The mystery over the fate of the passenger jet, a Boeing 777-200, and the 239 people it was carrying has so far left government officials and aviation experts flummoxed.
"With every passing day the task becomes more difficult," Hishammuddin said Thursday.
Searchers have already been combing a vast area of sea and land for traces of the plane. But so far, with the search well into its sixth day, their efforts have been fruitless.
The Wall Street Journal report said the plane's engines have an onboard monitoring system supplied by their manufacturer, Rolls-Royce PLC. The system "periodically sends bursts of data about engine health, operations and aircraft movements to facilities on the ground," the newspaper said.
Malaysia Airlines sends its engine data live to Rolls-Royce for analysis, the report said, and that data is now being analyzed to figure out the flight path of the missing plane after contact was lost with its transponder, a radio transmitter in the cockpit that communicates with ground radar.
But Malaysia Airlines Chief Executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said Thursday that Rolls-Royce and Boeing have reported that they didn't receive transmissions of any kind after 1:07 a.m. Saturday. Air traffic controllers lost contact with the plane shortly afterward, around 1:30 a.m.
Erin Atan, a spokeswoman for Rolls-Royce in Asia, declined to comment on the matter, telling CNN it was "an official air accident investigation."
As word of the report spread, searchers appeared to draw another blank in the so-far frustrating endeavors to find traces of the plane.
Vietnamese and Malaysian planes spotted no sign of debris when they flew over an area of sea that Chinese authorities had flagged as the location of possible remnants of the missing plane, officials said.
China's State Administration for Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense had said satellite images showed "three suspected floating objects" that it described as "a suspected crash site."
But Chinese authorities later said that the release of the satellite images was a mistake and that they didn't show any debris relating to the plane, Hishammuddin said.