Search for missing plane expands to 11 countries, remote oceans - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Search for missing plane expands to 11 countries, remote oceans

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MALAYSIA (WKOW) -- The search for a missing Malaysia Airlines plane now spans land across 11 countries and remote oceans, according to Malaysian government officials.

ABC News reports 25 countries have been contacted for information and help in the search.

"We are asking countries that have satellite assets, including the U.S., China and France, amongst others, to provide further satellite data, and we are contacting additional countries who may be able to contribute specific assets relevant to the search and rescue operation," says Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, who is also Malaysia's minister of defense.

One source close to the investigation tells ABC the search will concentrate in the southern Indian Ocean, 1,000 miles of the coast of Australia. Investigators are also examining the flight simulator in the home of the plane's pilot, Capt. Zaharie Ahman Shah. U.S. officials have said it's possible the pilot and co-pilot could be responsible for the plane's disappearance.

The Associated Press reports authorities say when someone at the controls calmly said the last words heard from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, one of the Boeing 777's communications systems had already been disabled. That's adding to suspicions that one or both of the pilots were involved. Whoever spoke did not mention any trouble on board.

Someone disabled one of the plane's communications systems about 40 minutes after takeoff.  Around 14 minutes later, the transponder that identifies the plane to commercial radar systems was also shut down. The fact that both systems went dark separately offered strong evidence that the plane's disappearance was deliberate.

Search and rescue experts say the search for a missing Malaysia Airlines plane may hinge on inexact satellite data. A satellite was able to connect with the aircraft's messaging system once an hour for four to five hours after the system was shut down and the plane disappeared from radar screens. The satellite tilted its antenna to receive messages from the plane, although no location information was exchanged.
  
Investigators have used the antenna angle, along with radar data, to draw two vast arcs where the plane is believed to be.
  
Air crash investigators have never used this kind of satellite data before to try to find a missing plane, but it may be the best clue left.
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