Flight 370 dropped to 5,000 feet to evade radar

posted at 8:41 am on March 17, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Over the last couple of days, Malaysia and outside investigators have begun releasing information that strongly suggests that the fate of Flight 370 was no accident. First, the flight path taken after deliberately turning off the transponders showed awareness of military radar systems in the region, and then came word that subsystems continued signaling for hours after the flight diverted from its path. Now a leading paper in Malaysia reports that the Malaysian Air flight dropped to below 5,000 feet for part of its mysterious journey, the better to avoid commercial radar too:

As the search for the missing flight MH370 enters its 10th day with few clues as to its whereabouts, the New Straits Times said today the Boeing 777-200ER dropped 5,000 feet (1,500m) to evade commercial radar detection.

In an exclusive story, the government-backed paper said investigators analysing MH370’s flight data revealed that the 200-tonne, fully laden twinjet descended 1,500m or even lower to evade commercial (secondary) radar coverage after it turned back from its flight path en route to Beijing. …

Investigators poring over MH370’s flight data had said the plane had flown low and used “terrain masking” as it flew over the Bay of Bengal and headed north towards land, the NST reported. …

“Terrain masking” refers to an ability to position an aircraft so there is natural earth hiding it from the radio waves sent from the radar system. It is a technique mostly used in aerial combat where military pilots would fly at extremely low elevations upon normally hilly or mountainous terrain to “mask” their approach.

The flight may also  have paralleled normal commercial routes to confuse ground-control trackers:

Officials, who formed the technical team, were looking into the possibility that whoever was piloting the jet at that time had taken advantage of the busy airways over the Bay of Bengal and stuck to a commercial route to avoid raising the suspicion of those manning primary (military) radars, the paper said.

All of this means that the disappearance didn’t come from a technical malfunction or catastrophic failure. Nor does it mean a hijacking in the two contexts we already know, either for ransom (monetary or political), or for annihilation — at least not at the moment. Whoever took Flight 370 had plenty of highly-populated targets in the region if they wanted to turn the plane into a guided missile, a la 9/11, but instead tried very hard to disappear off the grid. Why?

Investigators still don’t know the answer to why, but they may have a clue about who:

The Boeing 777′s Aircraft and Communications Addressing and Reporting System, or ACARS, last transmitted at 1:07 a.m., about 40 minutes after takeoff. ACARS sends information about the jet’s engines and other data to the airline. The transponder, which identifies the plane to commercial radar systems, was shut down about 15 minutes later.

The final, reassuring words from the cockpit — “All right, good night” — were believed to have been spoken by co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid, according to Malaysia Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya.

The focus had been on the captain of the flight, who had his house searched yesterday after Malaysian officials belatedly acknowledged that something very fishy was going on over the South China Sea. There is no word on whether Malaysia has begun searching the residence of Hamid, although it seems highly likely that a lot of security services around the world have begun to take a big interest in the entire flight crew.

Officials in Kuala Lumpur have taken a lot of heat for their handling of the crisis. China added to the pressure today, demanding that Malaysia “immediately” expand the search area for the flight:

“Search and rescue efforts have become even harder now, and the area is much bigger,” China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told Reuters on Monday. “We hope that Malaysia can provide more thorough, accurate information to countries participating.”

China’s media have been scathing of Malaysia’s hunt for the missing jet and have criticized conflicting information about the search.

In an op-ed in China’s state-run Global Times newspaper Yao Shujie, the head of the School of Contemporary Chinese Studies at the University of Nottingham, said that Malaysia “has lost authority and credibility” due to its chaotic response.

“The contradictory and piecemeal information Malaysia Airlines and its government have provided has made search efforts difficult and the entire incident even more mysterious,” the China Daily newspaper wrote in an editorial.

Australia has decided to take the lead in searching the southern areas of the Indian Ocean, which is where the limit of the plane’s fuel would have taken the flight — if it was headed out to sea at all. It seems a lot more likely that all of this deliberation was meant for something other than a quiet ocean ditch, though, and more likely that the plane turned toward land. For what reason … no one knows. Yet.


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Bishop???

bimmcorp on March 17, 2014 at 8:45 AM

Can we get new conspiracy theories for this thread.

Rehashing the old ones every time gets boring fast.

cozmo on March 17, 2014 at 8:46 AM

Amazing how this stuff just keeps trickling out.

bgibbs1000 on March 17, 2014 at 8:49 AM

In an exclusive story, the government-backed paper…

Doesn’t help that the airline and the newspaper are state owned. Hooray socialism.

forest on March 17, 2014 at 8:50 AM

I think that the pilot was a fanboy of some political guy in Malaysia who was sentenced/jailed the day before this plane went missing for having homosexual relations. Not sure of the angle, but he may have been quite upset with the Malaysian government and sought to embarass them–which may explain the foot-dragging that the Malaysians are doing with this.

ted c on March 17, 2014 at 8:53 AM

In an exclusive story, the government-backed paper

Officials, who formed the technical team

I see a pattern.

Look, folks everything we hear is coming from the Malaysian government.

Lemme ask you this. “Officials are now “technical?”

How does the phrase “Political investigation” work for you?

Does anyone know what sort of government Malaysia has or how far they will go to crush opposition? They jailed the opposition leader for sodomy and claimed he was gay. So they are very nasty folks. (To be fair, the opposition guy is no Mother Theresa.)

