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Old 03-15-2014   #41
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Interesting to see the graphic representation of the "corridors" in your link, though. I read "from northern Thailand to the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan" and imagined a route south of what's illustrated there. The route on that map goes straight over western China, and it's hard to see how the Chinese wouldn't have detected that... unless they did, and aren't talking about it?

The illustrated northern arc also seems incompatible with the earlier statements that the jet was headed toward the Andaman Islands... but at this point none of it really seems to fit. I hope whoever's running the search knows more than what's being released.

The southern arc seems to go absolutely nowhere but open ocean, between Diego Garcia and Western Australia.

Either this is all incredibly weird, or the information released to the public is incredibly deficient... maybe both.
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Old 03-15-2014   #42
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The image in question:



NYT coverage:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/16/wo...ight.html?_r=0

Quote:
The northern arc described by Mr. Najib passes through or close to some of the world’s most volatile countries that are home to insurgent groups, but also over highly militarized areas with robust air defense networks, some run by the U.S. military. The arc passes close to northern Iran, through Afghanistan and northern Pakistan, and through northern India and the Himalayan mountains and Myanmar. An aircraft flying on that arc would have to pass through air defense networks in India and Pakistan, whose mutual border is heavily militarized, as well as through Afghanistan, where the United States and other NATO countries have operated air bases for more than a decade.

Air bases near that arc include Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, where the U.S. Air Force’s 455th Air Expeditionary Wing is based, and a large Indian air base, Hindon Air Force Station.
Quote:
The southern arc, from Indonesia to the southern Indian Ocean, travels over open water with few islands stretching all the way to Antarctica. If the aircraft took that path, it may have passed near Australia’s Cocos (Keeling) Islands. These remote islands, with a population of fewer than 1,000 people, have a small airport. To the east of that route is Western Australia.
Explanation of how the arcs were derived:
Quote:
The satellite communications box fitted on the plane is of an older generation and is not equipped with a global positioning system, the person said. But investigators have managed to calculate the distance between the “ping” from the plane and a stationary Inmarsat-3 satellite orbiting above the Equator and over the Indian Ocean. The satellite can “see” in an arc that stretches to the north and south of its fixed position, but without GPS it can only say how far away the ping is, not where it is coming from, the person said.
So if it went north, how did it avoid detection by military radar? If they took it south into empty ocean... why?

Very strange all around.

Another quote from the NYT article:

Quote:
Mikael Robertsson, a co-founder of Flightradar24, a global aviation tracking service, said the way the plane’s communications were shut down pointed to the involvement of someone with considerable aviation expertise and knowledge of the air route, possibly a crew member, willing or unwilling.

The Boeing’s transponder was switched off just as the plane passed from Malaysian to Vietnamese air traffic control space, thus making it more likely that the plane’s absence from communications would not arouse attention, Mr. Robertsson said by telephone from Sweden.

“Always when you fly, you are in contact with air traffic control in some country,” he said. “Instead of contacting the Vietnam air traffic control, the transponder signal was turned off, so I think the timing of turning off the signal just after you have left Malaysian air traffic control indicates someone did this on purpose, and he found the perfect moment when he wasn’t in control by Malaysia or Vietnam. He was like in no-man’s country.”
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Last edited by Dayuhan; 03-15-2014 at 03:17 PM.
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Old 03-15-2014   #43
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The reason I asked about the cargo/freight was because, as per Slap, maybe this is a robbery. Steal the plane. Land it somewhere. Make off with what it was carrying and, God help them, deal with those not in on it and the plane. Who knows too, if that was the case some gov functionaries could be in on it.

I didn't want to speculate like that before but this is so strange now that it can't hurt.
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Old 03-15-2014   #44
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It would certainly be a route from the south to a point along that northern arc. The apparent waypoint plots from earlier seemed to be a path that was at the edges of Malay and Thai military radar coverage.

*If* we're talking about a hijacking and a final known location along that northern 40 degree arc, and *if* the ACARS pings were half hourly, the final destination would be within 250nm of that arc. We'd also be talking about a group that knew exactly how to go about 'threading the needle', flying between radar coverage areas without being detected.

India and China are a bit of an issue. I don't know enough about China's real defence capability in the south west of their country, but I know India is actively intercepting unresponsive and unknown air contacts coming from Pakistan with at least reasonable competence and success as of Feb 24. Whether this vigilance is constant, I can't really say. You'd need some pretty good ELINT sources finding an optimum time to get through to anywhere from Laos to Iran without detection.

Anecdotally I am hearing that flights into China are now regularly carrying greater fuel loads due to local factors.

