More proof mobile phone records could help find MH370

Sensational revelations from co-pilot’s call records

lay exchanged whatsapps with hamid

There have been some sensational revelations in The New Straits Times that Malaysian investigators have managed to get hold of the call records for the co-pilot of the missing Malaysian Airlines flight – MH370. As GoMo News suggested in ‘Mobile phones might provide clue to missing flight MH370 ‘ and in ‘ China Mobile able to throw light on missing MH370 – maybe‘, records from the mobile handsets of those on board the plane could help with the direction the aircraft took after diverting from its intended flight path. And provide clues as to what happened – especially if any of the 12 crew and 227 passengers managed to send an SMS (text message).

The NST report here by Farrah Naz Karim and Tasnim Lokman, is based on reliable but anonymous sources investigating the disappearance on behalf of the Malaysian authorities – rather than the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) which is trying to locate the plane.

The source told the NST that as the aircraft flew close to Penang [in Malaysia], co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid “made a  desperate  call from his mobile phone as the plane was flying low.”

This was presumably at some time between 1.19 am when Hamid told the control tower, “Alright, goodnight” and 2.15 am when Malaysian military radar lost track of the aircraft.

From the NST report, it is obvious that Fariq’s smartphone achieved a strong enough signal to attempt to make a voice call.

Who he was phoning wasn’t revealed although the NST guesses it was probably his mother.

The call failed abruptly and it has been speculated that his was probably because the aircraft was flying so fast.

However, Fariq’s handset was almost certainly normally connected to a Malaysian mobile network operator [MNO] so it wouldn’t have been ‘roaming’ – meaning that it would have connected quickly to the base station.

Handsets belonging to the Chinese passengers – by contrast, would have almost certainly been roaming. So the chances of them getting a sufficiently strong signal fast enough would have been much lower.

Significantly, it only takes a very weak cellular signal – in fact so weak that the handset might not even register a single ‘bar’, for a text message to get through.

Hence, if Fariq had tried to text instead of call he would probably have got through. This raises the question of whether any of the other Malaysians onboard attempted to send a text – especially amongst the ten other crew.

A prime example would have been the stewardess – Goh Sock Lay. Just over an hour before flight MH370 took off, Lay and Fariq exchanged WhatsApp messages.

The pilot – Zaharie Ahmad Shah, also sent a WhatsApp message at 7.45 pm.

This information shows that the Malaysian authorities have access to the WhatsApp records for both pilots.

GoMo News strongly believes that WhatsApp could provide information on when messages were sent and to whom.

But it is highly unlikely that WhatsApp can furnish any information on the content of those messages. Storing that kind of information would be astronomically expensive.

What intrigues GoMo News is did anyone else on flight MH370 turn on their handset (especially Malaysians)?

If so, there is a slight possibility that a base station on another part of Malaysian such as Banda Aceh or Medan might have picked up a connexion from such a handset.

Unsent text messages are stored on handsets and are sent next time the device communicates with a base station.

The text’s content therefore isn’t important but the location and time it was sent are, of course.

About Tony Dennis

Tony is currently Editor of GoMobile News. He's a veteran telecoms journalist who has previously worked for major printed and online titles. Follow him on Twitter @GoMoTweet.
This article was published in India and Asia Pacific, Mobile Operators, SMS and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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