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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Malaysian Airliner MH 370 missing ! - identifying Buses; Ships and Aircrafts

You see Chennai Metropolitan Buses daily…. Bus no. 21H runs on OMR passing Karapakkam …. It originates at Broadway and winds its way  through Kamarajar Salai; LB Road; OMR for Kelambakkam with scheduled time of 85 minutes for the 21 stops in between … some of you will remember the history that it was ‘Pallavan Transport’ (PTC) for long… incidentally, do you know or remember the route no. 1 ?

Sadly Flight MH370, carrying 239 people, took off from Kuala Lumpur at 12.41am on Saturday [8.3.14], bound for Beijing. Authorities initially said its last contact with ground controllers was less than an hour into the flight at a height of 35,000 feet, when the plane was somewhere between the east coast of Malaysia and Vietnam. The 'unprecedented mystery' behind the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH 370 deepened when some relatives claimed they were able to call the cellphones of their missing loved ones. According to the Washington Post, family of some of the 239 people on board the vanished Boeing 777 said that they were getting ring tones and could see them active online through a Chinese social networking service called QQ ~ but by now all hopes have vanished – though the aircraft is yet to be traced. 

Some reports suggest that the missing Boeing 777 jetliner changed course over the sea, crossed Malaysia and reached the Strait of Malacca — hundreds of miles from its last position recorded by civilian authorities, Malaysian military officials said on Tuesday, citing military radar data. The development only  added confusion and mystery into one of most puzzling aviation incidents and has raised questions about why the Malaysia Airlines flight apparently was not transmitting signals detectable by civilian radar & why no distress calls were sent after it turned back. Theories floating around assume that there was some  catastrophic event on the flight — such as an explosion, engine failure, terrorist attack, extreme turbulence, pilot error or even suicide.

Away from the aircraft - Cyclone Nilam brought along its tide MT Pratibha Cauvery – the tanker vessel to the coast of Chennai.   It was a  Tanker vessel of 1981 built with 16949 GRT ; Length overall (LOA)        174.05 (MTR);  Indian flagged with call sign: VWQU and IMO: 7920754.   That  IMO  is Ship’s  Identity.  The name of Ship can be changed, the ownership can change, so also the flag of Registry i.e., where the vessel is registered but this IMO number will not change. This IMO No. would remain unchanged upon transfer of ship to other flag(s) and would etched through its lifetime incorporated in the Ship’s Certificate which has been made mandatory under SOLAS.

Years ago it was a Boeing 747  named after the Emperor Kanishka that made the entire nation sad. Air India Flight 182 was operating on the Montreal–London–Delhi route. On 23 June 1985, the aircraft operating on the route – a Boeing 747-237B– was blown up by a bomb at an altitude of 31,000 feet (9,400 m). It crashed into the Atlantic Ocean while in Irish airspace. A total of 329 people were killed, including 268 Canadians, 27 British citizens and 24 Indians.

More turbulent was IC 814 the Indian Airlines Airbus A300 en route from Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, Nepal to Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi, which on 24.12.1999 was hijacked. Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, a Pakistan-based group, was accused of the hijacking and the aircraft was forced to land in Kandahar, Afghanistan. India's lack of recognition of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan complicated negotiations between Indian authorities and the hijackers. Taliban moved its well-armed fighters near the hijacked aircraft in an attempt to prevent Indian special forces from storming the aircraft. The hijacking lasted for seven days and ended after India released three militants — Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and Maulana Masood Azhar.

This post is more about identification of the aircraft – just as the route No. in MTC and IMO in ship there is IATA codes.  The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is the trade association for the world’s airlines. It represents some 240 airlines or more than 84% of total air traffic. IATA supports airline activity and helps formulate industry policy and standards. It is headquartered in Montreal, Canada with Executive Offices in Geneva, Switzerland.  IATA airline designators, sometimes called IATA reservation codes, are two-character codes assigned by it to the world's airlines. The standard is described in IATA's Standard Schedules Information Manual, and the codes themselves are described in IATA's Airline Coding Directory.  Airline designator codes follow the format xx(a), i.e., two alphanumeric characters (letters or digits) followed by an optional letter. Although the IATA standard provides for three-character airline designators, IATA has not used the optional third character in any assigned code.

IATA airline designators are used to identify an airline for commercial purposes in reservations, timetables, tickets, tariffs, air waybills and in telecommunications. A flight designator is the concatenation of the airline designator, and the numeric flight number,  plus an optional one-letter "operational suffix" .

Malaysia Airlines says it has retired the missing jetliner’s flight code as a sign of respect to the 239 passengers and crew on board. The airline says it will no longer be using MH370 and MH371, the same codes used by the Boeing 777 that vanished from radar screens on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on Saturday. MH370 was used for Kuala Lumpur-Beijing route and MH371 for a return flight. Starting on Friday, Malaysia Airlines says it will use flight codes MH318 and MH319 for the same route.

Though not operational now, Route No. 1 used to connect Triplicane OT with Royapuram and then Tondiarpet … now we have 1A which runs from Thiruvotriyur to Thiruvanmiyur without connecting Triplicane !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

13th Mar 2014.

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