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MAS re-enacts fatal flight as witch doctors visit KL airport

March 17, 2014 Aviation, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59The extraordinary saga of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 took yet another dramatic turn at the weekend, with Malaysia re-enacting the flight of the missing Boeing 777-200ER. The airline also stated officially that the plane, with 239 people aboard, had been deliberately diverted and then flown for hours toward an unknown point.

The chilling news that the disappearance was deliberate means that either the pilots – or someone else who gained access to the cockpit – apparently flew the plane for as long as seven hours.

Whoever it was, they shut down the plane’s communications channels and switched off the aircraft’s  transponder (a type of radio or radar transmitter/receiver that transmits signals automatically when it receives predetermined signals). The plane thus could have reached anywhere from the Himalayas to the  southern Indian Ocean.

Investigators probing the flight’s disappearance have piloted an identical B777-200 on the missing plane’s suspected flight path, in a re-enactment confirming their belief that it banked west, a senior Malaysian military official said yesterday.

The re-enactment aimed to determine whether the radar and satellite data that it generated matches up with data on MH370’s flight.

Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak confirmed at the weekend that the plane’s systems had been gradually switched off as the aircraft flew far to the west of its planned flight path before disappearing.

Najib said data from the plane’s last known satellite contact meant it could have headed along flight corridors stretching as far north as Kazakhstan or as far south as the southern Indian Ocean.

“These movements are consistent with deliberate action by someone on the plane,” Najib said.

The mystery has now become the most gripping in world aviation history – and the anguish felt by the relatives of those missing must be unimaginable.

As aviation experts pondered and search parties from many nations combed the seas, a  group of Malaysian shamans, or witch doctors, gathered at Kuala Lumpur International Airport and performed rituals “to weaken the bad spirits so rescuers could find the plane if it had crashed”.

The group was led by Bomoh Ibrahim Mat Zin, a famous shaman, or bomoh, known as “the king of the witch doctors”. Accompanied by several assistants, the bomoh  reportedly used two coconuts, a magical walking stick and a magic carpet. Fairfax NZ quoted the witch doctor saying the plane had flown into the “alam bunian” – a Malay description for a spiritual realm inhabited by supernatural beings.

The reports filled Malaysia’s Opposition leader, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, with fury.

“Who allowed them [the witch doctors] there?” he demanded. “Can’t you see how stupid we look in the eyes of the world?”

In other developments: 

  • Industry observers say MAS will have to do some skilful marketing in coming weeks and months to counter fallout from the disaster. Having a plane vanish into thin air is not good for the brand or company reputation, to put it mildly. 
  • A senior American official noted that a “significant load” of lithium batteries had been aboard the plane. Previous cargo-plane crashes have been attributed to lithium battery shipments, which can overheat and cause fires – but that doesn’t square with latest news that the plane kept flying for hours after it vanished from radar. 
  • A series of errors prevented military planes being dispatched to track the missing plane after it was detected at its last radar position. The plane’s continued existence could be confirmed afterwards by engine performance signals sent to a satellite, but the plane’s position could not be determined. 
  • Friends and family say the first officer (co-pilot) of the missing plane, Fariq Abdul Hamid, 27, was religious and dedicated to his career. The Sydney-based Nine Network had aired allegations and photos indicating that Fariq, in the company of a fellow pilot, broke MAS rules in 2011 by allowing two young South African women into their cockpit during a flight, flirting with them and smoking. 
  • Chinese state media reported that researchers detected a “seafloor event” between Malaysia and Vietnam 90 minutes after flight MH370 disappeared. It was the type of event that could have been caused by a plane plunging into the ocean, reports stated. 
  • Investigators are hoping to glean further information from the Aircraft Communications and Reporting System (ACARS), which sends digital data-link signals on major aircraft operating systems such as engines.

Written by Peter Needham

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