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Malaysia Airlines flight MH370

NEXT Kuala Lumpur AndamanSea Gulf of Thailand IndianOcean INDONESIA AndamanIslands NicobarIslands CAMBODIA THAILAND MYANMAR MALAYSIA 100 miles 100 km VIETNAM Maps Tracking Emergency Bay ofBengal NEXT March 8 International Airport Last radiocontact Radio contact Flight MH370 signs off from Malaysian airspace at 1:19 am with a casual “all right, good night,” from a person now believed to be the co-pilot. 1.19 am March 8 International AirportPlane departs for Beijing KotaBharu Last radar contactSubang Air Traffic Control Plane vanishes The plane loses all contact over the Gulf of Thailand around 40 minutes after takeoff. 1.21 am March 8 The search begins Vietnamese rescue planes spot large oil slicks off Tho Chu Island but later analysis determines they are not related to flight MH370. Thai and U.S. navy aircraft and vessels begin conducting searches in the Strait of Malacca. Tho Chu IslandApproximate area where debris and oil slick were sighted Strait ofMalacca Ho Chi Minh City March 9 KotaBharu Initial search area Malaysian authorities outline an initial search area which covers large swathes of the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea as well as an area of Peninsular Malaysia. Phuket Radar information is reported It is reported that an aircraft, possibly Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, was plotted on military radar at 2:15 a.m., about 200 miles northwest of Penang, around an hour after it lost contact with civilian air traffic controllers. Approx. areawhere militaryradar detectedunidentified jetdays earlier Ho Chi Minh City Penang March 11 Phuket Banda Aceh Penang Vung Tau Ca Mau The search area expands The search area extends more towards the East to cover more of the Gulf of Thailand and coast of Vietnam. March 11 Penang Phuket GIVAL VAMPI IGREX New radar information Military radar data suggests Flight MH370 was deliberately flown hundreds of miles off course, sources tell Reuters. It is believed the plane was following a route West between navigational waypoints when it was last plotted on radar off Malaysia's northwest coast. Navigationalwaypoints March 14 GIVAL VAMPI IGREX The search area shifts west A new search area for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is opened in the Bay of Bengal, significantly broadening the potential location of the plane. March 14 Bay ofBengal Andaman and Nicobar Indian aircraft comb Andaman and Nicobar, made up of more than 500 mostly uninhabited islands, for signs of the missing jetliner that evidence suggests was last headed towards the heavily forested archipelago. Nothing is found. March 14 Bay ofBengal Satellite data released A week after the plane disappeared, Prime Minister Najib Razak confirms its last transmission of satellite data came nearly seven hours after it vanished but the new data gave no precise location, and the plane's altered course could have taken it anywhere from central Asia to the southern Indian Ocean. Last known position at 8.11 am based on satellite data could be anywhere along the red lines Satellite35,800 km abovesea level CHINA AUSTRALIA KAZAKHSTAN INDIA 500 miles 500 km PacificOcean ArabianSea Kuala Lumpur IndianOcean March 15 Needle in a hay stack Based on the possible last known positions based on radar data (red arcs) Reuters calculations estimate the plane could have flown for another 59 minutes, leaving a possible area where the plane could have travelled of 38 million square kilometres (shaded areas). Needle in a haystack Based on the possible last known position (red arcs) Reuters calculations estimate the plane could have flown for another 59 minutes, leaving a possible area where the plane could have travelled of around 38 million square kilometres (shaded areas). Possible debris discovered Australian search aircraft are investigating two objects spotted by satellite that could be debris from Flight MH370. Possible routes basedon NTSB analysis Possible debris March 20 Confirmation Malaysian Prime Minister states that based on new analysis, Inmarsat and the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) have concluded that MH370 flew along the southern corridor, and that its last position was in the middle of the Indian Ocean, west of Perth. Possible routes basedon NTSB analysis March 24 Perth Objects spotted bysatellite and aircraft Previoussearch areas The search area narrows Investigators focus on an area off the coast of Perth, Australia. The search area narrows and moves North as more details emerge