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MH370 raw satellite data to be publicized after months of waiting

By Saima Mohsin and Holly Yan, CNN
May 21, 2014 -- Updated 1158 GMT (1958 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Inmarsat and Malaysian officials say they are working to release raw satellite data
  • Families have been clamoring for the information for months
  • The data could allow for an independent analysis of what happened on March 8
  • "Their intentions have to be backed by actions," the husband of a passenger says

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (CNN) -- After months of clamoring, the MH370 raw satellite data that families have been demanding may soon be publicized.

Until now, Inmarsat, the company whose satellites communicated with the missing plane in its last hours, has said it didn't have the authority to release it.

But on Tuesday, Inmarsat and Malaysian authorities said they were trying to make the raw data accessible.

Malaysia to Inmarsat: Make data public
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"In line with our commitment towards greater transparency, all parties are working for the release of the data communication logs and the technical description of the analysis for public consumption," Inmarsat and the Malaysian aviation officials said in a joint statement.

A policewoman watches a couple whose son was on board the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 cry outside the airline's office building in Beijing after officials refused to meet with them on Wednesday, June 11. The jet has been missing since March 8. A policewoman watches a couple whose son was on board the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 cry outside the airline's office building in Beijing after officials refused to meet with them on Wednesday, June 11. The jet has been missing since March 8.
The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
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"It must also be noted that the data communication logs is just one of the many elements of the investigation information," the officials said.

The statement did not say when the information would be released. But publication of the raw satellite data could allow for independent analysis of what happened on March 8, the day Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared with 239 people on board.

Some relatives of passengers weren't sure what to make of the announcement.

"Their intentions have to be backed by actions, so I'd like to wait to see when that really happens," said K.S. Narendran, whose wife was on the plane.

"Secondly, it's just one piece of the whole amount of data that has been used to conduct the search," Narendran told CNN's Don Lemon. "So when sharing Inmarsat data by itself is important, I think it will be essential as time goes by for the larger set of data to also be made available."

But CNN aviation analyst Jeff Wise said "the box is going to open" when the data gets publicized.

"It could produce more theories. It will probably cancel out a lot of theories," he said.

Either way, the release will hopefully give "a much better understanding of what's been going on all this time."

Inmarsat 'working' to make raw MH370 data public

Conflicting accounts

On Monday, Malaysia's acting transportation minister said the government asked Inmarsat to publicize the satellite data.

Malaysian officials told CNN last week that their government did not have the raw data. But Inmarsat officials said the company provided all of it to Malaysian officials "at an early stage in the search."

Family of MH370 passenger reacts to film

"We've shared the information that we had, and it's for the investigation to decide what and when it puts out," Inmarsat Senior Vice President Chris McLaughlin said last week.

But a senior Malaysian official told CNN that the government needed Inmarsat's help to pass on the data to families "in a presentable way."

"We are trying to be as transparent as possible," the official said. "We have no issues releasing the data."

Whenever the information comes out, it may help answer questions by critics who are skeptical about where officials have been searching for the plane.

Some scientists studying the disappearance and relatives of those on board have become increasingly critical of the lack of public information about why the search has focused on the southern Indian Ocean.

Did Inmarsat data point Flight 370 searchers in wrong direction?

Cannes: Movie maker courts controversy with MH370 thriller

CNN's Saima Mohsin reported from Kuala Lumpur; Holly Yan reported and wrote from Atlanta.

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