For the past six days the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 (MH370) has not yielded any clue to its whereabouts and remains a puzzle. The pilot did not send any distress signal and his last transmitted message was a pleasantry to Malaysian air traffic controllers, “All right, good night” that did not give any indication that anything was wrong on board.
So far, there have been only wild-goose chase and fruitless leads in the search for Flight MH370. However, the search now continues across a total area of around 35,800 sq. miles (92,600 sq. km) on many fronts – South China Sea, Gulf of Thailand, Strait of Malacca, and even Andman Sea. India joined the multi-national search operations and has stepped up its search deploying three aircraft and three ships in the region around Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
On the night of March 12, 2014, China’s State Administration for Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (SASTIND) published three satellite images of what appear to be three floating objects in the sea. The three objects are 13m × 18m, 14m × 19m, and 24m × 22m respectively. The missing Boeing 777-200ER jet aircraft had a wingspan of 60.9 meters and a length of 63.7 meters. These images were captured by a Chinese satellite on the day after the disappearance of the aircraft. These satellite images have not been verified for their authenticity.
An American military official said that if the Chinese satellite had seen the objects, then U.S. satellites too would have seen them, but did not.
The website news.com.au has quoted Tom Haueter, former aviation director of the US National Transportation Safety Board:
“Any aircraft structure that size would sink. It wouldn’t float like this… I don’t believe it’s the plane. We don’t have enough data to say what happened.”
SASTIND gave coordinates of 6.7°N 105.63E which would place it in the sea about 143 miles (230 km) from where the aircraft was last seen on Malaysian Air Traffic Control (ATC) radar at 6.92°N 103.58°E before it disappeared. This was immediately considered the first major lead in the search for the missing aircraft. However, when Malaysian and Vietnamese aviation authorities flew over the area where the images showed the debris they did not find any trace of the missing aircraft.
Bob Woodruff, an ABC News correspondent, tweeted with a link to an image of an alleged email sent by Michael Jerome McKay, an oil rig worker working off the south coast of Vietnam to his employer stating he saw the crash:
— Bob Woodruff (@BobWoodruff) March 12, 2014
Mike McKay —–@—–
I believe I saw the Malaysian Airlines plane come down. The timing is right. I tried to contact the Malaysian and Vietnam officials several days ago. But I do not know if the message has been received.
I am on the oil-rig “Songa Mercur” off Vung Tau
The surface location of the observation is:
Lat 08°22’30.23″ N
Long. 108°47’22.26″ E
I observed (the plane?) burning at high altitude and on a compass bearing of 265° to 275° from our surface location.
It Is very difficult to Judge the distance but I’d say 50-70 km along the compass bearing 260° – 275°.
While I observed the burning (plane) it appeared to be in ONE piece.
The surface sea current at our location is. 2.0-2.3 knots in a direction of 225°-230°. The wind direction has been NE-ENE averaging 15-20 knots.
From when I first saw the burning (plane) until the flames went out (still at high altitude) was 10-15 seconds. There was no lateral movement, so it was either coming toward our location, stationary (falling) or going away from our location.
The general position of the observation was perpendicular / south-west of the normal flight paths (we see the Con-trails every day) and at a lower altitude than the normal flight paths. Or on the compass bearing 265°-275° intersecting the normal flight paths and at normal altitude but further away.
Michael Jerome McKay
The distance from where the aircraft was last seen on Malaysian Air Traffic Control (ATC) radar at 6.92°N 103.58°E before it disappeared on Saturday, March 8, 2014, and the coordinate 08°22’30.23″N 108°47’22.26″E as location of the so-called crash given by the oil rig worker, works out to 370 miles (600 km).
In a separate tweet, Woodruff warned that the oil rig worker’s claims are not confirmed and in fact could be a hoax:
The letter from oil rig worker is filled w/details yet could be a hoax. Vietnamese officials are investigating @ABC pic.twitter.com/6MSuNHZedU
— Bob Woodruff (@BobWoodruff) March 12, 2014
Malaysian authorities have acknowledged that they are not sure of the direction the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 was following when it disappeared from their ATC radar screens. The Associated Press reported:
Indonesian air force Col. Umar Fathur said the country had received official information from Malaysian authorities that the plane was above the South China Sea, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Kota Bharu, Malaysia, when it turned back toward the strait and then disappeared. That would place its last confirmed position closer to Malaysia than has previously been publicly disclosed.
Confusion over whether the plane had been spotted flying west has prompted speculation that different arms of the government have different opinions about where the plane is most likely to be, or even that authorities are holding back information.
Vietnam has scaled down its efforts to locate the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 because it waited for Malaysia to clarify the new direction the multi-national search group should follow from now onwards.
Vietnam’s deputy minister of transport Pham Quy Tieu said:
“We informed Malaysia on the day we lost contact with the flight that we noticed the flight turned back west but Malaysia did not respond.”
Aviation authorities in Malaysia said that so far no details on radar data revealed a possible “turn-back” of the aircraft. However, Malaysia’s air force reiterated on Wednesday that it had not ruled out the possibility of the Boeing 777 changing courses.
A statement issued by Air Force chief General Rodzali Daud said:
“For the time being, it would not be appropriate… to issue any official conclusions as to the aircraft’s flight path until a high amount of certainty and verification is achieved.”
- Mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 (tvaraj.com)
- Mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 – The Search is Still on For Missing Aircraft (tvaraj.com)
- Mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 – The Stolen Passports (tvaraj.com)
- Mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 – The Aircraft Disappeared From Radar? (tvaraj.com)
- Mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 – Was the Aircraft Hijacked? (tvaraj.com)
- Mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 – If Hijacked, Where Did It Go? (tvaraj.com)
- Mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 – Airline Ad Is a Hoax (tvaraj.com)
- Mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 – Did the Aircraft Fly Towards Palau Langkawi (tvaraj.com)
- Mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 – Hypothetical Theories (tvaraj.com)
- Mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 – Were There Any Phone Calls from the Aircraft? (tvaraj.com)
- No proof Chinese satellite images linked to missing Malaysia Airlines flight (globalnews.ca)
- Oil rig worker saw Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 go down: report (globalnews.ca)
- Report: Oil rig worker tells employer he saw Malaysia airliner go down (boston.com)