The United States has dispatched a destroyer to help in the massive international search for a missing Malaysia Airlines flight that carried 239 passengers, as search efforts turn to the South China Sea and a 12-mile long oil slick found in the Gulf of Thailand.
Any further details as to the cause of the suspected crash of the Boeing 777-200ER remain limited, as the plane, which left Kuala Lumpur for Beijing in good weather, made no distress calls before vanishing from radar.
About the Airline:
Arnold Barnett, a longtime Massachusetts Institute of Technology specialist in aviation safety statistics, said that before the disappearance of the plane, Malaysia Airlines had suffered two fatal crashes, in 1977 and 1995. Based on his estimate that Malaysia Airlines operates roughly 120,000 flights a year, he calculated that the airline’s safety record was consistent with that of airlines in other fairly prosperous, middle-income countries but had not yet reached the better safety record of airlines based in the world’s richest countries.
Source: New York Times
About the Aircraft:
Aviation experts have expressed surprise at the sudden loss of contact with the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777, which has a good safety record.
Neil Hansford, the chairman of consultancy firm Strategic Aviation Solutions and a former air freight executive, said more than 1000 of the aircraft had been produced and just 60 incidents had been logged, most of them minor.
The first fatal crash in the 777’s 19-year history only came in July 2013, when an Asiana Airlines jet landed short of the runway in San Francisco. Three of the 307 people aboard died, one of whom was hit by an emergency truck after surviving the crash.
Besides last year’s Asiana crash, the only other serious incident with the 777 came in January 2008 when a British Airways jet landed 305 metres short of the runway at London’s Heathrow airport.
Malaysia Airlines did have an incident in August 2005 with a 777 flying from Perth to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. While flying 11,580 metres above the Indian Ocean, the plane’s software incorrectly measured speed and acceleration, causing the plane to suddenly shoot up 915 metres. The pilot disengaged the autopilot and descended and landed safely back in Perth. A software update was quickly made on planes around the world.
Malaysia Airlines has 15 Boeing 777-200ER jets in its fleet of about 100 planes. The 777 is capable of flying 11,500km non-stop. A new model has a list price of $261.5 million, although airlines typically negotiate discounts.
Source: The Guardian
About the Pilot
Malaysia Airlines identified the pilot of MH370 as Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, a 53-year-old Malaysian who joined the carrier in 1981 and has 18,365 hours of flight experience.