Missing Malaysia Airlines: What We Know Now

PHOTO: U.S. Navy Captain Mark Matthews right, Royal Australian Navy Commodore Peter Leavy commander of join task force 658, center, and Chief of the Navy Vice Admiral Ray Griggs speak at a press conference about the Defense ship Ocean Shield.
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More than three weeks have passed since Malaysia Airlines Flight MH 370 vanished en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, China. In spite of a massive international search for the plane, now believed to have likely crashed in to the Indian Ocean, there has been no tangible clue of the plane's whereabouts.

Earlier this week the search area for the plane was shifted 700 miles north of the previous area after new information from satellites revealed the plane was likely flying at a faster speed than previously thought.

Here's a rundown of what we know about the search for the vanished jetliner.

Crews Comb through New Search Area

  • An underwater pinger locater will be attached to the Australian warship the Ocean Shield and towed through the search area in the hope that it can lead crews to find the black boxes. The locater will have to be within one mile of the pinger to locate the device.

  • The new search area is located 700 miles north of the previously designated search area and is approximately the size of New Mexico.

  • The black boxes are designed to automatically ping after an underwater crash, however, the manufacturer only guarantees the battery will last for 30 days, which means it could stop pinging as early as next week.

  • Objects have been spotted in the ocean, but so far all debris taken aboard ships to be analyzed was found to be unrelated to the plane. Australian Navy Commodore Peter Leavy told reporters that the new search area lies in a shipping lane where trash is common.

  • U.S. Navy Captain Mark Matthews, the supervisor of U.S. Navy Salvage and Diving, has arrived in Perth with his team to help with the investigation.

  • The ocean in the new search area is shallower in some areas than the previous designated area. The sea floor where the majority of the wreck is believed to be is described as mostly flat.

    The Investigation

  • Malaysian authorities refuse to speculate on whether the plane went down as a result of catastrophic mechanical failure or human cause, or to entertain theories about hijacking or pilot suicide. American authorities, however, have told ABC News that they believe the plane was diverted from its flight path by a "deliberate act."

  • The FBI is still examining the flight simulator that the plane's pilot, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, had constructed at his home and used to practice flying. The initial analysis of the simulator by Malaysian police and U.S. investigators showed that some files had been deleted. The FBI is now working to recover those files.

  • The simulator did show that Shah had used the simulator to fly the route from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing, China, that flight 370 was making on the night it disappeared, but authorities said that was not suspicious.

    The Passengers and Their Families

  • Relatives of Chinese passengers made their anger towards the Malaysian government known after arriving today in Kuala Lumpur. They held a protest shortly after arriving and held banners that read "We want evidence, truth, dignity" and "Hand us the murderer. Tell us the truth. Give us our relatives back."

  • Families say that the Malaysian government has bungled the investigation and want an apology from Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak for a statement earlier this week indicating there were no survivors. They also demanded a meeting with Razak.

  • Of the 227 passengers on board the plane, 152 were Chinese, and the Chinese government had been critical of the Malaysian government for not being more open about the investigation.

  • A Chicago law firm took the first step in filing litigation on behalf of the father of a man who was on the missing plane. The request for documents cites Malaysia Airlines and Boeing, which the made the 777 jetliner.

  • 239 people were on board the flight, including 227 passengers (including one infant and one toddler) and 12 crew members.

  • Three Americans, including two children, are among the missing. Philip Wood, 50, an IBM executive, had just come from Texas where he was visiting family on his way to Beijing.

  • There were citizens of 14 different countries on board.

  • Twenty passengers on the plane worked for the Austin, Texas, company Freescale Semiconductor. Another passenger, Chng Mei Ling, worked as an engineer for the Pennsylvania company Flexsys America LP.

  • Pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53, was a veteran pilot who joined Malaysia Airlines in 1981 and had over 18,000 flying hours.

    The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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