Thursday 3 December 2015

MH370 Press Conference - Update December 2015

Some takeouts from this morning's press conference on the search for MH370. This proved to be quite a detailed press conference delivering some important updates, some further refinement of the probable impact point and new resources to the search.
We are confident that the engines ceased operation and therefore it started its descent into the sea. We know pretty well precisely where it was when the engines were running. The issue that's in question is how and over what distance it entered the water.

-- Warren Truss, Deputy PM of Australia
  • The search is expected to continue until June 2016
  • 76,000 sq km of the 120,000 search area has been completed
  • China has ageed to pay the financial shortfall of search funds ($20m Aus)
  • China will become more involved in the search operation (through collaboration and data sharing)
  • China will provide a fourth search vessel during the summer months
  • Of the areas searched, 4% require more detailed rechecks. This should be completed by February 016
  • The ATSB has revised and just released MH370 - Defining the Search Area {Report)
  • The ATSB say their probability 'hotspot' is consistent with at least two other independent studies of the search area
  • More recent refinement analysis has resulted in a marginal widening of the search area along the south point of the 7th arc - not an extension of it further south
  • There are no plans to extend the search beyond June 2016
  • The French BEA continue to test the flaperon found on the island of La Reunion last July
  • The ATSB is NOT tasked by Malaysia with providing how or why MH370 ended in the South Indian Ocean - simply locating the wreckage and the logistics of its recovery
This proved to be one of the most detailed press conferences on MH370 over the past 21 months. It was in stark contrast to press conferences in the early days of the search in 2014. The conference was spared some of the inane mainstream media questions that marred many early 'PR events' in both Kuala Lumpur and Beijing. As can be witnessed in the video, questions came from several AV journalists and were pointed, detailed, and answered without any flip-flopping.

Saturday 31 October 2015

Egyptian Officials Report No Survivors From Metrojet Flight KGL9268 Crash

Egyptian officials have said that there were no survivors after a Russian airliner, Metrojet Flight KGL9268, crashed in central Sinai killing all 224 passengers and crew on board. The Airbus A-321-200 departed the holiday resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on a scheduled flight to the Russian city of Saint Petersburg. Radar contact was lost with the aircraft 20 minutes after it took off.

The flight was carrying 214 Russians and three Ukrainians. Seven of them were crew members. Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared that Sunday will be a day of mourning and has ordered a criminal investigation into the crash against Kogalymavia, owners of Metrojet. This is normal protocol for air crashes involving Russian airlines. The Russian Association of Tour Operators has released a passenger manifest in the last few hours.

Source: Google, FlightRadar24, Reuters

Rescue teams have reached the crash site, which is difficult desert terrain in the central region of Sinai, Egypt. The rescue teams have reported that the Airbus A321 split into two parts, with one part burning up and the other impacting on mountainous rock, Flight KGL9268 was flying at an altitude of 30,700 feet when it disappeared off ATC radar. Initial reports say that the pilot reported technical difficulties and requested a return to Sharm el-Sheikh Airport, though an emergency mayday was not declared.

Oksana Golovin, a spokeswoman for Kogalymavia, said the airline had no reason to suspect human error and that the aircraft was fully serviced. At a press conference, she said that the Captain had 3,800+ hours of flying experience.

According to the Egyptian state cabinet in a released statement, the aircraft took off at 05:58 Egyptian time (03:58 GMT) from Sharm el-Sheikh and at 06:14 the aircraft failed to make scheduled contact with ATC in Cyprus. At 06:17 the aircraft  crashed on the Sinai peninsula. The flight was due to arrive at Saint Petersburg's Pulkovo airport at 11.12 (Egyptian time).

The terrain at the crash site is difficult, though rescue teams are reported to have recovered up to 100 bodies, with many still strapped to their seats.

Kogalymavia airlines rebranded as Metrojet in 2012, was originally founded in 1993 and the airline has a fleet of seven A321s and two A320s. Flight KGL9268 was serviced by one of the A321s, built in 1997 and registered as EI-ETJ.

Live flight tracking service FlightRadar24 recorded the aircraft at FL310 and losing 1,500 metres (about 4,500ft) in less than one minute before radar coverage was lost. Weather conditions were reported to be good at the time. The Sinai region is considered an active militant region and shortly after the aircraft crashed NOTAMs were issued to airlines flying over the region. Militants in the area are believed to be equipped with manpad surface-to-air weaponry but there is no evidence that the aircraft was targeted despite claims by the Islamic State (IS) that it was responsible for the downing of Flight KGL9268 late today. The shoulder-launched manpad does not have the capability to reach an aircraft at FL310.

Investigators are examining the possibility of catastrophic structural failure and rescue teams are still searching for the voice and date recorders at the crash site. The most outstanding issue with this aircraft occurred in 2001 when it suffered a tailstrike while landing at Cairo Airport.

Tuesday 13 October 2015

Dutch Safety Board Release Final Report and Conclude MH17 Brought Down by BUK Missile System

The Dutch Safety board has today released its final report on the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17. The DSB held a presentation for the media about its findings at the Gilze-Rijen military base in the Netherlands.

