Things just get weirder and weirder.
Tonight we're getting more reports that there were intentional changes to the plane's directional systems before it vanished, transponders turned off or disabled.
Officials suspect two different systems were shut off after the plane took off last weekend, one shortly after the other, people familiar with the investigation said. About an hour into the flight, the plane's transponders stopped functioning, making it much more difficult for air-traffic control personnel to track or identify it via radar.
In the ensuing minutes, a second system sent a routine aircraft-monitoring message to a satellite indicating that someone made a manual change in the plane's direction, veering sharply to the west. Such a turn wouldn't have been part of the original authorized route programmed in the flight-management computer that controls the autopilot. Those system-monitoring messages are suspected to have been disabled shortly afterward, according to some of these people.
So what the hell does this mean? Hijacking?
Unlikely, I think. Hijackings tend to be noisy, messy and these days mostly entirely unsuccessful. Someone gets on the phone, someone sends a text, there's no precedent for an entirely quiet takeover of a jumbo jet in the post 9/11 era. Look at the global reports http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_a… , see one thing after another:
"Some passengers overpowered the hijacker"
"The police officers and civilians on board subdued the hijackers"
"The hijacker... was subdued by cabin crew"
On a flight with 200+ passengers and twelve crew, well, it's a scenario that's hard to imagine. Even in potentially lax security no one's going to be able to smuggle an AK-47 aboard an international flight, and these days people know they're fighting for their lives. The rules have changed, for good. The first three planes on 9/11 took off under the old rules; the fourth, delayed for hours on the tarmac, took off under the new ones, and we saw the difference in the result.
So what else? Suicidal pilot? There's precedent, in the EgyptAir flight 990 suicide of the co-pilot, taking everyone down with him. But that's nearly impossible to wrap one's mind around, too.
Ghost plane? Payne Stewart and his pilot and passengers experienced explosive decompression, lost consciousness in seconds and flew and flew until the LearJet just ran out of gas and corkscrewed into the ground. Could that have happened to MH370? But then who turned the transponders off, and why? Delirium? It's grasping at straws.
We're veering into Lost territory here, peeps, and it's very disconcerting.