One thing we do know: The plane that vanished, a Boeing 777, is considered one of the safest in the world.
The Boeing 777 has been in the skies for two decades now. The inaugural 777 flight occurred in June 1994, with the first 777 entering service a year later, said Boeing.
Since 1995, there have been about 70 incidents involving the 777, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. Only one of these incidents was fatal, and it took place just last year: The crash-landing of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 in San Francisco.
“It’s one of the most reliable airplanes ever built,” John Goglia, a former member of the National Transportation Safety Board, told the Associated Press.
Before the crash in San Francisco, there had only been two particularly noteworthy incidents involving the 777.
The first, much like the Asiana crash last year, occurred as a flight was approaching an airport. In January 2008, a British Airways 777 crashed about 1,000 feet shy of the runway at London’s Heathrow Airport after the engines lost power. An investigation found that ice building up in the fuel system was to blame.
A Malaysian Airlines flight heading to Kuala Lumpur in August 2005 experienced a different issue. Shortly after taking off in Perth, Australia, a 777 on autopilot pitched up in the air. The plane was turned around and landed safely back in Perth. As a result of this, the Federal Aviation Administration ordered plane operators to install a new software on their planes.
The Boeing 777 is popular for long-range flights, with the 777-200ER able to fly between London and Los Angeles or Tokyo and Sydney. In nearly 19 years of service, Boeing reports that its 777 planes have flown nearly 5 million flights spanning more than 18 million hours of flight time.
This particular plane, a Boeing 777-200ER, was delivered to Malaysia Airlines in 2002, the airline said. It is one of 15 Boeing 777 planes in the airline’s fleet of 96 planes.
The National Transportation Safety Board has sent a team to aid the investigation into Flight 370’s disappearance, alongside technical advisers from Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration.