Radar signals recorded by the Malaysian military appear to show the missing airliner climbing to 45,000 feet, above the approved altitude limit for a Boeing 777-200, soon after it disappeared from civilian radar and made a sharp turn to the west, according to a preliminary assessment by a person familiar with the data.
The radar track, which the Malaysian government has not released but says it has provided to the United States and China, then shows the plane descending unevenly to 23,000 feet, below normal cruising levels, as it approached the densely populated island of Penang, one of the country’s largest. There, the plane turned from a southwest-bound course, climbed to a higher altitude and flew northwest over the Strait of Malacca toward the Indian Ocean.
This is being treated as very big news. But I’m not sure it adds a whole lot, except that it’s very consistent with the current theory that the plane was hijacked by a passenger or diverted by one of the regular pilots. I’m a bit suspicious of the article, though, because it also refers to the data transmitted from the plane’s Rolls-Royce engines, whereas most people seem to be saying that no such data was transmitted.
But confusion is the standard in this story ever since it began.
I find the following quite intriguing and disturbing (the latter a word I’ve been using over and over for the Flight 370 story):
The erratic movements of the aircraft after it diverted course and flew over the country also raise questions about why the military did not respond to the flight emergency. Malaysian officials have acknowledged that military radar may have detected the plane, but have said they took no action because it did not appear hostile.
I am confused as to how a plane could “appear hostile” on radar. It’s not as though radar can read its mind. I assume it would be through the plane’s suspicious behavior/actions/movements. But it’s hard to understand why going up and down precipitously like this, and turning off one’s transponder, wouldn’t be considered at least potentially hostile, and rouse some sort of response such as scrambling.