MALAYSIAN AIRLINES FLIGHT 370 FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions about the Mystery

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.

  1. Why was the absence of Malaysia Flight 370 (MH370) not immediately noticed?

    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:

  2. Why was RADAR contact with the plane expected to be lost?

    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.

  3. Why is there no RADAR coverage over large bodies of water, such as oceans?

    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 SetMinimum Altitude of Object
    MilesKilometersFeetMilesKilometers
    50 mi90 Km1,500 ft0.3 mi0.5 Km
    100 mi180 Km6,500 ft1.2 mi2.2 Km
    150 mi270 Km15,000 ft3 mi5 Km
    200 mi360 Km26,000 ft5 mi9 Km
    250 mi450 Km40,000 ft7.5 mi14 Km
    300 mi550 Km80,000 ft15 mi27 Km

    FAQ about RADAR

  4. Why doesn't RADAR use the kind of radio that follows the earth's curvature?

    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.

  5. What are JORN and Jindalee?

    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.

  6. Why didn't JORN detect MH370?

    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.

  7. Why wasn't the plane missed until over an hour after it disappeared?

    Several factors combined to keep anyone from missing MH370:

    1. Vietnam ATC thought the plane might have taken off late.
    2. Malaysia ATC didn't know that Vietnam was never contacted by MH370 until Vietnam called them.
    3. A tech used the wrong computer page, showing the projected location of MH370 instead of the actual location, making Malaysian Airlines think it was still in contact with MH370 through ACARS (Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System).
    4. Malaysian Airlines erroneously told Malaysia ATC it was still in contact with MH370 through ACARS. This error was not corrected until over two hours after the MH370 transponders quit working.
  8. Why wasn't an immediate search begun by the Malaysian military as soon as the MH370 transponder disappeared from RADAR?

    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.

  9. Why didn't the military scramble jets to investigate the unidentified target flying over Malaysian airspace?

    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:

  10. How is a target determined to be "acting in a hostile manner"?

    A target is usually said to be acting in a hostile manner if it does any of the following:

  11. Why wasn't MH370 the only unidentified target on the RADAR?

    There are many unidentified targets flying over every country at any time. MH370 was lost in a sea of unidentified blips.

  12. What are the "many unidentified targets"? Are they UFOs?

    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.

  13. What is primary RADAR?

    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.

  14. What is skin-paint RADAR?

    Skin-paint RADAR and primary RADAR are two names for the same thing.

  15. What is secondary RADAR?

    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.

  16. What is a transponder?

    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.

  17. What is ADS-B?

    Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B) is a passive system that periodically transmits the plane's GPS position. One was installed on MH370.

  18. Why didn't the military scramble jets once they knew the flight was missing?

    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.

  19. Why does it take so long to scramble a jet?

    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.

  20. If the military didn't know which target was MH370 at the time, how did they know its path later to release it?

    PRESS FALLACY #6

    "The military had the track of MH370 available in real time."

    The path of the flight was reconstructed later:

  21. Why didn't Indonesia military RADAR track MH370?

    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.

  22. What is ACARS?

    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.

  23. What is Inmarsat?

    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.

  24. What is a geosynchronous (or geostationary) satellite?

    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.

  25. What is a Classic Aero ping exchange?

    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.

  26. Why did the transponder, the ADS-B, and the ACARS on MH370 quit working?

    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.

  27. Why are pilots allowed to turn off the transponder, the ADS-B, and the ACARS, or change their settings?

    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.

  28. Could someone have disguised MH370 to pretend to be a different plane?

    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.

  29. How do we know the transponder was not changed to another identity to disguise MH370?

    The Malaysia RADAR reconstruction and the Classic Aero pings show a flight path that no transponder RADAR track followed.

  30. Why so many low resolution satellite images, but very few high resolutions images?

    There are two kinds of imaging satellites:

  31. Why can't government send more satellites to the area to photograph it better?

    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.

    many satellites

    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.

