• Oussama Salah

Malaysian MH370

Malaysian MH370 disappeard on March 7, 2014 and the search continues and no one is the wiser. This will not be the first aircraft crash whose wreckage may not be found. In the meantime the relatives of the passengers suffer the uncertainty and lack of closure. Our prayers and thoughts are with them.


The Media and CNN in particular has made this into a 24 hours a day drama, with experts upon experts speculating on what may have been; not that other networks were any less guilty.


The aircraft made a turn and headed back and then it was lost from the radar and satellites. The whole incident/accident questions what a lot of us in aviation took for granted:

  • if an aircraft does not report to the next ATM center or disappears from the radar someone will raise an alarm; or

  • if an unidentified aircraft shows up on a radar screen, someone would try to raise the flight or scramble an aircraft to have a look see. But for someone to assume and do nothing on the premise that if an airliner turns back it must have an ATC clearance is ridiculous.


However, some of the theories brought forward to explain the disappearance of MH370 are literally out of this world. The sad part was, they were seriously discussed on TV and social media, and these include:

  • a black hole type disturbance in the atmosphere sucked the aircraft into space or another dimension;

  • the flight was hijacked by US and Israeli agents because it carried some ultra secret technology on its way to the Taliban or North Korea;

  • there was mention of a cyber attack on the aircraft systems;

  • the plane was destroyed by a Texas company because it had four Chinese engineers holding semi conductor patents worth billions of dollars. The patents will revert to the company in case of their death; and/or

  • the pilot has gone suicidal because he had a failed love affair or was an Islamic zealot.


One good thing came out of this accident; countries were ready to cooperate to locate the aircraft, contributing resources from maritime surveillance aircraft, ships, satellites and underwater equipment capable of locating the pulses of the CVR and DFDR locators in a search effort that moved from one area to the other as investigators refined the flight path of the missing aircraft. When AF447 was lost in June 1, 2009 over the South Atlantic, it took two years to recover the DFDR and CVR and sadly we are facing the same problem. The calls to extend the battery lives of the DFDR/CVR came to nothing. There were even suggestions of floatable black boxes. However, the solution must be a better aircraft tracking regime utilizing the available technology in e-Enabling and connectivity in addition to the extended locators batteries operational life. A solution to switching off the ATC Transponders and ACARS in flight must be found. As of today April 5, the Chinese news agency reported that one of its ships have detected a pulse at 37.5KHz which is the DFDR/CVR locator frequency and their pilots have photographed a debris field. We remain hopeful that this may be the successful end of the search.

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