Here is a timeline of events leading up to and including the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. All times are local times.
An Iranian man named Kazem Ali purchases plane tickets for two men on this flight. These travelers board the flight with stolen Austrian and Italian passports. The passports were stolen in Thailand. Both tickets were one-way, paid for with cash and had itineraries continuing on from Beijing to Amsterdam. One ticket’s final destination was Frankfurt, Germany; the other’s was Copenhagen, Denmark. Interpol identified the men using the stolen passports as Pouri Nourmohammadi, 18, and Delavar Seyed Mohammad Reza, 29, both Iranians. Malaysian police believe the former was trying to immigrate to Germany using the stolen Austrian passport. The men entered Malaysia on February 28 using valid Iranian passports.
12:41 a.m.: Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 departs Kuala Lumpur International Airport en route to Beijing. The weather is good.
The plane is carrying 239 people: 227 passengers and 12 crew members. Five passengers are under age 5. There are 13 nationalities represented on board. More than half (154) are Chinese/Taiwanese. Other passengers were from Malaysia (38), India (5), Indonesia, Australia, the United States (3), France, New Zealand, Ukraine, Canada, Russia, Italy (see above), Austria (see above), and the Netherlands.
The plane is a Boeing 777-200ER. This aircraft has an excellent safety record. Malaysia Airlines has 15 of the 777-200 planes in its fleet. The airline operates in Southeast Asia, East Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and on the route between Europe and Australasia.
The expected trip length was roughly 2,700 miles (4,350 kilometers). It was expected to land in Beijing at 6:30 a.m.
(There was some initial confusion over the distance. The length of 2,300 miles (3700 kilometers) refers to nautical mileage.)
The crew members are Malaysian. The pilot is Capt. Zaharie Ahmad Shah, a 53-year-old veteran with 18,365 flying hours who joined Malaysia Airlines in 1981. The first officer, Fariq Ab Hamid, has 2,763 flying hours. Hamid, 27, started at the airline in 2007. He had been flying another jet and was transitioning to the Boeing 777-200 after having completed training in a flight simulator.
Around 1:30 a.m.: About 45 minutes after takeoff, air traffic controllers in Subang (outside Kuala Lumpur) said they lost contact with the plane over the sea between Malaysia and Vietnam at coordinates 06 55 15n 103 34 43e.
Further reporting and information has shown that this is when the aircraft’s transponder was either turned off or stopped working. At the time the aircraft transponder stopped working, the plane was carrying about 7½ hours of fuel.
Around 2:40 a.m.: According to a senior Malaysian Air Force official, radar tracking shows MH370’s last known location was over the very small island of Pulau Perak in the Strait of Malacca. This is hundreds of miles from the flight path from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. At this time, civilian and military radar lost all contact with the aircraft. If this data is correct, the aircraft was flying in the opposite direction from its scheduled destination and on the opposite side of the Malay Peninsula from its scheduled route.