by Colleen Curry
March 21, 2014
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 took off from Kuala Lumpur on the morning of March 8, but lost contact with air traffic control an hour later and disappeared off the radar.
No trace of the plane and the 239 people on board have been found and few details about what could have happened to the plane have been determined.
Here’s what we know now as of now about the investigation into missing flight MH370.
Search Focuses on Indian Ocean off Australia, But Turns Up Nothing
*Five Australian and U.S. aircraft searched a region of some 15,000 square nautical miles today for signs of the plane’s debris after satellite images showed a couple of objects,the largest about 78 feet long, floating in the ocean. Finding them, however, will not be easy and the search today came up empty.
*Norway has a freighter in the area searching the waters.
*Australia’s navy also has dispatched a ship to the area.
*Japan has sent two search planes
*China is sending several ships and three military planes
*A British navy ship is heading into the region
*Malaysia has asked the U.S. for “pinger locator hyrophones” to help locate the black boxes that are presumed to be at the bottom of the ocean by now. The sonar buoys are used to detect the “ping” of the black box.
*The search is taking place in a span of the Indian Ocean between Australia and the Antarctic known as the “roaring forties” for its sharp westerly winds and rough waters, conditions that may have pushed debris far afield or caused it to sink quickly after a crash. “It is an extremely remote part of the southern Indian Ocean… about the most inaccessible spot that you could imagine on the face of the earth,” Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said today.
*Satellite pings have shown that the plane traveled some 7.5 hours after its last known contact with radar, and that it likely flew in a southern arc toward the Indian Ocean west of Australia.
*Malaysian and U.S. investigators searched the at-home flight simulator of Capt. Zaharie Ahmad Shah but found no clues pointing toward a nefarious motive. U.S. officials are trying to recover files deleted from the flight simulator. Police are still looking into whether Shah and copilot Fariq Abdul Hamid could have had anything to do with the plane’s disappearance.
*A British satellite company said Thursday that they had indications the plane was in the south Indian Ocean nearly two weeks ago, but the search for the plane did not move to that part of the world until nearly a week after the plane vanished. The revelation cast more doubt upon the investigative abilities of the Malaysian authorities.
Timeline of Events:
*12:41 a.m.: Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 takes off from Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia heading for Beijing, China. The plane shows up on radar two minutes after taking off.
*1:07 a.m.: The last automated data transmission is sent from the plane. U.S officials told ABC News they believe that sometime after this transmission the data reporting system was shut down. Sometime after this transmission Kuala Lumpur’s air traffic control tells the plane’s pilot they are handing off to air traffic control based in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The pilot responds, “All right. Good night.”
*1:21 a.m.: The plane’s transponder, which transmits location and altitude, shuts down.
*1:30 a.m.: The last moment that the plane was seen by Malaysian radar.
*1:38 a.m.: Air traffic control in Ho Chi Minh City informs Kuala Lumpur air traffic control about the signal loss.
*2:15 a.m.: Malaysian military defense radar picks up traces of a plane believed to be MH370 hundreds of miles west of its last contact point.
*After 6 a.m., the Malaysian government announced it had lost flight MH370.
The Passengers and Their Families
*Many of the passengers’ families have been huddled in a Beijing hotel where they have publicly complained about the lack of progress in finding the plane and accused the Malaysian government of withholding information and botching the investigation.
*Lawyers have arrived at the hotel seeking to represent families in lawsuits against various stakeholders in the plane’s disappearance, including U.S. company Boeing.
*239 people were on board the flight, including 227 passengers (including one infant and one toddler) and 12 crew members.
*Three Americans, including two children, are among the missing. Philip Wood, 50, an IBM executive, had just come from Texas where he was visiting family on his way to Beijing.
*A total of 14 nationalities, though 152 passengers were Chinese.
*Twenty passengers on the plane worked for the Austin, Texas, company Freescale Semiconductor. Another passenger, Chng Mei Ling, worked as an engineer for the Pennsylvania company Flexsys America LP.
*Pilot Zahari Ahmad Shah, 53, was a veteran pilot who joined Malaysia Airlines in 1981 and had over 18,000 flying hours.