WHAT HAPPENED? (1)
Malaysia Airlines flight 370 left from Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia to Beijing on March 8, 2014.
The aircraft made its last contact with air traffic control about 38 minutes after takeoff while it was over the South China Sea. It was lost from radar screens and was then tracked by military radar screens until it was lost from those 200 nautical miles northwest of Penang Island in northwest Penisular, Malaysia.
All 227 passengers and 12 crew members were presumed dead, making it the largest and deadliest incident on a Boeing 777 plane, and it was the deadliest incident on Malaysia Airlines until Flight 17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine 4 months after flight 370's disappearance.
The search became the most costly in aviation history, spanning years. It started in the South China Sea, but further satellite information identified that it may have crashed in the Indian Ocean. Several pieces of the plane have been found in the western Indian Ocean, but after a 3-year and 46,000 square mile search, it was called off in January 2017. Another search began in January 2018, but proved fruitless and ended after 6 months.
The disappearance of this plane is one of the greatest aviation, or maybe greatest any type of mysteries of all time and because of its notoriety, many people have many theories as to what happened. But to this day, 6 years later, nobody knows what happened during that flight or where it ended up.
THE FLIGHT (1)
The flight wad carrying 12 Malaysian crew members and 227 passengers from 14 nations: 153 from China, 38 from Malaysia, and 31 people from Australia, Canada, France, India, Indonesia, Iran, Netherlands, New Zealand, Russia, Taiwan, Ukraine and the United States.
The pilot was 53-year-old Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, who had been with Malaysia Airlines since 1981. He had 18,365 hours of flying experience. His co-pilot was Fariq Abdul Hamid, a 27-year old who joined Malaysia Airlines in 2007 and had 2,763 hours of flying experience.
The flight was scheduled to be 5 hours and 34 minutes long, and had enough additional fuel for a 7 hour and 31 minute flight. It took off the morning of March 8, 2014 with no issues.
They sent communication upon takeoff, but they missed an expected update as they flew through Vietnamese airspace. Another captain tried to establish communication with the aircraft, but heard only "mumbling nd static".
Stranger yet, the plane disappeared from primary radar screens. They went to their backup radar and were able to see that the aircraft was flying at the expected cruise level and speed, being met with no poor weather and had plenty of fuel. But they lost the plane on that radar system, too.
Around that time, a military radar was able to pick it up, showing it turning right, then left, not necessarily moving in the direction it should have been. A civilian radar at Sultan Ismall Petra Airport picked up an unidentified aircraft on its systems around that time, and it was consistent with the military data and was more than likely flight 370.
Hours later, the aircraft satellite communication system sent a log-on request, and they logged onto the network and the satellite data unit onboard responded to hourly status requests, but calls to the cockpit went unanswered. The final status request was answered about 1 hour and 40 minutes after it should have landed in Beijing. An attempt to make contact nearly an hour later went unanswered. The aircraft never sent a distress signal.
1 hour after its scheduled arrival in Beijing, Malaysia Airlines issued a media statement saying that they had lost communication with the plane, and search and rescue efforts would deploy.
On March 24, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razek appeared before the media, saying that further information has lead the team to believe a crash may have occurred over the Indian Ocean. Before this public statement, Malaysia Airlines notified all family members of the passengers and crew that the flight was presumed lost with no survivors.
As of October 2017, 20 pieces of debris were recovered from beaches in the western Indian Ocean, and 18 of those have been identified as certainly or very likely to have come from the plane.
Based on the strange satellite contact, it is believed that the aircraft was operational until at least a few hours after its scheduled landing, and it crashed between the last contact and the communication that was sent and not responded to about an hour later.
DISAPPEARANCE THEORIES (2)
Given the extensive media coverage and outright interesting mystery of the missing flight, there are many different theories out there about what really happened to the plane.
Many believe the plane was hijacked, in various different ways. Former (at the time) Prime Minister of Malaysia Mahathir Mohamad was a proponent of the electronic hijacking theory, believing that off-board hijackers who had access to the flight management system, perhaps from Boeing itself, hijacked the plane from the ground.
Tech writer Jeff Wise believes the air controls were taken over by hijackers from the electronics and equipments bays onboard, which could have lead a false trail of where the plane was going, throwing searchers off the scent.
Media mogul started the theory of a terrorist, possibly jihadist, attack, which spread, making people believe that it was hijacked and flown to Afghanistan where passengers were held hostage. A popular Reddit theory is similar, but with a North Korean destination, instead.
Some believe that the plane was captured by the U.S. and flown to the military base of Diego Garcia, a theory that renewed interest after debris was found and confirmed about 1,475 miles away. Though, research has indicated that if the plane was lost in the general vicinity of where they believe it may have been lost, the currents would have lead it there over time.
Other conspiracy theories range from fires to shoot downs, especially after a Malaysia Airlines flight was shot down just 4 months later. Passenger involvement, mostly from 2 men onboard the plane with some flight experience and stolen passports, is another thought, as is crew involvement, though no evidence suggests either pilot had any intentions beyond flying the plane to Beijing.
After the disappearance, Malaysia Airlines experienced significant financial troubles as people were afraid to fly on that airline. Fears and financial issues were exacerbated with the shoot down of another aircraft just 4 months later, and the majority shareholder or the airlines and the Malaysian state-run investment arm renationalized the carrier on September 1, 2015.
The families of the missing passengers were both heartbroken and enraged by the lack of information, forming protests and boycotts. Some Chinese family members boycotted all things Malaysian, as they believed the Malaysian Government was covering up what really happened to their families.
Chinese families were offered $5,000 in "comfort money" which many refused, and it was reported that Malaysian families were offered $2,000. More than anything, these families weren't after money - they just wanted to know what happened to their loved ones.
And really, that's what everyone wants to know... What happened? Where is the plane? The ocean is deep and vast but with some level or parameters, doesn't it seem a little bit crazy to not be able to find an entire airplane? Since 2014, many have not stopped wondering what ever became of the plane, and now on the 6th anniversary of its disappearance, we are wondering the exact same thing.