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Timeline - March 22

Saturday March 22 (MYT)

  • (01:00) Experts have analyzed transcripts of the flight’s communications with air traffic control from before take off until the final contact. They have said that the communications were normal and nothing seemed to raise any suspicions. They did note that the co-pilot was a little less formal than normal and often diverted form the exact wording standard procedures for communications dictates. This could make the final communication of “Alright, good night” slightly less odd. (Telegraph)
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Timeline - March 21

Friday March 21 (MYT)

  • (21:00) Lau Kin-tak, an expert in aircraft maintenance and accidents at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, said, “We seldom see big metal (pieces) floating. You need a lot of (buoyant) material underneath the metal to keep it up.” However, Peter Marosszeky, an aviation expert at the University of New South Wales, said that the plane’s wing could remain buoyant for weeks if the fuel tanks inside were empty and had not filled up with water. (Telegraph)
  • (20:00) Passengers’ relatives and the search headquarters has been forced to move from the hotel that they have been based out of since the beginning to make room for the Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix. They have all been relocated to a new hotel. (Telegraph 
  • (19:00) A second merchant ship has joined the search on the water. (Telegraph)
  • (18:00) During a press conference, Malaysian search leader Mr. Hussein was asked by a reporter if anyone was providing midair refueling aircraft so search planes can search for more than 2-3 hours before needing to return to land. Mr. Hussein said that he hadn’t heard anyone mention this idea before, but he would look into it. (Mirror)
  • (15:00) A plane flying at cruising altitude and speed when it runs out of fuel can travel 60-70 miles afterward. Experts say that it is virtually impossible to make a survivable landing in the ocean. Waves hit part of the plane before the rest reaches the surface causing the plane to cartwheel and break apart. (SMH)
  • (01:00) The Norwegian merchant ship involved in the hunt for flight MH370, the Hoegh St. Petersburg, told a reporter by satellite phone that the ship was told to look for debris in this location 05:00am (MYT) Sunday March 17 by Australian authorities. That is why it was able to get to such a remote location so quickly after the announcement was made yesterday. This would place the Australian call to the Norwegian ship about about 12 hours after an unnamed U.S. investigators told a reporter that they were “growing more convinced” that the flight went down about 1,000 miles off the coast of Perth, or just about where debris was spotted. The date on the satellite photos shown to reporters last night were dated Sunday March 17. (Telegraph)
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Timeline - March 20

Thursday March 20 (MYT)

  • (23:00) The British satellite company Inmarsat has said that it informed investigators and Malaysian officials on the morning of March 11 that it had absolute proof that flight MH370 flew for at least 7 hours after take off, was in one of the two arcs, and was more likely to be in the southern arc. This information began to leak through unnamed sources by the evening of March 13. However, Malaysian officials did not call off the search from the area immediately around the last radar contacts and begin to reassess its search strategy until the evening of March 15. Inmarsat said they wanted to draw attention to how poorly the search is being managed. (Mirror)
  • (23:00) U.S. satellite company DigitalGlobe reported that they supplied the satellite images that Australian authorities reported on (Telegraph)
  • (19:00) 4 search planes and a nearby Norwegian merchant ship have called off the search for the night without detecting anything. Weather in the search area turned poor, with heavy rain and low clouds. The search area is at an equivalent southern latitude to the southern Oregon coast, Boston, or the northern coast of Spain. It is also late summer or early fall there, increasing the chances of highly variable weather. The search area is closer to the Antarctic ice shelf than the south coast of Australia. (Mirror)
  • (16:00) U.S. P-8A Poseidon is expected to arrive at the site of the objects at about 20:00 MYT. It will then have about 3 hours to search before it needs to return. To give an idea of the distance between the search area and Perth, its about the distance between L.A. and St. Louis, or New York City and Denver. Additionally, the satellite photos were taken four days ago. So it’s not certain where the objects might be now. (BBC)
  • (14:00) Australian Defense Minister, David Johnston, warns the operation is “a logistical nightmare. This is a terribly complex logistical operation to identify what we have found via the satellite. We are in a most isolated part of the world, in fact it probably doesn’t get, if I can be so bold, more isolated.” (AFP)
  • (12:00) Further information on the objects found:
    • The objects were found over 1,500 miles southwest of Perth and in an area with an ocean depth of “several thousand meters.”
    • The largest object is about 79 feet long
    • Commercial satellites are being directed to the area and should provide better visuals
    • Four aircraft have been diverted to the area. One plane is a Hercules that will drop marker buoys. These data buoys will allow investigators map surface currents to help them find any debris on the seabed related to the floating debris.  
    • A merchant ship is expected to reach the area at about 15:00 MYT, an Australian naval ship capable of retrieving the objects has been sent to the site but will not arrive for days
    • Weather conditions in the area are “moderate” but visibility has occasionally been “poor.” (Telegraph/ AFP)
  • (11:00) The Australian prime minister has said that objects consistent with flight debris have been found in the search area. The discovery, made by satellites from the Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organization, was described as “credible.” A source familiar with the find told Australian newspapers that the objects are of a type one would expect to find from an airline crash. (AFP
  • (09:00) A report in the British tabloid, The Sun, said that Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah made a cell phone call from the cockpit just minutes before take off. Investigators are still attempting to determine who he called. They would not reveal any additional information. (Strait Times)
  • (08:00) The search area to the south has been reduced yet again. This refocus reduces the search area size from the size of Texas to the size of Arizona. Officials say that this reduction in the search area size came from further refining of the satellite data by U.S. and British experts. (ABC News)
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Timeline - March 19

