Update 1: Says MH370’s Flight Path Was Altered By Computer Command, Not Manual Controls.
The Slate: Update, March 17, 9:45 p.m.: Flight MH370’s initial turn off course, to the west over Malaysia, was programmed into the plane’s computer system not manually maneuvered, according to senior U.S. officials. The New York Times, who is reporting the latest development, says the command would have involved seven or eight keystrokes into the Flight Managment System, a computer which sits between the pilot and the co-pilot. It is not clear if the command was programmed before or after the airliner took off.
The latest information, if true, suggests the diversion was initiated by a pilot or someone with very specific technical knowledge. Investigators are still analyzing radar tapes that show the first few movements of the plane after it went off course. The airliner appears to have tracked along several so-called waypoints, or pre-established locations in the sky, as it travelled from its scheduled path. Here’s the New York Times with the details:
According to investigators, it appears that a waypoint was added to the planned route. Pilots do that in the ordinary course of flying if air traffic controllers tell them to take a different route, to avoid weather or traffic. But in this case, the waypoint was far off the path to Beijing. …
Normal procedure is to key in a five-letter code — gibberish to non-aviators — that is the name of a waypoint. A normal flight plan consists of a series of such waypoints, ending in the destination airport. For an ordinary flight, waypoints can be entered manually or uploaded into the F.M.S. by the airline.
Update 2 : America’s Head of Home Security says :the crew of missing flight MH370 were overcome trying to save the plane from a fire in the cargo hold.
happy wheels href="http://777boeing.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Malaysia-Air-Crash-3242018.png.jpeg">Billie Vincent, former head of security for the Federal Aviation Administration throughout the 1980s, has dismissed theories of a terror attack or suicide mission.
Instead he believes the pilots struggled to save their aircraft after a blaze in the cargo hold until they were eventually overcome by smoke.
Mr Vincent, who was an expert witness in the Lockerbie bombing trial, said: “The data released thus far most likely points to a problem with hazardous materials.
“This scenario begins with the eruption of hazardous materials within the cargo hold – either improperly packaged or illegally shipped – or both.”
Mr Vincent believes a fire started in the cargo hold and gradually destroyed the plane’s communications systems.
He says toxic fumes would have quickly overwhelmed the passengers and cockpit.
Mr Vincent guesses that one of the pilots managed to put on an oxygen mask and tried to turn the plane back to Kuala Lumpur.
Mr Vincent added: “The airplane then continues flying until no fuel remains and crashes – most likely into the ocean as there has been no report of any Emergency Locater Transmitter (ELT) signal which can be received by satellite if the crash were on land.”
And Mr Vincent, who played a key role in negotiations after the hijackings of US planes during the 1980s, insists it is unlikely the aircraft was sabotaged.
He said: “There is no indication that either of the pilots was criminally involved in the disappearance of this aeroplane.
“Neither has Malaysia released any data indicating anything amiss in the security clearance of the passengers for this flight.
“The one question raised about the two passengers travelling on stolen passports has been cleared indicating that they were planning on illegally claiming refugee status in another country, probably Germany.
“I have yet to see anything released about the nature and content of the cargo carried in the cargo hold of MH370.
“Hazardous cargo can be legally carried on passenger aircraft. However, the amount and type of such hazardous materials are strictly controlled.”