DANIEL MILLS - The grieving family of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 have criticised the timing of a new book that claims the plane may have been accidentally shot down and the search for survivors covered up.
The family of missing Brisbane man Rod Burrows say they are at pains to understand how still, after 71 days of ongoing global search efforts, no one knows what happened to the missing plane which vanished on March 8 and how a book could be released so soon after.
Flight MH370: The Mystery makes the incredible claim that the airline was shot down by US-Thai joint strike fighters accidentally as part of a training drill gone horribly wrong.
The book goes on to claim the search party was purposely sent in the wrong direction as part of a cover up. Irene Burrows, Rod’s mother, told the Sun Herald that the book had been released too soon, and that despite the speculation, it offers no concrete answers.
‘There’s absolutely no answers,’ she said. ‘It’s devastating for the families, it’s been 10 weeks tomorrow and there’s nothing.’
She said both her and husband George are still trying to comprehend what happened, and that a book full of conspiracies released just 71 days after its disappearance, does nothing to alleviate the pain of losing their son. But according to the book’s author, Nigel Cawthorne, there may never be a clear answer. He writes in the book how the Burrows, and hundreds more in their situation, will ‘almost certainly’ never know the real story behind how the ill-fated plane vanished on March 8.
He writes: ‘Did they die painlessly, unaware of their fate? Or did they die in terror in a flaming wreck, crashing from the sky in the hands of a madman?’
It is then that Cawthorne makes the incredible assertion that the plane was shot down accidentally over the South China Sea by a joint US-Thai joint strike fighter team, and the searchers sent in the wrong direction as part of a cover up.
He describes how a man, while working on an oil rig in the ocean at about the same time the plane’s transponder went off, saw a burning plane and how this was right near the military exercise being conducted with personnel from various other countries.
He claims that these countries may have then sent searchers in the wrong direction in order to cover their tracks. ‘After all, no wreckage has been found in the South Indian Ocean, which in itself is suspicious.’
He said with the amount of disinformation regarding MH370, it is best to be sceptical. Cawthorne also raises more doubt into toe plane’s disappearance, claiming it could have been located if its tracking software had been upgraded - something that costs just £6 ($10) per flight.
According to Cawthorne the Boeing 777-200ER had a ‘data package’ that only transmitted the most basic flight information, so authorities weren’t able to get a GPS fix on it. For just $10, however, this package could have been improved, the book says, resulting in far more detailed information about the 777’s movements being pinged.
‘For US$10, you could have told within half an hour’s flying time where the plane would have gone,’ a source told the paper.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, meanwhile, has called for real-time tracking of planes and improvements to their communication systems to prevent a repeat of the 370 tragedy.
In an opinion piece published on Wednesday in the Wall Street Journal, Najib called for changes that would ‘make it harder for an aircraft to simply disappear, and easier to find any aircraft that did.’
‘One of the most astonishing things about this tragedy is the revelation that an airliner the size of a Boeing 777 can vanish, almost without a trace. In an age of smartphones and mobile Internet, real-time tracking of commercial airplanes is long overdue,’ he said.
Inmarsat Plc, a British provider of global mobile satellite communications services, said Monday it will offer free basic tracking services for planes flying over oceans. The service will be available to most of the world’s long-haul commercial fleet.
The Malaysian plane sent a signal to an Inmarsat satellite, but not location data. Engineers conducted a novel analysis of those signals to determine the plane’s flight path, but the effort took time. Najib also urged the aviation industry to consider changing planes’ communications systems so that they can’t be disabled midair. The government has said someone severed the plane’s communication systems with the ground and deliberately diverted Flight 370.
He said the capacity of the cockpit data recorder, one of a plane’s two black boxes, should be extended from two hours currently to recording the entire flight, while its location beacons should be made to last at least 90 days, instead of 30 days now.
‘The global aviation industry must not only learn the lessons of MH370 but implement them,’ he added. Najib reiterated that Flight 370 was one of world’s greatest aviation mysteries. ‘Nobody saw this coming, nobody knows why it happened, and nobody knows precisely where it is,’ he said.
He said the government has done its best but admitted there were mistakes in the early days of the crisis, with a disorderly public communication and a slow start to search efforts. He said an independent investigation is ongoing so the government can learn from mistakes. Najib assured families of passengers that Malaysia will ‘keep searching for the plane for as long as it takes.’
Australia is leading the search, which is moving into a second phase in which commercial underwater operators will be contracted to scour a vast expanse of seabed with sonar equipment looking for wreckage for the next one year.
An Australian ship on Tuesday returned to the area where underwater sounds consistent with black boxes were heard in April, the search coordination centre said. The ship had returned to port briefly to be resupplied. The Ocean Shield is carrying a robot submarine, the Bluefin 21, to survey the ocean floor. –Daily Mail