Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: Assets Deployed to Southern Indian Ocean

This map shows the origination of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 in Kuala Lumpur; its destination in Beijing; the approximate point where contact is lost; and the planned area for search. Graphic by Brian Cohen. Imagery ©2014 TerraMetrics. Map data ©2014 courtesy of Google Maps.

Assets have been deployed to the southern Indian Ocean as a result of satellite images from Australia, which revealed two objects that are thought to possibly be from the Boeing 777-200 aircraft which operated as Malaysia Airlines flight 370. The aircraft — which attempted to transport 227 passengers and 12 members of the flight crew from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing — mysteriously disappeared on Saturday, March 8, 2014.

The following are statements from briefings to the press and media starting on Thursday, March 20, 2014 by Hishammuddin Hussein, who is the Minister of Defence and Acting Minister of Transport:

Sunday, March 23, 06:00 PM MYT +0800 Malaysia Airlines MH370 Flight Incident – Press Statement by Ministry of Transport, Malaysia

1. Search and rescue operational update

a. The search and rescue operation remains an international effort, co-ordinated by Malaysia. A number of countries are leading in their respective search areas and all countries involved are displaying unprecedented levels of co-operation.

b. This morning, Malaysia received new satellite images from the French authorities showing potential objects in the vicinity of the southern corridor. Malaysia immediately relayed these images to the Australian rescue co-ordination centre.

c. Two Chinese Ilyushin IL-76s have arrived in Perth, and will depart for the search andrescue operation tomorrow at 05:00 and 06:00.

d. Two Japanese P3 Orions today left Subang airport for Perth.

e. The Australian rescue co-ordination centre will deploy eight aircraft (four military and four civilian) to the southern corridor today, to conduct visual searching.

f. The Australian Defence Vessel ‘Ocean Shield’, which has a sub-sea remotely operated vehicle, is currently en route to the southern corridor.

g. As of 2:30pm Malaysia time, Australian officials have informed us that they have not made any new sightings regarding MH370.

h. One Indian Navy P8 Poseidon and one Indian Air Force C130 left Subang airport today to join the search and rescue operation in the northern part of the southern corridor, which is being led by Indonesia.

i. A number of other sorties from Subang airport to the southern corridor were cancelled today due to bad weather caused by tropical cyclone Gillian.

j. Australia, China and France have now released satellite images that show potential objects, which may be related to MH370, in the vicinity of the southern corridor. All this information has been forwarded to Australia, as the lead country in the area of concern.

2. Family briefing

a. The Malaysian high level team started a briefing in Beijing this morning for relatives of those on board MH370. The meeting lasted more than 6 hours. This is the third such meeting that has been held. The team presented information to the relatives and answered questions. The Government wishes to reiterate its commitment and continued engagement with the relatives of those on board MH370.

3. Update on ACARS transmission

a. The last ACARS transmission, sent at 1.07am, showed nothing unusual. The 1.07am transmission showed a normal routing all the way to Beijing.

Saturday, March 22, 05:59 PM MYT +0800 Malaysia Airlines MH370 Flight Incident – Press Briefing by Hishammuddin Hussein, Minister of Defence and Acting Minister of Transport

Introductory statement

Diplomatic, logistical and technical efforts continue in the search for MH370. As we intensify the search and rescue operations, the overall emphasis remains the same: using all available means to narrow the search areas in both corridors.

1. Operational update

In the northern corridor, in response to diplomatic notes, we can confirm that China, India, Pakistan, Myanmar, Laos, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan have verbally informed the search and rescue operation that based on preliminary analysis, there have been no sightings of the aircraft on their radar.

With respect to the southern corridor, today two Chinese Ilyushin IL-76s will arrive in Perth to begin operations. The Shaanxi Y-8 which arrived yesterday will be operating from Subang air base in Malaysia. China is also sending an additional two ships from the Andaman Sea to join the five Chinese ships already in the southern corridor. Two Indian aircraft, a P-8 Poseidon and C-130 Hercules, arrived in Malaysia at 18:00 last night to assist with the search.

HMS Echo is currently in the Persian Gulf and is en route to the southern corridor. The ship is equipped with advanced sensors that allow it to search effectively underwater.

2. Australian search area

Five aircraft and two merchant ships were involved in the search and rescue operations in the vicinity of the objects identified by the Australian authorities, which are approximately 2,500km southwest of Perth. Despite improved visual search conditions yesterday, there were no sightings of the objects of interest.

