Much misinformation has been spread in the mystery of the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 on March 8, 2014 with 227 passengers and 12 crew on board. Much of the misinformation came from government officials and reporters who did not understand the technology involved. This page is an attempt to sort the facts from the hokum.
The pink boxes show the false assumptions repeatedly made by the press. See the list.
PRESS FALLACY #1
"Air traffic controllers should be in continuous touch with airliners and each other."
Several factors combined to keep the air traffic controllers from noticing that anything was wrong:
There is normally no RADAR coverage over large bodies of water. A RADAR set on the ground has a maximum useful range of 100 to 200 miles, depending on the altitude of the plane.
PRESS FALLACY #2
"There should be RADAR coverage of the airspace over the entire earth."
RADAR uses a line-of-sight kind of radio waves. Due to the curvature of the earth, a RADAR set on the ground has a maximum useful range of 100 to 150 miles. Anything farther out over the ocean cannot be tracked without having a RADAR set on or over the ocean. That would mean the expense of having RADAR sets on ships or planes put there for the purpose.
The following table shows the minimum altitude (rounded) a RADAR set on the ground (near sea level) can detect an aircraft. Below that altitude, the earth's curved surface hides the aircraft from the RADAR:
|Distance from RADAR Set||Minimum Altitude of Object|
|50 mi||90 Km||1,500 ft||0.3 mi||0.5 Km|
|100 mi||180 Km||6,500 ft||1.2 mi||2.2 Km|
|150 mi||270 Km||15,000 ft||3 mi||5 Km|
|200 mi||360 Km||26,000 ft||5 mi||9 Km|
|250 mi||450 Km||40,000 ft||7.5 mi||14 Km|
|300 mi||550 Km||80,000 ft||15 mi||27 Km|
FAQ about RADAR
PRESS FALLACY #3
"RADAR should use radio that follows the earth's curvature."
Most radio waves that can bend over the horizon can also bend around an aircraft without being reflected by it. This makes those radio waves useless for RADAR.
There are RADAR sets with longer range. These sets use frequencies that can follow the curvature of the earth or frequencies that bounce off the ionosphere. But these sets do not have a normal RADAR display on a screen. They are manually aimed to cover what is called a tile of the surface of the earth. The only value they report for objects within the tile is distance. Such RADAR sets are designed more to register the presence of objects, rather than find their exact location.
These sets are not as dependable as other RADARs, because they are affected by sunspots, the state of the ionosphere, weather conditions, and other factors. Such disturbances can make the RADAR fail to detect objects, cause false detections, or change the distance the RADAR covers.
The Jindalee Operational Radar Network (JORN) is the Australian Over The Horizon RADAR (OTHR) system. Project Jindalee was the name of the military project that created this system. It has a normal range of 1800 miles (3000 Km), using three sets operating on frequencies that bounce off the ionosphere.
The sets are at Longreach (in Queensland), Laverton (in Western Australia), and Alice Springs (in the Northern Territory). The Laverton set can be aimed to various directions within a range of 180 degrees. The other two have aiming ranges of 90 degrees. The centers of the aiming ranges of all three sets are in the direction of China.
The multiple antennas at each station are manually aimed for a single tile. They do not automatically sweep around the compass as normal RADAR sets do. These sets detect only metal aircraft and ships. They do not work with transponders.
Unfortunately, the Australians had all of the antennas aimed to the northeast, to detect refugee boats off the northern coasts of Australia. The intended flight path of MH370 was outside JORN's normal range, so JORN would have not been useful if the plane had crashed on its intended route. They didn't know that JORN was needed to the west until days after the plane disappeared, when the Inmarsat data indicated that MH370 went south. The Laverton set could have registered the presence of MH370, but it could not have tracked its actual path. It would report only the distance from Laverton and when it entered and left the tile.
Several factors combined to keep anyone from missing MH370:
The plane was expected to disappear from RADAR at about that time. It was moving beyond the range of both ATC and military RADAR as it crossed over open ocean.
PRESS FALLACY #4
"Only one unidentified blip was on the Malaysian military RADAR: It was MH370."
An unidentified target on military RADAR was nothing unusual:
A target is usually said to be acting in a hostile manner if it does any of the following:
There are many unidentified targets flying over every country at any time. MH370 was lost in a sea of unidentified blips.
Every private aircraft that is in the air is an unidentified target. Most of the little Cessna-style planes, and many corporate planes and helicopters, do not have transponders. Neither the military controllers nor the commercial air traffic controllers keep track of private flights, other than keeping the planes they do control from crashing into them.
Primary RADAR is RADAR that displays every echo returned to it as a blip. It detects aircraft by detecting a pulse from the RADAR set that is reflected from the metal parts of the aircraft. The aircraft needs no special equipment to be detected.
Skin-paint RADAR and primary RADAR are two names for the same thing.
