OWN SIMULATOR
The pilot of a Malaysia Airlines jet that went missing on Saturday enjoyed flying the Boeing 777 so much that he spent his off days tinkering with a flight simulator of the plane that he had set up at home, current and former co-workers said.
Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53, captain of the airliner carrying 239 people bound for Beijing from the Malaysian capital, had always wanted to become a pilot and joined the national carrier in 1981.
Airline staff who worked with the pilot said Zaharie knew the ins and outs of the Boeing 777 extremely well, as he was always practicing with the simulator. They declined to be identified due to company policy.
‘He was an aviation tech geek. You could ask him anything and he would help you. That is the kind of guy he is,’ said a Malaysia Airlines co-pilot who had flown with Zaharie in the past.
Zaharie set up the Boeing 777 simulator at his home in a suburb on the outskirts of the Malaysian capital where many airline staff stay as it provides quick access to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
security breach has led to fears that missing Malaysia Airlines flight
MH307 may have been taken down by terrorists to be heightened.
It comes as the chief of the Malaysian Air Force said that radar indicated the missing plane may have turned back before it crashed.
we have done is actually look into the recording on the radar that we
have and we realised there is a possibility the aircraft did make a turn
back,’ Rodzali Daud, the Royal Malaysian Air Force chief, told
reporters at a news conference.
dozens of military and civilians vessels and aircraft criss-crossing
waters to the east and west of Malaysia, no wreckage has been found,
although oil slicks have been reported in the sea south of Vietnam.
Malaysian Security officials earlier revealed they had footage of two passengers traveling on passports stolen in Thailand – one registered to an
Italian and the other an Austrian – making their way through Kuala Lumpur passport control to the aircraft.
The passengers being checked had all bought their tickets through China Southern Airlines.
appears the the tickets linked to the Italian and Austrian passports
were bought together in Thai baht at identical prices, according to
China’s official e-ticket verification system Travelsky. The ticket
numbers are contiguous, which indicates the tickets were issued
reports that an anonymous pilot told Malaysian newspapers that he had
heard a ‘mumbled’ last transmission from the aircraft – although this is
contradicted by air traffic controllers who say there was no distress
This oil slick was found in the Gulf of Thailand, about 90 miles south of Vietnam’s Tho Chu Island – the same area where the flight disappeared from radar early Saturday morning
An aerial view of what is believed to be an oil slick aircraft stretching a length of about 80 km in the sea off the Vietnamese coast. Investigators are trying to determine whether there is a link between the slick and the missing 777
U.S. officials also confirmed they
have dispatched a team of safety experts including FBI agents to
Southeast Asia to assist in the investigation of the Boeing 777, which
disappeared shortly after takeoff with 239 people on board.
the wreckage of the plane has still not been found, new photos of oil
slicks in the South China Sea have emerged and a growing body of
evidence is beginning to point towards a terrorist attack.
dramatically, a second pilot who was in the skies over the South China
Sea when the 777 vanished has spoken about hearing ‘mumbling’ at the
other end of communications with the plane.
The captain, who asked to remain
anonymous, told Malaysian media outlets he was asked to get in contact
with the pilot flying the missing plane on an emergency frequency and
establish their position.
He said he believes he spoke to the co-pilot, but that there were ‘interference’ and ‘mumbling’ before they lost the connection.
on Saturday, two oil slicks were spotted by the Vietnamese air force in
the Gulf of Thailand, about 90 miles south of Vietnam’s Tho Chu Island -
the same area where the flight disappeared from radar.
The plane – carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew members – took off from Kuala Lumpur at 12.21am (4.21pm GMT) Saturday bound for Beijing, where it was expected to land at 6.30am (10.30pm GMT).
But after reaching 35,000ft and 120 nautical miles off the coast of the Malaysian town of Kota Bharu the plane vanished.
IBM employee Philip Wood, 51, was identified as the only adult passenger traveling on a U.S. passport on Flight MH307.
Two other American travelers have been named as toddlers Leo Meng, two, and Nicole Meng, four.
