Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Reuters story claims Malaysia Airlines MH370 was last seen in Strait of Malacca

Have noted the Reuters story below. If verified, this would mean the main body of air/sea assets searching the South China Sea is looking in the wrong place.

A switch from the east to west coast of  Peninsular Malaysia will see the multinational search team swing past Singapore en route to resuming their search in the Malacca Strait and Andaman Sea.

The passage of these vessels past Singapore might see foreign nations request access to the Republic of Singapore Navy's (RSN) Changi Naval Base as part of force sustainment efforts. Ships are typically self-sustaining as far as fresh water is concerned. Tinned, dried and frozen provisions can last for some time, but fresh vegetables degrade after about five days even with refrigeration. The ships would also need to top up on fuel.

TLDM welcome to call at CNB
In the event that the missing plane is found in the South China Sea (SCS) and search activity is concentrated off the east coast of Malaysia, Singapore should consider favourably any requests by Malaysia to use CNB as a pivot point to sustain her search in the SCS. Having Malaysian ships stage out of CNB would save about 18 hours' sailing time from KD Lumut, the Tentera Laut Diraja Malaysia's (TLDM, Royal Malaysian Navy) naval base in Perak, to the eastern approaches in the Singapore Strait.

TLDM warships (KD Lekiu, KD Kasturi and KD Terengganu) called at CNB during the Eksesais Malapura naval war games in late February 2014. We should welcome TLDM's presence in CNB again - especially during this difficult time.

Missing Malaysian plane last seen at Strait of Malacca-source

By Niluksi Koswanage
KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - The Malaysian military believes an airliner missing for almost four days with 239 people on board flew for more than an hour after vanishing from air traffic control screens, changing course and travelling west over the Strait of Malacca, a senior military source said.

Malaysian authorities have previously said flight MH370 disappeared about an hour after it took off from Kuala Lumpur for the Chinese capital Beijing.

At the time it was roughly midway between Malaysia's east coast town of Kota Bharu and the southern tip of Vietnam, flying at 35,000 ft (10,670 metres).

"It changed course after Kota Bharu and took a lower altitude. It made it into the Malacca Strait," the military official, who has been briefed on investigations, told Reuters.

The Strait of Malacca, one of the world's busiest shipping channels, runs along Malaysia's west coast.

Earlier on Tuesday, Malaysia's Berita Harian newspaper quoted air force chief Rodzali Daud as saying the Malaysia Airlines plane was last detected by military radar at 2:40 a.m. on Saturday, near the island of Pulau Perak at the northern end of the Strait of Malacca. It was flying at a height of about 9,000 metres (29,500 ft), he was quoted as saying.

"The last time the flight was detected close to Pulau Perak, in the Melaka Straits, at 2.40 a.m. by the control tower before the signal was lost," the paper quoted Rodzali as saying.

A non-military source familiar with the investigations said the report was being checked.

"This report is being investigated by the DCA (Department of Civil Aviation) and the search and rescue team," the source said. "There are a lot of such reports."

The time given by Rodzali was an hour and 10 minutes after the plane vanished from air traffic control screens over Igari waypoint, midway between Malaysia and Vietnam.

There was no word on what happened to the plane thereafter.

If the reports from the military are verified, it would mean the plane was able to maintain a cruising altitude and flew for about 500 km (350 miles) with its transponder and other tracking systems apparently switched off.

Malaysia has extended the massive search operation for the plane to the Malacca Strait after initially focusing on the South China Sea.

(Additional reporting by Anuradha Raghu and Stuart Grudgings; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Alex Richardson)


Anthony said...

Agree, we should help the Malaysians especially given the pressure they are in, compounded by the unhelpful comments made by the PRC foreign ministry that search efforts are not fast enough

hmmwv said...

I saw an official statement from PTU on the report by Berita Harian. Statement may not have made the press because it was late in the day.

Unknown said...

IF, indeed the story is true, then it will be incredible that an 'unknown' (transponders not working) aircraft at high altitude on an uncommon flight path can enter and overfly Thailand/Malaysia without being challenged.
If the military of either country had already ascertained the plane was commercial, then it is weird that this information was not shared with the ATC, especially for an aircraft that has its transponders off.

hmmwv said...

He just doesn't get it. Radar will give a precise enough plot for a SAR effort, in any case, the plot can be made less precise for security concerns.

Anyway, is this Terence Fan, the university professor?


Singapore-based Aviation expert Terence Fan said military radar from various countries may have detected the plane but governments were reluctant to share the data because it would reveal their capabilities and compromise security.

“There may be some military sensitivity because the radar is not continuous, it sort of sweeps around a couple of times,” Fan said.

“The rate at which they can take the picture can also reveal how good the radar system is and that I think is probably why the countries around here are not very fond of sharing the information.”