Planning could hold key to disappearance of Flight MH370

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Planning could hold key to disappearance of Flight MH370
Flight officer Rayan Gharazeddine, on board a Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion, scans for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean on March 22, 2014. The Orion under took a four-hour journey to search an area approximately 2,500 kms southwest of Perth, two hours on station searching at about 400 feet above the ocean, and then a four-hour return. China released on March 22 a new satellite image of a large floating object possibly linked to missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, boosting search efforts as anger with the pace of the operation boiled over among Chinese relatives in Beijing. AFP PHOTO / POOL / Rob Griffith (Photo credit should read ROB GRIFFITH/AFP/Getty Images)
Crew on board a Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion scan ahead as they search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean on March 22, 2014. The Orion under took a four-hour journey to search an area approximately 2,500 kms southwest of Perth, two hours on station searching at about 400 feet above the ocean, and then a four-hour return. China released on March 22 a new satellite image of a large floating object possibly linked to missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, boosting search efforts as anger with the pace of the operation boiled over among Chinese relatives in Beijing. AFP PHOTO / POOL / Rob Griffith (Photo credit should read ROB GRIFFITH/AFP/Getty Images)
A Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion flies past the HMAS Success as they search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 debris or wreckage in the southern Indian Ocean on March 22, 2014. The Orion under took a four-hour journey to search an area approximately 2,500 kms southwest of Perth, two hours on station searching at about 400 feet above the ocean, and then a four-hour return. China released on March 22 a new satellite image of a large floating object possibly linked to missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, boosting search efforts as anger with the pace of the operation boiled over among Chinese relatives in Beijing. AFP PHOTO / POOL / Rob Griffith (Photo credit should read ROB GRIFFITH/AFP/Getty Images)
SOUTHERN INDIAN OCEAN - MARCH 22: Flight Lieutenant Jason Nichols on board a Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion, takes notes as they search for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 debris or wreckage on March 22, 2014 in Southern Indian Ocean, off the west coast of Australia. The Orion under took a four hour journey to the search an area approximately 2500km south west of Perth, two hours on station searching at about 400 foot above the ocean with then a four hour return. The search to identify whether two large objects spotted via satellite in the Indian Ocean are related to missing flight MH370 continued today, for the third day, with no results. The airliner went missing nearly two weeks ago carrying 239 passengers and crew on route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. (Photo by Rob Griffith-Pool/Getty Images)
Relatives of Chinese passengers aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines, flight MH370, turn to journalists to shout their demands for answers after Malaysian government representatives left a briefing in Beijing, China, Saturday, March 22, 2014. A satellite spotted two large objects in the desolate southern Indian Ocean earlier this week, raising hopes of finding the Boeing 777 that disappeared March 8 with 239 people on board, although nothing was spotted in a sea search over the last two days. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
This Friday, March 21, 2014 graphic provided by Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), shows an area in the southern Indian Ocean that the AMSA is concentrating its search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 on. Planes are flying out of Australia again to search for two objects detected by satellite that may be debris from a missing Malaysian Airlines jetliner. (AP Photo/Australian Maritime Safety Authority)
PERTH, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 21: A Royal Australian Air Force P3 Orion is seen on the tarmac after returning to Pearce air base following a search mission for possible MH370 debris on March 21, 2014 in Perth, Australia. Australian authorities yesterday received satellite imagery that shows two large objects in the Indian Ocean that may be debris from missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370. The airliner went missing nearly two weeks ago carrying 239 passengers and crew on route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)
A photo taken on March 21, 2014, shows a crew member on a Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion aircraft participating in the Australian Maritime Safety Authority-led search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in the Southern Indian Ocean. Spotter planes spent a second fruitless day scouring a remote stretch of the Indian Ocean for wreckage from a Malaysian jet. Australian and US military aircraft usually used for anti-submarine operations criss-crossed the isolated search area 2,500 kilometres (1,500 miles) southwest of Perth, looking for two floating objects that had shown up on grainy satellite photos taken several days before. AFP PHOTO - POOL / BOHDAN WARCHOMIJ (Photo credit should read BOHDAN WARCHOMIJ/AFP/Getty Images)
PERTH, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 21: Royal Australian Air Force pilot Capt. Russell Adams addresses the media after returning from a search mission in a P3 Orion at Pearce air base on March 21, 2014 in Perth, Australia. Australian authorities yesterday received satellite imagery that shows two large objects in the Indian Ocean that may be debris from missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370. The airliner went missing nearly two weeks ago carrying 239 passengers and crew on route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)
In this undated handout picture made available by hoegh.com via NTB Scanpix on Thursday, March 20, 2014, of autoliner "Hoegh St. Petersburg" which is expected to reach an area south west of Australia where possible debris of missing airliner MH370 has been spotted. The ship is expected to arrive in the area in the course of Thursday March 20, 2014. (AP Photo/hoegh.com/ NTB scanpix)
Map shows search areas for missing Malaysia Airlines missing jet
