18 March 2014
Nobody is giving Malaysia high marks for its handling of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which mysteriously vanished early March 8. In every high-profile mess — and losing a giant Boeing 777 with 239 people on board ranks very high — there are always people second-guessing and spitballing official decisions. But in this case, it appears Malaysia did drop the ball on a number of fronts.
The timeline, according to the most recent information, goes something like this:
· Flight 370 took off from Kuala Lampur’s airport at 12:41 a.m., heading northeast toward Beijing.
· About half an hour into the flight, the airplane’s radio and tracking systems started shutting down. The last transmission from the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) was at 1:07 a.m., the final radio message (“all right, good night”) came at 1:19 a.m. from the co-pilot, and the last communication from the transponder was at 1:21 a.m.; there was no ACARS transmission at 1:37 a.m., as scheduled.
· At 2:15 a.m., Flight 370 appeared on a Malaysian military radar, the last known record of the plane’s location.
· Sometime after 8 a.m., a satellite over the Indian Ocean picked up the final known transmission from the aircraft, a “ping” or “keep alive” signal that suggests the plane was somewhere along an arc stretching from Kazakhstan to off the west coast of Australia. The plane had enough fuel to travel up to an hour beyond that point.
… Rohan Gunaratna, a security and terrorism expert at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, is less surprised. “European and North American militaries and governments respond to such anomalies and aberrations in aviation routes, but many Asian governments don’t as they are not paying such close attention,” Gunaratna tells TIME. “Even if the government is informed, it may not take the same decisive action.”
GPO / ICPVTR / RSIS / Print
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