Update (19 March): Press statement by the Maldives National Defence Force:
The Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) has been monitoring the Maldives region with special attention since the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 on 8th March 2014.
Based on the monitoring up to date, no indication of flight MH370 has been observed on any military radar’s in the country. Furthermore, the data of radars at Maldives airports have also been analyzed and shows no indication of the said flight.
The MNDF will continue to render any assistance required by the Maldives Police Service and international authorities on the search for the missing flight and related issues.
Meanwhile, the Maldives Police said on its website it was looking into the reports of sightings of a plane above Kudahuvadhoo.
Original post (18 March):
The leading news portal in the Maldives, Haveeru Online, reports that residents of the remote island of Kuda Huvadhoo in Dhaal Atoll say they witnessed a “low flying jumbo jet” roar across the area on the morning of 8 March.
The residents claimed a white aircraft with red stripes across it stormed from the North to the South-East, towards the Southern tip of the Maldives – Addu at around 6.15am (9.15am Malaysian Time), which would be an hour after the last satellite ping for MH370. (The satellite is located somewhere overhead in this part of the Indian Ocean.)
“I’ve never seen a jet flying so low over our island before. We’ve seen seaplanes, but I’m sure that this was not one of those. I could even make out the doors on the plane clearly,” said an eyewitness. “It’s not just me either, several other residents have reported seeing the exact same thing. Some people got out of their houses to see what was causing the tremendous noise too.”
Full report here.
It is interesting to note that the Malaysia Airlines captain had both Maldives and Diego Garcia on his home flight simulator.
The above development makes it even more crucial to take a closer look at the radar records at the secretive US military facility at Diego Garcia, which lies just 647 miles south of the Maldives and 2,100 miles west of Penang. (You will notice that Diego Garcia is rarely mentioned by the BBC and CNN.)
Meanwhile, if you recall, residents on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia reported seeing a low-flying plane between 1.30am to 1.45am on 8 March while others heard a loud roar like the fan of a jet engine (The Star).
Now here is something that might also be relevant: Someone who describes himself as an “old airline pilot”, a Chris Goodfellow, has theorised here that the plane may have developed a fire, electrical or mechanical failure, which could have knocked out the communications sytems. He suggested that the problem may have caused the pilot to swing west towards the nearest safe airport (Langkawi?).
On departing Kuala he would have had fuel for Beijing and alternate probably Shanghai and 45 minutes. Say 8 hours. Maybe more. He burned 20-25% in first hour with takeoff, climb to cruise. So when the turn was made towards Langkawi, he would have had six hours or more. This correlates nicely with the immarsat data pings being received until fuel exhaustion.
The apparent now known continued flight until TTFE time to fuel exhaustion only actually confirms to me the crew were incapacitated and the flight continued on deep into the south Indian ocean.
There really is no point in speculating further until more evidence surfaces but in the meantime it serves no purpose to malign the pilots who well may have been in an heroic struggle to save this aircraft from a fire or other serious mechanical issue and were overcome.
I hope the investigation team looks at the maintenance records of the front gear tires – cycles, last pressure check and maintenance inspection. Captain or F/O as part of pre-flight looks at tires. Is there any video at the airport to support pre-flight walkaround? Any damage on pushback? A day after I wrote the original post a plane in the U.S. blew a tire in takeoff and the t/o was fortunately aborted with a burning tire.
Another commenter on the forum drew a circle indicating the maximum distance the plane could have travelled since it lost contact with KLIA.
The Maldives would fall at the outer edge of that circle. Let us hope the Maldives report is for real and they locate the plane at long last. Our hearts go out to the passengers, crew and their families.
P.S. The Times of London has just reported:
This could be embarrassing: the Thai military says that its radar detected a plane that may have been Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 just minutes after the aircraft’s communications went down but it didn’t share the information earlier because it was not specifically asked.
A twisting flight path described Air Vice Marshal Montol Suchookorn, a Thai air force spokesman, took the plane to the Strait of Malacca, which is where Malaysian radar tracked MH370 in the early hours of March 8. The Thais are not sure whether they detected the same plane.