Chinese relatives of passengers from the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 wait for news at the Metro Park Lido Hotel in Beijing on March 20, 2014. Surveillance aircraft scoured a remote and stormy section of the Indian Ocean on March 20 for a pair of floating objects that Australia and Malaysia guardedly called a 'credible' lead in the 12-day-old hunt for a missing passenger jet. AFP PHOTO/Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
In this March 16, 2014 satellite imagery provided by Commonwealth of Australia - Department of Defence on Thursday, March 20, 2014, a floating object is seen at sea next to the descriptor which was added by the source. Australia's government reported Thursday, March 20, 2014 that the images show suspected debris from the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner floating in an area 2,500 kilometers (1,550 miles) southwest of Perth Australia. (AP Photo/Commonwealth of Australia - Department of Defence)
INDIAN OCEAN - This handout Satellite image made available by the AMSA (Australian Maritime Safety Authority) shows a map of the areas searched between March 18 and March 20, 2014 for missing Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370. Two objects possibly connected to the search for the passenger liner, missing for nearly two weeks after disappearing on a flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Beijing, have been spotted in the southern Indian Ocean, according to published reports quoting Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott. (Photo by AMSA via Getty Images)
This graphic made Wednesday, March 19, 2014 and released by Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) Thursday, March 20, 2014, shows an area in the southern Indian Ocean that the AMSA is concentrating its search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 on. AMSA response division manager John Young has identified their search will cover a massive 600,000 square kilometers (232,000 square miles) area, saying it will take weeks to search thoroughly. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot said Thursday that two objects possibly related to the missing Malaysia Airlines flight have been spotted on satellite imagery in the Indian Ocean and an air force aircraft was diverted to the area to try to locate them. (AP Photo/Australian Maritime Safety Authority)
CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 20: Australian Maritime Safety Authority Emergency Response Division General Manager John Young speaks to the media about satellite imagery of objects possibly related to the search for Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 March 20, 2014 in Canberra, Australia. Two objects possibly connected to the search for the passenger liner, missing for nearly two weeks after disappearing on a flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Beijing, have been spotted in the southern Indian Ocean. (Photo by Stefan Postles/Getty Images)
A Chinese relative of a passenger aboard a missing Malaysia Airlines plane is carried out by security officials as she protests before a press conference at a hotel in Sepang, Malaysia, Wednesday, March 19, 2014. New radar data from Thailand gave Malaysian investigators more potential clues Wednesday for how to retrace the course of the missing Malaysian airliner, while a massive multinational search unfolded in an area the size of Australia. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
A Chinese relative of passengers aboard a missing Malaysia Airlines plane cries as she speaks to journalists at a hotel in Sepang, Malaysia, Wednesday, March 19, 2014. Malaysian authorities examined new radar data from Thailand that could potentially give clues on how to retrace the course of the Malaysia Airlines plane that vanished early March 8 with 239 people aboard en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Twenty-six countries are looking for the aircraft as relatives anxiously await news. (AP Photo) MALAYSIA OUT
Map shows search areas for missing Malaysia Airlines missing jet; 4c x 5 inches; 195.7 mm x 127 mm;
This graphic released by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority Tuesday, March 18, 2014 shows an area, left bottom, in the southern Indian Ocean that the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) is concentrating its search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 on. Manager of AMSA response division John Young has identified their search will cover a massive 600,000-square kilometers (232,000-square miles) area, saying it will take weeks to search thoroughly. (AP Photo/The Australian Maritime Safety Authority)
This graphic released by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority Tuesday, March 18, 2014 shows an area, left bottom, in the southern Indian Ocean that the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) is concentrating its search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 on. Manager of AMSA response division John Young has identified their search will cover a massive 600,000-square kilometers (232,000-square miles) area, saying it will take weeks to search thoroughly. (AP Photo/The Australian Maritime Safety Authority)
A navigational radar on Indonesia's National Search and Rescue boat shows details during a search in the Andaman sea area around northern tip of Indonesia's Sumatra island for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 on March 17, 2014. The last words spoken from the cockpit of the Malaysian passenger jet that went missing 10 days ago were believed to have been spoken by the co-pilot, the airline's top executive said Monday. AFP PHOTO / CHAIDEER MAHYUDDIN (Photo credit should read CHAIDEER MAHYUDDIN/AFP/Getty Images)
A personnel of Indonesia's National Search and Rescue checks the map during a search in the Andaman sea area around northern tip of Indonesia's Sumatra island for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 on March 17, 2014. The last words spoken from the cockpit of the Malaysian passenger jet that went missing 10 days ago were believed to have been spoken by the co-pilot, the airline's top executive said Monday. AFP PHOTO / CHAIDEER MAHYUDDIN (Photo credit should read CHAIDEER MAHYUDDIN/AFP/Getty Images)
A personnel of Indonesia's National Search and Rescue looks over horizon during a search in the Andaman sea area around northern tip of Indonesia's Sumatra island for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 on March 17, 2014. The last words spoken from the cockpit of the Malaysian passenger jet that went missing 10 days ago were believed to have been spoken by the co-pilot, the airline's top executive said Monday. AFP PHOTO / CHAIDEER MAHYUDDIN (Photo credit should read CHAIDEER MAHYUDDIN/AFP/Getty Images)
