Lost Boeing's data feed 'suspect' [Cape Times (South Africa)]
(Cape Times (South Africa) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian authorities said yesterday there was no evidence that a jetliner missing for almost six days flew for hours after losing contact with air traffic controllers and continued to transmit technical data.
The Wall Street Journal said US aviation investigators and national security officials believed the Boeing 777 flew for a total of five hours, based on data automatically downloaded and sent to the ground from its Rolls-Royce Trent engines as part of a standard monitoring programme.
"Those reports are inaccurate," Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told a news conference. "The last transmission from the aircraft was at 1.07am (local time) which indicated that everything was normal."
Boeing and Rolls-Royce have yet to comment.
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, with 239 people on board, dropped off air traffic control screens at about|1.30am on Saturday, less than an hour into a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
There were no reports of bad weather or mechanical problems. It is one of the most baffling mysteries in the history of modern aviation - there has been no trace of the plane since, nor any sign of wreckage despite a search by the navies and military aircraft of over a dozen countries across south-east Asia.
"It's extraordinary that with all the (satellite and telecommunication) technology we've got, an aircraft can disappear like this," Tony Tyler, the head of the International Air Transport Association that links over 90 percent of the world's airlines, told reporters in London.
"It will trigger a desire to see how can we avoid this from happening again… I wouldn't be surprised that the technology didn't exist already but is not being used."
The last definitive sighting of MH370 on civilian radar screens came as the plane flew north-east across the mouth of the Gulf of Thailand.
On Wednesday, Malaysia's air force chief said military radar had traced what could have been the jetliner to an area south of the Thai holiday island of Phuket in the Malacca Strait, hundreds of kilometres to the west of its last known position.
However, he stressed that the plotting had not been|corroborated.
The multinational search team is combing two bodies of water, which total 93 000km², an area the size of Hungary.
Hishammuddin, however, said the focus was on the Gulf of Thailand and the nearby South China Sea, where the plane lost contact.
The US it expected send the world's most advanced maritime surveillance aircraft, the P-8A Poseidon, to join the search later this week.
The Boeing 777 has one of the best safety records of any commercial aircraft in service.
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