THE Malaysian government’s report into the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 says all the evidence points to an incontrovertible conclusion — that the plane was under manual control, and that it was deliberately flown out into the Indian Ocean.

Flight MH370, carrying 239 people, including six Australians, disappeared on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014. It is one of the world’s greatest aviation mysteries.

“The autopilot has to be disengaged,” Chief Investigator Kok Soo Chon described the first turn tracked by civilian and military radar after the flight deviated from its course.

“It has to be on manual. We have carried out seven simulator tests, flight simulators, three at high and four at low speed and we found the turn was made indeed under a manual, not autopilot.”

However, it could not be established that the next two turns over the south of Penang and the north of MEKAR were under manual control or autopilot, he added.

The rest, he said, remained a mystery.

But he was quick to say that the findings were not part of a “final report” into the plane’s disappearance.

“This is not the final report,” Chief Investigator Kok said.

“It will be too presumptuous of us to say this is the final report, if the wreckage hasn’t been found, if no victims have been found ... How can we call the report our final report?”

He also appeared to handball responsibility for the final answer to the mystery of MH370 to the Australian government, which took responsibility for the search and rescue operations:

“The answer can only be conclusive if the wreckage is found ... as far as our team is concerned, we have done our job ... We do not deal with search. Search is not our area. You have to ask the people responsible for the search. I can only answer your question relating to the investigation,” he said.

“The radio and telephone communication by the pilot and first officer with the controllers show there was no evidence of any anxiety or stress. The aircraft maintainers record indicates the aircraft was well maintained … There was no record of any malfunction or defect of the aircraft — none that could have contributed to the disappearance,” Investigator Kok said.

“It is possible that the absence of communications prior to flight path diversion was due to the systems being manually turned off, whether with intent or otherwise … the route followed by the aircraft, the height at which it flew, did not suggest any mechanical problem with the aircraft’s control system, fuel or engines.

“The lack of evidence includes the information recorded on the fly data recorder, and other recording devices on the aircraft that could indicate why is aircraft had flown to the southern Indian Ocean.

“In conclusion, the team is unable to determine the real cause for the disappearance of MH370.”

“We cannot establish if the aircraft was flown by anyone other than the pilot,” he said.

“We can also not exclude the possibility that there’s unlawful interference by a third party. And based on the military record, there was no evidence of a rapid change in the altitude and the speed to indicate that MH-370 was deliberately evading radar.”

Suspicion naturally fell upon the flight crew, he said.

“We examined the pilot (Zaharia) … He has no conflict issues with friends or family and had shown no signs of social isolation, self-neglect, no abuse of alcohol or drugs, no change of habit or interest, no stress or anxiety was detected in his audio recordings and no signs of significant behavioural changes as observed in the CCTV footage. We examined his competency. He was a very competent pilot, almost flawless in the records, ability to handle work stress very well.”

Analysis of what was considered suspicious flight simulator tracks on his home computer were found to be too confused and limited to provide any real detail, he said.

“So in conclusion in the forensic report of the Royal Malaysian Police was there was no unusual activities other than the flight simulations,” he said.

The co-pilot, Fariq Hamid, also had no known cause to divert the flight, he said, and the alleged signal picked up from his mobile phone after the aircraft diverted was too fragmented to be reliably identified.

He said a “signal hit” appeared to show the phone was on “on-mode”, but there was no message in the data.

The lack of radio contact with MH370 before it turned aournd could indicate systems being manually turned off whether with intent or otherwise, the report added.

Chief Investigator Kok said the aircraft itself was fully certified as airworthy.

The final report itself adds: “there is no evidence to support the belief that control of the aircraft 9M-MRO (operating as MH370) could have been or was taken over remotely as the technology was not implemented on commercial aircraft.”

While mechanical fault could not be ruled out, it was most likely its communications, tracking and emergency beacon systems had been deliberately disabled.

“Without the benefit of the examination of the aircraft wreckage and recorded flight data information, the investigation is unable to determine any plausible aircraft or systems failure mode that would lead to the observed systems deactivation, diversion from the filed flight,” the formal report reads.

Investigator Kok said the satellite ‘handshakes’ received by automated systems on-board MH370 gave tantalising hints to its final minutes, but no more.

