Malaysian Airplane Mysteriously Vanishes


Orbital satellites constantly watching their domain below, radio waves that reach across the seven seas and constant direct links to the outside world at all times. No matter how hard we try in today’s world, chances are that there are more than a couple of eyes on you at all times. Losing people is nothing new in today’s world, but in our age of information we as a society thought we had finally moved away from the days of entire ships or planes going missing. Unfortunately the world has once again reminded that it is indeed a colossus place, and that we are not always in tune with everything as we would like to believe.

Corridors where an Inmarsat satellite is calculated to have received the last ACARS signal from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Photo by user RicHard-59 on Wikimedia.

On Friday, Mar. 7th a flight en route to Beijing disappeared without warning. Dropping off the grid completely, a total of 239 crew and passengers are lost in the midst of the world. Flight MH370 departed from Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia on the 7th; while still in flight, the plane disappeared just over the South China Sea. No contact has been officially made with the plane since, but one relative to a passenger on the plane did allegedly make contact, however no official report has been made yet. There were 227 passengers aboard, with 153 passengers being Chinese and the other 38 being Malaysians. Two passengers were children, and all 12 crew members were Malaysian as well.

So far, there are no reports of any wreckage being found near where the flight disappeared. The only lead so far is from an official at the for Vietnam’s national search and rescue committee stating “"We received information from a Vietnamese plane saying that they found two broken objects, which seem like those of an aircraft, located about 50 miles [80km] to the southwest of Tho Chu Island." (Tho Chu Island being located in the gulf of Thailand.) Oil slicks have also been found within the vicinity of the South China Sea, alluding to the idea that the flight may have gone down over water.

It is unclear how long the search for flight MH370 will take, with the head of Malaysia’s civil aviation authority stating “It will take as long as it takes to find the aircraft.” This suggests that it may be weeks, months or even years until all the pieces are put together.

There have been many reactions by authorities and civilians alike; many believe that the Malaysians are not pulling their weight in this operation. Some believe it was because of the smaller level of Malaysian passengers in proportion to Chinese passengers. Such beliefs are contradicted by the pledge of Malaysian officials to “care for the families" and to “ [provide] them with timely information, travel facilities, accommodation, meals, medical and emotional support. The costs for these are all borne by Malaysia Airlines.”

There are various standing theories as to why a plane crash would occur, with many of the standing ideas involving less precise thoughts due to the lack of actual evidence to be found. The conditions during the flight were said to be good, with a veteran pilot who had  more than 18,000 flying hours backing his career. The jet itself, a Boeing 777-200ER is considered to be one of the safest jets available with its modern technology. The jet itself was “clipped” in 2012 but completely repaired and certified as safe. Nothing is being ruled out as many are questioning as the plane crash was a result of a terrorist attack. While a possibility, there has been no evidence for such an attack yet.

U.S. Navy crew members on board a Boeing P-8A Poseidon assigned to Patrol Squadron (VP) 16 man their workstations while assisting in search and rescue operations for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. VP-16 was deployed in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility. Photo from Wikimedia.

Jets just suddenly disappearing from radar is not an event that is completely unheard of in the past. In 2009, a jet flying from Brazil to France was lost over the Atlantic Ocean, and all 228 people on board were lost as well. The flight recorder took nearly two years to find, and such a case may not be exempt from today’s world. The latest lead in the rigorous search for the plane is the sighting of possible plane debris in the South Indian Ocean. Using satellite images, searchers have been able to identify debris in the ocean and possible oil slicks that could belong to the plane.

The search is one of great difficulty, with many search party vehicles only having enough fuel to search within small time frames. Many family members are preparing for any possible news towards the situation. Good news or bad news, for some the worst pain is not knowing. Even without an official report regarding finding a wreckage, the Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has seen fit to try and give a closing statement for the search.  Razak alerted family members of the passengers onboard, woefully announcing that “[The Malaysian government has] to assume beyond any reasonable doubt that MH370 has been lost and that none of those on board survived..."

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