(AP) 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 capital city of Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Some possibilities include structural failure, bad weather, engine failure or a criminal act.
AP writer Joan Lowy contributed from Washington.
Scott Mayerowitz can be reached at http://twitter.com/GlobeTrotScott.