  32. Then why did China say it could deploy its satellites to search?

    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.

  33. If the objects in satellite photos were not debris on the ocean, what were they?

    PRESS FALLACY #11

    "The objects in the satellite images had to be wreckage from MH370."

    Most of them were not wreckage. They were:

  34. Some debris was found by searchers on airplanes or ships. What was this debris, if not from MH370?

    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.

  35. What were the metal objects with rivets that washed up on the Australian west coast?

    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.

  36. How did they know the oil slicks that were found were not from MH370?

    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.

  37. What is an ELT?

    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.

  38. Why weren't signals from the ELTs on MH370 received and located?

    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:

  39. How did Inmarsat determine the locations of the northern and southern search arcs?

    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.

  40. How did Inmarsat then refine the search area to the southern part of the southern arc?

    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.

  41. I thought the satellite was geostationary? Why is it moving?

    The satellite moves a few miles back and forth in all three dimensions. There are two reasons this happens:

  42. What can go wrong with these Classic Aero ping exchange measurements?

    There are several places where the measurements could be wrong:

  43. What is an aircraft Black Box?

    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.

  44. What is a ULB?

    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.

  45. What is an underwater pinger?

    An underwater pinger is a ULB.

  46. Why does the ULB just make tones? Why can't it send GPS coordinates?

    PRESS FALLACY #12
    (AGAIN)

    "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.

  47. What is a towed pinger locator?

    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.

  48. What is Ocean Shield

    Ocean Shield is the Australian ship used to tow the towed pinger locator.

  49. Why did they wait to deploy the towed pinger locator until after a Chinese ship reported hearing pings with a sonar hydrophone?

    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.

  50. This is like looking for a needle in a haystack then, right?

    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.

  51. Why didn't they use more towed pinger locators?

    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.

  52. Why are some of the pings detected by the towed pinger locator in doubt?

    The pings received were the wrong frequency.

  53. What could cause the received pings to be wrong frequency of 33.3 KHz on April 6 and 27 KHz on April 8?

    There are several possible causes, including:

  54. What is the Bluefin-21 AUV

    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.

  55. How does the Bluefin-21 navigate underwater? Does it use GPS?

    PRESS FALLACY #12
    (AGAIN)

    "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.

  56. Inertial guidance system? What's that?

    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.

  57. Why did they wait to deploy the Bluefin-21 until they had finished with the towed pinger locator?

    There were two reasons:

  58. Why must the Bluefin return to the ship before they can have the results?

    PRESS FALLACY #12
    (AGAIN)

    "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.

  59. Are there different kinds of submersible search vehicles?

    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.

  60. Why couldn't they deploy more Bluefin-21 AUVs?

    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.

  61. Why doesn't the military have any submersibles?

    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.

  62. Why couldn't they bring in other kinds of submersibles?

    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.

  63. Since the pingers were detected, why couldn't the Bluefin locate MH370?

    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.

  64. Why did they end the search with the Bluefin?

    Three reasons:

    1. The Bluefin can't cover enough ocean bottom for any of the larger searches contemplated from now on.
    2. The US Navy lease on the Bluefin ran out and the owners wanted it back.
    3. There was no more money for the search in the budget.
  65. The US Navy announced that none of the underwater pings came from MH370. Have they been searching in the wrong place?

    PRESS FALLACY #17

    "Because the Bluefin didn't find MH370, it did not come down in the search area."

    Not necessarily.

    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:

  66. What did those Chinese ships start doing in the search area in May?

    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.

  67. Who is paying for all of this searching?

    Each country has paid for its own efforts.

  68. What about the noise the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization's (CTBTO) hydrophones picked up at about the time MH370's final Aero Ping occurred?

    Both the CTBTO system and some Curtin University research hydrophones picked up and recorded a sound:

  69. What about the sighting reported by Katherine Tee on March 8?

    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:

  70. What about the sighting reported by Mike McKay on March 8?

    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.

