New lead in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

(WXYZ) - There is another lead in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. 

CNN is reporting that U.S. officials are saying that pings sent from the plane’s engines to satellites show Flight 370 could have been flying for about four or five hours after it lost contact with the ground.

That means the Indian Ocean off to the west is now the area that has to be searched.   A Navy destroyer is on the way to that area to help with the rescue efforts.

This would be consistent with that U-turn the aircraft may have taken early Saturday morning, instead of continuing northeast to Beijing.

The pings coming from the engines on the Boeing 777 send the signals to satellites as part of routine maintenance.  This new theory comes from that information combined with knowledge of how much fuel was left on board, as well as the last believed military radar hit near the Strait of Malacca off to the west.

If the plane was about to go down, an emergency beacon should have gone off.  So far there is no data that this happened.  There is no evidence yet of terrorism, but CIA and FBI officials are not ruling that out, especially because two passengers on board had the stolen passports from Austria and Italy.

“All these terrorist groups really key in on fake identification and passports in particular,” former Detroit FBI Special Agent in Charge Andrew Arena told 7 Investigator Heather Catallo.  “For instance al Qaeda -- they have an entire wing that’s dedicated to stolen fraudulent, counterfeit passports.  So when you’re talking about an Austrian, and Italian passports, those are great to travel on.”

Despite the Chinese satellite images made public Wednesday from the South China Sea, no debris has been found.

Fifty-six ships and 30 aircraft are in the area, still searching for any sign of the plane.  This new information about the engine pings means the 35-thousand square foot search area is about to expand.

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