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  • Dec 27, 2014
  • Updated: 2:58pm
Malaysia Airlines flight 370

Missing Malaysia Airlines jet ‘may have flown on for four hours’, say US investigators

Jet engine maker Rolls-Royce confirms it has data from missing plane

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 March, 2014, 9:41am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 March, 2014, 7:00pm

US investigators suspect the missing Malaysia Airline passenger jet was in the air for four after its last confirmed contact, and may have been diverted to an unknown location, it was reported on Thursday.

Aviation investigators and national security officials are basing their theory on data automatically downloaded and relayed to the ground from the Boeing 777’s Rolls-Royce engines, which suggested the plane flew for a total of five hours, The Wall Street Journal reported. It attributed the details to two unidentified sources "familiar with the details".

The missing Malaysia Airlines jet sent two bursts of technical data back to Rolls-Royce, to the plane’s engine maker’s global engine health monitoring centre, before it vanished off the radar, the New Scientist reported on Thursday.

If confirmed, it could aid the protracted investigation looking for clues that might pinpoint the last known movements of the Boeing 777-200ER.

Flight MH370 sent data as it took off from Kuala Lumpur International Airport, and subsequently during the plane’s climbing phase.

“US counterterrorism officials are pursuing the possibility that a pilot or someone else on board the plane may have diverted it toward an undisclosed location after intentionally turning off the jetliner’s transponders to avoid radar detection,” the WSJ reported, citing “one person tracking the probe”.

The new information raises questions as to how far the aircraft may have travelled after losing contact with air traffic control officials, and whether anyone was in control of the plane, which had 239 people onboard.

Rolls-Royce said today it could not comment on the investigation. “We continue to monitor the situation and offer our support to Malaysia  Airlines,” the British engine maker said in a statement.

The manufacturer had on Sunday told the South China Morning Post that it tracks all of its engines and that if there had been a change in power it would know "first hand if there is something wrong with the engine". A spokeswoman said at the time any information they had would be passed to the airline and Malaysian authorities.

Flight MH370's last known position was recorded roughly halfway between Malaysia and Vietnam. Malaysian authorities earlier said that they had tracked what could have been the craft changing course and heading west.

The fresh suspicions come following the publication of pictures by China which appear to show large chunks of debris floating in the sea.

The pictures, posted on a Chinese government department's website, show three large objects in the South China Sea off the southern tip of Vietnam, near to where the flight was last tracked, Xinhua news agency reported.

The images, captured at around 11am on Sunday - more than 24 hours after the plane disappeared - appear to show "three suspected floating objects", the Xinhua report stated.

The largest was estimated to measure 24 metres by 22 metres, Xinhua said.

The images were originally posted on the website of China’s State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense.

China's Premier Li Keqiang said today work was ongoing to try and identify the "suspicious spots" in the images.

However, the Vietnamese said today that two spotter planes sent to the area had failed to find anything.

It was hoped the images would provide investigators with the first real clue as to the fate of the plane, which disappeared after leaving Kuala Lumpur for Beijing in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Since then, the search has covered 92,600 square kilometers (35,800 square miles), first east and then west of Malaysia and even expanded toward India on Wednesday.

No other governments have confirmed the Xinhua report, which did not say when Chinese officials became aware of the images and associated them with the missing plane.

China's aviation chief Li Jiaxiang said Tuesday: "We have been waiting for a search result, but regrettably there has been no certain outcome yet.

"On one hand, we still have expectations, and sincerely hope that the missing flight can be found, but on the other hand, we have to be prepared for different scenarios.

"We'll never give up when there is a slice of hope."

He said China had made a number of suggestions in relation to the hunt, again urging Malaysia to step up the search and make the exchange of information smoother.

Malaysia’s civil aviation chief, Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, said Malaysia had not been officially informed by China about the images, which he said he was learning about from the news.

He said if Beijing informs them of the coordinates, Malaysia will dispatch vessels and planes immediately.

"If we get confirmation, we will send something,” he said on Thursday morning.


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This article is now closed to comments

@Beaker, you are beginning to look like a shining example of a human scum bag. You and lucifier never fail to amaze me with your blind chinese hate and bashing.
There are plenty of news in SCMP for you and your gang of r.etards to go to fulfill your China bashing conspiracy fetish, just leave this tragic incident alone and go blow yourself.
Marcus T Anthony
"If we get confirmation, we will send something,” he said on Thursday morning.
So they don't have the search coordinates! :-0
Are these countries working with each other, or against each other? Looks like the Malaysians found out about this from the media, not China. What's going on? Surely this information should be immediately relayed to all parties in the region.
Chinese are now coming up with fake images??
1. Have you ever had to manually search through the satellite images of an area the size of Portugal to find an object of at most the size of a jet plane? How long did it take you?

2. See 1.

3. There is nothing in an airplane that doesn't sink sooner or later. See also: currents.
The images were captured on Sunday. It's now Thursday.
The Chinese are not likely to be forthcoming as to not risk embarrassment and the ire of the families...they must have been pretty certain something was there....maybe it sank? Who knows...could have been a container or some other rubbish dumped at sea from a Chinese ship. There is a lot of stuff out there. Didn't you see that cr@p film "all is lost?"
I dont understand how they lose track of a plane. I watch National Geographic showing they kept tract of a tagged shark every minute for one year.
I was wondering the SCMP dared to publish this news, given all the other false alarms. Notice they did not run with it on the front page of the newspapers in China - in was gleaned off Academy of Scientists web site pages and then the foreign media ran with it...
Well so much for that. I was hoping they were going to save some face from their last Arctic reuse attempt but no dice....You gotta figure this is in the area where China has all its new territorial claims, so it must have satellites and other assets observing and listening to the region all the time....
Hey, they changed the headline to this article along with the content....it used to be the article claiming China found debris with their satellites....now its been pulled and substituted?
Could this be why? "Suspected crash area picked up by Chinese satellite 'was just two boats parked next to each other"
WTF would SCMP care if the Chinese got embarrassed again. Everybody was running with this news.....now the online news editor feels if articles make China look stupid they no longer get published? Wow.
"An American military official discounted the Chinese images, saying that United States satellites would have seen the object and did not. It was unlikely, the official added, that a large piece of the aircraft would be floating, and in any case, its location was in a high-traffic area near the many ships and aircraft searching for the missing jetliner."
“I cannot possibly believe that image is a valid image,”’ the official said.



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