Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 took off from Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, on March 8 just after midnight. It was supposed to be about a 6-hour flight to Beijing, the capital of China, with 239 people on board. The plane was a Boeing 777, a jet considered to be very safe. However, about an hour into MH370’s flight, the jet stopped communicating with people on land.
When a flight is in the air, it is tracked in multiple ways. There is on-going communication between the pilots and people on the ground. There are multiple electronic systems on the plane that automatically send signals at regular intervals which are picked up by radars and computers on land. About an hour into the flight, the electronics that automatically transmit signals stopped sending them. The pilots on the plane stopped communicating. Was the machinery that sends signals turned off on purpose by some bad people on the flight? Was there a technical problem on the plane that caused the gadgets to stop working? Why did the pilots stop communicating? Where did the plane go? We are left with many questions we don’t yet have answers to.
A plane disappearing is an extremely rare event in today’s hi-tech world. Ships, planes, helicopters, satellites, and radars are all being used to look for MH370. Over 25 countries are now involved in its search which is still ongoing.
Some clues have been discovered. Around the time communication stopped with the jet, military radars of various countries found information that suggests that MH370 changed its flight path. It was supposed to be going “north-eastward” towards Beijing, but changed its direction to “westward”. Data picked up by a satellite suggests that MH370 was somewhere on the red arc of the image about 7.5 hours after it took off. That is far from where it was originally headed. Recently, some folks in Australia found satellite images of objects in the Indian Ocean which could be parts of the plane. People are in the area trying to locate these objects.
Did you know?
In 1928, Roald Amundsen, a Norwegian explorer who was the first person to reach the South Pole, went on a rescue mission to find a lost friend in the Arctic. He never came back, and it is believed that his plane went down in the Arctic Ocean.
Did you know?
In 1937, Amelia Earhart, an American pilot who was the first woman to fly solo non-stop across the Atlantic Ocean, was on a mission to fly around the entire planet. Her plane disappeared over the Pacific Ocean, and was never found.
Image Credits: Laurent ERRERA from L’Union, France for Malaysia Airlines image, Office of the Prime Minister of Malaysia for MH370 last ping’s image
Sources: http://www.inmarsat.com/, http://www.malaysiaairlines.com, http://www.ameliaearhart.com/, http://www.pbs.org/, www.bbc.co.uk