Wednesday March 19 (MYT)

  • (23:00) The FBI has confirmed that they have been invited to send a team to Malaysia and official join the investigation. They also confirmed that copies of the captain’s flight simulator’s hard drives are en route to FBI labs in Quantico. (Mirror)
  • (22:00) The search for MH370 has become an important issue in Malaysian domestic politics. Opposition parties in Malaysia have begun accusing the ruling party of incompetence in the search and called for the party to be replaced in elections. (Zee News)
  • (21:00) Malaysian Transportation Minister said that, ”I can confirm that we have received some radar data, but we are not at liberty to release information from other countries,” (Telegraph)
  • (20:00) Investigators said there is absolutely no basis for media reports that the flight was in the area of Diego Garcia or the Maldives. (Mirror)
  • (19:00) Indonesia is believed to have finally given permission for military search aircraft to enter Indonesian airspace as they try to reach the southern search area. (Mirror)
  • (18:00) During a regular press conference, a middle-aged female relative of one of the passengers attempted unfurl a banner but was knocked to the ground and quickly removed by police. She was heard yelling, “Where are they!” It appears that a group of relatives may have been attempting to storm the press conference but were blocked by police. Police prevented the media from accessing the removed relatives and then removed them all from the hotel. (Mirror)
  • (18:00) Malaysian police said they have detected that all game log data in the captain’s flight simulator were deleted on February 3. Malaysian computer forensics experts will try to determine what the data is and copies of the hard drives have been sent to the FBI. Also, police said that all countries have returned passenger background checks except Russia and Ukraine. Two passengers are from Ukraine and one from Russia. (First Post)
  • (17:00) The Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization has passed on its raw data to member countries and has requested the assistance of scientists to try to gain any additional information from it. The CTBTO uses sensitive “infra-sound” listening devices placed around the world to hear signs of nuclear explosions. These devices will also detect explosions or airline crashes. The CTBTO has analyzed all the data it has and has detected no sign of an explosion or crash in either of the arc areas being searched. (Mirror)
  • (17:00) The United Arab Eremites announced that they are sending 2 search aircraft to the southern corridor of the search (Zee News)
  • (15:00) U.S. investigators continue to believe that the airline headed south. They now also think that it probably headed to the far end of the southern arc. This would mean that the plane travelled nearly to Antarctica in virtually a straight line from its last known location. It is unclear if this is based on unreleased information or is just a current “best guess.” (Mirror
  • (14:00) Malaysian authorities have renewed their request for countries to share any potential radar or other data they may have. The current search area covers an area the size of Australia or two-thirds the size of the U.S.. Investigators say they must reduce the search area size and need new data to do that. Malaysian authorities said they have yet to receive any data relevant to where the plane may have gone after it left Malaysian radar. (Mirror)
  • (10:00) Authorities said that they have reviewed the audio in all conversations between the flight and air traffic control from the time the plane took off to the final sign off by the co-pilot and they have found nothing. (CNN)
  • (09:00) Investigators said the plane’s flight controls were pre-programmed with the westward course change at least 12 minutes before the co-pilot signed off with Malaysian air traffic control. This is known because the ACARS system, prior to it being disabled, transmitted some of the flight plan data with its last transmission. Investigators don’t know how early in the flight that the flight plan was changed. However, Greg Feith, a former U.S. NTSB crash investigator, said, “Some pilots program an alternate flight plan in the event of an emergency.” It could be that the captain entered a flight plan back to Kuala Lumpur or some other nearby airport before every flight, so, in the case of an emergency, its ready. Having multiple flight routes in the Flight Management System (FMS) can be routine for some pilots. (RT)
  • (04:00) After reports that many ships and aircraft have been left sitting for days without instructions from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysian officials have informed countries that they should make their own decisions regarding where to search. (Mirror)
  • (02:00) Aviation Week has accused Canberra of being unwilling to disclose whether its Jindalee Over-The-Horizon Radar (OTHR) system had tracked the flight. This radar system has an official range of 3,000km, which would reach past the southern islands of Indonesia to the north and 1,000km off the west coast. However, analysts have long suspected the system reaches closer to 4,500km, taking in parts of the Gulf of Thailand and Singapore to the north and reaching 2,500km past the west coast. If this larger distance is true, this radar would include nearly all of the southern corridor. This radar system is able to reach these distances by bouncing a radio frequency off the ionosphere and detecting the bounce back. Australia’s Pine Gap satellite tracking facility, located outside Alice Springs in the middle of the outback, is a joint program run by the Australian military, the U.S. CIA and NSA. The facility is suspected to provide command and control to spy satellites in that part of world in addition to intercepting satellite signals to and from other satellites. Both of these facilities would likely have important information if the flight headed to the south. It is suspected that perhaps the focusing of the search area in the south recently may be a result of this information. (NST)
  • (01:00) Indonesia has denied all search aircraft from entering its airspace until they receive special approval from the Indonesian military. Indonesian law states that any foreign military plane may only enter Indonesian airspace upon receiving special permission from the Indonesian military. The law has no provision for exceptions in any case. The Indonesian prime minister has assured investigators that the situation will be resolved quickly. (Guardian)
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Timeline - March 18