Don’t take any news from there as factual. Challenge – Verify.

dogsoldier on March 17, 2014 at 8:54 AM

I suspect the plane will soon be found in the form of raining fuselage over a western city.

crrr6 on March 17, 2014 at 8:54 AM

Simply ditching the plane as a terrorist act of mass murder, or even a demented act of suicide, could have easily been done without changing course, dodging radar and shifting altitudes. Unless what is coming out is total misinformation, you have to assume at this point that the plan was either to use the plane as a missile or to land it somewhere.

SacredFire on March 17, 2014 at 8:55 AM

http://hotair.com/headlines/archives/2014/03/17/malaysia-rejects-extensive-help-as-the-u-s-looks-for-terrorist-links/

Gee, my first thought was, “What are they hiding?”

Something stinks with this.

dogsoldier on March 17, 2014 at 8:57 AM

Can we get new conspiracy theories for this thread.

Rehashing the old ones every time gets boring fast.

cozmo on March 17, 2014 at 8:46 AM

My conspiracy theory is that the pilots were complicit in the diversion of the aircraft, and that they took the plane to 40,000 feet and cut the oxygen supply to the passenger cabin, killing all the ‘witnesses’. They then proceeded to fly ‘under the radar’ to their destination in Iran or Pakistan, to have the aircraft fitted with nuclear arms to pay a visit to Israel or the U.S. I’m guessing the two pilots were paid handsomely for their efforts. My theory is just as good as any others I’ve read. I suppose we shall see…

bimmcorp on March 17, 2014 at 8:57 AM

SacredFire on March 17, 2014 at 8:55 AM

You’re correct. The pilot could have driven the plane into an important building in the capitol, perhaps even try to kill as many of the current government as possible.

dogsoldier on March 17, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Ok, here’s a new one (to me anyway): What about those strange “grids” all over China seen in satellite photos. Could they be airstrips that this plane was headed to?

IrishEi on March 17, 2014 at 9:02 AM

I’m thinking that if the Malaysian government was the target of this guy’s /or groups actions, then it is no wonder that Malaysia isn’t being fully forthright. It is little wonder that they have everybody looking over such a vast area…..they don’t want them looking in malaysia for some reason???

ted c on March 17, 2014 at 9:02 AM

What better way to get back at your own government than to piss off the Chinese, eh??

ted c on March 17, 2014 at 9:03 AM

The article actually says that the plane only dropped that amount, not that it dropped TO that amount. The headline does say it dropped to 5,000 ft but the article itself is confusing.

VirginiaPlain on March 17, 2014 at 9:04 AM

Unless what is coming out is total misinformation, you have to assume at this point that the plan was either to use the plane as a missile or to land it somewhere.

SacredFire on March 17, 2014 at 8:55 AM

Yes, like the 9/11 hijackers, one or the other pilots had a score to settle, but for some reason, didn’t reach their target. Those two Iranians with fake passports … maybe flying it into some Iranian city.

LashRambo on March 17, 2014 at 9:05 AM

Can we get new conspiracy theories for this thread.

Rehashing the old ones every time gets boring fast.

cozmo on March 17, 2014 at 8:46 AM

Putin has it ?

workingclass artist on March 17, 2014 at 9:07 AM

Rehashing the old ones every time gets boring fast.

cozmo on March 17, 2014 at 8:46 AM

The creative people on here are never at a loss. I have a new one. Seeing that it turned back over Malaysia (am I right about that) I wonder if they planned to fly the plane into an important building in Malaysia and something went wrong and they either had to go into the ocean or decided to.

crankyoldlady on March 17, 2014 at 9:08 AM

Malaysian officials belatedly acknowledged that something very fishy was going on over the South China Sea.

Of course the South China Sea is fishy. ;0

It really boils down to three outcomes for Flight 370. Hijacking/piracy, intentional crashing, or mechanical failure. But with lack of a clear motive or debris field, let the conspiracies and speculation continue.

BTW, I feel sorry for the families of the passengers who, apparently, are being pretty much ignored now.

Happy Nomad on March 17, 2014 at 9:10 AM

Seems all Malaysia is sure of is that the plane took off and never made it to Beijing.

TimBuk3 on March 17, 2014 at 9:11 AM

Rehashing the old ones every time gets boring fast.

cozmo on March 17, 2014 at 8:46 AM

If they had accomplished that everyone would know. A satellite would pick that up.

crankyoldlady on March 17, 2014 at 9:11 AM

There hasn’t been very much about who was on the plane. Was there some passenger that some terrorist group wanted to snatch? It can’t be that they just needed a plane, they could have bought one of those.

Kissmygrits on March 17, 2014 at 9:13 AM

showed awareness of military radar systems in the region,

Who knows about the ability of the military radar systems in SE Asia? Either someone in a big military (China, India) or someone with extensive experience in the area. Such as a pilot with 18,000 hours.

Now, I could accept a suicidal pilot who’s hero had just been sentenced to jail and wife and kids just moved out of his house ditching the plane in the ocean. But flying for 7 hours and then crashing?

rbj on March 17, 2014 at 9:14 AM

Can we get new conspiracy theories for this thread.

Rehashing the old ones every time gets boring fast.

cozmo on March 17, 2014 at 8:46 AM

There is no need for any conspiracy theories. Just keep up with the stuff in the daily-mail and the facts, as they emerge, are fairly consistent.

Latest:
– co-pilot’s voice said good-bye
– one of the stewards had a flight sim at home

Older:
– pilot was annoyed by political corruption
– no known jihadi connections

Rumor:
– pilot fanatic supporter of Anwar Ibrahim (likely propaganda)

It is clear now that at least the pilot and co-pilot cooperated. Possibly some of the cabin crew. If this is true then the government story about the pilot attending Inwar Ibrahim’s trial a few hours before the flight is complete BS for saving face with the chinese.

