Conflicting Stories

There are conflicting stories this morning in the continuing saga of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370. Last night the Wall Street Journal reported that the area within which the craft might be found had actually expanded:

U.S. investigators suspect that Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 stayed in the air for about four hours past the time it reached its last confirmed location, according to two people familiar with the details, raising the possibility that the plane could have flown on for hundreds of additional miles under conditions that remain murky.

Aviation investigators and national security officials believe the plane flew for a total of five hours, based on data automatically downloaded and sent to the ground from the Boeing Co. 777’s engines as part of a routine maintenance and monitoring program.

A flying time of an additional four hours would place the plane anywhere in South Asia, South-East Asia, and a good chunk of the Pacific, as illustrated by the map above.

But Malaysian authorities have denied that report. Sort of:

(CNN) — Yet another conflicting storyline emerged overnight in the perplexing disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 nearly six days ago.

After search crews failed to find any trace of debris suggested by Chinese satellite photographs, Malaysian officials on Thursday denied a newspaper report that suggested the plane may have kept flying for four hours after its last reported contact.

The officials acknowledged the search for the jetliner, which disappeared early Saturday, is becoming harder and harder.

The report from The Wall Street Journal said U.S. aviation investigators and national security officials were basing their belief that the missing plane kept flying on data automatically transmitted to the ground from the passenger jet’s engines.

But Malaysia’s acting Transportation Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said at a news conference that the report, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter, was “inaccurate.”

The precise wording could be significant. There’s quite a bit of distance between “inaccurate” and “flat-out wrong”. Inaccurate covers everything from flat-out wrong to wrong by twenty minutes, AKA substantively correct.

This story is something of a cause célèbre in China, understandably so since the passengers of the flight were mostly Chinese:

BEIJING, March 13 (Xinhua) — As myriad information fuels surging anxiety among the family members of passengers on board the missing Malaysian flight, experts have become concerned about their mental well-being.

Despite the airline advising passengers’ families to “prepare for the worst result,” it will surely be hard for many of them, awash with helplessness and despair, to let go of hopes for the survival of their loved ones.

Flight MH370, an Malaysia Airlines plane, has been missing for more than five days since contact with it was lost early on Saturday.

It was flying over the Ho Chi Minh air traffic control area in Vietnam and carrying 227 passengers, including 154 Chinese.

Experts worry that the spreading negative emotions will take a heavy toll on the emotional well-being of the family members, who have been provided with no professional counseling thus far.

Fang Xin, director of the psychological counseling center with Peking University, said that the daily drip-drip of information, be it true or false, will inevitably cause mood swings among the family members and increase their levels of discomfort.

“The unknown fate of the passengers will have generated severe insecurities and anxiety in them,” Fang said.

Xin Hua has dozens of stories connected with the fate of the flight. I just selected one human interest story to give you some idea of the coverage.

If the WSJ story is true, it seems to me that increases the likelihood of hijacking as the cause of the disappearance.

I’ve got to admit I’m surprised that in this day and age commercial aircraft wander around with nobody really sure whether they’re in the air or not or where they’re going.

2 comments… add one

  • jan

    The theories widen with the area being searched. They’re now talking about alien abduction.

  • ...

    I was surprised (though I shouldn’t have been) that Rolls Royce monitors their engines in real time. And all that data streaming around makes me wonder if someone can hijack a plane remotely.

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