Operations continue, and today they plan to search an area of approximately 10,500 square nautical miles.

The Rescue Co-ordination Centre Australia anticipates that 6 aircraft, 4 military and 2 civilian, will be visually searching the area. Two merchant vessels will also be present during search operations, and HMAS Success was due to reach the search area at 14:30 today.

Generally, conditions in the southern corridor are very challenging. The ocean varies between 1,150 metres and 7,000 metres in depth. In the area where the possible objects were identified by the Australian authorities there are strong currents and rough seas.

A cyclone warning has been declared for Tropical Cyclone Gillian, which is located in the southern corridor. Very strong winds and rough seas are expected there today.

3. Family briefings

The briefing for families in KL yesterday went well. The briefing in Beijing, however, was less productive. Despite the best intentions, I understand there were tense scenes.

I have received a report from the Malaysian high-level team, as well as a copy of the declaration from the Chinese families. I have asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, together with the authorities in China, to investigate what happened.

We will continue to engage with the families. We are working hard with Chinese authorities and the Chinese working group to create a more conducive environment for the briefings. I have instructed my technical team to do a review of both briefings so that we can improve them.

We appeal to all parties to be understanding during this extraordinary and difficult time. My pledge to all the families, wherever they are, is the same: we will do everything in our power to keep you informed.

4. Transcript

The original transcript of the conversation between MH370 and Malaysian air traffic control is with the investigations team, where it is being analysed.

As is standard practice in investigations of this sort, the transcript cannot be publicly released at this stage. I can however confirm that the transcript does not indicate anything abnormal.

5. Cargo manifest

On the matter of MH370’s cargo, the cargo manifest is with the investigations team, and will be released in due course.

Preliminary investigation of the cargo manifest has not shown any link to anything that might have contributed to MH370’s disappearance.

As was stated yesterday, all cargo carried on MH370 was in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organisation and International Air Transport Association standards.

6. Concluding remarks

Over the past two weeks, the search for MH370 has taken many twists and turns. From satellite images to eyewitness accounts, we have followed every lead and investigated every possibility.

Today we are focused on leads from the satellite images announced by the Australian authorities on Thursday. We continue to be updated by the Australian authorities on an hourly basis.

I know this rollercoaster has been incredibly hard for everyone, especially for the families. We hope and pray this difficult search will be resolved, and bring closure to those whose relatives were on board.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all 26 countries who are with us in this effort; from ordinary people to the highest levels of government.

I would also like to pay special tribute to the men and women from all countries who are putting themselves in harm’s way in the search for MH370.

As we speak, people are sailing through a cyclone to help find the missing plane. We are immensely grateful to all our partners for their efforts.

Saturday, March 22, 10:45 AM MYT +0800 Malaysia Airlines MH370 Flight Incident – Media Statement 22

Malaysia Airlines wishes to clarify that the lithium ion batteries carried onboard MH370 on 8 March 2014 was in compliance with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) requirements where it is classified as Non Dangerous Goods.

Friday, March 21, 05:30 PM MYT +0800 Malaysia Airlines MH370 Flight Incident – MH370 Press Briefing by Hishammuddin Hussein, Minister of Defence and Acting Minister of Transport


Introductory statement

Malaysia continues to work on the diplomatic, technical and logistical challenges involved in the search for MH370.

We are still awaiting information from the Australian search and rescue operation as to whether the objects shown in the satellite images released by Australia yesterday are indeed related to MH370.

In the meantime, we are continuing search and rescue operations in the rest of the southern and northern corridors. I will now give you a brief operational update.

1. Operational update

Search efforts southwest of Perth continue, and the Australian authorities are intensifying their efforts in the area. HMAS Success is due to reach the vicinity of the objects tomorrow.

China has deployed 5 ships and 3 ship-borne helicopters, which are currently heading toward the southern corridor. 3 Chinese aircraft (2 Ilyushin IL-76s and 1 Shaanxi Y-8) arrived in Malaysia at 11:00 this morning. They will also be searching in the southern corridor.

Japan is deploying its assets to Perth, including 2 P-3 Orions, to assist with the Australian search efforts.

This morning I have spoken with the acting High Commissioner from the United Kingdom, who confirmed that the Prime Minister has spoken to the Prime Minister of the UK, and that HMS Echo is already heading towards the southern Indian Ocean to support the search effort. He also confirmed that the UK will be providing us with a list of possible assets that can be deployed if needed.

He also has reaffirmed that, in addition to the technical support provided so far, it stands ready to provide further specialist search and investigative assistance once more information about the fate of MH370 becomes known.

