The following chronology is not exhaustive.
All Time is in UTC (Malaysia time -8 hours)
Friday, March 7, 2014:
17:01: Confirmation of altitude FL350
17:07: Final ACARS update
17:19: Final voice update: “Goodnight, Malaysian 370”
17:21: Final SSR update at waypoint IGARI
17:22: ADS-B stopped updating
17:30: Ho Chi Minh City ATC asks a plane under its control to contact MH370. No confirmed response from MH370.
17:37: Scheduled ACARS update missed
18:25: First of seven pings, suggesting a possible communication reset 60 minutes earlier.
19:41: Second ping.
20:30: MH370 fails to arrive in Beijing.
20:41: Third ping.
21:41: Fourth ping.
22:41: Fifth ping.
23:24: Malaysian Airlines announces MH370 was missing.
00:11: Saturday, March 8, 2014: Sixth ping.
00:19: Seventh ping (final; partial).
Saturday, March 8, 2014: The world learned that Malaysia Airlines MH370, on a scheduled flight to Beijing with 227 passengers and 12 crew was missing and presumed lost. It was initially reported that the plane was believed to have gone down near Vietnam’s Phu Quoc island.
The Aviation Herald noted that, “According to Chinese sources, radar data suggest a steep and sudden descent of the aircraft, during which the track of the aircraft changed from 024 degrees to 333 degrees.”
Sunday, March 9, 2014: Debris thought to be from the missing Malaysian Airlines flight was found 80 km southwest off Vietnam’s Tho Chu island.
Interpol confirmed that two stolen passports were used to board the flight at Kuala Lumpur’s international airport.
Monday, March 10, 2014: The search area was expanded to the west of Kuala Lumpur International Airport and north into the Straits of Malacca.
The purported discovery of an oil slick and life raft from the missing plane were determined to be unrelated to MH370.
China sent a team of 10 to assist with the search. Chinese media was critical of Malaysia’s handling of the effort.
The United States contributed search aircraft, a destroyer, and helicopters. The FBI indicated it was prepared to help, if needed.
Tuesday, March 11, 2014: Malaysia’s police chief indicated that a 19 year old Iranian man using a stolen passport was unlikely to have been involved in a terrorist plot.
The four most likely scenarios under consideration in the disappearance were revealed to be hijacking, sabotage, psychological problems, personal problems.
Still no confirmation of debris. Vietnamese officials indicated that debris sightings off of its shores were not substantiated.
The United Nations Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization asked nuclear experts to check for evidence of an explosion related to the missing plane.
Wednesday, March 12, 2014: Malaysia’s top Air Force general said they traced what could have been the jetliner to the Andaman and Nicobar island area northwest of the Peninsula, hundreds of miles from its last known position near Waypoint IGARI in the Gulf of Thailand.
Specifically, Malaysia’s military radar may have detected MH370 at 2:15 PM (18:15 UTC) Saturday, March 8, 320 kilometers northwest of Penang.
Clarifying, Royal Malaysia Air Force (RMAF) General Rodzali Daud said, “We are not saying this is MH370. We are still corroborating this. It’s an unidentified [radar] plot.”
Taking potential military radar sightings on the west side of Malaysia seriously, the United States and other nations deployed ships to the Andaman Sea area and the Bay of Bengal.
India joined the effort. The Bay of Bengal and the Andaman and Nicobar Island areas are Indian territories.
As the surface search pushed west and north, Vietnam moved to cancel its air search east of Malaysia, and significantly reducing its surface sea search.
DigitalGlobe, based in Colorado, said 600,000 people had already scanned its satellite images in an effort to help locate the Malaysia Airlines jetliner.
Thursday, March 13, 2014: The Wall Street Journal published claims that counterterrorism officials had concluded someone on MH370 intentionally turned off the plane’s transponders to avoid radar.
Mike McKay, an oil rig employee on the “Songa Mercur” drilling platform in the South China Sea, sent an email to his employer with details about a plane “burning at high altitude…in one piece” about 70km from his location.
Friday, March 14, 2014: The White House indicated that the Indian Ocean might be a new search area; simultaneously, the Pentagon dispatched a destroyer to the Indian Ocean region.
In all, some 43 ships and 40 aircraft from 12 countries continued to search for the missing aircraft.
Saturday, March 15, 2014: Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced that MH370 appeared to have turned back at Waypoint IGARI, flying west into the Strait of Malacca. The Prime Minister added that the plane “appears to have been deliberately steered off course after someone on board shut down its communications.”
Monday, March 17, 2014: Australia assumed control of the search off its western coast in the Southern Indian Ocean.
Tuesday, March 18, 2014: A five-week-long surface search of the Southern Indian Ocean commenced. It is believed to have included US and UK military submarines, military reconnaissance planes, and vessels.
Eight Kota Bharu, Malaysia tuna fishermen working in the Gulf of Thailand 15 km from shore reported seeing a large jet flying low and heading west toward Malaysia the night MH370 disappeared enroute to Beijing.
Residents of Kudahuvadhoo, Dhaal atoll, Maldives reported seeing a large jet flying low in a south-easterly direction around 6:30 AM March 8, 2014. The sighting was corroborated by other Islanders.
Monday, March 24, 2014: Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced, “It is with deep sadness and regret, that according to this new data, flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean.” He added that it had to be assumed “beyond reasonable doubt” that the plane was lost and there were no survivors.
Sunday, March 30, 2014: Australia created a Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) to oversee the search.
May 31, 2014: A British woman using the pen name “Saucy Sailoress” reported seeing something that might have been MH370 late at night while sailing east through the Andaman Sea area north of Banda Aceh, Indonesia on the night of March 7-8.
April 4, 2014: Underwater pings were detected intermittently by Chinese and Australian vessels west of Exmouth between Batavia Seamount and Zenith Plateau for four days. They were never publicly identified, but they were eventually dismissed as being unrelated to MH370.
April 30, 2014: The surface search for debris in the Southern Indian Ocean formally ended.
May 27, 2014: Retyped, redacted Inmarsat data logs were released to the public.
January 29, 2015: Malaysian government officially declared MH370 an “accident” with no survivors.
March 8, 2015: Malaysia published an interim report on the effort to find the plane. Unredacted logs from the plane’s interaction with its satellite, 3-F1 were not included and have never been made public.
May 31, 2015: ATSB completed its first full installment of what was to be an ongoing effort to scan the ocean floor west of Perth. It had hoped to scan 60,000 square kilometers initially, and was able to scan about 54,000 square kilometers by the end of May. The primary impediment to reaching its first year goal was the requirement to send search vessels back to Fremantle every three to four weeks for refueling and resupply. Civilian vessels are generally not equipped to refuel at sea. Through May 2015, about 30 percent of each vessel’s time was spent traversing the ~5,000 kilometer round trip requirement to refuel and resupply in Western Australia.