FBI helps analyze deleted data in missing plane probe
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — The FBI joined forces with Malaysian authorities in analyzing deleted data on a flight simulator belonging to the pilot of the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, while distraught relatives of the passengers unleashed their anger Wednesday — wailing in frustration at 12 days of uncertainty.
The anguish of relatives of the 239 people on Flight 370 boiled over at a briefing near Kuala Lumpur's airport. Two Chinese women who shouted at Malaysian authorities and unfurled a banner accusing officials of “hiding the truth” were removed from the room. In a heart-wrenching scene, one woman screamed in sorrow as she was dragged away.
“I want you to help me to find my son! I want to see my son!” one of the two unidentified women said. “We have been here for 10 days.”
Files containing records of flight simulations were deleted Feb. 3 from the device found in the home of the Malaysia Airlines pilot, Capt. Zaharie Ahmad Shah, Malaysian police chief Khalid Abu said.
It was not immediately clear whether investigators thought that deleting the files was unusual. The files might hold signs of unusual flight paths that could help explain where the missing plane went.
Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told a news conference that Zaharie is considered innocent until proven guilty. He said members of the pilot's family are cooperating in the investigation.
Investigators have identified two giant arcs of territory spanning the possible positions of the plane about 7½ hours after takeoff, based on its last faint signal to a satellite. The arcs stretch up as far as Kazakhstan in central Asia and down deep into the southern Indian Ocean.
A source close to the investigation told Reuters that authorities believe the jetliner is likely in the southern corridor. “The working assumption is that it went south, and furthermore that it went to the southern end of that corridor,” said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Meanwhile, a simple computer upgrade that Malaysia Airlines decided not to purchase would have provided critical information to help find the airliner that disappeared 12 days ago.
The upgrade, which wholesales for about $10 per flight, would have provided investigators with the direction, speed and altitude of the plane even after other communications from the plane went dark, said a satellite industry official familiar with the equipment.
Data from a similar computer upgrade allowed investigators in the crash of an Air France jetliner in 2009 to quickly narrow their search area to a radius of about 40 miles in the Atlantic Ocean, and in five days, they found floating evidence of the crash.
The ocean search for the missing Malaysian flight now covers a vast expanse of water, about 2.24 million square nautical miles of the Indian Ocean from the west coast of Malaysia to the waters off Perth, Australia.
The new information indicates that had the upgrade for a system called Swift been installed, it would have continued to send flight data by satellite even after signals from the plane's transponder and Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) went dead.
Investigators say they think those two systems were shut down by a pilot or hijackers in the cockpit before the plane flew on for seven more hours.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Beijing expected to restrict Hong Kong candidates
- With eyes on China, Japan seeks record defense budget
- Mexico operations thwart child, family migrants
- Yemenis protest against Shiites
- Ebola-infected student gives problem to Senegal
- 5 authors of Ebola study died of virus during research
- As German fears grow, Merkel ‘holds line’
- Zimbabwe’s first lady enters politics amidst controversy
- Russian columns enter Ukraine; leader urges calm
- China tells U.S. to cut back surveillance
- Libyan Islamist militias capture Tripoli airport