A relative shows the media a screen of his mobile phone while calling a mobile phone number of a Chinese passenger aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 during a demonstration at a hotel ballroom in Beijing, China, Monday, March 17, 2014. The relative claims that the dialing tone kept ringing, hut failed to connect, indicating that the mobile phone was switched on. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan)
Malaysia's acting Transport Minister Hishamuddin Hussein shows maps of northern search corridor during a press conference at a hotel near the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, in Sepang, Malaysia, Monday, March 17, 2014. Twenty-six countries are involved in the massive international search for the Malaysia Airlines jetliner that disappeared on March 8 with 239 people aboard. They include not just military assets on land, at sea and in the air, but also investigators and the specific support and assistance requested by Malaysia, such as radar and satellite information. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
Map shows search areas for missing Malaysia Airlines jet.
Colonel Do Duc Minh (2st L), Vietnam Air Force's 370 Division's Chief of Staff, points at a map as he speaks to reporters about search flights aimed at finding the missing Malaysia Airlines plane at Tan Son Nhat airport in Ho Chi Minh city on March 15, 2014. Do Duc Minh said Vietnam continues their search flights while widening the search areas close to air spaces under control of Thailand and Singapore. AFP PHOTO/HOANG DINH NAM (Photo credit should read HOANG DINH NAM/AFP/Getty Images)
Security guards stand at a main gate of the missing Malaysia Airlines pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah's house in Shah Alam, outside Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Saturday, March 15, 2014. Malaysian police have already said they are looking at the psychological state, the family life and connections of pilot Zaharie, 53, and co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid, 27. Both have been described as respectable, community-minded men. The Malaysian jetliner missing for more than a week had its communications deliberately disabled and its last signal came about 7 1/2 hours after takeoff, meaning it could have ended up as far as Kazakhstan or into the southern reaches of the Indian Ocean, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said Saturday. (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin)
A ground crew gives an 'OK' sign to the pilots of an Indonesian Air Force Boeing 737 "Surveiller" of the 5th Air Squadron "Black Mermaids" as they prepare to take off for a search operation for the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner MH370, at Suwondo Air base in Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia, Saturday, March 15, 2014. The Malaysian passenger jet missing for more than a week had its communications deliberately disabled and its last signal came about seven and a half hours after takeoff, meaning it could have ended up as far as Kazakhstan or deep in the southern Indian Ocean, Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak said Saturday. (AP Photo/Binsar Bakkara)
A ground worker carries out maintenance works on a Vietnam Air Force's Russian-made AN-26 aircraft that was used along with other types of aircrafts at finding the missing Malaysia Airlines plane at Tan Son Nhat airport in Ho Chi Minh city on March 15, 2014. A Malaysian jet that vanished a week ago appears to have changed course and continued flying for hours, a senior Malaysian military official said, citing radar data indicating a 'skilled, competent' pilot was at the controls. AFP PHOTO/HOANG DINH NAM (Photo credit should read HOANG DINH NAM/AFP/Getty Images)
KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA MARCH 15: Mystery over the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines passenger Flight MH370 from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing, China continues on March 15, 2014. The flight MH370 departed Kuala Lumpur at 12:41 a.m. (local time) on March 8 and lost contact with air traffic control near the Island of Pulau Perak, in less than an hour after take-off, at approximately 2:40 a.m. A joint search and rescue effort covering an area of the Strait of Malacca, the South China Sea and Andaman Sea is being conducted by more than 12 countries. ( Photo by AA Graphic/Anadolu Agency/ Getty Images)
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, center, Malaysia's minister for transport Hishamuddin Hussein, left, and director general of the Malaysian Department of Civil Aviation, Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, right, delivers a statement to the media regarding missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner MH370, Saturday, March 15, 2014 in Sepang, Malaysia. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said Saturday that investigators believe the missing Malaysian airliner's communications were deliberately disabled, that it turned back from its flight to Beijing and flew for more than seven hours. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, center, together with Malaysia's deputy minister for foreign affairs Hamzah Zainuddin, left, minister for transport Hishamuddin Hussein, second left, director general of the Malaysian Department of Civil Aviation, Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, second right, and Malaysia Airlines Group CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, right, delivers a statement to the media regarding missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner MH370, Saturday, March 15, 2014 in Sepang, Malaysia. Razak said Saturday that investigators believe the missing Malaysian airliner's communications were deliberately disabled, that it turned back from its flight to Beijing and flew for more than seven hours. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
A woman writes a message for passengers aboard a missing Malaysia Airlines plane, at a shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Saturday, March 15, 2014. 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. (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin)
Diagram shows how a search is conducted, lists countries participating and a map shows search areas for missing Malaysia Airlines jet.
Cabin crews of Vietnam Air Force are seen onboard a flying AN-26 Soviet made aircraft during a search operation for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 plane over the southern sea between Vietnam and Malaysia Friday, March 14, 2014. Vietnam says it has downgraded but not stopped its search for the missing jetliner in the South China Sea and has been asked by Malaysian authorities to consider sending planes and ships to the Strait of Malacca. (AP Photo/Na Son Nguyen)
