#MH370: What Do We Know About Missing Malaysian Airline

If this aircraft flew low over land, and people on board knew there was a problem, why did no-one try to make a phone call?

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 went missing on the morning of Saturday, March 8 with 239 passengers and crew on board. It was heading from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

This is one thing that everybody knows for sure about the flight but the signs that the jet was deliberately diverted by someone on board about an hour after takeoff has been increasing.

After all, vanishing of a big plane from one of the largest airlines on one of the busiest routes in thin air is quite unlikely.


There were 227 passengers, including 153 Chinese and 38 Malaysians, according to the manifest. Seven were children. Other passengers came from Iran, the US, Canada, Indonesia, Australia, India, France, New Zealand, Ukraine, Russia, Taiwan and the Netherlands. All 12 crew members were Malaysian. Among the Chinese nationals were a delegation of 19 prominent artists who had attended an exhibition in Kuala Lumpur.

With so many of their nationals aboard, the Chinese government has been very involved in the search, expressing barely-concealed frustration with the lack of progress.

Interestingly, the Malaysia Airlines later revealed that there were four passengers who checked in for the flight but did not show up at the airport.

Last Contact

Flight MH370 departed from Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 00:41 on Saturday (16:41 GMT Friday), and was due to arrive in Beijing at 06:30 (22:30 GMT). Malaysia Airlines says the plane lost contact at 01:30 (17:30 GMT) – about an hour after takeoff.

The last verbal communication with the plane came at the boundary between Malaysian and Vietnamese airspace. No distress signal or message was sent if one has to suspect crash or sudden malfunction in the plane.

The disappearance

The plane’s planned route would have taken it north-eastwards, over Cambodia and Vietnam, and the initial search focused on the South China Sea, south of Vietnam’s Ca Mau peninsula. The search, joined by 25 countries involving dozens of ships and planes, is now focusing on the sea west of Malaysia after military radar and satellite tracking confirmed the aircraft changed course, heading in a north-westerly direction, back over the Malay peninsula towards the Indian Ocean.

MH370’s last communication with a satellite suggested the jet was in one of two flight corridors, the Malaysian PM said. One is a northern corridor between Thailand and Kazakhstan; the other a southern route between Indonesia and the southern Indian Ocean.

The timing of the last confirmed communication with a satellite was 08:11 (00:11 GMT), meaning that the Boeing continued flying for nearly seven hours after contact with air traffic control was lost. Investigators are making further calculations to establish how far the plane might have flown after the last point of contact.

Possibility of terrorist attack

On 15 March, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced that investigators had established that the plane’s automated tracking systems had been turned off during the early part of the flight.

The Aircraft Communications and Addressing Reporting System (ACARS) – a digital link with ground systems – was silenced as the plane crossed Malaysia’s east coast. Its transponder, which communicates with ground radar, was shut down as the aircraft crossed from Malaysian air traffic control into Vietnamese airspace over the South China Sea.

This gives strength to the possibility that either the flight crew did this willingly, or they were forced by someone else to do so.

According to Razak, the change of direction was consistent with “deliberate action on the plane. But he stressed that despite media reports speculating that the plane was hijacked, all possibilities were still being investigated.

Change in focus

The possibility of a foul play has shifted the focus of the investigation to the crew and passengers on board and police in Malaysia have searched the pilot’s home.

Two Iranian men were travelling on stolen passports – 19-year-old Pouria Nour Mohammad Mehrdad and Delavar Seyed Mohammadreza, 29. But officials said the two, believed to be headed for Europe via Beijing, had no apparent links to terrorist groups. However, the presence of two passengers with stolen passports raised questions about security.


Reports of possible wreckage or oil slicks related to the plane have been proven to be unrelated to the missing airliner.

On 12 March, grainy satellite images that purported to show debris in the sea, possibly from the plane, were released by China’s State Administration of Science. After the dearth of evidence of the previous days, they were seized on, but have since been dismissed by the Malaysian authorities.

Other theories

Common factors in plane crashes are poor weather, pilot error and mechanical failure. But none have been found or proven so far. Aside from possible hijacking, the Malaysian authorities say they are looking at sabotage, psychological problems among the passengers and crew and personal problems.

Weather conditions for this flight are said to have been good and the 53-year-old pilot, who had more than 18,000 flying hours behind him, had been employed by the airline since 1981.

Malaysia Airlines has a good safety record and the jet, a Boeing 777-200ER, is said to be one of the safest because of its modern technology.

Unanswered questions

It is easy to switch off every tracking device inside the plane but a traditional radar would still pick up the presence of a plane.

The pilot has a panel of hundreds of buttons above his or her head; if they pull the right one, then the system switches off.

But if you switch anything off, an orange warning light appears on a screen in front of the crew. It is highly unlikely one could do it without the other noticing.

Why there wasn’t any distress call made by thecrew?

If this aircraft flew low over land, and people on board knew there was a problem, why did no-one try to make a phone call?

Article Categories:

Don't Miss! random posts ..