The Indian P-8 Participates in the Search for Malaysian Airlines Flight 370


2014-03-25 The Pacific is a big place.

The search for the missing Malaysian Airlines Flight MH 370 only underscored how vast and difficult an area to operate in the Pacific is.

The Indians have enhanced the reach of the navy to operate into the Pacific more effectively.

Part of this enhanced capability is the acquisition and operation of the new P-8 maritime surveillances system, which will become a broader capability as the Australians and the US engage in ways to share data among a fleet of P-8s, as appropriate to the needs of national sovereignty.

The Indian P-8 during the search. Credit: India Strategic
The Indian P-8 during the search. Credit: India Strategic

In a piece just published by our partner India Strategic, the search for the Malaysian airliner is discussed with the tragic conclusions.

Kuala Lumpur. The Malaysian Government has confirmed with terrible finality that the missing Malaysian Airlines Flight MH 370 crashed in southern Indian Ocean, hours after it took off from Kuala Lumpur for Beijing on March 8.

Prime Minister Najib Razak announced March 24 that the conclusion was based on data provided by global satellite company INMARSAT, whose analysis indicated that the Boeing 700-200 flew some 2000 km south west of Malaysia , deep into the southern Indian Ocean .

The INMARSAT presentation was led by officials of the British Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB).

Mr Razak expressed “deep sadness and regret” adding that families of those on board had been informed.

There were no answers to the many WHYs but many aviation experts observe that the course of the Kuala Lumpur-Beijing flight towards tragedy was set by human hands for possible suicide or mass murder of the 239 passengers and crew on board.

Nonetheless, till the Flight Data Recorder, commonly known as the Black Box, is recovered, it would be near impossible to ascertain what exactly happened in the cockpit of the aircraft and was the diversion voluntary or forced.

The information though may still not be conclusive as the Cockpit Voice Recorder and Flight Data Recorder in the Black Box work in a loop, erasing data after a fixed time while loading new data. The aircraft flew for about seven hours, and data available may only be of the last two hours.

The Boeing 777-200, a sophisticated and reliable aircraft, took a V-turn South-West deep towards the Indian Ocean, and just before the diversion, someone or somehow, the transponders of the aircraft were switched off. It appears though while it descended for a short while, it flew back to the normal height of around 30,000 feet that the jets take to optimize fuel consumption, and continued flying till it plunged into the waters.

P-8i SAR track during the search. Credit: India Strategic
P-8i SAR track during the search. Credit: India Strategic

Said Razak: They (AAIB representatives) informed me that INMARSAT, the UK company that provided the satellite data which indicated the northern and southern corridors, has been performing further calculations on the data. Using a type of analysis never before used in an investigation of this sort, they have been able to shed more light on MH370’s flight path.”

“Based on their new analysis, INMARSAT and the AAIB have concluded that MH370 flew along the southern corridor, and that its last position was in the middle of the Indian Ocean, west of Perth,” he said.

INMARSAT runs a sophisticated network of satellites for navigating shipping and aviation industry. It did an analysis of the pings – or satellite signals that could not have been switched off from the cockpit – picked up from the aircraft and formally briefed the Malaysian Prime Minister March 24 of the terrible conclusion.

Mr Razak said that the position of the crash point “is a remote location, far from any possible landing sites,” and so it had to be assumed that there were no survivors.

“It is therefore with deep sadness and regret that I must inform you that, according to this new data, Flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean.”

Notably, Australian aircraft have sighted debris, some in orange color and possibly that of the escape chutes, along with three other large pieces in the suspected area of crash. GPS locaters and flares have been dropped there and ships from US and Australia were on way to pick the debris, some of which should be picked up by March 25 despite the extreme weather conditions.

Vessels from China, Japan and South Korea were also reportedly in the vicinity.

A total of 26 countries including India have been involved in the search in different areas of the Indian Ocean as designated and coordinated by Malaysia.

The Indian Navy sent its most sophisticated aircraft, a Boeing P8-I Long Range Maritime Patrol (LRMR) aircraft while the Indian Air Force (IAF) sent a C 130J Super Hercules to Subong in Malaysia, from where they took flights in designated area 950 and 1300 nm away since March 23rd.

Most of the passengers on board the ill-fated airliner were Chinese. There were five Indians on board, including parents of an expatriate son who is married to a Chinese lady and working in China. They were going to meet the young couple.

Reprinted with permission of India Strategic.

© India Strategic

For earlier pieces on the P-8 see the following: