Malaysia appears to be giving up more control over the search and rescue mission for flight MH370.
While Acting Transport Minister Hishammudin Hussein says overall coordination of the efforts is still in the hands of his country, “our partners have taken on an increasing role within the search sectors.”
The search has not resulted in any findings yet.
Hussein and his government have been criticized for how the search effort has been handled so far, in particular for the slow sharing of crucial data and publishing false information.
On Sunday, the minister said the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (Acars) was deactivated before the last radio contact between the crew and air traffic control at 1:19 a.m. on March 8. A day later, MAS CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya stated the opposite and pointed out that the Acars system could have been turned off before or after the last conversation with ATC. Radar contact was lost at around 1:30 a.m.
Hussein denied politics was a major factor in the way the search is handled. “It has always been our priority to find MH370. The search is bigger than politics,” he stated on Tuesday. Instead, he believes that “the issue of politics has been raised by the foreign press.”
China, among other countries, has been pushing Malaysia to speed up and intensify the search. 150 of the 239 people on board were Chinese. MH370 was a scheduled flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing and disappeared from civil radar around 40 minutes after take-off. It is believed that the aircraft signature was captured by military radar west of Malaysia around 45 minutes later, but the country has not shared the data in greater detail.
Inmarsat satellite data and range calculations taking into account minimum and maximum speeds have led to the establishment of two search zones. Kazahkhstan and China are now taking the lead in the north and Indonesia and Australia in the south. The zones have also been divided into seven quadrants each to allow for a more systematic search. The quadrants are 400 nm long and 400 nm wide. The total search area covers 2.24 million square miles (nm).
Malaysia has deployed two more ships to the southern zone and Indonesia is now providing two Herculesaircraft. Other countries that have sent aircraft include the U.S. (one P-8 Poseidon and one P-3 Orion), Australia (three P-3s and one C-130), New Zealand (one P-3), South Korea (one P-3 and one C-130), Japan (two P-3s, two C-130s and one Gulfstream business jet) and United Arab Emirates (one and one Dash 8). The Japanese, UAE and Korean aircraft are still in Malaysia and have not yet been sent to the search area.
Malaysia has also asked foreign countries to aid with deep ocean surveillance equipment.