Family members of passengers aboard a missing plane cry at a hotel in Putrajaya, Malaysia
Members of Fo Guang Shan rescue team offer a special prayer for passengers aboard a missing plane, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Malaysia
Buddhist monks offer a special prayer for passengers aboard a missing plane
Hugh Dunleavy (center), Malaysia Airlines head of commercial, speaks to media at Lido Hotel in Beijing, China
Personnel inspect life jackets put inside a Soviet-made AN-26, used by the Vietnamese Air Force as a search and rescue aircraft, as it is refueled before making an other flight over the seas off Vietnam
The emergency response team sent by China’s Ministry of Transport set out early Sunday morning from Sanya to sea area where missing Malaysia Airline flight MH 370 may have crashed
And a U.S. technology firm says 20 of its employees were aboard. Jacey Zuniga, a spokeswoman for Freescale Semiconductor, of Austin, Texas, says 12 Malaysian and eight Chinese employees are ‘confirmed passengers’.
She says no American citizen Freescale employees were on the flight.
‘At present, we are solely focused on our employees and their families,’ Gregg Lowe, president and chief executive of Freescale said. ‘Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by this tragic event.’
The company has assembled a team of counsellors for those affected by the tragedy.
Anxious: Families of those on board the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH307 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, face an anxious wait for news of the search mission at Kuala Lumpur airport
Grief: Family and friends waiting for the plane to arrive break down as they hear the jet has gone missing. The flight vanished off the coast of Vietnam around two hours after taking off
Despair: There were 227 passengers and 12 crew members on board Flight MH370, from 14 different nations
The two Canadian passengers were identified as mining executive Muktesh Mukherjee and his wife Xiaomo Bai
Globetrotters: Australian nationals Catherine and Robert Lawton, from Brisbane, were named as one of three couples from Down Under who were missing
Victims: This handout picture taken on March 7, 2014 and released by Hamid Ramlan shows his daughter Norliakmar Hamid (second right) and her husband Razahan Zamani (right), who were passengers on a missing Malaysia Airlines flight
On board: Co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid (left) and passenger Firman Siregar (right)
French teenagers Zhao Yan and Hadrien Wattrelos had enrolled together at the Lycee Francais International de Pekin. Both are believed to have been on board
THE POSSIBLE CAUSES THAT COULD HAVE BROUGHT DOWN THE FLIGHT
The most dangerous parts of a flight are takeoff and landing. Incidents rarely happen when midflight.
The disappearance of a Malaysia Airlines jet well into its flight has led experts to assume that whatever happened was quick and left the pilots no time to make a distress call.
It initially appears there was either a sudden breakup of the plane or something that led it into a quick, steep dive. Some experts even suggested an act of terrorism.
Possible causes for a crash include:
Catastrophic structural failure This could have damaged the airframe or engines. Given the plane’s impressive safety record, experts suggest this is unlikely.
Bad weather Planes are designed to fly though most severe storms, but poor weather has caused crashes in the past. However, the skies were clear in this case.
Pilot disorientation The pilots could have taken the plane off autopilot and somehow gone course.
Failure of both engines In January 2008, a British Airways 777 crashed about 1,000 feet short of the runway at London’s Heathrow Airport. There were no fatalities. Such a scenario is possible, but the plane could glide for up to 20 minutes, giving pilots plenty of time to make an emergency call.
A bomb Several planes have been brought down by bombs. If the debris field is large it will indicate the plane broke apart high up.
Hijacking A traditional hijacking seems unlikely given that a plane’s captors typically land at an airport and have some type of demand. But a 9/11-like hijacking is possible, with terrorists forcing the plane into the ocean.
Pilot suicide There were two large jet crashes in the late 1990s that investigators suspected were caused by pilots deliberately crashing.
Accidental shoot-down There have been two previous cases of passenger jets being brought down accidentally by the military.
The two Canadian passengers were identified as mining executive Muktesh Mukherjee and his wife Xiaomo Bai.
According to their Facebook pages, the couple had two young sons, who were apparently not on the flight.
