A relative (woman in white) of a passenger onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 cries as she talks on her mobile phone at the Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing March 8, 2014.
A relative (woman in white) of a passenger onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 cries as she talks on her mobile phone at the Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing March 8, 2014.Reuters

As search operations are underway to find the missing Malaysian Airlines jetliner, Malaysian authorities and aviation experts are analysing the reasons behind a possible crash without warning or distress signals.

The ill-fated flight draws parallels to the doomed 2009 Air France flight 447, whose crash remained a mystery for long.

The Air France flight, an Airbus A330 flying from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, crashed in the Atlantic midway through the journey, resulting in the death of all 228 people aboard.

According to CNN, France's Bureau of Investigation and Analysis made a report years later, which stated that the pilots failed to respond effectively to problems with the plane's speed sensors and were not able to correct the aircraft's trajectory when things started to go wrong.

When ice crystals blocked the plane's pitot tubes, which are part of a system used to determine air speed, the autopilot disconnected and the pilots did not know how to react, the report said.

"The occurrence of the failure in the context of flight in cruise completely surprised the crew of flight AF 447," the report said.

"Despite these persistent symptoms, the crew never understood that they were stalling and consequently never applied a recovery maneuver," the 2012 report said, according to ABC News.

When the auto-pilot was disengaged, a co-pilot pulled the nose of the plane, which led to aerodynamic stall.

According to the black box recordings, the pilots appeared unaware that they were going to crash until the final seconds before hitting the water.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 and Air France flight 447 Disappearance-Key similarities

Both aircraft were flying around the same height when they lost contact with air traffic controllers. Malaysia Airlines flight was at an altitude of 35,000 ft while the Air France flight was at 38,000 ft.

MH370 and AF447 lost contact suddenly at cruise altitude.

Both planes disappeared without sending a distress signal.

No possible cause for the crash/disappearance could be established in the immediate aftermath of both incidents.

Key differences

The bulk wreckage of the Air France flight was discovered two years after the accident. Five days after the crash, bodies of some of the victims were found by rescue workers. In the case of MH 370, an extensive three-day search has not yielded any clue about where the plane might have crashed.

In the case of the French airliner, the flight went through a thunderstorm which affected the controls. The weather was absolutely clear in the flight path of the Malaysian airliner.

Rumours suggesting a terrorist attack have surfaced in the MH370 case based on reports of two passengers travelling on fake passports. However, no foul play was suspected in the French jetliner disaster.

Malaysia Airlines said the missing aircraft had suffered damage in the past. Boeing had repaired a clipped wing tip and certified the aircraft flight-worthy.

Glaring security lapses were revealed after the loss of MH370, with Interpol saying the airline did not check the travellers' identity with its database. A screening would have prevented two people from boarding the plane with fake passports.