These guys are *not* jihadis. They are not in the business of killing the people. Killing the passengers was obviously *not* the reason for evasive flight pattern.

Focus of search is to find where the plane landed. There are 640 suitable landing strips within range.

They may just be out to black-mail the Malaysian government … in which case they could land anywhere. If they want to use the plan as a bomb, then probably closer rather than further away. Northern Sumatra is possible.

gh on March 17, 2014 at 9:14 AM

gh on March 17, 2014 at 9:14 AM

Everything at this point is taken with a huge grain of salt.

The only thing that is close to clear is that apparently at least one of the flight crew was involved (he could have made that transmission under duress).

Other than the plane not arriving at its destination as planned, nothing is clear.

cozmo on March 17, 2014 at 9:20 AM

Are airline parts too tightly regulated to take it to a chop shop and sell it for parts? Happens with cars alot.

KW64 on March 17, 2014 at 9:20 AM

The families’ claims that the passengers’ cell phones were still working days later also points to a ground-based end point. Can anyone retroactively triangulate those signals? Were they really happening, or just justifiably-distraut families?

It also makes it really hard to believe that the passengers are alive somewhere, but no cell phone communication has happened with anyone on that plane.

HakerA on March 17, 2014 at 9:20 AM

I’ve been very cautious not to jump to conclusions. I don’t trust anything the Malaysian government releases or their government controlled media like the New Straits Times. If the Aussies are getting involved searching areas around d their west and north coasts, it is gassed on certain intelligence. I’m still wondering what info our intelligence operations on Diego Garcia has, but of course the spooks there aren’t talking. Sorry no conspiracy theories here from me. I’m taking Mark Twain’s advice.

simkeith on March 17, 2014 at 9:20 AM

gh on March 17, 2014 at 9:14 AM

There is evidence that the pilot is/was a long-time supporter of Ibrahim – a Muslim brotherhood big-wig.

The pilot had the sim.

The pilot’s family left home the day of sentencing – I wonder where to?

OldEnglish on March 17, 2014 at 9:22 AM

5000 feet over the expanse of the ocean may be under the regional radar. But 5000 feet once over a land based facility that has radar would still probably show the aircraft as at least a primary target or blip on someone’s screen. The facts are next to nothing so far to make any real opinion … in my opinion.

This is one of the stranger aviation incidents in my lifetime.

hawkdriver on March 17, 2014 at 9:22 AM

hawkdriver on March 17, 2014 at 9:22 AM

It may knock DB Cooper off my top spot.

cozmo on March 17, 2014 at 9:24 AM

OldEnglish on March 17, 2014 at 9:22 AM

OE, most pilots have some kind of simulator on their computers at home. Not that his aim couldn’t be proven to be nefarious in some way, but most pilots either have one for fun or for staying sharp with procedural tasks.

hawkdriver on March 17, 2014 at 9:26 AM

I’m skeptical of anything the Malaysian government is putting out. They may be trying to scapegoat this pilot, but possibly for good reason. These A/C maneuvers took some pretty amazing skill to reduce the transmission, evade radar, then disappear without a trace. Tremendous operational security occurred if this plane was landed and then hidden by a group–terrorist or political (not sure if there is a difference).

ted c on March 17, 2014 at 9:27 AM

Something that keeps making me believe that it was flown to a very remote island, circa WWII runway, is how would they refuel an empty jet to use as a weapon, without arising suspicion? How do you secretly get jet fuel to an remote Indian Ocean island?

tru2tx on March 17, 2014 at 9:28 AM

One has to consider, did the passengers determine the flight was ‘rogue’ and did they take action on their own?

OregonPolitician on March 17, 2014 at 9:28 AM

http://ace.mu.nu/archives/347916.php

Map and explanation here rule out Sumatra.

gh on March 17, 2014 at 9:29 AM

hawkdriver on March 17, 2014 at 9:26 AM

Acknowledged. I even have one myself – FA-18, yet! :) (Landing it on a carrier is a tricky one!).

OldEnglish on March 17, 2014 at 9:32 AM

OldEnglish on March 17, 2014 at 9:22 AM

Yes. However, the way the daily-mail worded things, this statement has only come through official channels of the government which is as corrupt as you can imagine. Ibrahim’s case is widely believed to have been a setup. This was true when he was first jailed and I have never seen anything to contradict it (not that I’ve looked hard).

gh on March 17, 2014 at 9:34 AM

Two MILLION square miles to be searched, 26 countries involved – and still not a trace of Flight MH370: hunt for the missing plane stretches from Kazakhstan to Southern Ocean

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2582326/From-islands-Indonesia-steppe-Kazakhstan-Hunt-missing-flight-MH370-switches-land-covers-ELEVEN-countries.html#ixzz2wE7rVZ6f
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

workingclass artist on March 17, 2014 at 9:35 AM

hawkdriver on March 17, 2014 at 9:22 AM

It may knock DB Cooper off my top spot.

cozmo on March 17, 2014 at 9:24 AM

Absolutely. The results of what end he may have encountered was the Tom Clancey stuff of DB. We’re not even out of the blocks with this yet. My friends and family ask me all manner of things I just can’t answer. We just don’t know much.

