Relatives of MH370 passengers scuffle with police along the sidewalk during a protest outside the Malaysian Embassy in Beijing. Relative:
I can’t trust them. This is not the first time they get the wrong news … Why? You tell me why?
These findings are fake. This is a conspiracy. Everything is fake.
A Malaysian team combing the beach on La Reunion finds a plane window and other debris. Malaysia’s Transport Minister cannot confirm it is from MH370:
I can only ascertain that it’s plane debris.
French investigators confirm the airplane part found on Reunion is a piece of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, saying there are “very strong presumptions” that the part belonged to Flight 370, though additional checks would be carried out. He also said that “technical documentation” provided by Malaysia Airlines enabled experts to establish “common technical characteristics” between the debris and the flaperons on Flight 370. Malaysian PM Razak:
Today, 515 days since the plane disappeared, it is with a very heavy heart that I must tell you that an international team of experts have conclusively confirmed that the aircraft debris found on Réunion Island is indeed from MH370.
The wing fragment arrives for analysis in France.
Beach cleaners scouring the sands are handing their finds over to local police. Beach cleaner:
We are searching all the time now. I hope to find something that will say definitely it’s from the plane so that the families can have some relief from their mourning.
A Malaysian official says a part number (657 BB) on a piece of aircraft wing found in the Indian Ocean confirms the object is from a Boeing 777.
From the part number, it is confirmed that it is from a Boeing 777 aircraft. This information is from MAS (Malaysia Airlines). They have informed me…This could be the convincing evidence that MH370 went down in the Indian Ocean.
The recovered object will be flown to a testing site in France near the city of Toulouse for analysis by aviation authorities and could reach there by Saturday.
A crew cleaning the beach near Saint-Andre, La Reunion, an island in the western Indian Ocean, finds a flaperon, a wing part of an aircraft. Thinking it might be from MH370 they alert police. Investigators will try to determine whether the debris is from MH370. Australian Deputy Prime Minister Truss:
In the event that the wreckage is identified as being from MH 370 on La Reunion Island, it would be consistent with other analysis and modelling that the resting place of the aircraft is in the southern Indian Ocean.
The crew cleaning the beach near Saint-Andre, La Reunion, reports to the police that they found a damaged suitcase two-and-a-half meters from the airplane debris. They do not know whether there is any connection between the two.
We set aside all the garbage we had gathered on the beach during the day and today we thought that old suitcase could be related. It could have been thrown into the sea from the beach.
Authorities say that the plane debris and suitcase will be sent to a special lab in Toulouse, France who will examine the evidence.
An unwrapped moist towelette with the Malaysia Airlines logo on it is found by a strolling couple on a beach in West Australia. It is being tested to see if it is the first piece of evidence from MH370.
It is unlikely, however, that such a common item with no unique identifier could be conclusively linked with MH370.
After taking legal advice, the widow of Paul Weeks, who was a passenger on the flight, rejects Malaysia Airlines compensation offer of $64,000. She tells Perth Now that the offer had a condition that she complete a detailed questionnaire. Voice 370, the group Weeks helped to establish:
We are left asking ‘is any life worth so little No sum of money, no matter how great, can compensate the families for our losses. No amount of money can ever take the pain away. True justice cannot be measured by money. Malaysia Airlines cannot undo this tragedy. However, a fair and adequate compensation for all would reflect the magnitude of the effect this tragedy has had on our lives and should be commensurate to this being the worst air tragedy the industry has ever seen.
The first official report on the disappearance of MH370 is released by the Australian Transportation Safety Board (ATSB). The report concludes concludes that the Boeing 777’s right-hand engine was likely to have failed first, followed by the left engine, causing the plane to spiral into the ocean. For purposes of the report, the investigators assumed that the plane was flying on auto pilot at around 35,000ft and at a speed of more than 460mph.
This scenario resulted in the aircraft entering a descending, spiraling, low bank angle left-hand turn and the aircraft entering the water a relatively short distance after the last engine flame out.
The GO Phoenix arrives in the southern Indian Ocean and starts its search for the missing flight. The ship, and two others which will arrive within the month, will conduct detailed sonar sweeps of the area in a search effort expected to take one year or more, according to the Australian Transport Safety Board (ATSB).
Malayasia’s Defense Minister says that more equipment and resources are heading to search for MH370 in August, and will begin searching the deep end of the Indian Ocean off the Australian coast on August 4. Hussein makes no estimates on time or cost of the new search.
