Can a 147-ton aircraft disappear without trace in today’s world?

Malaysia's Boeing 777-200ER like the one that went missing eight days ago. Modern satellite technology has yet been able to locate it.
Malaysia’s Boeing 777-200ER like the one that went missing eight days ago. Modern satellite technology¬†is yet¬†to locate it.

Police on Saturday drove into the residential compound where the missing plane’s pilot live in Kuala Lumpur, according to a guard and several local reporters who were barred from entering the complex. Authorities have said they will investigate the pilots as part of their probe, but have released no information about how they are progressing. Experts have previously said that whoever disabled the plane’s communication systems and then flew the jet must have had a high degree of technical knowledge and flying experience. One possibility they have raised was that one of the pilots wanted to commit suicide.

The plane was carrying 239 people when it departed for an overnight flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing at 12.40am on March 8. Its communications with civilian air controllers were severed at about 1.20am, and the jet went missing, heralding one of the most puzzling mysteries in modern aviation history.

Investigators now have a high degree of certainty that one of the plane’s communications systems – the Aircraft and Communications Addressing and Reporting System – was disabled before the aircraft reached the east coast of Malaysia, Mr Najib said. Shortly afterward, someone on board then switched off the aircraft’s transponder, which communicates with civilian air traffic controllers.

Mr Najib then confirmed that Malaysian air force defence radar picked up traces of the plane turning back westward, crossing over Peninsular Malaysia into the northern stretches of the Strait of Malacca. Authorities previously had said this radar data could not be verified. “These movements are consistent with deliberate action by someone on the plane,” Mr Najib said. Although the aircraft was flying virtually blind to air traffic controllers at this point, on-board equipment continued to send pings to satellites.

The prime minister said the last confirmed signal between the plane and a satellite came at 8.11am – 7 hours and 31 minutes after take-off. This was more than five hours later than the previous time given by Malaysian authorities as the possible last contact. Airline officials have said the plane had enough fuel to fly for up to about eight hours. “The investigations team is making further calculations which will indicate how far the aircraft may have flown after this last point of contact,” Mr Najib said.

One thought on “Can a 147-ton aircraft disappear without trace in today’s world?

  • March 17, 2014 at 1:57 am
    Permalink

    Sadly it does happen, although most of them are found after a while. This several tons aircraft is just a tiny piece of metal in this vast planet earth and one haven’t got that very smart electronic surveillant apparatus which can keep an eye on them
    up there. The situation is so desparate that some of the people concerned are actually resorting to witchcraft to understand what happened! Please feed your eyes to these:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLtMXpGG3ms
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBc9INpADyk

    Reply

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