The crash of flight MH17 on 17 July 2014 was caused by the detonation of a 9N314M-type warhead launched from the eastern part of Ukraine using a Buk missile system. So says the investigation report published by the Dutch Safety Board today. Moreover, it is clear that Ukraine already had sufficient reason to close the airspace over the eastern part of Ukraine as a precaution before 17 July 2014. None of the parties involved recognised the risk posed to overflying civil aircraft by the armed conflict in the eastern part of Ukraine.
Below is a video segment from the live presentation.

Below is a short video created by the DSB describing the events of MH17.

Final Report (279pp PDF)

Additional Appendices can be downloaded on this DSB webpage.

Thursday 3 September 2015

French Prosecutor Confirms With Certainty Renunion Flaperon is Part of MH370

The office of Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins today released a statement confirming that the aircraft flaperon found on the coast of La Reunion on July 29th by a team of beach cleaners does 'with certainty' belong to the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, a Boeing 777-200ER carrying 239 passengers and crew.

Investigators have been examining the aircraft flaperon since August 5th in Toulouse, France as part of a separate criminal investigation by the French Prosecutor on behalf the families of four French passengers.

Investigators informed Francois Molins that by using an endoscope inside the aircraft part, they had discovered three numbers, one of which can be 'associated with the serial number of the flaperon of the Boeing 777 of flight MH 370.'

Full Statement from French Prosecutor:

(French text is followed by the English translation via Jeff Wise)

Dans le cadre de l’information judiciaire relative à la disparition du vol MH 370 de la Malaysia Airlines le 8 mars 2014, les opérations d’expertises initiées le 5 août 2015, suite à la découverte du flaperon à La Réunion le 29 juillet 2015, ont permis de relever -au moyen d’un endoscope- trois numéros à l’intérieur du flaperon.

Il est apparu que ces trois numéros pouvaient correspondre à la référence de la fabrication de pièces confiée en sous-traitance par la société Boeing à la société Airbus Defense and Space (ADS-SAU), sise à Séville (ESPAGNE).

Ce jour, sur commission rogatoire internationale auprès des autorités judiciaires espagnoles, le magistrat instructeur -assisté de l’expert en aéronautique missionné-, s’estrendu à Séville aux fins de recueillir toutes données utiles.

La communication immédiate des données relatives aux commandes et fabrication des pièces de l’aéronef, explicitée par l’audition d’un technicien de la société ADS-SAU, permet d’associer formellement l’un des trois numéros relevés à l’intérieur du flaperon au numéro de série du flaperon du boeing 777 du vol MH 370.

Ainsi, il est aujourd’hui possible d’affirmer avec certitude que le flaperon découvert à La Réunion le 29 juillet 2015 correspond à celui du vol MH 370.

As part of the judicial investigation into the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH 370 on March 8, 2014, the expert assessment that began on August 5, 2015, following the discovery of the flaperon in Reunion July 29, 2015, has allowed the identifcation–by means of an endoscope–of three numbers inside the flaperon.

It appeared that these three numbers could correspond to reference parts manufactured by a subcontractor to Boeing, Airbus Defence and Space (ADS-SAU), located in Seville (Spain).
Today, on an international letter rogatory to the Spanish judicial authorities, the French prosecutor – assisted by the expert of the aeronautical mission – traveled to Seville in order to collect all necessary data.

Immediate communication of data on orders and manufacture of the parts of the aircraft, clarified by an ADS-SAU technician at a hearing, formally allows one of the three numbers found within the flaperon to be associated with the serial number of the flaperon of the Boeing 777 of flight MH 370.

Thus, it is now possible to state with certainty that the flaperon discovered on Reunion Island on July 29, 2015, corresponds to that of flight MH 370.


Monday 17 August 2015

Trigana TGN267 Search and Rescue Efforts Hampered by Poor Weather and Terrain

Search and rescue efforts to reach the crash site of Trigana Air Service Flight TGN267 which crashed Sunday afternoon in the remote mountainous region of Okbape in the Indonesian province of Papua are being thwarted by poor weather conditions.

The search by Indonesia's National Search and Rescue Agency (BASARNAS) was launched on Sunday when air traffic control lost contact with the ATR 42-300 carrying 54 passengers and crew on a domestic flight from Sentani to Oksibil. Contact was lost 33 minutes into its scheduled 45-minute flight and locals in the village of Okbape reported to police that they saw the aircraft crash into the Tangok Mountain.

Early Monday wreckage was spotted in dense jungle 12 kilometres from Oksibil by a search plane. Ground search and rescue personnel are still attempting to reach the crash site but are being hampered by poor weather conditions and difficult terrain.

Officials in Indonesia say the pilots did not send any distress signal, however weather conditions in the area were poor at the time. Pilots flying the Sentani to Oksibil route rely on visual flight rules to approach the airport.

The ATR 42-300 twin turboprop was manufactured in 1988 and originally operated in the USA before being transferred to Trigana Air Service in 2005. Trigana has a poor safety record with 14 serious accidents since 1991, 10 of which resulted in hull loss.

