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Wondering Why Is It So Difficult To Find The Crashed Malaysian Airlines MH370? Here Are The Answers

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The disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 continues to baffle both investigators and the rest of the world as rescue officials are “bewildered” by the Boeing 777-200 that went missing without a trace on 8th March. With no problems reported by the pilots during the last radio communication and no signs of any wreckage in the area where the plane went missing, it’s hard to say what happened and where the 239 passengers and crew members could be.

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At first loved ones and the general public were left speechless and could only wonder what had happened to the missing aircraft, but now the main question on everyone’s mind is, “How long could it take to find such a large passenger aircraft?” The disappearance of flight MH 370 is not the first case of a vanishing aircraft. Air France flight 447 crashed in the Atlantic Ocean in 2009 on its way from Rio de Janeiro to Paris. Search and rescue teams found the wreckage five days later and the plane’s black box was found after another two years. But this large timescale was due mainly to the greater depths of the ocean in which AF447 crashed which had an average depth of 3,900 meters as compared to average depth of 45 meters in the Gulf of Thailand where MH370 was last located. The diagram below shows the comparison.

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The next diagram shows how surprising it is that no debris of the plane have been found yet, though it is possible that the winter water currents may have carried it away much farther than expected. The top diagram shows the size of the aircraft compared to the waters over which it disappeared, making it difficult to believe that no remains of the aircraft have been found as of yet. The third diagram shows a detailed map of the search areas and expected flight path of the aircraft. The current search area has been greatly expanded to cover a larger area than that shown in the map.

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To cater to this possibility, investigators have expanded their search area to the western side of the Malaysian peninsula. Malaysian radar has also claimed that the plane may have tried to turn around towards the western side, but it seems highly unlikely since the plane would have to cross the country unnoticed.

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As the public and loved ones of the passenger and crew pray for a miracle, teams from eight countries are frantically searching the ocean for the missing aircraft that has left the world in puzzlement. Currently there are more than 42 vessels and 39 aircraft that have been searching the shallow waters for almost a week now. The last tracking of the plane came from Malaysian Army radar, which detected the plane hundreds of miles west from its flight path and flying at a low altitude. This is alarming as it increases the chances of a crash. If this is true, finding a plane underwater is far more complicated than finding scattered debris from a plan that disintegrated mid-air.

Chinese radar shows the supposed wreckage of MH370

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The task usually requires technical experts using sonar and hydrography (plotting depths) to retrace the aircraft’s last movements. Experts searching for the plane have compared it to finding “bits of a needle” in a haystack. With a search area that spans over 160,000 square miles, it is very difficult to find a 210 foot long aircraft when you have no idea where it could have ended up. The current goal is to find any floating debris which will greatly help in finding the aircraft. The process is known as “hindcasting” and requires mapping where the debris was a certain ago from its current location with respect to the time of the crash. Singapore has sent a sonar-equipped submersible to aid in the search.

Indonesia Malaysia Plane

Debris was found in the Gulf of Thailand, but it turned out to be from a different aircraft. An oil slick was located 120 miles off the Vietnamese coast, but it was found to be ship fuel. And elongated shape thought to be the plane’s tail was actually a bunch of tied up logs and a floating yellow object, thought to be a life raft, was found to be moss-covered cap from a cable reel. With so many misleading clues scattered over the expansive area, it’s no wonder that search and rescue times are having such a hard time. Although the waters in the search area are shallower, they also have stronger currents which means that the wreckage can be carried off a great deal farther than where it is originally expected. Visibility is also poorer compared to deeper oceans due to the run offs from rivers and land, which makes it harder to spot what they are searching for.

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But the greatest obstacle that hinders the search is the lack of any information as to what happened to the Boeing 777 which was reported to be working fine in every possible way with no reported failures or complaints from the pilots. If the plane met a disastrous accident at a high altitude, the debris field would be a lot larger and make it even more difficult to locate any wreckage.

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But despite all these challenges and uncertainties, search and rescue team from across the world are working day and night to locate any remnants of the airplane that has left the entire world mystified. We can only hope and pray that they find something to help ease the gnawing anxiety of the awaiting loved ones.

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16 Comments to Wondering Why Is It So Difficult To Find The Crashed Malaysian Airlines MH370? Here Are The Answers

  1. I have been studying this and want to know it there is any island because its impossible for the plane to not been found I think every near by there is lands and they must be search there may be underground places to hit . so places has to be search good

  2. I pray every day that there will be a conclusion to this awful situation, I pray for all aboard flight MH370 and for their families, that they find strength from their god from whichever belief.
    Through god we find eternal life, may their god protect and save them and give courage and strength to their families.
    God Bless.

  3. Stephen Olieka

    If the phones are still working their home networks’ home location registers should be having the visited location register ID and hence the location of the plane!

  4. Fazal Qayum

    Pray To Allah the Almighty,He is the only one who can Give us courage in such a situation.Pray for all passengers To come back alive in their Homes,

  5. vivek patil

    i saw this aircraft from pune and it flying from low altitude.. i saw it on 9-3-2014 at around 5-6pm

  6. I pray i hope n i wish miracle happen. MH 370 come back in one piece n the love one back to their family who waiting for them day n night for more than a week!
    All of us do not want this to happen but if it happen, nobody can do anything except pray for them RIP. GOD PLEASE COME TO RESCUE THEM WITH YOUR HELP, LET THEM BACK TO THEIR LOVE ONE!

  7. Hummed Yousaf Baig

    i watched a program 1 week before this incidence about a 21 year old guy from south Australia flying a cessna plane (he was a trainee commercial pilot) from his home town SA to Tasmania and he magically disappeared with no traces left whatsoever in 1978. The program showed a recreated animation that the plane went into the storming clouds and then never came back. In that situation the plane went through deathly thunderstorm and rescue teams were sent at the exact location(longitude/ latitude) where the pilot’s communication with the tower personnel suddenly ended. No debris was found and no confirmation whether the pilot is dead or not.

    This appears to me as some sort that situation. That pilot and the cessna are still missing and have left no trace at all.

  8. I dought that we are in technology breakthrow and maybe there is an equipment rediate waves anti radar and sattalite so, airecraft became invisible to any detecting equipements like (radar, sattalite, radio commmunication, ..).
    At this time airecraft can be drawin to any other land (can be a revenge accident but smart).
    So, we should search the nearst lands in addition water search process.
    It is only expectation (personal imagination).
    We pray to solve this accident and hope to prevent happend again in future.

    • That was a nice point. Though current technology has reached a breakthrough point, it is not possible to be carried out from a commercial passenger aircraft. If the plane would have been a fighter jet or military aircraft, maybe a radar breakthrough can be expected. This case is entirely different.. Obviously the plane is lost….

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