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Published: Wednesday March 19, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Wednesday March 19, 2014 MYT 10:03:37 AM

Missing MH370: All signals can be killed by accessing electronics system

PETALING JAYA: Communications could be lost if the electronics system, located below the passenger deck of the missing Flight MH370 is tampered with, says an industry source.

He said a person with aviation knowledge would know where to head to access the electronics system.

“The person can pull any circuit breaker, including (the one for) communications. You can disconnect anything that can transmit signals from the aircraft. This would cut off all communication system, including the phones on board,” he told The Star yesterday.

The lower compartment, which is located in the belly of the plane, can be accessed through a trapdoor found at the business class section.

“The entry to the lower compartment is right underneath the plane’s front door as passengers board the plane,” the source added.

He said the standard practice to passengers asking them to switch off mobile phones during take-off and landing was to avoid interrupting signals from the cockpit.

When asked if the manipulation of the electronics system could interrupt the control systems in the cockpit, the source said: “Yes, of course.”

The source was responding to a news report by The New York Times that said passengers of the missing flight MH370 could have been prevented from making calls from their mobile phones due to high altitude.

It quoted Vincent Lau, an electronics professor specialising in wireless communications at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, who said the high altitude might have prevented the mobile phones from connecting to base stations on the ground.

The report compared the “silence” on Flight MH370, which until today, has no records of phone calls, Twitter, Weibo or Instagram postings by its passengers, to the four airplanes that were hijacked on Sept 11, 2001.

The New York Times said passengers and flight attendants on the four flights turned on cellphones and airphones and made frantic calls to the outside world as the planes flew low across the countryside toward New York and Washington.

“Base station signals spread out considerably over a distance. So cellphones in a plane a few miles up, like Flight 370, would receive little if any signal,” he said.

The Chinese news media have reported some instances of people calling cellphones of passengers of the missing plane and hearing ring tones but telecommunications experts have dismissed the notion that the handphones were still in use.

Tags / Keywords: Transport Safety, mh370, new york times, calls, altitude, Politics, MAS flight, KL, Beijing, Missing flight, MH370, Malaysia Airlines, Missing plane

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