Wednesday 1 July 2015

Dutch Safety Board Has Delivered Draft Final Report on MH17 to Representative States

The Dutch Safety Board (DSB) has reported on the progress of the investigation into the crash of MH17 today. The DSB revealed that last month it delivered a Draft Final Report to 'the accredited representatives of the participating States.'

In a statement released today, the DSB said it has (in accordance with ICAO Annex 13) given each participating State sixty days to submit comments on the report. The DSB will review these comments before delivering its Final Report and recommendations in the first half of October 2015.

Full DSB Statement follows:

Progress of the MH17 Investigation
The Dutch Safety Board is investigating the crash of flight MH17, which happened on Thursday, 17 July 2014, in the Donetsk area (Ukraine). The Board is making every effort to give as clear a picture as possible of the cause of the crash. With 17 July 2015 coming up soon, a year after the crash, the Dutch Safety Board is reporting on the progress of the investigation in accordance with Article 6.6 of Annex 13 to the convention on International Civil Aviation.

The investigation is being carried out on the basis of the standards and recommended practices as described in the aforementioned ICAO Annex 13. The State in which the incident occurred (Ukraine) has delegated the investigation to the Dutch Safety Board. The Dutch Safety Board is therefore in charge of the investigation and directs the international team of investigators. The investigation team is composed of specialists from Malaysia, Ukraine, the United States, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, Australia and the Netherlands.

In addition to the international investigation into the cause of the crash, the Dutch Safety Board is also investigating the decision-making process pertaining to safety when determining flight routes, as well as the availability of passenger information.

The Dutch Safety Board published a preliminary report containing its first findings regarding the crash of flight MH17 on Tuesday, 9 September 2014. The preliminary report contains the initial data from the investigation into the cause of the crash based on the sources that were available to the Dutch Safety Board.

The draft final reports on the investigation into the crash and the investigation pertaining to flight routes were made available to the accredited representatives of the participating States on Tuesday, 2 June. In accordance with ICAO Annex 13, they have sixty days to submit comments on the reports. The Dutch Safety Board will then assess the submitted comments and draw up the definitive final reports. The consultation period the investigation into the availability of passenger information has ended. The Board expects to publish the final reports in the first half of October 2015.

Thursday 16 April 2015

MH370 Search Area Will be Expanded if Aircraft Not Found by May

(Pic -
Senior ministers from Malaysia, Australia and China today confirmed a commitment to continue the underwater search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 which disappeared on March 8th, 2014. The announcement followed a tripartite meeting involving Malaysian Minister of Transport, Mr Liow Tiong Lai, Australian Deputy Prime Minister, Warren Truss, and the Chinese Minister of Transport, Mr Yang Chuantang.

The search for the missing Boeing 777 and its 239 passengers and crew has yet to find any evidence of a crash site in the priority search zone of the South Indian ocean. The ministers held a press conference following their meeting and released a Joint Communique. During the meeting they were given a detailed briefing on the work being undertaken to search for the aircraft. Discussions also included details of the technology used in the underwater search, assessment and analysis of data collected, classification of sonar contacts as well as the challenges and risks in the search operations in such a remote and difficult location in extreme depths. Agreement was reached on recovery arrangements if the aircraft is found as well as the next steps if the aircraft is not found in the current search area of 60,000 square kilometres.

All three countries have agreed to continue the search and extend it by an additional 60,000 square kilometres to bring the search area to 120,000 square kilometres and thereby cover the entire highest probability area identified by expert analysis. It is expected the expanded search will take until at least the end of the year though the winter months and weather may push a conclusion into 2016.
The additional second phase of the search will be focussed on widening the sonar scanning of the seabed along the seventh arc. It is estimated that this will cost up to $50 million, less than the first phase of the search cost due to ships and equipment already being in place.

News of the expanded search was communicated to MH370 families yesterday.

Mr. Liow Tiong Lai also dismissed a recent resurgence in media stories about sightings of the aircraft off the coast of the Maldives saying that these witness reports were at the wrong time and the aircraft islanders saw could not have been the Malaysia Airlines flight.

The ministers also confirmed that they are still hopeful of concluding the initial search phase by the end of May though Australian Deputy Prime Minister, Warren Truss expressed a more subtly cautious note, "We are confident we have the best search equipment... if the plane is in the area we will find it."

Tuesday 31 March 2015

MH17 Joint Investigation Team Releases New Information and Video

The JIT (Joint Investigation Team) examining the cause of the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 has released a video asking for witnesses in the area of eastern Ukraine to come forward with information in relation to the transport of a BUK anti-aircraft system through Ukraine on July 17th and 18th of 2014.

The video provides some new information potentially implicating Russia and rebel separatists with a series of newly released intercepted phone calls which occurred after the downing of MH17. The JIT has also revealed that it managed to identify and seize a Volvo low-load
er truck used to transport a BUK missile launcher system between July 16th and 18th, 2014.

The English translation provided in the video, while generally accurate, does use the word 'car' but the Russian word used is actually 'машина' or 'mashina' which means machine or heavy vehicle.

You can find the original press release (in Russian) on the JIT's website.