Secondary RADAR is a part of the RADAR system for commercial and military aircraft that identifies the aircraft to any RADAR set so equipped, and also reports the aircraft's altitude. A transponder device on the aircraft receives the RADAR pulse and returns the plane's identity and altitude.
A transponder is a part of the RADAR system for commercial and military aircraft that identifies the aircraft to any RADAR set so equipped, and also reports the aircraft's altitude. The transponder on the plane receives the RADAR pulse and returns the information.
Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B) is a passive system that periodically transmits the plane's GPS position. One was installed on MH370.
PRESS FALLACY #5
"The military can get a jet into the area in a minute or two."
There are several reasons:
Because the plane was assumed to have crashed, they sent search planes, not interceptor jets, into the expected crash area northeast of Kuala Lumpur.
In times of peace, pilots don't sit in the cockpits of jets waiting for a scramble. They have to get the pilot to the plane, fuel up the plane, go through the startup procedure, and clear out other flights in the area before the plane can take off. Then it has to get from where it took off to where it is needed.
PRESS FALLACY #6
"The military had the track of MH370 available in real time."
The path of the flight was reconstructed later:
Indonesia has the same RADAR problem Malaysia has. If it had been detected, it would be one blip in a sea of hundreds. Indonesia would have had to reconstruct it in the same way that Malaysia did. And from the projected flight path obtained from the Malaysia reconstruction, MH370 stayed out of range of Indonesia military RADAR.
ACARS (Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System) is a satellite based system where systems on the aircraft report back to the owner via satellite. It reports through the Inmarsat approximately once every half hour.
Inmarsat (International Maritime Satellite) is a global system of communications satellites based in the United Kingdom. It uses geosynchronous satellites to provide various kinds of communications, including ACARS.
A geosynchronous satellite is a satellite that orbits the earth at the same angular rate that the earth rotates at. It orbits the earth once every 24 hours. Therefore, the satellite always stays over the same longitude as the earth rotates with it.
This is the Inmarsat handshaking exchange that periodically checks the connection. The Inmarsat asks the transceiver on the plane if it is still active. If it is, the transceiver responds, also sending some information about engine performance.
Either a failure deprived them of power, or someone turned them off. But note that the Classic Aero transceiver did not stop working, indicating that the plane was still flying.
PRESS FALLACY #7
"Pilots should not be able to shut off or change settings on transponders."
There are several reasons:
Airline pilots are considered to be trusted people, so they are trusted with these critical units.
PRESS FALLACY #8
"A hijacker would have had to hide MH370 from RADAR."
Yes. There are several different ways:
But it was unnecessary for a hijacker to hide MH370 from RADAR, because it looked like a private plane with the transponder off.
The Malaysia RADAR reconstruction and the Classic Aero pings show a flight path that no transponder RADAR track followed.
There are two kinds of imaging satellites:
PRESS FALLACY #9
"Satellites can be sent to the locations where they are needed for disaster work."
Nobody can "send" existing satellites anywhere. All satellites must orbit the earth, with the center of the earth as one focus of the orbital ellipse.
There are so many satellites now that any new satellite orbit has to be carefully chosen to prevent a collision with an existing satellite. Otherwise, satellites will collide, putting even more objects (the pieces of wreckage) into orbit.
Most satellites have no rocket fuel at all to alter their orbits. Some satellites have enough fuel to get out of the way of meteors or space junk, or slightly adjust their orbits. Other satellites can rotate in place using electric gyroscopes, but can't change their orbits.
PRESS FALLACY #10
"Satellites can hover over any spot on earth as long as they are needed."
But no satellite has enough rocket fuel to be sent to multiple places as needed. Those who use satellites have to use them in the orbits they are already in. Even the space shuttle could not change orbits more than one or two times per flight, and those changes had to be minor.
Only a geosynchronous satellite can stay over some part of the earth, and that part must be over the equator. A geosynchronous satellite either stays near the equator, or swings north and south of the equator by the same number of degrees of latitude.
All other satellites must appear to circle the earth from the ground. Those that pass over an area of interest pass over it only once in a while.
The image at right shows the locations of all working satellites, the space station, all defunct satellites, and large space junk, captured a few months before the MH370 disappearance. Each one of those objects is orbiting the earth, with the center of mass of the earth being one focus of the ellipse of each object's orbit.
The visible horizontal ring a large distance away from earth, but over the equator is the set of geosynchronous satellites. All of the satellites that average that distance are geosynchronous.
The diagram shows how hard it would be to put a satellite where it "is needed now", and why fully steerable satellites are not a good idea.
China changed the aiming of the cameras on their satellites to photograph the needed areas. Since the aiming of a camera doesn't need any fuel (just electricity from the solar panels), the cameras can be aimed as often as they wish to aim them.
PRESS FALLACY #11
"The objects in the satellite images had to be wreckage from MH370."
Most of them were not wreckage. They were:
Most of it was commercial fishing equipment that was washed overboard or snagged in the sea. They also found a few shipping containers that had been lost from container ships.
