U.S. Investigators Believe Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 Kept Flying For Four Hours After Last Contact

In a story that seems like an episode of LOST but with legitimate true story weirdness, U.S. Investigators believe Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 flew for at least 4 hours after the point that the plane last made contact. Via the Wall Street Journal:

U.S. investigators suspect that Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 stayed in the air for about four hours past the time it reached its last confirmed location, according to two people familiar with the details, raising the possibility that the plane could have flown on for hundreds of additional miles under conditions that remain murky.

Aviation investigators and national security officials believe the plane flew for a total of five hours, based on data automatically downloaded and sent to the ground from the Boeing Co. 777’s engines as part of a routine maintenance and monitoring program.

Think about how long 4 hours is. That’s like the first movie and half of the second movie of the Lord of the Rings trilogy (Sorry, it’s how I measure time). So for the plane to go missing and then continue on in a completely different direction for 4 hours is pretty eerie and suspicious.

But the huge uncertainty about where the plane was headed, and why it apparently continued flying so long without working transponders, has raised theories among investigators that the aircraft may have been commandeered for a reason that appears unclear to U.S. authorities. Some of those theories have been laid out to national security officials and senior personnel from various U.S. agencies, according to one person familiar with the matter.

At one briefing, according to this person, officials were told investigators are actively pursuing the notion that the plane was diverted “with the intention of using it later for another purpose.”

As of Wednesday it remained unclear whether the plane reached an alternate destination or if it ultimately crashed, potentially hundreds of miles from where an international search.

“As of Wednesday it remained unclear whether the plane reached an alternate destination or if it ultimately crashed.” The craziest thing is that after almost a week, international investigators still aren’t sure whether it crashed or landed for alternative uses. If it did land, and that’s a big if, what happened to all the passengers? Do they have to defend against polar bears and other terrible plot devices?

A total flight time of five hours after departing Kuala Lumpur means the Boeing 777 could have continued for an additional distance of about 2,200 nautical miles, reaching points as far as the Indian Ocean, the border of Pakistan or even the Arabian Sea, based on the jet’s cruising speed.

Still, it’s been 6 days, and we still have nothing but Red Herrings. That oil slick that was found a few days ago turned out to just be that the water is full of garbage and unrelated debris, and that satellite photo of what was thought to be the plane turned out to be nothing? And now, even as I write this, other officials are denying that the flight flew for hours past the point of it going missing.

Also on Wednesday, a Chinese government website posted images from Chinese satellites showing what it said were three large objects floating in an 8-square-mile area off the southern tip of Vietnam. The objects were discovered on Sunday , according to the website, which didn’t say whether the objects had been recovered or examined.

Ten countries were helping to scour the seas around Malaysia, including China, the U.S. and Vietnam. Taiwanese vessels are expected to be on the scene by Friday, with India and Japan having also agreed to join the search soon.

In all, 56 surface ships were taking part in the search, according to statements issued by the contributing governments, with Malaysia providing 27 of them. In addition, 30 fixed-wing aircraft were also searching, with at least 10 shipboard helicopters available, mostly in the waters between Malaysia and Vietnam.

The scale of a search mission like this is massive. To not find anything at all with all of those pooled resources makes this more odd as the time adds up. But, with the limited data provided for the search, the more likely that more questions will come up than be answered for the time being.

Via The Wall Street Journal, CNN