FILE – In this Nov. 14, 2005 file photo, clouds hang over the North Sentinel Island, in India's southeastern Andaman and Nicobar Islands. India used heat sensors on flights over hundreds of uninhabited Andaman Sea islands Friday, March 14, 2014, and will expand its search for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet farther west into the Bay of Bengal, officials said. The Indian-controlled archipelago that stretches south of Myanmar contains 572 islands covering an area of 720-by-52 kilometers. Only 37 are inhabited, with the rest covered in dense forests. (AP Photo/Gautam Singh, File)
KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - MARCH 14: Members of the public, MAS staff, and politicians pray during a special prayer as the search for missing Malaysian airline MH370 expands to the Indian Ocean March 14, 2014 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The missing aircraft carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew disappeared six days ago baffling the international rescue and search team who have found no remains or clues in the waters surrounding South East Asia. All passengers and crew are currently under investigation for possible sabotage although no evidence of such activity has been found. (Photo by Rahman Roslan/Getty Images)
In this photo released by The Royal Malaysian Navy, a Royal Malaysian Navy Fennec helicopter prepares to depart to aid in the search and rescue efforts for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane over the Straits of Malacca, Malaysia, Thursday, March 13, 2014. Planes sent Thursday to check the spot where Chinese satellite images showed possible debris from the missing Malaysian jetliner found nothing, Malaysia's civil aviation chief said, deflating the latest lead in the six-day hunt. The hunt for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370 has been punctuated by false leads since it disappeared with 239 people aboard about an hour after leaving Kuala Lumpur for Beijing early Saturday. (AP Photo/The Royal Malaysian Navy)
In this photo released by The Royal Malaysian Navy, Royal Malaysian Navy's missile corvette KD Laksamana Muhammad Amin, front, and Royal Malaysian Navy's offshore patrol vessel KD Selangor are seen during a search and rescue operation for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane over the Straits of Malacca, Malaysia, Thursday, March 13, 2014. Planes sent Thursday to check the spot where Chinese satellite images showed possible debris from the missing Malaysian jetliner found nothing, Malaysia's civil aviation chief said, deflating the latest lead in the six-day hunt. The hunt for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370 has been punctuated by false leads since it disappeared with 239 people aboard about an hour after leaving Kuala Lumpur for Beijing early Saturday. (AP Photo/The Royal Malaysian Navy)
A crew member of a Royal Malaysian Air Force CN-235 aircraft looks out the window during a search and rescue operation for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane over the Straits of Malacca, Thursday, March 13, 2014. Planes sent Thursday to check the spot where Chinese satellite images showed possible debris from the missing Malaysian jetliner found nothing, Malaysia's civil aviation chief said, deflating the latest lead in the six-day hunt. The hunt for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370 has been punctuated by false leads since it disappeared with 239 people aboard about an hour after leaving Kuala Lumpur for Beijing early Saturday. (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin)
Students light candles to express hope and solidarity for the passengers aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines plane Thursday, March 13, 2014 in Manila, Philippines. Planes sent Thursday to check the spot where Chinese satellite images showed possible debris from the missing Malaysian jetliner found nothing, Malaysia's civil aviation chief said, deflating the latest lead in the six-day hunt. The hunt for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370 has been punctuated by false leads since it disappeared with 239 people aboard about an hour after leaving Kuala Lumpur for Beijing early Saturday. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
An Indonesian Air Force officer draws a flight pattern flown earlier in a search operation for the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777, during a post-mission briefing at Suwondo air base in Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia, Thursday, March 13, 2014. The hunt for the missing jetliner has been punctuated by false leads since it disappeared with 239 people aboard about an hour after leaving Kuala Lumpur for Beijing early Saturday. (AP Photo/Binsar Bakkara)
In this photo released by The Royal Malaysian Navy, Royal Malaysian Navy's missile corvette KD Laksamana Muhammad Amin, front, and Royal Malaysian Navy's offshore patrol vessel KD Selangor are seen during a search and rescue operation for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane over the Straits of Malacca, Malaysia, Thursday, March 13, 2014. Planes sent Thursday to check the spot where Chinese satellite images showed possible debris from the missing Malaysian jetliner found nothing, Malaysia's civil aviation chief said, deflating the latest lead in the six-day hunt. The hunt for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370 has been punctuated by false leads since it disappeared with 239 people aboard about an hour after leaving Kuala Lumpur for Beijing early Saturday. (AP Photo/The Royal Malaysian Navy)
Vietnamese Air Force Col. Pham Minh Tuan uses binoculars on board a flying aircraft during a mission to search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in the Gulf of Thailand over the location where Chinese satellite images showed possible debris from the missing Malaysian jetliner, Thursday, March 13, 2014. (AP Photo)
Children run past dedication messages and well wishes displayed for passengers and others involved with the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner MH370 on the walls of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Thursday, March 13, 2014, in Sepang, Malaysia. Planes sent Thursday to check the spot where Chinese satellite images showed possible debris from the missing Malaysian jetliner found nothing, Malaysia's civil aviation chief said, deflating the latest lead in the six-day hunt. The hunt for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370 has been punctuated by false leads since it disappeared with 239 people aboard about an hour after leaving Kuala Lumpur for Beijing early Saturday. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
