The Malaysia Airlines plane disappeared whilst flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing carrying 239 people and the mystery is yet to be solved. The investigators’ conclusion that the Indian Ocean is the most likely location of the jet was based on pingring data from the British satellite telecommunications company Inmarsat. The data revealed the known distance between a specific satellite that stayed in position above a point on earth and the aeroplane.
Knowing the distance from the satellite meant that MH370 must be located at some point along two arcs, depending on whether it flew north or south from its last known position.
The north arc stretched approximately from the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to northern Thailand.
The southern corridor stretched approximately from Indonesia to the southern Indian Ocean.
Personnel at Inmarsat calculated that if the plane had been flying straight at typical airliner speeds then it most likely wound up in one of two locations.
If it flew south, it would be in the Indian Ocean – where the search and rescue missions went – and if it flew north, it would be in Kazakhstan.
The authorities believed the former to be more likely, but the latter is still possible.
This is crucial because, had the plane flown north, there was a glimmer of hope for relatives of those aboard the missing plane.
Jeff Wise, author of The Plane That Wasn’t There, said: “If the plane went north, hijackers might have landed in some remote location and the passengers could still be alive.
“If the plane went south, the only destination was a watery grave.
“But of yet there was no clear way to distinguish between the two options.”
At first, the Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak appealed to Kazakhstan’s President, the soviet era leader and Putin ally Nursultan Nazarbayev.
Mr Razak asked the Kazakhstani leader to allow Malaysia to set up a search operation in the country.
However, this soon got sidelined by the efforts searching in the Indian Ocean, where an international flotilla of ships and aeroplanes was dispatched.
The Indian Ocean was believed to be a more likely location of MH370, because had the plane flown north it would have had to cross the military radar of numerous countries, yet no one had reported detecting its presence.