It has been more than four days since Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 seemingly vanished without a trace, but did authorities know from the start the plane changed course?
Experts are completely puzzled as to why air traffic controllers lost contact with the missing airliner and now there is wide speculation among experts that somebody purposely turned off the transponder — mechanism that identifies plane to radar — before sharply changing course.
There was no distress call from MH370’s pilots, according to information released by Malaysian authorities and the plane just disappeared from radar while still climbing.
On Wednesday officials in Malaysia announced — once again — they are expanding the search area, which is being scoped by a multi-national force of ships and planes looking for the 239 passengers and crew.
Now the efforts will include the Strait of Malacca — located between Malaysia and the Indonesian island of Sumatra and a major commerce hub in the area — after a senior Malaysian air force official told CNN that after the plane lost all communications around 1:30 am Saturday, it continued to showed up on radar for over an hour.
Before it completely disappeared, the plane apparently changed course travelling hundreds of miles away from its intended destination, Beijing.
Malaysian newspaper Berita Harian quoted air force chief Rodzali Daud as saying the missing plane was last detected by military radar at 2:40 am on Saturday near the island of Pulau Perak in the northern area of the Strait of Malacca, flying at about 29,500 feet.
But did Malaysian authorities know this from the start? Why didn’t they share the information for days while crews combed the South China Sea waters?
Experts believe that authorities either knew of the change of course or didn’t and speculate as to why they kept searchers in the dark, as operations began in the South China Sea, the location of where MH370 was last detected by radar.
The change in course would support the expansion of the search and rescue area and is frustrating some of the countries involved in the operation to find MH370, with Vietnam — one of the most involved — saying that it will scale down their efforts until authorities get their story straight.
Vietnamese officials informed Malaysian authorities that the plane was turning towards the west at the time it disappeared but did not receive a response, the vice transportation minister said.
Added to the mysterious circumstances under which Malaysia Airlines MH370 went missing is the revelation that two women were invited into the cockpit by the pilot in 2011, which is a violation of rules in the US, but not on international flights.
“It just violates every code of conduct. I don’t believe Malaysia Air (would approve of such conduct) they certainly would be shocked at that,” Michael Goldfarb, a former US Federal Aviation Administration chief of staff said.
Malaysia Airlines authorities are certainly shocked and stated they have not been able to authenticate the pictures that show the pilot with Jonti Ross inside the cockpit, as all their efforts are centered on finding the fate of MH370.
Peter Goelz, former managing director of the National Transportation Safety Board, believes that this new information suggests someone purposely turned off the transponder — which indicates altitude, speed, and direction — and added, “This kind of deviation in course is simply inexplicable.”
Most experts believe that if something catastrophic did happen to the doomed flight, where pilots were unable to send out a may day, some kind of debris would have been found by now.
With the report of two Iranian men travelling with stolen passports added to the new information, Malaysia authorities have stated they are not ruling anything out, including terrorism, but as the days go by and not one piece of Malaysia Airlines MH370 is found, the families and loved ones of the 239 souls on board can only hope and pray.
[Image via Twitter]