Last I heard, the Malaysian spokesman was denying everything. I think he would have denied reports the sky was blue, instead of reporting clouds…“The analysis used radar data and satellite pings to calculate that the plane diverted to the west, across the Malayan peninsula, and then either flew in a northwest direction toward the Bay of Bengal or southwest into the Indian Ocean.” Anyway, thanks to networking protocols that remained alive when lots of data-sources on the plane were apparently manually disabled, a periodic ping gave a reasonable idea of the final location. “Location” needs to be taken with a grain of salt because it’s a huge area, or rather two large areas of the Indian Ocean. There are two simply because the areas are near the equator where a couple of satellites in geo-stationary orbit gave good guesses as to the circles of constant distance holding the plane. Two circles near the equator intersect in two locations. If more satellites or more radar-stations had been involved there might be a better outcome but as it is we will be lucky to find the pinger on the black boxes before they expire.
It has been embarrassing to watch the Malaysian briefings. Clearly, a politician was not a better spokesman than some engineer/techie. It often seemed the spokesman did not understand the words he was using and the press did not understand the words he was using. Then the leaks began. Folks who knew what was happening could no longer contain themselves… Fortunately, a lot of the tech has connections to US businesses/military, so leaks kind of bypassed Malaysia and got to the people who needed the information. Still, days passed before the US NTSB got involved. They know how to investigate a crash. Last I heard, the Malaysian authorities were guarding the pilots’ homes but had not searched them despite knowledge that one pilot had his own flight-simulator and could easily have left a plan for some initiative in the cockpit. Sigh. It will be major crime if the pingers stop (or worse, people die) before we can locate the wreck just because Malaysia did not pull out all the stops. There are times when parallel processing and thinking outside the box work really well. One of those times is when a problem is huge and difficult. Then, many minds make light work of it.
UPDATE: With a different spokesman comes a much different message. Malaysia is finally looking into passengers and crew. Based on the latest analysis, investigators have tightened the possible terminal locations to a stripe north of Pakistan possibly including northern Thailand or a stripe in the southern Indian Ocean. I would bet those northern regions will have better radar-tracks.