The mystery deepens after almost a week of tireless searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370. The result of the 6-day 12-nation search has been futile so far. Officials are now looking into a new lead that could help solve the puzzle.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 continued to travel for up to four hours after its last location confirmation. Investigators are now studying the signals transmitted by the jet's satellite-communications link.
The Boeing 777-200 aircraft, carrying 239 people on board, reportedly sent signals for four hours, indicating it was still flying. Officials said that four hours could indicate that the plane traveled an additional distance of 2,200 nautical miles, possibly reaching the Indian Ocean and even the Arabian Sea.
Satellites were able to receive the signals or "pings." The latest ping indicated that the plane was flying at a normal cruising altitude. Officials have no idea why the pings stopped, although they said that pilots can turn them off manually.
Meanwhile, Malaysia Airlines said it did not receive data from the plane. The carrier lost contact with Flight MH370 at 1:30 A.M. on Saturday, less an hour after leaving Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia Airlines has been criticized for its rather poor investigation. The carrier said it didn't receive any data from the satellite system. Boeing has confirmed that the company didn't purchase an additional package to track its airplanes.
Airline companies use a system called Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) to collect data from its planes. The reports are sent to engineers via satellite or VHF radio. Flight MH370 didn't relay information indicating it was experiencing problems.
Furthermore, the White House announced earlier today that the search will be extended to the Indian Ocean.
"It's my understanding that based on some new information that's not necessarily conclusive - but new information - an additional search area may be opened in the Indian Ocean," White House spokesman Jay Carney said. "And we are consulting with international partners about the appropriate assets to deploy."
The U.S. Navy destroyer, USS Kidd, has been deployed near the Indian Ocean and the Andaman Sea. India, after receiving a formal request from Malaysia, has ordered its navy, air force, and coast guard to help in the search. China has commissioned four warships, four coast guar vessels, and eight planes.
Millions of dollars have already been spent on the investigation. In fact, it could be the most expensive in aviation history.