We have to remember that there was a typhoon (southern hemisphere hurricane) in the area shortly after MH370 disappeared. That probably put a large amount of junk in the water.
They have not yet been identified. But they were ruled out as being any part of MH370 or its cargo. They might have been wreckage from shipping containers or their contents.
They chemically analyzed samples of oil from each slick. They found compositions that should not have been present on MH370. Most of them were spills of fuel oil made for ship engines.
An ELT (Emergency Locator Transmitter) is a transmitter activated by the g-forces of a plane crash. It then sends a homing signal so rescuers can find the crash location.
PRESS FALLACY #12
"Radio will work under water."
"This includes GPS units, cell phones, and ELTs, as long as the electronics stay dry."
There are several possible reasons why the ELT signals were not received:
They used the data of the time the Classic Aero ping was sent and the time the answer was received as a form of RADAR to find the distance of MH370 from the satellite. They used the maximum range of the plane to determine the ends of the search arcs.
This has never been done before.
They also found that they could find out the frequency of the received answer, and compare it to the expected frequency. Thus, they got a form of Doppler RADAR. They were then able to combine the Doppler shifts with the expected periodic movements of the satellite to narrow down the search area.
This also has never been done before. But they tested it on six other 777 flights on the same day.
The satellite moves a few miles back and forth in all three dimensions. There are two reasons this happens:
There are several places where the measurements could be wrong:
A black box is an aircraft flight recorder that is used in the event of a crash to reconstruct what happened. They are designed to withstand almost all crashes.
Each commercial aircraft carries two black boxes (which are actually painted fluorescent orange). One is the flight recorder, which records information about the motions of the plane and the positions of the controls. The other is the cockpit voice recorder, which records everything that was said and every sound that occurred in the cockpit.
Why is it called a black box? This comes from the type of engineering problem where a device with unknown internal properties is referred as a black box and the engineer is supposed to deduce what is in the box.
A ULB (Underwater Locator Beacon) is a device activated by water that is attached to each black box of an aircraft. If the airplane crashes or lands in water, the ULB sends out a continuous series of sound pulses (sonar pings) until its internal battery dies.
The ULBs in MH370 were designed to send a ping at 37.5 KHz once per second. This is above the range of human hearing. It was selected because it can go farther in water, and because there are few natural or man-made sounds at that frequency. A special sonar receiver is needed to detect the pings.
The battery of a standard ULB is required to have an expected life of at least 30 days. But this can be shortened by improper storage of the batteries.
An underwater pinger is a ULB.
PRESS FALLACY #12
"Radio will work under water."
The ULB works on sound, not radio. Radio waves can't pass through water, so the unit can't receive any GPS. It also can't send radio, and it can't send complicated information through sound. It would have to use Morse Code or acoustic-coupler modem tones to send any information, which takes time.
The purpose is finding the black box in wreckage, not finding the aircraft in a vast ocean. The range of the sound is at most 2 miles (3.2 Km), so when it is heard, the search area is very close.
A towed pinger locator is a sonar listening device designed to pick up the pings from the ULB. It is towed behind a ship at a depth where it can pick up the pings easier. The idea is to tow it below the thermocline (a horizontal layer of temperature change in the ocean that reflects sound), so it detects sounds coming from the bottom. The Phoenix International TPL-25 is the unit in use.
Ocean Shield is the Australian ship used to tow the towed pinger locator.
They wouldn't have known where to start searching. With a maximum range of only 2 miles, they would have been wasting their time.
The detection by the Chinese ship was coincidental to the timing of the deployment of the towed pinger locator.
PRESS FALLACY #13
"Enough searchers should be able to find the plane in very little time."
It's worse. First you have to find out which state contains the farm that contains that haystack. It's like looking for a needle in a nation.
At the time the southern Indian Ocean search was starting, the search area was bigger than the United States.
Later, they narrowed to the size of Texas, and then to West Virginia.
By the time they started using the towed pinger locator, they had reduced the search area to the size of Indianapolis.
PRESS FALLACY #14
"They could have brought in more towed pinger locators to speed up the search."
There aren't any more available:
In addition, more towed locators means more towing ships, which means more noise that drowns out the pings.
The pings received were the wrong frequency.
There are several possible causes, including:
The Phoenix International Bluefin-21 AUV is an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle. It can be programmed to search a pattern underwater with either side-scan sonar or a digital camera.
PRESS FALLACY #12
"Radio will work under water."
It can't use GPS underwater.
Remember from the items above that radio waves can't pass through water.
It takes a GPS position while it is still on the surface when being launched.
After the Bluefin is under water, it then uses its inertial guidance system to follow precisely the search pattern programmed into it by the operators.
An inertial guidance system is a device that uses gyroscopes to measure the linear and rotation motion of whatever it is mounted on. Connected to a computer, this system always knows where it is, which way it is facing, and its motion. The computer can use it to correct the course the equipment is following.