*If* we're not looking at a hijacking, or we're looking an an unsuccessful hijacking, I'd be picking the southern 40 degree arc as the place to search. This southern arc is going to be a bit of a nightmare to find wreckage in. Apparently, the JORN radar installation at Laverton in Western Australia would have coverage of a large part of that arc, but of course it isn't manned unless there is a heightened state of alert.


Edit: Something that bothers me with a lot of the reporting in regards to the transponder is the notion that the only explanation for turning a transponder off is nefarious. There are times when it's necessary, such as a malfunction or an electrical fire.

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Old 03-15-2014   #45
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I was puzzled as to why the remainder of the 40 degree circle was disregarded. I thought there might be an attempt to misdirect our attention away from Africa for whatever reason, but the explanation is much simpler. Here's the apparent answer:
Quote:
The Malaysian map shows that the SAR team had concluded that the last ping came from somewhere on this 40 degree circle but they ruled out parts of the circle in the far East and also most of the west half of the circle.

A examination of the coverage of the INMARSATs explains this. The last ping must have been picked up by IOR over the Indian Ocean but not by POR over the Pacific or AOR-E over the Atlantic. Hence bits of the red circle are not valid and we end up with the two arcs, also described by the PM as coridoors.
Effectively, had MH370 been at any other point on that circle, it would have been picked up by at least one other satellite.
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Old 03-15-2014   #46
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Default My speculation of the moment.

Thinking on what Slap has said, maybe there was a hijacking unrelated to Islamist terrorism or politics of any sort? Say, one or more of the crew members were part of a conspiracy to steal something on board and/or to kidnap (a) particular passenger(s)?

Part of the heist crew is supposed to be waiting at Penang to offload the goods and the pilot(s), but for whatever reason, the plane doesn’t end up landing there. If the crew had put together a SHTF plan, they change course, dial in the autopilot, and bail out over land, leaving the passengers aloft.* If not, they begin looking for somewhere else to set down.

*Though one would assume that passengers would have made phone calls after the hijackers exited, assuming they were not all suffering form hypoxia related to depressurization related to the hijacker(’)s(’) jump. But that invites the question of why no cell phone calls were made in any case. Maybe the hijacker(’)s(’) bagged them all up first thing? If they had thought to do that beforehand, I expect they had a Plan B in place.
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Old 03-16-2014   #47
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This morning's conspiracy theories...

From The Times of India:

Quote:
Was Malaysia Airlines' Flight 370 hijacked with the chillingly murderous intent of crashing it into a high-value building in an Indian city in a re-run of al-Qaida's 9/11 attack on the US?
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/w...w/32106334.cms

From the Daily Mail:
Quote:
Doomed airliner pilot was political fanatic: Hours before taking control of flight MH370 he attended trial of jailed opposition leader
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...#ixzz2w8TI7BVf

The latter might seem more credible if it didn't come from a notoriously unreliable source.

From Biggus:

Quote:
I was puzzled as to why the remainder of the 40 degree circle was disregarded. I thought there might be an attempt to misdirect our attention away from Africa for whatever reason, but the explanation is much simpler. Here's the apparent answer:

Quote:
The Malaysian map shows that the SAR team had concluded that the last ping came from somewhere on this 40 degree circle but they ruled out parts of the circle in the far East and also most of the west half of the circle.

A examination of the coverage of the INMARSATs explains this. The last ping must have been picked up by IOR over the Indian Ocean but not by POR over the Pacific or AOR-E over the Atlantic. Hence bits of the red circle are not valid and we end up with the two arcs, also described by the PM as coridoors.
Effectively, had MH370 been at any other point on that circle, it would have been picked up by at least one other satellite.
I was under the impression that the arcs were defined by the distance between the satellite and the aircraft, which was the only information they were able to deduce from the pings. The arcs drawn suggest that the distance remained fairly consistent through the period. Knowing the presumed route, the duration of the flight, and approximate speed might get them somewhere. I haven't seen anyone comparing the duration of the flight (as determined by the pigs, apparently 7 hrs) with the range of the aircraft with the fuel it had loaded. If the two are similar it might suggest that the aircraft flew until it ran out of fuel, a scenario consistent with the "disabled crew" scenarios discussed earlier. The southern arc, with the jet flying off into an empty expanse of ocean, might also be consistent with a disabled crew, possibly after a struggle. Flying a jet off to empty ocean with no possible place to land or attack would to me suggest either a disabled crew or a hijacker is a very disturbed frame of mind, but WTFDIK?

