This Article is From Aug 26, 2014

Blog: A flight safety expert on what could have happened to missing Malaysian plane

(Captain SS Panesar retired from Indian Airlines as Director of Flight Safety and Director of Training. He has logged more than 24,000 hours on flying Airbus A-300, Boeing-737 and many other aircraft. He was also involved in investigation of aircraft incidents and accidents while on deputation to the DGCA.)

I believe there could be only two possibilities for the disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing-777 aircraft.

One, terrorist activity or a hijack due to which the aircraft might have exploded - deliberately crashed by hijackers or an explosion in baggage containing explosive material.

The other possibility is that some satellite material hit the aircraft, causing an explosion.

Today, almost the whole sky is covered by RADAR (Radio Aids for Detection and Ranging) control. The moment an aircraft takes off, it is spotted under radar till about 200 to 300 nautical miles.

There is a small gadget in the cockpit known as the transponder which allows pilots to select their frequency. Once you select that four-digit frequency, the radar or ground controller can see the blip of the aircraft on his radar screen and can find out the direction in which the aircraft is flying, the speed of the aircraft and the height or altitude it is flying at.

If there is an emergency, pilots enter the frequency 7700. All stations within 200 miles are immediately alerted and can track the plane's height, speed and direction. If a hijacker or anyone else switches off the transponder, the ground control will only get information about the direction of the aircraft, not the speed and height.

In case an aircraft crashes while it is flying at its cruising altitude, which varies from 29,000 feet to 60,000 feet, the dot immediately vanishes from the radar screen of the air traffic controller. But he can find out the place at which the dot disappeared.

The blip only disappears if there has been a crash.

But if there was an explosion, why has the debris still not been found five days later? Here is probably why.

At very high altitude - an explosion will lead to the debris or baggage etc being strewn over a radius of 50 miles to 100 miles. It gets very difficult to locate bodies or parts of an aircraft that goes down in the sea. The world's navies have divers who can go into the sea and locate the parts, but it is a very hard and expensive job.

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