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Missing Malaysia Airlines plane: Descent likely quick, catastrophic, say experts

A possible reason why control centre lost contact, distress signal not sent

Published on Mar 10, 2014 5:36 PM
Admiral Mohd Amdan Kurish, director general of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, looking at a radar screen yesterday while searching for a missing Malaysia Airlines plane in the South China Sea, about 100 nautical miles from Tok Bali Beach in Kelantan. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

WHATEVER happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in the wee hours of Saturday, aviation safety experts say it must have been quick and catastrophic.

This would explain why the pilots did not send out a distress signal, and why the Boeing 777-200 aircraft with 227 passengers and 12 crew members suddenly lost contact with air traffic control 50 minutes after it left Kuala Lumpur for Beijing.

More than two days after the plane disappeared, there is still no confirmation of its whereabouts, though all signs point to an ocean crash.

At this early stage of the probe, bad weather is an unlikely cause, given the clear skies at the time. But everything else from pilot error to structural and mechanical fault is possible, experts told The Straits Times.

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Background story


Pilots are trained to fly, navigate and communicate - in that order. That there was no distress signal does seem to indicate that the aircraft went into a rapid descent which left no time for communication.

- Retired United States Federal Aviation Administration official Michael Daniel, who has investigated several air accidents