Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, missing without a trace now for one day short of a week, appears to have had its two communications systems shut down one at a time, an indication that someone turned them off deliberately.
United States officials now say that the Malaysia Airlines flight lost its data reporting system at 1:07 am Saturday morning local time. But Flight 370 did not stop sending data from its transponder until 1:21 am. The 14 minute gap makes it less likely that the systems shut down due to a catastrophic failure on board, such as an explosion.
One well-known pilot who has experience in a crisis situation said that the data should not cause people to jump to conclusions.
Former U.S. Airways Pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger — who gained fame for his extraordinary emergency landing of an airliner on New York’s Hudson River in 2009 — told CBS News that even in the event of an on-board catastrophe, it is “conceivable” that the systems could shut down in sequence.
Sullenberger acknowledged, however, that a separate shutdown of the two systems was unlikely.
The information if true — and many new leads have turned out be bogus in the Malayasia Airline Flight 370 mystery — would be another indication of the unsettling possibility that the Boeing 727-200 continued to fly for some period of time after losing communications contact with the ground.
A report yesterday said that the Malaysia Airlines plane with registration number 9M-MRO — that is the now-missing plane, pictured at top — continued to send signals to a satellite after losing communications, meaning Flight 370 could have made it between 1,500 and 2,000 miles in the air while effectively invisible to ground flight trackers.
That report was denied by Malaysia’s acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein. But if indeed the report is accurate — where in the world did the Malaysia Airlines flight go?
United States officials said Thursday that they are now looking for the missing plane in the Indian Ocean, well west of the site between the east coast of Malaysia and southern point of Vietnam that so far has been the main focus of the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
While White House Spokesperson Jay Carney said the shift westward was based on “new information,” other officials speaking on background said the info, whatever it was, is “not concrete enough to merit a rise in expectations.”
In other words, the Indian Ocean is just another shot in the dark, as the fate of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 remains a total mystery.