The 48 hours during which AirAsia flight QZ8501 was missing and yet to be located served as a terrible reminder of a different air travel incident: the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

During the almost ten months since it went off radar in the small hours of March 8, searchers have found ... nothing. Not one drop of oil. Not one rivet. Not a single life jacket. Nothing. A modern jetliner vanished. A modern jetliner that should have landed in Beijing.

Malaysia Airlines MH370 took off from Kuala Lumpur after midnight. About an hour later, it dropped from radar, apparently turning off its transponder. The airline reported it thusly:

We regret to announce that Subang Traffic Control lost contact with flight MH370 at 2.40am today. We are currently working with international authorities on the search and rescue mission and as at 1400 hours, 08 March 2014, we have no information on the location of the aircraft. MH370 is a Boeing 777-200 aircraft on a code share with China Southern Airlines. It departed Kuala Lumpur at 12.41am today for Beijing. The aircraft was scheduled to land at Beijing International Airport at 6.30am local Beijing time. The flight had a total number of 227 passengers and 12 crew members. The passengers were from 14 different countries, most of whom are from China. Our team is currently calling family members of passengers to keep them updated on the situation and our focus now is to work with the emergency responders and the authorities. We are sending a MH team to support the families of passengers at Beijing. The airline will continue to publish regular updates on the situation. Our thoughts and prayers are with all passengers, our crew and their family members.

Among the missing are numerous Beijingers. 152 of the passengers are Chinese, most of them local. A number of expatriates were also aboard, including most members of a French family, a couple traveling without their children, and a businessman on his final flight to Beijing before beginning to call Kuala Lumpur home.

More than nine months later, key questions about the disappearance are still not answered, namely:

Why don't we have better tracking of aircraft? When Air France 447 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean en route from Brazil to Paris, while its location wasn't immediately known, it sent a stream of data to Airbus headquarters in France that logged every failure and problem the aircraft encountered. Did MH370 send similar data to Boeing? If so, what did it say?

FlightAware claims to offer live flight tracking. If that's the case, then what information does it use, and how reliable is it? Why doesn't each commercial aircraft have some kind of satellite pinger that can't be altered by the flight crew, which sends its updated location every five minutes?

And while we're talking about this, isn't it time for better black boxes? Since 30-day pingers don't seem to be getting the job done, isn't it time we move to 90-day or even 180-day pingers, that produce much louder audio alerts as to their location? So far we seemed to have learned as much from MH370 as we have found of it: nothing.

When the MH370 story dropped from the headlines, it left a whole lot of other questions unanswered along with it. For example, if this were an act of terrorism, did anyone phone in any demands, or claim responsibility? And if so (and the intent were not air piracy or air theft), why fly the plane out into the middle of nowhere (if that unbelievable story about the southern Indian Ocean is to be believed)? Two of the passengers listed on board were actually found to be alive, with their lost or stolen passports carried by individuals using their identities. Is this kind of identity theft a big thing? If not, why is this the first time we have people being found alive after an aircraft incident, with unidentified passengers on board the plane instead?

And the most important question: what are the world's airlines doing to make sure that no plane ever vanishes in the same way as MH370 ever again?

The greatest aviation mystery of the 21st century so far involves Beijing, and people in our community. Their family members, friends, and colleagues, are still missing. Families are still protesting for more information, a more determined search, for anything that can explain where their relatives have gone. We didn't get the answer in 2014. We can only hope there will be an explanation in 2015.

Here is a list of all non-PRC passport holders aboard Malaysia Airlines MH370:

Rodney Burrows, 59
Mary Burrows, 54
Naijun Gu, 31
Robert Lawton, 58
Catherine Lawton, 54
Yuan Li, 33

Christian Kozel, 30 (reported not on flight / passport stolen)

Xiaomo Bai, 37
Muktesh Mustafa, 42

Laurence Wattrelos, 53
Hadrien Wattrelos, 17
Ambre Wattrelos, 14
Yan Zhao, 18

Chetana Kolekar, 55
Vinod Kolekar, 53
Swanand Kolekar, 23
Chandrika Sharma, 51
Kranti Shirsath, 44

Firman Siregar, 25
Ferryindra Suadaya, 42
Herryindra Suadaya, 35
Lom Sugianto, 47
Indrasuria Tanurisam, 57
Chynthyatio Vinny, 47
Willy Surijanto Wang, 53

Luigi Maraldi, 37 (reported not on flight / passport stolen)

Mohdhassim Bibynali, 62
Huanpeen Chan, 46
Wei Chen, 43
Karmooi Chew, 31
Mei Chng, 33
Anne Daisy, 56
Huajin Guan, 34
Noorida Hashim, 57
Puiheng Hui, 66
Jee Jinghang, 41
Tiongmeng Koh, 40
Sew Chum Lee, 55
Kahkin Lee, 32
Pow Chua Lim, 43
Norfadzillah Matrahim, 39
Ibriham Mohamadsofuan, 33
Selamat Mohdkhairulamri, 29
Zamani Muhammadrazahan, 24
Suhaili Mustafa, 31
May Lim Ng, 37
Hamid Norliakmar, 33
Subramanian Puspanathan, 34
Safuan Ramlan, 32
Kengwei Sim, 53
Chong Ling Tan, 48
Ah Meng Tan, 46
Sioh Tan, 42
Teik Hin Tan, 32
Wei Chew Tan, 19
Lin Keong Tee, 50
Kim Lun Teoh, 36
Soon Lee Tong, 31
Hock Khoon Wan, 42
Sai Sang Wong, 53
Chee Meng Yap, 39
Maria Mohamed Yunusramli, 52
Dina Mohamed Yunusramli, 30
Muzi Yusop, 50

Dahlia Surti, 50

New Zealand
Ximin Wang, 50
Paul Weeks, 39

Nikolai Brodskii, 43

Hsuling Chuang, 45

Oleg Chustrak, 45
Sergii Deineka, 45

United States
Nicole Meng, 4
Philip Wood, 51
Yan Zhang, 2

Read our full 2014 Year in Review coverage here.

Photo: Wikimedia

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