MIAMI (CBSMiami) – More than a week after Malaysian Airliner 370 vanished with 239 people onboard, Malaysia’s Prime Minister said someone in the cockpit deliberately turned off the plane’s communication systems, one after the other, then flew the plane off-course.
“These movements are consistent with deliberate action on the plane,” said Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak.
The Prime Minister said it appears the plane flew for more than seven hours after takeoff and that satellite data shows the flight flew west over Malaysia before turning to the northwest.
“Malaysian authorities have refocused the investigation on the crew and passengers. Clearly the search has entered a new phase,” said Malaysian Prime Minister Razak.
Police searched the homes of the pilot and copilot.
International search crews have also changed their focus. Satellite data shows the plane could have flown north toward Kazakhstan or south toward the Indian Ocean.
“The ocean’s a very large place it will take a long time to find it,” said Aviation Attorney Steven Marks, an attorney with Podhurst Orseck.
Marks, who represented families of victims in the 2009 Air France Crash and the SilkAir Crash in 1997, says he’s skeptical this aircraft was deliberately diverted.
“It’s very hard to imagine that occurring in today’s world,” said Marks. “The cockpits’ secure. That would require pilots conspiring or another pilot to take over without anyone being able to get inside. It’s even harder to believe a passenger could take over the cockpit then been able to fly the aircraft had sufficient expertise.”
Mark said data coming out of Malaysia has been inconsistent and there’s no way to know the satellite was actually picking up the missing plane.
“There are lots of things that could have been in the air that might have given an indication to the satellite there was an object. It can’t ID the altitude it can’t identify exactly where it was.”
Marks still believes catastrophic structural or mechanical failure is the more likely explanation for the plane’s disappearance.
“You can only hope and pray that the aircraft is safe someplace but I think that’s a very far-fetched notion,” Marks said.