So I was going to post about the conflict between the reporting in the WSJ (saying they'd gotten messages from the engines for some hours after the last radar transponder echo) and what the Malaysian government said about it (they denied completely that they had such messages), but as of the 9PM news tonight, it now seems like there is confirmation that the WSJ report was correct.
(For those who didn't see it, they said US Govt people "believe the plane flew for a total of five hours, based on data automatically downloaded and sent to the ground from the Boeing Co. 777's engines as part of a routine maintenance and monitoring program".)
So if it really did fly out into the Indian Ocean, that seems to rule out a bunch of scenarios (e.g. major mechanical failure which caused the plane to go down at the site of the last transponder reply). So what's left?
- The plane was hijacked (either by the original crew, or hijackers), and either landed or crashed (probably way out in the Indian Ocean, in deep water).
- A massive electrical failure that knocked out all the electronics. But I did hear a report of two different comm systems being turned off about 15 minutes apart, which would seem to rule that one out.
- There was a depressurization and the plane went out on its own (like Helios Airways 522
); however, I think that's unlikely, because it doesn't explain how the transponder got turned off.
I have a whole bunch of questions, though.
- Why are the Malaysians muddying the water so much? All the back and forth about whether they did or did not have radar info indicating a turn; and then the denial of the engine information this morning? I've seen some of this attributed to the Malaysian government's history of not being open. However, I wonder if the governments involved know something (e.g. that this is either about to be used for some kind of terrorist strike, or is a test run for a series of these) and want to limit how much information gets back to the perpetrators about what they know.
- The passengers - why didn't they communicate? During the 9/11 hijackings, quite a few called in on their mobiles. Now, at the presumed end of the flight, out in the Indian Ocean, there wouldn't be any cell service, but on the presumed path, the plane cross back across Malaysia. Did nobody realize there was something wrong by that point, or what? And if the plane was hijacked, and not crashed, what happened to them? Killed? How?
Leading on from that, here's one possible scenario: the plane was hijacked, intending to be landed, and eventually the passengers realized it had been hijacked and tried to do something, and the plane crashed.
If it was hijacked with the intention to crash it - why fly all the way to the Indian Ocean? To make it harder for the wreckage to be recovered (the Indian Ocean is much deeper)? For the suspense to build (knowing the plane would 'disappear'), and garner world attention? (One tongue in cheek scenario: Osama bin Laden was buried at sea in the Indian Ocean - perhaps the plane was crashed there as a tribute to him.)