Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS -

Where is Re­union?

Re­union is a French is­land east of Mada­gas­car in the In­dian Ocean, about 175km south­west of Mau­ri­tius. Mea­sur­ing 2511sq/ km, it has a pop­u­la­tion of 845,000 peo­ple from nu­mer­ous coun­tries, in­clud­ing Africa, In­dia, Europe and China.

How could MH370 just dis­ap­pear?

There are plenty of ar­eas in the world where a plane can slip off the radar. Tracts of Africa, much of the in­te­rior of Rus­sia and jun­gles in Malaysia, for ex­am­ple. Mod­ern air­lin­ers use transpon­ders, which trans­mit a unique four- digit code that is iden­ti­fied with the flight. It is these codes that are picked up by air traf­fic con­trollers and used to lo­cate the plane. If the transpon­der stops trans­mit­ting — ei­ther be­cause it is turned off or as the re­sult of a sud­den, cat­a­strophic in­ci­dent — then over many parts of the globe, the plane would be­come in­vis­i­ble.

What about the black box?

Af­ter a plane has crashed, the black box transmits a hom­ing bea­con, but the range is only 2000m to 3000m, and even less if it is in deep wa­ter.

Why was there no dis­tress sig­nal?

Pilots can change a plane’s transpon­der code to alert con­trollers to an emer­gency. The code is 7500 for a hi­jack­ing, 7600 for a se­ri­ous mal­func­tion and 7700 for a May­day. The fact the code wasn’t changed sug­gests an ex­plo­sion, or pi­lot com­plic­ity.

If it blew up, would satel­lites spot it?

Not even the US has the ca­pa­bil­ity to record what hap­pens ev­ery­where in the world all the time, so it is quite pos­si­ble for it to ex­plode with­out be­ing seen. How­ever, an ex­plo­sion is un­likely given the se­ries of satel­lite “hand­shakes” that took place with MH370 and ground sta­tions in the hours af­ter it van­ished from radar.

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