Thursday 26 March 2015

Germanwings Crash Was Deliberate Act by Co-Pilot

    Brice Robin, Marseille Public Prosecutor, has delivered the devastating news to relatives and media that the actions of co-pilot Andreas Lubitz were 'voluntary and deliberate' and showed a 'willingness to destroy the aircraft.'

    Robin also confirmed that the Captain left the cockpit (possibly to use the toilet) and was prevented from re-entering the cockpit. Lubitz did not respond to repeated attempts by the Captain to gain entry to the cockpit or communications from ATC and ...other aircraft.

    Robin also described the co-pilot's breathing as normal on the CVR in the final ten minutes of the aircraft's descent. Communication appeared normal between the pilots for the first half hour, though Lubitz's responses while running through the checklist for landing at Dusseldorf appeared to become terse and 'laconic' before the Captain left the cockpit.

    Robin's comments today appear to rule out any suggestion of incapacitation of crew and was a deliberate act.

Wednesday 25 March 2015

Germanwings Flight 9525: Recovery Operation | Live Stream | Latest


Search and rescue operation continues in French Alps where the Germanwings plane bound for Dusseldorf crashed with 150 passengers and crew onboard.

10:00 am (CET)
Next of kin have been arriving this morning and are due to travel to the crash site.

Cockpit voice recorder (CVR) recovered late yesterday from mountain slope. The device was heavily damaged but investigators are hopeful recording can be extracted.

11:00 am (CET)
Haltern School which lost sixteen exchange students and two teachers in the air disaster is currently hosting a press conference with Haltern Mayor, Bodo Kimpel and school management.

15:00 pm (CET)
Searchers at the crash site have found the container shell for second 'black box' — the FDR (Flight Data Recorder) but not the recording memory itself. The shell is very badly damaged and searchers are still looking for it.

15:30 pm (CET)
Germanwings Airlines has postponed releasing the passenger flight manifest because it is having difficulties contacting next of kin. The following is a provisional list of nationalities:

72 — Germany
35 — Spain
2 — Argentina
2 — Australia
2 — Iran
2 — United States
2 — Venezuela
1 — Belgium
1 — Britain
1 — Colombia
1 — Denmark
1 — Israel
1 — Japan
1 — Mexico
1 — Netherlands

The above list was released about 4 hours ago is already inaccurate because the UK Foreign Affairs Office has already confirmed three Britons were on the flight. At least 19 passenger nationalities are listed as unknown. Germanwings and Lufthansa now under considerable pressure to release the passenger information and questions being asked as to why this information was not correctly recorded before boarding.

16:00 pm (CET)
European leaders of Spain, France and Germany due to address media shortly at crash site.
20:00 pm (CET)
French President Francois Hollande has said part of the case for the plane's second black box (FDR) had been found but not its contents. Remi Jouty, Director of the French aviation investigation team refused to confirm this.

Thursday 19 March 2015

DSB Says it Will Not Rely on Single Source for Final Conclusion on MH17

Over the past two weeks 533 relatives of 151 victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 visited the wreckage of the Boeing 777 which was blown out of the sky over Eastern Ukraine last July. Among them were relatives of victims from other countries. Groups of next of kin were taken around the three locations where the wreckage is located; the hangar where the investigation is taking place and the two shelters where the remaining pieces of wreckage are stored.

In the shelters, relatives were allowed touch a number of pieces of wreckage. In the hangar where the actual investigation is taking place, they viewed the wreckage from a raised platform. In addition, there was a site set up where flowers could be left.

The great majority of the next of kin were pleased to have been offered the opportunity to visit the wreckage. To actually see the pieces of wreckage is important.

Tjibbe Joustra, Safety Board Chairman

Reconstruction begins
In the past months the pieces of wreckage have been carefully checked, sorted and investigated. In February, the team of international investigators performed, among other matters, fracture investigation, investigated the failure mechanism and investigated the impact patterns. Now that the visits by the next of kin have taken place, work on the three-dimensional reconstruction will begin. The reconstruction will focus on the exterior of the cockpit and a part of the business class section. Once the reconstruction is complete the next of kin will receive an invitation to see this.

At the Air Force base in Gilze-Rijen both the Dutch Safety Board and the Public Prosecutor are investigating the wreckage. In addition to the investigation into the cause of the accident, the Safety Board is also investigating the release of passenger name lists and the decision processes regarding flight routes. The Public Prosecutor‘s criminal investigation aims to bring those responsible for the accident before a judge.

This week the Dutch Safety Board said it wants to be able to confirm its final conclusion against multiple sources and not one. The DSB was reacting to a speculative news report broadcast on Dutch TV news channel RTL in recent days.

This is a complex and time-consuming process. As a part of this, the link to the Malaysian Airlines aeroplane has to be demonstrated for each source, in part because the aeroplane crashed in an area of civil conflict.

The investigation into the cause of the accident is ongoing and is focusing on many more sources than just the pieces of shrapnel. Additional material for investigation is welcome for this, but it is important that it be irrefutably demonstrated that there is a relationship between any material and the aeroplane that crashed. The Dutch Safety Board will accept any such material and include it in the investigation.