  71. Could Katherine Tee and Mike McKay have seen the same event?

    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.

  72. What about the sighting of a low-flying airliner reported in the Maldives Islands?

    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.

  73. What about the image a Taiwanese student found of a plane resting in a Malaysian jungle?

    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.

  74. What were the findings of the independent researchers?

    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.

  75. What is Fugro Survey LTD

    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.

  76. When did the search resume?

    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.

  77. What about objects found on Reunion Island (near Madagascar) in late July 2015?

    The following items were found:

    1. A flaperon (part moving with both flaps and ailerons) was found on 07-29-2015
    2. A duffel bag was found the next day
    3. A damaged suitcase was also found that day
    4. People brought in many local items found on the beach
    5. A ladder having nothing to do with MH370
    6. Part of a sewing machine having nothing to do with MH 370
    7. Plastic water bottles labeled as being from Malaysia, China, and Taiwan
    8. A bottle of an Indonesian cleaning product
    9. Something containing fuel specifications for a Boeing 777
    10. several smashed pieces of machinery

    In addition, one resident said he found and burned as trash an airplane seat in May 2015.

  78. What about the flaperon?

    The following are known:

    1. Ocean currents have had enough time to carry debris from the search area to Reunion Island.
    2. The part number found on the part proves it came from a Boeing 777.
    3. MH370 is the only Boeing 777 missing in the Indian Ocean.
    4. The serial number plate is missing from the flaperon.
    5. Experts in France confirm that the flaperon came from MH370.
    6. Barnacles found on the flaperon can tell scientists where in the ocean the flaperon has been.
  79. How did the flaperon get to Reunion Island?

    The following are known:

    1. If the plane retained neutral buoyancy, ocean currents could have brought the entire plane to near Reunion Island.
    2. Ocean currents have had enough time to carry debris from the search area to Reunion Island.
    3. The Inmarsat location of MH370 could be in error.
  80. What else has been found, and where?

    The following items were also found:

    1. Some debris from a shipwreck washed ashore in the Maldives on 07-30-2015
    2. Some gray debris was found in Xai Xai, in southern Mozambique in December 2015
    3. Part of a horizontal stabilizer was found near Paluma Mozambique in late February 2016
    4. More debris found on Reunion Island.
    5. Part of an engine cowl with the Rolls Royce logo found in Mossel Bay, South Africa.
    6. A piece of airplane interior bulkhead was found on Rodrigues Island.
    7. A seat back was found in a beach in Mozambique.
    8. Debris not part of MH370 was found on Kangaroo Island, South Australia.
    9. A wing flap was found on Pemba Island off Tanzania.
  81. Have the searchers been wasting their time looking in the place the Inmarsat indicated?

    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.

  82. Why was the entire search called off on 01/17/2017?

    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.

  83. With all of the technology we have today, why is it so hard to find a missing plane?

    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.

