Did Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 Continue Flying for Four Hours?

A report by the _Wall Street Journal _says the missing Malaysia Airlines 777 continued trying to broadcast data over its satcom system long after it dropped off radar.

Mystery Airplane Illustration

Mystery Airplane Illustration

As the days pass, the likelihood of ever finding Malaysia Airlines Flight 370's black boxes grow dimmer. Searchers initially began looking for the jet in the Gulf of Thailand, the location of the Boeing 777's last reported position. They then fanned out to the west, believing that the jetliner may have veered off course with its transponders switched off. Now, the Wall Street Journal reports that the airplane's onboard satcom appears to have continued broadcasting for four hours after the airliner dropped off radar.

If that’s true, a deepening, perhaps unsolvable mystery is unfolding. Flight 370 could be almost anywhere within 2,000 nautical miles of its last known location. If it crashed in the ocean hundreds or even thousands of miles from where searchers are looking, we might never know what really happened.

The Malaysian government strongly rejects the Wall Street Journal report. Boeing and Rolls-Royce have declined to comment on whether any data was being transmitted, according to the newspaper. After originally reporting that engine data was being sent to Rolls-Royce, the team of reporters who worked on the story modified the information, but say they are standing by the basic tenet of their account, that the airplane's satcom system continued pinging as the jet flew on for four hours.

The Wall Street Journal story said the sources for its story are two unnamed people with knowledge of what U.S. investigators have uncovered so far. The newspaper went on to say this new information has raised questions among some U.S. counterterrorism officials about whether the 777 had been steered off course "with the intention of using it later for another purpose."

That seems far-fetched, but at this point no plausible theory about what happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 can be ruled out. Until searchers locate the airplane, its mysteries will continue to remain stubbornly locked within the confines of its onboard flight data and cockpit voice recorders.

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