Also named among the passengers were Australian nationals Catherine and Robert Lawton, from Brisbane.
The husband and wife were reportedly traveling with their compatriots Mary and Rodney Burrows.
A third couple from Australia, Li Yuan and Gu Naijun, from Sydney, were also listed as missing.
The lack of an emergency call ‘suggests something
very sudden and very violent happened,’ William Waldock, who
teaches accident investigation at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
in Arizona, said.
Hamilton, managing director of aviation consultancy Leeham Co, added: ‘Either you had a catastrophic event
that tore the airplane apart, or you had a criminal act.
so quick and they didn’t radio.’
Today, the UK offered assistance with investigations, Foreign Secretary William Hague said.
Mr Hague said it was ‘too early to speculate’ on the significance of the presence on the flight of up to four passengers with suspect identities.
‘It is a terrible tragedy and our thoughts are with the families and loved ones of people awaiting for definitive news,’ Mr Hague told Sky News’ Murnaghan programme.
‘We have offered any assistance that we can give to the Malaysian authorities and of course we have been checking up on whether any British nationals were involved.
‘We are not aware of any at the moment but we will continue that checking.’
Asked about the significance of the suspect identities, he said: ‘It is too early to speculate about what that means.
‘The UK will assist the Malaysian authorities in any way we can with any investigation if it is relevant to do so in any way.’
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said search operations in an area about midway between Malaysia and Vietnam’s southern coast were being intensified.
It comes as the Vietnamese air force reported it has spotted two oil slicks, thought to be from the wreckage of the crash.
A Vietnamese government statement said the slicks were spotted off the southern tip of Vietnam.
They were each between six miles and nine miles long, officials said.
The statement said the slicks were
consistent with the kinds that would be left by fuel from a crashed
jetliner, but it was not clear if they were connected to the missing
‘Vietnam rescue airplanes saw two oil
spills and one smoke column in the area around 150 miles west of Tho
Chu island, but we can’t confirm it’s from that Malaysia plane,’ said
Pham Quy Tieu, vice minister of transportation.
sent two maritime boats and some military boats there to clarify, each
boat with about 20 people. The oil spills are about 15km (9.3 miles)
long. Those boats will be there in about three to four hours.’
Troubled waters: A fisherman works on his boat near a local naval base at Phu Quoc island, in the waters of southern Vietnam, where a Malaysian Airlines jet was presumed lost
Search by sea: A Vietnam coast guard ship is seen anchored at a local naval base at Phu Quoc island
Concern: The arrivals board at Beijing Airport listed flight MH370 as being delayed
Desperate: Relatives waiting for news have been booked into a hotel at Beijing Airport
Malaysian Airlines senior official Dr Hugh Dunleavy, left, speaks to Ignatius Ong, from the airline’s crisis management team, in Beijing on Saturday
Hugh Dunleavy, left, and Ignatius Ong, right, of Malaysian Airlines, answer questions at a press conference
Less than one hour after Flight MH370 left Kuala Lumpur for Beijing, the plane disappeared from radar.
Malaysia Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said there was no indication that the pilots sent a distress signal. The fact that there was apparently no call for help suggests that whatever happened to the flight occurred quickly.
‘We are doing everything in our power
to locate the plane. We are doing everything we can to ensure every
possible angle has been addressed,’ Transport Minister Hishamuddin
Hussein told reporters near the Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
are looking for accurate information from the Malaysian military. They
are waiting for information from the Vietnamese side,’ he said.
Ships in the area have been involved, scouring the vast site for signs of a wreckage.
The South China Sea is a tense region with competing territorial claims that have led to several low-level conflicts, particularly between China and the Philippines.
That antipathy briefly faded Saturday as China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia all sent ships and planes to the region.
Clue in the water: A handout picture provided by Tienphong.vn shows what is believed to be an oil slick stretching a length of about 9 miles in the sea off the Vietnamese coast
Without a trace: This image courtesy of Flightradar24, shows the flight track of Malaysian Airlines flight 370 on March 7, 2014
Malaysia had dispatched 15 planes and nine ships to the area. The U.S. Navy was sending a warship and a surveillance plane, and Singapore said it would send a submarine and a plane. China and Vietnam also were sending aircraft to help in the search.
