Malaysian paper adds fuel to speculation that pilots rerouted the missing jetliner
The agonizing story of a missing Malaysian jetliner that continues to captivate audiences the world over just got a little stranger.
A recent report from the Malaysian newspaper, The New Straits Times, has generated a lot of buzz and fueled speculation that the missing plane may still be in tact, somewhere.
[The report indicated] the plane may have flown low to the ground — 5,000 feet or less — and used mountainous terrain as cover to evade radar detection. The newspaper cited unnamed sources for its reporting, which CNN could not immediately confirm.
However, Malaysian officials said Monday that they were not aware of the report.
“It does not come from us,” said Malaysia Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya.
Experts were skeptical, however, noting that even if the plane did drop to that altitude, it likely would not be able to avoid radar detection.
Analysts interviewed by CNN said that it would be extremely difficult to fly such a large aircraft so close to the ground over a long period of time and that it’s not even clear that doing so would keep the plane off radar scopes.
“Five thousand isn’t really low enough to evade the radar, and that’s kind of where general aviation flies all the time anyway, and we’re visible to radar,” said former FAA official Mary Schiavo.
Adding still more confusion to the radar conundrum is the fact that the area where the plane disappeared is not exactly the most highly monitored region of the globe.
A senior Indian military official told CNN on Monday that military radar near the Andaman and Nicobar Islands isn’t as closely watched as other radar systems. That leaves open the possibility that Indian radar systems may not have picked up the airplane at the time of its last known Malaysian radar contact…
Two senior law enforcement officials also reportedly told ABC News the plane engaged in “tactical evasion maneuvers” after it disappeared from radar.
At the moment, all of this is little more than circumstantial evidence at best. However, it is worth noting the investigation has clearly shifted focus from the passengers, to the pilots.
U.S. intelligence officials are leaning toward the theory that “those in the cockpit” — the captain and co-pilot — were responsible for the mysterious disappearance, a U.S. official with direct knowledge of the latest thinking told CNN.
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