It has one of the best safety records of any commercial aircraft in service.
But, if confirmed, the Malaysia Airlines crash would mark the second fatal accident involving a Boeing 777 in less than a year and by far the worst since it entered service in 1995.
The US-built twin-engined jet is often used for intercontinental flights of 12 hours or more.
The first serious incident took place in 2008, when
a British Airways 777-200ER crash-landed just short of London’s Heathrow airport, injuring 45 people.
The only fatal crash so far occurred in July 2013 when Asiana Airlines Flight 214 struck a seawall on landing in San
Francisco. Three people died and over 180 were injured.
The investigation into that crash has so far indicated no mechanical failure and focused on the actions of the pilot.