Airlines has confirmed the majority of those on board are from Malaysia
and China, with three Americans, two Canadians and seven Australians and
passengers from France.
state media, quoting a senior naval official, had reported that the
Boeing 777-200ER flight had crashed off south Vietnam, but those reports
have been denied, with the plane listed as ‘missing’.
Vietnamese Navy confirmed it detected the aircraft’s emergency locator
signal 153 miles south of Phu Quoc island in the South China sea.
Ngo Van Phat told the Vietnamese newspaper Tuoi Tre that radar showed
the aircraft had crashed into the sea off the southern tip of Vietnam,
close to the border with Cambodia.
TIMELINE OF FLIGHT MH307
12.21am (4.21pm GMT): Flight MH307 takes off from Kuala Lumpur airport
1.21am (5.21pm GMT): The flight failed to check in as scheduled while flying between Malaysia and Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam
2.40am (6.40pm GMT): The flight loses contact with air traffic controllers
6.30am (10.30pm GMT): The flight was scheduled to land at Beijing
7.54am (11.54pm GMT): The airline issued a statement saying it had not landed and was officially missing
The paper later reported the Admiral qualifying his statement, saying the radar had revealed the presumed crash site.
naval vessels saw no immediate sign of wreckage when they reached the
maritime area off the country’s northeast coast this morning, a senior
rescue official said.
has sent three maritime enforcement ships and a navy vessel to the
area, backed by three helicopters, a Malaysian Maritime Enforcement
Agency official said.
‘Our aircraft asset spotted an orange
speck in the sea where the last signal came from. We sent a vessel to
search the area and it was confirmed that it was nothing,’ he said.
signal picked up by the Navy is believed to be the Emergency Locator
Transmittor, which can be activated manually by the flight crew or
automatically upon impact.
Crying relatives of Chinese passengers on
board the plane wept at Beijing airport as it became clear the jet had
An unconfirmed report on a flight tracking website said the aircraft had plunged 650ft and changed course shortly before all contact was lost.
The route would have taken flight MH370, a B777-200 aircraft, across the Malaysian mainland in a north-easterly direction and then across the Gulf of Thailand.
Shock: Distressed relatives wait for news of the Malaysia Airlines plane which was due to land in Beijing. Malaysia’s Transport Minister said 14 hours into the massive search and rescue mission, that ‘no crash site’ has been located
Missing: Flight MH370 was flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing when it lost contact over Vietnam
Notice: A message written on a board at Beijing Airport tells relatives the Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 is delayed
Chinese state media said 24 Chinese artists and family members, who
were in Kuala Lumpur for an art exchange program, were aboard. The
Sichuan provincial government said Zhang Jinquan, a well-known
calligrapher, was on the flight.
The pilot of the passenger plane is Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, a 53-year-old Malaysia who joined the airline in 1981.
His co-pilot was 27-year-old First Officer Fariq Ab. Hamid, also from Malaysia, who joined the airline in 2007.
If the aircraft has crashed, and all
the passengers and crew are killed, it would the deadliest aviation
incident since November 2001.
In that incident, 265 people died after an American Airlines Airbus
A300 crashed in Belle Harbor, Queens, after leaving JFK Airport in New
York. The deaths included five people on the ground.
Operations Control Vice President Fuad Sharuji said: ‘We tried to call
this aircraft through various means,’ adding that it was carrying fuel
for 7.5 hours when it disappeared.
Lai Xuan Thanh, director of Vietnam’s civil aviation authority, said the plane was over the sea and bound for Vietnamese airspace but air traffic officials in the country were never able to make contact.
The plane ‘lost all contact and radar signal one minute before it entered Vietnam’s air traffic control,’ Lieutenant General Vo Van Tuan, deputy chief of staff of the Vietnamese army, said in a statement issued by the government.
More than 10 hours after last contact, officials from several countries were struggling to locate the plane.
