Missing MH370: Seeking answers to key questions

Missing MH370: Seeking answers to key questions

Why did the plane or pilot not send out any distress signal?

In a crisis, the drill for pilots is to fly, navigate, communicate - in that order.

The cockpit crew of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which went missing en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, did not send out a distress signal. This suggests that they faced a catastrophic problem, said observers.

Nearly 100 per cent of the time, pilots are able to regain control of the aircraft and call for help, said Captain Mok Hin Choon, president of the Air Line Pilots Association-Singapore. He did not comment on the incident but spoke in general terms.

He said: "Even if there is total engine failure at 35,000 feet and you're not able to restart the engines, the plane can continue to glide and you have about 15 to 20 minutes minimum to do what you have to, send out the distress signals and make an emergency landing."

Captain Manmohan Singh, a pilot turned flight instructor, said: "Depending on the severity of the situation, it is possible - though rare - that pilots don't even get past the first stage of flying.

"When you're not even able to control the aircraft, that's when planes fall from the sky."

Presumably, this was what happened to MH370, other experts said.

Even if pilots do not call for help, today's planes are capable of sending out their own distress signals. But not all airlines have the systems to monitor these.

Mr Michael Daniel, a retired United States Federal Aviation Administration official who has investigated several air accidents, said it is compulsory for airlines to have communication systems to reach cockpit crew if needed.

But it is not mandatory for them to monitor real-time flight data. Most global carriers would have such systems, but it is not known if MAS had this.

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