has now confirmed that its missing -200ER operating flight MH370 did not send out a distress call or any Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System Messages (ACARS) before it disappeared. “There were no distress calls and no information was relayed,” the airline said in a statement on Tuesday.
The aircraft, registered 9M-MRO, operated the daily MH370 service from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Radar and radio contact was lost about 40 minutes into the flight over the Gulf of Thailand and 90 naut. mi. off the Malaysian coast near Kota Bharu. While the initial search was focused on the expected flight path of the aircraft between Malaysia and Vietnam heading principally north, the search and rescue effort now includes a much broader area. “The authorities are looking at the possibility of an attempt made by MH370 to turn back to Subang,” the airline says.
The search scope has been expanded to include the sea off Malaysia’s West Coast and the Straits of Malacca. Neither the airline nor authorities said whether there were any concrete indications that such an attempt was indeed made. If such a maneuver has taken place, it would mean that the aircraft would have crossed Malaysia from coast to coast unnoticed - the original flightpath is to the northeast of Malaysia while the Straits of Malacca are to the southwest.
Kuala Lumpur and the airport in Subang are also in the southwest. “All angles are being looked at. We are not ruling out any possibilities,” the airline says.
The airline has also released some operational details. 9M-MRO was delivered to Malaysia Airlines in 2002 and has since accumulated 53,465 hours and 7,525 cycles. The aircraft underwent scheduled maintenance on February 23, 2014, 12 days before the March 8 flight as MH370. The airline says the unspecified check was made at a hangar at Kuala Lumpur International airport and no issues have been found.