After 10 days, the Thai air force has finally revealed that its radar at Surat Thani detected a plane that diverted from its route and flew over Butterworth – although it has not yet been confirmed if the plane was indeed MH370.
Surat Thani is 258 miles away from Butterworth, which should be just within primary radar coverage.
But why didn’t the Thais check earlier? Were they not asked?
The Thais had earlier said that their radar at Hat Yai did not detect MH370.
Anyway, this latest revelation appears to confirm that the plane was indeed flying westwards.
This report from The Nation:
Missing MH 370
Thai Air Force radar may have picked up MH 370: ACM Prachin
The Nation March 18, 2014 4:44 pm
A Thai Air Force radar station in Surat Thani detected a passenger aircraft that departed from Malaysia but diverted and passed the port city of Butterworth, Malaysia, Thai Air Force’s chief ACM Prajin Juntong said Tuesday.
The aircraft could then have flown to the Straits of Malacca, the general said, adding that this information confirmed what Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak said in a press conference concerning the mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Airlines’ flight MH 370.
However, Prachin said, it has yet to be confirmed whether the aircraft detected by the Surat Thani radar station was actually the missing flight.
He was speaking as Malaysia is seeking the help of governments across a large expanse of Asia in the search for the Boeing 777, which has been missing since March 9 and had 239 people on board.
Najib said that the plane deliberately diverted from its flight path and new data showed the last communication between the missing plane and satellites, almost seven hours after it turned back and crossed the Malay peninsula.
Prachin said he would have the information handed over to Malaysian Air Force.
Meanwhile caretaker Foreign Minister Surapong Tohvichakchaikul said his Malaysian counterpart would call him to talk about cooperation in the search for the missing aircraft.
Talk about cooperation only now? Sigh.
Meanwhile, an “old pilot” has suggested that the pilot could have been heading for the nearest safe runway.
The left turn is the key here. This was a very experienced senior Captain with 18,000 hours. Maybe some of the younger pilots interviewed on CNN didn’t pick up on this left turn. We old pilots were always drilled to always know the closest airport of safe harbor while in cruise. Airports behind us, airports abeam us and airports ahead of us. Always in our head. Always. Because if something happens you don’t want to be thinking what are you going to do – you already know what you are going to do. Instinctively when I saw that left turn with a direct heading I knew he was heading for an airport. Actually he was taking a direct route to Palau Langkawi a 13,000 foot strip with an approach over water at night with no obstacles. He did not turn back to Kuala Lampur because he knew he had 8,000 foot ridges to cross. He knew the terrain was friendlier towards Langkawi and also a shorter distance.
Take a look on Google Earth at this airport. This pilot did all the right things. He was confronted by some major event onboard that made him make that immediate turn back to the closest safe airport.
For me the loss of transponders and communications makes perfect sense if a fire. There was most likely a fire or electrical fire. In the case of fire the first response if to pull all the main busses and restore circuits one by one until you have isolated the bad one.
If they pulled the busses the plane indeed would go silent. It was probably a serious event and they simply were occupied with controlling the plane and trying to fight the fire….
What I think happened is that they were overcome by smoke and the plane just continued on the heading probably on George (autopilot) until either fuel exhaustion or fire destroyed the control surfaces and it crashed. I said four days ago you will find it along that route – looking elsewhere was pointless.
This pilot, as I say, was a hero struggling with an impossible situation trying to get that plane to Langkawi. No doubt in my mind. That’s the reason for the turn and direct route.
What do you think? Does this make sense?