MH370: Lugubrious and unprecedented


Malaysia airlines MH370 disappeared into thin air on March 8th, this article summarizes the reports and progress of the debris-hunting.

Malaysia jetliner MH370 went missing after taking off from Kuala Lumpur at 12:41am (MYT) in Malaysia. It was supposed to land in Beijing, the Capital of China on the same day (8th March) at 6:30 local time in the morning, but sadly it did not happen. The Boeing 777-200 carried 239 souls including crew, an infant, and passengers around the globe including citizens of Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, the United State, and China (The majority were Chinese citizens). The incident is unprecedented as there was no distress signal before it vanishes. Subang (Malaysia) air traffic controllers lost contact with MH370’s disappearance on radar monitor at 2:40am (MYT) near Pulau Perak, a small rocky island in the Malacca Straits. “Good night Malaysian three-seven-zero.” was the last transmission at 01:19 (MYT) from the cockpit.  Authorities and investigators are still investigating up who said it and if it was an innuendo.

Thanks to the satellite signal sent from MH370 Rolls Royce engines, it was found later that the plane’s course was deviated, far away from its original route.

On March 11, the Malaysia military noted that the plane had inexplicably diverted hundreds of miles west from its original flight path. Officials also announced that there were passengers on the plane with invalid passports which were previously claimed lost. They soon they showed images of two suspects Pouri Nourmohammadi, believed to be 18, and 29-year-old Delavar Seyedmohammaderza, both Iranians, who boarded the plane with the passports of Austrian, Christian Kozel, aged 30 and Italian, Luigi Maraldi, aged 37. Details of both of the invalid-passport holders are actually still unconfirmed because of the discrepancy of the information provided by Malaysia officials and Interpol.  Investigators still have no clue what caused it to happen. To look at the whole picture, concerns are raised about the safety and recognition of identities- as the individuals in question used the fake passports to board on an international flight without anybody knowing and blocking. So what happened to the immigration database of each country? Interpol officials said the passports were indicated as stolen, while nothing special showed up in Kuala Lumpor.

On March 15, a pronouncement was made by Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak, saying they believed the transponders were deliberately disabled which suggests a possible malicious act of someone on board. The investigation is therefore confined to the crews and passengers, instead of any mechanical failure like oil leakage or unexpected natural hazard.

Investigators also searched the homes of both the captain and the copilot in Kuala Lumpor. A flight simulator was found in the captain’s bedroom, and they have brought the recorder of the machine in for examination. While most pilots have this state-of-the-art simulator to help improve aviation skills, it is exceptionally rare for them to delete a certain flying records.  Investigators found Captain Shah just did it last month to an a flight simulation for a flight course that he never flew. It therefore added the possibility that pilots could have turned this flight to a suicidal journey intentionally.

Flying since 1981, Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, who was known to be a respective pilot, married with 3 grown children. He constantly posted videos on YouTube and Facebook, talking about not about his job, but his interest in home improvement projects. The media has been told by sources that Shah was devastated by his marriage breakdown.  Some friends of his said he was in “no state of mind to be flying” and could have possibly taken MH370 as his joyride. Also in the cockpit, 27 years old First Officer Fariq Abdul Hamid, who was only with Malaysia Airlines for six years and did not have a strong record of self control.

Throughout the last few weeks, the United States, China and Australia had announced that their satellite spotted oil slicks, unknown objects and possible debris in succession. While most of them were still either unconfirmed or false, the most recent lead is the satellite picture captured by Australian satellite, showed flotsams in the Indian Ocean, despite the poor weather which called a halt to the searching, it subsequently turned out none of them is related to the Malaysia plane disappearance and some of those were just fishing equipment. Australian Prime minister said on the April 1 that the searching has no time limit and on the same day, ten planes and nine ships were sent by them to resume the hunt in west of Perth.

Accusation and blame towards Malaysia Airlines and the government initiated, continued and is worsening.

“We want the truth, we just need the truth!” One of the family members of an on-board passenger said outrageously to the media. “Since March 8 Malaysia Airlines has been releasing information similar to “squeezing toothpaste,” Hong Kong local news reported. Prominent information such as the data retrieved from Roll Royce engines and satellite images were not released until a very late stage. Cameras and microphones also captured the sobs and wails of the love-ones who were distraught by irresponsibility of the airline company. They just could not believe the airline representatives could be absent for a meeting with them. On March 24, Malaysia Airlines sent text messages to families: “None of those on board survived,” after that family members strongly criticized the way of Malaysia Airlines handling the aftermath.

Day by day and the bread crumbs are blowing away.

Authorities and searching teams are currently running out of time since the battery of the crucial, well-known black box, which stored all flight record including cockpit conversations, GPS signals and other data about the mysterious flight, will be dead in 30 days after continuously sending out signal, leaving the investigators at a dead end.  The “pings” they have been investigating in the Indian Ocean are worse than finding a needle in a haystack.

Such unprecedented and saddening news further triggered the concern of safety issue of commercial jetliners. As reported by Reuters on 1 April, the head of the global airlines’ body suggested that the aviation industry should consider adapting technology allowing more live-streaming of flight data following the disappearance of a Malaysian jetliner, but cost and practicalities remain major problems. In addition, Tony Tyler, director general and chief executive of the International Air Transport Association (I.A.T.A.) told the reporters at a news conference in Kuala Lumpor that the current technology does allow live streaming of black box to send flight data simultaneously, but it could be overwhelming and the plan is not considered practical.

Sources from Reuters, Associated Press, CNN, DailyMail, CBS News and ABC News.