Malaysian Authorities Remain Tight-Lipped on Offer to Search for MH370 for Free

♠ Posted by Mick Rooney in ,,,

The deputy Malaysian Transport Minister Aziz Kaprawi has confirmed that Malaysian authorities have received an offer from a private company to resume the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 but have yet to make a decision to accept it.
Families of passengers and crew have been increasing the pressure on authorities in Malaysia and Australia to resume searching in an area north of the original 120,000 square kilometre search zone in the southern Indian Ocean. This follows the recent disclosure that marine and drift analysis experts at CSIRO working with the official search bodies had significantly refined their drift models based on debris found over the past two years on the East an South African coastlines, including islands like Mauritius, Madagascar and Reunion.
Voice370, the official representative body of MH370 families, yesterday released a statement saying they had been prepared to privately fund their own independent search but they were aware recently that a US-based sea exploration company, Ocean Infinity, had already offered (for free) to search for the seabed wreckage of the missing aircraft which disappeared on the morning of March 8th, 2014 with 239 passengers and crew on board. Voice370 understands that the only terms asked by Ocean Infinity is that the company is recompensed with a reward in the event it does locate the seabed wreckage of the aircraft.
It is not known exactly how long this offer has been on the table of Malaysian authorities, but Deputy Malaysian Transport Minister Aziz Kaprawi would only confirm in a text message to Reuters that authorities had received the offer, but said no decision had been made on whether it would be accepted or not. Ocean Infinity have declined to make any public statement on their offer.
Voice370 has been working with famed shipwreck hunter David Mearns and a number of marine and aviation experts, including data and advice from the Independent Group (IG), to launch their own funded search for the seabed wreckage of the aircraft.
The official search for the aircraft was suspended in January this year following completion of a search zone of 120,000 square kilometres in the southern Indian Ocean conducted by Fugro Worldwide for the ATSB (Australian Transport & Safety Board) off the Western coast of Australia. Joint governments in Malaysia, Australia and China have steadfastly stated that the search cannot resume until 'credible new evidence leading to a precise search location' is presented to the official investigative teams. This somewhat flies in the face of reason considering Malaysian government officials have rejected commissioned analysis from CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation), consistently fine-tuned and undertaken by the ATSB in Australia. The ATSB has also consistently stated that it wishes to continue the search but remains bootstrapped to the Australian government, tasked with conducting the official seabed search, and in turn the Australian government is equally bootstrapped to Malaysian authorities who remain the lead investigative nation under international aviation rules.
OPINION
This remains, and has been for the past three and a half years, one long, bureaucratic mess. It copper fastens why tragic and major aviation investigations, when there is a significant loss of life and no answers, needs to be taken out and away from the hands of government, restructured, and conducted under the auspices of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA). We can set down all the ground rules, conventions, treaties and agreements, but it requires commitment and adherence to those codes of conduct and skilled execution of expert practice. There is no place for government in any tragedy or disaster, particularly when it comes to aviation. By all means do the centre stage public media platitudes and resolve to fix it. But a government's role is not to become a part of the tragedy itself, only to act and support investigative recommendations. That is never going to happen when government(s) have to fund a major aviation investigation, and pick their partners and alliances.

MH370: There Must be a What Happens Next Until it is Found

♠ Posted by Mick Rooney in ,,

The joint communiqué issued today by the JACC brings the current search of 120,000 square kilometers of the southern Indian Ocean for the seabed wreckage of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 to an end and the suspension of the nearly three-year search operation. The aircraft with 239 people on board went missing on the morning of March 8th, 2014. The now infamous phrase, “in the absence of credible new evidence leading to the identification of a specific location of the aircraft” was again used in today’s communiqué and has become something of a chant by government officials when asked by the media—what happens next? It was first used in a previous JACC communiqué in July 2016 following a tripartite meeting of senior ministers from Australia, Malaysia and the People's Republic of China in Putrajaya, Malaysia, which discussed what arrangements should be made in the event the wreckage of the missing aircraft was not located.

Today, I guess we finally got our answer to that—nothing. There are no arrangements, actually: barring—of course—someone or something turning up on the doorstep of the JACC that miraculously cracks the bureaucratic and carefully crafted conundrum ministers from three nations have set search teams and aircraft investigators.

Go find credible new evidence that provides an X marks the spot on the map. But there’s just one little rule: you’re not allowed search for that credible new evidence because we’ve suspended searching. What’s more, the recent debris found since we first uttered this carefully crafted conundrum last July, and the latest drift analysis based on it, doesn’t count any more as new and credible. Ha, gotcha!

