Ready Player One

Ready Player One ★★★

Dear Mr. Spielberg,

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 was a scheduled international passenger flight that disappeared on 8 March 2014 while flying from Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Malaysia, to its destination, Beijing Capital International Airport in China. The aircraft has not been recovered, and the cause of the disappearance remains unknown.

The aircraft, a Boeing 777-200ER operated by Malaysia Airlines, last made voice contact with air traffic control at 01:19 MYT, 8 March (17:19 UTC, 7 March) when it was over the South China Sea, less than an hour after takeoff. The aircraft disappeared from air traffic controllers' radar screens at 01:22 MYT, but was still tracked on military radar as it deviated westwards from its planned flight path and crossed the Malay Peninsula, until it left the range at 02:22 while over the Andaman Sea, 200 nautical miles (370 km) north-west of Penang in north-western Malaysia. The aircraft was carrying 12 Malaysian crew members and 227 passengers from 15 nations. The multinational search effort for the aircraft was the most expensive aviation search in history.[3][4][5] The search began in the Gulf of Thailand and the South China Sea, where the aircraft's signal was last detected on secondary surveillance radar, and was soon extended to the Strait of Malacca and Andaman Sea. Analysis of satellite communications between the aircraft and Inmarsat's satellite communications network concluded that the flight continued until at least 08:19 and flew south into the southern Indian Ocean, although the precise location cannot be determined. Australia took charge of the search on 17 March when the search moved to the southern Indian Ocean. On 24 March, the Malaysian government noted that the final location determined by the satellite communication is far from any possible landing sites, and concluded that "Flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean."[6] From October 2014 to January 2017, a comprehensive survey of 120,000 km2 (46,000 sq mi) of sea floor about 1,800 km (1,100 mi) south-west of Perth, Western Australia yielded no evidence of the aircraft. Several pieces of marine debris found on the coast of Africa and on Indian Ocean islands off the coast of Africa—the first discovered on 29 July 2015 on Réunion—have been confirmed as pieces of Flight 370.[7][8][9][10] The bulk of the aircraft has not been located, prompting many theories about its disappearance. In January 2018, a second search has been announced to be conducted by a searching vessel provided by private U.S. marine company Ocean Infinity.[11] Later that month it was reported the tracking system showed the vessel had reached the search zone on 21 January, and started moving to 35.6°S 92.8°E, the most likely crash site according to the drift study published in 2017.[12] The search was resumed on 22 January.[13]

In a previous search attempt, Malaysia had established the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to investigate the incident, working with foreign aviation authorities and experts. Malaysia released a final report on Flight 370 in October 2017. Neither the crew nor the aircraft's communication systems relayed a distress signal, indications of bad weather, or technical problems before the aircraft vanished. Two passengers travelling on stolen passports were investigated, but eliminated as suspects. Malaysian police have identified the captain as the prime suspect if human intervention was the cause of the disappearance, after clearing all others on the flight of suspicious motives. Power was lost to the aircraft's satellite data unit (SDU) at some point between 01:07 and 02:03; the SDU logged onto Inmarsat's satellite communication network at 02:25—three minutes after the aircraft left the range of radar. Based on analysis of the satellite communications, the aircraft turned south after passing north of Sumatra and the flight continued for six hours with little deviation in its track, ending when its fuel was exhausted.

With the loss of all 239 on board, Flight 370 is the second deadliest incident involving a Boeing 777 and the second deadliest incident in Malaysia Airlines' history, behind Flight 17 in both categories. Malaysia Airlines was struggling financially, a problem that was exacerbated by a decline in ticket sales after the disappearance of Flight 370 and the downing of Flight 17; the airline was re-nationalised by the end of 2014. The Malaysian government received significant criticism, especially from China, for failing to disclose information promptly during the early weeks of the search. Flight 370's disappearance brought to public attention the limits of aircraft tracking and flight recorders, including the limited battery life of Underwater Locator Beacons raised four years earlier—but never mandated—following the loss of Air France Flight 447. In response to Flight 370's disappearance, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) adopted new standards for aircraft position reporting over open ocean, extended recording time for cockpit voice recorders, and, starting from 2020, will require new aircraft designs to have a means to recover the flight recorders, or the information they contain, before they sink below the water.

Best,
Brian

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