Tuesday March 18 (MYT)

  • (23:00) Reuters completed a full profile of both the captain and co-pilot of MH370. They found that both were “devoted to their families and communities, [and] neither fits the profile of a loner or extremist who might have a motive for suicide, hijacking or terrorism.” They are described as “sociable, well-balanced and happy” and the “picture of normality.” Both lived in a wealthy suburb in homes they owned, and both have strong ties to their community, their families, and have close relationships. Co-workers and younger pilots describe the captain as calm and approachable. They often sought him out for help and questions because he was always patient and easy to talk to. The captain also spent time volunteering with disadvantaged youth and is described by friends as a caring and compassionate individual. (Reuters)
  • (23:00) AirAsia Captain Nadira Ramli, 26, came forward as the fiancee of MH370 co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid. She has taken a month’s leave from work and is staying in an undisclosed hotel in Kuala Lumpur to be close to Hamid’s family. The two met in flight school in 2005. Ramil’s father is a senior pilot for Malaysia Airlines. (Daily Express
  • (22:00) An interactive map has been produced showing the position of satellites in the region and who controls them. By far, the largest number of satellites belong to NASA. It also shows the incredible number of satellites that were repositioned over the Gulf of Thailand when the search was ongoing there. Another thing it shows is how much of the area is not covered by any satellites. (Map creator currently unknown)
  • (21:00) The Thai military handed over radar data showing an unidentified aircraft following a course up the Malacca Straits, just as detected on Malaysian radar. When asked why they waited 10 days to provide this, the Thai military said it was because they did not pay attention to it since the plane was not in Thai airspace and that Malaysia’s request for radar data was not “specific enough.” (First Post)
  • (21:00) Search efforts on Tuesday were abandoned by the U.S. and Japan after their flights were unable to get permission from Indonesia to fly over the island of Java. Both nations hope that they will be able to resolve the bureaucratic hangup and be ready for the search on Wednesday. (BBC)
  • (21:00) The office of U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron announced that he had been in direct contact with the Malaysian prime minister. In the conversation Mr. Cameron offered any assistance the U.K. could provide. No specific requests or commitments were made however. This is the first official contact between the two nations since the disappearance of flight MH370. (Mirror)
  • (20:00) Jeffrey Beatty, a security consultant and former FBI special agent, says someone could have planned a route that avoided radar detection. ”It certainly is possible to fly through the mountains in that part of the world and not be visible on radar. Also, an experienced pilot, anyone who wanted to go in that direction, could certainly plot out all the known radar locations, and you can easily determine, where are the radar blind spots” he said. “It’s the type of things the Americans did when they went into Pakistan to go after Osama bin Laden.” However, Mary Schiavo, a CNN aviation analyst and former Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Transportation, said, in reference to information that the plane flew lower than 5,000 feet across Malaysia to evade radar, "5,000 isn’t really low enough to evade the radar, that’s kind of where general aviation flies all the time anyway, and we’re visible to radar." (CNN)
  • (18:00) An Australian defense industry source said that any available information from Australia’s powerful radars pointing out to the Indian Ocean would likely be passed on to Malaysia in a “highly sanitized way” to conceal its origins and appease any concerns about Australian monitoring of neighboring airspace. (Reuters)
  • (17:00) Information from the daily press conference:
    • Acting Transportation Minister Mr. Hussein criticized foreign media, specifically CNN and The Daily Mail, for introducing “politics” into the search effort.
