New radar data shows that missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, now believed to have flown for several hours after losing touch with ground control, drastically altered course and altitude.
Unnamed officials gave the New York Times an educated guess at the plane's movements before disappearing, based on data from Malaysia's military radar. According to the military data, the plane rose to an altitude of 45,000 feet — about 10,000 feet higher than cruising Boeing 777-200 planes are supposed to fly — and later plummeted to 23,000 feet after disappearing from civilian radar screens. The plane made sharp turns throughout the journey, first flying west towards Penang, then shifting southwest and then going northwest over the Strait of Malacca and towards the Indian Ocean.
The strange journey outlined by the military data suggests that the plane was being controlled by a hijacker, or that the airplane's flight crew had been somehow disabled. One expert told the New York Times that flying the plane to such a high altitude would likely have caused the passengers to lose consciousness, and could have been an intentional tactic.
More data, separately provided from the Boeing's Rolls Royce engine, suggests that the plane fell more than 40,000 in the space of a minute -- something experts contend is highly unlikely.