Aviation Accidents

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: The Mystery of The Lost Plane

An International and ordinary flight, which was prepared by Malaysia Airlines as always, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 (MH370/MAS370) suddenly disappeared  without leaving any traces on 8 March 2014 while it was flying to its planned rotation Beijing Capital International Airport, from Kuala Lumpur International Airport. The flight’s plane was decided as Boeing 777-200ER and the crew of the Boeing 777-200ER registered as 9M-MRO. Last communication between the Boeing 777-200ER’s crew and air traffic control (ATC) was around 38 minutes after takeoff. At that time the flight was over the South China Sea, which is a marginal sea of the Western Pacific Ocean. Just a few minutes later, air traffic control radar screens lost the aircraft but the military had kept tracking the plane for another hour. The plane’s planned rotation was deviating westwards, crossing the Malay Peninsula and Andaman Sea. Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 left radar range 200 nautical miles (370 km; 230 mi) northwest of Penang Island in northwestern Peninsular Malaysia.

The plane was carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew members and all of the people in the plane were presumed dead. Malaysia Airlines Flight 370’s disappearance was the deadliest incident involving a Boeing 777 and and the deadliest in ongoing  Malaysia Airlines’ history. Those situations had kept “the deadliest” tags until both cases were surpassed by the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. Just 4 months after the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 on 17 July 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down while the plane was tracking its route, at that time the plane was flying over the conflict-stricken Eastern Ukraine. As a result of all those situations, Malaysia Airlines faced remarkable financial problems and Malaysia Government renationalised the Malaysia Airlines in August 2014.

The searching works became the most expensive search works in aviation history for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane. In the search they focused especially on the South China Sea and Andaman Sea just before analysis of the aircraft’s automated communications with an Inmarsat satellite. While searching, the satellite specified the possible incident area somewhere in the Southern Indian Ocean. In spite of all those searching works official information was not enough in the days after the disappearance. Most of the passengers on board Flight 370 were of Chinese origin and as a result of this an uncontrollable criticism had started from the Chinese Republic, especially from the relatives and friends of the passengers.

During 2015 – 2016 years in the western indian ocean a lot of marine debris was confirmed that all these debris belong to an aircraft washed ashore. Locating the missing plane all across the 120,000 km2 (46,000 sq mi) of ocean failed just after a three-year search. The Joint Agency Coordination Centre was in charge and they put off the search activities in January 2017. In January 2018, private conductor Ocean Infinity prepared a second search work for the Flight 370 and it took 6 months but they could not reach any success in search.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) suggested that a hypoxia event was the most probable to bring about the available evidence about missing Flight 370 and they trusted the analysis of the data from the Inmarsat satellite which was the aircraft used for Flight 370 lastly communicated. Even though the consensus had not been reached about the theory among the investigators.

Possible hijacking scenarios were thinked about in the different times of the search works. The scenarios even include the crew’s involvement and the suspicion of the aeroplane’s cargo manifest. And many of these different disappearance theories about the missing plane of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 were announced to the media for people. The Malaysian Ministry of Transport published their final report but even the final report was inconclusive. But the final report highlighted the Malaysian Air Traffic Control’s communication attempts and their attempts’ failure just a little time after the disappearance. In the absence of an exact reason for the disappearance of Flight 370, Flight 370 was cited to have been intended mostly to put a stop to a repetition of the conditions related with the disappearance by  air transport industry safety recommendations and regulations. All of these recommendations and regulations were about the emergency situations not only Flight 370’s experienced but also possible flight accidents which are always essential and must-be-precaused. These recommendations and regulations include upgraded battery life on emergency underwater locator beacons, lengthening of recording times on flight data recorders and cockpit voice recorders, and new standards for aircraft position reporting over the open ocean. These kinds of recommendations and regulations would save a lot of people’s lives.

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
source: Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc./Kenny Chmielewski

Passengers and Crew

The aircraft was carrying 12 Malaysian crew members (All 12 crew members—two pilots and 10 cabin staff—were Malaysian citizens) and 227 passengers from 14 different nations. The pilot in command was 53-year-old Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah from Penang and The co-pilot was 27-year-old First Officer Fariq Abdul Hamid.

On the day the Flight 370’s disappeared, Malaysia Airlines released the names and nationalities of the passengers and crew, based on the flight manifest. The passenger list was later updated to include two Iranian passengers travelling on stolen Austrian and Italian passports.