All countries in the possible flight path of the missing aircraft were performing a ‘communications and radio search’, John Andrews, deputy chief of the Philippines’ civil aviation agency, said.
Xinhua said China has sent two maritime rescue ships to the South China Sea to help in the search and rescue efforts.
‘It couldn’t possibly be in the air
because it would have run out of oil by now,’ Shukor Yusof, an aviation
analyst at SP Capital IQ, said.
‘It’s either on the ground somewhere, intact, or possibly it has gone down in the water.’
Aviation experts said that if the report of the aircraft suddenly plunging was correct it could be due to a number of factors.
Long wait: A Malaysian man with relatives on the plane arrives at Beijing airport. An unconfirmed report on a flight tracking website said the aircraft had plunged 650ft and changed course shortly before all contact was lost
Devastating: A woman cries in Beijing airport as she waits to hear information about her family
Anxious: A man with family on the missing flight is escorted to the relatives room at Kuala Lumpur airport
‘CRASH’ WOULD BE DEADLIEST IN PLANE’S 19-YEAR HISTORY
If it is confirmed that the plane has crashed, the loss would mark the second fatal accident involving a Boeing 777 in less than a year and by far the worst since the jet entered service in 1995.
It would mark the U.S.-built Boeing 777-200ER airliner’s deadliest incident since entering service 19 years ago.
An Asiana Airlines Boeing 777-200ER crash-landed in San Francisco in July 2013, killing three passengers and injuring more than 180.
Boeing said it was aware of reports that the Malaysia Airlines plane was missing and was monitoring the situation but had no further comment.
The flight was operating as a China Southern Airlines codeshare.
An official at the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) said the plane had failed to check in as scheduled at 5.21pm GMT while it was flying over the sea between Malaysia and Ho Chi Minh city.
These include a catastrophic engine failure; the pilots taking evasive action to avoid another aircraft; or an explosion.
airline has not said whether the pilots were able to issue a distress
call – but if they did not, experts said this could indicate a
catastrophy that had occurred without warning.
Beijing’s airport, authorities posted a notice asking relatives and
friends of passengers to gather to a hotel about 15km from the airport
to wait for further information, and provided a shuttle bus service.
A woman wept on the shuttle bus while saying on a mobile phone: ‘They want us to go to the hotel. It cannot be good.’
Periodically, wails could be heard coming from inside the hotel conference room where the relatives were sequestered, and several people emerged in the mid-afternoon, complaining that airline officials were not providing sufficient information.
‘We are being treated like dogs!’ one man yelled, pushing through a crowd of reporters.
A waiting area for family and friends was also set up at the Kuala Lumpur airport the flight had left from.
Sharuji, Malaysian Airlines’ vice president of operations control, told
CNN that the plane was flying at an altitude of 35,000ft and that the
pilots had reported no problem with the aircraft.
The Boeing jet lost contact with Malaysian air traffic controllers a little over two hours into its flight.
Reports from China’s Xinhua news
agency said later that the aircraft was lost in air space controlled by
Vietnam and did not enter Chinese airspace or make any contact with
team is currently calling the next of kin of passengers and crew,’ the
airline’s chief executive, Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, said as the airline
issued a statement saying its ‘thoughts and prayers’ were with all those
on board as well as their families.
Waiting room: Family and friends are being directed to a reception area at Kuala Lumpur airport, where the plane left, as the airline gathers details about the missing aircraft
Information: A member of staff from Malaysia Airlines is surrounded by reporters at the airport
NATIONALITIES OF THE MISSING
China/Taiwan: 152, including an infant
U.S.: 3, including two toddlers
New Zealand: 2
Finding planes that disappear over the
ocean can be difficult. Airliner ‘black boxes’ - the flight data and
cockpit voice recorders – are equipped with ‘pingers’ that emit
ultrasonic signals that can be detected underwater.
good conditions, the signals can be detected from several hundred miles
away, John Goglia, a former member of the U.S. National Transportation
Safety Board, said.
boxes are trapped inside the wreckage, the sound may not travel as far,
he said. If the boxes are in an underwater trench, that also hinders how
far the sound can travel. The signals also weaken over time.
reports said it was believed the missing aircraft was involved in a
crash in August 2012 when it damaged the tail of a China Eastern
Airlines plane at Shanghai Pudong Airport.
