Malaysia's acting transport minister has sought to allay concerns over the known sequence of events surrounding the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777, insisting that the focus remains on deliberate action.
Hishamuddin Hussein admitted in a press conference on 18 March that, contrary to prior indications, investigators were unable to identify when the ACARS system might have been deactivated on flight MH370.
But he clarified that this information “doesn’t change our belief” that the evidence gathered is “consistent with deliberate action on [the aircraft]”.
With only limited surveillance data available, such as primary radar, the investigation is struggling to narrow the search area for MH370.
China and Kazakhstan are leading the effort in the northern search zone – which has been divided into seven quadrants, each a 400nm square – while Australia and Indonesia are co-operating in the southern Indian Ocean zone.
Malaysia Airlines would not be drawn on whether the flight management system might have been reprogrammed to intercept specific waypoints outside of those normally used for the Kuala Lumpur-Beijing route.
Flickr: U.S. Navy
Chief executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said that, as far as the airline was concerned, the aircraft was “programmed to fly to Beijing”. But he also acknowledged that, once an individual had access to the aircraft, “anything is possible”.