Malaysia: Flight 370 signals continued for more than seven hours

posted at 10:01 am on March 15, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

After days of denials, Malaysian officials abruptly changed their tune today and admitted that Malaysian Air Flight 370′s systems continued to communicate for far longer than they first thought. In fact, it’s far longer than anyone thought. Although the transponders were deliberately turned off, the satellite communications systems continued to send “handshakes” for more than seven and a half hours — 90 minutes longer than the original flight to Beijing was scheduled to last:

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said Saturday that a missing passenger jet was steered off course after its communications systems were intentionally dismantled and could have potentially flown for seven additional hours.

In the most comprehensive account to date of the plane’s fate, Najib drew an ominous picture of what happened aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, saying investigators had determined there was “deliberate action by someone on the plane.” …

Though previously U.S. officials believed the plane could have remained in the air for several extra hours, Najib said Saturday that the flight was still communicating with satellites until 8:11 a.m. — seven and a half hours after takeoff, and more than 90 minutes after it was due in Beijing. There was no further communication with the plane after that time, Najib said. If the plane was still in the air, it would have been nearing its fuel limit.

“Due to the type of satellite data,” Najib said, “we are unable to confirm the precise location of the plane when it last made contact with the satellite.”

And this seems rather key to the conclusion that this was no mere accident:

U.S. officials have said that the plane, shortly after being diverted, reached an altitude of 45,000 feet and “jumped around a lot.” But the airplane otherwise appeared to operate normally. Significantly, the transponder and a satellite-based communication system did not stop at the same time, as they would if the plane had exploded, disintegrated or crashed into the ocean.

Najib said on Saturday that the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System, or ACARS, was disabled just as MH370 reached the eastern coast of Malaysia. The transponder was then switched off, Najib said, as the aircraft neared the border between Malaysian and Vietnamese airspace.

That’s where this gets interesting. Someone on Flight 370 shut off the data-transmission part of ACARS, but not the system itself. Apparently, that’s almost impossible to accomplish, and the person who shut it down on the plane may not have been aware of the difference. ACARS uses an active communication system that “pings” plane systems to see if they have updates, but even if the data-transmission system is shut off, the ACARS system on the plane will still return the ping if it still has power. Flight 370 continued to send return handshakes to those pings for more than seven hours, which means that the flight was still in the air, or on the ground with its engines running.

That makes the problem of search-and-rescue even worse. The potential range for a 777 in the air for 7 hours out of Kuala Lumpur produces a massive area, much of which is covered by military radar in some very tense contexts. No one but Malaysia has acknowledged seeing the plane on its military radar, but the path taken after the transponders were turned off suggests that the pilot knew how to pick his way through those areas.

And that has Malaysia taking a much closer look at Flight 370′s captain:

Malaysian police have begun searching the home of the pilot at the helm of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, after the country’s prime minister confirmed that the Boeing 777′s communications were deliberately disabled by “someone on the plane”.

Police officers arrived at 53-year-old captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah’s home on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur shortly after the PM, Najib Razak, finished his dramatic press conference, during which he told reporters new satellite data indicated that MH370 last made contact roughly seven hours after it vanished from civilian radar one week ago.

While the raw satellite footage has helped investigators determine that the plane was still flying long after it lost contact with air traffic control at 1.22am on Saturday 8 March with 239 people on board, it could not discern the aircraft’s exact location, Najib said – putting it anywhere along two possible flight corridors: a northern corridor stretching from Kazakhstan, in central Asia, down to northern Thailand; and a southern corridor stretching from Indonesia towards the southern Indian Ocean.

While authorities had initially focused their investigation on the missing plane on four possible explanations, including possible hijacking, sabotage, or the personal or psychological problems of the crew or passengers, the “new information” that had come to light was forcing investigators to rethink their strategy, Najib said.

“In view of this latest development, the Malaysian authorities have refocused their investigation into the crew and passengers on board,” he told reporters on Saturday.