and some ships detect underwater pings, possibly from the plane’s black boxes. March 18 - April 11 Perth AUSTRALIA The search moves underwater Some detected pings are confirmed as being consistent with those produced by a black box. Towed Pinger Locators and other underwater search equipment are deployed to search under the water. Perth AUSTRALIA 250 miles 250 km Subseasearcharea Indian Ocean Satellite handshakecalculation No. 7Possible position of the plane at 8:19 a.m. (GMT+8) on March 8 based on satellite data Pings detected by a towed pinger locator with Australia's Ocean Shield vessel Signal detectedby Chinese ship on April 5 NEXT Aircraft are in regular contact with the ground, sending updates through a number of antennas to satellites and ground stations on flight plans, weather reports and forecasts, air traffic services as well as two-way messaging. In-flight communication TransponderConnects to two antenna which transmit a signal Aircraft have transponders to identify them on air traffic control radar to other aircraft. The device sends information to the ground such as the plane’s identification code, altitude, directional heading and speed. Transponder system Transponder disabled Two minutes after signing off from Malaysian air traffic control, the aircraft’s transponder was turned off in a move experts say could reveal a careful sequence. Captain First officer The transponder can be disabled off by turning a rotary switch. Radar systems The reason the plane could not be tracked in more detail is because the transponder had been deactivated. The initial discovery of the plane heading West over the Strait of Malacca came from the Malaysian airforce’s primary radar system, which returns limited data. Secondary Surveillance Radar An interrogation signal is sent to the aircraft and received by its transponder. Data is then relayed back to the station. Primary Surveillance Radar Radio or microwaves are transmitted from the radar station. When an aircraft flies into range, the electromagnetic waves are reflected (backscatter) from the surface of the aircraft. Data returned IdentificationAltitudeBearingDistance/rangeEmergency Data returned IdentificationAltitudeBearingDistance/rangeEmergency ACARS Investigators believe someone also switched off the ACARS system. The Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) transmits messages such as flight plans and weather reports between aircraft and ground stations. VHFantenna VHF antenna SATCOM lo gainantenna SATCOM hi gainantenna VHF antenna Central management unit(in avionics bay) CockpitDisplayUnit Cutting the datalink Disabling the system would not have been easy. Whoever did so may have had to climb through a trap door in full view of cabin crew. Avionics bay Circuit-breakers used to disable the system are in a bay reached through a hatch in the floor close to a galley used to prepare meals. March 8 1.07 - 1.37 am How ACARS communicates with the ground Via SATCOM links to satellites thenground stations Via VHF or HF linksto VHF and remoteground stations Data link service providerstransmit messages between the jet and ground stations. VHFantenna VHF antenna SATCOM lo gainantenna SATCOM hi gainantenna VHF antenna NEXT Emergency situation In the event of an accident, the focus shifts to three important pieces of equipment. Two recorders which capture vital information and an emergency transponder to alert search parties. These devices are usually stored in the rear fuselage Flight Data Recorder - Black box If the plane is found, the Flight Data Recorder, also known as the black box, will help investigators find out what happened during the flight. Data is fed to the black box via the Data Acquisition Unit. Data link Black boxes are stored in the rear fuselage Interface and ControlCircuit Board Underwater LocatorBeacon Power supply Collecting the data A number of physical parameters are recorded including engine power and position of flight control surfaces such as flaps and rudder. A stream of other data including coordinates, speed and altitude are also recorded. Enginepower Landing gear position Wing flapposition Aileron position Rudderposition Acquisition UnitFormats data coming from sensors, onboard computers and other instruments The number of parameters recorded varies from a few dozen to several thousand depending on the age and type of aircraft Cockpit Voice Recorder - Black box Also known as the black box, the voice recorder collects and stores the acoustic data recorded from the cockpit including crew conversations and ambient sounds such as engines, actuators