French investigators say mysterious 'third entity' could hold the answers to MH370's disappearance
They were also able to identify multiple 'curious passengers' on board the Boeing 777 flight whom they believe should be investigated further
Investigators in France have found a mysterious "third entity" which they claim may be holding back some technical data on the flight path taken by the missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 on the fateful day it disappeared.
They were also able to identify multiple "curious passengers" on board the Boeing 777 flight whom they believe should be investigated further. The new developments, that could be potentially explosive if proven true, were revealed by French national Ghyslain Wattrelos, who lost his wife and two teen children in the crash. The information was revealed after he had a meeting last week with judges who were overseeing the Gendamarie Air Transport (GTA) investigation.
Wattrelos told the New York Post that he was told the French investigating team found "inconsistencies" in the Malaysian investigation's official report. He also said that they had identified the presence of "curious" passengers whom "we should continue to investigate". The passengers include a Malaysian national and an aeronautic specialist who was seated directly below MH370's Satcom module.
The specialist is also said to potentially have had the technical knowledge to hack the flight's communications system and disguise the route it was taking. The GTA, which is a part of the French military, is looking to verify satellite and other technical data that was being used by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) in order to plot the flight's path to a remote area in the southern Indian Ocean off the coast of Western Australia, where the theory is that it crashed in 2014 killing everyone on board.
Wattrelos also said that the French investigators hope to travel to the United States to meet with the FBI, which has examined MH370 Captain Zaharie Shah's home flight simulator. They also want to meet with representatives of Boeing so that they can get a hold of and re-examine the raw data from the crash.
A similar trip that was planned in September 2017 was called off after the US authorities demanded that "confidentiality clauses" have to be signed in order to protect Boeing's "industry secrets". Wattrelos said that the French investigators have identified a "third entity" which is in possession of information and/or data that relates to the movements of the missing flight.
He said: "We are a little angry and now we want to say stop, it is time that the United States really cooperate on this issue. It is necessary to go there because there are three entities that hold important information for understanding what happened on this flight." Aside from verifying the data that they want to obtain from the FBI and Boeing, the investigators were looking to establish whether the "third entity" sold any software that is capable of reprogramming or even hacking the Satcom, which is the antenna that communicates with the Inmarsat satellite from the plane.
Wattrelos said: "The essential trail is the Inmarsat data. Either they are wrong or they have been hacked. However, these satellite data are essential to better understand the trajectory of the aircraft." The identity of the mysterious "third entity" is still unknown but Wattrelos refers to SITA in a Facebook post that he put up over the weekend. SITA is a company that is known to supply Malaysia Airlines with communications through VHF radio and Inmarsat satellites for the fleet of ACARS (Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System) avionics that it owns.
Following the disappearance of MH370, SITA issued a statement that said it was co-operating with the authorities who were investigating the crash. The statement read: "The Malaysia Airlines ACARS avionics communications via the SITA network is proprietary to the airline. We are fully supporting the airline and all the relevant authorities in their ongoing investigation of flight MH370."
Victor Iannello, an engineer and aviation expert who was a member of the Independent Group of advisers helping the ATSB in the original search for MH370, has said that it is doubtful of the French team will be able to find any evidence that any data from the flight was intentionally removed or hacked. He wrote in his blog: "It’s not clear what additional information the French investigators expect to obtain while in the US. Boeing has co-operated with the Annex 13 investigation team, and is unlikely to provide private French investigators with data that has not already been made public."
In the meantime, the FBI is not likely to reveal any information on matters that are related to either ongoing or past investigation it has conducted. Iannello wrote: "The mysterious 'third entity' referred to by Mr. Wattrelos that might be selling software capable of maliciously altering SATCOM data is also unknown, although there are a handful of companies in the US and Canada that supply hardware and software for designing, building, and testing parts of the Inmarsat network."
He also said that the independent investigators who are trying to solve the MH370 mystery were "at an impasse". Iannello said: "Although the overwhelming consensus is that MH370 did indeed crash in the Southern Indian Ocean, the considerable efforts of official and private investigators have not succeeded in locating the debris field on the seabed."
The aviation expert continued: "The data we have, notably the satellite data, is imprecise, so additional data is needed to reconstruct the trajectory of the plane. There is always the chance that during Mr. Wattrelos’ visit to the US, some new evidence or insights will be uncovered that help us to better understand the disappearance and to find the plane. More likely, the existence of helpful new information will be found in Malaysia."
France isn't the only country that is actively investigating what happened to the missing plane which vanished while en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur on March 8, 2014. A three-year-long $140 million Australian taxpayer-funded search of a previously unexplored 74,000-square mile area of the seabed did not uncover anything. A second search was conducted last year by deep-sea exploration company Ocean Infinity, which the Malaysian government offered $60 million if they found anything within 90 days, also did not find anything.