As the theories intensify about why Malaysia Airlines flight 370 went missing, new information continues to roll out. Earlier today, UK’s Telegraph published excerpts from the transcript of communication between the plane and ground control, and now, Malaysia Airlines’s CEO confesses that the plane was carrying dangerous lithium ion batteries.
Here is what you need to know about the batteries and what they could have done:
1. These Batteries Catch on Fire
Lithium-ion batteries are very common and are often in electronics like cell phones and laptops. Although it happens rarely, these batteries have been known to explode or spontaneously catch fire, as seen in the video above.
2. Malaysia Airlines’s CEO Initially Denied It
Four days ago, Malaysia Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari was asked if the plane was carrying any dangerous materials; he denied it. On Friday, March 21, he admitted to the press that the plane was carrying lithium-ion batteries that had originally been listed as non-hazardous material. Above you can watch Jauhari make his confession.
3. These Batteries Have Caused Accidents in the Past
Lithium-ion batteries have caused a number of problems on planes in the past, specifically on Boeing 787s. The 787 has two batteries in use in different sections of the plane. These batteries often overheat and were causing problems, most notably in 2010 when a UPS cargo plane flying from Germany to Dubai had to make an emergency landing because the batteries caught fire.
4. It Supports the Fire Theory
Despite the most popular theory that one or both of the pilots are behind the plane’s disappearance, Wired published a “startlingly simple theory” about how the plane disappeared. The article argues that a fire causing electrical failures and a deadly cloud of smoke is what made the pilots deviate from their course (to find a close airport), and then, with the pilots incapacitated, the plane flew on autopilot until it ran out of gas.
5. How Many Batteries Are Unclear
Unlike the 787, the 777 does not require Lithium-ion batteries, and Jauhari told the press they were being transported as cargo. For this reason, it is unclear just how many of these batteries were being transported, or whether they had any involvement in the plane’s disappearance.