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What happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight MH 370?

Cross posted fromFrederick Leatherman Law Blog

Good afternoon:

Malaysian Airlines Flight MH 370 departed Kuala Lumpur at 12:41 am, Saturday morning with 239 people on board (227 passengers and a crew of 12). The destination was Beijing, China where it was scheduled to arrive at 6:30 am.

It never reached Beijing and despite an impressive array of radio communication devices, radar, satellites GPS trackers, and a multi-national search and rescue operation no one knows where it is or what happened to it.

The aircraft was a Boeing 777-200 ER, which is one of the safest airplanes ever made and Malaysia Airlines has an excellent safety record.

The last communication with the plane occurred at 1:27 am when air traffic control at Subang, which is near Kuala Lumpur, lost contact with the transponder on the aircraft. The transponder continuously transmits a radio signal that identifies the flight, altitude and speed of the aircraft.

The aircraft was on its flight path over the South China Sea at 35,000 feet with no indication of any problems. Air traffic control Subang had just advised the pilot to switch to air traffic control Ho Chi Minh City. The pilot responded, “Roger that. Good night.”

The aircraft is a modern technological marvel with backup electrical and mechanical systems. For example, it has two transponders in case one fails and batteries to back-up batteries. It’s extremely unlikely that both transponders failed

CNN is reporting today,

A senior Malaysian air force official said Tuesday the flight was hundreds of miles off course and traveling in the opposite direction from its original destination. It was last tracked over over Pulau Perak, a tiny island in the Strait of Malacca at about 2:40 a.m., over an hour after air traffic controllers in Subang lost contact with the aircraft.
At the news briefing Wednesday, however, Gen. Rodzali Daud, head of the Malaysian Air Force, and other officials said it wasn’t yet clear whether the object that showed up on military radar flying over the sea northwest of the Malaysian coast early Saturday was the missing plane.

Adding to the puzzle, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that the plane may have continued flying for four hours after its last reported contact. The newspaper attributed the information to two unidentified sources who were citing data automatically transmitted to the ground from the aircraft’s Rolls-Royce-manufactured engines. A senior aviation source with detailed knowledge of the matter told CNN’s Richard Quest on Thursday the Wall Street Journal account was incorrect.

Note: The CNN link has excellent maps.

CBS News reported 15 minutes ago that Malaysia has expanded the search westward into the Indian Ocean. In addition,

In the latest in a series of false leads in the hunt, search planes were sent Thursday to search an area off the southern tip of Vietnam where Chinese satellite images published on a Chinese government website reportedly showed three suspected floating objects.

They saw only ocean.

‘There is nothing. We went there, there is nothing,’ said acting Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein.

Compounding the frustration, he later said the Chinese Embassy had notified the government that the images were released by mistake and did not show any debris from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

Flight MH 370, Where are you?

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Frederick Leatherman

Frederick Leatherman

I am a former law professor and felony criminal defense lawyer who practiced in state and federal courts for 30 years specializing in death penalty cases, forensics, and drug cases.

I taught criminal law, criminal procedure, law and forensics, and trial advocacy for three years after retiring from my law practice.

I also co-founded Innocence Project Northwest (IPNW) at the University of Washington School of Law in Seattle and recruited 40 lawyers who agreed to work pro bono, assisted by law students, representing 17 innocent men and women wrongfully convicted of sexually abusing their children in the notorious Wenatchee Sex Ring witch-hunt prosecutions during the mid 90s. All 17 were freed from imprisonment.