4. Terrorists stash the plane One possible explanation for why a terrorist group wouldn't claim responsibility for a hijacking: They plan to use the plane later.
The plane's northerly route may have taken it over remote areas where a Boeing 777 could potentially land - but landing a plane of that size without a functional runway would be difficult, particularly if the plane needs to fly again.
"It's very difficult to steal a 777 with Malaysian markings," McGuirk said. "It needs a 10,000-foot runway, so where are you going to put it down?"
Not to mention the eyebrows that would raise at a Malaysian airliner showing up where it shouldn't, McGuirk added.
If the plane flew north, which would give it a better chance of landing, it would have to fly over populated regions, making detection more likely. One far-out but not-impossible way to evade detection might be to "shadow" another plane, flying close so that both appeared to be the same object.
"It would be quite a difficult maneuver," Cenciotti said. "Let's not forget the entire maneuver, if performed, was performed at night, with no help from ground radars: Estimating reciprocal speeds, distances, altitudes based only on navigational lights is difficult. Maybe too much."