What was supposed to be a standard redeye flight with an average 6-hour flight time turned into nine years of loss and mystery.
On March 8, 2014, 239 people boarded Malaysia Airlines flight 370 en route to Beijing from Malaysia’s capital city of Kuala Lumpur and were never seen again.
Just 40 minutes into the flight, MH370 disappeared from radar after entering Vietnamese airspace, according to The Guardian. The last time anyone heard from the plane was around 1 a.m. when the pilot in command, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53, said, “Good night. Malaysian three-seven-zero” as Malaysian air traffic control radioed to Vietnamese controllers to pass off the flight.
The plane’s disappearance has gripped headlines and captivated people around the world, while families of those onboard continue to search for answers. But despite various search efforts and investigations, there are still few leads on what really happened on flight 370.
“It’s the greatest aviation mystery of all time,” said Louise Malkinson, the director of “MH370: The Plane That Disappeared,” a Netflix docuseries about the plane’s unexplainable disappearance that hits the streamer on March 8 — exactly nine years later.
“This is a world where we have mobile phones and radar and satellites and tracking, and so to be nearly nine years down the line … and still have so little is extraordinary,” the director added, per The Guardian.
The three-part docuseries explores what could have happened to the flight by examining three of “the most contentious theories,” per People, including a possible hijacking and government interference.
Here’s everything to know about Malaysia Airlines flight 370 and “MH370: The Plane That Disappeared.”
What Happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370?
Before flight 370 vanished, primary radar from the Malaysian air force found that the plane made a sharp left turn after entering Vietnamese airspace and headed for the Andaman Sea, according to The Guardian.
While over the South China Sea, as the plane rerouted, officials say the plane’s transponder was turned off, presumably by the pilot or copilot, People reported.
The plane was reportedly spotted on a geostationary Indian Ocean satellite operated by Inmarsat in the six hours that followed after dropping off the radar. The data shows that the flight turned southward after reaching the Andaman Sea.
Some experts believe the plane likely flew straight for hours until running out of gas and plunging into the Indian Ocean between Australia and Antarctica, but no definitive conclusions have ever been made.
Image credit: Courtesy of Netflix
Was Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 Ever Found?
In the wake of the plane’s disappearance, Malaysian, Chinese, and Australian authorities embarked on a two-year underwater hunt that cost $135 million, according to Reuters. The search was called off in 2017 after being unsuccessful.
Then in 2018, Malaysia began working with marine robotics company Ocean Infinity to search the Indian Ocean in return for $70 million if the plane was found. However, the search was cut short, per USA Today, for unknown reasons.
In the years that followed the disappearance, aircraft debris has reportedly washed up along the African coast and on islands in the Indian Ocean, with many speculating the parts belong to flight 370.
After nine years, Malaysian investigators have yet to draw a conclusion about the plane’s disappearance.
Those aboard the plane were presumed dead by the Malaysian government in 2015. At the time, they declared the disappearance an accident.
In March, families of those aboard the flight called on the Malaysian government to resume the search with Ocean Infinity in the Indian Ocean, Reuters reported. According to Voice370, a collective of relatives of those on the flight, Ocean Infinity has made “real progress” in understanding what happened, adding that their discoveries have “greatly improved their chances of conducting a successful search.”
While there is no word on if the government will work with Ocean Infinity again, Transport Minister Anthony Loke said he wanted to “close the book” on the disappearance while speaking at a memorial event for the victims.
He said he would consider additional searches pending “new and credible information.”
Where Is Malaysia Airlines Now?
After the disappearance, Malaysia Airlines began damage control and suspended its advertising campaigns out of respect for the victims.
Malaysia Airlines Chief Executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya told the Wall Street Journal one month after the incident that the airline’s “primary focus right now is that we do take care of the families in terms of their emotional needs and also their financial needs.”
The company began issuing insurance payments of $50,000 in June 2014.
Then in July of that year, 298 people died when Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed over Ukraine after being shot by a Russian missile while traveling from Amsterdam to Malaysia, according to the BBC.
The two incidents made an impact on the airline’s sales and reputation, prompting the Malaysian government to purchase the remainder of the airline’s shares and nationalize it in addition to a major revamp.
Malaysia Airlines is still in operation today and reported $98.6 million in earnings in 2021.