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Missing Malaysia Airlines plane: MH370 draws comparisons to Air France flight AF447 case

Published on Mar 11, 2014 6:15 AM
 
Military officers work within the cockpit of an aircraft belonging to the Vietnam Air Force during a search and rescue mission off Vietnam's Tho Chu island March 10, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS (AFP) - The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which on Monday was yet to be located three days after it dropped off the radar, has drawn comparisons with the 2009 crash of Air France flight AF447.

Here are main the similarities and differences:

SIMILARITIES

- Still missing three days into the search. The Air France plane was located nearly two years after its disappearance. Only a few pieces of the tail were retrieved a week after the crash.

- Cruising. Airliner was above sea and at cruising altitude.

- Number of passengers. MH370 had 239 and AF447 had 228, including 12 crew in both cases.

- Safety. Both the Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777-200 and Air France Airbus A330 have outstanding safety records.

- No mayday call. Aviation experts say that is not surprising, arguing that in the event of a sudden technical problem the crew's priority is to find a solution.

- Repairs. Both jets suffered minor damage on the ground and underwent repairs. In the case of flight AF447, it was established there was no correlation with the crash.

DIFFERENCES

- ACARS. The Airbus had sent 24 automatic messages listing technical "events" in four minutes through the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS). The Malaysian jet was equipped with ACARS but the airline has not yet said whether any messages had been received.

- Cruise phase. Both planes were cruising when they disappeared but in the case of flight MH370, the cruise phase had just begun, meaning the captain was likely in command of the flight deck. On the Airbus, the captain was resting and only returned to the cockpit moments before the jet went down.

- Weather. Conditions appeared good on the Malaysian aircraft's path while the Air France flight encountered major turbulence.

- Radar. Flight MH370 went missing in a busy area for air traffic, likely to be well monitored as it is close to several countries. The Rio-Paris flight went down over the Atlantic, outside of radar coverage.

- Recovery. The Air France jet crashed further away from the coast and into very deep waters, a complicating factor for the investigation.

- Relevant authorities. The AF447 crashed in international waters, allowing for French investigators to take the lead. Since the MH370 has yet to be located, it is unclear whether the Malaysians, the Vietnamese or other authorities should be in charge.

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