*this post will continue to be updated as official information is released.
Latest update Sunday, March 9 AEST18:00.
SAR operation continues across the Gulf of Thailand and the South China Sea in an unprecedented operation involving the deployment of 22 aircraft and 40 ships from six countries. Today, Malaysia’s DCA also confirmed there is no reason to ground the country’s Boeing 777-200 fleet following the disappearance of the aircraft yesterday.
Latest update at AEST18:25.
Malaysia’s Defence Minister and deputy Transport Minister have confirmed that multiple SAR assets have been deployed in search of missing aircraft 9M-MRO. The assets include Malaysian Navy ships, ships from other Vietnam and China, as well as a Malaysian Air Force Lockheed Martin C-130 and Airbus EC725 helicopters - equipped for combat SAR with electro optical/infrared sensors.
Original post. Latest update at AEST16:25.
There has been a considerable amount of unverified speculation driven by Twitter this morning generating a myriad of conflicting reports on the whereabouts of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 that disappeared from radar while operating MH370 from Kuala Lumpur (KUL/WMKK) to Beijing (PEK/ZBAA).
The aircraft remains missing and there is no official confirmation that the aircraft has crashed.
Malaysian and Malaysian Airline Systems (MAS) officials as well as China’s Civil Aviation Authority and Chinese state media agency Xinhua have now confirmed that the aircraft has disappeared enroute and that a coordinated search and rescue (SAR) operation has been launched by China, Malaysia, and Vietnam. The aircraft was due to land in Beijing at 06:30 local.
The Boeing 777-200ER registered 9M-MRO departed with 227 passengers and 12 crew members at 12:41am, disappearing from radar around 02:40 while transiting Subang Air Traffic Control in Malaysia at approximately 35,000 feet, 30 minutes after departure from Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
There is now confirmation that the last point of contact of MH370 was 120 nautical miles off Kota Bharu over the South China Sea near a waypoint named BITOD. Vietnam and China have now deployed SAR ships toward the area.
The aircraft did not transmit a distress signal, and no flight plan would be available unless it is officially released by MAS or authorities through whose airspace jurisdictions MH370 would pass.
There are unconfirmed reports the aircraft made contact with Vietnamese ATC and that the aircraft was identified Vietnamese radar before it disappeared. Civil Aviation Authority Vietnam Flight Control Department manager Bui Van Vo said the aircraft failed to check-in at GMT17:21 “it’s code didn’t appear in our system”. Vietnam’s ADS-B coverage is known to be excellent along the country’s eastern seaboard; further, the majority of airports throughout SE Asia have primary radar coverage from 50-100 nautical miles, so a radar return would only appear if the aircraft was in range of the radar head.
The captain has logged 18,365 flying hours after starting with the airline 1981, the first officer has logged 2,763 hours having joined the airline in 2007. According to aviation reference databases 9M-MRO was built in 2002 and is powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 800 engines.
Boeing and the NTSB continue to monitor the situation and have yet to provide official statements.
Those who may have relatives travelling on this service are advised to call Malaysian Airlines on +603 7884 1234.