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MH370 update: 'Highly likely' plane was on autopilot when it flew into ocean, officials said


(Reuters) - Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 was most likely on autopilot when it crashed into the Indian Ocean further south than previously thought, Australian officials said on Thursday, as they charted the next phase of a so far fruitless search.

The new analysis comes more than 100 days after the Boeing 777, carrying 239 passengers and crew, disappeared on March 8 shortly after taking off from Kuala Lumpur bound for Beijing.

Related: Malaysia releases satellite data on missing MH370 jet
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Investigators say what little evidence they have to work with suggests the plane was deliberately diverted thousands of kilometres from its scheduled route before eventually plunging into the Indian Ocean.

MH370 Likely On Autopilot Before Crash

The search was narrowed in April after a series of acoustic pings thought to be from the plane's black box recorders were heard along a final arc where analysis of satellite data put its last location.

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But a month later, officials conceded the wreckage was not in that concentrated area, some 1,600 km (1,000 miles) off the northwest coast of Australia, and the search area would have to be expanded.

"The new priority area is still focused on the seventh arc, where the aircraft last communicated with satellite. We are now shifting our attention to an area further south along the arc," Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss told reporters in Canberra.

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Truss said the area was determined after a review of satellite data, early radar information and aircraft performance limits after the plane diverted across the Malaysian peninsula and headed south into one of the remotest areas of the planet.

"It is highly, highly likely that the aircraft was on autopilot otherwise it could not have followed the orderly path that has been identified through the satellite sightings," Truss said.

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The next phase of the search is expected to start in August and take a year, covering some 60,000 sq km at a cost of A$60 million ($56 million) or more. The search is already the most expensive in aviation history.

The new priority search area is around 2,000 km west of Perth, a stretch of isolated ocean frequently lashed by storm force winds and massive swells.

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In a 55-page report, the Australian Transport Safety Board outlined a how investigators had narrowed down the possible final resting place from thousands of possible routes, while noting the absence of communications and the steady flight path.

"Given these observations, the final stages of the unresponsive crew/hypoxia event type appeared to best fit the available evidence for the final period of MH370's flight when it was heading in a generally southerly direction," the ATSB report said.

Two vessels, one Chinese and one from Dutch engineering company Fugro (FUGRc.AS), are currently mapping the sea floor along the arc, where depths exceed 5,000 metres in parts.

A tender to find a commercial operator to conduct the sea floor search closes on Monday.

(Additional reporting by Matt Siegel; Editing by Nick Macfie and Nick Macfie)

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geeszabs June 26 2014 at 3:34 AM

I still believe that the plane is somwhere on the ground being refitted for another mission by terriosts

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22 replies
rjen164497 June 26 2014 at 7:05 AM

How stupid. Like little kids playing. Look over there, no look over here. Wait it's up there. All the resourses wasted while it sits on the ground waiting to be used as a flying bomb.

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7 replies
crazy ray June 26 2014 at 5:32 AM

Confident? Highly likely? Come on, the only thing these clowns, and that includes the journalists, know- is that they can'f find their butt with both hands.

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1 reply
deejunebug crazy ray June 26 2014 at 11:34 AM

They forgot "Almost positive". Huh? "Highly likely" means nothing at this point and won't until they find the exact location. I'm inclined to believe it could have taken the northern path of the arc...why isn't that possibility considered...oh...I get it...don't look where you know it would be found. And...whatever you're looking for is always in the last place you look : )

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1 reply
timkrc deejunebug June 26 2014 at 11:28 PM

If u dont want it found u look were u know its not.

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mzharleywood June 26 2014 at 5:45 AM

This plane was overtaken by a ground based computer which cut off all life support and then safely landed on the ground. It is being nuked out and will be seen again. COD USA..

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11 replies
kll927 June 26 2014 at 7:47 AM

this thing is not in the ocean !

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1 reply
Joy kll927 June 26 2014 at 10:14 AM

Yes it is. Look up Occam's razor.