I have also been in touch with the French delegation, which is led by the French Ambassador to Malaysia, and includes the man who led the investigation into the Air France 447 crash. They have agreed to assist us with their considerable experience and expertise.

I will also be speaking to the US Secretary of Defence at 21:15 tonight, to request further specialist assets to help with the search and rescue efforts, including remotely-operated vehicles for deep ocean salvage.

The Kazakhstan authorities have assured us that they have found no trace of MH370, and we are awaiting permission for Kazakhstan to be used as a staging point for search operations.

On the police investigation, the Ukraine police have confirmed that the background checks on the Ukrainian passenger have come back clear.

2. Satellite data processing

I would like to briefly discuss the processing of the Inmarsat data.

The investigations team received the complete raw Inmarsat satellite data which included the six handshakes at approximately 15:00 on Wednesday 12th March.

This type of data is not normally used in investigations of this sort. It is only because we have so little other information to go on in this difficult and unprecedented situation that the data is being used.

Upon receiving the raw data, the Malaysian authorities immediately discussed with the US team how this information might be used. The US team and the investigations team then sent the data to the US, where further processing was needed before it could be used.

Initial results were received on Thursday 13th March at approximately 13:30, but it was agreed by the US team and the investigations team that further refinement was needed, so the data was again sent back to the US.

The results were received at approximately 14:30 on Friday 14th March, and presented to the investigations team at a high-level meeting at 21:00 on Friday. The UK AAIB, who had also been processing this data independently, presented their results – which concurred with ours and those of the US team – at that meeting.

The Prime Minister was briefed on this satellite information at 08:00 Saturday 15th March, and publicly announced it at the press conference at Saturday lunchtime. Search and rescue operations were immediately shifted to the northern and southern corridor.

3. Family care

Last night in Kuala Lumpur we held a briefing for the relatives of those on board MH370. As I mentioned in yesterday’s statement, the briefing was to update family members on the latest developments, and to answer questions and clear up any confusion.

The meeting was well attended by family members from different nations, including Malaysia, and by representatives from the Chinese Embassy in Kuala Lumpur.

A high-level Malaysian delegation, including representatives from Malaysia Airlines, the Department of Civil Aviation, the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Security Council also attended the meeting.

We had a very constructive and frank discussion. Although we answered most of the questions they raised, we could not answer them all. These briefings will continue – at the families’ convenience – for as long as the families want them.

The briefing brought the families and the Malaysian authorities closer together, not just in terms of sharing information, but also in terms of listening to the voice of the family members. The Prime Minister’s Special Envoy to China will be co-ordinating the briefings in Kuala Lumpur from now on.

The high-level team I announced yesterday arrived in Beijing last night. Today they met with family members for three and half hours.

4. Concluding remarks

There continues to be a multinational effort co-ordinated by Malaysia and involving dozens of countries from around the world. We continue to receive offers of assistance, including specialist assets that can help with the search and rescue. We welcome all assistance as we continue to follow every credible lead.

Thursday, March 20, 05:30 PM MYT +0800 Malaysia Airlines MH370 Flight Incident – MH370 Press Briefing by Hishammuddin Hussein, Minister of Defence and Acting Minister of Transport

1. Australian satellite images

At 10:00 this morning, the Prime Minister received a call from the Prime Minister of Australia, informing him that ‘two possible objects related to the search’ for MH370 had been identified in the Southern Indian Ocean. The Australian authorities in Kuala Lumpur have also briefed me on the situation, and the Australian Foreign Minister has spoken to the Foreign Minister of Malaysia.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) continues co-ordinating the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines aircraft within Australia’s search and rescue area, with assistance from the Australian Defence Force, the New Zealand Air Force, and the US Navy.

AMSA’s Rescue Co-ordination Centre (RCC) Australia has received satellite imagery of objects possibly related to the search for MH370.

RCC Australia received an expert assessment of commercial satellite imagery today. The images were captured by satellite. They may not be related to the aircraft.

The assessment of these images was provided by the Australian Geospatial Intelligence Organisation as a possible indication of debris southwest of Perth.

As a result of this information, four aircraft have been re-orientated to an area 2,500 kilometres southwest of Perth.

A Royal Australian Air Force P-3 Orion aircraft arrived in the area at about 10:50AM.

Another 3 aircraft have been tasked by RCC Australia to the area, including a second RAAF Orion, a Royal New Zealand Air Force Orion, and a US Navy P-8 Poseidon.

