I have abridged the following. (my note) Posted Mar.13, 2014
Live Science.Com By Mike Wall, Senior Writer Published Mar.11/14
How can a big jet full of people just vanish into thin air in this day and age? Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 took off from the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur on Friday afternoon (March 7) U.S. Eastern time, headed for Beijing. But air traffic controllers lost contact with the plane less than an hour later.
It was flying over the Gulf of Thailand — it just disappeared from the radar. The whereabouts of the Boeing 777 jet, which was carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew members, remain unknown.
Airlines file flight plans, and airplanes are expected to arrive at certain points by certain times. When an airplane crew fails to check in at its next checkpoint, that is when an alarm is raised. This case is an extremely rare event, especially with the highly technologically advanced aircraft in the air today.
Commercial jets can also fall off the map briefly when they fly at low altitudes because radar relies on line-of-sight contact. Mountains and other landforms can block the signals going to and from the closest radar stations, as can the curvature of the Earth.
As a result, low-flying jets can be tough to track continuously, especially if their transponders are disabled — a fact that terrorists took advantage of on 9/11
The first thing that many of the hijackers did [on 9/11] was turn off the transponder (sends info from plane to air traffic controllers). Once they turned off the transponders, then they turned the aircraft back toward whatever their target was.
Someone who wanted to steal the Malaysia Airlines jet could theoretically shut off the transponder and dip down to an altitude of 5,000 feet (about 1,520 meters) or so,
“Of course, it’s kind of hard to hide a 777,” Sid McGuirk, an associate professor of air traffic management at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida, said. “Wherever it lands, somebody’s going to say, ‘Hey! There’s a Malaysia Air 777. It didn’t crash at all — it was being stolen.'”
The loss of MH370 is extremely puzzling. the Malaysia Airlines plane was apparently not far from land, McGuirk said, adding that one Malaysian Air Force official made comments to the media suggesting the aircraft was being tracked by radar just before it went missing. (end of abridged article)
As already suggested, it’s possible the transponders were turned off and someone took control of the Boeing 777. If that’s the case, the question is where to, and for what reason – that is a mystery. (my comment)