The disappearance of Malaysian Flight MH370 has become the greatest mystery of the new year, perhaps of the last decade.
We can sit snugly in front of our PC’s and Smart Phones, and watch Malaysian Flights taking off, landing, and in-flight journeys, such as from the website FlightAware, and left in bewilderment of how a plane, such as the Boeing 777 can simply…vanish, without a trace.
- It took authorities two hours to report they had lost the plane.
- Both Malaysian and Boeing have impeccable safety records.
- Boeing 777 have flown 5.5 million flights without incident, until a botched landing killed two people in San Francisco.
Confusing is the lack of communication from Flight MH370. Two veteran pilots flew the Boeing 777. The aircraft was comfortably cruising – at a stage of the flight when the pilot would have had plenty of time to report any mechanical problems to Air Traffic Control, but no distress calls were received. Hardly blame can be placed on Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, a pilot with more than three decades of flying experience, and more than 18,360 hours in the air.
Captain Shah supervised pilot training and operations for carrier’s fleet of Boeing 737 narrow-body jets, and was certified by Malaysia’s civil-aviation regulator as an examiner, allowing him to conduct simulator tests for pilots – who even built a homemade Boeing 777 flight simulator, using computer parts and software he bought off the shelf.
The veteran pilot, with an uncanny skill-set, certainly couldn’t have failed to act instinctively. This doesn’t explain the lack of distress signal and communication from the Captain.
The plane should automatically update Air Traffic via an inbuilt tracker known as a transponder device. The transponder continually responds to requests for location – but why it stopped working is unknown.
Transponders, built into the airplane’s black box should continue working after crashes – even underwater– though deep-water black box retrieval is hard and a race against the clock. They have a battery life of 30 days.
With all the technology on board a modern commercial aircraft, it seems impossible that a plane can just disappear without explanation. The Malaysian Airlines plane was equipped with the industry standard ADS-B flight transponder. This device sends a package of GPS Data back to air traffic controllers every second!
It gives the plane’s altitude, speed and direction. Data from the transponder shows the flight leaving at 12:41 am from Kuala Lumpur. Then at precisely at 1:20 am, when the plane was cruising at 35,000 feet, the signal was lost.
The fact the transponder data shows virtually no change in altitude or flight path of MH370, and there was no communication from the flight crew on board has many experts believing there was a sudden, catastrophic event.
In emergency situations, pilots are trained to “fly, navigate, and communicate”, in that order.
The aircraft was equipped with an ELT (Emergency Locator Transmitter), a floating GPS beacon, designed to transmit the aircraft’s position should it land in water.
Yet, no transponder nor ELT transmissions reported.
Since the disappearance of Malaysian Flight MH370 had been reported, experts have summed up what we know, “what ever happened, happened suddenly and violently”. Sudden violence, in this case, can only be explained by an explosion, or sudden impact. Which also explains: why Captain Shah failed to communicate and send out the distress signal; the sudden loss of transponder data transmission and no ELT transmission.
Some scoff at this possibility, claiming only a nuclear missile could make a plane disappear, but that would mean the scoffers are privy to classified weaponry. If you have ever tuned into the Military Channel, the advanced technology and power of de-classified weaponry leaves one to wonder; just what is still classified? Such a possibility isn’t out of the question, after-all, there was a two hour window from the time all communications were lost with Flight MH370, till the time it was first reported. Certainly enough time for a skilled clean-up crew to arrive and clean up any debris, what little may have remained.
Shooting a plane out of flight had been a hotly debated issue in 1998, when TWA Flight 800 suddenly exploded just off Long Island, New York. (for further information, click the highlighted link). The New York Times said this: Leaving No Survivors, but Many Questions. The New York Post stated: Documentary raises questions about doomed TWA Flight 800. But the New York Daily News put it more eloquently: If you need to get a person’s attention fast, just whisper, “There’s something the government isn’t telling you.”
Troubling even more – if 9/11 taught us one thing, it was that passengers aboard an aircraft can, and do, make calls from their cell phones. The technology today, provides smartphones with capability of being tracked via GPS. Yet, nothing reported, not a word mentioned about those 239 passengers making calls, or their phones being tracked.
Some are looking at two passengers with stolen passports, as a possible connection to the disappearance of Flight MH370 . And there may be a connection. However, to date, no connection has been determined. “On any given day, many people travel using stolen or fake passports for reasons that have nothing to with terrorism”, aviation security expert Richard Bloom told CNN.
Had Flight MH370 veered off course towards an unknown destination, why hadn’t other air traffic controllers of other nations picked up the flight on their radars, even military radar systems? Malaysian Airlines reported the flight was a six-hour journey, and the plane loaded with only nine hours of fuel.
Planes are designed to be found, through a network of sophisticated equipment and flotation devices and aircraft parts – not disappear.
So many questions, and no answers. Ten countries have joined together in the search of missing Malaysian Flight MH370, which only adds to the mystique – so many nations, and nothing to show for their efforts. In the meantime, we can only hold tight the hope that something of significance shows up in the concerted effort for resolution, and peace for the grief-stricken families.