What I do know …

Like I commented to OE. Pilots use desk top trainers and simulators on their computers. That could be nothing.
The plane itself wouldn’t have to be “piloted” even if the entire crew died with the passengers in a pressurization incident. The helicopter I fly will follow a flight plan until it gets to the last point. Until then it is turning with a coupled flight director, all by itself with no pilot input on the controls whatsoever. It doesn’t change altitude at points in it’s flight plan like it changes direction though. I’m not sure if the 777 does.
Regardless of some turning off the various Mode components of it’s transponder, it would still represent itself as a primary target if it were in someone’s radar coverage. It was not a stealth aircraft.

I wouldn’t even offer an explanation until more is known though.

hawkdriver on March 17, 2014 at 9:35 AM

OregonPolitician on March 17, 2014 at 9:28 AM

Fantasy. See cozmo above.

I’m outta here … will check tomorrow for new posts.

gh on March 17, 2014 at 9:35 AM

Maybe the plane dropped to 5,000 feet flying back over Malaysia so that the pilots or hijackers could parachute out of the plane. The plane uses computer guidance from the flight path that is loaded into the computer. Perhaps somebody loaded a flight path to fly low over land for the escape, then climb to a nice cruising altitude to fly off to oblivion, i.e. an ultimate crash into the ocean.

loganyung on March 17, 2014 at 9:35 AM

gh on March 17, 2014 at 9:34 AM

Agreed. It is a common opinion in Oz – Ibrahim is just too much for the ruling elite.

OldEnglish on March 17, 2014 at 9:37 AM

Dropped to 5,000 feet? Probably clipped a 5,500 foot mountain.

BigAlSouth on March 17, 2014 at 9:37 AM

So it avoided “commercial radar” and no one else picked it up?
I was lost once in my Piper Cherokee (that I’ll admit to) and the local Air Force Base was watching me the entire time, laughing, of course. My altitude was about 1500 feet.

Luckily for Obama this has taken Obamacare off the radar.

vityas on March 17, 2014 at 9:37 AM

If the pilot was interested in embarassing the malaysian government, then the DB cooper theory is still in play. If his family moved out and went somewhere, then where’d they go? If he wanted to save his own skin and make a statement, then he could’ve set that plane on autopilot and bailed at 5K feet pretty easily if he were over land (or over water). Does the pilot have any parachuting experience? Even 5K feet is a little low, but perfectly doable. If the passengers and crew were unconscious or dead, then he’d be alone on the plane to bail out and then the jet continues on its own autopilot until it runs out of fuel, I guess…..

tinfoil#

ted c on March 17, 2014 at 9:37 AM

…My theory is just as good as any others I’ve read. I suppose we shall see…

bimmcorp on March 17, 2014 at 8:57 AM

If your theory is correct then I worry that whatever ‘they’ plan will be executed soon – to minimize risk of detection while staging.

I hope any similar theory isn’t finally proved true by reverse-engineering a disaster.

Tsar of Earth on March 17, 2014 at 9:38 AM

It’s potentially brilliant in execution, certainly in planning. And I recognize the cold calculus of speculation of this nature, but still find myself coming back to this postulation with each new piece of evidence:

Co-pilot signs off with regional controller for Malaysian airspace, cuts the transponder and veers off course before he is to be pinged by the Vietnam regional controller. The single easiest spot to delay detection—during the weak point of the regional ATC transfer. He’s headed out over the Gulf of Thailand before he is even noticed missing.

Next step—remove the passengers as a concern. Take the plane to 45,000 feet and suffocate everyone. Cell phones don’t work above 8k AGL and text only works to about 35k. No communication as they kill everyone. Now he/they have a plane with no possibility of passenger uprising. The passenger compartment likely never knew anything was going on until they were starved of oxygen supply with no ability to communicate.

If the plane wasn’t picked up on radar by China, India, or Pakistan, then it likely made landfall over Bangladesh/Myanmar where air defense systems would be much weaker. We know it dropped to 5k AGL to avoid radar detection, and we know it was in the air and potentially working its way up the Himalayas close to 7 hours into the flight. That means it could be on the ground in Pakistan, Tajikistan, or Kyrgyzstan. But that’s easier said than done—a 7500+ foot landing strip capable of sending the plane back up isn’t easy to hide from satellites. The plane, however, is relatively easy to hide.

Turning the transponder off over the South China Sea guarantees that the initial belief will be a crash, so all efforts in the crucial first few days will focus on a water recovery—exactly how the world responded.

Endgame? My guess is this: Wait six months until all the fervor has died down. Now you have the perfect long-range delivery platform for a former Soviet tactical nuke or other WMD. Target? Tel Aviv. Responsible party? Can’t be easily tied to any nation state, giving plausible deniability to the terrorist entity involved and any potential sponsor.

Option 2: It failed. Threading radar coverage along the Himalayas would have required a lot of fuel burn, and it may have fallen short. Perhaps the plan was to turn the plane while the world focused on a crash recovery. The plane fell short and now the plan can’t be executed.

Either way, we would be better off focusing attention less on finding a plane and more on finding possible landing strips. Who has control of them? And Israel better not fall asleep at the switch anytime soon. Scary stuff.

And yes, I realize this remains highly speculative.

hungrymongo on March 17, 2014 at 9:39 AM

My conspiracy theory is that the pilots were complicit in the diversion of the aircraft, and that they took the plane to 40,000 feet and cut the oxygen supply to the passenger cabin, killing all the ‘witnesses’. They then proceeded to fly ‘under the radar’ to their destination in Iran or Pakistan, to have the aircraft fitted with nuclear arms to pay a visit to Israel or the U.S. I’m guessing the two pilots were paid handsomely for their efforts. My theory is just as good as any others I’ve read. I suppose we shall see…

bimmcorp on March 17, 2014 at 8:57 AM

Emphasis added

I’ve seen this theory in a couple of places. If flying a plane (nuclear-armed or not) into Israel was that easy, I should think it would be happening on an hourly basis.

