MH370: One year after

The disappearance of a Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which vanished without a trace one year ago remains one of the unsolved mysteries of that year.

MH370 was a scheduled international passenger flight that disappeared on 8 March 2014 while flying from Kuala Lumpur International Airport near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing, China.

Flight 370 last made voice contact with air traffic control at 01:19hours Malaysian time when it was over the South China Sea, less than an hour after takeoff.  The aircraft disappeared from air traffic controllers’ radar screens at 01:21hours.

Malaysian military radar continued to track Flight 370 as it deviated from its planned flight path and crossed the Malay Peninsula. It left the range of Malaysian military radar at 02:22hours while over the Andaman Sea; 200 nautical miles northwest of Penang in northwestern Malaysia.

The aircraft, a Boeing 777-200ER, was carrying 12 Malaysian crewmembers and 227 passengers from 15 nations.

Of the 227 passengers, 152 were Chinese citizens, including a group of 19 artists with six family members and four staff returning from a calligraphy exhibition of their work in Kuala Lumpur; 38 passengers were Malaysian. The remaining passengers were from 13 different countries.

Twenty passengers – 12 of whom were from Malaysia and eight from China – were employees of one company – Freescale Semiconductor.

A multinational search effort began in the Gulf of Thailand and the South China Sea, where the flight’s signal was lost on secondary surveillance radar, and was soon extended to the Strait of Malacca and Andaman Sea.

Analysis of satellite communications between the aircraft and Inmarsat’s satellite communications network concluded that the flight continued until at least 08:19hours and flew south into the southern Indian Ocean, although the precise location has not been determined.

Australia took charge of the search effort on 17 March 2014, when the search shifted to the southern Indian Ocean.

On March 24, the Malaysian government, noting that the final location determined by the satellite communication was far from any possible landing sites, concluded that flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean with no survivors.

The current phase of the search is a comprehensive search of the seafloor about 1,800 kilometres southwest of Perth, Australia, which began in October 2014. Despite being the largest and most expensive search in aviation history, there has been no confirmation of any flight debris, resulting in speculations about its disappearance.

There have been various theories surrounding the disappearance of the plane. These include the pilot suicide theory; cockpit guest theory; hijack theory; the Kazakhstan theory and mechanical failure theory.

For months after MH370 disappeared, Malaysian officials reported details of the search to next of kin and the public. Something would be spotted, hopes rose, and then it didn’t pan out. Hopes were dashed; anguish returned.

One year after the mysterious disappearance of the plane with its 227 passengers and 12 crewmembers, the international independent investigation committee released an interim report. The report though failed to shed any light on what happened. The report, published on Sunday 8 March 2015, reveals the battery in an underwater locater beacon had run out more than a year before the flight vanished, but offered no answer to one of aviation’s greatest mysteries.

The lack of answers and definitive proof – such as aircraft wreckage – has made the disappearance more difficult to bear for the families of the victims.

Ultimately, aviation is still scratching its head on this one.

Our hearts and prayers are with the families of the victims as we hope that such ugly incidents will not occur again.

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