In this photo taken on March 10, 2014, Chinese sailors check equipment before taking part in search efforts for the missing Malaysia Airlines passenger jet onboard the Jinggangshan amphibious docking ship while in Sanya in south China's Hainan province. Malaysia Airlines said search and rescue teams have expanded the scope beyond the flight path to the Straits of Malacca between Malaysia's western coast and Indonesia's Sumatra island ? the opposite side of Malaysia from its last known location. The search currently includes nine aircraft and 24 ships from nine countries. (AP Photo) CHINA OUT
A U.S. Navy helicopter departs from the USS Pinckney to aid in the search and rescue efforts for the missing Malaysian airlines flight MH370 in the Gulf of Thailand, Sunday, March 9, 2014. The plane, which was carrying 239 people, lost contact with ground controllers somewhere between Malaysia and Vietnam after leaving Kuala Lumpur early Saturday morning for Beijing. (AP Photo/Navy Media Content Service)
Photographs showing one of the passengers of the missing Malaysian Airlines aircraft Chandrika Sharma, left, her husband Narendran and daughter Meghna, are displayed during a press conference in Chennai, India, Wednesday, March 12, 2014. Narendran criticized the Indian government for its ?silence? and said no government official has contacted them on the incident yet, according to a local news agency. Malaysia has asked for India's assistance in searching for the missing Boeing 777 jetliner to widen the search to an area near the Andaman Sea, an Indian official said Wednesday. (AP Photo/Arun Sankar K)
A woman writes a message for passengers aboard a missing Malaysia Airlines plane on a banner at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Malaysia, Wednesday, March 12, 2014. More than four days after the Malaysian jetliner went missing en route to Beijing, authorities acknowledged Wednesday they didn't know which direction the plane carrying 239 passengers was heading when it disappeared, vastly complicating efforts to find it. (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin)
Indonesian Air Force officials at Medan city military base plot the Indonesian military search operation for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 on March 12, 2014 in the area of Malacca Strait, a sea passageway between Indonesia (seen left of the map) and Malaysia (seen right on the map). Malaysia faced a storm of criticism on March 12 over contradictions and information gaps in the hunt for a missing airliner with 239 people on board, as the search zone dramatically veered far from the intended flight path. AFP PHOTO / ATAR (Photo credit should read ATAR/AFP/Getty Images)
A member of the Indonesian Air Force at Medan city military base inspects the Indonesian military search operation for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 on March 12, 2014 in the area of Malacca Strait, a sea passageway between Indonesia (seen left of the map) and Malaysia (seen top left of the map). Malaysia faced a storm of criticism on March 12 over contradictions and information gaps in the hunt for a missing airliner with 239 people on board, as the search zone dramatically veered far from the intended flight path. AFP PHOTO / ATAR (Photo credit should read ATAR/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman stands in front of a placard featuring messages for passengers aboard a missing Malaysia Airlines plane at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Malaysia, Wednesday, March 12, 2014. More than four days after the Malaysian jetliner went missing en route to Beijing, authorities acknowledged Wednesday they didn't know which direction the plane carrying 239 passengers was heading when it disappeared, vastly complicating efforts to find it. (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin)
Beachgoers walk past a sand sculpture made by Indian sand artist Sudersan Pattnaik with a message of prayers for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 - which vanished from radar early on March 8 with ongoing search operations mounted by multiple nations taking place in the South China Sea, the Malacca Strait, and the Andaman Sea - at Puri beach, some 65 kilometers away from Bhubaneswar, on March 14, 2014. Malaysia denied March 12 that the hunt for a missing jet was in disarray, after the search veered far from the planned route and China said that conflicting information about its course was 'pretty chaotic'. AFP PHOTO/ ASIT KUMAR (Photo credit should read ASIT KUMAR/AFP/Getty Images)
A relative of a passenger on board missing Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight MH370 cries as she arrives at the Everly hotel in Putrajaya on March 12, 2014. Malaysia's air force chief said authorities have not ruled out the possibility a missing airliner inexplicably changed course before losing contact, but denied reports the jet had been detected far from its planned flight path. AFP PHOTO / MANAN VATSYAYANA (Photo credit should read MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images)
An Indonesian National Search and Rescue Agency personnel scans the seas aboard a boat on patrol in the Malacca Strait off Aceh province located in the area of northern Sumatra island on March 12, 2014 during the continued search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. The search for a missing Malaysian jet swung northwest towards the Andaman Sea on March 12, far from its intended flight path, exposing Malaysia to mounting criticism that its response was in disarray. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
Map shows search areas for missing Malaysia Airlines jet; 3c x 4 inches; 146 mm x 101 mm;
This combination of images released by Interpol and displayed by Malaysian police during a news conference in Sepang, Malaysia, on Tuesday, March 11, 2014, shows an Iranian identified by Interpol as Pouria Nour Mohammad Mehrdad, who Malaysian authorities say is 19, although Interpol's information indicated an age of 18, left, and 29-year-old Iranian Delavar Seyedmohammaderza. The men boarded the now missing Malaysia Airlines jet MH370 with stolen passports. (AP Photo/Interpol)
The image of two Iranian who were traveling with stolen passports on a missing Malaysia Arlines jetliner is displayed on a screen during a presser at the Interpol headquarters in Lyon, central France, Tuesday, March 11, 2014. From left Roraima Andriani, Interpol chief of staff, Ronald K. Noble, Secretary General of Interpol and Jean-Michel Louboutin, executive director police services. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)