Monday 9 March 2015

Interim Report on Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 Released

On March 8th, 2015 the Malaysian Ministry of Transport (MOT) published its Interim Report in accordance with ICAO rules. There is not a lot new in the report as far as progressing the search for MH370. The Interim Report consists of an accompanying statement and a factual document totalling almost 600 pages, mostly consisting of technical data, repair records, radar charts and full work details of the crew.

Here some of the main points:

1. There is little here that the MOT and DCA in Malaysia could not have made available in the preliminary report.

2. The radar charts represent the data collected but are not the original radar data shots.

3. There is little factual detail backed up with explanation on the Inmarsat data and how it was deciphered, calculated and delivered, considering the entire search is based on this.

4. One of the most welcome aspects of this report is finally having all the ATC transcripts from centres and the full audio communication received from MH370.

5. The report (as near as any report can at this stage) finds no evidence that the Captain and First Pilot are suspected of wrongdoing and no evidence for suspicion of crew hijack. In regards to this, the report is in stark contrast to what Malaysian authorities were alluding to for months after the loss of MH370.

6. Unfortunately the report does not resolve the missing manifest NBR01, which may or may not refer to the baggage containers. We may never know. But what it does do is show where every piece of cargo was stored on the plane, including a consignment of Lithium batteries.

7. The lithium battery cargo was stored mid to front in the cargo bay and the containers in front were left empty.

8. The ATC transcripts reveal a chaotic period of confusion lasting nearly four and a half hours after contact was lost with MH370.

9. The ping beacon in the Flight Data Recorder may or may not have been replaced. It highlights more a failure of maintenance computer systems at MAS than it does a fact that the aircraft was flying with a dead or weak FDR beacon battery. The potential dead battery had no impact with the FDR's ability to function and record data during the flight. The MAS system records the FDR beacon as due for replacement, but doesn't have a computerised report signed off to show it was carried out.

10. The real question to ask, if the pinger beacon on the FDR was weak or expired, is what impact would this have had on earlier searches conducted? It leaves the possibility that the FDR may have been present in an area searched in March/April 2014.

11. Once again, and not the first time, MAS seem to be changing their data records on what was reported in the first weeks and months of the search.

12. There is little or no reference to the search itself, and drift patterns of debris and pronouncements made last year about where debris should wash up if the SIO is in the right area. After one year, I'd expect a little more conviction in a report as to the validity of its search and what it is based on.

The search is set to conclude in May 2015 with approximately 44% of the priority search area covered. The head of the MH370 investigation and Malaysian government haver indicated that if the current search concludes with no evidence, then a period of re-assessment of all available data may occur before the next phase of the search is agreed.

Full text of the statement that accompanied the interim report can be found here.

Thursday 5 March 2015

Missing Voices, Still Lives: Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 One Year On

This week marks the one year anniversary since Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 went missing. In a week when there will be renewed discussion about what happened the aircraft and its 239 passengers and crew, the families of those on board are no closer today to finding out what happened their loved ones. Sakinab Shah's brother Ari was the captain of flight MH370 and she and her family have endured a particularly difficult time at the hands of the media. This week she wanted to commemorate her brother and share something of the person he was with others. Sakinab has been kind enough to share her thoughts and words here.


Capt. Zaharie Ahmad Shah

(Sakinab Shah)

(Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah - photo courtesy of Sakinab Shah)
On March 8th 2014, my life and the lives of all the families and friends of passengers and crew of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 changed forever. 239 people are still missing and they have no voices. It has been left to us to give back their voices. One year on, we still hear their voices as clear as if it were yesterday.

At the time of the tragic occurrence of MH370, Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah or Ari (as he was fondly called), was 53 years old married to his childhood sweetheart Faizah Khanum, had two sons (Ahmad Idris & Ahmad Seth), a daughter Aishah and a grandson from Idris.

People can be very hard and callous. As if to rub salt into the wound, stories of Zaharie and Faizah abound in the media declaring their marriage was on the rocks, that there was an impending divorce suit in the Syariah Court... Blah, blah, blah... all junk, all rubbish. Sorry, but you the media failed us horribly.

Besides being a doting father, Ari was generous, kind and cool with a warm sense of humour. He had a passion for life, for family and above all for flying. I wasn't kidding when I said that if he could he would have attached wings to himself. He had as much as a man could possibly want in his life; a professional career, family, friends, health and a more than comfortable life. He was very open-minded, coming from a family with a pretty wide range of nationalities through intermarriages. He got on extremely well with family members. The younger ones simply adored him... their Uncle Ari. He was very savvy at DIY. He could fix anything; garden fixtures, floor tiles, old doors, etc. My home and the homes of my sisters and brothers are not short of the things that remind us of him every day; framed pictures, leaking windows now repaired, a fish pond levelled up and nicely tiled, a new TV installed... I could go on and on.

The rollercoaster ride since March 2014 has never really stopped, except perhaps momentarily. I want the world to know here is a loving man who will stop at nothing to render help when it is needed. His presence during every family function never failed to light up the occasions. He was always sought after by sisters, brothers, nieces and nephews alike… a man of integrity. He was a generous brother and uncle who often came bearing gifts from his overseas trips.

