A Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion flies past the HMAS Success as they search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 debris or wreckage in the southern Indian Ocean. (AFP photo)
Investigators probing the disappearance of Flight MH370 have discovered possible new evidence of tampering with the plane's cockpit equipment which experts believe could be part of an attempt to avoid radar detection, according to a media report.
A report released by Australian air crash investigators shows that the missing Boeing 777 suffered a mysterious power outage during the early stages of its flight, The Telegraph reported.
The plane's satellite data unit made an unexpected "log-on" request to a satellite less than 90 minutes into its flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, according to the report.
The report says the log-on request - known as a "handshake" - appears likely to have been caused by an interruption of electrical power on board the plane, which experts believe could be part of an attempt to avoid radar detection.
"A log-on request in the middle of a flight is not common," the report by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau said.
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"An analysis was performed which determined that the characteristics and timing of the logon requests were best matched as resulting from power interruption," the report was quoted by the British daily as saying.
David Gleave, an aviation safety expert from Loughborough University, said the interruption to the power supply appeared to be the result of someone in the cockpit attempting to minimise the use of the aircraft's systems.
The action, he said, was consistent with an attempt to turn the plane's communications and other systems off in an attempt to avoid radar detection.
"A person could be messing around in the cockpit which would lead to a power interruption," he was quoted as saying.
"It could be a deliberate act to switch off both engines for some time. By messing about within the cockpit you could switch off the power temporarily and switch it on again when you need the other systems to fly the aeroplane," Gleave said.
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Inmarsat, the company that officially analysed flight data from MH370, has confirmed the assessment but says it does not know why the aircraft experienced a power failure. "It does appear there was a power failure on those two occasions," Chris McLaughlin, from Inmarsat, told the daily.
"It is another little mystery. We cannot explain it. We don't know why. We just know it did it," he said.
The Beijing-bound Flight MH370 - carrying 239 people, including five Indians, mysteriously vanished on March 8 en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur. The disappearance of the plane is one of the greatest mysteries in aviation history.
The mystery continues to baffle aviation and security authorities who have so far not succeeded in tracking the aircraft despite deploying hi-tech radar and other gadgets.
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