The image of two Iranian who Inetrpol say were traveling with stolen passports on a missing Malaysia Arlines jetliner displayed on a screen during a presser at the Interpol headquarters in Lyon, central France, Tuesday, March 11, 2014. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)
Members of the media scramble with their smart phones and cameras to photograph pictures of the two men, a 19-year-old Iranian identified by Malaysian police as Pouria Nour Mohammad Mehrdad, left, and the man on the right, his identity still not released, who boarded the now missing Malaysia Airlines jet MH370 with a stolen passports, held up by a Malaysian policewoman during a press conference, Tuesday, March 11, 2014, in Sepang, Malaysia. One of the two men traveling on a missing Malaysian Airlines jetliner was an Iranian asylum seeker, officials said Tuesday, as baffled authorities expanded their search for the Boeing 777 on the opposite side of the country from where it disappeared days ago with 239 people on board.(AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - MARCH 11: This composite of images #477770287 & #477770285 shows cctv imagery released by police of an Iranian suspect, Pouria Nour Mohammad Mehrdad, who was travelling on Flight MH370 with a stolen Austrian passport, (L) and an unindentified suspect who was travelling on Flight MH370 with a stolen Italian passport (R), on March 11, 2014 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Officials have expanded the search area for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 to include more of the Gulf of Thailand between Malayisa and Vietnam and land along the Malay Pensinusula. The flight carrying 239 passengers from Kuala Lumpur to Thailand was reported missing on the morning of March 8 after the crew failed to check in as scheduled. Relatives of the missing passengers have been advised to prepare for the worst as authorities focus on two passengers on board travelling with stolen passports. (Photo by How Foo Yeen/Getty Images)
This screengrab from flightradar24.com shows the last reported position of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, Friday night March 7, 2014. The Boeing 777-200 carrying 239 people lost contact over the South China Sea on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, and international aviation authorities still hadn't located the jetliner several hours later. (AP Photo/flightradar24.com)
Asia topographic map with red arrow from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, graphic element on black
A Thai policeman shows a copy of Italian Luigi Maraldi’s stolen passport as he visits the Six Stars Travel for questioning in Pattaya, Chonburi province, Thailand, Monday, March 10, 2014. The agency told police that it had issued the tickets used by the holders of two stolen passports on Flight MH370 last Thursday. The owner said the reservations were placed by another travel agency, Grand Horizon Travel, which in turn told police that it had received the order from the China Southern Airlines office in Bangkok. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
Relatives of Chinese passengers aboard missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 watch a TV news program about the missing flight as they wait for official updates from Malaysia Airlines at a hotel ballroom in Beijing, China, Tuesday, March 11, 2014. Nearly three days after the Boeing 777 with 239 people on board disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, no debris has been seen in Southeast Asian waters. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan)
Malaysia's Department of Civil Aviation's Director General Azharuddin Abdul Rahman briefs reporters on search and recovery efforts within existing and new areas for missing Malaysia Airlines plane during a press conference, Monday, March 10, 2014 in Sepang, Malaysia. The search operation for the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 which has involved 34 aircraft and 40 ships from several countries covering a 50-nautical mile radius from the point the plane vanished from radar screens between Malaysia and Vietnam continues after its disappearance since Saturday. Experts say possible causes of the apparent crash include an explosion, catastrophic engine failure, terrorist attack, extreme turbulence, or pilot error or even suicide. (AP Photo/Daniel Chan)
KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - MARCH 10: Major General Datuk Affendi Buang briefs the media over latest updates on missing Malaysia Airline MH370 on March 10, 2014 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Potential sightings of possible airliner debris and a possible oil slick in the sea off Vietnam have not been officially verified or confirmed as investigative teams continue to search for the whereabouts of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MG370 and its 293 passengers, travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. The airliner was reported missing on the morning of March 8 after the crew failed to check in as scheduled. Relatives of the missing passengers have been advised to prepare for the worst as authorities focus on two passengers on board travelling with stolen passports. (Photo by How Foo Yeen/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - MARCH 08: Medical staff (C) arrive at a hotel meeting room care of families of missing persons at Lidu Hotel on March 8, 2014 in Beijing, China. Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing and carrying 239 onboard was reported missing after the crew failed to check in as scheduled while flying over the sea between Malaysia and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, according to published reports. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
A Chinese relative, center in red, of passengers aboard a missing Malaysia Airlines plane is taken away as she is chased by journalists at a resort in Cyberjaya, Malaysia, Tuesday, March 11, 2014. Authorities hunting for the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner expanded their search on land and sea Tuesday, reflecting the difficulties in finding traces of the Boeing 777 more than three days after it vanished with 239 people on board. (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin)
