Nearly two weeks have gone by and we still have no idea where Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is. Day by day the media combs for information but we’re still not even close to a definitive answer. I have CNN playing in the background and I just heard the words “Aliens” and “North Korea.” That is how far we are from an answer. But, the latest information coming in today is that someone manually changed the computers flight path before the dramatic Western turn. Via NY Times:
The first turn to the west that diverted the missing Malaysia Airlines plane from its planned flight path from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing was carried out through a computer system that was most likely programmed by someone in the plane’s cockpit who was knowledgeable about airplane systems, according to senior American officials.
Instead of manually operating the plane’s controls, whoever altered Flight 370’s path typed seven or eight keystrokes into a computer on a knee-high pedestal between the captain and the first officer, according to officials. The Flight Management System, as the computer is known, directs the plane from point to point specified in the flight plan submitted before a flight. It is not clear whether the plane’s path was reprogrammed before or after it took off.
So, instead of switching to manual to make a dramatic course change, someone merely changed the flight path on the plane’s computer. This revelation continues to add to the evidence against the pilots. Meanwhile, the search area is impossibly huge. Via CNN:
The total area now being searched stands at 2.24 million square nautical miles, Hishammuddin Hussein, the Malaysian defense and transport minister, said at a news conference Tuesday. That’s the same as 2.97 million square miles, or an area nearly the size of the continental United States.
“This is an enormous search area,” Hishammuddin said. “And it is something that Malaysia cannot possibly search on its own. I am therefore very pleased that so many countries have come forward to offer assistance and support to the search and rescue operation.”
This story really shows the size of Earth’s oceans. We could have every country on Earth helping with the search but the sheer size and depth of the ocean will always lead to someone saying, “It’s like a needle in a haystack.” A needle in a haystack sounds like it would be a lot easier to find than a plane in the ocean. At least we would know that the needle is in the haystack. We’re still not sure we’re looking for the plane in the right place. We could be looking in the wrong haystack.