Report on Malaysian jet finds beacon had expired, but little else
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Report on Malaysian jet finds beacon had expired, but little else

First comprehensive study on missing plane raises no red flags among crew, leaves year-old mystery unsolved

Malaysian Minister of Defence and Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein (C) speaks during a press conference on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in Kuala Lumpur on May 15, 2014, the day the hunt for the missing passenger jet in the Indian Ocean was put on hold. (photo credit: AFP Photo/Mohd Rasfan)
Malaysian Minister of Defence and Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein (C) speaks during a press conference on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in Kuala Lumpur on May 15, 2014, the day the hunt for the missing passenger jet in the Indian Ocean was put on hold. (photo credit: AFP Photo/Mohd Rasfan)

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — The first comprehensive report into the mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 on Sunday revealed that the battery of an underwater locator beacon had expired more than a year before the plane vanished on March 8, 2014.

Apart from that anomaly, the detailed report devoted pages after pages to describe the complete normality of the flight, shedding little light on aviation’s biggest mystery.

“The sole objective of the investigation is the prevention of future accidents or incidents, and not for the purpose to apportion blame or liability,” the report said.

The significance of the expired battery on the beacon of the Flight Data Recorder was not immediately apparent, except indicating that searchers would have had lesser chance of locating the aircraft in the Indian Ocean, where it is believed to have crashed, even if they were in its vicinity. However, the report said that the battery on the locator beacon of the cockpit voice recorder was working.

The two instruments are critical in any crash because they record cockpit conversation and flight data, leading up to the end of the flight.

The 584-page report by an independent investigation group went into minute details of the crew’s lives — their medical and financial records, their training before detailing the aircraft’s service record — as well as maintenance schedule, weather, communications systems and other aspects that showed nothing unusual except for the one previously undisclosed fact of the battery’s expiry date.

It said that according to maintenance records, the battery on the beacon attached to the Flight Data Recorder expired in December 2012. “There is some extra margin in the design to account for battery life variability and ensure that the unit will meet the minimum requirement,” it said.

“However, once beyond the expiry date, the (battery’s) effectiveness decreases so it may operate, for a reduced time period until it finally discharges,” the report said. While it is possible the battery will operate past the expiry date, “it is not guaranteed that it will work or that it would meet the 30-day minimum requirement,” said the report.

The report gave insight into the flight Capt. Zaharie Ahmad Shah’s physical and mental well-being, saying he had no known history of apathy, anxiety or irritability. “There were no significant changes in his lifestyle, interpersonal conflict or family stresses,” it said.

It also said there were “no behavioral signs of social isolation, change in habits or interest, self-neglect, drug or alcohol abuse” by Zaharie, his first officer and the cabin crew.

Financial check also showed nothing abnormal about their gross monthly income and spending pattern. It said Zaharie held several bank accounts and two national trust funds. He had two houses and 3 vehicles, but there was no record of him having a life insurance policy.

The co-pilot, First Officer Fariq Abdul Hamid, had two saving accounts and a national trust fund account. He owned two cars and “spent money on the upkeep” of his cars. “He does not have much savings in his bank account. He has a life insurance policy,” it said.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press.

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