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MH370 Roundup: More evidence plane was under skilled control, and radar evasion theories

Malaysia plane's flight path changed by cockpit computer

Rather than manually operating the plane's controls, whoever altered Flight 370's path typed seven or eight keystrokes into a computer situated between the captain and the co-pilot, according to officials.

The computer is called the Flight Management System. It directs the plane from point to point specified in the flight plan submitted before a flight.

It is not clear whether the plane's path was reprogrammed before or after it took off, the Times said. ...

The Times said the changes made to the plane's direction through the Flight Management System were reported back to a maintenance base by ACARS, according to an American official.

This showed the reprogramming happened before the ACARS stopped working, at about the same time that oral radio contact was lost and the airplane's transponder also stopped. This fuels suspicions that foul play was involved in the plane's disappearance.

Investigators are scrutinizing radar tapes from when the plane first departed Kuala Lumpur because they believe the tapes will show that after the plane first changed its course, it passed through several pre-established "waypoints", which are like virtual mile markers in the sky, the Times said.

That would suggest the plane was under control of a knowledgeable pilot because passing through those points without using the computer would have been unlikely, it added.

So, that's interesting. Here's one way radar could have missed the plane, even assuming all countries had all radar turned on, which they didn't. Did 'terrain masking' allow the pilots to elude radars?

Officials searching for missing Flight MH370 are investigating whether whoever was in control of the plane when it veered off course deliberately flew low to avoid detection by military radar. Experts say so-called “terrain masking” could explain why the plane was apparently able to avoid being spotted after its last confirmed location.

And here's another way:

The picture started to develop when I discovered that another Boeing 777 was en-route from Singapore over the Andaman Sea.

I investigated further and plotted the exact coordinates of Singapore Airlines flight number 68’s location at 1815UTC onto the aviation map. I quickly realized that SIA68 was in the immediate vicinity as the missing MH370 flight at precisely the same time. Moreover, SIA68 was en-route on a heading towards the same IGREX waypoint on airway P628 that the Malaysian military radar had shown MH370 headed towards at precisely the same time.

Remember the one challenge that is currently making everyone doubt that MH370 actually flew to Turkmenistan, Iran, China, or Kyrgyzstan? That challenge is the thought that MH370 couldn’t make it through several key airspaces such as India or Afghanistan without being detected by the military.

It is my belief that MH370 likely flew in the shadow of SIA68 through India and Afghanistan airspace. As MH370 was flying “dark” without transponder / ADS-B output, SIA68 would have had no knowledge that MH370 was anywhere around and as it entered Indian airspace, it would have shown up as one single blip on the radar with only the transponder information of SIA68 lighting up ATC and military radar screens.

That's a neat theory, and as a method of flying a 777 so that it's undetected by radar, it has the advantage of using up fuel more slowly than a flight at a lower altitude.

All conjecture, of course! Still, it makes no sense that somebody reprogram an aircraft's flight computer to commit suicide or blunder off into the Indian Ocean. Then again, if they're hijackers, where are the demands?

NOTE Anybody reminded of the Snowden affair here? That has the last world-wide puzzle of consuming interest that involved aircraft and flight facilities.

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Submitted by jo6pac on

love reading all the ideas no matter how strange they are but I do feel for the families of the passengers:(

Submitted by hipparchia on

Then again, if they're hijackers, where are the demands?

if, say, all you wanted to do was leave one country and get to another, why would you need to make any demands?

there are probably multiple reasons to hijack a plane...

Submitted by Hugh on

I was surprised it took so long to find out that the plane had changed course before the last message by the co-pilot. One of the first things in an investigation is to establish a timeline and the most important points on that timeline are those around when the plane changed course and when it last made contact. This is information which should have been known within hours, certainly within the first 24 hours after the plane was lost. And yet it did not come out for more than 10 days. That is incredibly sloppy work or some serious and seriously deceptive CYA on the part of the Malaysian authorities.

I would note too that where the plane changed course was at an ambiguous point where the flight was passing from Malaysian air traffic control to Vietnamese controllers.

I would be interested to know how many runways and landing strips in the region could handle the landing of a Boeing 777.

Finally, I would note that the feeding and care of 230 people requires extensive resources, and I would be interested who besides state actors in the region would have such resources and be able to expend them quietly without raising suspicions, which rather leads me to the conclusion that whatever the fate of the plane, the passengers are likely dead.