The Ongoing Mystery of Flight MH370

On March 8th 2014, just 38 minutes after its takeoff from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 disappeared with 239 people on board The Boeing 777 sent no distress signal and its last transmission simply said, ""All right, good night

"" After that, the plane’s radar and computer tracking devices were shut down From that moment, what happened to flight MH370 has become one of the world’s greatest aviation mysteries The flight’s planned route took it across Cambodia and South Vietnam After it disappeared, initial searches in the South China Sea found no trace The aircraft's last communication with satellites place it somewhere in one of two corridors

Either between northern Thailand and the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan or between Indonesia and the southern Indian Ocean Over the years, 26 countries were involved in the search over an area bigger than Australia The co-operation problems between rival Asian neighbours was widely criticized Malaysia's search operation chief continually made confused public announcements and was frequently contradicted by his Prime Minister It took six days for the authorities to release crucial information

And even after that, they only gradually revealed fragmented information for the first half of the investigation All this led many people, especially the victims’ relatives, to believe the government had something to cover up As it turned out, they used military radar to track MH370, even after it disappeared Results show MH370 started on a north-east route to Beijing, then turned and flew south-west, and then turned again, heading north-west towards India, flying for another 7 hours They also revealed the plane deliberately rose to 45,000 feet, a reckless manoeuvre that could have depressurized the plane and killed everyone

Initially, the government feared it was a terror incident Suspicion fell on two Iranian passengers with stolen passports However, it transpired these men were just illegal immigrants and no terror groups have claimed responsibility for hijacking MH370 In July 2015, on a beach on Réunion island, in the western Indian Ocean, about 4,000 km west of the underwater search area, the first MH370 debris was discovered The next month, France carried out an aerial search around the island, hoping to find new debris

Unfortunately, the expedition pulled up nothing Other possible pieces of wreckage have been found on the African East Coast But of the 30 items discovered only three wing fragments have been confirmed to belong to MH370 Authorities and experts speculate that some kind of fire, accident or malfunction occurred on board This could have caused the plane to divert in search of an emergency landing

In this case, a mass hypoxia event – a general loss of oxygen – may have knocked out the crew and passengers before they could land, while the plane kept flying on autopilot over the Indian Ocean until it ran out of fuel As of 2019, this is still the official theory of the Malaysian government and the ATSB, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau In January 2017 no trace of the plane was found in the original search area Therefore all the underwater searches for the missing plane were halted But in April 2017, the CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, said it was confident that the jet was located in a 25,000 square kilometre area in the Indian Ocean

The CSIRO tested their theory by dropping a replica flaperon in the search area, and follow how it responded to wind, waves and ocean currents CSIRO David Griffin concluded, “We’ve found that an actual flaperon goes about 20 degrees to the left, and faster than the replicas, as we thought it might The arrival of MH370’s flaperon at La Reunion in July 2015 now makes perfect sense” However, some of the passengers' relatives believe ""no systematic, organized search"" has ever taken place This led some of them to start private searches

In November 2018 relatives and wreck hunter Blaine Gibson handed over to Malaysian authorities five pieces of debris But only one piece, a floor panel, was confirmed to be “most likely MH370”, thanks to the numerical sequence on the panel's corner label On 30th July 2018, at a press conference in Malaysia, the investigator in charge of the operations stated: “We cannot exclude the possibility of a third party or unlawful interference” This statement raised the possibility that one of many theories about the disappearance could be true For instance, some theorists believe the plane was abducted by a UFO, and point to a number of recent UFO sightings in Malaysia as evidence for extraterrestrial intervention

From December 2018 multiple people claimed they found satellite images showing the wreckage of MH370 However, the plane wreckage has been ‘found’ in so many different places, so far apart from each other, that the claims are rendered doubtful Moreover, the Chinese government used Space View to investigate these apparent crash sites and has found no sign of the plane Other theories claim instead that the crash never happened Theorists point out that many of the victims’ families claim their loved ones’ phones received calls for up to four days after the jet went missing

However, wireless analysts argue that phone firms sometimes use a phantom ringing sound when a device is not active One of the recent and most creative theories concerns the death of Zahid Raza, a Malaysian diplomat who spent years investigating the plane case Raza was shot in August 2017 Dr Victor Iannello, member of the Independent Group, suspects Raza's assassination might be linked to the case of MH370 Raza was going to deliver several new pieces of debris to the Malaysian Ministry of Transport, just a few days after his death

