The Department of Civil Aviation of Malaysia and satellite communications company Inmarsat announced Tuesday they would release the satellite data used to track missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 to the southern Indian Ocean.
Family members of the missing passengers aboard the plane have called for the data to be made publicly available for independent analysis, and Inmarsat spokesman Jonathan Sinnatt told The New York Times that the company, which registered seven automatic pings on its satellite from the plane during its last hours in flight, is working with authorities to “package” the data in a readable format for the public.
“It won’t make sense to anybody who doesn’t understand the technology, which is why we are now working with the investigation to put together an explanation about how you use that data and what it means,” Sinnatt said.
Passengers’ relatives and outside analysts have criticized Inmarsat and the Malaysian government’s investigation since the first few weeks of the plane’s disappearance, and asserted the joint effort has mishandled the investigation and failed to properly interpret the data.
“I think there are a lot of well-meaning people out there who have made some very flawed attempts at doing the analysis, but they unfortunately haven’t understood the basic elements,” an anonymous Inmarsat employee said, adding that he “[expected] a lot of these people will try and run the data.”
The investigation hit another wall last week after the Indian Ocean search team began to suspect audio pings — which were initially believed to be coming from the Boeing 777’s black box locator beacon — were too weak to be considered credible leads in the search for the flight data recorder.
Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared on March 8 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people aboard, and no physical trace of the plane has been found despite the more than two-month, multi-agency international search effort.