- By J. Dana StusterJ. Dana Stuster is a policy analyst at the National Security Network.
View Airfields in MH 370’s potential range in a larger map
This post has been updated to note additional considerations about potential landing sites, noted by a reader.
As evidence mounts that Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 was deliberately directed off course by an experienced pilot, government and intelligence officials from Malaysia to the United States are increasingly raising the prospect that the same pilot may have tried to discreetly land the plane.
Search teams are currently sweeping swaths of the Bay of Bengal and investigators say the plane could have turned south and followed a path along the southern Indian Ocean or cut north passing near the Thailand-Myanmar border before possibly turning west toward Central Asia.
A Boeing 777 requires at least 3,800 feet of runway to land, but even with that limitation, a pilot would have ample opportunities to set down the plane in the area where it disappeared. Using online databases of airstrips and airfields (primarily al-nasir.com and Wikipedia), we’ve mapped more than 60 landing strips in the region. For the most part, we have excluded international transportation hubs and military facilities. Where the information was available, we have also included the length of the runway.
Other limitations, such as the width and weight capacity of the runway may also have been considerations for the pilot, if he attempted to land the plane.
Some of these locations are more secluded and more plausible a location to stash a jet than others, but it is not an exhaustive list of potential destinations for Flight MH 370. It is limited to airstrips listed online in western Indonesia, Myanmar, and Thailand.
We will continue to update the map. We have also left it unlocked, and if you are familiar with additional landing strips along MH 370’s projected flight path, we encourage you to add them to our open-source map.