Malaysian Jet Hunt Hampered by Software Malfunction

A software glitch on an unmanned submarine hampered the search for the missing Malaysian Air jet as the underwater hunt for wreckage approaches its third week.

The Bluefin-21 submersible was pulled from the Indian Ocean early during yesterday’s search and fixed overnight, Australia’s Joint Agency Coordination Centre said in a statement today. Now on its 14th mission, the vessel has combed 95 percent of an initial area without finding debris from MH370, the agency said.

Investigators are preparing to widen the seabed scan as they consider how to continue what’s already the longest search for a missing passenger jet in modern aviation history. The Malaysian Airline System Bhd. (MAS) flight with 239 people aboard vanished March 8 on its way to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur.

The eight military aircraft and 11 ships to be deployed today face sporadic rain, 20-knot winds and swells higher than 2 meters, JACC said in its statement. The search zone lies about 1,584 kilometers (984 miles) northwest of Perth, Australia.

The submarine has been focusing on a 10-kilometer radius, bouncing sound waves off the Indian Ocean floor to create images of the seabed.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak told CNN’s Richard Quest this week that he’s prepared to release a preliminary report on the flight next week and isn’t yet ready to declare the plane and its passengers lost.

“Right now I think I need to take into account the feelings of the next of kin -- and some of them have said publicly that they aren’t willing to accept it until they find hard evidence,” Najib said.

Passengers’ Actions

Tensions have been rising among the mostly Chinese families of passengers on the missing jet over incomplete or conflicting reports shared by government officials.

Frustrated relatives detained the airline’s staff in a Beijing hotel for more than 10 hours this week as they demanded a fuller account of the flight from Malaysia’s government.

The skirmish started when 10 airline employees gathered with about 200 family members on April 24 at Beijing’s Metropark Lido Hotel, where the carrier has provided updates on the search.

The employees were made to wait in the hotel ballroom while about 60 relatives went to the Malaysian Embassy in an attempt to get a government official to attend the session. They were released yesterday, according to a statement on Malaysian Air’s website.

In an earlier incident, a relative of a missing passenger attacked and kicked a Malaysian Air security supervisor at the Lido Hotel on April 22, the airline said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Angus Whitley in Sydney at awhitley1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Beth Williams at bewilliams@bloomberg.net Jim McDonald, Thomas Kutty Abraham

Press spacebar to pause and continue. Press esc to stop.

Bloomberg reserves the right to remove comments but is under no obligation to do so, or to explain individual moderation decisions.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.