I want to relate my daughters’ memorable occasions with him. During his younger days he would take my girls kite flying. On one of those days, my girls often relate how when the line snagged and the kite blew away. He packed them all in the car and drove to hunt for the runaway kite which he finally located in someone else’s possession. He negotiated to have the kite back, and they were thrilled. They still remember this today and such fond memories of him since childhood.

I remember taking a road trip with him some two years back from Kuala Lumpur to Krabi in Thailand. It was a long journey, filled with laughter and humour, because he brought out the best in every situation. With his wit and pleasant demeanour, he managed to solve some issues at the border crossing between Malaysia and Thailand. That was a good experience for me and my sister. We are proud of him. It was during this trip that we talked about doing a similar road trip to Italy which unfortunately will never happen.

There was a time in my hour of need when Ari came to my a knight in shining armour. My ailing husband whom Ari had great respect and affection for was seeking treatment in a neighbouring country whilst I came home to attend to some legal matters. Then I received the dreadful news of his passing. Shrouded in my own grief and misery, my mind was running a blank as to what to do next. The kids were with my husband. Whilst trying to figure things out, low and behold my brother Ari was at the gate calling out my name, and I thought he was at work only to find out later that he took emergency leave. In a nutshell, he came in, hugged me, and told me to go get ready because we had to rush to the airport. He had already booked tickets for the next flight out of Kuala Lumpur to join my mourning kids and my late husband. He didn't say very much but he did the necessary. Every minute of that encounter lingers vividly in my mind though it was some six years ago. I will forever cherish his concern for my welfare.

Ari was a simple village boy of humble beginnings but had high ambitions of becoming a commercial pilot. With the current chatter about MH370 involving big name media organisations like National Geographic, I feel compelled to divulge some information about Captain Zaharie's scholastic ‘prowess’ and academic achievements. I am doing this with some regret knowing that he would not be too happy at this disclosure. Throughout his secondary schooling he was by no means a student genius. In fact he was just an average student. Such being the situation, he certainly didn't have the right foundation to be able to figure out a scheme to hijack his own plane and then to disappear into thin air without leaving a trace.

Without a doubt he had a strong sense for loyalty towards Malaysia Airlines (MAS). His aviation training in the Philippines was sponsored by MAS. It was there he served as a pilot and later as a training captain. He had an unblemished flying record of eighteen thousand plus hours, I am proud to say. It is sheer dedication to this profession that prompted him to set up his own home flight simulator just to equip himself in order to give a better teaching experience to his students, all at his own expense.

As a training captain he often expressed joy and satisfaction with the camaraderie he shared with all his students. Following March 8th 2014, we received feedback from many of these students, both locally and internationally, all in praise of his accommodating ways and generosity at sharing his knowledge. I know for certain Zaharie opted to remain loyal to MAS despite a few challenging offers from other airlines that came his way. It was his love for family that made him want to remain with MAS until his retirement.

When the devastating news of MH370 was broadcast, like everybody else, we were also in a state of shock and disbelieve. The last time we met with Zaharie was some two weeks prior to March 8th when we were together for dinner. He was no different from his normal, usual self. He was loud, jovial, and full of chuckles with his share of jokes. After March 8th, confusion and contradiction of statements by people in authority seemed to be the order of the day. There were so many questions regarding Captain Zaharie by netizens, so in good faith we decided to share some of his remarkable attributes by way of videos with the public.

There were many consoling and enlightening comments. This is very much appreciated but some of the media pounced upon it like hungry starved wolves with their twisted and conniving misinterpretations of the visuals. Disgusting! At one stage we issued a lawyer's letter to a certain local media outlet to put a stop to their rumour mongering.

We continue to pray and hope that this bizarre mystery will unravel soon. We stand firm in the belief that no matter how long the night, dawn will still break. As things stand today, with no tangible evidence to show, NO ONE, be you politician, scientist, aviation expert, plane crash investigator, pilot, retired pilot, media or whoever else... NONE OF YOU have a right to blame Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah for any wrongdoing.

Ari was no ordinary brother to all his siblings. He has a special place in our hearts. We are proud to call him our brother. There are many other wonderful and interesting traits of his which I prefer to keep within the family.

Sakinab Shah

(Sister of Capt. Zaharie Ahmad Shah)

March, 2015.

Wednesday 4 February 2015

TransAsia Aircrash Death Toll Expected to Rise

TransAsia Airways Flight GE235 with 53 passengers and 5 crew on board crashed this morning shortly after taking off from Taipei Airport killing at least 32 people with 11 still missing. The death toll is expected to rise overnight as rescue crews search a Taipei river for bodies washed away in currents or still trapped in the wreckage.

Fifteen people survived the crash after the aircraft — an ATR 72-600 twin turboprop — flew low between buildings, before clipping a taxi and an overpass with the tip of its left wing and crashed upside down in the shallow water. The crash was recorded by a passing motorist on a dashcam. Two people were injured on the ground, both believed to be in the taxi. The domestic Taiwan flight was headed for the island of Kinmen. It is the second crash TransAsia has experienced in the past year. One of its ATR 72-500 planes crashed while trying to land at Penghu Island last July, killing 48 of the 58 passengers and crew on board.

