Late tonight, the Wall Street Journal's Andy Pasztor broke some incredible news from Rolls-Royce – manufacturer of the Trent 800 engines on Malaysian Airlines Flight 370. Investigators now believe that the plane flew for up to five hours – four hours past the point it disappeared from radar.
Aviation enthusiast Ian Petchenik (@Petchmo) was quick to post a map on Twitter (seen above) of how far the plane might have flown for four hours past its last known location. This broadens the search area to a much larger area, and brings to the table the idea that the plane may be in tact and its passengers alive.
It's worth noting that Malaysian authorities deny this report and there's been no comment from either Rolls Royce or Boeing.
It also raises the question of whether the Malaysia Airlines pilots are the ones behind the disappearance. It does seem plausible, because there was no communication indication of any distress within the cockpit, while surely the pilots would have spoken if an outsider was attempting to break into the flight deck. It wouldn't be the first time. In 1999, Egyptair flight 990 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean, killing all 217 on board. The crash was ruled as an intentional act by the First Officer.
The possibility of the plane actually landing raises so many more questions: What has happened to everyone on board? Are they still alive and being held captive? How was the plane not detected by radar as it may have flown back over a variety of east Asian countries?
I hope the plane did indeed land somewhere – anywhere. This is the best possible scenario at this point, because it means the greatest possibility of lives being saved. However, I'd caution that this is extremely unlikely.
Even with the transponder off, it could still have been tracked by radar. If it did land, how has it been concealed this entire time, and how many accomplices on the ground are in on it? A plane can't be stolen and hidden successfully for almost a week without a lot of premeditation.