MH370 likely crashed on autopilot

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Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 likely flew into the southern Indian Ocean on autopilot with an unresponsive crew, Australian authorities said Thursday, divulging new details about what they believe happened during the missing plane’s final hours.

The information emerged as officials announced a southward shift, as expected, in the underwater search for the Boeing 777, which disappeared March 8 with 239 people on board.

The Australian officials said they believe the plane was on autopilot throughout its journey over the Indian Ocean until it ran out of fuel. They cited the straight track on which the aircraft flew, according to electronic “handshakes” it periodically exchanged with satellites.

“It is highly, highly likely that the aircraft was on autopilot, otherwise it could not have followed the orderly path that has been identified through the satellite sightings,” Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss told reporters in Canberra.

Unresponsive crew?

In a report explaining the change in search area, Australian authorities suggested that Flight 370’s crew may have been in an “unresponsive” state, possibly caused by a lack of oxygen.

That scenario “appeared to best fit the available evidence for the final period of MH370’s flight,” the report said, citing previous air accidents in which crews had been rendered unresponsive by a lack of oxygen, also known as hypoxia.

But it cautioned that the assumption was “made for the purposes of defining a search area and there is no suggestion that the investigation authority will make similar assumptions.”

The Australian officials declined to talk about the causes behind Flight 370’s errant flight path, saying those are questions for the Malaysian authorities in charge of the overall investigation. And they said they weren’t sure exactly when the autopilot had been turned on.

Source: CNN

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