Nation & World News

Prime Minister: ‘Deliberate Action’ Disabled Missing Jet’s Systems

By L. Carol Ritchie on March 15th, 2014

Malaysia’s prime minister says he is now certain that someone disabled the communication systems on the passenger jet that disappeared last week with 239 people aboard.

The missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 flew more than six and a half hours after its last communication with air traffic control, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak said in a news conference early Saturday.

“These movements are consistent with deliberate action by someone on the plane,” he said.

Investigators have now “refocused” their efforts on the plane’s crew and passengers, Razak said. Soon after the prime minister spoke, police visited the home of flight MH370′s pilot, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, to search for potential clues, according to Reuters.

“Razak would not address reports the plane had been hijacked,” NPR’s Frank Langfitt reports, as the prime minister said investigators are looking into all possibilities.

MH370′s last communication with air traffic control came at 1:30 last Saturday morning, but the plane continued to send signals to satellites until 8:11 a.m., the prime minister said.

The plane could have continued beyond that time, but it would have been close to running out of fuel, the The Washington Post reports.

Satellite data did not provide a precise location for the plane, Razak said. But he added that the last signal came from either a southern flight corridor from Indonesia to the southern Indian Ocean, or “a northern corridor stretching from the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to northern Thailand.”

Malaysia is now ending its search operations in the South China Sea, the prime minister said. The country will shift its search efforts to other areas; it’s also requesting radar data from the various countries whose systems might have tracked the plane.

Razak made his statement Saturday after being briefed by investigators from Malaysian agencies and representatives of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board, along with Britain’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch.

A U.S. official told the Post that the plane’s data flow and transponder communications stopped at different points in the flight, indicated that they were not shut down by a crash or explosion but by deliberate tampering.

‘They both did stop, and they did not stop simultaneously,” the Post quoted the unnamed official. “A simultaneous stopping is something that we have seen before in in-flight breakups, airplanes that have exploded or come apart in the air.”

Update at 8:30 a.m. ET: Not Easy to Disable Communications

Several pilots with experience flying the Boeing 777 tell NPR they don’t know how to disable all of the plane’s systems that communicate with the ground and satellites.

“They said you’d have to go through big checklists, you’d have to possibly pull circuit breakers if you wanted to deactivate [all the communications equipment],” NPR’s Geoff Brumfiel tells All Things Considered host Melissa Block.

Those systems include the transponders that inform air traffic controllers of the plane’s position, as well as cockpit radios and ACARS, a text-based system that’s used to send data to and from planes.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

This entry was posted in News from NPR. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.

 

More Stories in News from NPR

A photo apparently showing a Ferguson police officer wearing an "I am Darren Wilson" bracelet.

Ferguson Police Will Be Banned From Wearing ‘I Am Darren Wilson’ Bracelets

In a letter, the Justice Department said the accessory was “exacerbating an already tense atmosphere.” After a talk with the department, the police chief said he would institute a new policy.


Bill Gross

The ‘Bond King’ Leaves His $2 Trillion Kingdom

Bill Gross built Pacific Investment Management Co., or PIMCO, into a $2 trillion powerhouse. But this week, he abruptly left, roiling the bond-investing world.


Thailand's Prime Minister Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, center, at the government house in Bangkok earlier this month. Prayuth, who seized power in May, has threatened to personally take over the writing of soap operas on Thai television.

Thai Leader Threatens New Takeover: The TV Soaps

Prime Minister Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha says he’s ordered a complete rewrite of Thailand’s daily fare of infidelity and violence, and if it’s not done right, he’s threatened to do the job himself.


A Parrot Bebop drone flies during a demonstration in May in San Francisco.

Lights, Camera, Drones: Hollywood’s Lens Gets A Little Larger

The FAA is granting six movie and TV production companies permission to use drones for filming. The move could pave the way for the unmanned aircraft systems to be used in other commercial ventures.


A screen shot provided by FlightAware shows airline traffic at 10:20 a.m. EDT Friday over the United States. A fire at a Chicago-area air traffic control facility has grounded hundreds of flights.

Fire Grounds Hundreds Of Flights At Chicago Airports

The fire in the basement of the Chicago Air Route Traffic Control Center in Aurora, Ill., caused numerous flight cancellations at O’Hare and Midway.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Day Sponsorship Payments
Underwriting Payments