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It's too early to say why a Malaysia Airlines plane vanished but here are some possible causes

NEW YORK, N.Y. - The most dangerous parts of a flight are takeoff and landing. Rarely do incidents happen when a plane is cruising seven miles above the earth. So the disappearance of a Malaysia Airlines jet well into its flight Saturday morning over the South China Sea has led aviation experts to assume that whatever happened was quick and left the pilots no time to place a distress call. It could take investigators months, if not years, to determine what happened to the Boeing 777 flying from Malaysia's largest city of Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

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Nearly three days after it disappeared while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, mystery still shrouds the fate of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 and the 239 people on board. No debris from the Boeing 777-200ER has been recovered despite an international search involving the navies and air forces of several Asian nations as well as the United States. Following are some questions surrounding the disappearance and the search, and answers by industry experts who spoke to AFP:

Q

Nearly three days after it disappeared while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, mystery still shrouds the fate of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 and the 239 people on board. No debris from the Boeing 777-200ER has been recovered despite an international search involving the navies and air forces of several Asian nations as well as the United States. Following are some questions surrounding the disappearance and the search, and answers by industry experts who spoke to AFP:

It's too early to say why a Malaysia Airlines plane vanished but here are some probable causes

NEW YORK, N.Y. - The most dangerous parts of a flight are takeoff and landing. Rarely do incidents happen when a plane is cruising seven miles above the earth. So the disappearance of a Malaysia Airlines jet well into its flight Saturday morning over the South China Sea has led aviation experts to assume that whatever happened was quick and left the pilots no time to place a distress call. It could take investigators months, if not years, to determine what happened to the Boeing 777 flying from Malaysia's largest city of Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

Indian jetliner catches fire while landing at Nepal airport; no casualties reported

KATMANDU, Nepal - An Indian jetliner caught fire while landing in Nepal's capital on Saturday, but there were no casualties reported among the 170 people on board, officials said. The right wheels of the Airbus 320 caught fire while landing in Kathmandu after a flight from the Indian capital of New Delhi, said Rishikesh Sharma, head of Tribhuwan International Airport. As the plane was landing, passengers complained of a "rubber burning-like smell," said Nepalese businessman Satish Shrestha, who was aboard the flight, which was operated by budget airline Indigo.

U.S. FAA will appeal ruling on commercial drone use

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Friday said it would appeal a ruling by an administrative law judge in the case against the operator of a small commercial drone, that could favor the use of more unmanned aircraft. In a statement, the FAA said it was appealing Thursday's ruling, which rejected a fine against the operator for filming a commercial using a drone, to the full National Transportation Safety Board.

U.S. judge throws out fine against commercial drone pilot

By Eric Beech WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. judge has thrown out a fine by the Federal Aviation Administration against the operator of a small commercial drone, a decision that could open up the nation's skies to more unmanned-aircraft flights. The case involved a $10,000 fine levied by the FAA against Raphael Pirker for operating a drone while filming a commercial in 2011 for the University of Virginia, a violation of the agency's ban on the commercial use of unmanned aerial vehicles.

Regional airlines face shortage of pilots: U.S. GAO

(Reuters) - U.S. regional airlines have a hard time finding pilots because of low wages and new rules mandating more experience for entry-level aviators, according to a government study published on Friday. The U.S. Government Accountability Office, which analyzed data on pilots from 2000 to 2012, said 11 of 12 regional carriers it interviewed for its study had problems meeting their hiring needs.

Regulators sending mixed signals over whether to retain ban on in-flight use of cellphones

WASHINGTON - When it comes to deciding whether airline passengers can use their cellphones in flight, federal agencies are sending different signals to consumers. The Transportation Department, which regulates aviation consumer issues, indicated in a notice posted online Friday that it is considering retaining the 23-year-old ban on the calls, and asked for public comment.

Conflicted feds: US regulators at odds when it comes to permitting cellphone calls on planes

WASHINGTON - It looks like the government is more conflicted about cellphones on planes than most travellers. Even as one federal agency considers allowing the calls, another now wants to make sure that doesn't happen.
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