    • Mr. Hussein said that the only country that is being open with information about its satellites is Malaysia.
    • A reporter asked Mr. Hussein if he was being “protected” because he is the cousin of the prime minister. Mr. Hussein answered only, “Protected from what?” The implication seemed to be whether his role as leader of the international search is being protected in the face of wide spread criticism of incompetence.
    • Malaysian Airlines does not fly any routes that would pass through the northern corridor, so there’s no reason the pilots would be familiar with the area. (Mirror)
  • (16:00) Many of the Chinese relatives of passengers aboard MH370 have threatened to go on a hunger strike until Malaysian authorities tell them what “really happened” to the flight. Two-thirds of the passengers on that flight are Chinese. (Malay Mail)
  • (16:00) China announced that it is deploying 21 satellites to search the region within its territory for the missing flight (Reuters)
  • (16:00) A spokesman for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Stephane Dujarric said, “Regarding the missing Malaysian Airlines flight… the Vienna-based CTBTO confirmed that neither an explosion nor a plane crash on land or on water had been detected so far.” The CTBTO uses several sophisticated and very sensitive techniques to monitor the entire world for signs of unauthorized nuclear weapons testing. CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zarbo said plane accidents could be detected with three of the four technologies used by the organization’s International Monitoring System. These techniques can detect signs of explosions and impacts created by a large plane whether at land or sea. (Zee News India/ Asia One) For more information about the CTBTO and the techniques used, see the article and report from their first analysis here and here.
  • (15:00) Despite Malaysian statements that they are working with the FBI, U.S. officials have expressed frustration that the Malaysian government still had not invited the FBI to send a team to Kuala Lumpur. There are currently 2 agents in Malaysia, one of which has been assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Malaysia for more than a decade as a “legal attache.” (Reuters)
  • (15:00) Australian officials said that, with the help of the NTSB and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), they were focusing their search on a 230,000 sq mile area of the Indian Ocean, or 3% of the southern arc. NTSB officials said that further analysis of the satellite data combined with some educated assumptions, such as likely range of airspeed, allowed them to exclude 97% of the arc as less likely. It still creates an area about the size of Spain and Portugal combined. They had no comment about whether similar work had been done on the northern arc. The current search party includes 4 Australian AP-3C Orions, a New Zealand P3-K2 Orion, and a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon. (Reuters)
  • (14:00) Malaysia Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said that the only cargo onboard MH370 was 3 to 4 tonnes of mangosteens bound for China. Mangosteens are a tropical fruit indigenous to Indonesia. (The Star)
  • (04:00) Malaysian Airlines CEO said that the flight had at most enough fuel to fly for about another 30 minutes after its last satellite contact. This would imply that the flight’s final destination is very near one of the proposed arc lines. (Reuters)
  • (04:00) U.S. officials continue to believe that the flight was more likely to have headed south. Whereas Malaysian investigators have said that they feel the evidence points to the plane heading along the northern course. (Reuters)
  • (02:00) Kazakhstan as well as Taliban militants in Pakistan and Afghanistan have indicated they have no information on the whereabouts of the missing plane. A Pakistani Taliban commander has denied having any role into the jet’s disappearance, saying that they could “only dream about such an operation.” (Mirror/ Zee News India)
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Blog update

The timeline information related to the search of the Gulf of Thailand and Straits of Malacca have been moved to the “Archive" section since it now has little to no relevance to the new search.