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MH370: M'sia releases raw data

Publication Date : 28-05-2014


Malaysia has released a report containing raw satellite data that had been used to determine the last position of the missing Malaysia Airlines plane in the southern Indian Ocean, weeks after families of the passengers and crew demanded that it be made public.

This comes as reports said that the underwater search for MH370 is expected to be put on hold this week and will resume only in August at the earliest.

The 47-page report released yesterday contains a list of automated signals or "handshakes" emitted by the missing plane and captured by British satellite firm Inmarsat.

Frustration has been growing that a multinational search in the past two months failed to find any wreckage in a part of the ocean pinpointed by the satellite data.

The technical report was sent out by e-mail yesterday to the families of the 239 passengers and crew. Some family members uploaded it on social media in the hope of getting independent analysis of the data.

The Malaysian government has insisted that it has nothing to hide and had promised to release information about the missing jet. Early this month, it released a five-page preliminary report that contained details of communication among air traffic controllers when the plane disappeared.

In a statement yesterday, the Department of Civil Aviation said Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein had on May 19 instructed the department to discuss with Inmarsat the release of the data. Inmarsat had provided the information to pinpoint MH370's last known position using data retrieved from its satellite network.

"As a result, the data communication logs from Inmarsat as well as the relevant explanation to enable the reader to understand the data provided are being released," it said.

Satellite data was used as part of complex calculations by experts to conclude that the plane had continued flying for hours after it failed to contact air traffic control less than one hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur in the early hours of March 8.

On that day, the Inmarsat satellite received six "handshakes" and another partial "handshake" from the aircraft, with the last recorded about 8:19am.

Analysts such as Shukor Yusof of Endau Analytics said the satellite data is "highly technical" and requires an expert to make sense of it. "There are very few people who can make head or tail as to what the numbers indicate," he was quoted by Agence France-Presse as saying yesterday.

The report does not appear to have placated some families.

Selamat Umar, 60, whose son Mohd Khairul Amri was on the Beijing-bound plane, said he was disappointed the report did not reveal anything new and was difficult to understand.

"The report does not give us renewed confidence that the plane is in the location as suggested by the data," he told The Straits Times yesterday.

CNN reported that the search would be suspended while the Australian government called for tenders, a process that could take two months or more.

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