Beijing-bound Flight 370 disappeared 13 days ago with 239 aboard
Debris was spotted in the southern Indian Ocean on Sunday
It could take a lot of time to determine whether the objects are from the plane
Images of possible debris from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 have been captured on satellite in the southern Indian Ocean. The best lead yet on where the missing plane might be has prompted a massive search in the area more than 1,500 miles southwest of Australia.
The Boeing 777 took off from Kuala Lumpur March 8 with 239 people aboard, bound for Beijing.
When will we know whether the objects are from the missing flight?
John Young, general manager of emergency response for the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, says it will be a lengthy process.
“We have to locate it, confirm that it belongs to the aircraft, recover it and then bring it a long way back to Australia, so that could take some time,” said John Young, general manager of emergency response for the Australian Maritime Safety Authority,
Satellites captured images of the objects Sunday about 14 miles (23 kilometers) from each other and about 1,500 miles (2,400 kilometers) southwest of Australia’s west coast. The area is a remote, rarely traveled expanse of ocean far from commercial shipping lanes.
Could pieces of the plane still be floating?
If the plane crashed into the water, large pieces would not still be floating by now, according to Steve Wallace, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s former director of accident investigation. But pieces of lightweight debris, not aircraft structure, could be floating days after the aircraft struck the water, he said. That could include life jackets and seat cushions.
Is it possible that the plane would have gone that far?
Mitchell Casado, a flight instructor on a 777 flight simulator, said that running out of gas would be a big concern. “There’s such few options,” he said. “As long-range as this aircraft is, it’s a long way to any suitable airport out there. There are some small islands, you know, that you could possibly land at, but that would really be pushing your – the limits of the airplane. So I would really be worried about running out of gas.”
The 777, when fully fueled, can go 16 to 18 hours. Flight 370 wasn’t.
Some planes flew over the area, and a ship went there. What did they find?
Four aircraft – two from Australia, one from New Zealand and one from the United States – flew into the search area but found nothing of note. A Norwegian cargo ship also arrived in the area Thursday afternoon but had not found anything as of nightfall. The searches were hindered by low visibility and rough seas in the region, a wild and remote stretch of ocean rarely traveled by commercial shipping or aircraft. A second merchant ship is steaming to the area, as is the HMAS Success, an Australian naval vessel that is still several days away. China and Malaysia are also sending vessels to the area, they said Thursday.