Missing MH370: Going 'from chess board to football field'

Missing MH370: Going 'from chess board to football field'

PETALING JAYA - The US military will search areas in the Indian Ocean following indications that MH370 might have crashed there.

According to a CNN report quoting an unnamed Pentagon source, the missing aircraft was believed to have sent several "pings" to satellites between four and five hours after the last transponder signal was detected.

Commercial airliners have Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS), which is programmed to automatically send out bursts of simple messages to ground stations via radio or satellite service data systems.

It has been suggested that based on the ACARS information, radar data and fuel load, the plane could have flown in the opposite direction of its original flight path and headed towards the Indian Ocean.

He likened the search for the aircraft now as going "from a chess board to a football field", as the Indian Ocean is the third largest body of water in the world.

In a US Navy 7th Fleet statement posted on the website of the US Embassy in Malaysia, it said a P-8A Poseidon aircraft would be in the search area today, although the exact area was not specified.

The P-8A Poseidon, built on the Boeing 737 airframe, acts as a multi-mission aircraft capable of undertaking maritime intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

"For a mission such as the MH370 search, the P-8 will typically fly at 5,000 to 10,000 feet (1,524m to 3,048m) at 350 knots (648kph), with a search time of approximately eight to nine hours depending on distance to search area," the statement read.

It also said that the USS Pinckney has been diverted to Singapore for planned maintenance and routine voyage repairs.

"With the search area expanding into the Strait of Malacca, Pinckney is not currently needed until follow-on information is available and planning occurs.

"She will continue searching during her transit south," it said.

As for the P-3C Orion, it would remain on station to assist the search and be rotated with the P-8 daily.

"This move adds the P-8s enhanced technology and greater range to the search efforts while maximising planned maintenance and safeguarding against air crew fatigue for both aircraft," it added.

Commander William Marks of the US Navy's 7th Fleet, told CNN that the plane could have crashed in the Indian Ocean.

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