“There are two significant events … (one of) which is 2:25. The aircraft initiated a handshake. And it was most likely due to power interruption to the SATCON avionics but we do not know why. There was another handshake at 8:19. We are more clear on this handshake because it is actually due to low fuel levels at this time resulting in the loss of both engines.”

The report also found that Ho Chi Minh airport had made a mistake by not notifying Chinese authorities earlier when the plane did not make contact.

Kok said the air traffic controllers didn’t initiate various emergency phases available to them, delaying search and rescue operation.

“We went on to examine the wreckage and impact,” Investigator Kok said. “As to date, there are 27 pieces of debris that had been collected or that we know of.”

Only three, however, are certain to be from MH370 because of registration numbers. The remainder are believed to be highly likely from the Boeing 777.

He said the clues pointed the aircraft being in normal flight mode when it hit the water.

“When we examined the wreckage, the debris, we found that the right flaperon was in the neutral position, whereas the outward flap was in the retracted position.”

The position of the flaperon helps explain investigators’ theory that nobody was conscious when the plane crashed.

Captain Shah was unconscious, and researchers assumed MH370 dived, ran out of fuel, and landed in the ocean close to its final satellite position.

If someone was flying the plane, they could have glided the plane. But given the flaperon was not deployed, they concluded nobody was in control.

“Damage examination indicates that the right outboard flap was most likely in the retracted position and the right flaperon was probably at, or close to, the neutral position, at the time they separated from the wing,” the report said.

The chief investigator said: “All this gives us the indication and belief that the aircraft at that time was not configured to land”.

He confirmed that the aircraft was carrying Motorola lithium-ion batteries, but these had been classified as not being dangerous.

“It’s interesting to note that through the same period there were 99 shipments of lithium iron batteries to China,” he said. “There were 36 occasions were both lithium iron batteries and mangostine (fresh fruit) were shipped together to China between the period of January to May. And we have not found any irregularity in the packing assessment.”

Chief investigator Kok the report is not a final one, saying that with no victims found and without the bulk of the wreckage, “how could we call our report the final report?”

When asked whether it is realistic to think families would ever get conclusive answers, he said:

“The answer can only be conclusive if the wreckage is found,” he said.

“As far as our team is concerned, our work is done, we have released the report.”

Key mysteries remain a sticking point, he admitted.

That the first turn could only have been deliberate. That the radar transponders, radio communications and emergency beacons appear to have been deliberately deactivated “with intent or otherwise”.

“We are not ruling out any possibility,” Investigator Kok said. “We’re just saying that no matter what we do, we cannot exclude the possibility of a third person or third party for unlawful interference.”

Safety recommendations offered by the investigation team were: reviewing the duty roster system with the objective of improving working conditions, refresher training for air traffic controllers, introduction of new security measures for cargo-scanning, and to ensure medical conditions of flight crew are reported to relevant bodies.

Family members had been hoping that the official investigation team’s report could provide them with some closure, over four years after the Malaysia Airlines flight carrying 239 people went missing.

But grieving relatives said the technical document appeared to contain little new beyond a lengthy description of the plane’s disappearance and search efforts, and that officials were unable to answer their questions. Some angry relatives walked out of the briefing.

“It is so disappointing,” said Intan Maizura Othman, whose husband was a flight steward on MH370, which was flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing when it vanished in March 2014.

“I am frustrated. There is nothing new in the report.

“Those who gave the briefing from the ministry of transport were not able to give answers as they were not (the ones) who wrote the report.” She said that the meeting between relatives and officials descended into a “shouting match” as family members’ frustration boiled over.

“Many asked questions,” said G. Subramaniam, who lost a son on the flight, but added that “unsatisfactory responses left many angry”.

Chief Inspector Kok was asked how come it took so long to release the report. He laughed, saying:: “This is a very difficult question so far, it is maybe the most difficult.”

He said there were many reasons for the delayed publication. As new information came in they had to keep changing the report, “It’s a dynamic document,” he said.

“We cannot release our document, no matter how ready we are, when the search is still going on.”

He said “sweat, tears and also joy” had gone into it.

“It won’t be satisfactory to everybody.”