Malaysia Airlines MH 370 Incident

9M-MRO Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200, Photo by Bernhard Ebner, obtained from flightradar24.com
9M-MRO Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200, Photo by Bernhard Ebner, obtained from flightradar24.com

MH 370 is a Malaysia Airlines flight from Kuala Lumpur International Airport – KLIA (KUL) to Beijing (PEK). On March 8th 2014, it departed from KUL at 12:41 AM and is expected to land at 6:30 AM. However, it lost contact with air trafic controllers few hours later. It carried 239 passengers, including 2 infants, and 12 crew members.

Note: All times mentioned here are in Malaysian Time (GMT +0800, UTC +0800).

The Star reports that it was last in contact with Vietnam-controlled airspace and did not enter Chinese airspace. Malaysia Airlines has released a series of statements on its website as well as social media channels, alerting general public about the situation. Its team focusing on mobilizing search and rescue effort and also contacting next-of-kin. If there is any fatality in this incident, this will be the third time Malaysia Airlines has incidents involving fatalities on its safety record, the first one was MH 653 in December 4th 1977 and MH 2133 in September 15th 1995, taken 100 and 34 lives respectively.

 

Timeline

Using data compiled from various sources, here is the timeline of MH 370 disappearance.

Elapsed Time (MYT) Time (UTC) Event
0:00 0:41 16:41 Take-off from KUL (Kuala Lumpur)
0:20 1:01 17:01 Crew confirms altitude of 35,000 feet (11,000 m)[35]
0:26 1:07 17:07 Last ACARS data transmission received;[36] crew confirms altitude of 35,000 feet, a second time[35]
0:38 1:19 17:19 Last Malaysian ATC voice contact[37]
0:40 1:21 17:21 Last secondary radar (transponder) contact at 6°55′15″N 103°34′43″E[38]
0:41 1:22 17:22 Transponder and ADS-B no longer operating.
0:49 1:30 17:30 Voice contact attempt by another aircraft, at request of Vietnam ATC; mumbling and radio static heard in reply[32]
0:56 1:37 17:37 Missed expected half-hourly ACARS data transmission[36]
1:34 2:15 18:15 Last primary radar contact by Malaysian military, 200 miles (320 km) NW of Penang
1:41 2:22 18:22 1st of 6 roughly hourly Classic Aero[39] pings (handshakes) since last ACARS transmission, via the Inmarsat-3 F1 satellite[40][41]
5:49 6:30 22:30 Missed scheduled arrival at PEK (Beijing)
6:43 7:24 23:24 Malaysia Airlines pronounces flight missing in statement released to media[38]
7:30 8:11 0:11 6th and last successful automated hourly handshake with Inmarsat-3 F1[40][42]
7:38 8:19 0:19 Unscheduled, unexplained partial handshake transmitted by aircraft[43][44]
8:34 9:15 1:15 Scheduled hourly ping attempt by Inmarsat goes unanswered by aircraft[40]

Aircraft Data from FlightAware

  • Status: Result Unknown
  • Last reported:-
  • Time: 1:02 AM
  • Coordinates: 4.7073 , 102.5278
  • Heading: 25˚
  • Speed: 468 kts / 539 mph
  • Altitude: 35,000 feet

 

The Aircraft: Boeing 777-200ER, Registration 9M-MRO

The aircraft was delivered on May 31st 2002, according to a set of data made available by Airfleets.net. Additional data from the site is displayed as below.

  • Serial number: 28420 LN:404
  • Type: 777-2H6ER
  • First flight date: 14/05/2002
  • Plane age: 11.8 years

 

News Releases

Facebook statement from Malaysia Airlines

Shortly after missing MH 370’s scheduled landing time, Malaysia Airlines has released a statement on its Facebook page:

Sepang, 8 March 2014: Malaysia Airlines confirms that flight MH370 has lost contact with Subang Air Traffic Control at 2.40am, today (8 March 2014). Flight MH370, operated on the B777-200 aircraft, departed Kuala Lumpur at 12.41am on 8 March 2014. MH370 was expected to land in Beijing at 6.30am the same day. The flight was carrying a total number of 227 passengers (including 2 infants), 12 crew members. Malaysia Airlines is currently working with the authorities who have activated their Search and Rescue team to locate the aircraft. The airline will provide regular updates on the situation. Meanwhile, the public may contact +603 7884 1234 for further info.

Subsequent Media Statements from MAS

Listed below are media statements released by MAS in chronological order. All times are in Malaysian Standard Time (MST/MYT).

