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Could missing MAS flight MH370 have landed in WA?

March 17, 2014 Aviation, Headline News 1 Comment Email Email

egtmedia59What do Mount Magnet in Western Australia, Gan Airport in the Maldives, Dalanzadgad Airport in Mongolia, Yap Airport in Micronesia and Miyazaki Airport in Japan have in common?

Missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 could have reached any of them, according to the latest theories. The plane is now thought to have flown on for up to seven hours after disappearing from radar.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak revealed at the weekend that the last communication with the Malaysia Airlines B777, carrying 239 passengers, was at 8.11am last Saturday. That’s seven hours later than originally thought.

Authorities are now searching in two separate corridors, including one in the Indian Ocean off the Western Australian coast.

The online magazine Slate, which is affiliated with the Washington Post, pursued an intriguing project at the weekend. A Boeing 777 pilot is quoted in Slate as estimating a runway length of 5000 feet is required for a B777 to land. A recent Wall Street Journal article quoted sources stating the flight could have continued for 2200 nautical miles from its last known position.

Using those criteria, the WNYC Data News team found 634 runways that theoretically the plane could have reached and used for a landing. They are spread over 26 different countries and they include a large number of airports in Western Australia and the Northern Territory extending well to the south of Darwin (see map).

Runways at which MAS Flight MH370 could have landed in Australia

That’s not to say the plane landed anywhere at all, other than in the sea. Runways have to be strengthened to support the landing of large aircraft. Being long is not necessarily enough – and besides, the plane could not take off again once it landed, in most cases. Radar in Australia would (one hopes) have picked up the approach of an unidentified aircraft, let alone one the size of a B777.

But if a slim chance exists that Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 landed on a runway somewhere, after suddenly vanishing from radar, this graphic shows where it could have landed. It covers a large chunk of Asia.

Slate’s Jeff Wise spoke to a pilot who flies 777-200s who said the plane could be landed on a highway rather than just a runway. “A runway wouldn’t even necessarily have to be paved,” Wise wrote, “hard-packed dirt would likely be good enough.”

Even so, the chance of the plane turning up on a runway somewhere (or even on a highway) is slim in the extreme and the tragic mystery of flight MH370 may never be solved.

Written by Peter Needham

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. mark says:

    and it could have landed in ………. but it probably didn’t. Great journalism !!!

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