The mysterious turn that diverted the missing Malaysia Airlines flight off of its scheduled route to Beijing was programmed into a computer system on board, the New York Times reported Monday, meaning it was not executed manually by one of the pilots at the controls.
The revelation lends more credence to a theory by investigators searching for the jet that the Boeing 777 was deliberately diverted. The Times reports it is unclear if the change in course was reprogrammed before or after the plane took off, but the change was likely made by someone in the cockpit with knowledge of airplane systems.
The search for Flight 370, which vanished early March 8 while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board, has now been expanded deep into the northern and southern hemispheres. Australian vessels scoured the southern Indian Ocean and China offered 21 of its satellites to help Malaysia in the unprecedented hunt, but no trace of the plane has been found.
Investigators say the jet flew off-course for hours. They haven't ruled out hijacking, sabotage, or pilot suicide, and are checking the backgrounds of the 227 passengers and 12 crew members -- as well as the ground crew -- for personal problems, psychological issues or links to terrorists.