Here's an even weirder one: do the engines ping any time they are running, or only when the plane is airborne? If they sent regular pings for 7 hrs, and the pings remained at a relatively consistent distance from the satellite... could the plane have been on the ground for much or part of that time? It seems most peculiar that for 7 hrs the jet would follow an arc that kept it at a consistent distance from the satellite, but everything about this is most peculiar.

It will be interesting to see what more informed speculations emerge. I assume that the specialist aviation writers are running the new info past their networks and we'll see some analysis emerging by and by.

If it did go down at sea, it will take luck to find it... big piece of ocean, and the wreckage has had a week to disperse and sink.
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Old 03-16-2014   #48
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I remember a made for TV movie when I was a kid about a series of plane disappearances. Three planes were taken and disappeared. The actual plot was to use commercial planes loaded with a nuclear weapon on a commercial route into the US replacing an existing plane that would be blown up over the Atlantic. The stolen commercial plane would then take its place on the flight path allowing the plane to fly in and land without raising any suspicion.

I thought about posting this some time back but thought you all would think me crazy (well, crazier than you already do). However, in this case, based on where the plane was last seen, I am thinking that maybe the target is Russia and not the US.

Of course, this is about as crazy as the lady who thinks Tesla company employees are cloaking the plane. Still, thought I would throw it out.

If all you wanted to do was run the plane into something you could have done that without all this effort. If you were planning on using the plane as a weapon the only reason to steal it would be so that you could land it and either change the passengers or the cargo.
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Old 03-16-2014   #49
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The problem with any scenario involving landing the aircraft is a serious lack of places to land a plane that size along the suggested routes, unless we assume official complicity somewhere along the way.

Seems like we have either an incredibly devious plot that's still unfolding, or a somewhat less devious plot that went horribly wrong somewhere along the way. Or, of course, something else altogether...
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Old 03-16-2014   #50
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I am not familiar with that part of the world but are there any dry lake beds there? If there are they make dandy landing fields. Also Desert One wasn't an actual airstrip so there may be more areas to set down than just concrete strips.
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Old 03-16-2014   #51
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Desert One was handling EC-130s and helicopters, not a civilian airliner... and things didn't exactly go well there.

A friend who flies for FedEx told me that landing an airliner anywhere other than a suitable airport would be possible in theory but with incredibly high risk. Of course they could have had a go at it. Also true that in an area like a dry lake bed concealing an airliner from satellite surveillance would be challenging, to say the least.

I suspect that the truth will be eventually turn out to be more mundane than most of the scenarios being thrown around here, but it certainly is a very bizarre incident.

PS: Looking at the ruggedness and isolation of the terrain on that northern arc, and the expanse of ocean on the southern, I have to pity whoever is tasked with running a search. What a nightmare.
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Old 03-16-2014   #52
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So one of the communications systems was shut down early. From the BBC:

Quote:
Mr Razak told a news conference that new satellite evidence shows "with a high degree of certainty" that the one of the aircraft's communications systems - the Aircraft and Communications Addressing and Reporting System - was disabled just before it had reached the east coast of Malaysia.

ACARS is a service that allows computers aboard the plane to "talk" to computers on the ground, relaying in-flight information about the health of its systems.

Shortly afterwards, near the cross-over point between Malaysian and Vietnamese air traffic controllers, the plane's transponder - which emits an identifying signal - was switched off, he said.

According to a military radar, the aircraft then turned and flew back over Malaysia before heading in a north-west direction.

A satellite was able to pick up a signal from the plane until 08:11 local time - more than seven hours after it lost radar contact - although it was unable to give a precise location, Mr Razak said.
I bet whomever let loose that there was another communications system in the plane that continued to transmit is kicking themselves. And if the plane did land, they will want to disable that system before it takes off again.

I figure the odds of it successfully lading are slime, but still it seems like a lot of trouble to go through if this were any normal hijacking or terrorist plot. If it was going to be flown into something that I would suspect that someone would have taken credit by now. Since there does not appear to be anyone claiming responsibility I am speculating that events have not fully run their course.
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Old 03-16-2014   #53
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Default The NSA Is Going Through Huge Amounts Of Data....

