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Grief overwhelms relatives of flight 370 victims

By Michael Barris in New York (China Daily USA) Updated: 2014-03-25 11:10

Now the hunt for the plane’s wreckage and the black box aboard it that might give some hint of what happened is a race against time because the battery life of the "pinger" in the black box may have less than two weeks left.

David Gallo, an undersea black-box search expert who co-led the search for downed Air France Flight 447 off the coast of Brazil in 2011, called the MH 370 case “extremely unusual because there has been no confirmed evidence of the plane at all.”

Gallo directs special projects for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, a nonprofit Massachusetts marine-science facility that is not involved in searching for the Malaysian airliner. The potential MH370 search area is “much larger” than it was in the Air France 447 search operation, Gallo said.

The Air France 447 search area was “very remote, the sea very deep, and the seafloor was very rugged and mountainous,” Gallo said in an email to China Daily. “The search area was as deep as 4,000 meters and spread out over 5,000 square miles.”

However, the researcher said: “We have excellent undersea search technology. I am confident if we find some debris on the sea surface, the remains of the (Malaysian) plane can be found.”

In their analysis of satellite data, Inmarsat, the UK satellite telecom company, and the British Accidents Investigation Branch determined the plane's last known location by following automated hourly pings it sent out from an onboard terminal. The investigation established that Flight 370 continued to fly for at least five hours after leaving Malaysian airspace, and had flown along one of two corridors – one arcing north and the other south, the UK Telegraph newspaper reported.

“We looked at the Doppler effect, which is the change in frequency, due to the movement of a satellite in orbit,” Chris McLaughlin, Inmarsat’s senior vice president of external affairs was quoted as saying. The information was relayed to Malaysian officials by March 12 but Malaysia’s government did not publicly acknowledge it until March 15, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The passengers included 20 employees of Texas-based Freescale Semiconductor – engineers or specialists involved in projects to streamline and cut costs at manufacturing operations in China and Malaysia.

The employees were working to make the company’s chip facilities in Tianjin, China, and Kuala Lumpur more efficient. They were based in those two locations and traveled back and forth on a regular basis to work on different projects, according to the company.

While they accounted for less than 1 percent of Freescale’s 16,800 employees, they were doing specialized work and were part of a broad push by CEO Gregg Lowe to make Freescale more cost-effective.

A Freescale spokeswoman did not return a call requesting comment on the latest development in the saga of the missing plane.

Grief overwhelms relatives of flight 370 victims 

Grief overwhelms relatives of flight 370 victims

Video: Friend defends MH370 pilot

Nik Huzlan, a previous classmate of Captain Zaharie, speaks high of the pilot.

Grief overwhelms relatives of flight 370 victims

Video: Officials remain puzzled

Tension mounted as the search for the missing Malaysian airplane continued. 

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