It was 1:30 a.m. when Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 lost all communications, including important transponder signals that send data on altitude, direction and speed. Still, it showed up on radar for about 1 hour, 10 minutes longer — until it vanished, having apparently moved away from its intended destination, hundreds of miles off course.
As another day of the MH370 search-and-rescue mission has come to a close, and we’re still no closer to finding the missing plane. The search area has been expanded from 50 nautical miles (57 miles; 93km) to 100 nautical miles. It has also come to light that MH370′s co-pilot, Fariq Abdul Hamid, was extremely unprofessional during a flight in 2011. On a flight from Phuket to Kuala Lumpur, Hamid invited two South African teenagers into the cockpit, where they remained for the entirety of the flight, while he and the pilot smoked cigarettes while flying the plane. Whether this new finding has any bearing on the fate of MH370, we’ll have to wait and see.
With technology tracking our every move, it seems incredible that a plane carrying 239 passengers could vanish into thin air.Yet despite flight data recorders, location transponders and radio communication, the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 disappeared on a midnight flight out of Kuala Lumpur on Friday.Experts are baffled by the loss of communication, with some putting forward theories of mid-air bomb explosions, disappearance into an ‘aeronautical black hole’ and an attempt at electronic warfare.
As WashPost reports:
One of the most eerie rumors came after a few relatives said they were able to call the cellphones of their loved ones or find them on a Chinese instant messenger service called QQ that indicated that their phones were still somehow online. A migrant worker in the room said that several other workers from his company were on the plane, including his brother-in-law. Among them, the QQ accounts of three still showed that they were online, he said Sunday afternoon. Adding to the mystery, other relatives in the room said that when they dialed some passengers’ numbers, they seemed to get ringing tones on the other side even though the calls were not picked up.
THE UNANSWERED QUESTIONS
How can a plane simply disappear?
Why can’t we make contact with the black box?
Why are the passengers’ phone still ringing? And why are they showing as being online?
Why is there no debris?
Why would the plane do a u-turn to Kuala Lumpur?
If it was an act of terrorism, why has no organisation come forward?
Why did Malaysia Airlines report inconsistent times for the disappearance of the craft?
This brings up the immediate bind-bending question of how electronic devices on a commercial flight that vanished still appear to be connected to the internet. The explanations for this defy everything we think we know about reality:
• Mind-bending possibility #1, the “kidnapped” explanation: The plane somehow landed somewhere without leaving a radar signature of any kind, all the passengers are being held hostage there (and are thus still alive), their mobile devices are somehow within cell tower range and yet for some reason have not been confiscated. (This explanation seems extremely unlikely.)
• Mind-bending possibility #2, the “Stargate” explanation: A teleportation portal of some kind exists in the skies, through which the plane inadvertently flew and was teleported somewhere else. Yet, astonishingly, electromagnetic signals can still make it through the portal, and the two sides of the portal remain in contact across the radio spectrum. (This explanation sounds like pure science fiction and also seems extremely unlikely, yet we must at least acknowledge that modern physics has already demonstrated the instantaneous teleportation of information across apparently infinite space due to the “non-locality” of entangled electrons as described in quantum theory.)
• Mind-bending possibility #3, the “failed search” explanation: This far more mundane explanation supposes that the massive, multi-day search for plane wreckage and debris simply hasn’t stumbled upon the correct location yet. The fact that airplane black boxes broadcast homing signals adds to the skepticism that this explanation holds any water, as it is extremely unlikely that the airplane’s black boxes could have been obliterated. Nevertheless, this explanation still seems far more believable than supernatural explanations.
• Mind-bending possibility #4, the “advanced military weapons” explanation: Some military entity, either human or non-human, was testing an advanced weapon capable of either instantly obliterating large airborne objects or teleporting them to another place (or dimension). This explanation seems incredibly far-fetched, but then again, barely a hundred years ago, so did the idea that machines could ever fly at all. Related to this is the legend of the Philadelphia Experiment which some believe caused a U.S. Navy ship to vanish and reappear.
Another possibility is that the plane fell into an ‘aeronautical black hole’ in the region, according to Stewart John, an aeronautical expert and Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering.
In a more radical theory, the possibility of electronic warfare has also been raised following confirmation that there were at least 20 passengers onboard from Texas-based Freescale Semiconductor. Each of these passengers had specialist knowledge of electronic technology for defence applications.
This could include ‘cloaking’ technology that uses a hexagonal array of glasslike panels to bend light around an object, such as plane, according to a report in Beforeitsnews.com.
Other techniques may have been used to jam signals, allowing the plane to vanish from radar detection without its security systems being activated.
‘It is conceivable that the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 plane is “cloaked,” hiding with hi-tech electronic warfare weaponry that exists and is used,’ Beforeitsnews.com wrote.
‘In fact, this type of technology is precisely the expertise of Freescale that has 20 employees on board the missing flight.’
‘These were people with a lot of experience and technical background and they were very important people,’ Mr Mitch Haws, Global communications officer for the tech company, said.
The company recently launched a major initiative dedicated to serving radio frequency power needs of U.S. aerospace and defense sector.
Searchers are listening out for flight MH370’s 406 megahertz Emergency Locator Transmitter, a unit that separates from aircraft wreckage and floats when it is immersed in saltwater.
Nine nations have now joined the attempt to find the mission. The operation involves 34 aircraft, 40 ships and a battery of search and rescue technologies.
The U.S. has flown a Lockheed Martin P-3C long-range search aircraft from its base in Okinawa, Japan, to Kuala Lumpur to undertake 10-hour nonstop search missions.
And the USS Pinckney, a guided missile destroyer, has been deployed so its two Sikorsky MH-60 Seahawk helicopters can be used to get close to any suspect wreckage.
The aircraft can also drop ‘sonobuoys’ which are floating devices that listen underwater and transmit what they detect via a radio antenna.
The disappearance of the Malaysian aircraft has some similarities to the Air France flight which vanished from radar screens an hour or so after take-off from Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, on 1 June 2009.
It crashed in waters 4 km deep in the Atlantic’s and so was difficult to find. This jet, however, is likely to have gone down in waters just 100 meters deep, according to experts.
Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, Australia, the United States, China and Malaysia are all taking part in the search, White House spokesman Jay Carney said. Japan has also dispatched a team to the area, with Japanese military and coast guard crews likely to follow.