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March 14, 2014

More Evidence That Flight 370 Was Intentionally Diverted

This has stopped being a morbid curiosity and become something more menacing.

Two sources said an unidentified aircraft that investigators believe was Flight MH370 was following a route between navigational waypoints - indicating it was being flown by someone with aviation training - when it was last plotted on military radar off the country's northwest coast.

...

A third source familiar with the investigation said inquiries were focusing increasingly on the theory that someone who knew how to fly a plane deliberately diverted the flight...

The Andsmans are a chain of hundreds of islands off the coast of India. Most are uninhabited.

India has announced a reconnaissance of the islands.

Indian officials have begun searching hundreds of uninhabited islands in the Andaman Sea using heat-seeking devices in the search for the Malaysia Airlines flight that disappeared six days ago.

...

The archipelago, which stretches south of Burma, contains 572 islands across an area of 52 x 720km. Only 37 are inhabited, with the rest covered in dense forests.

It has been assumed (I think) that the plane had to land at an airport, either a functioning one or abandoned one, but if one is on an uninhabited island with some logging machines and a bulldozer, couldn't a group make their own dirt-strip landing area?

More at Hot Air, including a report from ABCNews that Flight 370's two communication systems were shut off separately, suggesting, again, that this was done by human action.

Many people are probably fearing the worst. Allah notes that one general was willing to Go There.

Gen. Tom McInerney casually wondered this morning on Fox News whether maybe jihadis targeted the plane because they need a delivery mechanism for, er, a nuclear weapon.

Something horrible like this would explain why there has been no terrorist chatter about the event (assuming it actually is terrorism). You don't talk about Act I until you've accomplished Act II.

Speculations: If one or more pilots intended suicide, they just would have crashed the plane, not flown it for hours more.

If it were a hijacking with an intended 9/11-style crash into a nearby city (like New Dehli or Bombay), presumably they would have just done that (assuming they had the fuel to reach those places, which I provisionally assume they would have).

However, if the intended target city was in America, presumably hijackers would have to fuel up the plane. I think planes are not loaded with excess fuel, only enough to reach their destination and a quantity of reserve fuel. So a plane bound for China would not have the fuel to reach North America.

I doubt the tanks could even hold so much fuel, but I don't know. This is pure speculation of the worst kind -- uninformed speculation.

If a 9/11-style attack on the American mainland is intended, it could be that the plane had to be landed in order to retrofit the passenger cabin with additional fuel tanks (and these of course would need to be connected to the main tanks, which would take time and tools and expertise).

Given what we uninformed people are now learning about radar and satellite coverage, it seems as if a plane can fly over thousands of miles of ocean without fear of being detected at all. It would only be when a plane comes within several hundred miles (or so) of a well-radared country that it would even be detected.

Which would give American airspace control only a half hour or hour to make a decision about passenger plane flying without transponders and without a flight plan.

Even worse, terrorists could keep most of the passengers alive and pack them aboard the plane -- thus giving the US the choice of killing over one hundred Chinese nationals or letting a plane crash into a US city.

Obviously we'd shoot it down. But maybe live Chinese passengers, killed by US jet pilots, is their Plan B, in case of a shoot-down.

Commenter Objections: Several commenters make the point that while a dirt-strip runway could be used, in a pinch, for a landing, it couldn't be used for a subsequent take-off. A heavy plane will sink, they say, into the dirt on anything other than tarmac or some other engineered surface.

I still don't think this rules out my Uninformed Speculation.

The fact is, the US military builds airports pretty quickly.

But Drew says:

A triple 7 weighs 600,000 pounds empty. On a dirt strip? Even paved you have to have a runway several feet thick. It's not like putting down 2 inches for a side road.

Again, you're ignoring what it takes to land a commercial jet and the amount of technology that pilots use to backup their approach.

Also, the plane took off at midnight local and flew for *west* for 6 or 7 hours total. It would still be dark by the time they got to these islands.

You have a great movie script but not one based on actually landing one of the largest commercial aircraft out there.



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posted by Ace at 11:53 AM

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