The missing MH370’s communication systems was most probably disabled in a “deliberate action by someone on the plane”, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak said in a press conference today.
“Based on new satellite information we can say with a high degree of certainty that the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System or ACARS was disabled just before the aircraft reached the eastcoast of Peninsula Malaysia,” Mr Najib said.
He added that the aircraft’s transponder was also switched off in near the border between Malaysia and Vietnam. An airline transponder is an electronic device that allows planes to respond to radio-frequency interrogations made by the ground station.
Nonetheless, Mr Najib said that he is unable to confirm the “precise location of the plane” when it last made contact with the satellite. He reiterated that investigators will still consider other possibilities, despite speculations by the media of a possible hijacking.
“Despite media reports that the plane was hijacked, I wish to make it clear that we are still investigating all possibilities as to what caused MH370 to deviate from its original flight path,” he said.
Fears that the missing MH370 jetliner was hijacked were ignited when news broke that two passengers managed to board on the flight with stolen passports.
Malaysia’s Acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein had previously said that he could not rule hijacking out as more information from US sources were being verified.
In the press conference today, Mr Najib also mentioned that the last confirmed communication by the missing MH370 was at 8.11am on Saturday, March 8. This figure will allow the investigation team to estimate how far the plane may have flown.
Mr Najib said his team has conducted search operation over the South China Sea, The Straits of Malacca, the Andaman Sea and the Indian Ocean. He added that his team’s actions for the search operation so far has been based on verified information and credible leads, however acknowledging that “sometimes these leads have led nowhere”.