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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Malaysia Airlines: No Filipino aboard plane that went missing

No Filipino was aboard a Malaysia Airlines flight that went missing while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing early Saturday.
A statement released by the airline before noon (Manila time) did not indicate any Filipino aboard Flight MH370.
"The flight was carrying a total number of 239 passengers and crew – comprising 227 passengers (including two infants), 12 crew members. The passengers were of 14 different nationalities," it said, adding these included:

1. China: 152 plus 1 infant
2. Malaysia: 38
3. Indonesia: 12
4. Australia: 7
5. France: 3
6. United States: 3 people plus 1 infant
7. New Zealand: 2
8. Ukraine: 2
9. Canada: 2
10. Russia: 1
11. Italy: 1
12. Taiwan: 1
13. Netherlands: 1
14. Austria: 1

Earlier, airline officials said in a statement that Flight MH370 disappeared Saturday at 2:40 a.m. local time.
The plane, a Boeing 777-200, left Kuala Lumpur just after midnight Saturday, and had been due to arrive in Beijing at 6:30 a.m. local time.
It also branded as "speculation" information that the aircraft has landed in Nanming.
The airline said the flight was piloted by Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53, a Malaysian working for the airline since 1981 and who had logged 18,365 flying hours.
It said First Officer Fariq Ab.Hamid, a Malaysian, 27, logged 2,763 flying hours and joined Malaysia Airlines in 2007.
"Our focus now is to work with the emergency responders and authorities and mobilize its full support. Our thoughts and prayers are with all affected passengers and crew and their family members," the airline said.
Earlier, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs on Saturday said it is now checking if Filipinos were among the 239 people aboard a Malaysian Airlines flight bound for Beijing that lost contact with air traffic control after leaving Malaysia's capital Kuala Lumpur.
In a text message to GMA News Online, Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said they are now checking with the Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur.
In a update released Saturday morning, Malaysia Airlines said the flight carrying a total of 239 people – 227 passengers, including two infants, and 12 crew members.
However, it assured that Malaysia Airlines has called the relatives of the passengers and crew.
"Malaysia Airlines is currently working with the authorities who have activated their Search and Rescue team to locate the aircraft," it added.

It also said the public may contact +603 7884 1234.

Media queries may be directed to +603 8777 5698/ +603 8787 1276.

As the mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 deepens and investigators remain baffled, a senior official of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines speculated that the plane's disappearance could be the result of pilot suicide.
CAAP deputy director general John Andrews noted that none of the pilots communicated any distress prior to the disappearance. He explained that a suicidal pilot could have locked out other crew members from the cockpit before making a sharp descent.
"This is only hypothetical… [it would not be] the first time that it has happened… Again, there was no communication made," he said in an interview on GMA News TV's "News To Go" on Tuesday.
With still few clues about what happened, Andrews said pilot suicide seemed as likely as any other cause of what is unfolding as one of the greatest mysteries in aviation history.
Eight incidents of pilot suicide
Since 1976, eight incidents of pilot suicide have been recorded, according to the Aviation Safety Network.
The latest case occurred last year, when LAM Mozambique Airlines Flight TM-470 crashed in Bwabwata National Park in Namibia, killing 27 passengers and six crew members.
The case of pilot suicide that took the most number of lives was that of EgyptAir Flight 990 in 1999, in which 217 passengers and crew were killed.
According to the Washington Post, aviation experts were looking into pilot suicide as a possible cause of the plane's disappearance.
No electronic trail
Andrews explained that the transponder, which continuously sends out signals so that radar sites will be able to pick up a plane's position and altitude, can only be turned off by the pilot.
He added that if the airplane nose-dived from about 35,000 feet towards the sea, the pilot would still have had enough time to send a distress call.
Past midnight on Saturday, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 lost contact with air traffic controllers about an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur en route to Beijing. There were 227 passengers and 12 crew on board the Boeing 777-20ER, a plane with an excellent safety record.
Terrorism unlikely
Andrews noted that a mid-air explosion due to mechanical failure or terrorism was "very unlikely" because the debris should have been seen by this time.
"Kung kunyari sumabog ang eroplano, wala talaga makakatawag. Kung sumabog sa taas more than six miles in the air, 'yung debris nakakalat… lulutang yan sa tubig," he said.
"[Midair explosion] is something very, very unlikely. Such a thing actually almost never happens,” he said.
Andrews added that if terrorists were involved, the pilot would have send a distress call if anyone unauthorized tried to enter the cockpit.
"Kung meron attempt to go inside the cockpit, aside from being practically bulletproof, hindi pwedeng pasukin talaga just up there, if they try to open the cockpit that will give the pilot enough time to issue a distress call," he further explained.
"I think with that it can be possible [to] rule out a terrorist act or a mid-air explosion," he concluded.
Meanwhile, Reuters reported that Thai police believe the two passengers who boarded the flight using stolen passports may not have been terrorists but asylum seekers.
The Boeing 777 has a solid safety record.  According to Reuters, if Flight 370 has crashed, it would mark only the 777's second fatal incident, but the first occurred just last year, when an Asiana Airlines Boeing 777-200ER crash-landed in San Francisco in July, killing three passengers. The Asiana flight was the 777's first fatal crash since it entered service 19 years ago.
Other mysterious disappearances
Like many aviation experts, Andrews was mystified that there was no electronic trail, given that the airplane has a number of back-up systems.
"Whoever is the end receiver of this should have data," Andrews said.
Search teams continue to scour the seas for a trace of Flight 370.
According to Time magazine, there have been mysterious disappearances in aviation history before.
The latest incident was Air France Flight 447, a flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris that crashed into the Atlantic Ocean in 2009, killing all 228 passengers and crew on board. It took five days to search for the wreckage and another three years to conclude the investigation.
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