The planes used in 911 were hijacked flights, not planes somebody sneaked into the US, fueled, then lifted from a giant airstrip somewhere that nobody knew about.

Unless I’m missing something, I can’t imagine how such a plan would work.

mankai on March 17, 2014 at 9:39 AM

Like I commented to OE. Pilots use desk top trainers and simulators on their computers. That could be nothing.

hawkdriver on March 17, 2014 at 9:35 AM

Now they’re claiming the steward had one as well…and they’re looking into the background of a flight engineer who was a passenger?

TWO crew members of mystery plane had flight simulators at home: Now steward on board the Boeing revealed to have had one as well

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2582624/MH370-It-wasnt-just-captain-missing-Malaysian-airline-flight-simulator-similar-computer-software-home-belonging-member-cabin-crew.html#ixzz2wE9SlKJe
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Really weird…

workingclass artist on March 17, 2014 at 9:42 AM

Well, there is one aspect of this story that is terribly disturbing.
It’s been over a week and the pilot’s wife hasn’t sat down for an in-depth interview with Baba Wawa.
Come on, vapid American media – do your thing!

Galtian on March 17, 2014 at 9:45 AM

Maybe what other countries should do is refuse to accept any flights from Malaysia Airlines to force the Malaysian authorities to be more forthcoming with information and induce more cooperation with other authorities.

HiJack on March 17, 2014 at 9:47 AM

Really weird…

workingclass artist on March 17, 2014 at 9:42 AM

A steward having one would be more odd. Again though, a person in the aviation industry with a popular software program on their computer, no real smoking gun yet. If it were found that several members of the crew were all playing with a similar flight program and route, mission … that would be something.

hawkdriver on March 17, 2014 at 9:47 AM

hungrymongo on March 17, 2014 at 9:39 AM

Given that Malaysia is mainly Sunni Muslim, Tajikistan seems the best fit.

OldEnglish on March 17, 2014 at 9:49 AM

Simply ditching the plane as a terrorist act of mass murder, or even a demented act of suicide, could have easily been done without changing course, dodging radar and shifting altitudes. Unless what is coming out is total misinformation, you have to assume at this point that the plan was either to use the plane as a missile or to land it somewhere.

SacredFire on March 17, 2014 at 8:55 AM

Precisely.

IF these reports are true (and I give them, at best, a 50% chance of being true given the incentives the government has to blame someone else), then this was either abduction of some person(s) yet unknown on that aircraft or a terrorist attack that, apparently, failed.

I would suspect the Chinese shot it down if it looked like it was trying to attack something in China, but I haven’t the slightest idea why they wouldn’t own up to it, if so. (And, the reports suggest it was flying away from China, anyway.)

None of the information released makes any sense. (Which doesn’t prove it isn’t true, just that there’s information we don’t have yet. We don’t even know what we don’t know.)

makattak on March 17, 2014 at 9:49 AM

The Malaysian government may be in a world of hurt over this. The embarassment of losing this airplane, the problems with the Chinese, and the lingering questions as to what happened to it, and what is going to be Act II of this weird-as-hell story. If that plane, Heaven forbid, becomes airborne once again, then buckle up folks. I’m betting that it won’t, but it is certainly within the realm of plausibility. If whoever planned to make that thing disappear did such a damn good job of doing so (and has kept it hidden for so long) then they most likely have done a damn good job of planning to get it airborne once again. If a 777 can rev up under some degree of overhead cover, then it can probably get airborne in ??? 20-30 sec ??. If those tires leave the ground then chances are it will have to be shot down or somehow disabled so that it crashes.
#straightens tinfoil hat

ted c on March 17, 2014 at 9:52 AM

HiJack on March 17, 2014 at 9:47 AM

I will offer one, only one conspiracy theory observation. A guy named HiJack is commenting on this thread.

Hmmm …

hawkdriver on March 17, 2014 at 9:53 AM

OldEnglish on March 17, 2014 at 9:32 AM

Everyone wants to be a carrier jock.

hawkdriver on March 17, 2014 at 9:54 AM

In an exclusive story, the government-backed paper…

…they have a New York Times?

KOOLAID2 on March 17, 2014 at 9:54 AM

dropped to 5,000 feet

the Boeing 777-200ER dropped 5,000 feet

These are NOT the same thing. Dropping 5,000 feet we already knew. Heck, it climbed 10k, then dropped about 15k.

The referenced article doesn’t have the “to” article in any sentence that I see. It is not saying that it dropped to an altitude at which it could do radar masking. (This, despite claiming that it did so in order to accomplish terrain masking.)

GWB on March 17, 2014 at 9:54 AM

At 5000′ or less a 777 has far less range than the reported farthest on circles. Jet aircraft are optimized for high altitude flight. They suck gas like nobody’s business at radar avoiding altitudes.

jerryofva on March 17, 2014 at 9:56 AM

Everyone wants to be a carrier jock.

hawkdriver on March 17, 2014 at 9:54 AM

Well not everybody can drive a C-130.

Happy Nomad on March 17, 2014 at 10:04 AM

hawkdriver on March 17, 2014 at 9:54 AM

LOL! Not at my age! Playing is as far as I go.

