U.S. investigators suspect missing Malaysian plane flew for hours -WSJ

Thu Mar 13, 2014 2:38am EDT

(Reuters) - U.S. investigators suspect that Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 stayed in the air for about four hours past the time it reached its last confirmed location, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing two people familiar with the details.

The report comes as authorities remain uncertain about which ocean to search for the jetliner that went missing on Saturday after taking off from Kuala Lumpur. The latest disclosure led U.S. investigators to explore the possibility that someone deliberately turned off the transponder and diverted the plane to another location, the newspaper reported.

It raises the possibility that the plane, and the 239 people on board, could have flown on for additional distance of about 2,200 miles, potentially reaching the border of Pakistan or as far as destinations in the Indian Ocean or Arabian Sea, the paper said.

The last definitive sighting of the aircraft on civilian radar screens came shortly before 1:30 a.m. on Saturday, less than an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur, as it flew northeast across the mouth of the Gulf of Thailand bound for Beijing.

Aviation investigators and national security officials believe the plane flew for a total of five hours based on data automatically downloaded and sent to the ground from the Boeing Co 777's engines as part of a standard monitoring program, the Journal said.

One person told the paper that, as part of a maintenance agreement, the Malaysia Airlines plane was able to transmit engine data live to Rolls-Royce for analysis. The system sends data from the Boeing 777's two Trent 800 engines, giving details such as altitude and speed of the jet.

U.S. counterterrorism officials are pursuing the possibility that a pilot or someone else on board the plane may have diverted it toward an undisclosed location after intentionally turning off the jetliner's transponders to avoid radar detection, the newspaper reported, citing one person tracking the probe.

A senior Malaysia Airlines executive said on Wednesday that the airline has "no reason to believe" that any actions by the crew caused the disappearance of a jetliner.

At one briefing, U.S. officials were told investigators are actively pursuing the notion that the plane was diverted "with the intention of using it later for another purpose," the Journal said.

On Tuesday, the international police agency Interpol's head said they do not believe the disappearance of the jet was the result of a terrorist attack.

(Reporting by Chris Peters in Bangalore; Editing by Ken Wills)

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Comments (2)
dd606 wrote:
Are you guys just basically copying and pasting rumors you see online? Seriously, this is ridiculous. The engine data is sent in packets every hour or so. It’s not a constant stream. “US Investigators”? Who exactly would that be? Some guy who works at an airport?

Pretty sure Rolls would have commented on this by now, not to mention ACTUAL authorities, who are willing to identify themselves… Not anonymous people that can’t even be named. It was already reported that two engine data packets were sent, both before the point of vanishing. And the airline did not purchase the Boeing maintenance data system.

Mar 13, 2014 3:46am EDT  --  Report as abuse
salams.id wrote:
Why it cannot assume the following:
1. There was a complete communication blackout in the flight due to technical problem.
2. Flight came to low altitude and continued flying for the following:
– To find a place suitable to land(low visibility as it is
early morning)
– To consume maximum fuel in order to reduce the impact of
crash landing
I just tried to communicate my thought to signal another direction if there is anything valid.

Mar 13, 2014 4:44am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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