Television footage showed survivors wearing life jackets wading clear of wreckage. Others, including a young child, were taken to shore in inflatable boats. Emergency rescue officials crowded around the partially submerged fuselage of flight GE235, lying on its side in the river, trying to help those on board.

The aircraft somehow managed to miss apartment buildings by meters, though it is still unclear if the pilot was aiming to crash-land in the river. The pilot had told Taipei ATC that he had experienced an engine flameout and declared a 'Mayday, Mayday' almost immediately after take off. The doomed flight lasted less than 4 minutes and never gained enough altitude and power for the pilot to recover control.

Twin-engined aircraft are usually able to keep flying even when one engine failure and the ATR 72-600 was powered by two Pratt & Whitney PW127M turboprop engines. The head of Taiwan's civil aviation authority, Lin Tyh-ming, said the aircraft last was less than a year old and underwent maintenance on January 26th. The pilot had 4,916 flying hours and the co-pilot had 6,922 hours.

France, where the aircraft was designed and built, is sending investigators to help with Taiwan's accident probe. Rescue and recovery crews have already moved much of the aircraft wreckage to the bank of the river using heavy-lifting cranes.

LIVE: Rescue & Recovery of TransAsia GE235

LIVE: Rescue & Recovery of TransAsia GE235 | Keelung River, Taiwan

Sunday 1 February 2015

MH370: News of an Interim Report and More Bureaucratic Misery for Relatives

The investigation team working on the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 will release an interim report of 'a few hundred pages' on March 7th, just one day before the first anniversary of the aircraft's disappearance. It remains unclear if the interim report will contain any new information into what happened MH370 in the early hours of March 8th, 2014.

The Department of Civil Aviation in Malaysia is currently finalising the interim report, which is legally required by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) one year after air accidents, and with an extensive search still on-going in the south Indian Ocean, it would be premature to think it will contain much new information. However, it is an opportunity for Malaysian authorities to bring clarity and detail to an investigation dogged by confusion, conflicting and unsupported claims, and a host of bizarre conspiracy theories.

MH370 vanished on March 8th of last year with 239 passengers and crew on aboard while travelling to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur. Malaysian authorities still maintain, according to satellite data provided by Inmarsat, that the plane detoured far south into the Indian Ocean due to 'deliberate' action by person or persons on-board.

An Australian-led search in the south Indian Ocean involving four vessels are using data from a bathymetric survey to guide underwater equipment to locate the aircraft. So far 18,000 square kilometres (about 30%) of the priority search area has been covered with no sign of the aircraft. The Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) are coordinating the search for the Australian government and continue to maintain that the priority search is on schedule to be completed sometime in May 2015.

On January 29th, Malaysian authorities announced that MH370 was to be deemed an 'accident' and all those on board were 'presumed dead'. The declaration is believed to have been made to clear the way for compensation payments to the families of passengers.

The Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) was supposed to hold a press conference at 3.30pm in Putrajaya, Malaysia, but it was abruptly cancelled shortly after 4pm. A media officer indicated that the press conference had been cancelled due to 'unforeseen circumstances' and may be rescheduled at a later date for 'selected' media. A number of invited relatives of passengers from MH370 had turned up for a closed-door briefing before the media event, however other uninvited relatives also turned up and this was the real reason for the cancellation. Some relatives reported to the gathered media that officials had told them to 'go home and watch it on TV.'

Malaysia officials insisted news that the disappearance of MH370 would be declared an accident and that its passengers declared missing, presumed dead had been relayed by phone and text messages prior to the cancelled press conference.

Thursday 22 January 2015

Investigators Reveal Some Details About Final Minutes of QZ8501 Ahead of Preliminary Report

The Indonesian Ministry of Transport and investigators have begun to release some details about the final minutes before AirAsia Flight QZ8501 crashed into the Java sea o the morning of December 28th, 2014.


06.12 - QZ8501 request an ascent to FL380 from their current FL320 due to a weather front ahead. That's a big ask for any pilot when they have already adopted the flight's cruising altitude.

06.12 - Climb request is denied by ATC due to traffic above them and asked to 'STANDBY' for further instruction. It will be interesting if the information released next Wednesday from the non-public preliminary report discloses what communication ATC had with other traffic over the next two minutes as they try to clear an ascent for QZ8501. There have been reports in the media that Indonesian ATC is sometimes slow to respond to requests of course and altitude changes in their airspace. I've seen one media report delays of up to 25 mins. I think some of these media reports are mischievous because I've seen no evidence of it. The information already available means it certainly DID NOT happen in this case.

06.14 - ATC grant QZ8501 an ascent from FL320 to FL340. There is no response or confirmation of ATC instruction from QZ8501.

06.17 - ATC have now tried 8 times to get confirmation of their last instruction to QZ850 in the space of three minutes.

06.17 - ATC formally declares radio contact with QZ8501 lost. Again, it will be interesting to see what procedure ATC followed at this point.

06.17 (09 secs) - QZ8501 is tracked climbing 300ft in 6 seconds. I don't see anything untoward here, as such. It could have been an updraft, or the cockpit crew now acting on the instruction to climb to FL340, but too busy struggling with an aircraft in difficult conditions. Pilots are trained to control first, then communicate.