  84. What is the sequence of actual events during the flight itself?

    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
    Elapsed
    DD-HH:MM
    MYT
    M-DD HH:MM
    EVENT
    00 00:003-08 00:41MH370 took off at Kuala Lumpur.
    00 00:203-08 01:01MH370 crew reports to ATC 35 Kft (11 Km) altitude.
    00 00:263-08 01:07Crew repeats 35 Kft altitude; last ACARS data received.
    00 00:383-08 01:19Last Malaysia ATC voice contact.
    00 00:403-08 01:21Last Transponder contact 6°55'15''N 103°34'43''E.
    00 00:413-08 01:22Transponder and ADS-B stop working.
    00 00:493-08 01:30Voice contact attempt by other plane requested by Vietnam ATC. Mumbling and static received in reply.
    00 00:493-08 01:30Military primary RADAR (reconstructed later) shows aircraft at 6°33'05''N 103°20'39''E at last voice contact time.
    00 00:493-08 01:30Reconstructed RADAR shows MH370 turned towards GIVAL waypoint 200 mi (320 km) NW of Penang Island.
    00 00:563-08 01:37Missing ACARS data transmission (expected every half hour).
    00 00:573-08 01:38Vietnam tells Kuala Lumpur ATC that they have had no voice contact with MH370.
    00 01:053-08 01:46Vietnam and Kuala Lumpur exchange data on what they know from RADAR. Vietnam had brief contact.
    00 01:163-08 01:57Vietnam tells Kuala Lumpur still no contact with MH370.
    00 01:223-08 02:03Malaysia Airlines tells Kuala Lumpur MH370 is over Cambodia. Vietnam wants confirmation.
    00 01:343-08 02:15Vietnam tells Kuala Lumpur ATC that they have not yet had voice contact with MH370.
    00 01:343-08 02:15Last reconstructed Malaysian military RADAR, shows MH370 200 mi (320 km) NW of Penang, 6°49'38''N 97°43'15''E
    00 01:343-08 02:15Reconstructed RADAR shows MH370 crossed Malaysia states of Pahang, Terengganu, Selangor, Perak, and Penang.
    00 01:373-08 02:18Vietnam tells Kuala Lumpur ATC that MH370 flight plan is not over Cambodia.
    00 01:373-08 02:18Cambodia has had no contact with MH370.
    00 01:443-08 02:25First of 6 roughly hourly Classic Aero ping exchanges since last ACARS, via the Inmarsat-3 F1 satellite
    00 01:453-08 02:26Entertainment system on MH370 handshake via the Inmarsat-3 F1 satellite
    00 01:543-08 02:35Malaysia Airlines says MH370 is normal, gives coordinates 14°55'00''N 104°15'00''E.
    00 01:583-08 02:39Ground to aircraft phone call attempted, not answered, via the Inmarsat-3 F1 satellite
    00 01:593-08 02:40Kuala Lumpur ATC tells Malaysian Airlines MH370 is missing. Malaysian thinks this is when the plane disappeared.
    00 02:123-08 02:53Kuala Lumpur ATC asks MH386 to contact MH370. No response on Kuala Lumpur or emergency frequencies.
    00 02:493-08 03:30Malaysian Airlines tells Kuala Lumpur that the MH370 flight information is projected, not actual.
    00 02:493-08 03:30Kuala Lumpur asks Vietnam if Hainan China has had contact with MH370.
    00 03:003-08 03:41Second of 6 Classic Aero ping exchanges, via the Inmarsat-3 F1 satellite
    00 03:153-08 03:56Kuala Lumpur asks Malaysian Airlines for more info on MH370.
    00 03:443-08 04:25Vietnam asks for the last position of MH370 from Kuala Lumpur.
    00 03:443-08 04:25Kuala Lumpur asks Vietnam to ask if either Hong Kong or Beijing had contact with MH370. Answer was no.
    00 04:003-08 04:41Third of 6 Classic Aero ping exchanges, via the Inmarsat-3 F1 satellite
    00 04:233-08 05:04Kuala Lumpur asks Singapore if MH370 contacted them. Answer was no.
    00 04:493-08 05:30Kuala Lumpur activates Air Rescue.
    00 05:003-08 05:41Vietnam asks Kuala Lumpur for updates on MH370.
    00 05:003-08 05:41Fourth of 6 Classic Aero ping exchanges, via the Inmarsat-3 F1 satellite
    00 05:333-08 06:14Kuala Lumpur asks Vietnam if Search and Rescue is active.
    00 05:493-08 06:30MH370 did not arrive at Beijing.
    00 06:003-08 06:41Fifth of 6 Classic Aero ping exchanges, via the Inmarsat-3 F1 satellite
    00 06:333-08 07:14Ground to aircraft phone call attempted, not answered, via the Inmarsat-3 F1 satellite
    00 06:433-08 07:24Malaysia Airlines makes statement to media that flight is missing.
    00 07:303-30 08:116th (last) ping exchange with Inmarsat-3 F1
    00 07:383-08 08:19Unscheduled, unexplained partial ping sent by MH370; Probable time of an engine stopping or a crash
    00 08:343-08 09:15Scheduled hourly ping attempt by Inmarsat goes unanswered by aircraft
  85. What is the sequence of actual events during the search and investigation?