CNN, whose coverage has been rather hyperbolic, offers a better analysis in this clip, which may have more significance now that Malaysia has begun to focus on deliberate intent. Also, its report on the new developments note that while anyone could have been a hijacker, avoiding hostile radar for so long would have taken a lot of military flight experience:

And the apparent lack of visibility on radar? “Airline pilots are not trained for radar avoidance,” said aviation expert Keith Wolzinger, a former 777 pilot. They like to stay on the radar, because — again — it protects their plane.

Only military pilots, he said, are usually keen on avoiding radar.

This mystery keeps getting stranger and stranger.


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If any of us turn out to be right no one will know. There are so many of us with so many different ideas.

crankyoldlady on March 15, 2014 at 8:01 PM

The plane’s cargo is what I am NOT hearing discussed. Has the question been asked of Malaysian authorities, -was there anything of considerable value in the cargo hold? Gold transfers? Significant quantities of cash or bearer instruments? Gemstones?

slickwillie2001 on March 15, 2014 at 7:12 PM

Right now I’m liking the “what else was on the plane” theory. I’m awaiting a complete inventory which we will probably never receive.

Kaffa on March 15, 2014 at 8:04 PM

thatsafactjack on March 15, 2014 at 8:04 PM

From the article:

Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah was a fervent supporter of his country’s opposition leader who was jailed for homosexuality – illegal in Malaysia – only hours before flight MH370 vanished with 239 passengers and crew on board, the Sunday Mirror can reveal.

And in a new twist, it emerged that the pilot’s wife and three children moved out of the family’s home the day before the plane’s disappearance.

sentinelrules on March 15, 2014 at 8:09 PM

thatsafactjack on March 15, 2014 at 8:04 PM

That’s a new one to me. The opposition leader is Ibrahim? I remember him going to prison the first time. I also remember the story a week or two ago.

There was a story that the pilot was upset about the corruption in the present regime. But the idea that he was a political fanatic is quite likely to be disinformation from the regime himself. They’ve been harshly criticised over this. The daily-mail use ‘moronic’ in one of their headlines, IIRC.

gh on March 15, 2014 at 8:12 PM

And in a new twist, it emerged that the pilot’s wife and three children moved out of the family’s home the day before the plane’s disappearance.
sentinelrules on March 15, 2014 at 8:09 PM

Wow, maybe it was some kind of suicide. Maybe he was distraught? Maybe… he was gay?

Or is Islamic fundamentalism related?

bluegill on March 15, 2014 at 8:13 PM

sentinelrules on March 15, 2014 at 8:09 PM

Hmm… “new twist” indeed. The daily-mail claimed the family had said he was apolitical only yesterday and they had nothing on the family moving out. Could be true either way. More interesting is where his support (if any) comes from.

gh on March 15, 2014 at 8:16 PM

bluegill on March 15, 2014 at 8:13 PM

It seems to be just standard corruption. From the start the charges of homosexuality have been generally believed to be bogus. I don’t think there was ever any evidence. I think they let him out of prison hoping the scandal would die down. I don’t remember what the reason for putting him back in but he was not one to back down.

gh on March 15, 2014 at 8:18 PM

What you are all forgetting is Myanmar (or Burma). It is a nation with a totalitarian government that is right up there with North Korea and Zimbabwe on the top ‘shunned and closed’ nations list. An easily bribed government with strained relations with China. Over the past six months there have been a series of terrorist attacks carried out by Islamists in China. The most recent resulted was a week or two ago at a train station a couple of weeks ago with many dead and injured.

Now, remember your history here, folks. How did the allies supply China during WWII? Yup, through Burma. Now take a look at a map. Look at how far it is from north east Myanmar to a place like Hong Kong or Guangzhou then look at a population density map covering the distance between the two. The pilot was reported to have a nice flight simulator at his house, it be interesting to see which maps he used on it.

China worries about Russia, China worries about India, China worries about Japan and have military assets on those borders to match. Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam-not so much. A low flying 777 (flying under radar)at maximum speed could be at Hong Kong/Guangzhou in about 90 minutes. If the pilot followed a flight path that took it over sparsely populated parts of Viet Nam and Laos it would cause confusion in three governments even if it was detected. think how long it took for our government to finally figure out the 9/11 planes were hijacked and they were always within US airspace in one of the busiest flight paths in the world.

