New evidence in the case of the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner indicates that the plane’s change of direction may very well have been input into a cockpit computer before the last voice communication was received by controllers on the ground.
NBC News is reporting that the flight’s course was changed at least 12 minutes before the plane’s co-pilot, Fariq Abdul Hamid, said “All right, good night” as a sign-off at 1:19 a.m.
The network said that the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System transmitted the information, which was entered into the plane’s Flight Management System, presumably by someone in the cockpit. Acars is a digital data communications system that supports the transmission of short, relatively simple messages between aircraft and ground stations via radio or satellite.
The new information was widely discussed on television news programs and the Internet, where opinions diverged greatly, ranging from the change in direction having merely been a pre-programmed alternate flight plan programmed in case of emergency, to proof of a nefarious plot.
Meanwhile, amidst criticism of its handling of the hunt for the missing plane, Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said that the two search corridors were being divided into seven areas of 400 square nautical miles, and that countries such as Australia, China, Indonesia, and Kazakhstan would take the lead in the sectors “closest to their countries.” Malaysia will still be responsible for overall coordination.
Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 was en route to Beijing when it disappeared. Reports indicate that Malaysian military radar last detected the aircraft over the Strait of Malacca, south of Phuket Island, Thailand, and west of the Malaysian peninsula.