Flight 370’s Path Was Changed Via Computer Entry, Not Manually

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A worker sweeps near a mural featuring Flight 370 at a school in Manila on March 18, 2014. Photo: TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)

As we head into the eleventh day since Flight 370's disappearance, new details continue to suggest that the jet was purposely diverted by someone with a sophisticated understanding of the plane's operations. On Monday night, the New York Times reported that the first turn to the west that took the plane off its path to Beijing was carried out via a computer system, according to senior American officials. Rather than operating the controls manually – which would fit with an unforeseen event or pilot suicide – someone in the cockpit reportedly changed course by programming seven or eight characters into a computer that sits between the captain and first officer.

Commercial jets usually follow their route by hitting virtual "waypoints" in the sky, which are programmed into the Flight Management System. Pilots often enter a new waypoint to avoid weather or traffic, but only a professional would know how to make the change. While Malaysian officials have thrown the timeline into question, the Times reports that the sharp turn off of the preplanned route was programmed before the plane's communication systems were turned off.

The latest information casts even more suspicion on the pilots, but friends and family members insist the idea that they were plotting to divert the plane is "quite unthinkable" as Sivarasa Rasiah, a member of Malaysia's parliament, put it. According to the Times, they describe the captain, 53-year-old Zaharie Ahmad Shah, as a grandfather and respected veteran pilot who built himself a flight simulator and enjoyed discussing the hobby online. The first officer, 27-year-old Fariq Abdul Hamid, was planning to marry an AirAsia pilot he met in flight-training school.

Of course at this rate, the pilots could be totally cleared in a matter of days as the world moves on to another incredible theory.