or control switch toggles. Microphones and monitor unit in cockpit Black boxes are stored in the rear fuselage Data link to voice recorder Interface and ControlCircuit Board Underwater LocatorBeacon Power supply Crash Survivable Memory Unit These units house and protect the memory boards connected to the Flight Data and Cockpit Voice Recorders, allowing recovery from wreckage in the event of an accident. Steel armor Insulation Thermal block Memory boardStores the flight data collected with the recorder Both the Flight Data Recorder and Cockpit Voice Recorder have a CSMU Interface and ControlCircuit Board Underwater LocatorBeacon Power supply Emergency Locator Transponder (ELT) The plane is also fitted with an ELT which automatically transmits a digitally encoded signal upon impact in the event of a crash. It remains unknown as to why flight MH370’s transmitter has not been activated or recieved. Connects to an antenna which transmits a distress signal Signal is picked up by a satellite and sent to a ground based terminal to initiate search Antenna ELT The search Finding the missing aircraft in remote seas requires repeated searches in a methodical pattern.The two searches shown are typically conducted by both air and sea. Creeping lineUsed when the search area is large and the location of the target is not known. Expanding squareUsed when the target is known to be in a relatively small area. Defining a wreckage area Reconstructing the ocean circulation to estimate a probable crash zone. Marking the target areaAir-dropped marker buoys gather information about water movement. Modeling the drift Buoys send real-time data to satellites so searchers can recreate water movements. Probable crash zoneArea where aircraft is most likely to be found, based on drift modeling calculations. NEXT Pings The data and voice recorders’ Underwater Locator Beacons emit a ping using a very unique frequency which helps search teams locate the device. ULB Activated by water immersion. Emits a 37.5 kHz (37,500 Hertz) ping every second Pressure Cycle Time Sound wave What is frequency?Sound is produced when pressure waves cause vibration within a medium, such as air or water. Frequency is the number of vibrations, or cycles, per second (Hertz). Sounds of the sea The frequency used is not typically found in background ocean noise, helping search teams identify the ping easily. Pygmy sperm whaleKiller whaleSperm whaleStriped dolphinBottle-nose dolphinMinke whaleSei whaleBlue whaleFin whaleHumpback whale Fishing boatSupertanker (340m)Container ship 0 100 200 kHz Whales and dolphins Shipping traffic Jack up rig, drillingAirgun seismic surveyDepth sounder sonar Oil and gas exploration 37.5 kHz (37,500 Hertz)ULB frequency Locating the pings When a more focused search zone is identified, a towed pinger locator is lowered into the water and towed behind a ship. Any signal is transmitted up the tow cable and presented audibly TPL-25Max depth: 6,100 mWeight: 31.8 kgSpeed: 3 to 5 knots The TPL covers multiple track lines until the beacon/black box position is approximated via triangulation Size Visual confirmation Once a location is confirmed, Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) are deployed to capture images of the recovery area. Bluefin 21Max. depth rating: 4,500 mEndurance: 25 hoursSpeed:Up to 4.5knots Remus 6000Max depth rating: 6,000 mEndurance: 16 hoursSpeed: Up to 4.5 knots Size Visual confirmation Side scan sonars capture detailed images of the ocean floor and recovery area. Side scanningMeasures the strength of return echo of objects that protrude from the sea floor. Shadowzone Strong return Acoustic shadowThe shape of objects can be mapped by measuring their acoustic shadow Recovery When visual confirmation has been obtained and analysed, Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) will be deployed to collect materials, including the black boxes. Remora 6000Max. depth rating: 6,000 mWeight: 1,900 kgFitted with light, sonar, video, a fibre-optic system, and claw-likedevices togrip objects Size
Sources: Reuters; Boeing; Honeywell International; Australia National Search and Rescue Council; MetOcean Data Systems; European Space Agency; Federal Aviation Administration; Honeywell International; Aviation Publishing Group; Malaysian government; Australian Maritime Safety Authority; U.S. National Transportation Safety Board; Malaysia Airlines, Ministry of Defense; India; Vietnam Civil Aviation Authority; Dept. of Cilvil Aviation Malaysia; FlightAware

Graphic by Simon Scarr, Christine Chan, Wen Foo, Gustavo Cabrera, Matthew Weber