Unprecedented search launched for missing Malaysia Airlines plane

2014-03-10 12:07
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Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: a timeline in pics

A series of photographs following the development of news regarding the disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines flight that went missing over the weekend.

Cape Town - The search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing has entered its third day.

Described as an unprecedented aviation mystery, authorities are unable to confirmed any trace of the plane or the 239 people aboard.

Malaysia Airlines said on its website that it was actively cooperating with the search and rescue authorities coordinated by the Department of Civil Aviation Malaysia (DCA).

Eight countries assisting in the search

The DCA has also confirmed search and rescue assistance from Australia, China, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, Philippines and the United States of America have come forward to assist.

As many as 40 ships, foreign and national, as well as an estimated 20 aircraft are currently scouring the area where the Malaysian Airlines flight was last seen.

A Vietnamese navy plane reported seeing what could have been a piece of the aircraft as darkness fell across the Gulf of Thailand and South China Sea on Sunday, but ships and aircraft returning in daylight have so far found nothing.

As the search continues for any sign of debris from the commercial jetliner, so far only two massive oil slicks have been spotted, which added to the speculation that Flight MH370 had crashed.

"We are grateful for these efforts," Malaysia Airlines said.

Malaysia to cover costs for families to travel to crash site, when found

"Malaysia Airlines' primary focus at this point in time is to care for the families. This means providing them with timely information, travel facilities, accommodation, meals, medical and emotional support. The costs for these are all borne by Malaysia Airlines."

Also check out:Passenger who missed ill-fated flight tweets gratitude

Flight path of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 (FlightAware)

Since no debris has as yet been found, speculation includes that the aircraft could have disintegrated at around 35 000 feet due to the possibility of an explosion, such as a bomb.

Remembering fatal Air India and Lockerbie Air disasters

A Reuters report drew parallels between the explosion on board an Air India jetliner in 1985 when it was over the Atlantic Ocean and the Lockerbie air disaster in 1988. Both planes were cruising at around 31 000 feet when bombs exploded on board.

The report quotes US government sources, saying they extensively reviewed imagery taken by American spy satellites for evidence of a mid-air explosion, but saw none.

Boeing offered its deepest concern to the families of those aboard missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 and confirmed in a statement that it has assembled a team to provide technical assistance to investigating authorities.

Boeing 777 has one of the best safety records

To date the Boeing 777 has one of the best safety records of any commercial aircraft in service. Its only previous fatal crash came on July 6 last year when Asiana Airlines flight 214 struck a seawall on landing in San Francisco, killing three people.

A sighting of the oil slick in the South China Sea (AFP)

A CNN report quoting Greg Feith, a former investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in the United States, states that the modern communications of the Boeing 777 means it's highly unlikely this plane would have landed somewhere and not be contactable.

Means of locating the plane include automatic beacons that tell you where it is, radios, GPS and the computer communications within the cockpit.

The lack of communication only adds to the speculation that something dire has happened to the plane.

Details might not be know for months, if not years

CNNs aviation expert Richard Quest also said details of the Malaysia Airlines incident may not be known for a while, as was the case with the 2009 Air France crash.

The Air France flight 447 was en route from Rio De Janeiro to Paris' Charles de Gaulle International Airport when communications ended suddenly from the Airbus A330, another state-of-the-art aircraft.

All 228 on board were killed.

A total of four searches were conducted over two years, with the bulk of flight 447's wreckage and the 228 bodies later found in a mountain range deep under the ocean. 

The cause of the disaster was only identified in May 2011, after recovery of the aircraft's voice recorder and flight data recorder from the ocean floor.

More than a year later the cause of the crash was concluded, revealing a series of errors by the pilots and a failure to react effectively to technical problems.

According to France's Bureau of Investigation and Analysis, the pilots failed to respond effectively after ice crystals blocked the plane's pitot tubes, part of a system used to determine air speed. This in turn caused the autopilot to disconnected, with the Bureau report stating that the pilots did not know how to react.
The crew responded by over-handling the aircraft, which destabilized its flight path. 

According to the report, had the pilots responded by pointing the nose of the plane downwards, instead of upwards which caused it to stall, the plane might have actually recovered.

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