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1 reply
Michael Keohane Joy June 26 2014 at 10:35 AM

Yes, kll927 : Joy is right on the money. Fancy conspiracy theories require almost total ignorance about the real world and how things work. In a bad "made for TV" movie, the audience will ignore the inconsistencies if the action is quick and the dialogue seems credible.

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kdarmon58 June 26 2014 at 6:41 AM

Sounds to me there are a lot of dumb ass people working on a plane that has satellite tracking information of where it went. I guess you can lead the jackass to the water but you can't make it drink. This is the worlds biggest joke.

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1 reply
j.pr3 kdarmon58 June 26 2014 at 2:15 PM

NO, this is the world's second biggest joke. Obama continues to hold FIRST place.

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3 replies
vietnamvet1967 June 26 2014 at 5:56 AM

Bottom LINE


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1 reply
frank.foreman vietnamvet1967 June 26 2014 at 8:55 AM

The bottom line is : passenger aircraft are not allowed to just fly any path in the skies that they choose to - nor do they have the fuel to do so. And they don't get hijacked off their intended course to be flown in the exact opposite direction of their flightplan , to be crashed into open water in an ocean. I would say if the plane is down , it is nearest where it's last known position was. Which would explain how it disappeared from communications etc. This means we are being told things to divert us all away from some sort of activity onboard that plane before it crashed or was taken over (more likely) by someone who was not authorized to do so. If , the Russians took this plane over , that could explain why any such communications of that existence are being hushed up - with nonsensical informations that are being used to hide the fact that Russians are behind this takeover. If the plane simply crashed , it would be fully reported and properly reported as normal.

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2 replies
Erbie's frank.foreman June 26 2014 at 9:24 AM

I believe they know exactly where it is at! Satelites are capable of almost telling you the number of a dollar bill from space and how many cameras are up there, how much of the Earth does one camera cover from space. When the first distress call went out how many satelite cameras started looking for the plane right then, I have space pictures of my property from the computer and you can see my car in the drive, you can't tell what it is clearly but you can tell it is there, and I don't believe when they took that picture I was on their best lens, so to speak.

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CPA11973 frank.foreman June 26 2014 at 10:30 AM

why Russia - one of the pilots could have been working with Al Quida, Taliban, Iran, North Korea, Syria or even on his own (deliberate suicide)

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Doug June 26 2014 at 8:05 AM

Why the comments in a different window - to get more crap ads in? AOL used to be good, now it's gone to the yippies!

Flag Reply +14 rate up
4 replies
tommy000 June 26 2014 at 5:09 AM

---The new search zone was largely identified by an analysis of hourly transmissions, or "handshakes," between the plane and a satellite---

The "new search zone" has finally been identified by our secret intelligence center Diego Garcia mililtary base in the Indian Ocean right near the crash.

They didn't want anyone to know how much tracking info they actually have !!!

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2 replies
ilenedan2 tommy000 June 26 2014 at 11:59 AM

If it's secret, how come you not only know where it is, but are broadcasting this information around on the internet where thousands will read it? Guess it is not so secret after all?

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Glen tommy000 June 26 2014 at 3:06 PM

Good point but it sounds as though the analysis of transmissions or "handshakes" were somehow cut off, and that in it's self seems to present one of the biggest problems thus far.

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dohcman June 26 2014 at 10:19 AM

With all due respect, this entire situation smells worse than a mile high pile of Cow Dung! This thing was so well planned out: (hijacking, Transponders shut down, Course deviation, specialists onboard and so forth) and now we are all supposed to think that the hijackers than just put the plane on auto pilot and let it crash into the ocean! Common everybody!!! Time to stamp our feet and scream "We are tired of it and we are not going to take it anymore"!!!!!!!!

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2 replies
jrrosenthal dohcman June 26 2014 at 8:44 PM

Just what do you suggest we do?

Flag Reply 0 rate up
timkrc dohcman June 26 2014 at 11:40 PM

Think out side the box some times it helps

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