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Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 Disappearance


The Malaysian Airlines jet disappeared from the world on March 8, 2014, while on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. The flight held 227 passengers and 12 crew members. This disappearance led to search efforts spanning all the way across the Indian Ocean, from west of Australia to Central Asia. The bewildering nature of the disappearance of Flight 370 makes this one of history’s most famous missing aircraft. This airplane had still yet to be found and the mystery is still unsolved. 

Flight 370 took off at 12:41 a.m. local time and reached an altitude of 35,000 feet by 1:0 a.m. The plane’s ACARS (Aircraft Communication Addressing and Reporting System), which transited data about the aircraft, sent its last transmission at 1:07 and later switched off. The last communications from the crew to the air-traffic control were at 1:19 and 1:21 a.m. After that, communication with the air traffic controller was completely cut off, just as the plane was about to enter Vietnamese airspace.

By 1:30, the Malaysian military and civilian radar began tracking the flight as it turned around and started flying over the Malay Peninsula, then proceeded to move northwest over the Strait of Malacca. At 2:22, the Malaysian military lost contact with the plane. The Inmarsat satellites over the Indian Ocean were able to see hourly signals from the plane and had their last signal from the plane at 8:11 a.m. 

The initial searches for Flight 370 occurred in the South China Sea. After finding out that the plane had turned west shortly after they lost contact, the search moved destinations to the Strait of Malacca and the Andaman Sea. On March 15, a week after Flight 370 disappeared, the Inmarsat contact was disclosed. They were not able to find the location of the plane but they narrowed down the plane coordinates to two arcing areas. One of the arcs stretched from Java into the Indian Ocean southwest of Australia, and the other stretched northward across Asia, from Vietnam to Turkmenistan.

On March 24, the Malaysian Prime Minister made public that, from the analysis of the final signals, the flight crashed in a remote location in the Indian Ocean, south of Australia. This determined that most likely no one on board would have been able to survive. Searches for the wreckage of the plane began on April 6. During the search, the AAIB found partial signals from the plane from 8:19 a.m. with the location of the acoustic pings. If those signals were from Flight 370, the flight recorder was likely to have run off its battery life. Future searches came from robotic submarines. During this search, the pings were widely spread apart making it hard to find and they ended up finding no debris from the plane. 

On a beach on the French island of Réunion on July 29, 2015, the first piece of debris was found. Over the next year and a half, they found 26 pieces on the shores of Tanzania, Mozambique, South Africa, and more. Three of these 27 pieces were positively identified to come from Flight 370. Two of the pieces found came from the cabin interior, showing that the plane had been broken up, but they were yet to answer the question of if the plane had broken up in the air, or from impact with the ocean. 

After this came the study of the Réunion wing flaperon and a piece of the right wing flap found in Tanzania, showing that the flight had not been guided to the water landing. The locations of this debris were used to narrow down the area in which the flight may have crashed. The governments of Australia, Malaysia, and China called off the search for Flight 370 in January 2017. Mechanical malfunction of the flight was purported to be quite unlikely. Even after all of these searches, money, and resources from around the world, the investigators could not determine why Flight 370 had disappeared.

There have been many conspiracies ranging from malfunctions of the plane to otherworldly portals that could have sucked up the flight. One of the more logical theories comes from a pilot Chris Goodfellow who said there could have been a cockpit fire. The fire would have made the pilot turn around toward Palau Langkawi, a nearby airstrip. The loss of communication could have come from an electric fire causing the crew to focus on keeping the plane stable and then sending a distress signal. He then suggested that the pilot could have passed out from too much smoke, causing the plane to fly until it ran out of fuel and crashed downward. This theory has yet to be confirmed due to a lack of evidence.

In 2016, the New York Times reported that the pilot on his at-home flight simulator had also flown on top of the Southern Indian Ocean less than a month before the plane crashed. The flight closely matched the missing plane’s last path before crashing. These facts combined with the pilot’s personal life made this crash look like a mass murder-suicide. This theory also has yet to be proven due to the lack of evidence supporting this speculation.

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About the Contributor
Imme Warner, Writer
Imme Warner is a freshman at Forest Grove High School. She likes hanging with friends, playing piano, and cooking.

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