Malaysian Airlines senior officials Dr Hugh Dunleavy (L) and a member of the airline's crisis management team, Ignatius Ong (R), face the Chinese media after arriving in China to deal with the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 plane, in Beijing on March 8, 2014. Malaysia Airlines said a flight carrying 239 people from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing went missing early on March 8, and the airline was notifying next of kin in a sign it expected the worst. AFP PHOTO / MARK RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - MARCH 08: (CHINA OUT, SOUTH KOREA) Joshua Law Kok Hwa (C), Malaysia Airlines' regional senior vice president of China, speaks at a conference regarding the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 at the Metropark Lido Hotel on March 8, 2014, in Beijing, China. Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing and carrying 239 onboard was reported missing after the crew failed to check in as scheduled while flying over the sea between Malaysia and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, according to published reports. (Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)
Chrisman Siregar, far right, the father of Firman Siregar, one of the passengers on board the Malaysia Airlines jetliner that went missing over the South China Sea, watches the news on the search of the plane on television with other family members in his residence in Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia, Saturday, March 8, 2014. The Boeing 777-200 carrying 239 people lost contact early Saturday morning on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. (AP Photo/Binsar Bakkara)
Family members arrive at a hotel which is prepared for relatives or friends of passengers aboard a missing airplane, in Beijing, China, Sunday, March 9, 2014. Search teams across Southeast Asia scrambled on Saturday to find a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 with 239 people on board that disappeared from air traffic control screens over waters between Malaysia and Vietnam early that morning. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
Airport staff move a white board plastered with messages of hope and encouragement to all involved with the missing Malaysia Airlines jet, MH370, at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Tuesday, March 11, 2014, in Sepang, Malaysia. Authorities hunting for the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner expanded their search on land and sea Tuesday, reflecting the difficulties in locating traces of the plane more than three days after it vanished. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
A family member of passengers aboard a missing Malaysia Airlines plane is mobbed by journalists at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, outside Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Saturday, March 8, 2014. Search teams across Southeast Asia scrambled on Saturday to find a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 with 239 people on board that disappeared from air traffic control screens over waters between Malaysia and Vietnam early that morning. (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin)
A woman cries at the arrival hall of the International Airport in Beijing, China, Saturday, March 8, 2014. Relatives and friends were arriving at Beijing airport for news after a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 was reported missing on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing Saturday. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
Malaysian acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, right, speaks during a press conference at a hotel in Sepang, outside Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Saturday, March 8, 2014. A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 carrying 239 people lost contact over the South China Sea early Saturday morning on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, and international aviation authorities still hadn't located the jetliner several hours later. (AP Photo)
Malaysian Airlines Group Chief Executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahyain, front, speaks during a press conference at a hotel in Sepang, outside Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Saturday, March 8, 2014. A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 carrying 239 people lost contact with air traffic control early Saturday morning on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, and international aviation authorities still hadn't located the jetliner several hours later. (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin)
A staff member at the Malaysian Airlines' office in Beijing's International Airport reacts to journalists in Beijing, China, Saturday, March 8, 2014. A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 carrying 239 people lost contact with air traffic control early Saturday morning on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, and international aviation authorities still hadn't located the jetliner several hours later. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
AT SEA, KELANTAN COAST, MALAYSIA - MARCH 09: In this handout provided by the Malaysian Maritime Agency, a patrol vessel of Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency searches during the search and rescue mission for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 on March 9, 2014 off the Kelantan coast, Malaysia. Potential sightings of possible airliner debris and a possible oil slick in the sea off Vietnam have not been officially verified or confirmed as investigative teams continue to search for the whereabouts of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MG370 and its 293 passengers, travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. The airliner was reported missing on the morning of March 8 after the crew failed to check in as scheduled. Relatives of the missing passengers have been advised to prepare for the worst as authorities focus on two passengers on board travelling with stolen passports. (Photo by Malaysian Maritime Agency via Getty Images)
Buddhist monks offer special prayers for passengers aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang on March 9, 2014. Malaysia said a missing airliner carrying 239 people may have inexplicably turned back as authorities launched a terror probe into the plane's sudden disappearance, investigating suspect passengers who boarded with stolen passports. AFP PHOTO/ STR (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
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(Reuters) - Whether by accident or design, whoever reached across the dimly lit cockpit of a Malaysia Airlines jet and clicked off a transponder to make Flight MH370 vanish from controllers' radars flew into a navigational and technical black hole.

