Now that there’s a growing theory that the missing Malaysia Air Flight 370 continued to fly for four hours after it was last spotted an hour northeast of Kuala Lumpur, there are still questions that I think need to be asked.
One of the earlier questions I had: Why was everyone so sure the plane went down near where that last radar ping was, the one that suggested the plane had done a u-turn? Why couldn’t the plane have kept flying, transponderless, to the west, northwest, southwest? Now it seems that question is more relevant.
But there are a few more questions some journalist should ask:
1. Has anyone checked the Internet records of the plane and its passengers?
I checked Malaysia Airlines, and they do have planes that offer a variety of minimal Internet services (at the very least). This is from the Malaysia Airlines Web site:
Your in-flight entertainment controller doubles as an air-to-ground phone. Make calls or send text messages to anywhere using your credit card. You can also call your friends on the same flight.
Did anyone make calls, send text messages, surf the Web while in flight? When was the last moment in time that any of this occurred? That would at least let us know whether the plane was still viable.
2. Credit card records of the passengers?
If passengers continued to use the Internet while the plane was flying, their credit cards might indicate that, since they’d have to buy the Internet access. And if the plane had Web access, someone could have bought something on Amazon while in flight. Again, this gives us a sense of up until what hour the plane was operating normally.
3. Could the transponderless plane have flown over land?
How difficult would it be for the plane to fly north over Thailand, Myanmar, Bangladesh or India? Would the plane have been intercepted, or could it have flown through other countries’ airspace? If not, then that means it must be over the sea. Though they’ve searched over land in Malaysia, suggesting radar coverage is spotty or they’d have seen it.
4. What about Diego Garcia?
As I’d noted earlier, there’s “nothing” west of Kuala Lumpur and Indonesia except the huge US naval base at Diego Garcia, in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
Diego Garcia appears to fall near, but inside, the limits of the plane’s maximum travel distance. That raise a few questions:
a. Could Diego Garcia have been the target of a terrorist plot using this plane? Could you imagine a US naval base having to choose whether to shoot down a fully-loaded civilian airliner out of the sky? There was a lot of discussion about how there were no “rich targets” in that area. Diego Garcia is one such rich target.
b. What radar coverage does Diego Garcia have, and has it been checked?
c. What about our ships and subs in the area, would their radar and sonar potentially have picked up a plane heading in their direction or crashing in the seas?
d. Satellite coverage. I just saw an expert on CNN say there’s no reason for there to have been satellite coverage over the Indian Ocean, except that Diego Garcia is there. So are we sure there’s no satellite coverage?