The reports said that in that incident the tip of the wing of the Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 broke off.
Family room: Women waiting to hear about loved ones on the plane arrive at Kuala Lumpur airport
Update: Malaysian Airlines chief executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahyain speaks at a press conference on Saturday
American Airlines captain Jim Tilmon told CNN that ‘it doesn’t sound
very good,’ as the search continued for the missing jet.
‘The route is mostly overland, which means there would be plenty of radars and radios to contact the plane.
‘I’ve been trying to come up with every scenario that I could just to explain this away, but I haven’t been very successful.’
Mr Tilmon said the jet was ‘about as sophisticated as any commercial airplane could possibly be.’
Expert view: Aviation expert David Learmount said it is extraordinary that the crew aboard the Malaysia Airlines flight, which disappeared yesterday, did not make an emergency call
A leading aviation safety expert has said it is ‘extraordinary’ that the
pilots of a missing Malaysia Airlines plane carrying 239 people did not
make a distress call.
The Boeing B777-200 aircraft would have been
cruising at about 35,000 feet when it lost contact over the South China
Sea, giving the pilots ‘plenty of time’ to report any technical
problems, Flight Global’s operations and safety editor David Learmount
Mr Learmount said: ‘Something happened and the pilots did not tell anyone. Why? It’s a good question.
extraordinary the pilots failed to call because they had plenty of time
to. Unless there was a bomb on board but there has been no evidence of
Mr Learmount, who is a pilot, drew comparisons with the Air
France 447 plane crash over the Atlantic Ocean in 2009, which killed 216
passengers and 12 aircrew, including five Britons.
The aircraft crashed when pilots lost control after ice crystals affected sensors used to measure the plane’s speed, he said.
Mr Learmount said: ‘This is an historical comparison and could be a coincidence.
‘Modern aircrafts are beautifully built and incredibly safe.
the engines were to fail because of some kind of interruption to the
fuel flow, they can glide with no problems whatsoever for about 40
minutes at that height.’
Incident echos tragedy: Mr Learmount said the disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH307 echos the Air France crash in 2009, which killed 216 passengers and 12 crew
Route: An online flight tracker for MH37 ends shortly after takeoff from Kuala Lumpur
Mr Learmount said the time which the Malaysia Airlines plane went missing may be significant.
said: ‘Between midnight and 2am you’re not at a mental or physical
performance high – you’re at the lowest performance standard in the
The failure to locate the plane so far was not
unusual, he added, with investigators taking two years to find the
missing Air France 447 plane.
However, Mr Learmount admitted he was
‘puzzled’ why authorities had not divulged a more accurate location of
where the aircraft went missing.
‘They may not know precisely but they know pretty accurately,’ he said.
53-year-old Malaysia Airlines pilot, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, has more than
18,000 flying hours and has been flying for the airline since 1981, the
company’s chief executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said.
The first officer, 27-year-old Fariq Hamid, has about 2,800 hours of experience and has flown for the airline since 2007.
BOEING 777: ONE OF THE WORLD’S SAFEST JETS
The Boeing 777 flown by Malaysia Airlines that disappeared over the South China Sea is one of the world’s most popular – and safest – jets.
The long-range jumbo jet has helped connect cities at the far ends of the globe, with flights as long as 16 hours.
But more impressive is its safety record: The first fatal crash in its 19-year history only came last July when an Asiana Airlines jet landed short of the runway in San Francisco. Three of the 307 people aboard died.
Missing: The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 lost contact with Air Traffic Control over the Pacific with 227 passengers aboard
Airlines like the plane because it is capable of flying extremely long distances thanks to two giant engines.
Each engine is so massive that a row of at least five coach seats could fit inside it. By having just two engines, the plane burns through less fuel than four-engine jets, like the Boeing 747, which it has essentially replaced.
