14 April 2014
The source concluded: “And it was being flown to avoid radar.”
It is also possible that the flight surged to 45,000 feet – 10,000 above its normal cruising altitude of 35,000 feet – after disappearing, before dropping to as low as 5000 feet, reports by investigators have suggested.
The low altitude would fit in with a report by Malaysia’s New Straits Times newspaper that co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid tried to make a mid-flight phone call shortly before the plane disappeared.
In order for the phone signal to reach the reported telecommunications tower near the Malaysian city of Penang, the plane would needed to have been flying under 7000 feet.
The newspaper report said the signal ended abruptly before contact was established.
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The batteries of the black boxes, which record flight data including conversations from the cockpit, only last a month, meaning the window has now passed.
The pings already captured have however allowed the search area to be narrowed down to a 500-square-mile patch of the seabed – around the size of Los Angeles.
Once investigators are confident no more sounds will be heard, and the search area can be narrowed no further, a robotic submersible will be sent down to slowly scour for wreckage, a process which could take up to two months.