The remarkable disappearance of an unremarkable flight

Yahoo7 and wires

The mystery of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 that has captivated the world for more than two weeks now started in the most routine of ways.

There was not a hint of what was to come in the hours leading up to the disappearance of the plane.

"Any stations in contact with Malaysian 370, please relay," came the call out to any aircraft in contact with MH370.

"Malaysian 370, this is Malaysian 88."

"Malaysian 370, this is Malaysian 52."

Passengers checked in and boarded as usual, the plane departed on time and travelled a route that was well-used and nothing special.

The last ACARS transmission was nothing out of the ordinary, and no one on the ground had any cause to suspect what would happen next.

Passengers remain in their seats onboard Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER flight MH318 as it cruises towards Beijing over the South China Sea. Photo: Reuters

In fact it wasn't until a typical handover of the jet between Malaysian air traffic control and the one in Ho Chi Minh City failed to go as planned that things started to sour.

Radio communications malfunctioning wasn't an unusual occurrence, but air traffic control was struggling to make any contact with the flight.

The final contact from the plane was co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid's now infamous last words.

An electronic billboard displays a message relating to missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370. Photo: Getty Images

The plane went dark, and the only indications of its movements were a detection by a military radar at the Butterworth air force base and the continual pings from the plane's Inmarsat system.

That information showed the plane travelled west, and headed over the Straits of Malacca. It determined the plane had power for at least seven hours after its initial disappearance.

The pings also narrowed the search for the plane to two trajectories worked out based on satellite positioning when the pings from the Immarsat system occurred.

MH370 was so unremarkable up to the point that it disappeared that it has made it one of the most remarkable mysteries in recent history.

Authorities probe mystery call

Authorities are probing a call made by the captain of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 just minutes before the plane took off from Kuala Lumpur.

Investigators are rushing to find out who captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah spoke to just prior to take-off, London's Mail on Sunday reported.

The newspaper claimed that police had traced the phone number to a shop in Kuala Lumpur and established that the number was obtained under a false identity "very recently".

The phone had been bought "very recently" by someone who gave a woman's name, but was using a false identity, the report said.

Police declined to comment on the two-minute call made from the cockpit of the missing Boeing 777 but are reportedly treating the phone call as a significant moment in the MH370 mystery.

Authorities are warning that the report should be treated with caution.

Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah with his family. Photo: YouTube.

A flight simulator at the pilot's house is already being thoroughly investigated as authorities continue to look into his background.

He is a known supporter of the Malaysia opposition, and attended a trial against Anwar Ibrahim in the hours before the flight left the country.

Malaysia's defence minister Hishammuddin Hussein has said that he believed Shah was innocent until proven guilty, and that family members of the missing pilot were contributing to the investigation.

The FBI was also reportedly trying to recover files deleted from Shah's flight simulator one month ago.

Fresh hope in search for MH370

French satellites have made the latest sighting of possible aircraft wreckage in the southern Indian Ocean, adding to the renewed sense of optimism surrounding the search for missing flight MH370.

Flight MH370, carrying 239 people including six Australians and two New Zealanders, dropped off civilian radar on March 8, en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

Two weeks later Malaysian investigators still believe the aircraft was "deliberately diverted" by someone on board.

Malaysia's transport ministry announced late on Sunday (AEDT) it had received pictures of the objects from French authorities.

It gave no further details about the size or nature or number detected but said the data had been passed to Australian authorities leading the search for MH370.

It is the third detection by satellites of possible wreckage from the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER.

Chinese and US satellites recorded large objects in the same search area, about 2500km southwest of Perth.

Observers on a civil aircraft spotted a wooden cargo pallet, belts and straps on Saturday, with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) later confirming wooden pallets were "quite common" on large passenger aircraft.

Flight MH370 went missing on March 8, en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people aboard.

"There is increasing hope - no more than hope - that we might be on the road to discovering what did happen to this ill-fated aircraft," Prime Minister Tony Abbott commented on Sunday.

That hope was tempered slightly after no further sightings of possible debris were recorded by aircraft or ships on Sunday.

The search zone was refined slightly following receipt of China's satellite data and could be refined further on Monday following the French discovery.

Eight aircraft were involved in Sunday's search but spotted nothing of note.

Aircraft from China and Japan will join the hunt for MH370 on Monday.

A Royal Australian Air Force plane deployed to search part of the Indian Ocean for any potential signs of the missing MH370 passenger jet returned to Perth without spotting any debris. Photo: Reuters.

The Chinese polar research and supply ship Xue Long is on the way, as are warships from around the globe.

Australian defence vessel Ocean Shield, which has a remote-controlled submarine aboard, is also en route.

Meanwhile, the threat of poor weather in the search zone from tropical cyclone Gillian appears to have dissipated.

Latest data from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) shows the cyclone is forecast to strengthen to a category one weather system by Tuesday.

However, the BoM data suggests it will track at least 1000km north of the current MH370 search zone.