Flight 370: Plane Dropped Below 5,000 Feet Over Malaysia
Searchers Say Possible Fifth Ping Detected for Missing Jet
As day 34 of the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane drew to a close, searchers reported the detection of a fifth ping possibly coming from the plane as well as new information on the plane’s altitude as it crossed Malaysia.
A Malaysian government official told reporters Thursday that that the Boeing 777 disappeared from military radar for approximately 120 nautical miles (222.2 kilometers) as it went across Malaysia. The absence from radar means that the plane plunged below an altitude of below 5,000 feet, which allowed it to avoid radar detection.
Also on Thursday, searchers reported detecting a new ping in the southern Indian Ocean and authorities believe it is man-made. The ping was detected by an Australian AP-3C Orion aircraft using a sonar buoy near where the Ocean Shield had picked up signals earlier in the week, said Angus Houston, head of Australia’s Joint Agency Coordination Centre, which is managing the search for the missing plane.
Houston said that further testing was required to determine whether the signal had come from the plane’s flight data or voice recorder. “The acoustic data will require further analysis overnight but shows potential of being from a made-made source,” he said. “I will provide a further update if, and when, further information becomes available.”
No debris from the plane has been found in any of the search areas, leading many observers to consider the possibility of an intact ditching.