By choosing one place and time to vanish into radar darkness with 238 others on board, the person - presumed to be a pilot or a passenger with advanced knowledge - may have acted only after meticulous planning, according to aviation experts.

Understanding the sequence that led to the unprecedented plane hunt widening across two vast tracts of territory north and south of the Equator is key to grasping the motives of what Malaysian authorities suspect was hijacking or sabotage.

By signing off from Malaysian airspace at 1.19 a.m. on March 8 with a casual "all right, good night," rather than the crisp radio drill advocated in pilot training, a person now believed to be the co-pilot gave no hint of anything unusual.

Two minutes later, at 1.21 a.m. local time, the transponder - a device identifying jets to ground controllers - was turned off in a move that experts say could reveal a careful sequence.

"Every action taken by the person who was piloting the aircraft appears to be a deliberate one. It is almost like a pilot's checklist," said one senior captain from an Asian carrier with experience of jets including the Boeing 777.

There is so far no indication whether the co-pilot was at fault or had anything to do with turning off the transponder. Pilots say the usual industry convention is that the pilot not directly responsible for flying the plane talks on the radio.

Police have searched the premises of both the captain and co-pilot and are checking the backgrounds of all passengers.

Whoever turned the transponder to "off", whether or not the move was deliberate, did so at a vulnerable point between two airspace sectors when Malaysian and Vietnamese controllers could easily assume the airplane was each others' responsibility.

"The predictable effect was to delay the raising of the alarm by either party," David Learmount, operations and safety editor at Flight International, wrote in an industry blog.

That mirrors delays in noticing something was wrong when an Air France jet disappeared over the Atlantic in 2009 with 228 people on board, a gap blamed on confusion between controllers.

Yet whereas the Rio-Paris disaster was later traced to pilot error, the suspected kidnapping of MH370's passengers and crew was carried out with either skill or bizarre coincidences.

Whether or not pilots knew it, the jet was just then in a technically obscure sweet spot, according to a top radar expert.

Air traffic controllers use secondary radar which works by talking to the transponder. Some air traffic control systems also blend in some primary radar, which uses a simple echo.

But primary radar signals fade faster than secondary ones, meaning even a residual blip would have vanished for controllers and even military radar may have found it difficult to identify the 777 from other ghostly blips, said radar expert Hans Weber.

"Turning off the transponder indicates this person was highly trained," said Weber, of consultancy TECOP International.


NOT IN THE MANUAL

The overnight flight to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur is packed year-round with business people, Chinese tourists and students, attracted in part by code-sharing deals, regular travelers say.

The lockdown of MH370 may have begun as early as 40 minutes into the flight at a point when meals are being hurriedly served in time to get trays cleared and lights dimmed for the night.

"It was a red-eye flight. Most people - the passengers and the crew - just want to rest," a Malaysia Airlines stewardess said. "Unless there was a reason to panic, if someone had taken control of the aircraft, they would not have noticed anything."

At some point between 1.07 a.m. and 1.37 a.m., investigators believe someone switched off another system called ACARS designed to transmit maintenance data back to the ground.

While unusual, this may not necessarily raise alarms at the airline and the passengers would not have known that something was amiss, said some of the six pilots contacted by Reuters, none of whom agreed to be identified because of company rules.

"Occasionally, there are gaps in the communications systems and the guys in ground operations may not think much of it initially. It would be a while before they try to find out what was wrong," said one captain with an Asian carrier.

Cutting the datalink would not have been easy. Instructions are not in the Flight Crew Operating Manual, one pilot said.

Whoever did so may have had to climb through a trap door in full view of cabin crew, people familiar with the jet say.

Circuit-breakers used to disable the system are in a bay reached through a hatch in the floor next to the lefthand front exit, close to a galley used to prepare meals.

Most pilots said it would be impossible to turn off ACARS from inside the cockpit, though two people did not rule it out.

Malaysia Airlines said 14 minutes elapsed between the last ACARS message and the transponder shutdown that - in the growing view of officials - confirmed a fully loaded jet was on the run. The ACARS must have been disabled within 16 minutes after that.

In the meantime a voice believed to be that of the co-pilot issued the last words from MH370 and the transponder went dead.

HIDING IN FULL VIEW?

The northeast-bound jet now took a northwestern route from Kota Bahru in eastern Malaysia to Penang Island. It was last detected on military radar around 200 miles northwest of Penang.

Even that act of going off course may not have caused alarm at first if it was handled gradually, pilots said.

"Nobody pays attention to these things unless they are aware of the direction that the aircraft was heading in," said one first officer who has flown with Malaysia Airlines.

The airline said it had reconstructed the event in a simulator to try to figure out how the jet vanished and kept flying for what may have been more than seven hours.

Pilots say whoever was then in control may have kept the radio on in silent mode to hear what was going on around him, but would have avoided restarting the transponder at all costs.

"That would immediately make the aircraft visible ... like a bright light. Your registration, height, altitude and speed would all become visible," said an airline captain.

After casting off its identity, the aircraft set investigators a puzzle that has yet to be solved. It veered either northwards or southwards, within an hour's flying time of arcs stretching from the Caspian to the southern Indian Ocean.

The best way to avoid the attention of military radars would have been to fly at a fixed altitude, on a recognized flight path and at cruising speed without changing course, pilots say.

Malaysian officials dismissed as speculation reports that the jet may have flown at low altitude to avoid detection.

But pilots said the best chance of feeling its way through the well-defended northern route would have been to hide in full view of military radar inside commercial lanes - raising awkward questions over security in several parts of the Asia-Pacific.

"The military radar controllers would have seen him moving on a fixed line, figured that it was a commercial aircraft at a high altitude, and not really a danger especially if he was on a recognized flight path," said one pilot.

"Some countries would ask you to identify yourself, but you are flying through the night and that is the time when the least attention is being paid to unidentified aircraft. As long as the aircraft is not flying towards a military target or point, they may not bother with you."

Although investigators refused on Monday to be drawn into theories, few in the industry believe a 250-tonne passenger jet could run amok globally without expert skills or preparation.

"Whoever did this must have had lots of aircraft knowledge, would have deliberately planned this, had nerves of steel to be confident enough to get through primary radar without being detected and been confident enough to control an aircraft full of people," a veteran airline captain told Reuters.
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