Thursday morning, the Wall Street Journal published a report that missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 might have flown for up to four hours after disappearing. The data corroborating this theory comes from automatic updates allegedly sent to manufacturer Rolls-Royce, which has declined to comment.
“We continue to monitor the situation and to offer Malaysia Airlines our support,” a Rolls-Royce representative told the Wall Street Journal, refusing to add any comment to the situation. An anonymous Boeing representative told the newspaper little more, explaining the silence: “we’ve got to stand back from the frontline of the information.” The corporation did confirm that the engines it builds automatically send data back to Derby, a town in the UK in which the company has offices, when functioning properly. Should the plane’s radar have been working, the plane would have automatically been visible to airports in the region, but CIA officials have confirmed that the transponder on the plane was either disabled or shut down.
Two people familiar with the search allegedly told the newspaper that Rolls-Royce and Boeing both have information on the airplane automatically sent to the ground by the plane as part of a routine maintenance program. That information, they say, places the plane in the air for up to five hours since leaving Kuala Lumpur.
A five-hour flight in the wrong direction would put the plane in the Indian Ocean or close to Pakistan, sources said. A separate U.S. source told ABC News that the U.S. is currently investigating a lead that the plane may have crashed into the Indian Ocean, but it would take a U.S. warship 24 hours to arrive at the suspected location. The new information has prompted the government of India to expand its efforts to search for the plane.
The Malaysian government is officially denying the report, describing it as “inaccurate,” according to CNN. The government has stated previously, however, that it has no certainty as to where the plane was headed when controllers lost communication with it in the air. The statement was made in the same press conference in which the government also refuted claims that satellite photos released by China in newspaper Xinhua showed airplane debris, claiming the Malaysian government had explored that area and found no leads.
The National News Agency of Malaysia, Bernama, published statements from Malaysia Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya in which he says he spoke directly to officials from both manufacturers despite their public silence. “Both had said they did not receive the data,” he told the media Thursday.