There is precedent for a jetliner going missing

Updated 12:01 PM EDT, Sun March 9, 2014

Story highlights

The Boeing 777-200ER is bristling with communications gear

In 2009, Air France 447 crashed into the ocean en route from Rio to Paris

It took nearly two years to locate the bulk of the wreckage

CNN —  

How can a Boeing 777-200ER passenger jet go missing for more than a day? Turns out, it’s not so easy.

That’s not just because the state-of-the-art jetliner has a wing span of nearly 200 feet and a length of more than 209 feet. It’s also because it’s bristling with communications gear, including radios, automatic beacons, GPS and computer communications systems, according to CNN aviation correspondent Richard Quest.

In addition to carrying UHF and VHF radios, the planes – which cost more than $250 million apiece – are equipped with Aircraft Communications and Reporting System technology. Embedded in the plane’s computers, it tells the airline how the aircraft is performing – speed, fuel, thrust. “If anything fails, it will send a signal to Malaysia Airlines,” Quest said.

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Though officials do not know what happened to Flight MH370, whatever it may have been must have been catastrophic, he said. “Planes don’t fall out of the sky at 36,000 feet.”