Malaysia ignored data by Inmarsat on MH370

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KUALA LUMPUR: Authorities in Malaysia initially dismissed leads from British satellite firm Inmarsat on the day Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 was reported missing, The West Australian reported yesterday, saying the decision meant “critical days were lost” in the search for the plane.

In an exclusive report, the daily quoted British sources as saying that Malaysian authorities rebuffed Inmarsat’s findings that the plane, which left Kuala Lumpur for Beijing on March 8 carrying 239 people, was in the southern Indian Ocean.

“They didn’t want to know,” the paper quoted the source.

After an initial confusion over the plane’s final route, the southern Indian Ocean off Perth became the centre of an international effort to locate the plane, a week after its disappearance.

The daily said it was only when Britain’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch took Inmarsat’s findings seriously that Malaysian authorities changed their minds five days later.

“It also took days before Malaysian military radar tracking data was made available,” the report added.

Inmarsat’s calculation has also come under scrutiny. Failure to find any wreckage of the plane after months of aerial and deep-sea searches led to many questioning the area of the search as pinpointed by Inmarsat.

This led to calls on Putrajaya to release raw data to allay doubts about the plane’s final resting place.

Three ships are currently scouring what is called a priority search zone, a 60,000 sq km arc off Western Australia.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) last week released the first picture of the area’s seabed.

“The image is a synthetic aperture sonar acoustic image of the sea floor gathered by GO Phoenix,” said ATSB, referring to one of the search vessels. — The Malaysian Insider

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on December 16, 2014.