Malaysian Airlines flight MH370: missing jet made first turn via computer

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Video Discription: Originally published March 18, 2014

American officials said the missing Malaysia Airlines flight's first turn was made using a computer system, suggesting that only someone with aviation knowledge could divert the jet from its scheduled route.

Citing unnamed senior officials, the New York Times reported that the jet altered its route by its internal computer, which is known as the flight management system (FMS). The discovery represented the latest evidence indicating the aircraft was directed away from its original path by someone with an understanding how an aircraft operates.

During a normal flight, pilots follow a flight plan, which consists of a series of mile markers known as waypoints, to control the aircraft. Pilots have to insert five-letter waypoint codes on the flight management system. The codes are incomprehensible for people who do not know how to operate aircrafts. However, reprogramming the flight management system does not require specific knowledge of the 777; people who are well acquainted with Boeing planes will be able to do so.

The New York Times also reported that MH370's flight management system transmitted its status to the ACARS system, which sent signals to a maintenance base. Therefore, the aircraft was made to turn before the ACARS ceased operation. It seems likely that last verbal communication was made, the transponder was switched off and the ACARS was shut down at the same time. This fuelled speculation that foul play was involved, prompting Malaysian officials to focus on the two pilots in the ongoing investigation.


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