A Malaysian government official told the Associated Press that investigations surrounding the missing Malaysia Airlines flight have led to a conclusion that the plane was hijacked by a pilot or someone with expert flying experience.
According to the AP:
Investigators have concluded that one or more people with significant flying experience hijacked the missing Malaysia Airlines jet, switched off communication devices and steered it off-course, a Malaysian government official involved in the investigation said Saturday.
No motive has been established and no demands have been made known, and it is not yet clear where the plane was taken, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media. The official said that hijacking was no longer a theory.
“It is conclusive,” he said.
He said evidence that led to the conclusion were signs that the plane’s communications were switched off deliberately, data about the flight path and indications the plane was steered in a way to avoid detection by radar.
The development follows news that satellite transmissions from the airliner had been traced to the Indian Ocean off Australia, which would have taken as much as 3,000 miles, the maximum distance the Boeing 77 could have flown with its fuel load.
The South China Morning Post further compiled a list of developments that surfaced Friday, which included:
• investigators revealing they were increasingly certain that someone with aviation skills had turned the jet back across the Malay Peninsula after losing communication
•reports that US investigators believed the aircraft’s data reporting system and the transponder shut down 14 minutes apart, suggesting the plane did not suffer a sudden catastrophic incident
•US investigators were examining the possibility of “human intervention”, adding the disappearance may be “an act of piracy”
•the search for the plane was expanded to the Indian Ocean
•a British satellite communications company confirmed that it had recorded electronic “keep alive” ping signals from the plane after it disappeared
•a report that Malaysian military radar data showed the jet climbed to 45,000ft, above the approved altitude limit for a Boeing 777-200, soon after its last known position, after making a turn to the west
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak scheduled a press conference for 1 p.m. today in Kuala Lumpur, which we will follow up on.
UPDATE (2:45 p.m.): In a press conference just held by Najib Razak, the Malaysian Prime Minister did not confirm that the plane was hijacked but said “We are still investigating all possibilities”. He added that Malaysian authorities have refocused on the passengers and crew aboard MH370, stating that the last known communication with the satellite was at 8:11 a.m. MSIA time on Saturday, March 8. Communication “was in one of two possible corridors”: between the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to Thailand or Indonesia to the S. Indian Ocean.
“We can confirm the aircraft shown on the primary satellite data was MH370,” he said, adding that the investigation team was making further calculations to indicate how far the aircraft may have flown after the last point of contact.