Most submarines still use inertial guidance, as do many spacecraft. The Apollo spacecraft, the Hubble Telescope, the International Space Station, and many other spacecraft use or have used inertial guidance. And many airplanes still have gyrocompass equipment.
There were two reasons:
PRESS FALLACY #12
"Radio will work under water."
Remember from the above items that radio waves can't pass through water.
So there is no way for the Bluefin to send information back to the ship.
Once the Bluefin surfaces, they can connect it to a computer with a cable. Then the computer has to process the data received from the Bluefin.
To immediately get information back from a submersible vehicle, a communications cable is needed. But for this search, the cable would have to be miles long, and it could easily get snagged on something else that sunk in the area.
Yes. These are the different kinds of submersible vehicles:
Only those with cables to the surface ship can communicate with the surface ship while underwater.
PRESS FALLACY #15
"They could have brought in more submersibles to search a wider area."
None were available.
Only 10 Bluefin-21 AUVs exist, and all of them are owned by private companies.
They are lucky that the US Navy happened to be renting one at the time, and that they were able to bring it to Australia for the search.
In May 2014, the US Navy had to renew its lease for the Bluefin, so it could stay in the area to continue searching.
At the end of May 2014, the lease ended and the US Navy took the Bluefin back to the owner.
Normally the military has no need for them. They need such equipment only when it is needed to find a crashed aircraft.
This kind of equipment is really designed for underwater research, not for search and recover operations.
PRESS FALLACY #16
"Government could have commandeered any equipment needed for the search from private owners."
Again, none were available.
All of them are owned by private companies. Most of them are already busy doing research work.
Governments can't just come up and commandeer them for use in the rescue. They certainly can't do this to owners in other countries.
They would have to arrange to rent one.
There really are not very many of these deep-water submersibles.
There are fewer than 40 deep-water submersible vehicles in the world that are capable of going deep enough for this search.
And note that most regular submarines have no windows to look out of for searching.
There are quite a few possibilities, including:
On 05-28-2014, the US Navy announced that none of the underwater pings came from an aircraft ULB. They came from some other man-made source.
PRESS FALLACY #17
"Because the Bluefin didn't find MH370, it did not come down in the search area."
The Deputy Director of Ocean Engineering concluded the pings were not from MH370 because the Bluefin didn't find MH370 or its wreckage. But the following could explain the Bluefin not finding the plane:
On the other hand, it is possible that MH370 was not there, and the pings were from sources other than aircraft ULB devices:
Zhu Kezhen, a Chinese survey ship, is mapping the ocean floor. This will provide better information for the search teams, so they know what kind if equipment is needed. But they are not directly looking for MH370. Data are being shuttled to Western Australia (for processing) by the Chinese ship Haixun 01 and the Malaysian ship Bunga Mas 6.
Each country has paid for its own efforts.
Both the CTBTO system and some Curtin University research hydrophones picked up and recorded a sound:
Katherine Tee was on a pleasure boat somewhere north of the Aceh peninsula of Sumatra. She saw an airplane with brilliant orange lights at about 1:30 AM, and had the impression is was an airplane on fire. But she did not report it at the time. She reported it much later, after she heard about the missing plane and the trip had ended.
The facts about this sighting depend on what time zone her watch was set to:
Mike McKay was on an oil drilling platform some distance east of the south end of Vietnam. He saw what looked like a burning airplane falling out of the sky and crashing into the sea. Unfortunately, he didn't record the time of the sighting, and didn't report the sighting until he heard of the MH370 disappearance.
Most evidence says that MH370 didn't go anywhere near the oil platform. His company fired him, apparently for filing a false report.
Both saw the object to the southeast. It is quite possible that both saw a satellite or space junk re-entry. If so, neither report was a false report, other than it had nothing to do with MH370. McKay should not have been fired. He saw something.
There were nine reports from Dhaalu Atoll of an airliner flying low over the island. This was probably some other airliner. Most evidence shows that MH370 never went that far west.
PRESS FALLACY #18
"Satellite websites will have an image available for any time at any location."
The student put in the desired time and got the image. He chose the same time villagers in Kelantan Malaysia reported to have seen a very low flying airplane, and the same time contact was lost from MH370. But there are several things that indicate that the plane was not on the ground, and that it was not MH370:
This is a satellite image of an airliner in flight, heading northeast, and captured in daylight. It is not unusual for a satellite image to contain a plane in flight or a ship on the sea. The page author has several such images of flying planes.
On June 18, Mike Exner's group of ten Independent Researchers released their analysis of data from released Inmarsat records. The data show that the most likely place to look is farther south, between the first area searched for debris and the area searched by the Bluefin.
Fugro is an underwater survey company that uses UAVs to map areas of deep water. The Australian Transportation Safety Board has had two contracts with Fugro to map the ocean floor in the area indicated by the Independent Researchers and look for MH370.
