If you rule out the Malaysian Airlines flight 370 crashing by accident or design, then it landed safely somewhere within range of the fuel it was carrying (don’t neglect the possibility of it being loaded with extra fuel by accomplices, or even being refuelled in the air).
Project WNYC have produced a map of runways that are capable of being landed on within that range by a 777: http://project.wnyc.org/runways/
I guess it us possible to land on shorter runways, just more risky…
Many airports can be immediately discounted – because they are in countries where staff are capable of spilling the beans to the global media.
Here are my top picks of where the plane could be found:
Burma – lots of corrupt military officials seeing their gravy train ending. Ticks all the boxes for me, and I see it as purely a money-grabbing exercise – the plane is worth $260+ million new. However, no Burma airlines fly 777s, so it would be hard to substitute into a fleet.
So perhaps the country in question has an airline that flies Boeing 777-200ER planes? Wikpedia has a list, and these are in the zone:
- Korean Air (22)
- Malaysian Airlines (14)
- Asiana Airlines (Korea) (12)
- All Nippon Airways (12)
- Japan Airlines (11)
- Vietnam Airlines (10)
- Scoot / Singapore Airlines (6)
- Thai Airways (6)
- China Southern Airlines (4)
- Pakistan International Airlines (4)
- Royal Brunei Airlines (3)
My best guess is that the plane was stolen for financial gain (and I have no idea what would happen to the passengers, but I doubt at this level of treachery they would be allowed to live).
If you do the math, it makes sense $200M+ plane, sell it for $100M, pay the pilot $10M (but more likely he doesn’t get to enjoy it). People who scheme to make $100 million dollars are capable of anything…
The most perfect plan would see the plane landed in one country, and then sold to an airline in a country outside of suspicion, like El Al in Israel. Within the same county would be better.
My deduction is that the plane landed in either China, Burma or Pakistan, and was sold to El Al, Pakistan International or China Southern.
China Southern was a code-share airline with the doomed flight… and sold tickets to the two men with stolen passports. I think you will find the plane in China. And the passengers won’t be coming home. The most likely landing airport is Xishuangbanna. Being near the border, it is already predisposed to smuggling activities.
See this from just a few months ago:
Beijing’s anti-corruption campaign has been extended to the aviation industry with 10 employees of China Southern Airlines (1055), including two senior managers, arrested last week, Xinhua News Agency reported.
Pakistan would be a better answer, except extra distance equates to greater chance of being found out.