Malaysia Jet Crew established contact after data system shutdown

The flight crew of the missing Malaysian jet made their last radio contact with air traffic controllers after the plane’s automatic signaling system has been disabled, a Malaysian transport official said on Sunday.

“The Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) was deactivated before the last radio contact between the aircraft and air traffic,” said Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, Managing Director of Malaysian Airlines.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said on Saturday morning that the plane’s ACAR system was first disabled and then the plane’s transponder was cut before the flight deviated from its path.

The ACARS is located on a lower level of the plane, while the transponder is housed in the cockpit, Tom Casey, a retired pilot who flew the giant Boeing 777 told NBC News on Saturday. To disconnect the ACAR system, a person would have to pull a series of circuit breakers, but also know where to find them, noted Casey.

Razak also said on Saturday that the plane was hijacked due to “someone’s deliberate action on the plane.” He said the investigation will focus on passengers and crew.

– Elisha Fieldstadt
Acting Malaysian Transport Minister Hishamuddin Hussein, second from right, speaks at a press conference as Director General of Malaysia’s Civil Aviation Department, Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, second from left, and CEO of Malaysia Airlines group Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, left, and Malaysia Inspector -Police General Khalid Abu Bakar, right, look at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Sunday March 16, 2014.Vincent Thian / AP


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