Australian investigators in a recent report said officials tried to contact Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 several times, while experts fear the plane’s “vital equipment” tampered with mid-flight.
The Boeing 777 plane disappeared without a trace in early March with 239 passengers on board.
Australian officials now believe the plane suffered a power outage after it took off from Kuala Lumpur, reported The Mirror. The equipment was tampered with to avoid radar as part of a sabotage, the officials said.
Investigators said the plane’s satellite data unit had attempted to log back on to a satellite 90 minutes after it departed for Beijing.
The findings were detailed in a report on Thursday. It says, “A log-on request in the middle of a flight is not common and can occur for only a few reasons.”
“These include a power interruption to the aircraft satellite data unit (SDU), a software failure, loss of critical systems providing input to the SDU or a loss of the link due to aircraft attitude,” the report said. “An analysis was performed which determined that the characteristics and timing of the log-on requests were best matched as resulting from power interruption to the SDU.”
Peter Marosszeky, with the University of New South Wales, said, “It would have to be a deliberate act of turning power off on certain systems on the aeroplane,” he was quoted as saying. “The aircraft has so many backup systems. Any form of power interruption is always backed up by another system.”
The report, which was commissioned by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), also found that Malaysia Airlines only attempted to contact Flight 370 twice in six hours, according to portal News.com.au.
The website quoted Qantas pilot Richard Woodward as saying that if Malaysia Airlines flooded the plane with contact attempts, there would be a clearer picture of what happened.
“If they’d been calling the plane, the satellite would have tried to log on and the aircraft pinger would have tried to respond,” said Woodward. “That would have given you a distance from the station and they would have got a more accurate idea where the aircraft went. The very act of the pinging would have narrowed down where to look.”
And investigators believe the missing Malaysia Airlines plane flew on autopilot for hours before crashing into a remote part of the Indian Ocean, Australian officials said Thursday as they announced another shift in the search area for the jet.
After analyzing data exchanged between the plane and a satellite, officials believe Flight 370 was on autopilot the entire time it was flying across a vast expanse of the southern Indian Ocean, based on the straight path it took, Australian Transport Safety Bureau chief commissioner Martin Dolan said.
“Certainly for its path across the Indian Ocean, we are confident that the aircraft was operating on autopilot until it ran out of fuel,” Dolan told reporters in Canberra, the nation’s capital.
Asked whether the autopilot would have to be manually switched on, or whether it could have been activated automatically under a default setting, Dolan replied, “The basic assumption would be that if the autopilot is operational it’s because it’s been switched on.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.