Reuters reported Friday that military data suggests Malaysia Airlines flight 370, which has been missing for a week, may have been flown off course deliberately, turning westward on a trajectory towards the Middle East or Europe rather than its scheduled destination of Beijing. Citing Malaysian security sources. Reuters says that the flight was picked up by military radar following established navigational waypoints on one course, then another.
In a far more detailed description of the military radar plotting than has been publicly revealed, the first two sources said the last confirmed position of MH370 was at 35,000 feet about 90 miles off the east coast of Malaysia, heading towards Vietnam, near a navigational waypoint called “Igari”. The time was 1:21 a.m..
The military track suggests it then turned sharply westwards, heading towards a waypoint called “Vampi”, northeast of Indonesia’s Aceh province and a navigational point used for planes following route N571 to the Middle East.
The new story, if true, suggests five intriguing possibilities, some speculative in the extreme, about flight 370.
1. The flight was hijacked. Reuters quotes a source saying: “What we can say is we are looking at sabotage, with hijack still on the cards.” Hijacking may be the best way to account for the gradual and incremental–as opposed to sudden and total–shutdown in various transmissions from the flight as it slowly slipped away.
2. The flight may have landed. On Thursday, new evidence of satellite transmissions from equipment on the flight suggested that it may have remained airborne for about four hours after it lost contact with civilian radar. That, in turn, raised the possibility the flight landed, which would explain why the “black box” has not transmitted a signal. The Reuters story adds weight to that possibility: perhaps it was flown to a specific place.
3. The passengers may be alive. The Boston Globe identified this on Wednesday as one of several “crazy” conspiracy theories. And one hesitates to speculate about the fate of the passengers–and this is pure speculation–while families are going through torture over the fate of their loved ones. Yet if the flight was deliberately flown along a different path, and may have landed, its crew and passengers may be alive somewhere. That might explain why some of their cellphones still appeared to ring when called by relatives.
4. The flight may have been intercepted. Venturing into wild speculation, if military data exist but are being withheld, then perhaps there is a good reason. One reason would be if the flight had been shot down, which has happened in the past when flights have veered from their normal course. Given the possibility of a hijacking, in the post-9/11 world, an airstrike cannot be ruled out–and have to would be revealed delicately.
5. There may be a rescue under way. If the flight was hijacked, and landed, and the passengers may be alive, and there is some idea about where the Boeing 777 might be, then military authorities might not want to let the hijackers know how closely they are being tracked. It is not only improbable, but wildly conspiratorial, to imagine a rescue–except that it has happened before, at Entebbe–though that flight had not simply vanished.