Remember Korean flight 007 that was shot down by the Russian Air Force in the 1980's? The President released a recording of the Russian fighter pilot talking....and that recording was made by the NSA with 1970's(maybe 1960's) technology. Can you imagine the data they have with today's tech? Much is yet to be revealed about this incident because it is still in motion!
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Old 03-16-2014   #54
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
I was under the impression that the arcs were defined by the distance between the satellite and the aircraft, which was the only information they were able to deduce from the pings. The arcs drawn suggest that the distance remained fairly consistent through the period. Knowing the presumed route, the duration of the flight, and approximate speed might get them somewhere. I haven't seen anyone comparing the duration of the flight (as determined by the pigs, apparently 7 hrs) with the range of the aircraft with the fuel it had loaded. If the two are similar it might suggest that the aircraft flew until it ran out of fuel, a scenario consistent with the "disabled crew" scenarios discussed earlier. The southern arc, with the jet flying off into an empty expanse of ocean, might also be consistent with a disabled crew, possibly after a struggle. Flying a jet off to empty ocean with no possible place to land or attack would to me suggest either a disabled crew or a hijacker is a very disturbed frame of mind, but WTFDIK?

Here's an even weirder one: do the engines ping any time they are running, or only when the plane is airborne? If they sent regular pings for 7 hrs, and the pings remained at a relatively consistent distance from the satellite... could the plane have been on the ground for much or part of that time? It seems most peculiar that for 7 hrs the jet would follow an arc that kept it at a consistent distance from the satellite, but everything about this is most peculiar.

It will be interesting to see what more informed speculations emerge. I assume that the specialist aviation writers are running the new info past their networks and we'll see some analysis emerging by and by.

If it did go down at sea, it will take luck to find it... big piece of ocean, and the wreckage has had a week to disperse and sink.
The ping arc is certainly one based on deducing the latency of the ping itself, but it's also only based on the 'final' ping. No other information regarding the pings between loss of contact and the final ping have been released. The arc is simply a line of possible points where MH370 issued the final ping, not the route itself.

Regarding whether or not ACARS attempts to check for the presence of a satallite connection on the ground, I do not know. I do know that the ELT is tied into a sensor that detects weight on the landing gear, I know that it would not be overly difficult to build similar functionality into ACARS, but I also know that until now ACARS has not entirely been well understood by many people.

ACARS reports APU status normally when it's reporting back to RR, apparently. A landing, engine shutdown to stop the ACARS pinging, refuel and take off again scenario either requires ground power to start the aircraft, or the APU has to be running when the engines are shut down. I wouldn't discount it if we're looking at a hijacking, the sort of effort that seems to have been gone to would suggest that whatever group was involved would have enough logistical tail to accomplish a landing, fuelling, possible ground power and take off.

There are a few other things to consider. Fuel load would have been enough for a hair over eight hours of flight, including reserves. Now, the way reserves are calculated, part of the calculation is that the aircraft will burn a portion of that reserve in a holding pattern at an alternate airfield in case the original destination is unavailable. In such a holding pattern, fuel burn per distance travelled is higher (an aircraft will burn more fuel travelling at a significantly lower speed and altitude). Using this fuel in cruise would attain significantly greater range. We don't know enough about the fuel load in this case, so it's one of those things to keep in the back of your mind.
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Old 03-16-2014   #55
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
So one of the communications systems was shut down early. From the BBC:



I bet whomever let loose that there was another communications system in the plane that continued to transmit is kicking themselves. And if the plane did land, they will want to disable that system before it takes off again.

I figure the odds of it successfully lading are slime, but still it seems like a lot of trouble to go through if this were any normal hijacking or terrorist plot. If it was going to be flown into something that I would suspect that someone would have taken credit by now. Since there does not appear to be anyone claiming responsibility I am speculating that events have not fully run their course.
There's a lot of conflicting information coming from the Malaysians, partly because they aren't really aware of the capabilities of some of the equipment on MAS planes and partly because I don't think that they've managed to get their own departments to communicate with each other.

MAS opted out of the full ACARS suite. They 'knew' that what was installed could be switched off from the cabin, they didn't know that doing so didn't really fully disable ACARS from communicating with the outside world. Normally, most ACARS data would be handled by HF or VHF ground stations. This is probably what they're talking about, but what they didn't know was that the SATCOM uplink wasn't really completely disabled, it just wasn't sending useful data.

In layman's terms, imagine your email software checking for mail periodically. It'll contact the mail server, but no data will be exchanged beyond a 'I'm still here' bit of data.

RR and Boeing weren't really prepared for all their clients to suddenly become aware that ACARS might be reporting more than was thought, so we saw a few days' worth of confusion over that issue, with nobody really wanting to officially comment.

