The investigators believe the plane flew for a total of up to five hours, according to these people, based on analysis of signals sent by the Boeing 777's satellite-communication link designed to automatically transmit the status of certain onboard systems to the ground.Now clearly Rolls Royce and probably Boeing knew this days ago, if not the day of the event. Why would they sit on such information? Is it possible Malaysia or other airlines didn't know this telemetry was taking place? Maybe--current stories say they didn't subscribe to the service so maybe they wouldn't know the transmitter was able to send connect pings if it wasn't pinging back.
Yet the Malaysians seem intent on pretending it didn't happen.
So it's clear that some entities don't want to show all their 'cards' in this event, probably because they'd rather not telegraph their capabilities (or lack thereof) to their neighbors or competitors. Such goes for Malaysia, Vietnam, corporations such as Boeing and Rolls Royce, and major countries like China and the United States. It seems likely those considerations have probably clouded the search.
Despite the clouds and whatever the hapless Malaysians say it now appears definitive that the aircraft did not crash close to where it disappeared from radar, rather about 1000 miles beyond it. Now, that's not to say it didn't make a giant loop west, then south, then east to north of Australia. If the pilots somehow managed to attempt a course correction for return to Kuala Lumpur before they became incapacitated then maybe it did a big circle. The United States seems to think it went west into the Indian Ocean and are sending Navy destroyer USS Kidd to investigate. Maybe that's based on some other secret data not yet released.
But what about the Vietnamese? Has anyone heard their ATC tapes or the voice transmissions? Do we KNOW for certain it didn't continue north without a transponder and wander into Chinese airspace, only to get shot down? Would the Chinese want to admit they killed 150 of their own people? Or be embarrassed on the world stage after pulling that ADIZ stunt? All I've heard is that Vietnamese officials claim the airplane disappeared "1 minute" before entering their airspace. From that time forward the goose chase has been focused away from the communist utopias.
There's some bigtime BS going on here. Multiple reports that the ACARS and transponder systems were shut down 15-20 minutes apart and the aircraft kept flying for up to 5 hours. Malaysian government officials now admitting they had some pings from telemetry on the plane (CNN saying it was ACARS while also reporting it was shut off), something they earlier said wasn't there. Of course they probably meant the unit itself was disabled. The Rolls Royce leak to WSJ reported this morning either forced their hand or they are just now realizing that "off" doesn't mean no data. Not sure if they are incompetent or crazy like foxes.
Since several US media outlets are reporting the plane might have kept flying for 5 hours, and since we know it didn't land at any known airport, this might suggest to some the Payne Stewart effect, ie, slow leak in cabin pressure knocks everyone out before anyone, including the cockpit crew, realizes it. Then they all basically go to sleep and the aircraft flies until it runs out of fuel before crashing. The problem with that theory is the time lag between shutting off systems. And the fact the systems were shut off at all--there's no reason to manually do it and if the aircraft kept flying for 5 more hours it wasn't about to disintegrate and fall out of the sky. So, as US intelligence seems to be indicating, the deviation off course seems deliberate.
They likely also turned off the cabin WiFi as well--if so equipped--so as to prevent transmission of phone/internet data. If it headed into the Indian Ocean that would explain why the phones kept ringing but never answered--no cell towers.
So where might it have gone? The most likely spots to me would be Bangladesh, due to it's remoteness, and western China. Why western China? That's the home to several Islamic terrorist groups (Uighars) who recently waged an attack on a train station with short swords, killing almost 30 people.
Good grief this is strange.
This is not to say the plane definitively turned back west and headed towards Islamofacistan--such news, which is now being accepted as gospel by the press, could be just another red herring hatched by one of the governments involved that has been playing games with the public on this story for a week. And yes, they are playing games--certain entities almost certainly knew of the pings early on.
And who can explain China, sending out bogus satellite images of nonsense a few days ago, which moved the aircraft further east, then today likely a bogus report of an undersea vibration along the route of flight to suggest the plane crashed on course. Reporters should be asking why China appears to be running interference if the aircraft never got north of Vietnam. Maybe it did. Maybe it was shot down near one of those new ADIZ areas. The entire new narrative seems to be based on weak radar evidence of a turn. What if the turn didn't happen? That would put the 4 hour flying dark aircraft up near the Chinese or even North Vietnamese.
But let's assume for a moment this recent storyline is the real one. Let's assume the aircraft was indeed involved in an 'act of piracy' and that the hijackers wanted to grab it to land it somewhere (so they could stuff it with explosives or worse and fly it towards a major city or run drugs or something). Have they checked either Burma or Bangladesh for suitable runways?
From just a planning aspect this appears to favor a snatch job. The aircraft was commandeered and turned in the middle of the Gulf of Thailand around 1:20 local time, the middle of a moonless night. If the plane headed west it was ahead of the sunrise, which would have been approaching from its rear. Cover of darkness would be vital in hiding the aircraft at a smaller strip and taxiing it into a hangar. How weak are the Bangladehsi or Burmese ATC systems and/or military radar capabilities?
It would have been a stretch to reach Pakistan, and Iran would likely not want anything to do with such a plot right now. Besides, flying south would put the aircraft over more active sea lanes and US military presence at Diego Garcia (and maybe traffic into and out of Afghanistan).
As for the 'there hasn't been any terrorist chatter or claims of responsibility', ie, they would have claimed it by now. Well, no, not if they hijacking was designed to steal the aircraft. The latest narrative supports somebody manually turning off the last data stream around 4 hours out, which might mean they were heading towards a landfall. If terrorists stole the airplane and want to load it with bad stuff, no way would they declare anything yet. The attack is not over.
Lots of worried politicians and professionals out there, no doubt.
ANOTHER DAY... 3/16/14
..another plot twist. People are watching CNN again, in droves. Stories like Crimea are being ignored. Is there any chance this is some kind of elaborate made-for-TV reality series publicity stunt? It's about the only road this story hasn't taken.
Now they are going after the pilot. Some of the things being reported, like the hero politician being sentenced to jail and his wife and family supposedly leaving him, sounds a little incriminating. IF those stories are correct. The media should be careful blaming the pilot, especially if we later find out he was a victim as well.
For instance, with confirmation that the ACARS circuit was pulled before the transponder was flipped off (and before the pilot's last communication with ATC) it could be theorized that a bunch of criminals/terrorists, with first-hand knowledge took control of this flight. Let's say they disguised themselves as ground crew, got aboard the aircraft during servicing and hid in the communications bay under the floor of the cockpit, only to pull the ACARS circuit then burst up through the hatch and take over the plane, immediately turning off the transponder and making a course change.
This would all be going on behind the locked cockpit door. After taking control of the flight deck they would have to disable the passengers--but they would have had control of the oxygen system (and presumably access to the crew oxygen masks, or even had their own bottles with them. Perhaps that's why the aircraft went to over 40,000 feet, to enhance the effect. As the Malaysians are now saying, the rest of the journey appeared to be precise, flying along established waypoints most likely entered in the Flight Management System computer.
Not saying that happened, just saying we need to be careful convicting the pilot s) before more information is known.