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Commercial Airline Passengers Can Join Search for Missing Boeing 777

As far fetched as it may seem, commercial airline passengers can play a role in searching for possible debris from the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 - by simply looking out the window as they fly over the huge zone where the search is active.

It is a well-known fact that, with the advent of inflight entertainment system, flyers spend far less time peering out the aircraft window. But given the huge area involved and the fact that no new clues have emerged, this could be a way for concerned civilians to assist in the search for MH370.

It is not unprecedented for people in commercial airliners to help in a search for a missing vessel. In October 2012, an Air Canada flight from Vancouver to Sydney diverted at the request of Australian authorities to help spot a troubled yacht. The crew asked the passengers to look out the window as it descended to a lower altitude - about 4,000 feet - over the southern Pacific.

And in May 1996, super attentive British Airways flight attendant Joanne Savage spotted a burning US fishing boat while working a trans-Atlantic flight, prompting a rescue effort. The plane a Boeing 747, was flying at about 35,000 feet, about 100 miles northeast of Provincetown, Mass.

Dozens of ships and aircraft from 26 countries are involved in the search for the wide-bodied Boeing 777, in an area covering more than two-million square miles. And with the battery power for the locator beacon expected to die out in a little over two weeks, time is of the essence in finding the aircraft.

Of course spotting debris from several kilometres above the earth is difficult, especially when conditions are overcast. However the search needs every single bit of assistance. Already a US-based satellite company has been using crowd sourcing techniques to help pour over huge amounts of satellite images depicting the areas where the plane may have gone down.

The aircraft disappeared about 10 days ago during a night-time flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. It was carrying 12 crew members and 227 passengers from 15 nations and regions. The majority of passengers on board were Chinese.

The aircraft's last known position on 8 March at 01:30 local time (17:30 UTC, 7 March) was 6°55′15″N 103°34′43″E. When the last contact was made, it had sufficient fuel that could allow it to fly 8 more hours.