Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 May Have Been Flown Into the World's Biggest Void

Malaysia says the plane was deliberately diverted, and there are two possible routes it took. One is extraordinarily unlikely, the other is simply grim.

Tomasz Bartkowiak/Reuters

The Malaysian prime minister's assertion Saturday that Flight MH370 was deliberately diverted from its flight path by human intervention adds more confusion than clarity. Without an airplane there is no real evidence, just guessing.

Three kinds of guessing: the informed, the uninformed, and the demented.

We have to assume that this new statement is informed. But by what?

Most likely it is at least partly based on information provided by the London-based Inmarsat company that provides satellite links to airplanes and shipping. Inmarsat is now trying to refine signals its satellite orbiting 22,500 miles above the Indian Ocean received from the Boeing 777 for several hours after all other contact was lost. (Prime Minister Najib said one communications system was turned off as the plane flew over the northeast coast of Malaysia, then the transponder broadcasting location, altitude, and speed was silenced a few minutes later.)

A better fix is essential. Right now the Malaysians are offering two bizarly different routes: one to the northwest over Asia and one southwest deep into the Indian Ocean.

I find the northwest hypothesis extraordinary. Not only would this have taken the jet over skies well covered by military and civilian radar but the 777 would have intersected major international airplanes between Europe and Asia. It would be the equivalent of crossing a six lane highway from a ramp.

More likely is the Indian Ocean scenario. This Truly is The Big Void. Not only is the area vast but it is deep very deep, as much as 21,000 feet deep, far deeper than faced by any other aviation deep sea search, including for Air France Flight 447, at 13,000 feet. In that case there were known limits to the search area.

In this case, none.

Read more from The Daily Beast on Flight 370:

The Flight 370 Paradox: How Do You Mourn a Missing Person?

The Botched Hunt for Flight 370

Why Asia Isn't Getting Air Safety Right