By Jamie Marie Elona, Associated Press
DUBAI–No Filipinos are onboard a Malaysia Airlines plane that went missing Saturday when it lost contact with ground air control while on its way to Beijing.
In a press statement, Malaysia Airlines said flight MH370 was carrying 227 passengers, including two infants, of 14 different nationalities.
Of the number, 153 were Chinese, 38 Malaysians, seven Indonesians, five Indians, six Australians, four French nationals, and three Americans.
There are, meanwhile, two passengers each from New Zealand, Ukrain, and Canada, and one each from Russia, Italy, Taiwan, Netherlands, and Austria.
Twelve other crew members were onboard.
Flight MH370, operated on a Boeing 777-200 aircraft, departed Kuala Lumpur at 12:41 a.m., Saturday (1641GMT Friday), earlier this morning bound for Beijing International Airport at 6:30 a.m. local Beijing time.
It said it lost contact with Subang Air Traffic Control at 2:40 a.m.
“There has been speculation that the aircraft has landed at Nanming. We are working to verify the authenticity of the report and others,” the statement added.
It said the flight was piloted by 53-year-old Malaysian Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah who has a total flying hours of 18,365hours since he joined Malaysia Airlines in 1981.
“Our focus now is to work with the emergency responders and authorities and mobilize its full support. Our thoughts and prayers are with all affected passengers and crew and their family members,” Malaysian Airlines said.
The airline said it will provide regular updates on the situation. The public may contact +603 7884 1234.
Next-of-kin may head to the Support Facility Building at KLIA’s South Support Zone. For directions, call 03 8787 1269, it added.
Popular and safe jet
The Boeing 777 is one of the world’s most popular — and safest — jets.
The long-range jumbo jet has helped connect cities at the far ends of the globe, with flights as long as 16 hours. But more impressive is its safety record: The first fatal crash in its 19-year history only came last July when an Asiana Airlines jet landed short of the runway in San Francisco. Three of the 307 people aboard died.
Airlines like the plane because it is capable of flying extremely long distances thanks to two giant engines. Each engine is so massive that a row of at least five coach seats could fit inside it. By having just two engines, the plane burns through less fuel than four-engine jets, like the Boeing 747, which it has essentially replaced.
“It has provided a new standard in both efficiency and safety,” said Richard Aboulafia, an aviation consultant with the Teal Group. “The 777 has enjoyed one of the safest records of any jetliner built.”
Besides last year’s Asiana crash, the only other serious incident with the 777 came in January 2008 when a British Airways jet landed about 1,000 feet (305 meters) short of the runway at London’s Heathrow Airport.
Malaysia Airlines did have an incident in August 2005 with a 777 flying from Perth, Australia, to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s largest city. While flying 38,000 feet (11,580 meters) above the Indian Ocean, the plane’s software incorrectly measured speed and acceleration, causing the plane to suddenly shoot up 3,000 feet (915 meters). The pilot disengaged the autopilot and descended and landed safely back in Perth. A software update was quickly made on planes around the world.
Malaysia Airlines has 15 Boeing 777-200ER jets in its fleet of about 100 planes. The first was delivered on April 23, 1997. The most recent on Dec. 13, 2004, according to Boeing. The 200ER is one of four versions of the 777.
The 777 is capable of flying 7,250 miles nonstop. Its two Rolls-Royce Trent 875 engines each have 74,600 pounds (33.8 tons) of thrust, letting the plane cruise at Mach 0.84, or nearly 640 mph. (1,000 kph).
A new model has a list price of $261.5 million, although airlines typically negotiate discounts.
The 777 was the first twin-engine plane to be immediately certified to fly over the ocean as far as 180 minutes from any emergency landing airport. Government safety regulators have determined that it could fly for nearly three hours on a single engine in the case of an emergency.
Such government approval has enabled airlines to fly routes such as New York to Hong Kong nonstop on the 777.
Saturday’s Malaysia Airlines flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing was scheduled to take 5 1/2 hours — one of the shorter routes worldwide for the 777. Malaysia Airlines has its 777s configured to seat 282 passengers with business class and coach cabins.
In addition to its ability to fly long distances and hold a large number of passengers, airlines like the 777 because they can fill its long belly with lots of profitable cargo. The jet weighs 316,800 (143 tons) pounds empty but is able to carry another 340,000 (155 tons) pounds of passengers, luggage, cargo and fuel. Less than a third of the space in the belly is taken up by luggage.
Boeing has delivered 1,030 of the planes since United Airlines starting flying the first one in June 1995.There are outstanding orders for another 370. Last year, Boeing announced plans to build a new, larger version of the plane in addition to the four current versions.