  • March 8th, 7:30 AM: 1st Media Statement – Initial disappearance announcement
  • March 8th, 9:05 AM: 2nd Media Statement – More contact information is given for media and next-of-kin
  • March 8th 10:30 AM 3rd Media Statement – Nationalities of passengers revealed. Nanming landing speculation is being investigated.
  • March 8th 2:30 PM 3A (unnumbered media statement) – Codeshare information, MH team is being sent to Beijing
  • March 8th 4:20 PM 4th Media Statement – Passenger manifest will only be released after all family members have been informed. “Go Team”, a team of caregivers and volunteers will depart to Beijing at 4:30 PM. Public is advised to avoid unvalidated claims on media.
  • March 8th 7:20 PM 5th Media Statement – Flight manifest has been released. International Search and Rescue team has been mobilized this morning. Sea mission will continue while air mission will recommence at daylight.
  • March 9th, 2:00 AM: 6th Media Statement – ISR effort from Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam fails to find anything.
  • March 9th, 9:30 AM: 7th Media Statement – “GoTeam” has 94 caregivers and volunteers. Disaster recovery management specialist from Atlanta, USA will be helping
  • March 9th, 2:43 PM: 8th Media Statement – Family members are being procided with information, travel facilities, accommodation, meals and emotional support. Initial financial assistance was also given. Caregivers assigned to each family.
  • March 10th, 10:00 AM: 9th Media Statement – S&R is being coordinated by Department of Civil Aviation (DCA).
  • More to come

 

More Statements

MAS has released another statement about an hour after the Facebook post. Among new information: 13 nationalities. Apart from that, reports from world media also surfaced, including ones by CNN, Al Jazeera and Xinhua News Agency.

We deeply regret that we have lost all contacts with flight MH370 which departed Kuala Lumpur at 12.41 am earlier this morning bound for Beijing. The aircraft was scheduled to land at Beijing International Airport at 6.30am local Beijing time. Subang Air Traffic Control reported that it lost contact at 2.40am (local Malaysia time) today. Flight MH370 was operated on a Boeing B777-200 aircraft. The flight was carrying a total number of 239 passengers and crew – comprising 227 passengers (including 2 infants), 12 crew members. The passengers were of 13 different nationalities. Malaysia Airlines is currently working with the authorities who have activated their Search and Rescue team to locate the aircraft. Our team is currently calling the next-of-kin of passengers and crew. Focus of the airline is to work with the emergency responders and authorities and mobilize its full support. Our thoughts and prayers are with all affected passengers and crew and their family members. The airline will provide regular updates on the situation. The public may contact +603 7884 1234. For media queries, kindly contact +603 8777 5698/ +603 8787 1276. Next-of-kin may head to the Support Facility Building at KLIA’s South Support Zone. For directions, call 03 8787 1269.

March 10th 2014: 9:57 PM: Mystery clouds MH 370 disappearance

After few days, more questions start to surface than answers. The complexity of the disappearance grows as some signs of development proved to be a set of false alarms. For example, foreign objects spotted near the last location of the aircraft were thought to be part of it such as aircraft door. However, upon closer inspection, that object was found to be something else. A stretch of oil slick found was also initially reported to be consistent to the ones from jet fuel is found out to be a false alarm too. Search area is now being expanded to the area of Andaman Sea and Straits of Malacca. Authorities are not ruling out possibility of terrorist attack since at least two passengers of the plane manage to board it using false identity.

March 11th 2014, 12:16 PM: Pressure looming and search process intensifies

Malaysia Airlines did not issue any additional statement since yesterday. That indicates there is no significant lead in the investigation. We randomly check local and international new avenues for additional reporting in search and rescue operation. The developments are stated in the following paragraph. For those who are seeking information with local news sources, occasionally Sinar Harian and The Star website is not accessible. We believe this is due to overloading of the news site servers. CNN has listed four possible scenarios without conclusive evidence, namely 1) Bomb or ‘dry run’ 2) Hijacking 3) Mechanical Failure 4) Pilot error. Although all four scenarios are listed based on the best guess possible, we must note that the evidence is inconclusive. Besides, CNN also presented the argument in objective and neutral manner, leaving the final interpretation to future news developments. Read more here. BBC reported that China is pressuring Malaysian government to step up the search effort. This is reasonable considering that it has the most number of passengers in the plan. However, China does not play a major role in search and rescue process. As a major player in world, China should have spent more resources for search and rescue effort and not just contributing a little and downplayed Malaysian search effort. Although Air France’s Flight 447 disaster happened just few years back, we have made a significant advancement in terms of technology and how do we connect with each other. When human beings are more connected than ever, we tend to read too much information. This is detrimental because we might catch ourselves being surrounded by false hopes. However, the positive side of this development is the authorities are more compelled to be transparent and face-paced in their investigation process. Al Jazeera has a news article regarding the public patience about this matter.

4:35 PM – One of the passengers with stolen passport was identified

Major news reports stated that Pouria Nour Mohammad Mehrdad, a teenager from Iran, is trying to migrate ilegally to Europe. He is not suspected to have any terrorist link. BBC Report link here.

March 12th 2014, 1:45 PM – Contradictions in statements, allegations made against MH 370 First Officer

Media channels scrambled to produce reports saying “a source” from Malaysian military stated the plane might veered hundreds of miles off its original intended course and was last seen on a spot near Pulau Perak in Malacca Strait. Within a day, the military chief came out with a contradicting statement, denying earlier news reports. Australian Current Affairs (ACA) show has featured a lady making allegations against MAS’ First Officer in MH 370, Mr. Fariq Ab Hamid. In the show (as well as subsequent media reports), Fariq was highlighted to be flirty towards the ladies, an allegation that made Malaysia Airlines shocked. In its statement, the company said it takes this matter seriously. However, it is embroiled in a huge crisis now (search and rescue of MH 370) and decided to prioritize on the search process instead.

