A family member speaks to the media after an MH370 briefing closed door meeting in Putrajaya, Malaysia, July 30 2018. Picture: REUTERS/ SADIQ ASYRAF
A family member speaks to the media after an MH370 briefing closed door meeting in Putrajaya, Malaysia, July 30 2018. Picture: REUTERS/ SADIQ ASYRAF

Putrajaya — A long-awaited official report into the disappearance of Flight MH370 gave no new clues about why the plane vanished, relatives of those on board the aircraft said Monday, expressing anger and disappointment.

Family members had been hoping that the official investigation team’s report could provide them with some closure, over four years after the Malaysia Airlines flight carrying 239 people went missing.

But grieving relatives said the technical document appeared to contain little new beyond a lengthy description of the plane’s disappearance and search efforts, and that officials were unable to answer their questions. Some angry relatives walked out of the briefing.

The report said Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, missing since 2014, was probably deliberately steered off course and flown to the southern Indian Ocean.

It said it was difficult to attribute the aircraft’s changes in course to any specific system failure. "It is more likely that such manoeuvres are due to the systems being manipulated," it said.

"It is so disappointing," said Intan Maizura Othman, whose husband was a flight steward on MH370, which was flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing when it vanished in March 2014.

"I am frustrated. There is nothing new in the report.

"Those who gave the briefing from the ministry of transport were not able to give answers as they were not (the ones) who wrote the report."

She said the meeting between relatives and officials descended into a "shouting match" as family members’ frustration boiled over. "Many asked questions," said G Subramaniam, who lost a son on the flight, but "unsatisfactory responses left many angry".

The report, due to be released publicly later on Monday, offered little to solve modern aviation’s biggest mystery.

No sign of the jet was found in a 120,000km² Indian Ocean search zone and the Australian-led hunt, the largest in aviation history, was suspended in January last year.

MH370 vanished on March 8, 2014, en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur with 239 people on board. Investigators have never been able to explain why the jet abandoned its route shortly into the flight, traversed Malaysia and then cruised south over the Indian Ocean.

Experts mapped the Boeing 777’s course only after picking through hourly data hookups with a satellite. Extensive sonar searches of remote waters off Australia’s west coast failed to locate the wreckage.

The report said there was nothing to suggest the plane was evading radar, or evidence of recent behavioural changes in the crew. Significant parts of the aircraft’s power system were probably still working throughout the flight, according to the report.

Without the help of cockpit data recorders, search teams have only guessed what happened in the flight’s final moments.

Analysis by the Australian government suggested MH370 ran out of fuel before plummeting — at as much as 25,000 feet a minute — into the water.

Other investigators speculated that a person was at the controls to the very end, gliding the plane into the ocean beyond the furthest limit of any search area.

A few pieces of wreckage washed up in Africa but no bodies have ever been recovered. A fresh underwater search this year by US exploration company Ocean Infinity ended without success.

The jet’s disappearance produced a slew of safety recommendations aimed at preventing a repeat of the tragedy.

New aircraft must broadcast their locations every minute when they’re in trouble, but only from January 2021.

A gradual tightening of requirements starts in November, when airlines must track planes every 15 minutes under regulations adopted by the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organisation.

AFP and Bloomberg

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