An extremely unsettling New York Times article this evening says the missing Malaysia Airlines jet went above its approved altitude, to 45,000 feet, after disappearing from civilian radar. It then apparently made a sharp turn and dropped back down to 23,000 feet before turning for a second time, according to military radar data. Where it ended up remains, seven days later, totally unclear.
Even more upsetting, from the Times:
The combination of altitude changes and at least two significant course corrections could have a variety of explanations, including an intentional diversion by a pilot or a hijacker, or uneven flying because a disabled crew. […]
An Asia-based pilot of a Boeing 777-200, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak to reporters, said an ascent above the plane’s service limit of 43,100 feet, along with a depressurized cabin, could have rendered the passengers and crew unconscious, and could be a deliberate maneuver by a pilot or hijacker.
American officials are reportedly receiving more information now, following a week of fruitless searching, from the previously withholding Malaysian government. Separate data sent from Flight 370’s engine also shows a 40,000-foot drop in a single minute, which is basically impossible. “A lot of stock cannot be put in [the engine’s] altitude data,” said one U.S. official. “A lot of this doesn’t make sense.” Now, that is an understatement.