    The following table shows the sequence of events during the search and the investigation:

    THE SEARCH AND INVESTIGATION TIMELINE 2014
    DateEvent
    3-08Malaysia Dept of Civil Aviation (DCA) and Malaysia Airlines say Subang ATC (Kuala Lumpur) lost contact with Malaysia MH370 at 01:30 MYT
    3-08Malaysian and Vietnamese jointly searching the Gulf of Thailand area; China sends two rescue ships to South China Sea
    3-09International search and rescue focused on Gulf of Thailand. Natuna Is, S China Sea. Malaysia, Vietnam, China, Singapore, and Indonesia.
    3-09Malaysia Airlines releases passenger manifest of MH370. Two men from Austria and Italy listed as on MH370, are not on board.
    3-09Officials in Austria and Italy, say the two men were found in their own countries, but each had his passport stolen.
    3-09Chinese media received a letter claiming Chinese Martyrs Brigade caused the MH370 disappearance - probable hoax.
    3-10Reconstructed military RADAR tracking shows MH370 might have turned west from its intended flight path
    3-10The search zone expanded, to include areas in the Strait of Malacca due to the reconstructed military RADAR tracking path.
    3-10INTERPOL confirms that at least two passengers were travelling on stolen passports registered in its databases.
    3-11Ten Chinese satellites used in the search.
    3-11Oil slicks on the surface of the South China Sea test negative for jet fuel.
    3-11Inmarsat first hints that searches in the South China Sea are in error, and provides rough locations of the northern and southern arcs.
    3-12Experts and the Malaysian opposition question why the advanced British RADAR had not been triggered by a diverted flight.
    3-12INTERPOL says the two false identities are not linked to the disappearance.
    3-13Chinese satellite images show possible debris in South China Sea at 6.7°N 105.63°E
    3-13Surface search finds no wreckage where satellite images showed possible debris.
    3-13Malaysian government received info from Inmarsat that MH370 pinged for hours after ACARS stopped sending.
    3-13Royal Malaysian Air Force releases reconstructed RADAR track that used standard aviation corridors toward a point NW of Penang Island
    3-13Search and rescue efforts were increased in Andaman Sea and Bay of Bengal.
    3-15Investigators conclude MH370 was under human control long after it lost ATC contact.
    3-15Inmarsat analyzes records of the hourly pings and responses as a RADAR distance measurement, producing northern and southern arcs.
    DateEvent
    3-16Malaysian police search the pilot's and copilot's homes.
    3-16Search and rescue operations begin in the northern and southern arc "corridors".
    3-16Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, China, and Thailand started searching the northern corridor within their territories.
    3-16Searches began in Indonesia, Australia, and the Indian Ocean in the southern corridor.
    3-16India continues search in the Bay of Bengal, Malaysia stops searching the South China Sea.
    3-17India stops searching the Andaman Sea and Bay of Bengal.
    3-18Malaysian authorities say the search area is now 2 M mi2 (5.2 M Km2) counting both corridors.
    3-18Australia starts leading the searches in the southern Indian Ocean.
    3-19China starts searching its own territory.
    3-19China satellite captures images of possible debris, but not analyzed yet.
    3-19Australia searches west and north of Cocos Islands and Christmas Island and in the southern Indian Ocean 1.9 Kmi (3 Mm) SW of Perth.
    3-20Australia searches the southern Indian Ocean with 3 planes and 3 ships, about 1.6 Kmi (2.5 Mm) SW of Perth.
    3-21Australia sends 5 planes and a ship to 44°03'02''S 91°13'27''E in response to satellite images.
    3-23Unknown 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.