On October 5, the Malaysian ship GO Phoenix started searching the new area designated by the Independent Researchers to look for MH370. Two Fugro survey ships join the search a few days later. All three will be using Towfish submersibles built for the purpose. The towfish can operate to 4 miles deep, and can carry sonar, cameras, and aviation fuel sensors.
The following items were found:
In addition, one resident said he found and burned as trash an airplane seat in May 2015.
The following are known:
The following are known:
The following items were also found:
If the plane retained neutral buoyancy and ocean currents brought the entire plane to near Reunion Island, searching in the original area would find nothing.
MH370 may have come down there, but it probably didn't stay there.
Because MH370 could have had neutral buoyancy and drifted with the ocean currents, the area to be searched has now become so large that it is not feasible to keep searching.
The best chance for MH370 to be found is when someone working on something else finds it.
The world is an immensely large place, compared to the size of a missing airplane.
Over 50 passenger planes that have gone missing since the beginning of commercial aviation have never been found.
Three airliners in three separate incidents have disappeared in the Andes on approach to landing at Santiago Chile. All three were found over 50 years after they disappeared. In each case, the plane was found by people who stumbled onto it while doing something else.
The following table shows the sequence of events during the time the plane was in the air. The brown items represent information that was not available to controllers or officials in real time:
|THE FLIGHT TIMELINE|
|00 00:00||3-08 00:41||MH370 took off at Kuala Lumpur.|
|00 00:20||3-08 01:01||MH370 crew reports to ATC 35 Kft (11 Km) altitude.|
|00 00:26||3-08 01:07||Crew repeats 35 Kft altitude; last ACARS data received.|
|00 00:38||3-08 01:19||Last Malaysia ATC voice contact.|
|00 00:40||3-08 01:21||Last Transponder contact 6°55'15''N 103°34'43''E.|
|00 00:41||3-08 01:22||Transponder and ADS-B stop working.|
|00 00:49||3-08 01:30||Voice contact attempt by other plane requested by Vietnam ATC. Mumbling and static received in reply.|
|00 00:49||3-08 01:30||Military primary RADAR (reconstructed later) shows aircraft at 6°33'05''N 103°20'39''E at last voice contact time.|
|00 00:49||3-08 01:30||Reconstructed RADAR shows MH370 turned towards GIVAL waypoint 200 mi (320 km) NW of Penang Island.|
|00 00:56||3-08 01:37||Missing ACARS data transmission (expected every half hour).|
|00 00:57||3-08 01:38||Vietnam tells Kuala Lumpur ATC that they have had no voice contact with MH370.|
|00 01:05||3-08 01:46||Vietnam and Kuala Lumpur exchange data on what they know from RADAR. Vietnam had brief contact.|
|00 01:16||3-08 01:57||Vietnam tells Kuala Lumpur still no contact with MH370.|
|00 01:22||3-08 02:03||Malaysia Airlines tells Kuala Lumpur MH370 is over Cambodia. Vietnam wants confirmation.|
|00 01:34||3-08 02:15||Vietnam tells Kuala Lumpur ATC that they have not yet had voice contact with MH370.|
|00 01:34||3-08 02:15||Last reconstructed Malaysian military RADAR, shows MH370 200 mi (320 km) NW of Penang, 6°49'38''N 97°43'15''E|
|00 01:34||3-08 02:15||Reconstructed RADAR shows MH370 crossed Malaysia states of Pahang, Terengganu, Selangor, Perak, and Penang.|
|00 01:37||3-08 02:18||Vietnam tells Kuala Lumpur ATC that MH370 flight plan is not over Cambodia.|
|00 01:37||3-08 02:18||Cambodia has had no contact with MH370.|
|00 01:44||3-08 02:25||First of 6 roughly hourly Classic Aero ping exchanges since last ACARS, via the Inmarsat-3 F1 satellite|
|00 01:45||3-08 02:26||Entertainment system on MH370 handshake via the Inmarsat-3 F1 satellite|
|00 01:54||3-08 02:35||Malaysia Airlines says MH370 is normal, gives coordinates 14°55'00''N 104°15'00''E.|
|00 01:58||3-08 02:39||Ground to aircraft phone call attempted, not answered, via the Inmarsat-3 F1 satellite|
|00 01:59||3-08 02:40||Kuala Lumpur ATC tells Malaysian Airlines MH370 is missing. Malaysian thinks this is when the plane disappeared.|
|00 02:12||3-08 02:53||Kuala Lumpur ATC asks MH386 to contact MH370. No response on Kuala Lumpur or emergency frequencies.|
|00 02:49||3-08 03:30||Malaysian Airlines tells Kuala Lumpur that the MH370 flight information is projected, not actual.|
|00 02:49||3-08 03:30||Kuala Lumpur asks Vietnam if Hainan China has had contact with MH370.|
|00 03:00||3-08 03:41||Second of 6 Classic Aero ping exchanges, via the Inmarsat-3 F1 satellite|
|00 03:15||3-08 03:56||Kuala Lumpur asks Malaysian Airlines for more info on MH370.|
|00 03:44||3-08 04:25||Vietnam asks for the last position of MH370 from Kuala Lumpur.|
|00 03:44||3-08 04:25||Kuala Lumpur asks Vietnam to ask if either Hong Kong or Beijing had contact with MH370. Answer was no.|