However, officials close to Raza argue that he received several death threats well before the plane accident Other theorists think that Russian president Vladimir Putin was involved in the disappearance of MH370 Science journalist and aviation author Jeff Wise recently claimed that Russia may have conceived a plot to distract from their annexation of Crimea, which happened between 20th February and 18th March, 2014 Jeff Wise believes Russian hijackers may have taken control of the plane and flown it to Kazakhstan He says, “They wanted people to talk about something else and suddenly the world's attention was shifted to this

” However, there’s no trustworthy evidence the plane flew over Kazakhstan Even if it did, there is nothing to prove it was a Russian scheme Speaking of scheming, French former airline director Marc Dugain accused the US military of shooting down the plane because they feared it had been hijacked Similarly, author Nigel Cawthorne suggested that MH370 had been shot down accidentally by US and Thai jet fighters during a joint military exercise – and their governments covered it up Writer and historian Norman Davies suggests instead the plane was remotely controlled

In 2003, Boeing took out a “Patent on Remote Control Take-over of Aircraft”, designed to foil hijack attempts According to the patent, “This system once activated would disallow pilot inputs and prevent anyone on board from interrupting the automatic takeover” Davies says the plane may have been carrying sensitive material or personnel to Beijing, making it the subject of two hijacking attempts “The first kidnap was by the Americans, who wanted to stop the plane getting to Beijing and planned to divert it to Diego Garcia [a US naval base in the Indian Ocean], and then somebody [else] hacked it to stop it from getting there” However, “Boeing has confirmed that it has not implemented the patented system or any other technology to remotely pilot a commercial aircraft

” In 2016, US investigators and the ATSB discovered that MH370’s pilot, Captain Zaharie, had a personal flight simulator on which a route into the southern Indian Ocean had been drafted, similar to one of the routes the plane might have taken that fateful day It has never been confirmed whether Zaharie himself or someone else drew the route But the ATSB immediately rejected this as a proof Zaharie diverted the plane on purpose as part of a planned murder-suicide In fact, according to the official report, “[Captain Zaharie had] no known history of apathy, anxiety, or irritability There were no significant changes in his lifestyle, interpersonal conflict or family stress

” Philip Baum, chief editor of Aviation Security International, believes there is an underfloor area just outside the flight deck door in which someone could easily hide From there, concealed, the person could also deactivate the transponder, making the aircraft unidentifiable to radar – it would ‘disappear’ Is it possible that someone who had access to the aircraft boarded the plane before the passengers and crew, in a suicidal mission? Or, Baum suggests, the hijacker might have intended to land on Christmas Island Baum’s theory probably refers to the work of Professor Martin Kristensen In late 2018 Kristensen, an engineer at Aarhaus University in Denmark, published a new mathematical analysis of MH370’s radar and satellite data

He revealed that instead of heading north to Vietnam, flight MH370 deviated to the east It was tracked by military radar until it passed out of range into the Indian Ocean From this point, only the ‘handshake’ between the Inmarsat 3F1 satellite sitting above the Indian Ocean and MH370 reveals the plane was still in the air The handshake is a signal sent from the plane to a satellite The gap in time from when the signal was sent from the plane to when it was received by Inmarsat reveals how far the aircraft was from the satellite at the time of the handshake

In all, there were seven handshakes with MH370 The problem is, each of the seven recorded ‘handshakes’ produced a broader range of possible locations But by taking into account the plane’s speed, fuel, possible signal variations and the satellite handshakes, Professor Kristensen narrowed the plane’s position to one place: southwest of Christmas Island Kristensen says, “The probability of finding the plane there is above 90 per cent” In January 2019 Dr Usama Kadri, a professor at Cardiff University, claimed he’s managed to collect sound waves made by the plane’s impact from beneath the water by using data from the hydroacoustic microphones aboard the aircraft

One of the hydrophones, called HA08s, is currently held at Diego Garcia Using its data, Dr Kadri calculated two possible locations of the flight’s wreckage One is a few hundred miles from the coast of Madagascar The second is in the Indian Ocean, in the Christmas Island area However, according to Dr Kadri, 25 minutes from the hydrophone’s recordings have mysteriously disappeared

Five years after its disappearance, flight MH370 is still missing After many governments, companies and agencies searched a combined 200,000sq km, there is still no conclusive evidence of where the flight crashed If it crashed We know even less about what happened while it was in the air But maybe, the most important question yet to be answered is: in this day and age, how can a plane so big vanish before our very eyes?

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