The search for the missing flight moves further south in the Indian Ocean. A report about the change in the search area states the crew may have been unresponsive due to a lack of oxygen, a state known as hypoxia. The report states the assumption was:
made for the purposes of defining a search area and there is no suggestion that the investigation authority will make similar assumptions.
Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss says:
It is highly, highly likely that the aircraft was on autopilot, otherwise it could not have followed the orderly path that has been identified through the satellite sightings
Malaysian and Australian officials debate over the funding bill for the jetliner search mission. Goverment lawmaker Joulani Johari says that the split will be 50-50. However, Australian representative Waren Truss says ‘I don’t want to give any indication as to where it’s likely to end up.” Australia’s bill will depend on when the plane is found and the amount of contributions from other countries. The countries involved in the search include the U.S., China, Japan, Britian, South Korea and New Zealand. Australia has a large responsibility in the mission because the jetliner was in its air space when it went off-course. Truss:
We’ve indicated our willingness to be a part of the funding arrangements…and we’re just talking about those things. The question of who should pay for what under the Chicago Convention was quite complex.
Veteran commercial pilot Ewan Wilson and journalist Geoff Taylor says the disappearance of jet MH370 is a conspiracy. Wilson and Taylor interviewed the flight’s relatives, other investigators and read the official documents before coming to this conclusion and say they have systematically ruled out malfunctions or freak accidents, saying there was no other reason for the flight’s change of route. They will release their findings in an upcoming book, Good Night Malaysian 370: The truth behind the loss of Flight 370.
For the first time we present a detailed analysis of the flight, the incredible route it took, and who we believe was in charge of the aircraft as it plunged into the Indian Ocean.The authors said that relatives of those on board were not being told the truth about the diversion…For the sake of the relatives of those on the flight the truth needs to be out there…What happened to MH370 was no accident. it was deliberate and it was calculated and it should never have been allowed to happen.
Some relatives of passengers launch a crowd-funding campaign to raise $3 million for key information about the plane. A separate $2 million is being raised to follow up on promising leads. A US citizen and partner of one of the passengers says:
We are taking matters into our own hands. There is no credible evidence… I’m convinced that somebody is concealing something.
Following a new analysis of satellite communications, Australian officials say they are moving the search into a 17,500-square-mile prioritized area of the 7th arc. The Australian Transport Safety Bureau believes the jet probably crashed within 60 miles of this arc and says:
The latest information and analysis confirms that MH370 will be found in close proximity to the arc. At the time MH370 reached this arc, the aircraft is considered to have exhausted its fuel and to have been descending.
A woman who was sailing with her husband across the Indian ocean from India to Thailand claims she saw Malaysia Flight 370 approximately three months after it went missing.
I was on a night watch. My husband was asleep below deck and our one other crew member was asleep on deck. I saw something that looked like a plane on fire. That’s what I thought it was. Then, I thought I must be mad… It caught my attention because I had never seen a plane with orange lights before, so I wondered what they were.I could see the outline of the plane, it looked longer than planes usually do. There was what appeared to be black smoke streaming from behind it. I looked back through our GPS logs and lo and behold, what we saw was consistent with the confirmed contact which the authorities had from MH370.
Australian authorities call off the search in the triangular area of the Indian Ocean where acoustic pings, possibly from the flight’s black box recorder, were heard in April. Michael Dean of the US Navy tells CNN that almost all authorities believe the pings there did not come from the plane’s recorders. Later, a US Navy spokesman dismisses Dean’s comments, saying:
Mike Dean’s comments today were speculative and premature, as we continue to work with our partners to more thoroughly understand the data acquired by the towed pinger locator. As such, we would defer to the Australians, as the lead in the search effort, to make additional information known at the appropriate time.
More than three months after the flight disappeared from military radar, the Malaysian government releases 45 pages of raw satellite data to the family members of the missing flight’s passengers, and then to the media. Such data can be used to determine the plane’s flight path. Regarding the possibility that this newly publicized data will provide fresh clues about the plane’s fate, satellite engineer Michael Exner says:
There are probably two or three pages of important stuff, the rest is just noise. It doesn’t add any value to our understanding.
Since it is now very unlikely that surface debris will be spotted, Australian Transportation Safety Board (ATSB) officials say, the search must be continued underwater. Some 60,000 sq km of the southern Indian Ocean seafloor will be mapped over three months using an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle with mounted sonar and optical imaging equipment. A Chinese survey ship has already begun work on the project and will be joined by a commercial survey vessel in June:
The search will be a major undertaking. The complexities and challenges involved are immense, but not impossible. The best minds from around the world have been reviewing, refining and localising the most likely area where the aircraft entered the water, which is why we remain confident of finding the aircraft.
