Flight 370 Soared Above 45,000 Feet After Vanishing: Report

Just after it vanished from civilian radar, Flight 370 reportedly climbed past 45,000 feet—well above the plane's approved altitude—and changed courses several times in a deliberate manner, as if it were still being steered by a pilot.

Citing American officials and others familiar with the investigation, the New York Times reports that radar data collected by the Malaysian military shows the plane's rapid ascent, followed a turn to the west. The plane then descended to 23,000 feet before changing course again, flying northwest over the Strait of Malacca in the direction of the Indian Ocean. From the Times:

The combination of altitude changes and at least two significant course corrections could have a variety of explanations, including an intentional diversion by a pilot or a hijacker, or uneven flying because a disabled crew.

The erratic movements of the aircraft after it diverted course and flew over the country also raise questions about why the military did not respond in real time to the flight emergency. Malaysian officials have acknowledged that military radar may have picked up the plane, but have said they took no action because it did not appear hostile.

There's also this terrifying bit of information:

An Asia-based pilot of a Boeing 777-200, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak to reporters, said an ascent above the plane's service limit of 43,100 feet, along with a depressurized cabin, could have rendered the passengers and crew unconscious, and could be a deliberate maneuver by a pilot or hijacker.

Meanwhile, CNN is now reporting that the plane probably crashed in one of two areas: in the Indian Ocean or in the Bay of Bengal off the coast of India. The network also mentions a third theory, based on a Reuters report released this morning.

Yet another theory is taking shape about what might have happened to missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: Maybe it landed in a remote Indian Ocean island chain.

[Image via Getty]