If I were a betting person I’d bet they’d stash the plane somewhere, kill the passengers, wait until everyone concluded the plane crashed into the ocean and all the searches halted. Fill the plane full of fuel and explosives and fly off to Hong Kong or Guangzhou.

Nahanni on March 15, 2014 at 8:26 PM

No that’s Maxwell’s Equations (more specifically someone’s law … I was a lazy student … ).

EMP is a theory that a nuclear explosion can be use to cause a huge voltage spike by inducing currents in trapped electrons in the ionosphere.

gh on March 15, 2014 at 6:35 PM

EMP can be caused by more than nukes and it does work.

Boeing’s CHAMP

ReaganWasRight on March 15, 2014 at 8:27 PM

Daily mail seems to have it now. Complete with all the conspiracy theories:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2581817/Doomed-airliner-pilot-political-fanatic-Hours-taking-control-flight-MH370-attended-trial-jailed-opposition-leader-sodomite.html

It’ll take a while to read this one.

gh on March 15, 2014 at 8:28 PM

Daily-mail says the story has suddenly changed yesterday.

gh on March 15, 2014 at 8:30 PM

It’ll take a while to read this one.

gh on March 15, 2014 at 8:28 PM

The Brits do a much better job than our press.

ReaganWasRight on March 15, 2014 at 8:32 PM

The Brits do a much better job than our press.

ReaganWasRight on March 15, 2014 at 8:32 PM

Any story that might hurt Obama will not be reported in the MSM unless absolutely necessary.

Kaffa on March 15, 2014 at 8:34 PM

EMP can be caused by more than nukes and it does work.
ReaganWasRight on March 15, 2014 at 8:27 PM

It was observed in Japan in the 1960s in association with megaton explosions. So yes it “does work”.

The theory being pushed is that very small nukes are sufficient if they are exploded at about 50-100 miles (I don’t remember the exact height). No-one has done that experiment. Still requires a missile. That is why the Iran nukes are a major concern. They already have the missiles.

The guy I shared an office with in grad school worked at Maxwell Labs in San Diego and he went back there afterwards. Since then he has left but I’ve lost contact with him. That is one place that could do experiments to simulate EMP but the results would be classified. And it would still be a simulation and not the real thing.

gh on March 15, 2014 at 8:37 PM

If the daily-mail report is to be believed (and they are skeptical themselves because the political system is quite corrupt), the pilot was a supporter of the opposition leader and attended his trial (no-one has come forward who saw him there yet though). So it appears to be a spontaneous kidnapping. Weird. The mail notes that the stories that he was a political fanatic originated yesterday. The government said no such thing until then. They also say that his co-workers story is new.

It is more plausible than much of the speculation because it’s much simpler if the pilot suddenly went rogue … but what the h*ll was he thinking? Ransom the passengers from a remote island in the Indian Ocean???

Weird.

gh on March 15, 2014 at 8:44 PM

Wow, maybe it was some kind of suicide. Maybe he was distraught? Maybe… he was gay?

Or is Islamic fundamentalism related?

bluegill on March 15, 2014 at 8:13 PM

I like the weighing between an Islamic protest and a gay protest.

Tonight NBC reported the co-pilot was “quiet” and “deeply religious”.

LashRambo on March 15, 2014 at 8:47 PM

So the pilot and co-pilot were homosexual lovers and they executed a spectacular suicide pact?

(total, rank speculation, but it feels right :) )

LashRambo on March 15, 2014 at 8:49 PM

If any of us turn out to be right no one will know. There are so many of us with so many different ideas.

crankyoldlady on March 15, 2014 at 8:01 PM

Not to worry. The HotGas doesn’t forget old posts. Positing theories of the crash is like buying a lottery ticket. The more you buy, the better your chances of winning. And if you don’t play, you can’t win. And, maybe it is indeed a tax on stupidity.

LashRambo on March 15, 2014 at 8:53 PM

Any Palin thread would put this to shame.

cozmo on March 15, 2014 at 6:10 PM

This thread is absolutely dusting the Palin thread right below it.

