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Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 departed Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Saturday, 8 March 2014 and was expected to land in Beijing but instead the aircraft diverted from the Flight Plan and, for reasons unknown, the flight is believed to have ended in the South Indian Ocean.
This Timeline is series of articles which present a sequence of the known events for Flight MH370 but it is not a narrative. Instead, the sequence of events, referenced to the data from which the information has been obtained, is a resource on which a valid narrative can be based.

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 Timeline

The word Timeline is commonly used to describe a method of presenting a sequence of events chronologically (in the order in which they occurred), either along a Line (representing the passage of Time) or graphically (adding a visual element to assist with understanding). The Safety Investigation Report (2018) and the Factual Information (2015) released by The Malaysian ICAO Annex 13 Safety Investigation Team for MH370 both include Tables which list events in chronological order. These tables have been indexed here as Chronologies, and this data together with references to other events within these reports and other sources, have been used to develop more detailed sequences of events which have been called Timelines.

The Timeline for Flight MH370 begins with the period pre-flight and continues until the aircraft would have run out of fuel. The Timeline therefore starts with the aircraft at Kuala Lumpur International Airport and ends with the aircraft in the southern Indian Ocean. Since 2014 the flight timeline has commonly been represented either as a continuous sequence of events (eg. Wikipedia), or as a continuous, perhaps pre-planned route, in several stages such as the normal period to waypoint IGARI, followed by an air turnback across peninsula Malaysia, a north-west section past waypoint MEKAR, and a southerly route to the Indian Ocean. However, the representation of a Timeline for flight MH370 here in this website is different, as explained below:-

During the flight of MH370 there were four locations where decisions were made and at three of these locations there was a change of direction. Each of these course changes occurred over water:- the South China Sea; the Straits of Malacca; and the Andaman Sea. Each change of direction is deliberate: every deliberate action is preceded by a decision. After leaving the Andaman Sea and progressing around the northern tip of Sumatra, there was an opportunity to change direction again, perhaps even to return to Malaysia. This decision could have been made while the aircraft was over the north Indian Ocean. Instead, however, the aircraft proceeded south towards the south Indian Ocean. The Menu above therefore segments the flight Timeline into six stages - the pre-flight period, followed by five in-flight stages which are separated by four decision points. Each decision will be analysed in separate articles.

Flight MH370 - Background

Introducing Flight MH370

The tragedy of flight MH370 has many levels. The human tragedy involves the loss of 239 lives, passengers and crew. The effect on family, next-of-kin, friends, work colleagues and so many people who have been involved in the search, or investigation, or reporting of the events is not easily described. Emotions range from unresolved grief and loss, anger or bewilderment, to an obsession to find the truth about what actually happened.

The resources listed on the page Recommended Reading may be helpful. But something that has become noticeable whilst creating this Timeline is just how much information is incorrect. The pattern of communication by Malaysian officials seems to have been to say nothing, then deny a report made by a journalist or unidentified source, and subsequently confirm the statement when there was no other option. The lack of clarification early in the saga created an information vacuum which was filled with wild theories, speculation and, it must be said - deliberate misinformation.

Another contentious subject is whether Captain Zaharie Shah deliberately diverted the flight and directed it to the remoteness of the south Indian Ocean as an act of suicide. There are many voices - journalists, editors, TV hosts, investigators, even pilots, who hold this belief to be true and find proof in various items of evidence, from Captain Shah's flight simulator to recovered debris. However, the most recent official report, the Safety Investigation Report MH370/01/2018 did not dismiss the possibility of 'third party intervention'. This possibility is covered in an article Hostile takeover or suicide mission?

Many questions about flight MH370 may remain unanswered. There are no simple answers, no known cause, no perfect theory, no-one to blame (yet) and, to date, no wreckage has been located. Some debris has been found and identified as belonging to the aircraft 9M-MRO, but that's all we have. Instead of tangible proofs we have complex mathematics and the language of probability. To many people a word like 'probable' simply means 'possibly'. There is no certainty. It is difficult for people to resolve grief or find closure until or unless there is something tangible, definite, proven.

A fundamental tool in any investigation is a sequence of events. The Timeline developed here can be used as a baseline, something to compare and evaluate other information with to determine what is true and accurate. Many books, for example, were written before the release of the Factual Information in 2015 and consequently may contain conjecture instead of facts. Other books ignore the satellite communications data, perhaps because it is difficult to comprehend, and consequently may have an unbalanced perspective. Using the data within, or linked from, the Timeline will hopefully clarify the picture, assist understanding, and perhaps even answer some questions.

Introduction to the Timeline

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 departed from Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 0042 MYT on Saturday, 8 March 2014. For the purposes of a Timeline the flight has been divided into five segments.

  • Each segment contains a chronological sequence of events.
  • Malaysian Time (MYT) is used for events
  • Each event item includes a link to an Event Details page which contains the source of the information and supplementary information in the form of Notes or links to relevant documents.
  • The content in an Event Details page may also include links to Reference pages.
  • The text in any page may be faintly underlined. This indicates that some contextual help is available, called a Tooltip. Placing a mouse pointer or cursor over the underlined text will reveal an explanation of the text, acronym or abbreviation.
  • Many events are colour-coded.