On this day in 2014, Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370/MAS370, carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew members, disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (Malaysia) to Beijing Capital International Airport in China.
The last time the flight made voice contact with air traffic control was at 01:19 MYT on March 8 or 17:19 UTC, March 7 while over the South China Sea. It disappeared from air traffic controllers’ radar screens at 01:22 MYT. Meanwhile, Malaysian military radar continued to track the aircraft and saw it deviate from its flight path to cross the Malay Peninsula.
At 02:22 it left the range of Malaysian military radar and was over the Andaman Sea, about 200 nautical miles north-west of Penang (north-western Malaysia).
In the Gulf of Thailand and the South China Sea where the flight’s signal was last seen, a multinational search effort began and was soon extended to the Straits of Malacca and Andaman Seas.
Although a precise location of the Boeing 777-200ER could not be determined, analysis of satellite communications concluded that the flight continued until at least 08:19 and flew south into the southern Indian Ocean. The search then refocused on that area, with Australia taking charge on March 17.
The Malaysian government on March 24, however, concluded that “Flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean” and that its final location was far from any possible landing sites.
The search effort moved to its current phase, a comprehensive survey of the sea floor about 1,800 kilometres (970 nmi) south-west of Perth, western Australia in October 2014.
The largest and most expensive search in aviation history, the search for MH370 is ongoing two years later. Nothing was found of the aircraft until on July 29, 2015, a flaperon confirmed to be from the doomed flight washed ashore on Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean.
Just last Thursday, what is believed to be the second piece found from the flight, a square-shaped grey item with a blue border measuring 40 X 20 cm, was discovered on Reunion by Johny Begue, the same man who found the flaperon.
Still, the bulk of the aircraft has not been found, leaving just about all questions with regard to what exactly happened to it unanswered. What we do know is that neither the crew nor the aircraft’s communication systems relayed a distress signal or indicated bad weather or technical problems before the flight vanished.
Two passengers who travelled on the aircraft with stolen passports were cleared as suspects. Malaysian police have identified the captain as the prime suspect but without the evidence needed to make an accusation or explain why.