Yesterday, there were opposing points of view between the Malaysian government and the Wall Street Journal regarding the seeming disappearance of a 777 passenger jet. Looks like the Wall Street Journal wins this one. The newspaper of record was first to report (from unnamed sources) that Malaysian Airlines flight 370 kept flying as long as four hours after it dropped from radar. In disputing the WSJ report, the Malaysian government was engaging in a bit of sophistry if not outright Three Card Monte.
Now, everyone’s reporting that the plane kept flying long after it disappeared from radar. A ping is a ping, after all, even if no one answers the phone. Several mainstream news sources are currently reporting that the plane, with disabled transponder and ACARS systems, still sent “pings” for several hours while trying to connect to satellite systems. Such pinging occurs when the plane’s communication signals are routinely disabled by pilots when the plane is on the airport tarmac.
There are three primary reasons a transponder may stop sending signals to ground radar for purposes of location and identity.
- · electrical or equipment failure
- · Massive mid-air explosion
- · Being manually turned off by the pilots or other operators.
An ABC report yesterday held that the two plane systems which send signals back to land were turned off separately. If both systems were turned off at different times, it would indicate they were manually disabled. The report sources were unidentified but were characterized as U.S. officials with access to investigation details. Progressive shutdown of both systems would indicate it was neither equipment failure nor a sudden explosion which took down the plane.
So while governments and official sources may have good reason for withholding information about the vanished jet with its 239 occupants, public speculation has gotten ahead of official reports. There is danger in releasing too little information as much as there are problems with jumping to conclusions before a full investigation of the facts is complete. Aside from the usual paranoid conspiracy theories of the plane being kidnapped by flying saucers, the U.S Air Force, or by the intelligence agencies of X, Y, and Z countries, other more reasonable questions must be asked.
How many places are there, within the extended search zone and in consideration of its fuel supply, where the plane could land?
To what purposes could the plane be put by any alleged highjackers?
Did a highjack attempt fail long after the plane left its prescribed path, leaving perpetrators to destroy the plane outside of the initial search range?