Oil rig worker reveals he lost his job for reporting that he saw 'MH370 on fire'
- Mike McKay was working on the Songa Mercur oil rig off the coast of Vietnam on March 8 when he saw what he believed was a 'burning plane'
- Mr McKay sent an email claiming: 'I believe I saw the Malaysian Airlines plane come down. The timing is right'
- The email was leaked to the media and Mr McKay was paid up until the end of his work period but released from the rig five days earlier
- The drilling consultant for the past 35 years is now looking for more work
A New Zealand oil rig worker, who claimed to have seen 'MH370 on fire' over the South China Sea, revealed today that he had lost his job for reporting the incident.
Speaking for the first time about the sighting of a 'burning aircraft' and the loss of his job, Mike McKay remained positive about the contents of an email he had sent, in which he said: 'I believe I saw the Malaysian Airlines plane come down. The timing is right.'
And he said that the ongoing search for the missing airliner raised many unanswered questions, adding: 'The investigators do not inspire trust.'
Mr McKay was working on the Songa Mercur oil rig off the southern coast of Vietnam on the night of March 8 when he saw what he believed was a burning plane.
A New Zealand oil rig worker lost his job for reporting that he claimed to have seen Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 on fire
Mike McKay claimed to have seen the aircraft 'burning' while it was flying over the South China Sea
He sent an email to his employers, which in turn was leaked to the media who gained access to his name, place of work, the rig operator, Idemitsu, as well as McKay's contractor and rig owner Songa Offshore.
The email address was inundated with so many inquiries that the operators' communications became blocked.
'This became intolerable for them and I was removed from the rig and not invited back,' he told New Zealand's Sunday Star Times.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau said on Thursday independent research confirmed searchers were looking in the right place for the plane
The latest information and analysis confirms that MH370 will be found in close proximity to the arc set out in this map and labelled as the 7th arc. At the time MH370 reached this arc, the aircraft is considered to have exhausted its fuel and to have been descending. As a result, the aircraft is unlikely to be more than 20 NM (38 km) to the west or 30 NM (55 km) to the east of the arc.
The 7th arc: The seventh arc on this globe is the area where MH370 is thought to be. The arc was determined by measuring the time difference between communication messages sent between MH370 and an Inmarsat satellite
He said that although he was paid up until the end of his work period, he was released from the rig five days earlier.
Mr McKay, a drilling fluids consultant who has worked mostly in South East Asia for the past 35 years - the last six almost continuously in Vietnam waters - is now looking for more work.
In his email, Mr McKay gave what appeared to be credible details of a burning plane.
He described his exact location on the oil rig, the compass bearing of where the aircraft was in relation to the rig, the approximate distance of the plane from the rig, the current on the water surface and the wind direction.
False hope: Search teams have given up listening to pings detected by this machine as it's now been confirmed they did not come from missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370's black box
This diagram shows where the pings were detected, around 1,500 miles north west of Perth, in western Australia. They lead to the search area being defined to a smaller space around them, but they have now been discounted from the investigation
New method: The American navy then used the Bluefin-21 (pictured being hoisted on board Ocean Shield) to map the ocean floor. The autonomous vehicle was managed by the Royal Australian Navy Ship (right)
The plane, he said in the email, was not on the normal flight path scheduled jets flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing took - a fact he knew because 'we see the contrails every day.'
He signed off his email with a 'good luck', followed by his full name and New Zealand passport number.
After reading the email, Vietnamese authorities interviewed the New Zealander and started an initial search - but two days after speaking to him the search in the South China Sea was called off when the hunt for MH370 switched to the Andaman Sea and then to the southern part of the Indian Ocean.
Back in March the AMSA (Australian Maritime Safety Authority) was searching this relatively small area for MH370. This handout satellite image shows a map of the planned search area on March 24, 2014
Since then, he said, neither the Malaysian nor Australian search teams had contacted him.
Just last week, British yachtswoman Katherine Tee, 41, reported seeing an airliner on fire on the same night as Mr McKay's 'burning plane' - but she was in a totally different area, sailing east from southern India to Phuket in southern Thailand.
She told of seeing a plane surrounded by bright orange lights, leaving a trail of smoke as it pased above her.
Mr McKay told the New Zealand paper that his sighting placed the aircraft around 2000kms (1200 miles) from the location of Ms Tee.
He said he was unsure if MH370 could have flown that far, asking: 'How far can a burning aeroplane fly?'
WHERE IS MH370? THEORIES ABOUT THE MISSING PLANE
Meanwhile, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau sparked renewed hope in the search for MH370, saying a study completed after the 2009 Air France crash concluded that the majority of aircraft in loss-of-control accidents were found within 32km of their last known position.
'This provides a reasonable limitation for the size of the search area across the arc.'
The satellite data indicates the Boeing 777 flew for six hours after falling off radar screens.
A new and potentially deeper underwater search taking up to 12 months will begin in August, with a formal request for tender to undertake the search to soon be released, according to The Joint Agency Co-ordination Centre.
Meanwhile, a Chinese vessel is currently conducting a bathymetric survey - or mapping of the ocean floor - to help experts determine how to carry out the next stage of the search on the previously unmapped ocean seabed.
Recently, there have been many claims of knowledge about the whereabouts of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight.
Curtin University in Western Australia released information that an underwater sound recorded just 10 minutes after the plane lost contact with air traffic control could have been the plane crashing into the water.
However, Dr Alec Duncan from the University said there is only a 10 percent chance the 'dull oomph' was actually MH370.
And a British sailor reported she spotted what she believed to be a plane on fire with black smoke trailing behind it while on a 13 month expedition with her husband.
Katherine Tee said she didn't say anything at the time as she was the only one who spotted it and didn't realise it's potential relevance.
Relatives of the 239 passengers and crew were recently successful in demanding Inmarsat publicly release its data, after losing faith that searchers were looking in the right area.
The search for the missing plane continues, with Chinese vessels mapping the sea floor in preparation for the next step of the search.