“It has provided a new standard in both efficiency and safety,” said Richard Aboulafia, an aviation consultant with the Teal Group.
“The 777 has enjoyed one of the safest records of any jetliner built.”
Besides last year’s Asiana crash, the only other serious incident with the 777 came in January 2008 when a British Airways jet landed about 1,000 feet short of the runway at London’s Heathrow Airport.
Malaysia Airlines did have an incident in August 2005 with a 777 flying from Perth, Australia, to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s largest city.
While flying 38,000 feet above the Indian Ocean, the plane’s software incorrectly measured speed and acceleration, causing the plane to suddenly shoot up 3,000 feet.
The pilot disengaged the autopilot and descended and landed safely back in Perth. A software update was quickly made on planes around the world.
Malaysia Airlines has 15 Boeing 777-200ER jets in its fleet of about 100 planes. The first was delivered on April 23, 1997, and the most recent on December 13, 2004, according to Boeing. The 200ER is one of four versions of the 777.
The 777 is capable of flying 7,250 miles non-stop. Its two Rolls-Royce Trent 875 engines each have 74,600lb of thrust, letting the plane cruise at Mach 0.84, or nearly 640 mph.
A new model has a list price of 261.5 million US dollars (£156 million), although airlines usually negotiate discounts.
The 777 was the first twin-engine plane to be immediately certified to fly over the ocean as far as 180 minutes from any emergency landing airport.
Government safety regulators have determined that it could fly for nearly three hours on a single engine in the case of an emergency.
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So if we are to assume that these fake passport holders were the cause of this plane crashing – where were the air marshals? Where was the bomb/ fire/ everything proof cockpit door?
Certainly Malaysian Air couldn’t be SO incompetent and technology deficient that they allowed passengers to board with deadly firearms?
Seriously, people berate the US for its supposed superiority complex, but it seems here that if Malaysian Air had looked beyond their own borders, they could have learned a thing or two from the US and the processes/ attention we’ve put in place re passenger, security, and air travel procedures, since you, know…we’ve lost thousands to airplane terrorism. We’re not hoarding that information, people. Bother yourselves to benefit from it…?
Southampton, United Kingdom,
Makes one scared to fly knowing passports are not checked properly and airline passport databases are not connected to national databases. One would have thought in this day and age that as soon as a passport is scanned when you go through passport control, the system would beep and show a stolen passport, causing the beep to be linked immediately to airport security and police. I am amazed this does not happen.
Paula18 Chicago USA,
Chicago, United States,
One Word: SECURITY!
mountlake Terrace, United States,
8 minutes ago
why were the pilots from another plane talking to the pilots of the missing plane and what were the mummers? Funny how that was a little aside…sounds like a major clue to me
London, United Kingdom,
9 minutes ago
That Italian bloke is loving the spotlight!
Liverpool, United Kingdom,
9 minutes ago
Why are Interpol angry at Thailand’s lax security when the plane left from Malaysia. Piece of crap journalism from the DM there. (first line in the page)…Also why is there no luggage or debris anywhere ? This plane can glide for 20 mins so why no contact. There are thousands of SAMS out there which where stolen from Libya was this a test for future attacks on a bigger scale….the US must know more than its letting on. They are watching everything all the time..
11 minutes ago
Some of the comments on worst rated are disgusting. People have died and relatives are left with no explanation, how could you evil wikas joke about something so serious?
mountlake Terrace, United States,
13 minutes ago
DM repeats things so often the story doesn’t make sense (not that it does anyway). so what was it that they spotted floating around if it wasn’t debris?
15 minutes ago
Both Italy and Austria have confirmed that their citizens’ stolen passports were in the international database. So it seems then, that there were people on the ground who assisted in the boarding of those with stolen passports.
London, United Kingdom,
18 minutes ago
Shocking lax security. Its not like these passports were stolen a few days ago. One was stolen 2-years ago, the other March 2013. Unbelievable that they could still be used. Many questions need to be answered unless there was inside help if this was an act of terrorism.
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