Missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 was likely steered off course by someone and was flown to the Southern Indian Ocean for seven hours after its communications were severed, according to a new report (pdf) published on July 30.
But the report from a 19-member international team provided no conclusions as to what really happened, leaving the mystery unsolved.
Flight MH370 disappeared March 8, 2014, as it was going to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur with 239 people on board in one of the greatest aviation mysteries of all time. The wreckage of the plane or its black boxes were never found after years of searching.
Investigators have never been able to explain why the jet abandoned its route to Beijing before going south over the Indian Ocean. The report said that it is difficult to attribute the change in direction to a system failure, and it is “more likely that such maneuvers are due to the systems being manipulated.”
There was insufficient information to determine whether the aircraft broke up in the air or when it crashed into the ocean, the report stated.
“The answer can only be conclusive if the wreckage is found,” Kok Soo Chon, head of the MH370 safety investigation team, told reporters.
Kok said the investigators examined the history of the pilot and the first officer, and they were satisfied with their background and training and mental health.
“We are not of the opinion it could have been an event committed by the pilots,” he said, but added they were not ruling out any possibility since the in-air turn back was done manually and the systems in the plane were also manually turned off.
“We cannot exclude that there was an unlawful interference by a third party,” Kok said.
According to The Guardian, he also emphasized that no terrorist group claimed responsibility.
He added all the passengers of the 15 countries had their backgrounds checked by their respective countries and all came back with a clean bill of health.
The report also concluded that every one of MH370’s emergency locator transmitters had malfunctioned, and they didn’t give off the normal distress signals to help locate the aircraft.
A search carried out by Malaysia, Australia, and China, covered 710,000 square kilometers. The search was suspended in January 2017. A private Texas-based firm reached an agreement with the Malaysian government to search, but that was also stopped in May 2018.
“The disappearance of MH370 and the search effort are unprecedented in commercial aviation history,” the report stated. “Improvements must be undertaken to ensure that this type of event is identified as soon as possible, and mechanisms are in place to track an aircraft that is not following its filed flight plan for any reason.”
It continued to say that “international aviation community needs to provide assurance to the traveling public that the location of current-generation commercial aircraft is always known.” If it does otherwise, it would be “unacceptable,” the report added.
Reuters contributed to this report.