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March 17, 2014

Even More Evidence Flight 370 Was Deliberately Diverted; Probe Now Officially a Criminal Investigation; Pilots Investigated

The Malaysia PM now calls the disappearance "deliberate."

Malaysia's prime minister says the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 appears to be "deliberate."

Speaking to the press early Saturday, Prime Minister Najib Razak said the investigation has refocused onto the crew and passengers aboard the missing plane. He added that despite growing evidence to suggest a possible hijacking or sabotage, all possibilities are still being investigated.

..

Earlier, a Malaysian government official who is involved in the investigation said investigators have concluded that one of the pilots or someone else with flying experience hijacked the missing Malaysia Airlines jet.

...

The official said that hijacking was no longer a theory. "It is conclusive."

..

Sources told the Reuters news agency on Friday, meanwhile, that the path Flight 370 appears to have taken after diverting from its intended route strongly suggests that a trained pilot was still in control of the aircraft.

More clues keep coming in, some of them, of course, contradictory, as they usually have been in this case.

First, the plane was allegedly dropped to 5,000 feet. There is no reason to fly at such a low altitude -- it's difficult and it eats up fuel -- unless a skilled pilot intends to evade radar.

Second, despite earlier reports that the ACARS system was turned off before the cockpit issued its last communication with air control ("All right, good night"), there now appears to be considerable doubt about that.

Malaysian officials earlier said those words ["All right, good night"] came after one of the jetliner's data communications systems - the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System - had been switched off, sharpening suspicion that one or both of the pilots may have been involved in the plane's disappearance.

However, Ahmad said Monday that while the last data transmission from ACARS - which gives plane performance and maintenance information - came before that, it was still unclear at what point the system was switched off. That opened the possibility that both ACARS and the plane's transponders - which make the plane visible to civilian air traffic controllers - were severed later and at about the same time.

So the earlier report seemed based upon the last transmission from ACARS -- not actual evidence the system had been disabled at any particular time. Also, the way I read this, this seems to strongly undermine previous reports that ACARS and the transponder had been turned off at different times -- because it looks like the guess as to when ACARS was turned off only comes from when its last transmission occurred. Assuming that ACARS only pings a satellite intermittently (which must be true), the last transmission from ACARS gives very little clue at all as to when it was turned off. It can only tell you the last time it was definitely on.

A previous report had suggested that Flight 370 disappeared in a corridor of very little radar cover, in between Malaysia's radar system and Vietnam's, suggesting that whoever stole the plane chose the best possible time and place to disable the transponder. I don't know if that report still holds up; everything seems to be revised 24 hours later.

The Daily Mail now reports that it was not the captain but the copilot who said "All right, good night," but I'm not sure that really matters.

On the other hand, this seems worth looking into:

It has also been revealed that the pilot's wife and three children moved out of the family home the day before the plane went missing.

The report goes on to say that US investigators say that the pilot and co-pilot did not ask to be assigned to fly together, reducing the likelihood of a conspiracy between them.

The Daily Mail also claims that nine people in northern Malaysia claim to have seen either bright lights in the sky, or heard a jet engine, or both, the night of the disappearance.

Investigators told the New Straits Times that they were now convinced the aircraft flow low over Kelantan, which is in the north east - exactly the same area where the villagers and fishermen who saw bright lights in the sky on the night the jet vanished are living.

At least nine people - fishermen, farmers and villagers - have made reports to police about seeing lights in the sky and some said they heard the loud noise of an engine.
These accounts appear to match the conclusions of investigators who say the jet flew low after making a sharp turn and heading west from its course over the South China Sea.

The first report of a 'bright light descending at high speed' came from Alif Fathi Abdul Hadi, 29, who said he saw the light heading towards the South China Sea at 1.45am on the night the aircraft disappeared.

A lot has been written about the captain's ownership of a flight simulator. It wouldn't ordinarily seem very suspicious that a pilot owns a flight simulator, but in the current context, of course, every tiny fact is being examined.

The Daily Mail also says a steward aboard the flight owned a flight simulator as well.

That doesn't seem terribly unusual or important to me, but, again, everything is now being looked at.



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posted by Ace at 12:00 PM

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