of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 is, without doubt, one of the strangest episodes in recent aviation history. Though it has not been found, the current evidence seems to indicate that someone on board the plane, most likely a crew member, shut down most of the on board communications systems and then flew the plane in a direction away from its flight plan. Given that the 777 aircraft has exceptionally long range capabilities and that it appears to have been headed toward a large area of open ocean, with no radar coverage, the search has been very difficult.
The reporting on this event has ranged the gamut from pretty good to absolutely horrible. One of the worst things seen is the numerous glaring errors in major publications about basic technical facts regarding aviation and the aircraft in question.
Reporters, of course, don’t generally know a lot about commercial aviation, aerospace technology, search and rescue or any of the other specialized topics involved. Degrees in journalism don’t usually requite training in basic aircraft systems. That’s a given, as it is with most highly technical topics. However, it’s not exactly difficult to find people who are real experts in the area. So if you are reporting on a story for a newspaper or other publication, why not track down an actual expert before writing about transponders or ACARS or ETOPS requirements or anything of that kind? In fact, I’d advise tracking down more than one, just to make sure the one you find first is not BS’ing you.
Here are some examples: