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Desperate call by co-pilot cited as MH370 mysteries mount

April 14, 2014 Aviation, Headline News 1 Comment Email Email

egtmedia59Reports at the weekend that the co-pilot of Malaysia Airlines’ doomed flight MH370 may have tried to make a desperate call before the plane vanished from radar have added another layer of mystery to the greatest aviation enigma of all time.

The hunt for the missing airliner has become the most expensive aviation-related search ever.

In another strange development, it turns out that a system to override pilots in the event of hijack was apparently developed in the aftermath of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attack on New York – and Boeing is named on the patent. The system was claimed by its inventors to allow operators on the ground to override the cockpit in the event of a hijack and fly a plane remotely.

The patent was filed on 19 February 2003 and the US Patent Office records the assignee as The Boeing Company (Chicago, IL). In law an assignee is a person or entity to whom some right or interest is transferred. The patent number is: 7142971 and the patent can be inspected on this US Patent Office link.

That intriguing development aside, Malaysia’s New Straits Times newspaper has reported that the first officer (co-pilot) of MH370, Fariq Abdul Hamid, switched his mobile phone on moments before the plane disappeared from radar.

The paper says Hamid turned off his phone before the plane took off but then “reattached” the phone mid air. The “reattachment” occurred as the plane was passing within signal-reach of the Penang control tower.

The aircraft with 239 people aboard was believed to be flying at an altitude low enough for the nearest telecommunications tower to pick up his phone’s signal.

The newspaper described his mid-air activation of the phone as “a desperate call”.

Hamid last used his phone to send a WhatsApp message at about 11.30pm on 7 March 2014, shortly before boarding the aircraft for his six-hour flight to Beijing.

An unnamed source told the New Straits Times: “The telecomms tower established the call that he was trying to make. On why the call was cut off, it was likely because the aircraft was fast moving away from the tower and had not come under the coverage of the next one.”

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said at the weekend that crews searching for wreckage had significantly narrowed down the search area in the hunt for signals. Authorities are confident the signals are from the missing jet.

News Ltd reported: “The search for missing plane MH370 has been narrowed down to a tiny grid of 40km by 50km.”

Problems are that 40km by 50km is not really a “tiny grid” – especially when the black box pinger batteries are exhausted (as may already be the case) and the area needs to be combed by a camera-fitted robot submarine. The black box is likely to be 4.5 kilometres straight down at the bottom of the sea.

While few facts are known, speculation has reached such fever pitch that the United States felt compelled a few days ago to emphatically deny claims that the missing plane landed at its military base on the remote Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia.

The US issued a statement to counter rumours that the jetliner could have headed for the small coral atoll after it veered off course while travelling between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing on 8 March.

There was no truth in this speculation, a spokesman for the US embassy in the Malaysian capital declared. “MH370 did not land in Diego Garcia.”

Meanwhile, the 2003 patent of the so-called Boeing Uninterruptible Autopilot System is coming under scrutiny and causing much wonder.

A passage in the patent states:

“For instance, an aircraft may be in communication with one or more remote locations, which may include but is not limited to an airline office, an airport, and one or more governmental agencies, such as a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) office, a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) office, a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) office, the office of Homeland Security, a military center, or an anti-terrorist agency office. 

“Personnel and/or equipment at the remote location may monitor the aircraft and may be capable of detecting certain events, such as indications from the flight crew or systems onboard the aircraft and/or movements of the aircraft that suggest the security of the aircraft is in jeopardy. 

“Thus, one or more automatic and/or manual engagement elements may be located at the remote location, such that once it is determined that the security of the air vehicle is in jeopardy, the automatic flight control system of the air vehicle may be automatically or manually engaged from the remote location by transmitting an activation signal to the processing element.”

Written by Peter Needham

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. angelique says:

    many have seen these supposed rumours. however it is understandable for people to be questioning and especially of those in the Maldives that saw a Malaysian aircraft flow low over their islands on that dreadful day and another person who had seen a flash/fire in the sky some time later. Seems that the cargo manifest has gone missing too for the flight. No wonder rumours float about. All the people want is the truth. Whatever that may be

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