Just a couple of weeks ago, speaking to the media, and following the release of the First Principles Review report, Malaysian Minister of Transport, Dato' Sri Liow Tiong Lai, was quick to remind all those gathered that the search for the wreckage of flight MH370 cannot “just rely on assumptions”. And, yet, excluding Inmarsat and military radar data that has never been fully disclosed to the public in its rawest form, the ATSB’s favored EOF (End-of-Flight) scenario is based on considerable assumptions—that the flight flew south at a constant speed, heading and altitude, was likely on autopilot and without manual input from the cockpit, and entered a spiral dive somewhere off the 7th arc following fuel exhaustion. Some 120,000 square kilometers and nearly three years later, and a second mooted 25,000 square kilometer area of “high probability” north east of the original search zone; this favored EOF scenario is looking increasingly like a perilous house of cards

Government ministers, and in particular those in Australia and Malaysia, have held steadfast to the “credible new evidence” mantra and rebuffed any suggestions that the conclusions of the First Principles Review report warrant the confidence and finance needed to push on with a new search. Estimated somewhere in the region of $50 million, it’s hard to see any real desire to look for the key to the coffers, let alone crack open the moneybox. Is this the JACC saying; we’ve done our bit, time to move on?

And if this is the case, then I’m afraid the JACC’s bit is pretty miniscule, all things considered. Equipped with the best experts and the best of technology, and a host of independent experts standing on the sidelines and willing to help (but having to be content with scraps of information fed to them like a game of Russian nesting dolls), the JACC and partners told us very little and ultimately found nothing. And, yet, it was ordinary souls walking coastlines for months or accidental travelers and tourists who found the most tangible, physical evidence of all that we have of 9M-MRO. Some might argue, armed with far more than us mere mortals, the JACC had the easiest task when you consider from the outset that it held all the known cards in the deck. Only they sat around the table that counts and only they can speak about how really well the players worked together and how much information was shared.

It would be easy to paint with a brushstroke all the men and women who have worked below higher levels of management and command in the search and investigation into Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. Bash the crews of Fugro Worldwide and Phoenix International, bash the ATSB and RAAF in Australia, bash the ATC, RMAF, RMP and DCA in Malaysia, and bash the Chinese authorities who after just a few weeks appeared to adopt the role of reluctant bride by way of family commitment. Maybe ICAO should have stepped in long ago and knocked heads together. Knock yourself out bashing and blaming and pointing the finger at where you think it all went wrong. But if the truth be told, most of these people are ordinary men and women doing their jobs or serving in forces. Decisions and orders rarely come from the bottom or middle up. They come from the top down, as does poor management and execution of plans. Reserve your ire for the right people and the right time.

Today may be the day the perilous house of cards built comes tumbling down. The two final paragraphs of the JACC communiqué are ominous for the families of those on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. It is the tone of those happy to erect tombstones and memorials rather than deliver on the early promised principles of intent.

“Today’s announcement is significant for our three countries, but more importantly for the family and friends of those on board the aircraft. We again take this opportunity to honour the memory of those who have lost their lives and acknowledge the enormous loss felt by their loved ones. 

“We remain hopeful that new information will come to light and that at some point in the future the aircraft will be located.”

Indeed. Let’s honor the memory of those who lost their lives, by all means, but honoring memories is not going to tell us how 239 people lost their lives, and whether the events of March 8th, 2014 will unfold again for another 239 people or more on another aircraft “at some point in the future”.

Hope is not borne of the future; it is engraved in our hearts and in our actions of the past. We never stop searching when there are answers to be found and lessons to be learned.

I would join with Voice370 in imploring the JACC to reconsider their rigid stance and reevaluate what can be done and how the search for MH370 can move forward, not fold away the tables and chairs for now as if this was the RMS Titanic and tell us in a communiqué what they will not do.

That is the absolute least the families of those on flight MH370 deserve. Not to search on for the truth, however difficult and at whatever cost would be abhorrent to the memory of those who died and an unhealing wound upon the aviation industry we may all live to regret at some point in the future.      

MH370 Families Appeal to JACC to Reconsider their Decision to Suspend Search

♠ Posted by Mick Rooney in ,,

In a joint communique statement issued today by the JACC, officials confirmed that the ongoing search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 had been completed and would be suspended following side sonar scanning and AUV operations covering a 120,000 sq km zone of the southern Indian Ocean. This search has lasted almost three years and has failed to identify any wreckage of the aircraft on the seabed.