After the mapping is completed, the ATSB plans to consult with authorities, including oceanographic institutions and private companies, to prepare for the next phase in the search.
Obama mocks CNN’s around-the-clock coverage of the missing flight at the annual White House Correspondents’ dinner:
I am happy to be here even though I am a little jetlagged from my trip to Malaysia – the lengths we have to go to to get CNN coverage these days. I think they’re still searching for their table.
Former CNN talk show host Larry King ridiculed his former employer when asked if he would ever return to the cable channel:
The tough time I would have at CNN now, I think, would be doing this airplane story. Because I think I’d crack up laughing. I think I would have – you know, how many times can you cover a plane? Six weeks and all we know is it made a left turn.
When asked: “So you wouldn’t do that story?” King replied:
Well, what if they forced me to? I would probably not want to do it. I think it would get embarrassing after a while.
After a meeting between officials of the three nations in Canberra, Australia, Malaysia and China agree to expand and intensify the search for the missing plane. The “new phase” of the search will focus on searching the ocean floor — though some areas of the ocean bottom in the search area will first need to be thoroughly mapped. The search operation will be conducted out of Perth.
Malaysia Airlines advises family members to leave their hotels and go home. The airline has housed the relatives in hotels since the plane first disappeared, but it now says it is closing its family assistance centers around the world by May 7, and that families should receive all further updates from “the comfort of their own homes.” It promises to establish family support centers in Kuala Lumpur and Beijing, and keep families updated as news of the flight occurs. It adds that it will make compensation payments to the relatives.
GeoResonance, a private company that has been helping in the search for the missing flight, believes it has found debris from the flight in the Bay of Bengal, thousands of miles from the current search area. GeoResonance said it had passed on the information to Malaysian Airlines and the Malaysian and Chinese embassies in Australia on March 31, and to the Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) on April 4. However, their claims were dismissed by JACC, which believes the debris is in the wrong area to be that from Flight MH370. In a statement, GeoResonance said:
The company is not declaring this is MH370, however it should be investigated. The company and its directors are surprised by the lack of response from the various authorities. This may be due to a lack of understanding of the company’s technological capabilities, or the JACC is extremely busy, or the belief that the current search in the Southern Indian Ocean is the only plausible location of the wreckage.
Malaysia releases its preliminary report on the flight’s disappearance. Air traffic controllers did not realize that the flight was missing for 17 minutes after it disappeared from radar, and search/rescue operations did not begin until four hours after the plane disappeared. The report also includes audio recordings of conversations between the pilots and ground controllers, a cargo manifest, the plane’s seating plan, and a map showing the route investigators believe the plane took after disappearing from radar, heading into the South Indian Ocean before presumably crashing into the sea. A parallel police report also made publicly available says the plane followed “a twisting and deliberate course” before crossing over the northern tip of Sumatra and finally flying out over the ocean.
The Australian search vessel Ocean Shield deploys an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) to scan the ocean floor for signs of debris from the missing plane. The vessel previously picked up “pings” that might have come from the plane’s black boxes; experts believe that if the pings did indeed come from the plane, the black boxes have now run out of power and are no longer transmitting.
Search vessels receive unusual signals consistent with the “pings” from an aircraft’s “black box” data transmission and storage systems. The Australian search vessel Ocean Shield detects one set of pings lasting for two hours and twenty minutes. Another set of pings lasts thirteen minutes. Both sets of pings comes from an area in the southern Indian Ocean, northeast of where a Chinese search vessel detected unidentified sounds the day before.
The Chinese search vessel Haixun 01 detects unidentified sounds that might emanate from MH370. The vessel is in the southern Indian Ocean, well off the west coast of Australia.
Malaysian investigators admit that the investigation into the plane’s disappearance “may go on and on and on” without ever finding conclusive evidence as to the plane’s fate. Moreover, the investigation may never determine why the plane was hijacked, or if indeed it was hijacked.
The Malaysian government releases a transcript of the final 54 minutes of radio conversation between pilots and ground control, ending at 1:19am. The conversation ends when the pilots were instructed to change channels to connect with Vietnamese air traffic control; instead, the plane shut down its communications systems. Transportation and Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein says there no indication of anything abnormal in the transcript. The New York Times calls the conversation “banal.”
