Officials: Missing Jet Likely on Autopilot
Autopilot deliberately turned on, Australians say
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted Jun 26, 2014 4:45 AM CDT
Updated Jun 26, 2014 7:48 AM CDT
This map provided by the Joint Agency Coordination Centre shows the new search zone.   (AP Photo/Joint Agency Coordination Centre)

(Newser) – Will Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 ever be found? Authorities can't say—but they have found a new place to start looking. Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss says the search will be moved to a fresh area in the southern Indian Ocean, and a report released today by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau explains the reasoning for selecting the new area. Truss says it is "highly, highly likely that the aircraft was on autopilot," per the BBC, and the report paints the likeliest scenario as one in which the crew was not responsive—possibly due to a lack of oxygen, reports the New York Times. Among the evidence to that end, per the report: a loss of radio communications, a long spell in which there was no "en route maneuvering," and a "steadily maintained" cruise altitude. "Given these observations, the final stages of the unresponsive crew/hypoxia event type appeared to best fit the available evidence," the report reads.

The new search will begin in August after the underwater surface has been mapped; it'll take up to a year to cover an area of 23,000 square miles, according to the Telegraph. "This area has never been comprehensively mapped," Truss says, but it "is the best available and most likely place where the aircraft is resting." The chief commissioner of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau says there is a small chance the mapping operation now under way could discover the wreckage. He says it's not clear when the plane with 239 people aboard was set to autopilot, but he believes it was deliberately turned on "somewhere off the western tip of Sumatra." Earlier this week, Malaysia Airlines' commercial boss gave his account of the harrowing night in March when the plane vanished.

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Showing 3 of 34 comments
Ezekiel 25:17
Jun 26, 2014 8:33 PM CDT
The northern arch is also a possibility. He flew to the maximum service altitude for the jet then dipped to the lowest safety altitude and left radar. I presuppose he flew to the highest altitude to ping a southerly route on everybody's radar. Then he dipped below radar and turned north to Cambodia. Then he flew somewhere between Cambodia and Laos and landed in an old Air America base.
Scott603
Jun 26, 2014 7:16 PM CDT
Why does everyone think it is so odd that no debris has been found. The Indian ocean is vastly larger than the United States. If America was completely uninhabited and I tossed a seat cushion into it would you expect to notice it?
WhateverYouSay
Jun 26, 2014 7:04 PM CDT
This is exactly what my brother, a commercial airline senior flight instructor and pilot for a major airline has been saying since the plane disappeared. He has 30 years experience operating commercial jets and a degree in aeronautical engineering. He doesn't have any political or face saving interests, unlike the airline and countries that goofed up and covered up.