A screen on board Malaysia Airlines Flight MH318 shows the plane's
flight path as it cruises over the South China Sea,
at approximately the sa
Lost plane 'may have been flown to Taliban territory'
London, March 17, 2014
The missing Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 may have been deliberately flown under the radar to Taliban-controlled bases on the border of Afghanistan, a report said.
Nine days after the Boeing 777 vanished, The Independent newspaper report said it has learnt that Malaysian authorities are seeking diplomatic permission to investigate a theory that the plane was flown to one of a number of Taliban strongholds on the Afghan border in North West Pakistan.
The latest revelation came as it was revealed that the final message sent to air traffic controllers from the jet's cockpit - " All right, good night" - was spoken after someone on board had already disabled the plane's ACARS reporting system.
Around 14 minutes later someone also switched off the plane's transponder, which identifies it to commercial radar systems. Malaysian Air force Major General Affendi Buang told reporters that the two separate actions, along with the calm message in between, "will tell you something" about whether the diversion was deliberate or not.
On Sunday Malaysian officials examined a sophisticated flight simulator belonging to the chief pilot of the missing jet, after experts said only a trained person could have turned off the plane's communication equipment and flown it off course without being detected.
Working on the theory that the plane was intentionally flown off course, police have delved into the backgrounds of captain Zaharie Ahmed Shah, 53, and 27-year-old co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid. Their homes were searched on Saturday, and on Sunday, experts examined the simulator Mr Shah kept in his home which he had built himself.
The final confirmed location for MH370 on civilian radar was at 1.21 am, but it was spotted less than an hour later on military radar, far to the west of that position. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak revealed that "ping" signals from the plane was last received at 8.11 am.
Based on data collated by the British company Inmarsat's satellite network, at that point the plane was on one of two possible arcs - one stretching north from Thailand to Kazakhstan and crossing more than 10 countries, and one to the south over Indonesia and out across the southern Indian ocean. Experts have said the aircraft could have been on the ground when it sent its satellite signals.
Boeing 777s need a runway of at least 5,000ft long, limiting the number of possible sites within the 2,200 nautical mile-radius it is believed the plane could have flown from its last known position.
Last night sources in Kuala Lumpur assisting with the investigation told The Independent that full diplomatic permissions were being sought in order to rule out the theory that the plane could have flown to areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan that are not under government control.
Large areas of the southern half of Afghanistan are ruled by the Afghan Taliban, while some areas of north-west Pakistan, adjacent to or near to the Afghan border, are controlled by the Pakistani Taliban.
A spokesman for Malaysian Airlines said: "These are matters for the jurisdiction of those regions and Malaysia's armed forces and department of civil aviation. In regard to Pakistan and Afghanistan, we cannot explore those theories without permission. We hope to have that soon."
For a commercial plane to pass undetected through these regions, which are highly militarised with robust air defence networks, many run by the US military, would require a combination of extremely sophisticated navigation, brazen audacity and security failure by those monitoring international airspace. However, with so little known about the fate of the plane, and the investigation growing in scale every day, it is yet another line of enquiry that remains impossible to rule out.
On Sunday Pakistani civil aviation officials said they had checked their radar recordings and found no sign of the missing jet.