The Poseidon was expected to arrive early this afternoon. The second RAAF Orion was expected to depart RAAF Base Pearce, Perth, mid-afternoon. The New Zealand Orion was due to depart this afternoon.

An RAAF C-130 Hercules aircraft has been tasked by RCC Australia to drop datum marker buoys to assist in drift modelling. They will provide an on-going reference point if the task of relocating the objects becomes protracted.

A merchant ship that responded to a shipping broadcast issued by RCC Australia on Monday was also expected to arrive in the area this afternoon.

The Royal Australian Navy ship HMAS Success is en route to the area but is some days away. The ship is well equipped to recover any objects located and proven to be from MH370.

Every effort is being made to locate the objects seen in the satellite imagery. It must be stressed that these sightings, while credible, are still to be confirmed.

2. Assets deployed

The search for MH370 is a multinational effort. I will now give you an update on the assets which have been deployed.

During the course of this operation, the Chief of the Defence Force has spoken to his counterparts from countries including:

•        Australia
•        China
•        India
•        Indonesia
•        Japan
•        Maldives
•        Nepal
•        New Zealand
•        Singapore
•        Thailand
•        Vietnam
•        The UK
•        And the USA.

All were very supportive, and all offered their assistance. As the focus of the search has moved from the South China Sea and Straits of Malacca to the northern and southern corridors, our international partners have continued to provide whatever support they can.

A number of assets have been deployed at different phases of the search and rescue operation.

Currently, there are 18 ships, 29 aircraft and 6 ship-borne helicopters deployed along the northern and southern corridors, as follows:

Aircraft

In the northern corridor, there are 4 aircraft:

•        2 from Malaysia
•        1 from Japan
•        And 1 from the US.

In the southern corridor, there are 25 aircraft:

•        2 from Malaysia
•        5 from Australia
•        3 from China
•        4 from Indonesia
•        2 from India
•        4 from Japan
•        1 from New Zealand
•        2 from South Korea
•        1 from the UAE
•        And 1 from the USA.

Ships

All 18 ships are in the southern corridor:

•        6 from Malaysia
•        1 from Australia
•        5 from China
•        And 6 from Indonesia.

This deployment includes 6 helicopters:

•        3 from Malaysia, and 3 from China.

Until we are certain that we have located MH370, search and rescue operations will continue in both corridors. I can confirm that Malaysia is sending 2 aircraft to Kazakhstan, and the UK is planning to send 1 ship to the southern corridor.

In addition to the assets I just listed above, a number of countries in the northern corridor are carrying out search and rescue operations within their own territory:

•        China is using every means possible, including 21 satellites, to search the area within its borders, and is ready to send more ships and aircraft wherever they are needed.

•        In Cambodia, 4 helicopters are conducting search operations within Cambodian territory.

•        The Laos Air Force is carrying out search operations within Laos.

•        Singapore are using their International Information Fusion Centre, where a Malaysian representative is stationed, to notify mariners and help with the search.

•        The Thai military are conducting search operations in the northern part of Thailand with all available aircraft.

•        And Vietnam are conducting search operations within their territory using an unspecified number of aircraft.

Together this represents a significant international force deployment. I am thankful for the co-operation of our partners as we continue to focus on finding MH370.

3. Family care

The high-level team I announced yesterday is leaving for Beijing this evening.

I would also like to confirm that representatives from the Malaysian government spoke to the families who were present here yesterday.

In addition, the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy to China, and the Chinese Ambassador to Malaysia, will lead a briefing today for the Chinese families who are here in Kuala Lumpur.

Also in attendance will be the Department of Civil Aviation, the Armed Forces, the Royal Malaysia Police, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and MAS. A similar briefing will also be held for the other families.

4. Concluding remarks

For families around the world, the one piece of information they want most is the information we just don’t have: the location of MH370.

Our primary focus has always been to find the aircraft. And with every passing day, our efforts have intensified.

Yesterday I said that we wanted to reduce the area of the search. We now have a credible lead. There remains much work to be done to deploy the assets. This work will continue overnight.

For the link to the official discussion on FlyerTalk pertaining to the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight 370, please click here — and a new discussion has been launched on FlyerTalk pertaining to speculation of the Boeing 777-200 aircraft in question.

Official statements from Malaysia Airlines are found here; and I have re-posted them here and here at The Gate.

Will Malaysia Airlines survive the aftermath of this incident? Although there will be problems and impediments, I say yes.

What are your thoughts?

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