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MISSING MH370: 'Pings' are no secret to us, says senior pilot
Publication Date : 17-03-2014
New questions have emerged as authorities try to piece together the jigsaw puzzle over whether MH370 was deliberately commandeered, and where the aircraft could now be.
A senior Malaysian pilot said aviators with good technical know-how would be aware that their aircraft would continue to send “pings” to satellites even after the transponder and Aircraft Communications and Reporting System (ACARS) had been switched off.
“If you are a pilot and have technical knowledge, you know the data will continue to go through. We, as pilots, know about it and it is not a secret.”
On where the aircraft could be, following the announcement that it might be on one of two arcs stretching from the southern part of the Indian Ocean to Central Asia, the pilot said it was hard to determine as it involved a huge area.
However, he said, it was highly unlikely that an aircraft could fly undetected over countries such as Thailand or Kazakhstan. “This is because these countries would respond to the unidentified incoming aircraft on their civilian and military radars,” he said.
“When I fly into Kazakhstan, for example, I will have to inform their air traffic controller 10 minutes before I enter their airspace,” said the senior pilot, a close friend of MH370’s Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah.
On criticisms that investigations should have checked earlier if Zaharie had practised air turn-back manoeuvres on his home flight simulator, the pilot believed the authorities were following correct protocol.
“Going to the location where the communications were lost with the aircraft would be among the first things on their minds,” he said.
“The fact is, in the initial stages there was no confirmed indication of a turn-back and that the aircraft may have flown along either of the two arcs.”
With the probe now refocusing on the crew and passengers, Zaharie’s background has gained much media attention. The British-based Daily Mail, for instance, said he was a “political fanatic”.
The senior pilot said such insinuations were uncalled for. “He is a highly-respected professional whom I have worked with for over more than three decades. He genuinely cares for the well-being of others. Many of his colleagues, including myself, knows his character.”