Malaysia Air Flight 370 may have flown 2,000 miles in Chinese airspace?

UPDATE: Now they’re saying that Malaysia Airlines Flight 370’s transponder was turned off BEFORE the pilot (or whoever) said “alright, goodnight” to ground control.  I’d be curious if that “proves” the transponder was shut off for nefarious reasons. Meaning, if they had to shut transponder off because it was malfunctioning, would they have notified ground control of this in the “alright, goodnight” communication?

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One of the two new possible paths for missing Malaysian Airline Flight 370, laid out last night by Malaysia’s Prime Minister, Nazib Razak, has the plane potentially flying over China for possibly 2,000 miles.

It’s an odd air path, as it’s difficult to imagine that China wouldn’t catch an unidentified plane flying for 2,000 miles in its airspace.  And if China did catch such a plane, one might be concerned that it would shoot it down.

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Clearly the Malaysian government is aware of the difficulty of flying a plane through Chinese airspace. And the fact that they’re still suggesting that this is one of two possible paths means they wanted this information out there, information suggesting the plane may have flown over China for up to 2,000 miles.  It’s just very interesting that the Malaysian government has not discounted this path.

The other possibility the Prime Minister laid out has the plane flying south from Kuala Lumpur, to the southwest over the ocean.  Which is more plausible, in terms of ease of execution.

Though flying south offers fewer potential theories as to why even do the hijacking (if it was one) at all.  Look at the surrounding countries on the northern path.

Now, keep in mind that the red line above is not necessarily a flight PATH.  It’s a possible location at a single point in time, somewhere along that red line.  The line doesn’t show us necessarily how the plane got there, it just says that when it pinged it was there at that one point on the red line.  So it’s possible the plane only JUST crossed into Chinese airspace, just above Laos, for example when the flight ended.  Then we’d have to figure out what brought the flight to an end.

Just a reminder, last night the Malaysian Prime Minister said the plane appears to have flown an additional 7 hours after its last official contact with ground control – meaning, it flew 7 more hours after it did the infamous u-turn.

One other bit of odd news, Malaysian police finally searched the home of one of the pilots today. Today. One week after the plane disappeared.

You can read our earlier coverage of the missing Malaysia Airline flight here.

The NYT has a good analysis of the various possibilities, and says investigators are favoring the southern flight corridor possibility.  Though that still doesn’t answer why you’d fly a plane thousands of miles over the ocean, just to crash it.  And if the crew and passengers were incapacitated, then why were there all those course and altitude changes at the beginning?

Here’s a rough map showing both potential paths. CNN just explained that they came up with this path from a satellite ping over the Indian Ocean (or so).  So we think we know the distance the plane was from the satellite, enabling us to draw a circle.  But we don’t know where on that circle it was.  And the reason the circle stops at Kazakhstan in the north is because that’s the outer limits of the available fuel.

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Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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