Six days after it vanished into thin air, Malaysian Airlines—as a mark of respect for the missing Flight MH370—renamed the Kuala Lumpur-Beijing leg MH318. Would the gesture mean MH370 has officially ceased to exist, lost forever—as news of its whereabouts continues to elude the world at the time of writing—or will it serve to etch it in memory as the flight that never reached home?
There had certainly been no inkling of any events to come. MH370 had departed from Kuala Lumpur at 12.45 am local time, on March 8, the weather forecast had predicted nothing worrisome, and last heard, it was cruising peacefully at 35,000 feet at 1,000 km per hour. A Boeing 377-200, the flight wasn’t chock-a-block; there were 227 passengers on board, 55 short of the aircraft’s seating capacity of 282. They were a typical mix of businessmen, MNC executives, people travelling to meet friends or family. Out in the night sky, it would have appeared as one more routine flight. Exactly what the cockpit crew reported to air control at 1.40 am, one hour into the five-hour, 53-minute flight. It was on course for yet another hour; a visible blip on the radar at 2.40 am.
Something happened for MH370 to exit its designated flight path and enter into the annals of aviation history.
Graphic by Rahul Awasthi
The records and timeline suggest that the aircraft was in the air long enough to have crossed Thailand and reach far north into Vietnam. From then on, though, neither contact nor radar presence has been reported. The pilots made no distress calls, nor did the sophisticated transponder built into the aircraft transmit any signals.
None of this, though, has translated into any conclusive news of the plane. Rare though it is, there are instances in the past where aircraft have disappeared without leaving behind any trace of passengers or the plane. In 2009, there was no news of Air France’s Flight 447 en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris for five days, till rescuers found the bodies and debris of the plane—they discovered where it had crashed into the Atlantic. The ‘black box’ was located only two years later.
Meanwhile, Malaysian Airlines authorities and senior members of the Kuala Lumpur government are trying their best to assure aggrieved relatives, harassed friends and agitated neighbours like China—which had the bulk of the passengers on the ill-fated flight. Alongside, questions are being raised on the existing flight security and safety standards in Malaysia and elsewhere in the world.
But for as long as there is no news, there is hope. Families, friends and the world at large are rallying in hope and prayer, waiting for a miracle to happen. One couple must already be thanking heavens for the miracle that did happen to them. Booked on MH370, they missed the flight because they couldn’t reach the airport on time.
8 Other Flights Which Vanished Into Thin Air Just Like Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370
7 Things You Must Know About A Black Box
This is about Outlook’s excellent coverage of the disappeared Malaysia Airlines plane (Flight into the Unknown, Mar 24). The MH370 has stirred some of our deepest fears and concerns. In today’s hyperconnected world, it is hard to imagine that a large commercial airliner could simply vanish, even after a flotilla of ships and scores of specialised aircraft have been looking for it. Shows how often human knowledge, vast as it may seem, when pitted against the unknown, comes up short.
J.S. Acharya, Hyderabad
In the interest of passengers and airlines, it is imperative that the mystery is solved so that it doesn’t scare passengers off and trigger an epidemic-level fear of flying.
K.R. Srinivasan, Secunderabad
This is my theory about this mystery [click the link below]
The Missing Malaysian Flight MH370: Did it Descend to the Sea Safely?
Sad till now many used to get scared seeing beards as co-passngers now added worry for them will be the Crew.
Though I am not effected but ican't deny that I do observe the worried looks on faces of many co-passengers .
Wrong but what can be done - human mind ?
Actually India has collected some such flight recorders. Nothing is done about them because of the instruction on them - DO NOT OPEN.
Seeing the cutaway graphic, one realises how much space is reserved for the passengers in first class. Truly sinful.
An aircraft, once airborne, is one of the safest products devised by human ingenuity. Inconceivable that there could be a benign explanation for this tragedy.
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