    3-23Inmarsat analysis of Doppler shifts of the hourly pings rules out the northern corridor and the northern half of the southern corridor.
    3-24Prime Minister of Malaysia announces that Flight 370 is assumed to have gone down in the southern Indian Ocean.
    3-25Inmarsat analysis reduces the area of the southern corridor.
    3-25Search is confined the southern part of the Indian Ocean west and southwest of Australia.
    3-25Australian search plane spots two objects in water 1,550 mi (2,490 km) southwest of Perth.
    3-27French satellite images from 3-24 show 122 possible objects.
    DateEvent
    3-28The search area narrows to roughly 29 K mi2 (76 K Km2).
    3-28Analysis 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
    3-28Five ships from Australia and China search for the new satellite objects.
    3-28Analysis of plane speed shifts the search to a new area 680 mi (1,100 Km) northeast of the previous search area.
    4-04Chinese patrol ship Haixun 01 detects a pulse signal with a handheld hydrophone.
    4-05Ocean Shield uses the towed pinger detector to listen for the flight recorder Underwater Locator Beacons from MH370.
    4-05Chinese patrol ship Haixun 01 detects a pulse signal at 25°S 101°E.
    4-05HMS Echo was sent to the area of the Chinese detection with hydrophone equipment.
    4-06Ocean Shield's towed pinger detector picks up two long-lasting signals. The second heard two operating pingers.
    4-08Ocean Shield picks up two more signals 3.5 Km deep, close to the earlier ones.
    4-10HMS Echo picks up a signal with a sonobuoy 300 m deep. Unlikely to be from MH370.
    4-11A sonobuoy deployed near the Ocean Shield finds detects a signal.
    4-11JACC declares the sonobuoy contact unlikely to be related to MH370.
    4-11Hydrographic survey ship HMS Echo arrives to analyze Ocean Shield sonar data and measure thermoclines to predict ping trajectory.
    4-15An oil slick is found 5.5 km from the Ocean Shield locations of the pings.
    4-15Ocean Shield ceases towed pinger detector activity.
    4-15The AUV Bluefin-21 is deployed with side-scan sonar to search for wreckage on the ocean floor.
    4-15Bluefin aborts its first mission on reaching its maximum operating depth.
    4-16Bluefin-21 resumes scanning after being reprogrammed.
    4-19Australian lab analysis determines that the oil slick discovered four days earlier is not related to MH370.
    4-25Debris containing riveted metal sheets washes up on Australian west coast. It is later shown to not have come from MH370.
    4-28Last search of Bluefin in the original area delineated by the located pings was completed.
    4-28JACC announces that a larger area of ocean floor would be searched, and no more aerial searches would be made.
    4-29Researchers find signature of wreckage on mineral survey equipment in Bay of Bengal, 190 Km south of Bangladesh.
    4-30First search of Bluefin in the new expanded area.
    DateEvent
    5-06The US Navy extends its contract to use the Bluefin-21 by four weeks.
    5-13Experts say two of the four Ocean Shield pings might not have been from the flight recorder Underwater Locator Beacons (ULBs).
    5-13Failures in the transponders on Ocean Shield and Bluefin interrupted the searches.
    5-22Bluefin resumes searches.
    5-22Chinese survey ship, Zhu Kezhen, begins mapping the ocean floor to facilitate subsequent searches.
    5-27Inmarsat releases processed raw data (not the original binary).
    5-28Bluefin finishes its last search. Searches halted until September to use better equipment after mapping the ocean floor is completed.
    5-28US Navy Deputy Director of Ocean Engineering announces that no detected underwater pings came from an aircraft ULB. Other man-made sources made them.
    5-28Some thought that Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization underwater monitor hydrophones could have detected impact sounds from MH370.
