About MH370wiki/Decoding

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Welcome to MH370Wiki

This page explains what is meant by the phrase Decoding MH370.

Decoding MH370


The loss of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 on Saturday, 8 March 2014 is one of aviation's greatest mysteries. Information about the incident is not encoded but does contain a lot of aviation terms and acronyms, plus terminology relating to navigation, communications, aircraft electrical systems, and more. Anyone without a technical or aviation background may be initially challenged by the apparent complexity; and anyone for whom English is a second language faces additional challenges. To be helpful, the information should be simplified and understandable.

A word used to describe how all of these terms can be explained, how acronyms are expanded and what they mean, and how technical concepts can be simplified is the word decoded. As this website is focussed on flight MH370, a sub-title for the website was developed:- Decoding MH370.



A Glossary has been compiled from the definitions and abbreviations included in several official documents (see below). Each item in the Glossary is also available as a Tooltip for on-screen help in context.

The following documents each contain a Glossary. These are, in order of publication:-

  • The Factual Information released on 8 March 2015 by the The Malaysian ICAO Annex 13 Safety Investigation Team
  • The Operational Search for MH370 released on 3 October 2017 by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), and
  • The Safety Investigation Report MH370/01/2018 dated 02 July 2018 by The Malaysian ICAO Annex 13 Safety Investigation Team for MH370

The reports (and glossaries) produced by the ICAO Annex 13 Team include terms commonly used by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the United States of America, and Boeing as the aircraft manufacturer.

The Operational Search for MH370 includes terms related to the search for the aircraft, for example, Bathymetry. The ATSB was assisted by a search strategy working group (SSWG) with members from Inmarsat, Thales, Boeing, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) of the United Kingdom, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) of the United States, the Defence Science and Technology Group (DST Group) and the Department of Civil Aviation Malaysia. Other significant contributors were the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and Geoscience Australia. With so many branches of science, technology and mathematics involved, the inclusion of both a Glossary and a list of Abbreviations is valuable.



A significant feature of the software used for this website, called MediaWiki, is the use of Tooltips. As explained in the Technical Description of this website, a Tooltip is some additional information which appears on the screen when the cursor or mouse pointer is placed over some text which is faintly underlined.

Tooltips have been created from the Glossary included in each official Report so that when reading an article which may contain a quote from a Report, the meaning of a term is available in context, where it is needed.

Tooltips are so useful they have also been created to decode other information such as the Flight Plan and the ACARS Traffic Log, described below.

Flight Plan

A copy of the Filed Flight Plan for MH370 is included in the Safety Investigation Report MH370/01/2018 Section 2.2.3 Filed Flight Plan of MH370, followed by an explanation of the message code, in Figure 2.2B - Message Code of Filed Flight Plan of MH370 and Meaning

Two additional steps have been taken to decode the flight plan, as shown in the MH370 Flight Plan:-

  1. The text of the Flight Plan has been transcribed from the original which is a scanned image, and
  2. Tooltips have been created from the data in Figure 2.2B so that the flight plan can be read with contextual help.


ACARS Traffic Log

ACARS is a simple text-based message system. However, the contents of each message are often abbreviated so some interpretation is required. Tooltips have been developed to assist with interpretation. Also, the header for each message is not intuitive so for presentation in this website the order of the header rows have been changed so that a heading appears directly above the relevant header content.

There are three versions of a log of ACARS messages to and from flight MH370:-

  1. Appendix 1.9A ACARS Traffic Log which was released with the Factual Information in March 2015.

    This Appendix is a .pdf file with 13 pages of messages which have been scanned and some characters are unreadable. For inclusion here, each message was transcribed and Tooltips were created to assist with interpreting the message content.

  2. Appendix 1.9A ACARS Traffic Log which was released with the Safety Investigation Report in July 2018.

    This version of the log is a 14-page .pdf file which is readable because it was created from the text provided by SITA. For inclusion here, the content of each message was extracted and formatted using a template. The layout of the Header row was changed to make it easier to understand. The Tooltips created for the previous version were edited and extended to provide explanation for more items.

  3. The third and most complete version titled ACARS Traffic Log for MH370 (9M-MRO) is 179 pages long and was released by the Ministry of Transport (Malaysia) in September 2018 - after the publication of the Safety Investigation Report.

    For inclusion here, the content of each message was extracted from the .pdf file and formatted using the same template as the second version of Appendix 1.9A. Additional Tooltips were also created.

Note: Occasionally there are unexpected results with Tooltips providing 'help' for an item which matches the criteria but in the wrong context. These events are not common and are corrected whenever noticed.


English as a Second Language

To assist those for whom English is a second language, instances of uncommon words, and abbreviations which are not technical, have been added to Tooltips which will be helpful in context. Two examples follow:-

The document ACTIONS TAKEN BETWEEN 01:38 AND 06:14 ON SATURDAY 8 MARCH includes the word opined. This is not a common word.

The ACARS Traffic Log for MH370 (9M-MRO) includes the word redacted and abbreviations such as PLS and ASAP.