OldEnglish on March 17, 2014 at 10:04 AM

There are only a couple reasons why that jet would’ve dropped to a low altitude. One is to evade so that it could fly somewhere else undetected, two is that someone wanted to bailout of it. If there is no jet found, then it is plausible that that jet could’ve touched down on an airstrip on an island. Sounds crazy, but everything in this whole story is crazy right now.

ted c on March 17, 2014 at 10:04 AM

My theories:
- The plane is currently parked in a ‘-stan’ country
- It has received a paint job and looks like it belongs to El-Al
- The audio system has been upgraded so it now goes to ‘NUCLEAR’
- A flight to Tel Aviv is in the near future
- And the entire operation is being bankrolled by Iran

As far as why they would ‘hijack a plane and be quiet about it’ – they are TERRORISTS: they have civilians in a panic and most of the security people in the world have their panties in a twist. Countries are starting to snap at one another. Fingers are being pointed. Pretty much chaos and turmoil, and it’s just what they wanted.

Just wait for the reaction when the second one happens…

BTW: My heart goes out to the hostages (which is what the passengers are now, if they aren’t all dead) and their families. I couldn’t imagine what they are going through.

Timothy S. Carlson on March 17, 2014 at 10:12 AM

Now you have the perfect long-range delivery platform for a former Soviet tactical nuke or other WMD. Target? Tel Aviv.

hungrymongo on March 17, 2014 at 9:39 AM

What if, instead, the target is one of the Iranian nuclear sites? A false flag operation to pin “first use” of a nuke on Israel? They could pick one of the more obvious sites, have it shutdown and their people evacuated (heck, even stick a bunch of corpses in there – they’ve done it before), then KABLOOIE! And now they point fingers at Israel – “See? We said they would do this!”

Just thinking out loud.

GWB on March 17, 2014 at 10:12 AM

There is no word on whether Malaysia has begun searching the residence of Hamid,


If any of several press reports dating as far back as March two days ago are to be believed, this statement is possibly inaccurate.

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on March 17, 2014 at 10:14 AM

Both my husband and brother are pilot’s and have flight sim on computers at home, that’s not unusual. The flight was at night so most of the passengers were probably sleeping making it easy to kill them with hypoxia. No ransome yet, so that scenario is plausible, they’re gone. Why would a government want to steal a plane? It would be easier to buy one and it wouldn’t raise any eyebrows if it were flown here to the US. Why would a pilot fly around radar for 7 hours just to crash somewhere remote? That accomplishes nothing and their lives are gone for nothing. None of this makes any sense. I feel so bad for the families. I hope they can find peace.

megthered on March 17, 2014 at 10:15 AM

Someone knows where that plane is right now, but is not releasing the location.

TX-96 on March 17, 2014 at 10:16 AM

GWB on March 17, 2014 at 9:54 AM

Agreed. I do not think Ed read and then transcribed this one correctly.

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on March 17, 2014 at 10:17 AM

Timothy S. Carlson on March 17, 2014 at 10:12 AM

One fly in the ointment: Malaysia is Sunni, Iran is Shia.

OldEnglish on March 17, 2014 at 10:17 AM

As a side note. This is not a small plane. If it flew over land at any altitude they should have had it on radar and they know where it is. Likely a rescue effort is going on.

If if flew over land and the radar missed it I doubt any country would want to admit their air defense radar failed so miserably.

CW20 on March 17, 2014 at 10:23 AM

I reached my breaking point on all these different theories yesterday. I’ve decided not to give credit to any theory that starts with the words “plane was deliberately taken off course” and ends with the words “ditched in the Indian Ocean.” It is perfect nonsense to claim that the plane 1) was hijacked but then 2) no one took credit for it or made any demands and then 3) flew the plane for seven hours only to crashed the plane in the open ocean where it may never be found. All I am willing to believe right now is that the plane is being hidden somewhere. Beyond that I won’t speculate. All I care about is finding it and the remains of its passengers because the other thing that I am pretty sure of is that no one is going to be keeping 239 people for even one day much less well over a week.

Texene on March 17, 2014 at 10:24 AM

Texene on March 17, 2014 at 10:24 AM

We don’t know that the pilot may have communicated directly with the govt, concerning the jailing of Ibrahim. If so, no way will the govt admit this, since the whole thing was a setup to get Ibrahim out of the way.

OldEnglish on March 17, 2014 at 10:28 AM

Too bad this didn’t happen during the NFL season. Because if it had, we would all have the benefit of Sunday Night Football halftime where the all knowing all seeing all wise Bob Costas would have explained it to us.

Galtian on March 17, 2014 at 10:28 AM

Whenever I read articles about this situation, I keep thinking that this is like a real-life version of ‘Lost’. Now, we just need to find out that some super-secret nefarious corporation is behind the whole thing. Weird, and sad for the innocents involved.

conservablogger on March 17, 2014 at 10:31 AM

Can people even survive in a jet that’s climbing and diving as much as these reports tell us?

scalleywag on March 17, 2014 at 10:32 AM

At 5000 feet over water the radar horizon is about 100 nautical miles away. That’s not going to hide you all that well.

PersonFromPorlock on March 17, 2014 at 10:33 AM

If if flew over land and the radar missed it I doubt any country would want to admit their air defense radar failed so miserably.

