THE KEY QUESTIONS
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.