The Slatest

CNN Tried to Rent an Actual, Real-Life 777 Jetliner For Its Never-Ending MH370 Coverage

CNN’s Martin Savidge has logged some serious time in the flight simulator, so much that it’s spawned the Twitter hashtag #freemartinsavidge

Screenshot of CNN

The Associated Press’ David Bauder* has a surprisingly interesting story this afternoon about CNN’s ever-present flight simulator (which seems to be on air every single time I’ve turned on the cable news network these past three weeks). The report has everything you’d ever need to know about the glorified network prop, but the two paragraphs I want to flag are these, emphasis mine:

CNN initially sought to rent a real 777 airplane for its coverage, but found it impossible. Individual airlines were also reluctant to make their simulators available. So CNN arranged time with the company uFly, from Mississauga, Ontario, near the Toronto airport, which has a simulator that is the same model of the plane lost in Asia.

[CNN’s Martin] Savidge, who had been vacationing in Australia when the plane went missing on March 8, was sent to Canada for one day on March 14 and returned home for the weekend. The response to his reports was so positive, CNN sent him back on March 17, and he’s been there since. Other media organizations have sought to use the simulator but CNN blocks them by keeping it booked (the company won’t say how much this is costing).

CNN’s coverage of MH370—which is currently being branded as the “Mystery of Flight 370” via on-screen graphics—has received its share of criticism, with Don Lemon’s black-hole theory serving as a particularly egregious example of speculation gone too far.

Still, the numbers suggest that viewers can’t get enough coverage of each development and red herring in the hunt for the missing jetliner. According to Nielsen, CNN’s viewership is up 84 percent above where it had been before the plane went missing. During that same period, Fox News has seen an uptick of only 2 percent, while MSNBC is down 11 percent.

There’s plenty more on CNN’s flight simulator here, including an anecdote from Savidge about one simulation that you won’t see on air.

Read the rest of Slate’s coverage of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

***Follow @JoshVoorhees and the rest of the @slatest team on Twitter.***

*Correction Friday, March 28: An early version of this post briefly misidentified the author of the AP report.