Robert Harneis –TDO-(FRANCE)- French aviation authorities are to open a new investigation into the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, days after a report effectively cleared the pilots of any deliberate act to bring the plane down.
The SR-GTA — the research section of the Gendarmerie of Air Transport — wants to re-examine the satellite data or "pings" that led earlier investigators to conclude the plane crashed somewhere along an imaginary arc in the Indian Ocean, after veering off-course on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in March 2014.
The French authority said the presence of four French citizens on board allowed it to carry out its own inquiry, according to a report in Le Parisien newspaper.
The French decision comes a week after Malaysian investigators released their latest report into the plane's disappearance in March 2014, which found there was no evidence to implicate the two pilots in a deliberate act to bring the plane down. Instead it raised the possibility of unlawful "intervention by a third party", but failed to say who such a third party could be.
The French report said the SR-GTA wants to verify the accuracy or authenticity of the satellite "pings" and all original technical data provided by the British satellite communications company Inmarsat, reported Le Parisien. It was Inmarsat that used communications between the plane and its satellite over several hours on the morning of 8 March 2014 to try to determine a possible crash site.
An Inmarsat spokesperson said "I can confirm that, via the UK authorities, we have been approached by the French investigation team," the spokesperson said. We will be supporting their enquiry and are on standby to answer any questions that the French investigation team may have." In response to specific questions about satellite data the spokesperson answered, "It is important to stress that the accuracy and analysis of the data conducted by the international investigation team is not being questioned as part of the French investigation."
Families of the 239 people on board have slammed the Malaysian report as a cover-up, hitting out at investigators for not raising the possibility of a murder-suicide plot by one or the other pilot. A group known as Voice370 that represents passengers and crew on board MH370 urged Malaysian authorities to hand over all military radar data used to trace the plane's flightpath.
"The Report highlights that the military's primary radar data played a significant role in tracing the aircraft's flightpath," said Voice 370 in a statement. "Voice 370 calls upon the government of Malaysia to share all available data with independent experts for a thorough peer review and analysis. "We believe that after 4.5 years since MH370 disappeared, there is no reason to continue to withhold data when its probative value far outweighs any prejudicial effect."
The article also raises the possibility that the aircraft suffered a major power failure that in turn led to an undetected depressurization, which slowly depleted the plane's oxygen supply and sent all on board into a coma before it crashed. It is a theory supported by Xavier Tytelman, a former Army veteran and aeronautical consultant. "A typical symptom of a slow depressurization of the aircraft may have gone unnoticed or undetected by the pilots as it may be a secondary problem," he told Le Parisien.
It was a decompression like this that killed 121 people on board a Helios Airways flight in 2005, where a loss of cabin pressure incapacitated the crew and left the plane flying in autopilot mode until it ran out of fuel and crashed. Similar theories of hypoxia or depressurization have surfaced in the days since the Malaysian report was released last week.