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The Star Online: Nation

Missing MH370: All signals can be killed by accessing electronics system

Posted: 18 Mar 2014 09:00 AM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Communications could be lost if the electronics system, located below the passenger deck of the missing Flight MH370 is tampered with, says an industry source.

He said a person with aviation knowledge would know where to head to access the electronics system.

"The person can pull any circuit breaker, including (the one for) communications. You can disconnect anything that can transmit signals from the aircraft. This would cut off all communication system, including the phones on board," he told The Star yesterday.

The lower compartment, which is located in the belly of the plane, can be accessed through a trapdoor found at the business class section.

"The entry to the lower compartment is right underneath the plane's front door as passengers board the plane," the source added.

He said the standard practice to passengers asking them to switch off mobile phones during take-off and landing was to avoid interrupting signals from the cockpit.

When asked if the manipulation of the electronics system could interrupt the control systems in the cockpit, the source said: "Yes, of course."

The source was responding to a news report by The New York Times that said passengers of the missing flight MH370 could have been prevented from making calls from their mobile phones due to high altitude.

It quoted Vincent Lau, an electronics professor specialising in wireless communications at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, who said the high altitude might have prevented the mobile phones from connecting to base stations on the ground.

The report compared the "silence" on Flight MH370, which until today, has no records of phone calls, Twitter, Weibo or Instagram postings by its passengers, to the four airplanes that were hijacked on Sept 11, 2001.

The New York Times said passengers and flight attendants on the four flights turned on cellphones and airphones and made frantic calls to the outside world as the planes flew low across the countryside toward New York and Washington.

"Base station signals spread out considerably over a distance. So cellphones in a plane a few miles up, like Flight 370, would receive little if any signal," he said.

The Chinese news media have reported some instances of people calling cellphones of passengers of the missing plane and hearing ring tones but telecommunications experts have dismissed the notion that the handphones were still in use.

Missing MH370: ‘US doing all it can to help Malaysia’

Posted: 18 Mar 2014 09:00 AM PDT

PETALING JAYA: The United States is using relevant information from its military and civilian satellites to help the Government in the search and rescue (SAR) operations to locate the missing MH370 jetliner.

"I know the Malaysian Government is using all the information they can get. We are assisting as much as possible," said US 7th Fleet public affairs officer Commander William J. Marks yesterday. Support is pouring in for Malaysia from countries involved in the SAR effort to locate the plane which went off the radar while flying to Beijing on March 8.

Marks said over the last week, the US with its assets had virtually scoured over the northern Indian Ocean and the Andaman Sea and would now expand its search to the southern Indian Ocean.

"A P3 Orion plane will be based in Thailand and a P8 plane will be based in Australia to cover more ground," he said.

He said the USS Kidd navy ship had finished its search mission from the Straits of Malacca to the northern Andaman sea but did not find any debris or wreckage.

Senior Colonel Titawat Satiantip, the defence and army attaché with the Royal Thai Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, said the Thai Armed Forces would provide necessary data from its radar system to Malaysia in order to confirm the passing of MH370.

"Such information may need time to be analysed as well. The air force said its radar system had not detected the plane," Satiantip said.

He said the Thai armed forces would continue to cooperate with Malaysia until the plane is found.

Bangladesh High Commission defence attaché Mohd Abul Bashar said his country is committed to help Malaysia in the operations.

"We thank the Malaysian Government for sharing their data with us and we would also share our data if needed," said Mohd Abul.

A total of 26 countries are involved in the operation to locate the jetliner which disappeared on March 8 carrying 239 passengers and crew.

British High Commissioner to Malaysia Simon Featherstone said the United Kingdom would continue to assist the Malaysian investigation team in its effort to locate the plane.

He said a team with a Rolls Royce engine expert deployed by the UK's Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) was already in Malaysia assisting the Malaysian Department of Civil Aviation.

"The AAIB team and experts from Inmarsat have worked closely with Malaysian and US experts to identify flight MH370's likely final destination along an arc ranging from Kazakhstan to the southern Indian Ocean."

Missing MH370: Impossible to hide plane with electronic warfare tech, says expert

Posted: 18 Mar 2014 09:00 AM PDT

PETALING JAYA: It is "impossible" for the MH370 aircraft to be hidden from radar using electronic warfare technology, said an electromagnetics expert.

University of Toronto researcher Dr George Eleftheriades, an expert in cloaking technology, explained that the technology was still in its infancy and thus not easily available.

"This invisibility technology is still in the laboratory stage and not readily available. Moreover, it would seem impossible to fit the airplane with such a cloak while in flight.

"Therefore, I firmly believe such a possibility is out of the question in explaining the disappearance of the plane," he said.

Speculations have been rife, especially on various news portals, about the possibility that the missing aircraft could have been "hidden" using cutting-edge electronic warfare technology that can hide a plane from the radar.

Fuelling further speculation was the fact that there were 20 experts from US-based company Freescale Semiconductor, which manufactures hi-tech weapons systems and aircraft navigation, on the plane.

CNN reported in November last year on a cloaking technology for large objects by Eleftheriades and Michael Selvanayagam.

The researchers found a new way to cloak an object using tiny antennas and published a paper on it in the journal Physical Review X.

This method does not make objects invisible to the human eye but makes them undetectable by radar.

While the researchers said the technology only worked for radio waves at the moment, they said the same principles could be applied to other waves and potentially hide an object from the human eye.

Another report by Fox News in November last year stated that China and the United States were racing to develop a new technology that can make airplanes invisible not only to radar but also to the human eye.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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