MH370 Day 7: Communications deliberately shut down .. Could it have landed?

We are into Day 7 after the aircraft’s disappearance and there is still very little confirmed. But it is getting very weird.

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While US information is taking the search towards a hijacking and westwards, the Chinese have now reported a seismic event on the sea floor between Malaysia and Vietnam about 1.5 hours after the plane lost contact which suggests a catastrophic plunge into the sea along or close to the aircraft’s planned flight path.

Malaysian Insider: Chinese researchers have detected a “seafloor event” near the waters between Malaysia and Vietnam, an area suspected to be linked to the missing MH370 jetliner, reported Xinhua. The event occurred about one and a half hours after the plane’s last definitive sighting on civilian radar, a research group on seismology and physics from the University of Science and Technology of China was quoted as saying.

The research group told the Chinese news agency that the area – which is 116 km northeast from where the last contact with the Boeing plane was recorded – was a non-seismic region. “The seafloor event could have been caused by the plane possibly plunging into the sea,” said the group.

If the plane flew on for 4 or 5 hours after ceasing communication – then it must have been hijacked. When the pinging ceased the plane may not have crashed if the hijackers were sophisticated enough to shut it off as they had done with the transponders. The aircraft could then have continued flying after the pinging ceased. No black box signal suggests that it has not encountered water (or that it has been completely destroyed). If the black box has not been destroyed it must be on land. If on land the plane could could have crashed or it has been landed. If it has landed then the passengers may still be alive.

But I can make no sense of who such hijackers could be and where they could have been headed to.

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US officials believe the flight’s two communication systems were “systematically shut down”, indicating that the plane’s disappearence may not have been due to a catastrophic failure, according to ABC News. “The data reporting system, they believe, was shut down at 1.07am. The transponder – which transmits location and altitude – shut down at 1.21am,” the report says.

Hereandnow: Wall Street Journal reporter Andy Pasztor made news today with his story that missing Malaysian Airlines flight 370 could have flown for four more hours after its last confirmed contact, based on information routinely relayed from its Rolls Royce engines.

Malaysian officials denied that today. But Pasztor also claims that American investigators are debating whether “something weird and bizarre” and still unexplained happened in the cockpit, and that the Boeing 777 did not crash when it dropped off the radar, but may have landed.

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Foul play seems to be back into the picture with air piracy followed by a descent into water now assumed for the new search area.

National Post

Aviation specialists investigating last week’s loss of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 say evidence gathered so far suggests the plane veered off its path toward Beijing and travelled west over Malaysia toward the Andaman Sea, beyond the detection limits of the country’s radars, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the probe is active.

ABC News, citing a senior Pentagon official, said the plane may have crashed into the Indian Ocean. With no evidence of a mechanical failure or pilot error, U.S. investigators are treating the disappearance as a case of air piracy, though it remains unclear by whom, one person said.

India’s search team has been asked to explore “very specific coordinates in the Andaman Sea,” said Syed Akbaruddin, a spokesman for the Indian foreign ministry, without elaborating on those coordinates.

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Unconfirmed report that the engines continued to “ping” that they were ready to transmit infirmation and these pings were picked up by US communication satellites. Data was not transmitted because Malaysian Airlines does not subscribe to the service but the “pings” themselves are providing the indications that the plane continued flying and that it was westwards.

(now also reported here at ABC News: Malaysia Airliner Kept ‘Pinging’

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Malaysian Ministers continue to make silly statements:

This time the Communications Minister, Ahmad Shabery Cheek, is calling for nationalism and the cessation of all criticism of the government.

NST“The government and those involved in the operation needs the people to support us. This is the time to unite under the banner of nationalism.”

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What the new indications are are not known but the US thinks the aircraft may have come down even further west than previously ever envisaged. They believe the plane flew west for 4 or 5 hours after disappearing from the radar before crashing into the water. I would guess that the new indications are from satellite imagery. But a location so far west also suggests that the plane was diverted/hijacked and was being flown with all communication deliberately switched off.

At today’s press conference why did Malaysia dismiss the US report that the plane had flown on for 4 or 5 hours as being “inaccurate”?

Where? Myanmar? Thailand? India?

Could it actually have been landed somewhere? Seems unlikely.

Reuters“It’s my understanding that based on some new information that’s not necessarily conclusive – but new information – an additional search area may be opened in the Indian Ocean,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said. “And we are consulting with international partners about the appropriate assets to deploy.

The Star:U.S. officials have an “indication” the missing Malaysia Airlines plane may have crashed in the Indian Ocean and is moving the USS Kidd to the area to begin searching, according to ABC News. It quoted a senior Pentagon official as saying that it will take another 24 hours to move the ship into position. 
“We have an indication the plane went down in the Indian Ocean,” the senior official said.

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Eagle Radio:

Communications satellites picked up a faint ‘electronic ping’ from the missing Malaysian aircraft after contact was lost according to a source close to the investigation.

The signal was an indication the aircraft’s troubleshooting systems were ready to communicate with satellites if required, but no data was sent because Malaysia Airlines had not subscribed to the full troubleshooting service, the source said.

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