Flight 370: Who, what, where, why and how?
Special focus on finding 'black box'
TWO weeks into the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, the questions of where, how, who and why remain unanswered.
“The one thing everyone wants to know is the one thing we can’t answer. Where the plane is.” This phrase, with slight variations, has become something of a daily mantra for Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein at his press briefings.
The initial search focused on the South China Sea, which the plane had been crossing when it dropped off military radar.
Sketchy satellite and military radar data saw efforts switch to the Indian Ocean-side of the Malay peninsula where investigators used the data to identify two giant search corridors, running south into the Indian Ocean and north over South and Central Asia. Most experts favoured the southern corridor, querying how the plane could have flown undetected over the dozen or so countries in the northern corridor.
Resources were flooded into a remote stretch of Indian Ocean 2 500km southwest of Perth, after Australia released grainy satellite images on Thursday that showed what could be pieces of wreckage.
At the limit of the plane ’ s range, the site location reinforced the belief that the plane might have flown on until it ran out of fuel.
Chinese satellites have spotted a new object in the southern Indian Ocean that could be wreckage from a missing Malaysian airliner carrying 239 people, and ships are on their way to investigate, China and Malaysia said yesterday. Depending on the circumstances in which the plane is found – if it is found – determining what happened could take years.
Multiple scenarios exist, but three dominate: hijacking, pilot sabotage and a midair crisis that incapacitated the flight crew and left the plane flying on autopilot.
Malaysian authorities maintain that the plane’s movement after it dropped off civilian radar, coupled with the disabling of its automated signalling systems, points to “deliberate action ” by someone on board. If the plane did crash in a remote area of the Indian Ocean, the “incapacitated ” crew scenario will likely gain traction.
Many relatives of the passengers have pushed a hijacking scenario in which the plane was landed somewhere. But no demands have been made.
Background checks on the 227 passengers have come up empty.
The spotlight has been on the Malaysian captain and his co-pilot. Police searched both pilots ’ residences, but no evidence has emerged implicating either man.
The priority remains the search for the plane, with a special focus on locating the “black box ” before it stops emitting locator signals after 30 days.
“Officials are probably quite aware that the winter season for the Southern Ocean is approaching,” said Greg Waldron, Asia managing editor of Flightglobal magazine. “That is going to make conditions more difficult, in what is already is a bad part of the world to be mounting a search effort.”
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