Communique:

Today the last search vessel has left the underwater search area. Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has not been located in the 120,000 square-kilometre underwater search area in the southern Indian Ocean. 
Despite every effort using the best science available, cutting edge technology, as well as modelling and advice from highly skilled professionals who are the best in their field, unfortunately, the search has not been able to locate the aircraft. 
Accordingly, the underwater search for MH370 has been suspended.
The decision to suspend the underwater search has not been taken lightly nor without sadness. It is consistent with decisions made by our three countries in the July 2016 Ministerial Tripartite meeting in Putrajaya Malaysia.
Whilst combined scientific studies have continued to refine areas of probability, to date no new information has been discovered to determine the specific location of the aircraft.
We have been overwhelmed by the commitment and dedication shown by the hundreds of people involved in the search, which has been an unprecedented challenge. Their tireless work has continued to improve our knowledge of the search area and has been critical in our efforts to locate the aircraft. We would like to reiterate our utmost appreciation to the many nations that have provided expertise and assistance since the early days of this unfortunate tragedy.
Today’s announcement is significant for our three countries, but more importantly for the family and friends of those on board the aircraft. We again take this opportunity to honour the memory of those who have lost their lives and acknowledge the enormous loss felt by their loved ones.
We remain hopeful that new information will come to light and that at some point in the future the aircraft will be located. 


Voice370, the MH370 Family Support Group, shortly afterwards issued their own statement and an appeal to the JACC to reconsider their decision to suspend the search.
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MH370 Family Members Begin Madagascar Visit to Encourage Coastal Debris Searches

♠ Posted by Mick Rooney in ,,
(PIC - Grace Nathan)
One thousand days have passed since Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 disappeared on March 8th, 2014, after its departure from Kuala Lumpur International Airport. The Boeing 777 carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew was bound for Beijing and to this day the only trace of the aircraft has been 22 pieces of debris washed ashore off the coast of the East African continent in places like Mauritius, Madagascar, Le Reunion and mainland beaches in Tanzanian and South Africa. Some of the debris has been conclusively identified as part of 9M-MRO, the registered Boeing 777 which serviced the ill-fated flight. Other pieces of debris are "almost certainly" from the aircraft according to the official investigation team, while other pieces have yet to be identified and conclusively linked.

For the families of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, it is the only tangible and physical evidence of what remains of the aircraft and what happened their loved ones.

Frustrated by how the current search is going and the lack of answers as to what happened, recent debris finds have prompted seven relatives of those lost on flight MH370 to travel to Madagascar and raise awareness about how local communities and members of the public can assist the investigation to find debris from the aircraft washed ashore off the eastern coast of Africa.

The relatives gave a press conference today (December 3rd) at Kuala Lumpur International Airport before they departed for Madagascar for a week-long trip to raise awareness in the region about MH370.


Background  

A two-and-a-half years search of the southern Indian Ocean, which began in 2014 and was based on Malaysian military primary radar and a series of pings picked up by British-based satellite company Inmarsat, has led to a search area of 120,000 square kilometres far from the western coast of Australia. Tasked by the lead investigation team and government  in Malaysia, the Australian Transport and Safety Board (ATSB) contracted Fugro and Phoenix International, using sea vessels equipped with side-scanning sonar and robotic AUV and ROVs, in an effort to locate the final seabed resting place of the aircraft and its 239 souls.

This search is due to be completed and suspended in Jan/Feb 2017 should no aircraft debris field be found on the seabed by then. On 30th March 2014, then Prime Minister of Australia, Tony Abbott MP, established the Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) to coordinate the Australian Government's support for the search into missing flight MH370. The JACC is the coordination point for whole-of-Australian Government information, messaging and stakeholder engagement, including keeping the families of those onboard and the general public informed of the progress of the search. The JACC has made it clear that without "new credible evidence" the search in the southern Indian Ocean will be suspended.

In November 2016, all parties and representative governments in the investigation and search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 met in Australia for a three-day meeting in what was described as a back-to-basics, open-ended reassessment of all available data. The results and conclusions of this meeting will be presented in a report at some point during 2017, though a specific date has not been agreed, it is expected to take several months before the report will be publicly presented.

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of missing flight MH370 is that the collective efforts of multiple governments and aviation bodies, a $180 million search in the southern Indian Ocean, and an official aircraft investigation has reached ground zero and produced little of real substance to address the obvious Cry for Truth into the Where, How and Why of this tragedy.

Moreover, what the official investigation has offered up as tangible and physical evidence of 9M-MRO has not come from its sea search efforts, but rather from conscientious citizens, and independent and interested parties examining what available data is made public.

What remains of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 began to wash ashore some time during 2015 as floating debris emanating from the southern Indian Ocean impact area where 9M-MRO and its souls met their end.