|00 04:00||3-08 04:41||Third of 6 Classic Aero ping exchanges, via the Inmarsat-3 F1 satellite|
|00 04:23||3-08 05:04||Kuala Lumpur asks Singapore if MH370 contacted them. Answer was no.|
|00 04:49||3-08 05:30||Kuala Lumpur activates Air Rescue.|
|00 05:00||3-08 05:41||Vietnam asks Kuala Lumpur for updates on MH370.|
|00 05:00||3-08 05:41||Fourth of 6 Classic Aero ping exchanges, via the Inmarsat-3 F1 satellite|
|00 05:33||3-08 06:14||Kuala Lumpur asks Vietnam if Search and Rescue is active.|
|00 05:49||3-08 06:30||MH370 did not arrive at Beijing.|
|00 06:00||3-08 06:41||Fifth of 6 Classic Aero ping exchanges, via the Inmarsat-3 F1 satellite|
|00 06:33||3-08 07:14||Ground to aircraft phone call attempted, not answered, via the Inmarsat-3 F1 satellite|
|00 06:43||3-08 07:24||Malaysia Airlines makes statement to media that flight is missing.|
|00 07:30||3-30 08:11||6th (last) ping exchange with Inmarsat-3 F1|
|00 07:38||3-08 08:19||Unscheduled, unexplained partial ping sent by MH370; Probable time of an engine stopping or a crash|
|00 08:34||3-08 09:15||Scheduled hourly ping attempt by Inmarsat goes unanswered by aircraft|
The following table shows the sequence of events during the search and the investigation:
|THE SEARCH AND INVESTIGATION TIMELINE 2014|
|3-08||Malaysia Dept of Civil Aviation (DCA) and Malaysia Airlines say Subang ATC (Kuala Lumpur) lost contact with Malaysia MH370 at 01:30 MYT|
|3-08||Malaysian and Vietnamese jointly searching the Gulf of Thailand area; China sends two rescue ships to South China Sea|
|3-09||International search and rescue focused on Gulf of Thailand. Natuna Is, S China Sea. Malaysia, Vietnam, China, Singapore, and Indonesia.|
|3-09||Malaysia Airlines releases passenger manifest of MH370. Two men from Austria and Italy listed as on MH370, are not on board.|
|3-09||Officials in Austria and Italy, say the two men were found in their own countries, but each had his passport stolen.|
|3-09||Chinese media received a letter claiming Chinese Martyrs Brigade caused the MH370 disappearance - probable hoax.|
|3-10||Reconstructed military RADAR tracking shows MH370 might have turned west from its intended flight path|
|3-10||The search zone expanded, to include areas in the Strait of Malacca due to the reconstructed military RADAR tracking path.|
|3-10||INTERPOL confirms that at least two passengers were travelling on stolen passports registered in its databases.|
|3-11||Ten Chinese satellites used in the search.|
|3-11||Oil slicks on the surface of the South China Sea test negative for jet fuel.|
|3-11||Inmarsat first hints that searches in the South China Sea are in error, and provides rough locations of the northern and southern arcs.|
|3-12||Experts and the Malaysian opposition question why the advanced British RADAR had not been triggered by a diverted flight.|
|3-12||INTERPOL says the two false identities are not linked to the disappearance.|
|3-13||Chinese satellite images show possible debris in South China Sea at 6.7°N 105.63°E|
|3-13||Surface search finds no wreckage where satellite images showed possible debris.|
|3-13||Malaysian government received info from Inmarsat that MH370 pinged for hours after ACARS stopped sending.|
|3-13||Royal Malaysian Air Force releases reconstructed RADAR track that used standard aviation corridors toward a point NW of Penang Island|
|3-13||Search and rescue efforts were increased in Andaman Sea and Bay of Bengal.|
|3-15||Investigators conclude MH370 was under human control long after it lost ATC contact.|
|3-15||Inmarsat analyzes records of the hourly pings and responses as a RADAR distance measurement, producing northern and southern arcs.|
|3-16||Malaysian police search the pilot's and copilot's homes.|
|3-16||Search and rescue operations begin in the northern and southern arc "corridors".|
|3-16||Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, China, and Thailand started searching the northern corridor within their territories.|
|3-16||Searches began in Indonesia, Australia, and the Indian Ocean in the southern corridor.|
|3-16||India continues search in the Bay of Bengal, Malaysia stops searching the South China Sea.|
|3-17||India stops searching the Andaman Sea and Bay of Bengal.|
|3-18||Malaysian authorities say the search area is now 2 M mi2 (5.2 M Km2) counting both corridors.|
|3-18||Australia starts leading the searches in the southern Indian Ocean.|
|3-19||China starts searching its own territory.|
|3-19||China satellite captures images of possible debris, but not analyzed yet.|
|3-19||Australia searches west and north of Cocos Islands and Christmas Island and in the southern Indian Ocean 1.9 Kmi (3 Mm) SW of Perth.|
|3-20||Australia searches the southern Indian Ocean with 3 planes and 3 ships, about 1.6 Kmi (2.5 Mm) SW of Perth.|
