Flight 370 landed? That’s just one of dozens of questions that have arisen over missing Malaysian jet Flight 370. What is now known is that Flight 370 made radical adjustments in altitude and bearing after vanishing from civilian radar shortly after takeoff. The alteration of the flight path – now thought to have taken the 239 passengers to the Indian Ocean – has raised questions about who was at the controls of the flight, and for what purpose would they lead the Boeing 777 hundreds of miles astray.
According to NBC News on Friday, “investigators probing the missing Malaysia Airlines jet are examining the possibility the plane's disappearance is 'an act of piracy,' and that the plane may have landed somewhere rather than crashed.”
One official, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “The more we learn about the flight pattern, the more difficult it is to write off the idea that some type of human intervention was involved.”
Electronic data and satellite “pings” – which continued for approximately five hours after the plane ceased all radar transmission – now suggests the jet may have been seized by passengers in an “on board incident.”
It appears the flight, if it didn’t land somewhere yet to be found, crashed either in the Bay of Bengal or elsewhere in the Indian Ocean.
The jetliner was flying “a strange path,” the unnamed investigating official said. The details of the radar readings were first reported by The New York Times on Friday.
Malaysian military radar also tracked the missing jet for a time, and showed the aircraft varying in altitudes from 45,000 feet, to as low as 23,000 feet.
The question of what happened to the jetliner has turned into one of the biggest mysteries in aviation history, befuddling industry experts and government officials. Suggestions have ranged from a catastrophic explosion to sabotage to hijacking to pilot suicide. – CNN
The theory that a person or persons gained control of the aircraft was aided Friday by The Wall Street Journal, which indicated investigators believe the plane’s communications systems were manually disabled.
Previous theories thought the jet landed somewhere in the Andaman Islands – an archipelago in the Bay of Bengal between India and Burma. But Denis Giles, editor of the Andaman Chronicle newspaper, says that it’s impossible that a 240 foot jet could have landed somewhere on the islands without notice.
“There is no chance, no such chance, that any aircraft of this size can come towards Andaman and Nicobar islands and land,” Giles said.
The United States on Friday sent the USS Kidd destroyer class ship to scout the Indian Ocean as the search expands into that body of water.
"I, like most of the world, really have never seen anything like this," Cmdr. William Marks of the U.S. 7th Fleet said. "It's pretty incredible."
"It's a completely new game now," he said. "We went from a chess board to a football field."
Update: The Associated Press has now reported that the plane was indeed hijacked. Malaysian investigators have concluded that "one or more people with significant flying experience hijacked the missing Malaysia Airlines jet, switched off communication devices and steered it off-course, a Malaysian government official involved in the investigation said Saturday."