Did DQA149 operate on 8th March?

Forum members have researched the claims made by the Maldivian CAA chairman, Mr Faizal that the aircraft seen over Kudahuvadhoo was a Maldivian Airlines 50 seater turbo-prop flying to Thimarafushi, and not MH370. We asked the reporter Ms de Changy (through Twitter) to check with the airline to see if this flight actually occurred, and to her credit, it appears she has asked Mr Faizal to clarify with the airline. Mr Faizal's response as reported in the article was;

"When pressed to confirm with Maldivian the flight path or the name of the DQA149 pilot, Faizal replies that he is "not sure Maldivian have records of routes flown that far back"."

As someone who has flown as a commercial pilot in airline operations for a number of years and am familiar with standard airline operating procedures, I can say that the claim made by Mr Faizal that he is "not sure Maldivian have records of routes flown that far back", is a response that I find quite peculiar from someone who is the chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority of the country.

Firstly, being a commercial passenger flight, there must be records of the flight in the form of a flight plan that's lodged with the CAA air traffic control system, even if it is a VFR flight not requiring an instrument landing procedure.

Secondly, all aircraft have a flight maintenance log book that is used by engineering, to tally the number of hours the aircraft has flown, which routes it has flown, how much fuel is used for flights and engine performance data is recorded by pilots in this logbook during the flight. If there were any maintenance defects of an aircraft during a flight, this is to be recorded in this log book by pilots and the engineers must rectify the defects and sign it off.

This maintenance log book is a legal requirement to have for all aircraft and is also used to schedule periodic maintenance checks throughout the aircraft's life-time. In airline operations, there should be records of all flights and routes flown in this logbook. So, I'm quite perplexed when Mr Faizal says he is "not sure Maldivian have records of routes flown that far back". They surely must have records of this, and any other flights that aircraft has flown.

Thirdly, if you go to the website, www.flightstats.com , historical data of scheduled commercial flights can be accessed. I checked for flights to and from Thimarafushi (TMF - VRNT) for that day, 8th March 2014 and there were no flights on that day for TMF.  

Fourthly, the flight that Mr Faizal claims to be over Kudahuvadhoo, Maldivian DQA149, is a scheduled flight from a different airport flying in the opposite direction to what the witnesses saw. From flightstats.com, DQA149 (Q2 149) is a flight from (KDM) Kaadedhdhoo Airport to Male, scheduled for 0540 am and arriving in Male at 6:50 am. Kudahuvadhoo is 37 NM (70km) to the west of that flight path, so even if the pilot was off track due to 'unusually strong winds', there is no way it can be that far off track.

If the pilot was that far off track and flying so low that witnesses could see the paint scheme of the aircraft, then Mr Faizal's


 department should seriously investigate
A. Why it was off track by more than the normal (and possibly legal) navigational tolerances,
B. why it was so low at a point where it should have been at a cruising altitude. Flying that low may also have been a breach of air safety regulations as well. Furthermore, the prevailing winds in that area is a westerly (I've checked this almost daily for my own research), so if an aircraft was to be off track due to unusually strong winds, then it would be off track to the east, and not west.

It should also be mentioned that Thimarafushi airport does not have runway edge lights and therefore can only be used during daylight hours. Sunrise at Kudahuvadhoo on the 8th March 2014 was at 06:15am (at about the time of the sightings), so even if there is some confusion over where DQA149 originated from, it could not have been departing from Thimarafushi before sunrise, due to the lack of runway edge lights.

My conclusion is that Mr Faizal's suggestion that the witnesses over Kudahuvadhoo saw a 50 seater turbo-prop aircraft and not MH370, can not be believed for the reasons I mentioned above.
 
The clear disinformation about the propeller passenger plane being released just after Mr Gibson's visit to the islands, plus the hasty dissemination by many media sources without proper investigation, , would indicate that a nerve has been struck and we may just be on the right track.
 
 First the Maldives officials said "no plane at all," then a "private jet" and now a "passenger propeller plane flight " that in actuality did not exist. 
 
The big question is why were previously reputable media sources like the Australian and Le Monde so quick to disseminate this disinformation without the slightest amount of evidence or investigation demanded by professional journalistic standards? 
 
"Inmarsat's MH370 data "story" is completely UNCORROBORATED. And despite this myth being repeated in the media (which now includes SCMP)  "According to Inmarsat data...MH370 would have run out of fuel long before 6.15am Maldivian time" — Juanda Ismail AND Victor Ianello have calculated that MH370 had enough fuel to fly to the Maldives. So we have to ask: why isn't the media questioning Inmarsat, instead trying to discredit the Maldives witnesses?" (2)
 
A  rough calculation based on the B772 ER Flight Crew Operation Manual (FCOM)  The calculations are based on figures from FCOM which gives the fuel flow rates at various weights and altitudes and power settings. It also gives the aircraft's indicated airspeed from which its true airspeed can be estimated using standard ISA conditions. Along with the prevailing winds for that part of the world which can be estimated by accessing the terminal area forecast for Male airport, the initial calculations suggest that it was possible for 9M-MRO to have reached the area of the sightings at the time witnesses saw a low flying aircraft.

Credits
J Ismail
J Judice (2)