|3-21||Australia sends 5 planes and a ship to 44°03'02''S 91°13'27''E in response to satellite images.|
|3-23||Unknown object on 3-19 Chinese satellite image size 75 ft by 45 ft (22 m by 13 m). It was 1,970 mi (3,170 Km) west of Perth, 75 mi (120 Km) from earlier image.|
|3-23||Inmarsat analysis of Doppler shifts of the hourly pings rules out the northern corridor and the northern half of the southern corridor.|
|3-24||Prime Minister of Malaysia announces that Flight 370 is assumed to have gone down in the southern Indian Ocean.|
|3-25||Inmarsat analysis reduces the area of the southern corridor.|
|3-25||Search is confined the southern part of the Indian Ocean west and southwest of Australia.|
|3-25||Australian search plane spots two objects in water 1,550 mi (2,490 km) southwest of Perth.|
|3-27||French satellite images from 3-24 show 122 possible objects.|
|3-28||The search area narrows to roughly 29 K mi2 (76 K Km2).|
|3-28||Analysis of Thai and Japanese satellite images from 3-24 thru 3-26 March show floating objects 120 mi (200 Km) south of the French objects|
|3-28||Five ships from Australia and China search for the new satellite objects.|
|3-28||Analysis of plane speed shifts the search to a new area 680 mi (1,100 Km) northeast of the previous search area.|
|4-04||Chinese patrol ship Haixun 01 detects a pulse signal with a handheld hydrophone.|
|4-05||Ocean Shield uses the towed pinger detector to listen for the flight recorder Underwater Locator Beacons from MH370.|
|4-05||Chinese patrol ship Haixun 01 detects a pulse signal at 25°S 101°E.|
|4-05||HMS Echo was sent to the area of the Chinese detection with hydrophone equipment.|
|4-06||Ocean Shield's towed pinger detector picks up two long-lasting signals. The second heard two operating pingers.|
|4-08||Ocean Shield picks up two more signals 3.5 Km deep, close to the earlier ones.|
|4-10||HMS Echo picks up a signal with a sonobuoy 300 m deep. Unlikely to be from MH370.|
|4-11||A sonobuoy deployed near the Ocean Shield finds detects a signal.|
|4-11||JACC declares the sonobuoy contact unlikely to be related to MH370.|
|4-11||Hydrographic survey ship HMS Echo arrives to analyze Ocean Shield sonar data and measure thermoclines to predict ping trajectory.|
|4-15||An oil slick is found 5.5 km from the Ocean Shield locations of the pings.|
|4-15||Ocean Shield ceases towed pinger detector activity.|
|4-15||The AUV Bluefin-21 is deployed with side-scan sonar to search for wreckage on the ocean floor.|
|4-15||Bluefin aborts its first mission on reaching its maximum operating depth.|
|4-16||Bluefin-21 resumes scanning after being reprogrammed.|
|4-19||Australian lab analysis determines that the oil slick discovered four days earlier is not related to MH370.|
|4-25||Debris containing riveted metal sheets washes up on Australian west coast. It is later shown to not have come from MH370.|
|4-28||Last search of Bluefin in the original area delineated by the located pings was completed.|
|4-28||JACC announces that a larger area of ocean floor would be searched, and no more aerial searches would be made.|
|4-29||Researchers find signature of wreckage on mineral survey equipment in Bay of Bengal, 190 Km south of Bangladesh.|
|4-30||First search of Bluefin in the new expanded area.|
|5-06||The US Navy extends its contract to use the Bluefin-21 by four weeks.|
|5-13||Experts say two of the four Ocean Shield pings might not have been from the flight recorder Underwater Locator Beacons (ULBs).|
|5-13||Failures in the transponders on Ocean Shield and Bluefin interrupted the searches.|
|5-22||Bluefin resumes searches.|
|5-22||Chinese survey ship, Zhu Kezhen, begins mapping the ocean floor to facilitate subsequent searches.|
|5-27||Inmarsat releases processed raw data (not the original binary).|
|5-28||Bluefin finishes its last search. Searches halted until September to use better equipment after mapping the ocean floor is completed.|
|5-28||US Navy Deputy Director of Ocean Engineering announces that no detected underwater pings came from an aircraft ULB. Other man-made sources made them.|
|5-28||Some thought that Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization underwater monitor hydrophones could have detected impact sounds from MH370.|
|5-29||The US Navy announces that the previous announcement was not authorized, and that it is not the official Navy position.|
|5-29||Australia's Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) rules out the most recent search areas as the location of MH370.|
|5-30||Curtin University Researchers announce that their equipment might have recorded the sound of the MH370 impact in water.|
|6-04||Australian researchers at Curtin University release a recording of an underwater sound that could have been made by MH370.|
