Mystery deepens: Missing Malaysian jet reportedly flew hundreds of miles in the wrong direction

posted at 3:21 pm on March 11, 2014 by Allahpundit

And by “wrong direction,” I mean the opposite direction. It was headed north to Beijing, then suddenly the transponder was switched off and it swung all the way around to the left until it was flying southwest, where it continued on for 350 miles. It didn’t blow up in mid-air.

Which, it seems, means one of two things. Could be that the pilot, for unknown reasons, decided he had to turn around and try to make it back to the airport at Kuala Lumpur, then simply flew off course. In that case, though, why would he turn off the transponder — and, presumably, the other navigation equipment? If the equipment malfunctioned, how did the plane manage to fly hundreds of miles after the malfunction?

Alternate theory: It was hijacked. Police are skeptical about terrorism here, though. They’ve all but ruled out involvement by the two Iranians who were carrying stolen passports. Evidently that’s not uncommon on flights in southeast Asia.

Could the pilots have done it deliberately? Why?

“It changed course after Kota Bharu and took a lower altitude. It made it into the Malacca Strait,” the senior military officer, who has been briefed on investigations, told Reuters…

Malaysia’s Berita Harian newspaper quoted air force chief Rodzali Daud as saying the plane was last detected at 2.40 a.m. by military radar near the island of Pulau Perak at the northern end of the Strait of Malacca. It was flying about 1,000 meters lower than its previous altitude, he was quoted as saying…

The effect of turning off the transponder is to make the aircraft inert to secondary radar, so civil controllers cannot identify it. Secondary radar interrogates the transponder and gets information about the plane’s identity, speed and height.

It would however still be visible to primary radar, which is used by militaries.

Lots of mini-mysteries here. Why did it take the Malaysian military four days to let everyone know that the jet didn’t vanish south of Vietnam, as the world had been led to believe? Why were they searching in that area at all? More importantly, is it even true that the plane made it all the way back to the Strait of Malacca? According to the NYT, no:

Adding to the confusion, Tengku Sariffuddin Tengku Ahmad, spokesman for the prime minister’s office, said in a telephone interview that he had checked with senior military officials, who told him there was no evidence that the plane had recrossed the Malaysian peninsula, only that it may have attempted to turn back.

“As far as they know, except for the air turn-back, there is no new development,” Mr. Tengku Sariffuddin, adding that the reported remarks by the air force chief were “not true.”

Malaysia Airlines, meanwhile, offered a third, conflicting account. In a statement, the airline said authorities were “looking at a possibility” that the plane was headed to Subang, an airport outside Kuala Lumpur that handles mainly domestic flights.

Follow the last link and scroll down to the Times’s map to see how far apart the old search area and the new search area are. Yet another mini-mystery: Is it significant that some of the passengers’ cell phones were still online as of Sunday afternoon? NBC says no, not really. WaPo seems more intrigued:

One of the most eerie rumors came after a few relatives said they were able to call the cellphones of their loved ones or find them on a Chinese instant messenger service called QQ that indicated that their phones were still somehow online.

A migrant worker in the room said that several other workers from his company were on the plane, including his brother-in-law. Among them, the QQ accounts of three still showed that they were online, he said Sunday afternoon.

Adding to the mystery, other relatives in the room said that when they dialed some passengers’ numbers, they seemed to get ringing tones on the other side even though the calls were not picked up.

Were there no working onboard-phones on a modern jet like the Boeing 777? If it was a hijacking and the passengers knew it, someone would have called someone, no? Either they didn’t know or the plane crashed somewhere before they figured it out.

Here’s your thread for irresponsible speculation. If you want to help look for evidence of the jet in the Strait of Malacca, ABC says this site is the place to be.

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Underwater Beacons

All commercial air transport (CAT) aircraft are fitted with underwater locator beacons to assist in the relocation of black box flight data recorders (FDRs) and cockpit voice recorders (CVRs). These beacons are free-running pingers transmitting at an acoustic frequency of 37.5kHz with a claimed battery life of at least 30 days. The maximum detection range is determined primarily by the frequency and the transmission power, with an initial source level of 160.5dB re 1µPa @ 1m, which reduces to 157.0dB re 1µPa @ 1m, after 30 days. The quoted maximum detection range is 2-3km, although this is influenced by environmental conditions. The equipment used to search for the beacons can be deployed from a surface vessel, on a remotely operated vehicle (ROV), autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) or operated by a diver. The detection equipment acts only as a direction finder, however, with no indication being given of the range to the pinger (Figure 1).


I’ll bet our attack subs’ passive sonar and processors could add a good deal to that distance.

viking01 on March 12, 2014 at 12:25 AM

The plane is on the ground in Bangor, Maine. But there’s no one around.

schmuck281 on March 12, 2014 at 1:16 AM

The plane is on the ground in Bangor, Maine. But there’s no one around.

schmuck281 on March 12, 2014 at 1:16 AM

… or possibly Hainan Island.

