Hijackers may have tampered with cockpit equipment on missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in an attempt to avoid radar detection, experts analyzing a report released by an Australian government agency said.
The report, released by the The Australian Transport Safety Bureau, showed there was a power outage that happened within 90 minutes of the missing jet leaving Kuala Lumpur.
The "not common" power event caused the Boeing 777's satellite unit to attempt to log on to a satellite after power was restored.
The process of the plane attempting to connect to a satellite is known as a "handshake".
“A log-on request in the middle of a flight is not common and can occur for only a few reasons,” the investigators said.
“An analysis was performed which determined that the characteristics and timing of the log-on requests were best matched as resulting from power interruption to the SDU.”
Aviation expert Peter Marosszeky from the University of New South Wales told Fairfax that this type of electrical event could have been a result of a hijacking attempt.
“If there was a crew wanting to do something that was rather sinister or there were hijackers on board, they would remove power by opening up the bus-tie breakers and opening up the battery control switch. That way the aircraft virtually loses all power to just about all systems except the engines,” he said.
“The engines have their own little computer and they have their own power source by a generator on the gearbox.
“You can reset the power in some way, this way the aircraft would go dead as far as any satellite contact or any information being transmitted by transponders. They can reinstate it and re-initialise the flight management computers … it has to be a very clever pilot or person that really knows that aeroplane to be able to achieve that.”
It added another layer of complexity to the mystery of the Malaysian Airlines flight, which disappeared on March 8.
Chris McLaughlin from Inmarsat, the global satellite network investigators have been using to try and track the flight path of MH370, told The Telegraph: "It does appear there was a power failure on those two occasions … it is another little mystery. We cannot explain it. We don't know why. We just know it did it."
An undersea search had so far been unable to uncover any signs of the plane, which is believed to have crashed somewhere in the Indian Ocean.