|6-04||A woman on a cruise reports that she saw what might have been a plane on fire on March 8, but hadn't yet heard about MH370.|
|6-10||ATSB signed a 3-month contract with Dutch deep sea survey company Fugro Survey Pty LTD to map the ocean and search for MH370.|
|6-12||Malaysia announces that families of missing passengers will receive $50,000 per person as an interim compensation.|
|6-18||Mike Exner's group of ten independent researchers released their analysis of data from released Inmarsat records.|
|6-20||The ATSB said the new search will concentrate on the independent analysis of the Inmarsat data.|
|6-26||The ATSB announced that MH370 probably flew most of the distance across the Indian Ocean on autopilot.|
|8-06||Australia awards contract to Fugro for a bathymetric seafloor survey near Broken Ridge in September.|
|9-05||The search resumes for MH370 with 3 ships using Towfish submersibles. The search area is set as 23166 mi2 (60000 Km2).|
|THE SEARCH AND INVESTIGATION TIMELINE 2015|
|5-10||The search area doubles to 46333 mi2 (120000 Km2).|
|5-10||The search finds an unexpected shipwreck (evidenced by a visible anchor).|
|7-29||A flaperon (part of a wing) from a Boeing 777 was found washed up on Reunion Island.|
|7-30||A duffel bag and a damaged suitcase were found washed up on Reunion Island. Unknown if they were from MH370.|
|7-30 -||Other extraneous debris was found washed up on Reunion Island, including a ladder, a sewing machine part, and water bottles from Malaysia and Taiwan.|
|7-30 -||Other extraneous pieces of debris were found washed up in the Maldives. They were identified as debris from a nearby shipwreck by the owner of the ship.|
|7-31||A Chinese water bottle and an Indonesian cleaner container were found in the same area on Reunion Island. Unknown if they were from MH370.|
|8-12||A packet of Malaysian noodles was found on a beach in South Australia.|
|8-12||A Malaysia Airlines baggage tag was found on a beach in New South Wales, Australia.|
|9-03||French authorities confirmed from serial numbers that the flaperon was definitely from MH370.|
|12||Gray debris was found on a beach in southern Mozambique. The finder kept it until he heard that an object was found on 03-02-2016. Then he reported it.|
|THE SEARCH AND INVESTIGATION TIMELINE 2016|
|2||Object with NO STEP printed on it (part of a horizontal stabilizer) was found on a sandbank near Paluma Mozambique in late February.|
|3-02||The Object with NO STEP on it found in February was reported.|
|3-03||The gray debris found in December was reported.|
|3-07||More debris found on Reunion Island.|
|3-21||Part of an engine cowl with the Rolls Royce logo found in Mossel Bay, South Africa.|
|3-24||The gray debris found in December and the stabilizer part are confirmed by investigators to be from MH370.|
|4-02||A piece of airplane interior bulkhead is found on Rodrigues Island.|
|5-12||The piece of engine cowl and the debris found on Rodrigues Island are confirmed by investigators to be from MH370.|
|5-12||Some relatives of victims still think the investigation is an attempt to trick them|
|5-20||A seat back was found in Mozambique|
|5-20||Debris was found near Kangaroo Island, South Australia|
|6-23||Kangaroo Island debris shown NOT to be from MH370|
|6-23||Wing flap found on Pemba Island, off coast of Tanzania|
|7-23||The search team thinks they've been looking in the wrong place because the plane might have glided under control after the pings quit.|
|7-21||A Malaysian group is angry that search teams have been looking in the wrong place.|
|7-22||The FBI recovered data from Capt. Shah's flight simulator for the actual path of MH370.|
|THE SEARCH AND INVESTIGATION TIMELINE 2017|
|1-17||All searches for MH370 have ended. The needed search area became so large that further searches will likely find nothing.|
Unfortunately, they cover a large part of the Indian Ocean. See the box
The following are the locations of the various searches and other events:
Because of the low resolution of this map (to meet hosting limits), the shapes and sizes of search areas are approximate.
There are quite a few similarities:
There are several:
There are several items about the pilot, Capt. Zaharie Ahmad Shah:
There are quite a few, but most are disproved:
† Inmarsat pings disprove this.
‡ A very vague prediction.
♣ It didn't have to. It looked like one of the many private planes on the RADAR.
♦ Nobody on the plane had large amounts of life insurance.
♥ Huh??? Probably a wild theory.
♠ Discovery of the flaperon disproves this.
The following are the most likely possibilities, in order of decreasing probability:
The following is the page author's educated guess of the most likely theory of what happened:
Reporters asking about the MH370 case seemed to believe these unscientific ideas were true:
The mistake most often made by reporters is number 12.