Malaysia asks Inmarsat to make raw MH370 data public

Posted at 6:22 PM, May 19, 2014
and last updated 2014-05-19 18:22:03-04

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (CNN) — The raw satellite data used to shape the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 could soon be made public, according to a senior Malaysian official.

Publication of the raw data could allow for independent analysis. Until now, the Malaysian government, which is in charge of the investigation, and Inmarsat, the company whose satellites communicated with the missing plane in its last hours, have declined to release it.

The Malaysian government is asking Inmarsat to release the data “for public consumption,” Malaysia’s Acting Minister of Transportation Hishammuddin Hussein said Monday.

“This is consistent with our stand for greater transparency and prioritizing the interests of the family members of those on board MH370,” Hishammuddin said.

Relatives of people who were on the Boeing 777, scientists studying its disappearance and media covering the search have become increasingly critical about the lack of public information about why the search has focused on the southern Indian Ocean.

The plane disappeared while traveling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8 with 239 people aboard.

Hishammuddin, who has said his country did not have the raw data from Inmarsat, said he instructed the Malaysian Department of Civil Aviation to discuss with the company the release of the data.

“The demand for raw data means we need help from Inmarsat to pass on to families in a presentable way,” a senior Malaysian official told CNN. “We are trying to be as transparent as possible. We have no issues releasing the data.”

Although Malaysian officials told CNN last week that their government did not have the raw data, Inmarsat officials said the company provided all of it to Malaysian officials “at an early stage in the search.”

The data were gathered through a series of “handshakes” between the plane and Inmarsat satellites as the aircraft flew off-course for hours.

“We’ve shared the information that we had, and it’s for the investigation to decide what and when it puts out,” Inmarsat Senior Vice President Chris McLaughlin said last week.

The data were used, in combination with calculations from other entities including Boeing, to produce a series of maps that concluded the plane was somewhere along a huge arc that ended in the southern Indian Ocean.

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