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Flight MH370 – still missing, but hope not lost

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared on this day four years ago and remains lost to this day, despite several searches, with the latest launched in January this year.

Quite possibly the greatest aviation mystery of all time, the disappearance of Flight MH370 on 8 March 2014, sparked worldwide controversy – how exactly could a Boeing 777 aircraft carrying 289 people simply vanish?

The flight departed from Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 12.41am Malaysian time (MYT), scheduled to arrive at Beijing Capital International Airport at 6.30am Beijing time.

However, less than an hour after take-off, at 1.19am MYT, air traffic control (ATC) received what would be the final voice transmission from MH370.

The final transmission between air traffic control and MH370 went as follows:

Lumpur Radar: “Malaysian three seven zero, contact Ho Chi Minh one two zero decimal nine. Good night.”

Flight 370: “Good night. Malaysian three seven zero.”

The flight then disappeared from all secondary radars (used by ATC) at 1.22am MYT and was never heard from by ATC again.

Malaysia Airlines issued a media statement at 7.24am MYT, one hour after the scheduled arrival time of the flight at Beijing, stating that contact with the flight had been lost by Malaysian ATC at 2.40am, and that the government had initiated search-and-rescue operations. The time at which contact was lost was later corrected to 1.21am (as per the radar records).

The Seabed Constructor, the Ocean Infinity ship which has eight AUVs it will use in its search for Flight MH370. Image: Swire Seabed.

At 2.25am MYT, the aircraft’s satellite communication system sent a ‘log-on request’ message which was relayed by satellite to a ground station.

The final log-on request from the aircraft came at 8.19.29am MYT and the final piece of data on MH370 was a log-on acknowledgement at 8.19.37am MYT.

Several extensive search operations ensued in an attempt to find the missing aircraft but these efforts were all in vain as the aircraft has yet to be found.

A number of pieces of debris have been found on the coasts of East Africa and Madagascar which correspond with a drift study conducted by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization.

After three years of searching, Malaysia, China, and Australia jointly announced the suspension of the search for Flight 370 on 17 January 2017.

The three years of searching led to the refining of the search area to 25 000 square kilometres (sq km) of priority ocean where the aircraft is most likely to be found.

An American company by the name of Ocean Infinity, which performs hydrographic and geophysical surveys of the seabed using the most advanced fleet of AUVs (autonomous underwater vehicles) and USVs (unmanned surface vehicles) in the world, launched a new search on 21 January 2018, and as of 4 March, their search had covered 16 00sq km of the search area.

If the 25 000sq km priority area search proves unsuccessful, the search area will be expanded to 48 000sq km.

The contract that Ocean Infinity signed with the Malaysian government allows for a 90-day search operation on a ‘no find, no fee’ basis.

Do you perhaps have more information pertaining to this story? Email us at northsider@caxton.co.za  (remember to include your contact details) or phone us on 011 955 1130.

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