The Malaysia Airlines plane missing since Friday night, that so far appears to have vanished without a trace, flew hundreds of miles off course before vanishing from radar, according to new information relayed by an unnamed Malaysian Air Force official to CNN. In fact, the Malaysia Airline Boeing 777-200 did not disappear from radar until 70 minutes after losing all radio and transponder contact with the ground.
While CNN in its own report said that the new information about the errant path of the Malaysia Airlines plane is disputed by other officials involved in the search for Flight 370, if correct it creates entirely fresh and frustrating problems for searchers who may have a vastly larger area to cover than they originally believed.
The above photo shows the Malaysia Airlines plane now missing, registration number 9M-MRO, taking off from France’s Charles de Gaulle Airport in 2011.
As has been the case with every aspect of the Malaysia Airlines mystery, theories abounded as to why the plane may have lost all radio contact, yet continued to fly for well over an hour — on a whole new, unplanned course.
Peter Goelz, a former managing director of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board told CNN that the only plausible explanation is that someone on the plane deliberately shut down the communication systems and took over the plane’s controls to set a new course.
Otherwise, he said, “This kind of deviation in course is simply inexplicable.”
If his theory is correct, it indicates that someone had a nefarious purpose in mind for the plane. “You have to have a very deliberate process to turn the transponder off,” the former NTSB official said.
On the other hand, an experienced pilot, Kit Darby, told the cable network that there might have been a power failure and the pilot may have been seeking a safe place to land.
He called the situation, “natural for the pilot, in my view, to return to where he knows the airports.”
The plane, with registration number 9M-MRO had never experienced a previous power failure or any other major malfunction. Malaysia Airlines plane 9M-MRO was involved, however, in a minor ground collision in a Singapore airport two years ago that damaged a wing tip.
The last words heard from the pilot of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 were “All right, good night,” it was revealed Wednesday, as Malaysian government officials met with frustrated Chinese relatives of Flight 370 passengers.
At the meeting an official told the relatives that Malaysia’s military was assisting in the search “at a high level” and that the military had shared information with civilian searchers, but “not is not the time” to make that information public.
The cryptic exchange only bolstered the belief of some relatives that the Malaysian government is secretly negotiating with terrorists who seized the Malaysia Airlines plane and are now holding it somewhere.