Canberra: Hijackers could have tampered with cockpit equipment of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in an effort to avoid radar detection, investigators said Monday.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has released a report detailing evidence of a power outage occurring on the plane less than 90 minutes after taking off from Kuala Lumpur, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
Investigators said that after the power outage, the plane’s satellite data unit (SDU) attempted to log on to a satellite in a process called a “handshake”.
“A log-on request in the middle of a flight is not common and can occur for only a few reasons,” the investigators said.
“An analysis was performed which determined that the characteristics and timing of the log-on requests were best matched as resulting from power interruption to the SDU.”
According to aviation expert Peter Marosszeky from the University of New South Wales, the interruption of electrical power on board the plane could have been the work of hijackers.
“If there was a crew wanting to do something that was rather sinister or there were hijackers on board, they would remove power by opening up the bus-tie breakers and opening up the battery control switch. That way the aircraft virtually loses all power to just about all systems except the engines,” he said.
“It could be a deliberate act to switch off both engines for some time. By messing about within the cockpit you could switch off the power temporarily and switch it on again when you need the other systems to fly the aeroplane,” Marosszeky added.
ATSB investigators also reported that a second mysterious “handshake” request occurred nearly six hours later.
Last week, the Australian government announced a new search zone, a 60,000 sq km area of the sea floor off the coast of Western Australia. The search begins in August.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 vanished mysteriously about an hour after taking off for Beijing from Kuala Lumpur shortly after midnight March 8.
The Boeing 777-200ER was scheduled to land in Beijing the same morning. The 227 passengers on board included five Indians, 154 Chinese and 38 Malaysians.