A year ago, on 8th March 2014, Malaysia Airlines’ Flight MH370 en route to Beijing mysteriously vanished over the Straits of Malacca.
Many theories have since surfaced with regards to what could’ve happened to the plane, including that of National Geographic’s documentary series, “Air Crash Investigation”. The series’ “Malaysian 370” episode discussed everything from potential fire in the plane to chances of hijacking, and right down to the pilots, based on apparent actual data obtained from investigators and researchers.
Suspicion had also previously fallen on the cockpit crew of pilot Capt Zaharie Ahmad Shah and his co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid.
But above all, what was most shocking was perhaps a finding the exhaustive 584-page report mandated by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) team, which was released just yesterday in commemoration of MH370’s one-year anniversary. The 19-member team from around the world was set up in the weeks after the plane’s disappearance under International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) requirements and was required to submit its findings within one year of the disappearance.
Titled “Factual Information Safety Investigation for MH370”, it probed deep into the lives of the captain and crew, including personal, psychological, financial profiles, and backgrounds.
It also “stripped” the plane in a virtual body search to scour for abnormalities (based on records) and zone in on them.
This was where it was found that maintenance records showed that the battery on the beacon attached to the flight data recorder aka “black box” expired in December 2012.
The old battery means that crews searching the southern Indian Ocean likely wouldn’t have picked up a signal from the black box even if they were floating right over it. In the weeks after the disappearance, crews searched hastily to try and find a black box before the batteries ran out of power. They’re required to last at least 30 days after a crash.
The battery on the locator beacon of the cockpit voice recorder, however, was working.
The report also ticked through a number of the plane’s mechanical systems and noted in each case that according to available data and maintenance records, nothing alarming was seen. Other highlights of the report include:
- Gross monthly income and out-of-pocket expenses of all crew indicated nothing unusual;
- Li-Ion batteries cargo did not undergo additional security screening;
- 99 shipments of Lithium Ion batteries made by MAS to Beijing Jan-May 2014;
- No major disciplinary records on crew members.
- No unusual aircraft engine behaviour.
The report stressed that the investigation was ongoing and that “new information that may become available may alter this information”. It said that the investigation team expects that further factual information will be available from the wreckage and flight recorders if the aircraft is found.
Full interim statement is as follows:
A year later, there’s still no trace of the Boeing 777 and nobody really knows what happened to its 239 passengers and crew. A year-long, Australian-led search effort in the southern Indian Ocean where the plane is believed to have crashed has yielded nothing as yet.
For now, the mystery continues and the search for MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean goes on. Close to half of the priority search zone has been swept by search crews.