Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 vanished 10 years ago today. What have we learned about what happened?

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 vanished 10 years ago today. What have we learned about what happened?

Malaysia’s government has said it may authorize a new hunt for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370 a decade after the plane and all 239 passengers and crew on board disappeared on March 8, 2014. What happened to MH370 after it departed Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, en route to Beijing remains one of aviation’s biggest mysteries.

Texas-based marine robotics company Ocean Infinity, which tried previously to find the plane, has proposed launching a new search, and Malaysia’s transport ministry said it would consider the proposal.

What details on flight MH370’s disappearance have been confirmed?

MH370 set off from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia for China’s capital city on March 8, 2014. Thirty-nine minutes after taking off, the aircraft vanished from air traffic control radar displays.

The pilot sent a normal sounding radio call as the plane left Malaysian airspace, but he never checked in with Vietnamese air traffic controllers upon entering that country’s airspace as he should have done.

About two minutes after the last radio correspondence, MH370’s transponder — a standard piece of equipment on all commercial aircraft that routinely relays a plane’s position to air traffic control authorities — turned off, making the jet invisible to civilian radar systems.

Military radar and satellites showed that MH370 then turned around to travel over the Andaman Sea back toward Malaysia, flying for hours before it vanished, possibly when it ran out of fuel.

Malaysia’s prime minister said 17 days after the plane disappeared that, based on the satellite data, his government had concluded that the plane crashed down in a remote corner of the Indian Ocean, and that there were no survivors.

Who was on Malaysia Airlines flight MH370?

There were 227 passengers and 12 crew members on board flight MH370, including three Americans as well as people from China, Indonesia, Russia and France.

Among them was a celebrated group of 24 Chinese calligraphy artists coming from an exhibition of their work. Two young Iranian men on the plane, 18-year-old Pouria Nour Mohammad Mehrdad and 29-year-old Delavar Seyed Mohammadreza, were traveling on stolen passports to seek better lives in Europe.

Two of the U.S. citizens on the plane were young children, Nicole Meng, 4, and 2-year-old Yan Zhang.

Girlfriend of American on Malaysia flight holding out hope


Philip Wood was the only American adult on the flight. The IBM executive had been living in Beijing and was planning to relocate to the Malaysian capital with his girlfriend, Sarah Bajc.  

Is there still an ongoing search for flight MH370?

When MH370 disappeared, an international search effort involving dozens of ships and aircraft was mobilized to scour the South China Sea and southern Indian Ocean. Australia, Malaysia and China then conducted a huge underwater search operation, covering around 46,000 square miles with sonar, submarines and aircraft. 

In July 2015, an airplane fragment later confirmed to be a flaperon from MH370 was found washed ashore on the western Indian Ocean island of Reunion. It was the first hard evidence that the plane had gone down in the area. More debris was later found washed up on the coast of eastern Africa.

But after no more results, all formal search efforts were suspended in 2017.

In 2018, Ocean Infinity launched its own hunt for MH370 north of the initial search area, as part of a “no find, no fee” deal with Malaysia, but that search was called off after a few months.

Huge stakes in Texas firm’s hunt for missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370


What comes next?

Ocean Infinity recently suggested it could resume the “no find, no fee” search for MH370, though Malaysia has said it will only do so if there is credible new evidence of where it might be located.

Malaysian Transport Minister Anthony Loke said he was open to being briefed on Ocean Infinity’s proposal, and if there is credible new evidence to work with, he said he would seek government approval to resume the search.

“The government is steadfast in our resolve to locate MH370,” Loke said at a memorial event for MH370. “We really hope the search can find the plane and provide truth to the next-of-kin.”

Day Of Remembrance For MH370
Visitors write messages at a Day of Remembrance for MH370 memorial service in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, March 3, 2024.

Supian Ahmad/NurPhoto/Getty

Malaysian Prime Minister Anway Ibrahim echoed the sentiment on Monday.

“We have taken the position that if there is a compelling case, evidence that it needs to be re-opened, we’re certainly happy to re-open,” Ibrahim told journalists. “Whatever needs to be done must be done.”

What are some of the leading theories on what happened to MH370?

No conclusive evidence has been found to support a specific cause of the plane’s disappearance. However, various theories have been proposed and investigated in the years since.

One theory is that the captain or another crew member deliberately crashed the plane in an act of mass murder-suicide. Authorities reviewed the crew’s financial records and tracked the pilots’ activity leading up to the flight using security camera video and found “no significant” behavioral changes and no evidence of financial trouble, according to a 2015 report from Malaysia.

A 2016 report in New York magazine revealed that authorities had found the pilot used his home flight simulator to do a simulated flight that was similar to the path MH370 is believed to have taken before it disappeared. Hishammuddin Hussein, Malaysia’s acting transport minister in 2014, said there was “nothing sinister from the simulators,” according to the BBC.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said in 2014 that both the radar transponders and flight data transmission system had been deliberately turned off by someone on the flight in an attempt to hide the plane’s location, according to a report in New Scientist. This has led some to speculate the plane may have been hijacked.

Several passengers were investigated as possible perpetrators of a hijacking, including the two men who had been traveling using fake passports. No evidence was ever found linking any passengers to the plane’s disappearance, and authorities concluded that the two Iranian men had been seeking asylum.

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