BallisticBob on March 15, 2014 at 9:06 PM

You gave me some good advice and I am sticking to it.

HonestLib on March 15, 2014 at 7:00 PM

I give everybody good advice.

Ain’t my fault if they don’t take it.

cozmo on March 15, 2014 at 9:20 PM

This thread is absolutely dusting the Palin thread right below it.

BallisticBob on March 15, 2014 at 9:06 PM

Dang, you are right.

Hey hagfish, your presence is needed in the Palin thread.

cozmo on March 15, 2014 at 9:22 PM

cozmo on March 15, 2014 at 9:22 PM

Not so bad. Pilot went rogue. Couldn’t see Kuala Lumpur from his house?

gh on March 15, 2014 at 9:25 PM

gh on March 15, 2014 at 9:25 PM

I dunno’.

cozmo on March 15, 2014 at 9:31 PM

EMP can be caused by more than nukes and it does work.

Boeing’s CHAMP

ReaganWasRight on March 15, 2014 at 8:27 PM

We have short-range conventional EMP ‘bombs’; they were used during GW1. I recall reading a Popular Mechanics article about them. Basically a conventional explosive drives a core into a linear generator.

slickwillie2001 on March 15, 2014 at 9:43 PM

Sorry… article from “The Independent” wouldn’t post. It’s an interesting coincidence and it reveals that we do have US military interests in the region.

Apparently, there is a US Navy base located on the Chagos Archipelago that is home to about 5000 US service personnel and ancillary workers. Its location makes it a strategic base, and it’s been a staging area for bombing missions to Afghanistan, missions related to bin Laden, as well as two high priority rendition flights. The UK and the US removed the indigenous islanders from the area in order to establish the base.

thatsafactjack on March 15, 2014 at 9:48 PM

The conspiracy theories grow.

.Kazakhstan to the north. Or maybe Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan or5 Tajikistan or any other “Stan”.
.Kerguelen islands to the south.
.Andamalan Islands or even Madagascar to the weast.
.What to the west I wonder? New Guinea?Indonesia? Jolo Island in the Philippines? Australia?

One of the pilots is potentially psychotic (therefore suicidal) and the other a potential terrorist (who also liked Australian blonds) and don’t forget the two stolen passports carried by Iranians. Was the plane carrying gold, silver, diamonds, billions in drugs? Did lithium batteries cause a fire in the cargo hold?. How about a meteor, terrorists,pirates, Chicom collusion and cyber warfare or an outer space alien raiding party in addition the the more prosaic pilot error,turbulence, mechanical failure. How about a bomb, a shoulder fired rocket, a guided missile or a passenger knocking out all electrical systems aboard the plane with a software cyber-attack? Or Chinese Muslim fanatics the Uighurs. Were the twin Malaysian towers the target. Did Putin plan this to cover Russian aggression in Ukraine?

Also please note that all alleged westward turns by the aircraft are modified by “probably” “likely” “assumed to have” “chances are” “indicate that” etc.All of which was said about the “debris” a couple of days earlier.

One thing is for certain. Out of over 100 theories only on can be right. And maybe not even that one!

MaiDee on March 15, 2014 at 10:08 PM

Obama blames it on a do nothing Congress. Or Bush. Or both.

bluesdoc70 on March 15, 2014 at 10:17 PM

Corrections–

Andaman Islands to the WEST
What to the EAST I wonder.

Drudge is now reporting that hijackers possibly took the plane to PAKISTAN (covered by my ‘or any other “stan”‘)

MaiDee on March 15, 2014 at 10:50 PM

MaiDee on March 15, 2014 at 10:50 PM

Time will tell. It may be weeks. Lots of time for new theories.

gh on March 15, 2014 at 10:58 PM

Ibrahim. I dunno…

I was reading about Ibrahim after seeing the posts from the pilot’s supposed FB page. I didn’t bring it up here because it didn’t seem legit.

Ibrahim’s not a fanatic. He’s got some goofy Zionist-US beliefs, but he’s more a social justice guy. A prog much like Barry, actually.

