What happened to Malaysia Airlines MH370?
To this day, the events that occurred to flight MH370 remains unknown. This incicdent has involved over 200 countries in the past 5 years. They have spent more than £200 million in searches covering over 120,000 square kilometres of the ocean floor. This makes it the biggest undersea search in history. For the moment the searches have ended but the Malaysian government will reopen the searches if there are any new credible leads.
On March 8 2014, Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 left Kuala Lumpur for Beijing with 239 passengers and crew on board. It was a normal flight up until the 37th minute of its course. At this point Malaysia air traffic control handed over flight MH370 to Vietnam. The captain, Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, makes his last routine transmission. 2 Minutes later he then turns off the transponder and other ground communications. The Boeing 777 literally vanishes off the face of the earth.
After the aircraft had ceased to be seen on conventional civil tracking equipment it was then spotted on military radar. The next action of the aircraft was a 180 degree turn. This can be interpreted as a deliberate action of the pilot as the course it would then take would be one along the border of Thailand and Malaysia. This would cause the aircraft to avoid detection from either airspace.
Later on along this course the aircraft can be seen making a left turn, then a long turn to the right and then left again overhead Penang. B777 pilot Simon Hardy explains his technical reasoning behind the manoeuvre, saying that “somebody was looking out the window “and this can be seen as Captain Zaharie making “a long emotional goodbye to his hometown”.
The aircraft then makes a run over the military radar to the North West undetected for nearly 400 kilometres before dropping out of range out into the Indian Ocean.
Over the preceding days, Britain’s IMARSAT satellite reported to have found a faint data signal from the aircrafts engines. These data signals were meant for engine manufacturers to monitor the engines in flight. The aircraft was heard to be flown for a further 6 hours. Extrapolation of the data found that the aircraft could have been in the vast region as far north in Kazakhstan to Deep South in the Indian Ocean. With that the investigators had calculated MH370 was flown south in the Indian Ocean.
On March 7 2014 shortly after the flight went missing, a search was carried out near the last known position of the aircraft on civilian radar. 3 days later the search area was expanded to the west including the Strait of Malacca. The 4 days spent searching these areas were spent searching in the wrong areas.
On March 13 new information had shown that the aircraft may have flown for several hours, this increased the possible location of the aircraft to a circle of 4,400 nautical miles. This was information obtained through Inmarsat, a British satellite communications company. They reported that “routine automatic communications between the Inmarsat satellite and MH370 could be used to determine several possible flight paths”. Analysis of the data from INMARSAT abled investigators to calculate the range of the aircraft from the satellites, therefore they were able to pinpoint possible areas of MH370. After 10 days since the aircraft disappeared searchers were moved to the most likely areas the aircraft was.
One of the only confirmed pieces of wreckage found from MH370 was a washed up flaperon. The section was found on the coast of Africa in one piece. Some experts believe that since this part of the aircraft was found in one piece, it could point to the ditching of the aircraft at sea. Ditching is a controlled landing of an aircraft on water. Therefore it can be assumed it was unlikely the aircraft crashed at high speed. Furthermore the erosion of the trailing edge of the flaperon is further evidence that the aircraft attempted a ditch landing.
In the early months of 2018 Ocean Infinity began a seabed search for MH370. The search was conducted north of the original search area. This new area was defined by the drift angle calculations made by Professor Charitha Pattiaratchi. The rate of which Ocean Infinity were searching was at 1100 squared kilometres a day using Ocean Infinity’s modern technology.
Investigators have not ruled out the possibility that Captain Zaharie deliberately took the aircraft off course into the Indian Ocean. Looking into Captain Zahrie’s personal life, there are suspicions that he was clinically depressed. On his Microsoft Flight Simulator, a flight was plotted roughly matching to the path of the flight of MH370. Although at the end of the simulator flight there was no end point. From this piece of evidence it can be assumed his actions were planned and deliberate.
With the current evidence that we have, we are unable to give a definitive answer to what had happened on March 7 2014. So far we can only assume what has happened, but what we can confirm is that the actions taken that day were planned, deliberate and planned over an extended period of time.
It is unfortunate that the wreckage of flight MH370 has still not been recovered despite the search efforts put in by everyone around the world. Our thoughts are with the families who have lost their loved ones, hopefully one day we will find the answers to this mystery.