Flight MH370: One Year Later

Andrea Earnest, Online Editor-In-Chief

Several flights in the past decade have gone missing; however, none of those have remained missing, except for one. Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 departed March 8, 2014 and has yet to be found.

While the flight of 227 passengers and 12 crew members departed from Malaysia, the passengers were from all over the world: Malaysia, China, Iran, United States, Canada, Indonesia, Australia, India, France, New Zealand, Taiwan, Ukraine, Russia and the Netherlands. This was a tragic incident affecting families everywhere. MH370 departed from Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia and was assigned to land in Beijing. The last communication with the plane was at 1:19 a.m., about an hour after departure. One of the pilots said, “Good night Malaysian three seven zero.” A few minutes after those words, the plane’s transponder was shut down.

With this, there is some dispute as to what time and where the plane was last seen. Malaysian military radar spotted the plane at 2:15 a.m., but this was later changed in a formal report a few months later. The plane was officially declared lost by Malaysian Airlines on March 24, 2014. Family members of those lost on the plane were sent text messages or received a phone call. Yet, the story is still developing even a year later.

Last month, Malaysia’s Civil Aviation Authority announced the MH370 crash was an accident. This allowed families who lost their loved ones to move forward with compensation and various other claims.

“I think that MH370 can still be found because a plane of that size can not just disappear to never be found again.  It’s really unfortunate that the people and their families involved are not sure of where their loved ones are at,” said Lewis University senior air traffic control major Alexander Hung. Many people have sought out various explanations as to why the plane went missing. However, it seems that both casual followers of the story and even experts are stumped.

“This type of airplane is equipped with both ACARS and transponders. ACARS in an acronym for Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting Systems. The transponder is an air traffic control device that sends out an identification signal known as a transponder code,” said Dr. Randy Demik, associate professor of aviation and director of graduate studies in aviation and transportation at Lewis University.

ACARS was actually turned off during the MH370 flight, which is why there was no communication with the plane. This doesn’t necessarily mean something went wrong as ACARS could be switched off to divert power somewhere else.

MH370 continued to ping the network for at least five hours after leaving Malaysian airspace, and the pings did indicate that the plane was moving.

“In order for both of these systems to fail, there had to have been either a unique accidental catastrophic event or an intentional event like sabotage. There still is not enough evidence to determine if this disappearance was due to a safety concern or a security concern,” Dr. DeMik said.

Several different explanations have been offered, such as a possible terrorist attack or the belief that the plane actually landed somewhere. As time goes on, it seems more and more likely that something went wrong during the flight, perhaps something mechanical or something passenger-based.

Most recently, Malaysia Airlines acknowledged that the company hadn’t replaced an expired battery on a locator beacon on the flight. This information came from an inquiry report that experts from several countries published because the flight has now been missing for more than a year. No trace has been found of the flight or the people on board, but experts hope that with new technology and perhaps new information, the plane could eventually be found.

Andrea Earnest

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