He ran the IMF and World Bank. Doesn’t get much New World Ordery than those groups.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anwar_Ibrahim

He’s certainly not a jihdai. If this happened because of him, he’ll be out on the telly within a few days pleading for everyone’s release.

When a person kills their entire family, psych’s call it familicide or family annihilation.

If the pilot’s family did leave him just a day or two earlier, than this could be an extension of that action. Instead of having access to a weapon and his family, he had a plane and passengers. That’s just an old-fashioned rampage. Like a workplace shooting, but in the sky.

budfox on March 15, 2014 at 11:07 PM

budfox on March 15, 2014 at 11:07 PM

Blaming Ibrahim is a good hint that the government is face-saving.

gh on March 15, 2014 at 11:19 PM

Finally,

a non-nutball take.

cozmo on March 15, 2014 at 11:46 PM

Blaming Ibrahim is a good hint that the government is face-saving.

gh on March 15, 2014 at 11:19 PM

Avoiding blaming Ibrahim for a week was also face-saving, no?

Shy Guy on March 16, 2014 at 12:19 AM

Shy Guy on March 16, 2014 at 12:19 AM

Perhaps it took them a week to come up with the idea.

gh on March 16, 2014 at 12:32 AM

Perhaps it took them a week to come up with the idea.

gh on March 16, 2014 at 12:32 AM

The word “perhaps” sums up just about everything here.

Shy Guy on March 16, 2014 at 12:36 AM

Well yes … once the truth comes out everyone will lose interest … that’s the thing about a “mystery”.

gh on March 16, 2014 at 12:51 AM

A single lifetime, even though entirely devoted to the sky, would not be enough for the study of so vast a subject. A time will come when our descendants will be amazed that we did not know things that are so plain to them.

— Seneca, Book 7, first century CE

Schadenfreude on March 16, 2014 at 1:09 AM

If the pilot did it because of some political agenda against the Malaysian government, one would expect that he would leave a manifesto or something of that nature, right?

Lawdawg86 on March 16, 2014 at 2:00 AM

If the pilot did it because of some political agenda against the Malaysian government, one would expect that he would leave a manifesto or something of that nature, right?

Lawdawg86 on March 16, 2014 at 2:00 AM

What if it was for religious regions and involved ongoing plans which depend upon secrecy and the delivery of the plane to an unknown destination?

What if…

Shy Guy on March 16, 2014 at 2:10 AM

One of the pilots is potentially psychotic (therefore suicidal) and the other a potential terrorist (who also liked Australian blonds) and don’t forget the two stolen passports carried by Iranians. Was the plane carrying gold, silver, diamonds, billions in drugs?

The guys who like Australian blondes are always the first to snap.

Alternate theory: Maybe the pilot knew all along that the Iranians with stolen passports were smuggling drugs, and he deliberately took the plane to 45,000 feet to make them pass out, stole their drugs while they were unconscious, flew to Indonesia to sell the drugs for gold, used the proceeds to buy a diamond necklace for his Australian blonde mistress from a black-market blood diamond trader, and then flew to Australia and crash-landed in the Outback. He’s currently famished and dehydrated, staggering through miles and miles of Aussie wasteland in the heat of summer, with only the love of his Aussie blonde to carry him. Now it’s not only a story about love, it’s about survival. IF we ever find him, we’ll be able to identify his body by diamond necklace still clenched in his hand to his last dying breath…

Or maybe you’re a ****ing nut.

Lawdawg86 on March 16, 2014 at 2:24 AM

Guys guys guys! The Alex Jones nut jobs have already figured it out. The US government along with Israel stole the plane to use as a suicidal nuke bomb to hit Israel for a “false flag” attack so we can all go to war.

Apparently the nutters who believe Alex Jones is a prophet think that every single bad thing that ever happens in the world is a conspiracy concocted by the US and Israel. We are living in a completely peaceful world ya know, it is just the US and those darn jooos don’t want peace. I even read that Hitler was a pawn for the US goverment to start WW2. The brilliant readers at infowars told me so.