Johny Begue, a sanitation worker on the beaches of Le Reunion, off the eastern coast of Africa, recalls how he found wing wreckage on July 29th, 2015, later identified as a right wing flaperon.

"I was searching for something to be used to collect rubbish, and I found the stuff on the beach. I thought it was probably a part of an airplane wing. There were a lot of shellfishes attached it. My colleagues and I carried it onshore and we believed that if it was a piece of plane wreckage, then there must be some casualties. We were sad, and we wanted to put it at a proper place and mourn the victims with flowers. One of my colleagues told the local radio station about this and the radio station contacted police immediately,"

Blaine Gibson, an American lawyer from Seattle, after he attended a one-year MH370 commemoration by relatives in Kuala Lumpur in 2015 was inspired to undertake a self-funded hunt coastal search for debris from the missing plane that has taken him everywhere, from the Maldives to Mauritius, Mozambique, Madagascar and Myanmar. Gibson, an adventurer and investigator by nature, sought the help of University of Western Australia (UWA) Professor of Coastal Oceanography Charitha Pattiaratchi. Pattiaratchi had been modelling the potential path of debris based on ocean currents and predictions of where impact debris would float from the area the aircraft was believed to have went down. While the eastern African coast in general was a clear area to search for coastal debris, Pattiaratchi specifically identified the coasts of Madagascar and Mozambique as primary areas that could be likely places to find aircraft debris from MH370.

Ultimately, over the period of a year, Gibson would discover more than nine pieces of debris, several have already been confirmed to come directly from 9M-MRO or certainly from a Boeing 777. And in 2016, Gibson, along with a growing list of other people like Luca Kuhn von Burgsdorff and Neels Kruger have found debris from the missing aircraft on beaches up and down the coast of Africa.

One of the most significant finds so far was a piece of 9M-MRO's right side wing flap found by a group of local fishermen on the shores of Pemba Island off the coast of Tanzania in June 2016. Recently released information by the ATSB has revealed that investigators and Boeing do not believe the wing flap or flaperon were in a deployed position for a landing/ditching end-of-flight scenario.

What is becoming increasingly troubling to relatives of those onboard MH370 is that the official investigation conducted by government and aviation authorities in Malaysia, Australia and China continue to primarily focus on a deep-sea search zone in the southern Indian Ocean which has so far found nothing of the missing aircraft.


Voice370 - Search On

Voice370 (Cry for Truth) is a supportive body set up by relatives of those onboard MH370. Following the recent joint meeting in Australia by the JACC of the official teams involved in the investigation, as part of its review and back-to-basics strategy, Voice370 has called on the investigation authorities to do more to focus on coastal debris finds and liaise with local African authorities to conduct coordinated searches for debris washed ashore. Though previously promised, no such coordinated operation has ever taken place, and potential coastal debris from flight MH370 continues to be found by ordinary citizens, not official investigators or local authorities.


It has prompted relatives to travel to Madagascar this week and next week to promote awareness of the existence of potential coastal debris, alert local communities, reach out to local authorities, and provide a brochure and action points debris finders should be aware of.



Finders of potential debris should not only follow the above guidelines, but also ensure that it is photographed 'in situ' where first found and number or lettering be carefully recorded visually and noted down in writing. Avoid taking home debris. This can lead to additional damage or corruption/contamination of what is ultimately technical and criminal evidence. Debris should be passed on to the local/national aviation authority to preserve the chain of custody of evidence. Members of Voice370 will be on hand for contact over the coming week to advise finders.



(MH370 relative speaking today at KLIA before departing for Madagascar)


Addendum

In November 2016 Aircraft Investigation obtained confidential files and documents from a secret Malaysian Police report conducted throughout 2014 on missing flight MH370. This report is detailed and runs to almost 1200 pages. It is extensive and examines the activity of operations of Malaysia Airlines, the aircraft itself, (9M-MRO), ground staff at KLIA, and activities and background of crew and passengers of MH370.

Aircraft Investigation is aware that other people (including those in media organisations) have chosen not only to sit and withhold much of this information from the general public, but instead to actively 'nitpick' data to feed entirely bias news stories, and cajole and intimidate family members, friends and people involved in the investigation to support scurrilous and misleading news stories purely for commercial gain. These people need to examine their own conscience when the time comes.

Aircraft Investigation has chosen to release files and documents from this Malaysia Police report in as much context as possible and where and when disclosure of such data does not harm or compromise people named in the report. Further disclosure can be found on the Aircraft Investigation Twitter feed. This continues to be an ongoing process of evaluation and disclosure.