    5-29The US Navy announces that the previous announcement was not authorized, and that it is not the official Navy position.
    5-29Australia's Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) rules out the most recent search areas as the location of MH370.
    5-30Curtin University Researchers announce that their equipment might have recorded the sound of the MH370 impact in water.
    6-04Australian researchers at Curtin University release a recording of an underwater sound that could have been made by MH370.
    6-04A 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.
    6-10ATSB signed a 3-month contract with Dutch deep sea survey company Fugro Survey Pty LTD to map the ocean and search for MH370.
    6-12Malaysia announces that families of missing passengers will receive $50,000 per person as an interim compensation.
    6-18Mike Exner's group of ten independent researchers released their analysis of data from released Inmarsat records.
    6-20The ATSB said the new search will concentrate on the independent analysis of the Inmarsat data.
    6-26The ATSB announced that MH370 probably flew most of the distance across the Indian Ocean on autopilot.
    8-06Australia awards contract to Fugro for a bathymetric seafloor survey near Broken Ridge in September.
    9-05The 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
    DateEvent
    5-10The search area doubles to 46333 mi2 (120000 Km2).
    5-10The search finds an unexpected shipwreck (evidenced by a visible anchor).
    7-29A flaperon (part of a wing) from a Boeing 777 was found washed up on Reunion Island.
    7-30A 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.
    7-31A Chinese water bottle and an Indonesian cleaner container were found in the same area on Reunion Island. Unknown if they were from MH370.
    8-12A packet of Malaysian noodles was found on a beach in South Australia.
    8-12A Malaysia Airlines baggage tag was found on a beach in New South Wales, Australia.
    9-03French authorities confirmed from serial numbers that the flaperon was definitely from MH370.
    12Gray 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
    DateEvent
    2Object with NO STEP printed on it (part of a horizontal stabilizer) was found on a sandbank near Paluma Mozambique in late February.
    3-02The Object with NO STEP on it found in February was reported.
    3-03The gray debris found in December was reported.
    3-07More debris found on Reunion Island.
    3-21Part of an engine cowl with the Rolls Royce logo found in Mossel Bay, South Africa.
    3-24The gray debris found in December and the stabilizer part are confirmed by investigators to be from MH370.
    4-02A piece of airplane interior bulkhead is found on Rodrigues Island.
    5-12The piece of engine cowl and the debris found on Rodrigues Island are confirmed by investigators to be from MH370.
    5-12Some relatives of victims still think the investigation is an attempt to trick them
    5-20A seat back was found in Mozambique
    5-20Debris was found near Kangaroo Island, South Australia
    6-23Kangaroo Island debris shown NOT to be from MH370
    6-23Wing flap found on Pemba Island, off coast of Tanzania
    7-23The search team thinks they've been looking in the wrong place because the plane might have glided under control after the pings quit.
    7-21A Malaysian group is angry that search teams have been looking in the wrong place.
    7-22The FBI recovered data from Capt. Shah's flight simulator for the actual path of MH370.
    THE SEARCH AND INVESTIGATION TIMELINE 2017
    DateEvent
    1-17All searches for MH370 have ended. The needed search area became so large that further searches will likely find nothing.
  86. Where have all of these detections, searches, and possible sightings occurred?