The Notorious G.O.P on March 16, 2014 at 2:42 AM

The yo-yoing of altitude suggests to me a hijacking and a pilot unfamiliar with the aircraft.

sadatoni on March 16, 2014 at 4:33 AM

Take with grains of salt

Shy Guy on March 16, 2014 at 6:32 AM

The pilot accused his wife of being #bossy, so she started #bullying him about being #gay. She was pregnant, and didn’t want to have another child with her abuser, but he was strictly #prolife, so he was denying her #basicaccess to #womenshealthcare, so she took the kids and ran to a shelter. He was so distraught that he hijacked the red-eye and committed suicide. That would be the American story, at least.

tdarrington on March 16, 2014 at 6:59 AM

I can’t believe this is still going on.

crankyoldlady on March 16, 2014 at 8:25 AM

This is a plot out of a Die Hard movie or an episode of 24. Where are John McClane or Jack Bauer when you need them?

That aside, there are Americans who were on this flight. They are either dead or being held hostage. Why has the American Idol President not said one word publicly about this at all?

pdigaudio on March 16, 2014 at 9:23 AM

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/malaysia/10700652/Malaysia-Airline-MH370-911-style-terror-allegations-resurface-in-case-of-lost-plane.html

An al-Qaeda supergrass told a court last week that four to five Malaysian men had been planning to take control of a plane, using a bomb hidden in a shoe to blow open the cockpit door.

Security experts said the evidence from a convicted British terrorist was “credible”. The supergrass said that he had met the Malaysian jihadists – one of whom was a pilot – in Afghanistan and given them a shoe bomb to use to take control of an aircraft.

sharrukin on March 16, 2014 at 2:13 PM

Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah was a fervent supporter of his country’s opposition leader who was jailed for homosexuality – illegal in Malaysia – only hours before flight MH370 vanished with 239 passengers and crew on board, the Sunday Mirror can reveal.

And in a new twist, it emerged that the pilot’s wife and three children moved out of the family’s home the day before the plane’s disappearance.

sentinelrules on March 15, 2014 at 8:09 PM

Bear in mind he was a supporter of an opposition party in Malaysia, where they jailed the leader of said party for sodomy, probably just to destroy him politically. They ultimately let him out of prison.

Now the government there is providing alllll this info about the guy. They are as honest as Emperor Zero, Holder, and the Harridan.

I wouldn’t put it past them to stage the entire event to make the opposition leader look bad.

dogsoldier on March 16, 2014 at 4:00 PM

Disturbing.. Just read his family left him the day before.
It crossed my mind before that this may be a gay and/or pedophile thing… And he was about to be exposed. Don’t know but… We shall see..
I’m beginning to think he flew it out over the Indian Ocean until it ran out of gas.

Al Hall on March 16, 2014 at 4:45 PM

So, it appears now that the pilot, being in opposition to the current Malaysian government, is now the designated bad guy. I’m shocked, shocked I tell you.

claudius on March 16, 2014 at 4:52 PM

Fun thread! Can we play Cluedo, next? :)

OldEnglish on March 16, 2014 at 6:21 PM

Al Hall on March 16, 2014 at 4:45 PM

if the captain did it , it was personal rage and he ditched that plane deep south in the indian ocean. may have killed everyone on the plane including himself and let it run out of gas. danger to the rest of the world neutralized.

if it were jihadists on the plane that busted into the cockpit, they took it north, landed it and hid it to transform it into a 600K pound bomb and a lot of damage to the rest of us. it’s really important to look where it’s not. i hope we are ready to bribe some goat herders to cough up the goods.

gracie on March 16, 2014 at 6:44 PM

EMP can be caused by more than nukes and it does work.

Boeing’s CHAMP

ReaganWasRight on March 15, 2014 at 8:27 PM

Indeed. Prior to 9/11 there were many places around the internet where you could find plans on how to DIY both an EMP “bomb” (Omnidirectional EMP) and an EMP “cannon” (Directional EMP). Also a Microwave “Rifle” (Directional high intensity Microwave radiation source. Good for killing electronics and people.) Of course, post 9/11 these sources mysteriously disappeared.

wearyman on March 17, 2014 at 10:30 AM

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