Somewhere in the depths of the Indian Ocean lies the wreck of an aircraft that harbors one of the greatest mysteries in civil aviation: the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER – and with it the 239 dead in a tragedy that is still unforgotten today, seven years later is.
In the early morning hours of March 8, 2014, flight MH370 suddenly lost contact on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing around an hour and a half after take-off.
The machine has been lost since then.
“Good night Malaysian 370” were the last words on the radio from Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah to air traffic control in the Malaysian capital at 1:19:30 am local time. Investigations showed: The machine must later have crashed into the southern Indian Ocean, but large-scale search operations were unsuccessful.
The tragedy does not leave many people in peace – such as the British aerospace engineer Richard Godfrey: Together with a team of experts, he has set himself the goal of tracking down the wreck – with the help of a special online database, reports the Londoner „Times“.
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How could the search work?
The database is WSPR (pronounced “whisper”, the English word for “whisper”). It was set up in 2009 and is Internet-based software with a narrow bandwidth and automatic feedback to receiving stations that are distributed all over the world. It is also used commercially by amateur radio operators and determines the propagation conditions and reception quality of the shortwave signals.
It also records every interaction between aircraft in the sky and signals on the ground – like a network made up of a labyrinth of invisible detectors.
According to Godfrey, you have to think of the mode of action as a giant plain, criss-crossed by invisible “tripwires” that extend the entire width and length: “With every step you take, you step on certain tripwires, and we can Locate them at the intersection of the disturbed tripwires. We can follow your path as you move through the plain. ”
► In relation to aircraft, this means: If they cross these radio signal traces, they can be located.
Richard Godfrey has already subjected his theory to a test: He succeeded in tracking a New Zealand Air Force aircraft that photographed debris at sea during the international search for the disappearance of MH370. The parts, including a wing part of a Boeing 777, were never recovered. However, experts suspect that they belong to the lost machine.
► This means that the search aircraft could have been at the point where the Malaysia Airlines Boeing disappeared.
The challenge now will be to examine the WSPR database for traces of the
MH 370 left behind. This is possible with the help of special software and will probably take two months or more.
New search already at the end of 2022?
After searches had been discontinued in early 2017 – initially in the neighboring Malaysian waters, later also off the west coast of Australia – Malaysia commissioned the US company „Ocean Infinity“ in January 2018 to search the seabed of the Indian Ocean off the Australian west coast with robots. But even this action did not bring any results and was ended in May 2018.
Meanwhile, aircraft parts were washed ashore on various coasts in the southern Indian Ocean, including in South Africa, Madagascar and Mauritius. Some could actually be assigned to MH370. And there were repeated reports that the wreck of the machine had been found.
“Ocean Infinity” now declared that it was interested in starting a new search. One is open to cooperation with the Malaysian authorities. Late 2022 or early 2023 could be a “reasonable” time frame.
Perhaps then it will finally be possible to clarify what happened on the night of March 2014 when flight captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah (52) decided to deviate from the planned route and to fly first to the northwest, then to the southwest.
The machine followed this course for hours, according to satellite data. They later also showed that the machine must have crashed into the sea in the southern Indian Ocean because the fuel ran out.
Shah was considered an experienced pilot, had worked for the airline since 1983, and had more than 18,000 flight hours. Since computer errors have been ruled out, various other theories are circulating: from an act of sabotage or terrorism, from a kidnapping, from a suicide of the pilot. It is known that Shah had personal problems.
Whatever it is: 227 passengers from 15 nations and the 12-person crew paid for the flight with their lives.