A former Boeing instructor pilot says data analysis showing the plane flew far out over the southern Indian Ocean is very credible. H says, it indicates that the plane was set on autopilot and continued to fly on a given heading until its fuel ran out. According to the instructor:
[The autopilot] doesn’t know anything except, ‘maintain this heading.’ Once the fuel was exhausted the plane would become destabilized and crash without a skilled pilot at the controls.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib issues a statement saying that the flight crashed somewhere in the Indian Ocean and everyone on board must be presumed dead. Family members not at Najib’s press conference receive a text message from the airline:
Malaysia Airlines deeply regrets that we have to assume beyond any reasonable doubt that MH370 has been lost and that none of those on board survived. [W]e must now accept all evidence suggests the plane went down in the Southern Indian Ocean.
The airline issues a subsequent statement defending its use of text messages and saying it has tremendous respect for the family members.
British satellite company Inmarsat releases definitive data showing that the plane ended its flight somewhere in the middle of the southern Indian Ocean. The process uses complex mathematical analyses called the Doppler effect to infer where the flight may have ended, presumably plunging into the ocean. Based on the report, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announces that no one is believed to have survived the flight’s presumed crash.
This is a remote location, far from any possible landing sites. It is therefore with deep sadness and regret that I must inform you that, according to this new data, Flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean.
Oceanographer Erik van Sebille says that the “extremely hostile” conditions of the southern Indian Ocean would make search efforts difficult. The waves, winds and currents in that region are among the strongest on the planet.
The whole ocean down there is like a pinball machine. It is difficult to track or predict where water goes, or do what is really important now, which is to backtrack where water came from.
In the wake of a statement by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak saying that his government believes the flight crashed in the Indian Ocean, many relatives and friends of the missing passengers accuse Najib of deceiving them, citing two weeks of incomplete and contradictory information released by the Malaysian government. Relatives of the 154 Chinese passengers, distraught at the announcement from the Malaysian government that everyone on the plane must be considered dead, issues an angry statement:
If the 154 passengers did lose their lives, Malaysia Airlines, the Malaysian government and military are the real executioners who killed them. We the families of those on board submit our strongest protest against them. We will take every possible means to pursue the unforgivable crimes and responsibility of all three.
Relatives of some of the missing Chinese passengers storm a daily media briefing in Kuala Lumpur and unfurl a banner demanding that the Malaysian government “tell the truth.” The media spokesperson asks the relatives to leave, and they fail to do so. Some of the relatives are forcibly removed from the media auditorium. A government official orders the banner to be removed, saying it is not “appropriate.”
US officials say the Malaysian government is finally beginning to cooperate with international offers of assistance. Previously, the government has refused to allow an FBI team of investigators into the country, and ignored an offer from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, an American organization which helped find a jetliner that disappeared in the Atlantic in 2009. China’s ambassador to Malaysia has called the government “inexperienced and lacking the capacity” to carry out the investigation properly. Now a US official says that things are beginning to change:
Initially, there was a little bit of fog of war. That has cleared. They had a hard time pulling this together. Every intelligence agency in the world was beating their door down. I think they were overwhelmed, and that has settled a little bit.
The government now welcomes FBI technical assistance, and is actively soliciting international help.
A satellite industry official says that Malaysia Airlines refused to buy a $10 upgrade to the Swift computer systems of its Boeing 777 aircraft that, had they been installed, would have continued to supply data even after the transponder and ACARS were disabled. The Swift upgrade would have transmitted information on engine performance, fuel consumption, speed, altitude and direction to the satellite network. Malaysia Airlines responds:
The need for SWIFT has never been mandated and all our aircraft have what is called the Aero H SATCOM communications systems. This installation is sufficient to meet all of MAS’s operational requirements and at the same time meets all international requirements that enable us to fly international airways. The statement that this $10 per flight upgrade will provide direction, speed and altitude in the event that the communications were deliberately shutoff from the aircraft is untrue.
Thailaid’s military shares radar data that shows what might be the missing flight. Air Vice Marshal Montol Suchookorn says Thailand didn’t share the information with Malaysia earlier because the Malaysians did not ask for it. The plane detected by Thai radar appeared just minutes after the flight’s communications went dark, at around 1:28 a.m. Suchookorn says the mystery radar signature was tracked over the Strait of Malacca, west of Malaysia. The plane never entered Thai airspace.
Courtney Love announces on Facebook that she thinks she may have found Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 plane on the crowdsourcing locator website Tomnod.
