I've been following this and it's been avery interesting mystery. A 777
with 239 people on board has been missing for a day and a half now
since it took off from Kuala Lumpur headed for Bejing.
As far as major planes that
go missing, this one seems unusually screwed up in determining
where the plane went down. You had Malaysian Airlines claiming
for a day or more that the plane was under radar coverage for 2 hours
after it took off. That would put it well up into the area of
central Vietnam, if it was on course.
You had Vietnam saying that it went missing as it was transitioning
from Ca Mau airspace which is at the very southern tip of Vietnam
to the Ho Chi Minh airspace. Then Vietnam later said that it disappeared
1 min before it was to be handed over to Vietnamese ATC from Malaysia,
which would put it in the Gulf of Thailand, close to Vietnam.
They didn't even start a search in the area near Vietname that they
believe the plane went down in for 11 hours, which seems incredible.
Latest news from 12 hours ago was that Vietnam has found two oil slicks
near the southern tip of Vietnam and that's where they are now
searching. But.... Here's the interesting part. Within hours of
the plane going missing, people were using the available online tools
that track planes to take a look. The best one is flightradar24.com.
It uses an adhoc base of small receivers that pick up the basic
transponder info from planes so that you can see and track them online.
Their data shows the last contact from the plane only about 40 mins
after it took off, which places it not near Vietnam, but roughly in
the middle of the Gulf of Thailand, between Malaysia and Vietnam.
At that point it was at 35,000 ft, level, on course. Then it makes
a slight right hand turn, which from previous days flights is normal
and then the data just ends.
Now, you would certainly think that ATC, the airline, etc would know
a lot better where the plane really disappeared. My first thought
was that the data from the Flightradar24 website is probably spotty,
not as complete, etc. But then I started looking into it more.
They have a history going back many days so you can track the same
flight, different days. And you can see the plane's position,
altitude, heading, airspeed, squak code and which receiver station
on the Flightradar24 system that is currently picking it up. If
you play any day other than the missing flight, you see the plane
take off, get picked up by 3 different receivers as it journeys
out over the water on the way to Vietnam. I even followed it as
far as Shanghai area, and it was within one of their receivers the
whole time. Only on the missing flight does the data suddenly end
in the middle of the Gulf of Thailand. Every other day the data
continues and when it nears Vitenam, it's picked up by another
Flightradar24 receiver there.
The other factor in this is that on the list of passengers are
an Austrian and Italian. These two guys are actually alive and
their pastports were stolen, one of them 2 years ago in Thailand.
So two unknown people with stolen passports were on the plane.
Which leaves several possibilities. Could they have been suicide
bombers? Given that the area where the Flightradar24 data ends is
not the area that the search is focusing on, could they have
hijacked the plane, turned off the transponder, and the plane
continued to fly on to crash later and that's why the focus
of the search is not where it seems it should be? Why the airline
is saying it was on radar for two hours, but if it was, that
it was nowhere near where it should have been by then?
IDK, but it's sure one very confusing mess. Also, one would think
that if the oil slick was in fact the crash site, that by now they
would have found some debris that would confirm that. A huge plane
like that there should be something floating.
Anyone interested in seeing the flight track and the disappearance
you can go to Flightradar24. Just grab the map and move it over
to Malaysia area, zoom in a bit. The in the upper left there is
a playback button. Click on it and select Mar 7, 16:40 hours.
You can change the playback speed at the bottom of the screen.
The plane leaves from Kuala Lumpur, in lower left of Malaysia
and heads up to the right. If you click on the planes leaving
around that time you'll find MAS370, which is the 777, and it
will display the flight data on the left.