What we're really seeing is either masterful information flow management (not by the Malaysians), or it's genuine confusion on everyone's part. Why release only the final ping arc? Why not the others? Why is ACARS data being released in the last day and not a couple of days earlier?
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Old 03-16-2014   #56
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Why release only the final ping arc? Why not the others? Why is ACARS data being released in the last day and not a couple of days earlier?
Really interesting point. I would imagine that the other arcs may indicate a route. If the plane was on a certain arc at one time, then another arc the next time, another the next, etc., you might be able to look at where straight lines intersect the circles on successive tangents and figure out the plane's route (presuming, of course, that the plane was flying in a straight line). Which may be more information than they're comfortable with releasing, for any number of reasons...
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Old 03-16-2014   #57
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Really interesting point. I would imagine that the other arcs may indicate a route. If the plane was on a certain arc at one time, then another arc the next time, another the next, etc., you might be able to look at where straight lines intersect the circles on successive tangents and figure out the plane's route (presuming, of course, that the plane was flying in a straight line). Which may be more information than they're comfortable with releasing, for any number of reasons...
I'm sure that a few days ago, someone spent a lot of CPU cycles modelling all the potential flight plans based upon the other pings. There's also public domain data about the initial waypoints MH370 followed when it turned out of the airway.
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Old 03-16-2014   #58
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Just read an unconfirmed report that the plane was shadowing other Aircraft in an attempt to hide it's flightpath, similar to the process used by drug smugglers. Supposedly the Maylaysian government has known this for some time.
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Old 03-16-2014   #59
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Just read an unconfirmed report that the plane was shadowing other Aircraft in an attempt to hide it's flightpath, similar to the process used by drug smugglers. Supposedly the Maylaysian government has known this for some time.
That one is a few days old and doesn't have much credibility. Defence radars would just pick up an even bigger radar return if they were doing so. We're not talking about B2s here, these things stand out like the proverbial dog's bollocks to even relatively simple radar systems.

Something that I've just become aware of is that there's a hatch in the cabin that would allow access to half of the E&E bay.
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Old 03-16-2014   #60
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A London tabloid reported yesterday that the pilot was a strong supporter of the PKR (Malaysian opposition political party) and its leader Anwar Ibrahim. Anwar's acquittal (on sodomy charges, generally believed to be trumped up) was overturned Friday, just before the flight departed, sending him back to prison. The theory was that the pilot could have been angry enough to go off (or into) the deep end. The problem with that is that the whole event seems well planned, not impulse-driven, and of course if the hijacking were meant as a political statement, you'd expect to see some kind of a political statement coming out of it. Of course it's possible that a struggle in the course of events left the crew disabled and the aircraft flying out to sea before a statement could be delivered.

The PKR has released a statement saying that the pilot was an active member of the party, but denying that he attended Anwar's trial:

http://www.nst.com.my/latest/font-co...ember-1.515965

The PKR is a moderate, multi-racial, secular reformist party campaigning primarily on issues centered on corruption and equal justice, with strong support among urban, educated, relatively affluent Malaysians, a bracket to which a senior MAS pilot would belong. One takeaway from the revelation is that if the pilot was active PKR he was almost certainly not involved with Islamic extremist groups, the two are at opposite political poles.

Decent summary of what's currently been released:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...ally-know.html

Quote:
A source familiar with US assessments of satellite signals said it appeared most likely the plane turned south over the Indian Ocean, where it would presumably have run out of fuel and crashed.

The other interpretation was that MH370 flew to the north-west and headed over India.

But it is unlikely the plane flew here for any length of time. India has strong radar coverage that should have allowed authorities there to intercept the plane.
The southern route seems to me most compatible with a "disabled crew" scenario, while the northern fits the "incredibly devious plot" scenarios.

Malaysia officially requests assistance from practically everybody, as well they might:

http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Natio...-15-countries/
Quote:
Malaysian officials are contacting their counterparts in at least 15 countries located along the northern and southern corridors where MH370 could have flown along to seek assistance.

In a press statement Sunday, the Transport Ministry said the countries included Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, China, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Australia and France.

"Officials are requesting assistance (from these countries)," the statement said, adding that Malaysia was also asking related countries to provide further assistance including satellite data and analysis, ground-search capabilities, radar data and maritime and air assets.

Malaysian officials were currently discussing with all partners how best to deploy assets along the two corridors.

"Both the northern and southern corridors are being treated with equal importance."
Pakistan denies that the plane is in their territory:

http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Natio...-in-territory/

I've limited to nonexistent trust in Pakistani authorities, but in this case I suspect they are right: it is hard to see how the plane could have flown there without triggering some kind of response from Indian and/or Chinese air defense systems.
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“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

H.L. Mencken

Last edited by Dayuhan; 03-16-2014 at 11:07 AM.
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