Plane Search Switches To Two Air Corridors
A week after it went missing, the search for the Malaysian Airlines plane is now being moved further west to two “air corridors” as it enters a “new phase”.One is from northern Thailand to the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan and the other is further south, from Indonesia to the southern Indian Ocean.
It comes after authorities confirmed the jet’s last communication with a satellite was in one of those areas after it picked up a “ping” from the airliner.
This was nearly seven hours after the flight dropped off civilian air traffic control screens.
The corridors represent a satellite track, which appears as an arc on a map.
The Boeing 777 did not necessarily follow the corridor, but was at some point along its path at the moment the signal was sent.
Malaysia’s prime minister Najib Razak said that searching in the South China Sea, where the plane first lost contact with air traffic controllers, would be ended.
Authorities believe Flight MH370 had its communications and tracking systems deliberately turned off amid reports that it had been hijacked.
Investigators have increasingly focused on the possibility it was flown off-course by the pilot or co-pilot, or someone else on board with detailed knowledge of how to fly and navigate a large commercial aircraft.
The plane, with 239 people on board, left Kuala Lumpar at 12.40am on Saturday March 8 and headed to Beijing.
About 40 minutes into the flight, the jet’s communications with civilian air controllers were severed.
Investigators believe one of the aircraft’s communications systems – the Aircraft and Communications Addressing and Reporting System – was disabled before the plane reached the east coast of Malaysia.
Shortly afterwards, someone on board then switched off the aircraft’s transponder, which communicates with civilian air traffic controllers.
At 2.15am Malaysian air force defence radar picked up traces of the plane turning back westwards, crossing over Peninsular Malaysia before turning north west into the stretches of the Strait of Malacca.
But the last confirmed signal between the aircraft and a satellite was at 8.11am – seven and a half hours after take-off, meaning it could have flown as far north as Kazakhstan or the southern Indian Ocean.
Airline officials have said the plane had enough fuel to fly for up to about eight hours.
The PM said authorities were still looking at all possibilities and did not confirm the hijacking claim which was made by an unnamed Malaysian official.