Investigators are considering suicide by the pilot or co-pilot as a possible explanation for the flight’s disappearance. No details are given as to why suicide might be a possibility.
Flight MH370’s disappearance is officially the longest disappearance in the history of modern commercial aviation. Previously, the longest disappearance of a commercial aircraft was when Adam Air Flight 574 disappeared off of the coast of Indonesia in January 2007. Wreckage was found ten days later.
US investigators are considering sabotage in the disappearance. According to Malaysian investigators, two of the plane’s navigational systems were disabled. US investigators believe a third system, located on the plane’s lower deck, was also compromised. Within an hour into the flight, the plane’s transponder was disabled, almost certainly from inside the cockpit. Radar was then unable to track the plane. The ACARS navigation system was also disabled; doing so would require computer access and “expert knowledge,” though not necessarily limited to Boeing 777-trained pilots.
After this point, the only indication that the plane was in the air came from satellite pings, which show that the plane remained aloft for some five hours, probably traveling westward over the southern Indian Ocean, before also losing contact. The most likely scenario after the loss of satellite signal, US investigators say, is that the plane crashed into the ocean. However, a less likely scenario has the plane again changing course and flying on for another hour (at most) to an unknown destination. If that scenario occurred, it would have taken two people and access to the restricted lower deck’s electronics bay to disable satellite communication.
Experts agree with Prime Minister Najib that evidence indicates the plane was deliberately diverted. Mikael Robertsson of global aviation tracking service Flightradar24 says the way the plane’s communications had been shut down indicates that someone on board with aviation expertise was involved. Robertsson says the shutdown was timed to make it likely that the loss of communications would not be realized for some time. Robertsson says:
Always when you fly, you are in contact with air traffic control in some country. Instead of contacting the Vietnam air traffic control, the transponder signal was turned off, so I think the timing of turning off the signal just after you have left Malaysian air traffic control indicates someone did this on purpose, and he found the perfect moment when he wasn’t in control by Malaysia or Vietnam. He was like in no-man’s country.
It is likely that one or more members of the crew was involved, he says, but emphasizes that crew involvement has not yet been proven. Chinese aviation expert Xu Ke agrees that at least one crew member, most likely one of the pilots, seized control of the plane, either willingly or forcibly:
The timing of turning off the transponder suggests that this involved someone with knowledge of how to avoid air traffic control without attracting attention. You needed to know this plane, and you also needed to know this route. … [T]he likelihood that a pilot was involved appears very likely. The Boeing 777 is a relatively new and big plane, so it wouldn’t be anyone who could do this, not even someone who has flown smaller passenger planes, even smaller Boeings.
Search efforts refocus on the Indian Ocean near the Australian coast. An unnamed source says that the last satellite transmission from the plane has been traced to that area, about 1,000 miles west of Perth. For the plane to end up in that area of the ocean would have cost it nearly all of its fuel. However, the source says, the plane could have flown beyond that last location, and that location may not indicate the final destination of the plane.
Malaysian authorities say the search for the plane is now focused on two “flight corridors,” a northern corridor stretching from Kazakhstan to northern Thailand, and a southern corridor from Indonesia into the southern Indian Ocean. The search parameters are based on recently released satellite data. The searches require cooperation from several countries, including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, India, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Pakistan, Nepal and Tajikistan.
Malaysian authorities search the homes of the two pilots of the missing flight, and claim to find evidence that the plane was intentionally diverted. Malaysian authorities open a criminal investigation into the disappearance. Speaking about the plane’s suspected flight path, Prime Minister Najib Razak says,
These movements are consistent with deliberate action by someone on the plane.
Retired Boeing 777 pilot Kenneth Musser says the ACARS shutdown had to have been done deliberately:
It’s not an accident [for it to have been shut off].
An American official says of the claims:
It doesn’t mean anything; all it is is a theory. Find the plane, find the black boxes and then we can figure out what happened. It has to be based on something, and until they have something more to go on it’s all just theories.
The search for the missing plane continues to focus on a large area of the Indian Ocean southwest of Australia. Satellite evidence shows that the plane continued on its unauthorized flight path for some seven hours after air traffic controllers lost contact with it. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib confirms that the plane flew on for some seven hours longer than previously admitted. Najib says:
In view of this latest development, the Malaysian authorities have refocused their investigation into the crew and passengers on board. … Clearly the search for MH370 has entered a new phase. … The investigations team is making further calculations which will indicate how far the aircraft may have flown after this last point of contact.