What Will be the Fate of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370?
This situation has been tugging at my thoughts since I first heard about it, which was in my bed while still half-asleep. All I had to hear was “missing plane” and I was awake. I was perplexed from the beginning, wondering where all those people had seemingly vanished to.
The “Triple Seven” has a near-flawless record as far as these jumbo jets go. It is able to fly extremely long distances due to the Rolls Royce twin turbine engines. This was a relatively short flight for the jet; from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing was scheduled to take five-and-a-half hours, but this plane can stay in the sky for as long as 16 hours. It is equipped with sophisticated equipment and technology, but was not meant to fly low to the ground to evade radar as other planes can do. Smaller planes have equipment to see terrain and other such things that may be a hazard when flying low.
As they are leaving Malaysian airspace and entering into Vietnamese airspace, it is said that the ACARS, which stands for Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System, was shut down. There is apparently no switch on the system and one must remove the circuit breaker from the myriad of circuit breakers in the cockpit. This is something only a pilot or someone with extensive knowledge of this Boeing 777 model could do. This seems to have been done once the plane was out of the range of air traffic control from Malaysia but before they entered into Vietnamese airspace. Seems like a smart thing to do if you want to go undetected long enough to take the plane somewhere other than where it was supposed to go.
“We have to hand you over to Ho Chi Minh city,” Malaysian air traffic control told the pilot.
“All right, good night,” the pilot said back in his last transmission. This is an apparently normal thing to say when signing off from one control tower, as you are entering another’s airspace.
Later, Thailand and China informed Malaysia that the 777 had not entered into their airspace.
This is a statement given by Malaysian Prime Minister, Najib Razak to a group of reporters:
“Based on new satellite information, we can say with a high degree of certainty that the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) was disabled just before the aircraft reached the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Shortly afterwards, near the border between Malaysian and Vietnamese air traffic control, the aircraft’s transponder was switched off.”
According to US officials, a satellite orbiting 22,250 miles over the middle of the Indian Ocean shows signals received from flight 370 hours after the aircraft went missing. They are showing two arcs, which indicate paths in which the plane may have been traveling. One arc runs from Kazakhstan in Central Asia to Northern Thailand and the other from near Jakarta to the Indian Ocean. Razak says that satellites were receiving signals from the plane until 8:11 AM, seven and a half hours after takeoff and an hour and a half after it was due to land in Beijing.
The Stolen Passports
I wondered about those two men who had gotten on the plane with the stolen passports. This happens a lot, according to officials. The two men who used stolen passports to board the plane were identified by Interpol as Pouria Nourmohammadi, 18, and Delavar Seyed Mohammad Reza, 29, both Iranian. Malaysian investigators say neither one of them has any apparent connection to terrorist organizations.
I know that the classic American may hear that these men are Iranian and automatically assume that the stolen passports mean that they are obviously terrorists and have caused this to happen, but I think of Nourmohammadi’s mother waiting for him to arrive in Frankfurt, Germany. If he were a terrorist why would she call the authorities when the plane was reported as missing? I am sure she is just as concerned for him as any other parent of a passenger on that flight. Reza, the 29 year old seemed to be a friend to the younger man, but his ultimate destination was to Copenhagen. There seems to be less known about Reza’s family or his reason for going to Denmark, other than he wanted to flee his country.
The pilot, (on right) Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53, has been with the airlines since I was one year old in 1981. The co-pilot, First Officer Fariq Ab Hamid (on left), 27, has only been with the airlines since 2007, and was transitioning to the Boeing 777. Most news accounts are now placing more blame on the pilots as the news of the ACARS system being disabled has surfaced. Police have searched both of the men’s homes and other than the captain having some pretty impressive flight simulators in his home, I haven’t seen where they have found anything else. Current and former co-workers don’t think either man would have done something like this.
There has been talk about the possibility of some organization to get the pilots in on a scheme to steal the cargo on the plane, which could have been anything. I don’t know if countries just send gold and jewels in commercial airliners bound from one country to another, but I suppose it’s possible someone knew there would be precious cargo or perhaps a certain person on the plane that someone wanted to get at. Maybe someone put that cargo on themselves.
No one really seems to know what has happened at this moment, and the ones who are in a position to know haven’t said if the plane’s location is known. Has the plane landed somewhere, the passengers all safe and sound? If so, why haven’t they contacted anyone. Can they contact anyone? My husband even threw out the idea that if the plane changes its flight plan or something, it could just cruise on in to an airport like it was another plane. Apparently no one would know, as they would call themselves by another flight name. I thought this was intriguing, but asked him, “What about the passengers? They would be running out of there screaming! They would be caught in no time!” He shrugged his shoulders and said that is the part that doesn’t make sense. As far as landing anywhere else, you need at least 5,000 feet to land a 777 and 9,000 feet if you plan to take off again at some point. I would assume one would want to take off again and leave later. Then there is the topic of the weight of the plane and enough ground to support that 800,000 pounds. And what are you going to do with all those passengers?
It seems as if someone wanted to use the passengers as a bargaining chip, these demands might have already been communicated and there seems to be no sign of this. Maybe in the near future, we may have decisions to make on whether to shoot this plane down, laden with passengers and crew, or let it continue on to its destination. What might happen after that is anyone’s guess.
Maybe the plane went into a wormhole and may even possibly come back out and land in Beijing like they were meant to do. What would we all do if they just showed up, unaware of how much time has passed? This seems unlikely due to the change in the plane’s flight path, but anything could happen. I still think it’s possible they slipped into another stream of reality where they arrived as they should and in their world there is no strange missing flight 370. Or maybe we changed realities, who knows.