    Unfortunately, they cover a large part of the Indian Ocean. See the box

    MH370 map The following are the locations of the various searches and other events:

    • YELLOW near Malaysia - searches before Inmarsat data known
    • BLACK near Somalia - geosynchronous Inmarsat satellite
    • AMBER and ORANGE - Inmarsat data and debris image searches
    • BROWN near Australia - towed pinger locator and Bluefin searches
    • AQUA Australia - Rottnest and Cape Leeuwin hydrophones
    • MAGENTA line - hydrophone locus area of infrasonic "oomph"
    • RED near Sumatra - locus area of plane with orange lights
    • YELLOW-GREEN near India - Maldives Islands - low flying airliner report, shipwreck debris
    • GREEN mid-ocean - Diego Garcia Island - conspiracy theory landing
    • Dark BROWN near Vietnam - oil platform - object falling in flames
    • Dark PURPLE between ambers - independent group search idea
    • CYAN east of Madagascar - Reunion Island - flaperon found
    • BLUE-WHITE east of Reunion - Rodrigues Island - bulkhead found
    • BRICK RED Mozambique - Paluma Sandbar - horizontal stabilizer part found
    • DARK BLUE Mozambique - Xai Xai - gray debris found
    • RED South Africa - Mossel Bay - engine cowl part found
    • HOT PINK off Tanzania Africa - Pemba Island - wing flap found
    • BRICK RED South Australia - Kangaroo Island - Debris found

    Because of the low resolution of this map (to meet hosting limits), the shapes and sizes of search areas are approximate.

  87. How is this event similar to the events on September 11, 2001?

    There are quite a few similarities:

  88. Are there any theories on what happened to MH370?

    There are several:

  89. What factors support pilot suicide? What about his flight simulator data?

    There are several items about the pilot, Capt. Zaharie Ahmad Shah:

  90. Are there any conspiracy or supernatural theories on what happened to MH370?

    There are quite a few, but most are disproved:

  91. What are the most likely outcomes of this event?

    The following are the most likely possibilities, in order of decreasing probability:

    1. Searchers find MH370 where ocean currents have taken it.
    2. Searchers find that MH370 has broken up and is scattered over a large area.
    3. MH370 is accidentally found many years later by people working on something else.
    4. Searchers find MH370 in one of the search patterns.
    5. MH370 is never found because it sunk into deep bottom mud.
    6. MH370 is never found because nobody happens to look where it is.
    7. Any one of the conspiracy or supernatural theories listed above is true.
    8. Anything else that nobody has thought of yet
  92. What is the page author's idea of the most likely sequence of events?

    The following is the page author's educated guess of the most likely theory of what happened:

    1. Something unknown happened on MH370 to cause it to fly south on autopilot.
    2. MH370 soft-landed on the sea without crashing.
    3. MH370 then slowly sunk into the sea,
    4. The pressure of the ocean partially crushed MH370, making the infrasonic sound.
    5. MH370 maintained neutral buoyancy as ocean currents carried it hundreds of miles from the landing site.
    6. The searchers found nothing because the plane was not there.
    7. Months later, MH370 crashed into some undersea peak and disintegrated.
    8. Parts of MH370 washed up on beaches at the western end of the Indian Ocean.
    9. Some pieces may reach the Atlantic Ocean.


Incredible Mistakes by Reporters about this Mystery

Reporters asking about the MH370 case seemed to believe these unscientific ideas were true:

  1. "Air traffic controllers should be in continuous touch with airliners and each other."
  2. "There should be RADAR coverage of the airspace over the entire earth."
  3. "RADAR should use radio that follows the earth's curvature."
  4. "Only one unidentified blip was on the Malaysian military RADAR: It was MH370."
  5. "The military can get a jet into the area in a minute or two."
  6. "The military had the track of MH370 available in real time."
  7. "Pilots should not be able to shut off or change settings on transponders."
  8. "A hijacker would have had to hide MH370 from RADAR."
  9. "Satellites can be sent to the locations where they are needed for disaster work."
  10. "Satellites can hover over any spot on earth as long as they are needed."
  11. "The objects in the satellite images had to be wreckage from MH370."
  12. "Radio will work under water. This includes GPS units, cell phones, and ELTs, as long as the electronics stay dry."
  13. "Enough searchers should be able to find the plane in very little time."
  14. "They could have brought in more towed pinger locators to speed up the search."
  15. "They could have brought in more submersibles to search a wider area."
  16. "Government could have commandeered any equipment needed for the search from private owners."
  17. "Because the Bluefin didn't find MH370, it did not come down in the search area."
  18. "Satellite websites will have an image available for any time at any location."

The mistake most often made by reporters is number 12.