Unknown journey of MH370

Unknown journey of MH370
NEWER TERRAIN: Hope returning but the end could have moved further afield

MALAYSIA - With flight MH370 threatening to morph into the biggest aviation-intelligence crisis ever, it is the hope of the great many that the best-case scenario should be given every opportunity to survive the upcoming rigours and emotions.

This would require sustaining a theory or theories on benign treatment of the passengers and crew; and to continue to pray that after seven hours of flying, MH370 had landed somewhere.

These are the key signposts of this astounding journey, culled from the daily briefings and from the thriving analyses spawned by the missing plane.

The evasion: First, the turn

MH370 turned just as it was about to cross the Malaysia-Vietnam border for airspace administration. We now know that the ACARS (Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System) was disabled just before the flight reached the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, while the transponder was switched off near the Malaysian-Vietnamese air traffic control border.

While transponders are routinely switched off, pilots are not trained to disable the ACARS, which would require pre-planning, says John Lindsay, ex-head of air safety of British Airways.

The veering off, if it happened, must have been tactical rather than an emergency judgment call.

A gap exists between clearance by the Subang control tower and before entering the Vietnamese air control.

By going on a detour from no-man's space somewhere at the Malaysian-Vietnamese air control border, those navigating the plane were about to chart a new flight path, undetected.

Secondly, the irregular flight path

The New York Times, quoting unnamed sources, said after disappearing from civilian radar screens, MH370 soared to an altitude of 45,000 feet, then dipped to 23,000 feet and "made sharp turns throughout the journey, first flying west towards Penang, then shifting southwest and then going north-west over the Straits of Malacca and towards the Indian Ocean".

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