Authorities investigating the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 believe that the co-pilot attempted to make a call with his cell, after the plane was diverted from its original route on March 8, according to a report in Malaysia’s New Straits Times (NST).
The anonymous sources say that a cellphone tower picked up a call from Flight MH370’s co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid, about 200 nautical miles northwest of the west coast of Penang, located in the Malaysian Peninsula by the Strait of Malacca, where the original search took place and where the last radar signal was picked up by military radar at around 2:15 am local time.
According to New Straits Times, the source says:
“The telco’s (telecommunications company’s) tower established the call that he was trying to make. On why the call was cut off, it was likely because the aircraft was fast moving away from the tower and had not come under the coverage of the next one.”
From the beginning, both the pilot and co-pilot of Flight MH370 have been under suspicion due to the fact that the transponder and ACARS were disabled by someone in the cockpit, presumably to avoid radar detection.
Experts say there is no reason for those two pieces of equipment to be turned off, unless there is some other motive to do so.
The report also indicated that Flight MH370 was moving at a low altitude over the Strait of Malacca — where investigators originally thought it went down — low enough for the tower to pick up Hamid’s cellphone signal. However, the call ended abruptly.
No information on whom Hamid was trying to communicate with was given.
Investigators have established that the co-pilot’s last call was made using the WhatsApp messenger service, which allows users to make calls without having to pay for SMS and is popular with international travelers, at around 11.30 pm on March 7, hours before boarding Flight MH370 for what was supposed to be a six-hour trip to Beijing, China.
The NST also reports that investigators probing the disappearance of Flight MH370 determined that the co-pilot’s last call was made to one of his regular contacts.
Different sources told the publication that the co-pilot’s cellphone connection had been “detached” prior to take off:
“This is usually the result of the phone being switched off. At one point, however, when the airplane was airborne, between waypoint Igari and the spot near Penang (just before it went missing from radar), the line was ‘reattached’.”
“A ‘reattachment’ does not necessarily mean that a call was made. It can also be the result of the phone being switched on again.”
One of Flight MH370 co-pilot’s cousins said that if he made a call before taking off on a trip, it would be to his mother, with whom he was very close.
Investigators have not cleared any of the 239 people on board Flight MH370, including the pilot and co-pilot, as they continue to comb through data in an effort to find out why the Malaysian Airlines plane changed course and vanished into thin air over a month ago.
[Image via Pingbusuk.org]