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The Student News Site of Austin Preparatory School

The Legend

The Legend

The Student News Site of Austin Preparatory School

The Student News Site of Austin Preparatory School

The Legend

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One of the Greatest Aviation Mysteries: The Disappearance of MH370

One+of+the+Greatest+Aviation+Mysteries%3A+The+Disappearance+of+MH370

Planes land and planes crash, but what they don’t do is disappear off the face of the earth. One great example of this rare occurrence is Malaysian flight MH370, which vanished a decade ago on March 8, 2014. Although researchers can’t pinpoint the exact reason that this flight never landed, there have been several investigations and theories on the plane. 

Flight MH370, operated on the Boeing 777-200 aircraft, departed Kuala Lumpur International Airport 41 minutes after the set departure time, at 12:41 AM. It was a clear night and the plane was expected to land in Beijing China at around 6:30 AM later that morning.

 The plane was on course when the pilot supposedly sent a last radio call to Malaysian Airlines: “All right, good night.” For many weeks after the accident these words were said to be the last known transmission from the plane to Malaysian Airlines before it disappeared. This supposedly changed when authorities said the actual last words from the cockpit were, “Good night, Malaysia three seven zero.”

 Malaysian authorities give no news with the discrepancies between the two quotes from attendings on board of MH370. The only mystery left about the last radio calls were who said them, the pilot or the co-pilot. This started to raise a lot of uncertainty in the credibility of the small amount of true facts we know about MH370. “We haven’t had a straight, clear word that we can have a lot of fidelity in,” said Michael Goldfarb, former chief of staff at the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. “We have the tragedy of the crash, we have the tragedy of an investigation gone awry and then we have questions about where we go from here.” Although this did cause a lot of issues, even with the difference in between the quotes, officers still cannot tell in what context the supposed speaker was saying the quotes. To Malaysian air control, this seemed totally normal for the plane to say as they were switching to a different air traffic control team in Thailand.

Now at 1:21 AM, things start getting a little weird. After looking at the plane’s course from that day on March 8th, it shows that the transponder is shut off without an explanation. The transponder sends small blips to the radar to tell air control the altitude and speed of the plane. It doesn’t send identifying information, it’s just there so that airlines can know that there is a plane there. The transponder is a majorly important device to track planes, so you would think it would be harder than pressing a simple switch in the cockpit. Another important detail was that it took around a minute for Thai military control to realize that MH370 disappeared from the radar. This was quite strange considering that there was always a team monitoring the route of an aircraft, and yet they didn’t see a plane vanish from the screen. 

The next weird occurrence was at 1:28 AM when Thai radar systems picked up an unknown aircraft going the opposite direction of where MH370 was heading on its normal route. So we can put together that sometime between 1:21-1:28 AM the plane changed courses, the reason is still unknown to this day. 

At this point the plane is completely undetected from all civilian radars. Air traffic controllers waited until 1:37 AM for the expected ACARS transmission but it never happened. ACARS transmissions are supposed to transmit every 30 minutes and when they don’t, that leaves room for worry. We can now tell that the ACARS stopped working some time in between 1:07 AM and 1:37 AM. This was concerning because if a flight was hijacked or had some kind of malfunction, the ACARS would signal to Air Control. So with ACARS and the transponder now off, teams had no way to know where the plane was located or if something had happened to it. Air traffic controllers kept trying to locate the whereabouts of the plane until they issued a “code red”, which was when it was declared that a crisis requires emergency response plans, at 3:45 AM. Before the code they had tried various ways of trying to contact the plane including sending a message to the plane and waiting for some type of response. After hours of no responses from MH370, Malaysian airlines finally made a public announcement of the disappearance of the plane. 

The search for the disappearing aircraft lasted many years and has recently been researched more in hopes to finally find out what really had happened to flight MH370. There isn’t an exact reason why the plane would mysteriously disappear and the only thing we can do now is learn more about the lives onboard and honor them.  

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About the Contributor
Olivia likes writing articles about current world events, mostly conflicts between countries. This is her second year at Austin prep and she is in seventh grade. Her favorite book is Divergent by Veronica Roth, an action-packed dystopian novel.  

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