CW20 on March 17, 2014 at 10:23 AM

Depend on the altitude and the radar facility. Ferrying helicopters from the Sikorsky plant in CT to Ft. Campbell or our facility in Huntsville, AL, we had a flight plan that took us through VA, NC and on. After switching from Potomac Approach Control (TRACON) we’d be handed off to Roanoke and they cannot see you at the distant we were flying on our route until you get up near 4500 feet. That’s the US.

hawkdriver on March 17, 2014 at 10:36 AM

Sounds to me like the pilot, if he’s the one who made all these maneuvers, is insane and is perfectly capable of destroying the aircraft for selfish reasons. I doubt seriously that an insane man is capable of holding over 200 people hostage somewhere unless he had a team of heavily armed commandos out there somewhere…and therefore I think he dove it into the ocean. And if he did that, they may never find that plane.

scalleywag on March 17, 2014 at 10:37 AM

Actually, dumping it into the Indian Ocean isn’t pointless:
- It keeps everyone speculating on ‘who has the plane’, and eventually pointing fingers and laying blame.
- As long as the plane is missing, the tensions in the world continue to build.

Then, if this is just ‘Act I’ and there’s an ‘Act II’ (another hijacking just like this) – expect the taut nerves to snap.

And then, for the third act (or for Act II, if they don’t think they can get away with so many incidents), _several_ planes are hijacked in a single day. Absolute pandemonium will break out. Especially if they are snatched from around the world and not just in Southeast Asia. Air travel will be severely impacted and with it the economies of the world.

I feel that there’s a plan in the works, and the perpetrators are watching our reactions and readying their next steps.

Sorry to be so grim, but I have a really bad feeling about this whole situation.

Timothy S. Carlson on March 17, 2014 at 10:46 AM

Whoever took Flight 370 had plenty of highly-populated targets in the region if they wanted to turn the plane into a guided missile, a la 9/11, but instead tried very hard to disappear off the grid. Why?

With two Iranians with stolen passports on board, and the plane heading WNW as it crossed back over the Malaysian peninsula, and it flew for another 6-1/2 hours (over 3,000 miles), it could have reached Pakistan or Iran. Perhaps there was an accomplice in Pakistan who could have guided it undetected into a Pakistani military airport (Bin Laden was camped out a few miles from a Pakistani military base!), where the plane could be hidden for later use as a weapon.

The plane might have reached Iran on a direct route, but that would be risky for the hijackers if it was detected over Indian airspace. More likely, the hijackers flew west over the ocean (south of Sri Lanka) to avoid detection by Indian radar, then north to Pakistan, if the plane didn’t have enough fuel to reach Iran.

If the plane is in Pakistan, once it is refueled it could hit targets in the Middle East (Saudi Arabia, Israel) or Europe. We need to be questioning Pakistani authorities about all planes entering their airspace that morning, particularly from the south and east. But with Smart Power in the White House, we’ll send a destroyer out on a fruitless search of the Bay of Bengal.

Steve Z on March 17, 2014 at 10:46 AM

I will offer one, only one conspiracy theory observation. A guy named HiJack is commenting on this thread.

Hmmm …

hawkdriver on March 17, 2014 at 9:53 AM

Oops.

HiJack on March 17, 2014 at 10:55 AM

All these theories that take the aircraft to one of the stans breaks down for a couple of reasons. For one thing, the aircraft would have to fly through some of the most monitored/defended airspace in the world, i.e., India and China. Air Defenses don’t rely on transponders for IFF. In fact if you are not squawking you will probably attract attention sooner. As noted above to fly low enough to evade radar surveillance would make it impossible to get there.

Second, so it gets to the stans. You just don’t land a 300k+ lb aircraft at an airfield without someone noticing it. I doubt that there are any airfields that are large and heavy enough for it to escape attention.

Short fields are a no go. I have seen some stuff that you can land a 777 on 3500′ runway. It would have to very light to do so and there would been margin for error. It is also doubtful that the runway be able support a 777 because runway strength is calibrated to what lands there. I also don’t see the plane getting off the ground at 3500, at least with enough fuel to go anywhere.

While it is fun to speculate or outline a movie script, none of the speculation on the final destination makes sense from either an aeronautical or operational point of view.

Most likely hijack scenario is that the hijackers decompresses the aircraft and everybody died. With the plane ultimately on autopilot it flies off into the Indian Ocean and disappears. Just remember, it’s a big world out there.

jerryofva on March 17, 2014 at 10:56 AM

Steve Z on March 17, 2014 at 10:46 AM

So you lean towards the Iranians, rather than the pilots, being responsible?

OldEnglish on March 17, 2014 at 10:57 AM

I’m still wondering what info our intelligence operations on Diego Garcia has, but of course the spooks there aren’t talking.

I miss that place…

Come on, I can’t be the only HotAirian that has been stationed there…

DethMetalCookieMonst on March 17, 2014 at 10:59 AM

Ok, here’s a new one (to me anyway): What about those strange “grids” all over China seen in satellite photos. Could they be airstrips that this plane was headed to?

IrishEi on March 17, 2014 at 9:02 AM

Those grids are used for satellite calibration.

Anyways…none of the speculation about this flight adequately explains what happened to it…and where it is right now, along with it’s passengers and crew. We really don’t know anything until that comes to light. Or if it ever does.

JetBoy on March 17, 2014 at 11:12 AM

Surprise, surprise!

Another Drew on March 17, 2014 at 11:32 AM

We are getting just a glimpse of what it’s like to live in a society with a government which controls every thought and action. The Malays are a completely dysfunctional society with many overlapping problems with race relations and Islamic vs non-Islamic society. As Americans or Canadians, it’s hard for us to understand how things can look like such a total cluster. To Malays, this has been one embarrassment after another as each public official has let their pride stop them from thinking and acting objectively. Imagine what it’s like to live in such a society with all the competing race and religious issues at play.