Disabling the squawk might be easy but hiding the radar profile and heat signatures would not.

viking01 on March 12, 2014 at 1:23 AM

crrr6 on March 11, 2014 at 8:32 PM

Oh just Phuket.

cozmo on March 11, 2014 at 8:35 PM


jimver on March 12, 2014 at 1:28 AM

Also, if they’re near Da Nang then remnants of the airfield there and Cam Ranh may still exist.

Just because the ChiComs claim something doesn’t mean it is true.

Especially if some moron of theirs thought Taiwan AF was approaching Paracel Islands and over-reacted.

They’ve lied before and a few hundred lives to them is just another small factory mishap.

viking01 on March 12, 2014 at 1:32 AM

Remember it took two years to find AF447 after it disappeared in 2009.

Not so. Wreckage was first spotted within 48 hours. It just took two years to find the plane on the ocean floor.

In this case, no floating debris has been seen for 4 days now. That has never happened before.

HugoDrax on March 12, 2014 at 2:19 AM

Much, much louder with water as a superior conductor.

viking01 on March 11, 2014 at 11:32 PM

Audio sounds will travel better in water than air, but if the aircraft isn’t underwater, then radio signals from the aircraft should be detectable at much larger ranges.

blink on March 12, 2014 at 2:08 AM

These beacons are free-running pingers transmitting at an acoustic frequency of 37.5kHz which is not a radio frequency (broadcast) signal. A good bit above our hearing range but sonic. Therefore my statement of water’s conductivity is central to that beacon’s efficacy and detectability.

viking01 on March 12, 2014 at 3:43 AM

The acoustic device would never be used to attempt to locate the flight recorder unless the flight recorder is underwater. If it were above the surface, then devices that create electromagnetic waves (radio signals) would be used for locating.

blink on March 12, 2014 at 4:00 AM

… and if your aunt had balls she’d be your uncle.

Who claimed that it must be underwater? Not me.

I’m just describing if it were and in my other posts suggested it may be on land.

Pinger: a device for producing pulses of sound for marking an underwater site (etc.)

Hopefully your being so obtuse is intentional?

viking01 on March 12, 2014 at 4:18 AM

Lot’s of money exchanging hands on the REAL info.

Gedge on March 12, 2014 at 4:33 AM

I think it must have been the Koch Bros.

307wolverine on March 12, 2014 at 5:35 AM

Its weird that the transponder is turned off, the plane is turned, and the Malaysians have everybody in the world looking in the wrong spot. We know these planes can be used as rockets and driven into buildings and the idea that one could carry a bomb is even scarier. Maybe this missing plane is part of a big plan that hasn’t completely unfolded, yet. Or maybe my tinfoil hat is too tight. It could go either way.

Regardless, prayers for the families of the missing. This must be horrible for them.

Does anyone know what the Iranians looking for asylum did for a living?

magicbeans on March 12, 2014 at 7:53 AM

The plane is on the ground in Bangor, Maine. But there’s no one around.

schmuck281 on March 12, 2014 at 1:16 AM

I worked there (KBGR) and live about 15 miles as the crow flies away.

dmacleo on March 12, 2014 at 9:28 AM

Re:Aceh. I don’t think the separatists there (GAM) have ever done anything that would be regarded as international terrorism. Nabbing a plane would be a pretty bold step in that direction.

TexasDan on March 12, 2014 at 10:04 AM

The plane is on the ground in Bangor, Maine. But there’s no one around.

schmuck281 on March 12, 2014 at 1:16 AM

And there’s a sound beyond the hills, a grinding, munching sound……

itsspideyman on March 12, 2014 at 10:48 AM

“You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension— a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You’ve just crossed over into the Twilight Zone.”

Oceanic Flight 815 anybody? Maybe Matthew Fox could be of some help.

SpiderMike on March 12, 2014 at 12:16 PM


and this

Shy Guy on March 12, 2014 at 1:14 PM

Did the pilots steal the plane?

Shades of W E B Griffin, Clancy, Stephen Coonts.

How many Jake Grafton, Tom Ryan, Charlie Whatshisname shoot ’em up adventures started with a plane getting stolen?

jclittlep on March 12, 2014 at 5:00 PM

The plane is on the ground in Bangor, Maine. But there’s no one around.

schmuck281 on March 12, 2014 at 1:16 AM

I must be one of the only people who get that reference.

Dunedainn on March 12, 2014 at 6:08 PM

What if this was a practice run? I doubt they’d want any extra attention.


What if this was a practice run that went awry? Still…shouldn’t there be something that remains? Even in water? weirder and weirdy

E9RET on March 12, 2014 at 6:25 PM

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