March 15th 2014, 7:45 PM – Najib Razak: Investigation refocuses on flight passenger and crew

Malaysian Prime Minister has released a statement:

“Seven days ago Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 disappeared. We realise this is an excruciating time for the families of those on board. No words can describe the pain they must be going through. Our thoughts and our prayers are with them. I have been appraised of the on-going search operation round the clock. At the beginning of the operation, I ordered the search area to be broadened; I instructed the Malaysian authorities to share all relevant information freely and transparently with the wider investigation team; and I requested that our friends and allies join the operation. As of today, 14 countries, 43 ships and 58 aircraft are involved in the search. I wish to thank all the governments for their help at such a crucial time. Since day one, the Malaysian authorities have worked hand-in-hand with our international partners – including neighbouring countries, the aviation authorities and a multinational search force – many of whom have been here on the ground since Sunday. We have shared information in real time with authorities who have the necessary experience to interpret the data. We have been working nonstop to assist the investigation. And we have put our national security second to the search for the missing plane. It is widely understood that this has been a situation without precedent. We have conducted search operations over land, in the South China Sea, the Straits of Malacca, the Andaman Sea and the Indian Ocean. At every stage, we acted on the basis of verified information, and we followed every credible lead. Sometimes these leads have led nowhere. There has been intense speculation. We understand the desperate need for information on behalf of the families and those watching around the world. But we have a responsibility to the investigation and the families to only release information that has been corroborated. And our primary motivation has always been to find the plane. In the first phase of the search operation, we searched near MH370’s last known position, in the South China Sea. At the same time, it was brought to our attention by the Royal Malaysian Air Force that, based on their primary radar, an aircraft – the identity of which could not be confirmed – made a turn back. The primary radar data showed the aircraft proceeding on a flight path which took it to an area north of the Straits of Malacca. Given this credible data, which was subsequently corroborated with the relevant international authorities, we expanded the area of search to include the Straits of Malacca and, later, to the Andaman Sea. Early this morning I was briefed by the investigation team – which includes the FAA, NTSB, the AAIB, the Malaysian authorities and the Acting Minister of Transport – on new information that sheds further light on what happened to MH370. Based on new satellite information, we can say with a high degree of certainty that the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) was disabled just before the aircraft reached the East coast of peninsular Malaysia. Shortly afterwards, near the border between Malaysian and Vietnamese air traffic control, the aircraft’s transponder was switched off. From this point onwards, the Royal Malaysian Air Force primary radar showed that an aircraft which was believed – but not confirmed – to be MH370 did indeed turn back. It then flew in a westerly direction back over peninsular Malaysia before turning northwest. Up until the point at which it left military primary radar coverage, these movements are consistent with deliberate action by someone on the plane. Today, based on raw satellite data that was obtained from the satellite data service provider, we can confirm that the aircraft shown in the primary radar data was flight MH370. After much forensic work and deliberation, the FAA, NTSB, AAIB and the Malaysian authorities, working separately on the same data, concur. According to the new data, the last confirmed communication between the plane and the satellite was at 8:11AM Malaysian time on Saturday 8th March. The investigations team is making further calculations which will indicate how far the aircraft may have flown after this last point of contact. This will help us to refine the search. Due to the type of satellite data, we are unable to confirm the precise location of the plane when it last made contact with the satellite. However, based on this new data, the aviation authorities of Malaysia and their international counterparts have determined that the plane’s last communication with the satellite was in one of two possible corridors: a northern corridor stretching approximately from the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to northern Thailand, or a southern corridor stretching approximately from Indonesia to the southern Indian ocean. The investigation team is working to further refine the information. In view of this latest development the Malaysian authorities have refocused their investigation into the crew and passengers on board. Despite media reports that the plane was hijacked, I wish to be very clear: we are still investigating all possibilities as to what caused MH370 to deviate from its original flight path. This new satellite information has a significant impact on the nature and scope of the search operation. We are ending our operations in the South China Sea and reassessing the redeployment of our assets. We are working with the relevant countries to request all information relevant to the search, including radar data. As the two new corridors involve many countries, the relevant foreign embassies have been invited to a briefing on the new information today by the Malaysian Foreign Ministry and the technical experts. I have also instructed the Foreign Ministry to provide a full briefing to foreign governments which had passengers on the plane. This morning, Malaysia Airlines has been informing the families of the passengers and crew of these new developments. Clearly, the search for MH370 has entered a new phase. Over the last seven days, we have followed every lead and looked into every possibility. For the families and friends of those involved, we hope this new information brings us one step closer to finding the plane.

 

March 25th 2014, 4:45 AM: Flight ended at Southern Indian Ocean

After an analysis was done by a British satellite company based on “pings” from the aircraft, authorities have concluded that the flight ended in the ocean without any possible landing sites within vicinity. All lives are assumed to be lost. [ CNN ]

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Unofficial sources

  1. Did Malaysian Airlines 370 disappear using SIA68/SQ68 (another 777)? by Keith Ledgerwood

We will provide updates on this page as we obtain more information.