This is what it’s going to be like dealing with Obozocare soon; first the diagnosis that you have high BP, which then slowly over the course of months after multitudes of contradictory diagnosis and denials of coverage, you eventually learn you have terminal cancer that would have been operable had it been caught in time.

Viva la Big Government. Sigh.

KMC1 on March 17, 2014 at 11:40 AM

Just adding an element to the “use it as a WMD delivery system” scenario:

You couldn’t just sneak a 777 over Tel Aviv or any other major city without it being detected. But you could use the transponder and radio callsign to mimic a legitimate scheduled flight.

You just have to quietly eliminate the legitimate flight. You could, say, fly it to 45,000 feet to kill the passengers while way out over the ocean, then send it far away.

Meanwhile, the stolen MA 370 aircraft must match the flight plan of original aircraft, including radio call signs and transponder codes. Again, do all this way out over the ocean where there is no radar coverage.

That’s it. You now have a ticket to penetrate the Air Defense Identification Zone of any major country. (Unless we have a better way to authenticate inbound civilian aircraft that I’m not aware of.)

Please poke holes in this scenario. It would help me sleep better tonight.

ZenDraken on March 17, 2014 at 11:49 AM

Ed, there is a HUGE discrepancy here.

Headline says: dropped to 5,000 feet.
Your first paragraph says: dropped to below 5,000 feet.
Cited article says: dropped 5,000 feet.

Gosh, no one sees this?

Well, others have indeed noticed it — though I’m surprised that so many posters seem oblivious to it. Most are acting as if the headline is gospel.

Really, can you offer no clarification?

Lolo on March 17, 2014 at 11:51 AM

Hummmmmnm…… 239 passengers….. and nobody had a cell phone…. no one wanted to call mom or pops and say Buh Bye……. seems to me there were lots O calls come’n from passengers on 9/11.

roflmmfao

donabernathy on March 17, 2014 at 11:51 AM

donabernathy- remember the plane was flying in the middle of the night. Most of the people were asleep or trying to sleep. I would think they would notice the climb in altitude, but maybe not. Also, I read on Saturday, that the Indian ATC is mostly unattended at night. They don’t staff at night, just use computers and call someone if something comes in. That seems crazy to me. But if the pilot knew
that, it would make flying over parts of India easier.

megthered on March 17, 2014 at 12:01 PM

There should be a law that if you don’t have some new fact, you can’t write a story (or put it on tv, including…especially…cable tv). Every media outlet keeps using “breaking news” or “Exclusive new information” and it is a total lie…just repackaging of “same old, same old.”

Every time this subject comes up, I’ve been driven to re-runs of “Lucy” and “Mash.” Let me know when you have some really new information…like, you found the plane. Otherwise, just stay quiet.

TKPedersen42 on March 17, 2014 at 12:04 PM

Can we get new conspiracy theories for this thread.

Rehashing the old ones every time gets boring fast.

cozmo on March 17, 2014 at 8:46 AM

See: overambitious Red Chinese pilot shootdown, followed by coverup:
Malay Mystery

slickwillie2001 on March 17, 2014 at 12:04 PM

Just adding an element to the “use it as a WMD delivery system” scenario:

You couldn’t just sneak a 777 over Tel Aviv or any other major city without it being detected. But you could use the transponder and radio callsign to mimic a legitimate scheduled flight.

You just have to quietly eliminate the legitimate flight. You could, say, fly it to 45,000 feet to kill the passengers while way out over the ocean, then send it far away.

Meanwhile, the stolen MA 370 aircraft must match the flight plan of original aircraft, including radio call signs and transponder codes. Again, do all this way out over the ocean where there is no radar coverage.

That’s it. You now have a ticket to penetrate the Air Defense Identification Zone of any major country. (Unless we have a better way to authenticate inbound civilian aircraft that I’m not aware of.)

Please poke holes in this scenario. It would help me sleep better tonight.

ZenDraken on March 17, 2014 at 11:49 AM

That sounds plausible except how do you eliminate the other aircraft and at the right time and place to insert your own. Also, you wouldn’t fly it at 45,000′. That is a 270 mile radar horizon. You would fly it low to do that.

This would also have to be done by a state actor which at this point looks like Iran. Why would Iran bother to do this when it has large airliners of its own. It could just fly a normal flight plan and go missing and then go for its target.

jerryofva on March 17, 2014 at 12:08 PM

donabernathy,on 9/11, the planes were near cell phone towers in the U.S.

My theory:

The jet was flown to an airport, maybe a military base, in an anti-U.S. area. It is being fitted with a massive bomb, and the passengers will be human shields on its final flight.

KyMouse on March 17, 2014 at 12:15 PM

how do you eliminate the other aircraft and at the right time and place to insert your own.

jerryofva on March 17, 2014 at 12:08 PM

The stolen aircraft would have to intercept the target aircraft way out over the ocean. It would require some precise timing, but it is very doable with good training and planning. Air refueling aircraft do this all the time by controlling airspeed to arrive at a designated rendezvous with other aircraft.

Also, you wouldn’t fly it at 45,000′. That is a 270 mile radar horizon.

That’s why you do it way out over the ocean, where there is no radar coverage.

ZenDraken on March 17, 2014 at 12:19 PM

slickwillie2001 on March 17, 2014 at 12:04 PM

Read it yesterday. Even the author ain’t buyin’ it. But it does help pass the time.

An hour into an overnight flight with a lot of frequent flyers. These folks probably wanted to sleep the flight away and were doing so.

cozmo on March 17, 2014 at 12:21 PM

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