Editor's note: The search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 will be suspended if the plane is not found on completion of the current search. The news was announced in a joint statement from Malaysia, China and Australia. The aircraft disappeared in March 2014 during a flight from the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board. Since its disappearance, nearly $180 million ($135 million) has been spent on an underwater search spanning 120,000 square kilometers (46,332 square miles) in the southern Indian Ocean. "In the absence of new credible evidence, Malaysia, Australia and China have collectively agreed to suspend the search upon completion of the 120,000-km search," Malaysian transport minister Liow Tiong Lai said. - Grace
Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 (MH370/MAS370), a scheduled international passenger flight operated by Malaysia Airlines, disappeared on 8 March 2014 while flying from Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Malaysia, to Beijing Capital International Airport in China. The aircraft last made voice contact with air traffic control at 01:19 MYT, 8 March (17:19 UTC, 7 March) when it was over the South China Sea, less than an hour after takeoff. It disappeared from air traffic controllers' radar screens at 01:22 MYT. Malaysian military radar continued to track the aircraft as it deviated westwards from its planned flight path and crossed the Malay Peninsula. It left the range of Malaysian military radar at 02:22 while over the Andaman Sea, 200 nautical miles (370 km) north-west of Penang in north-western Malaysia. The aircraft, a Boeing 777-200ER, was carrying 12 Malaysian crew members and 227 passengers from 15 nations.
A multinational search effort began in the Gulf of Thailand and the South China Sea, whence the aircraft's signal was last detected on secondary surveillance radar, and was soon extended to the Strait of Malacca and Andaman Sea. Analysis of satellite communications between the aircraft and Inmarsat's satellite communications network concluded that the flight continued until at least 08:19 and flew south into the southern Indian Ocean, although the precise location cannot be determined. Australia took charge of the search on 17 March when the search moved to the southern Indian Ocean. On 24 March, the Malaysian government noted that the final location determined by the satellite communication is far from any possible landing sites, and concluded that "Flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean." The current phase of the search, the largest and most expensive in aviation history, is a comprehensive survey of the sea floor about 1,800 kilometres (970 nmi) south-west of Perth, Western Australia, which began in October 2014. Nothing was found of the aircraft until 29 July 2015, when a piece of marine debris, later confirmed to be a flaperon from Flight 370, was discovered washed ashore on Réunion Island. Although several additional small pieces of debris have been found, the bulk of the aircraft has still not been located, prompting many theories about its disappearance.
Malaysia established the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to investigate the incident, working with foreign aviation authorities and experts. Neither the crew nor the aircraft's communication systems relayed a distress signal, indications of bad weather, or technical problems before the aircraft vanished. Two passengers travelling on stolen passports were investigated, but eliminated as suspects. Malaysian police have identified the captain as the prime suspect if human intervention was the cause of the disappearance, after clearing all others on the flight of suspicious motives. Power was lost to the aircraft's satellite data unit (SDU) at some point between 01:07 and 02:03; the SDU logged onto Inmarsat's satellite communication network at 02:25—three minutes after the aircraft left the range of radar. Based on analysis of the satellite communications, the aircraft turned south after passing north of Sumatra and the flight continued for five hours with little deviation in its track, ending when its fuel was exhausted.
With the presumed loss of all on board, Flight 370 is the second deadliest incident involving a Boeing 777 and the second deadliest incident in Malaysia Airlines' history, behind Flight 17 in both categories. Malaysia Airlines was struggling financially, a problem that was exacerbated by a decline in ticket sales after Flight 370 and the crash of Flight 17; the airline was renationalised by the end of 2014. The Malaysian government received significant criticism, especially from China, for failing to disclose information promptly during the early weeks of the search. Flight 370's disappearance brought to public attention the limits of aircraft tracking and flight recorders, including several issues raised four years earlier—but never mandated—following the loss of Air France Flight 447. In response to Flight 370's disappearance, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) adopted new standards for aircraft position reporting over open ocean, extended recording time for cockpit voice recorders, and, from 2020, will require new aircraft designs to have a means to recover the flight recorders, or the information they contain, before the recorders sink below water.