06.17 (24 secs) - QZ8501 is tracked climbing 1700ft in 6 seconds. I'm not a radar expert, but the 6 seconds bursts are lightly the radar screen updating with the latest information on the movement of the aircraft. Some of this information is also likely coming from the parameters taken from the Flight Data Recorder recovered. The dramatic climb would have alerted ATC that something isn't right with QZ8501.The ascent is abnormal. It should be steady and gradual.

06.17 (41 secs) - QZ8501 is now at FL360, 2000ft above the advised level from ATC, and 4000ft above its original flight level. The information so far revealed is not exactly clear on WHEN QZ8501 started ascending. The data would suggest it coincided around 06.14 when ATC cleared it to climb but the crew didn't respond and confirm. But I would still like to see data confirming when exactly QZ8501 began climbing - before or after ATC's instruction.

06.17 (54 secs) - QZ8501 is now tracked at FL376. It ascended another 1600ft in 13 seconds. Aircrafts like the Airbus 320 climb normally about 1000-1500ft per minute. If QZ8501 started ascending at 06.14, then it should normally have been at 3000-4500ft above FL320 (FL350 to FL365). It's the bursts of climb in a short space of time that concern me, not the actual altitude the aircraft reached. Yes, the crew have breached the flight level advised, but pilots have to deal with the situation they are in, and the climb is not just about the rate of ascent, but the attitude (angle of ascent) and speed the aircraft was travelling at. If QZ8501 started ascending instead at 06.12, right at the time it requested FL380 due to weather conditions, then the rate of ascent is not nearly as odd as first noted. The real rate of ascent vs speed and capabilities of the A320s climb ceiling of QZ8501 can only be ascertained is if the investigators reveal the parameters from the FDR. Only then we will know if QZ8501 was climbing way outside the recommended capabilities of the A320.

But the greater questions here are why the flight crew attempted a steep climb above a storm front in the area rising to 50,000-53,000ft, how briefed were they on what lay ahead, and was their A320 giving them the correct airspeed and attitude of the aircraft. Accidents like this are normally due to a combination of events, never just one, and I don't believe weather alone took this aircraft down.
06.18 - QZ8501 is now in descent. The aircraft has dropped 1500ft in 6 seconds. It will continue to reach a fall rate of 7900ft per minute. That kind of descent will alert the STALL warning and it's likely the warning was already sounding in the cockpit long before the aircraft actually began to fall. This is a strong indication of engine flame out (the engines simply can't function anymore with the rate of previous ascent and attitude of the aircraft). There will also be other master control warnings sounding and flashing in the cockpit to do with speed and engine failure. The aircraft FMS (Flight Management System), which controls the various auto-pilots, will have already handed back critical manual control of the aircraft). It simply cannot deal with the 10s, probably hundreds, of error warnings in the system.

06.18 - QZ8501's descent is so rapid, radar loses tracking of it at FL240. The aircraft's descent from FL376 likely lasted nothing more than 2 to 3 minutes. There is simply no time to alert the passenger cabin staff to a water impact. And, yet, somehow, the captain of this aircraft somehow managed to clearly wrestle back some control. The debris site and condition of the main fuselage suggests some attempt to put the aircraft in the water in a lateral position, rather than nose-in, which is devastating on impact. The tail broke off first, whether due to tail-in impact with the surface of the Java sea, or the tail literally breaking off with the high rate of descent. The first recovered debris came from the rear of the aircraft - a maintenance case kept in the rear tail; the first bodies from the rear; an emergency rear door blown outwards on breakup or impact or shortly before the aircraft impacted; the evacuation inflation raft on the rear door was not inflated; and the unit to activate inflation was also recovered.

Weather has not been great in the Java sea over the past two days, but efforts are on-going to refloat the main fuselage tomorrow with large inflatable air bags. 5 bodies were recovered today close to the main fuselage, still strapped to their seats, and without life jackets.

Let's us hope all victims of QZ8501 are finally returned to their families where they belong. And let us hope that QZ8501, while our skies are often the safest places to be than the road to the airport, that we refrain from finger-pointing and fix the things that need to be addressed in the aviation industry.

Sunday 11 January 2015

Search Operation for QZ8501 Close to Locating Black Box

The National Search and Rescue Agency (BASARNAS) in Indonesia has successfully managed to lift the tail section of crashed AirAsia Flight QZ8501 from the Java Sea. The operation was helped by improved weather conditions and clear visibility in the search area over the past couple of days. While the operation continues to focus on the recovery of bodies, with 48 now removed from the sea, BASARNAS is confident its team are also close to recovering the two flight recorder boxes.

In Surabaya, the Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) unit of the Indonesian police has announced the identity of a further three passengers. Efforts continue to identified 16 bodies of the 48 so far recovered.

Searchers for the aircraft's debris are also confident that pings detected in recent days — close to the area where the tail of QZ8501 was recovered — are coming from at least one flight recorder. The so-called black box is believed to be wedged between or under pieces of wreckage still on the sea bed. Divers will attempt to extract the black box early on Monday morning if the weather and underwater visibility holds up.