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  • 27 May 2014, 21:16

Families Criticise Flight MH370 Satellite Data

Families of passengers on doomed flight MH370 have criticised the release of satellite data tracking the plane's last known movements - and say it adds little that is new.

Relatives of the 239 people on board questioned why it has taken so long for the information to be made public by the Malaysian authorities.

They also called for the release of all information on the Boeing 777 - which disappeared while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8 - so it can be verified by independent experts.

Malaysian transport minister Hishammuddin Hussein announced the publication of the 47 pages of raw data while on a visit to a new international airport near Kuala Lumpur.

Authorities believe the plane was deliberately diverted from its flight path and is thought to have crashed into the Indian Ocean off Australia's west coast.

Among the data, which includes signals known as "handshakes" between the aircraft and a satellite operated by British firm Inmarsat, is the last transmission received from the aircraft terminal, at 00:19 Malaysian time.

Aviation analysts say one of the so-called pings nearly 30 minutes before that is omitted from the data for unknown reasons.

Most of the information released relates to data from the plane while it was still on the ground in Kuala Lumpur.

Experts say additional data giving the exact position of satellites and their distance from the aircraft have not been released, making further analysis difficult.

Steve Wang, a relative of one of the missing Chinese passengers, said: "Data on its own means nothing. The data leads to a conclusion not an ending."

Mischa Dohler, professor of wireless communications at King's College London, said the release of the report is an "enormous step forward" but the omission of key data leaves a lot of unanswered questions.

He told Sky News: "A lot of questions have been opened - why was the satellite system off for one hour? We don't know.

"Why hasn't more data been requested from the ground station. We don't know. Why is the last handshake, not a handshake sent by the ground station, but by the aeroplane?

"So there's a lot of stuff which we now can analyse and question."

He said the data corroborates the plane was "flying for some hours - that is a fact now."

But it is difficult to calculate the exact flying route, he said, until Inmarsat releases the exact algorithms it used to estimate the plane's location.

Inmarsat said they are unable to release information without the authority of the Malaysian government.

Professor Dohler said the 47 pages of data "will not help significantly" in the search for the plane, and only when the plane is found will they have a better idea of what happened to it.

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