Missing Malaysian Airlines Flight: What We Know Now

The search area grows as the investigation continues.

March 15, 2014— -- After a week of investigating and searching, officials are still unable to explain what happened to Malaysian Airlines Flight MH 370.

New revelations about the plane's path have led officials to refocus and expand the search area, which has widened to nearly 5,000 miles wide. As officials frantically search for the missing jetliner carrying 239 people, here's a rundown of what we know so far.

Investigation Reveals Plane was in Air Hours After Disappearing From Radar

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH 370 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, China, disappeared from radar about 1:30 a.m. a week ago.

Investigators revealed today that the jetliner is now believed to have been in the air for nearly seven hours after initially disappearing.

The plane’s transponder, which reports its location and altitude - along with a data reporting system - were shut down within minutes of each other before the plane changed course. According to experts, the fact that the systems were shut down separately means a catastrophic event is unlikely because both systems would have failed at the same time.

Malaysian Airliner Shut Down Communications Separately

After disappearing from radar the plane turned back towards Malaysia, where military radar picked up the plane’s signal but did not realize it was a passenger jet until days later. The plane was tracked crossing Peninsular Malaysia before crossing the Strait of Malacca.

Although the transponder was turned off, the plane was “pinging” a satellite for hours after it disappeared from radar. As a result, officials revealed the last time the satellite received data from the plane was 8:11 a.m., about seven hours and 31 minutes after the plane took off. Currently officials have not been able to track the plane’s location with these same “pings.”

Officials refused to confirm that the plane was hijacked and said “all possibilities” were being investigated.

The Malaysian government has come under fire for not sharing information sooner. The government has turned down multiple offers of help from Interpol a source told ABC News.

The Chinese government's Xinhua News Agency said the Malaysian information was "painfully belated," on Saturday. A majority of passengers on the missing flight were Chinese.

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The Pilots

A week after the flight disappeared, police finally visited the homes of the pilots for Flight MH 370. They did not release any findings to reporters.

The missing plane was piloted by Capt. Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53, and his co-pilot or first officer on the flight was Fariq Abdul Hamid, 27. Neither Shah or Hamid appeared to raise any red flags during the initial investigation.

Shah, a married father with three grown children, joined Malaysian Airlines in 1981 and has more than 18,000 hours of experience in the air.

Hamid had been flying with Malaysian Airlines since 2007 and has more than 2,000 hours in the air.

Earlier this week ABC News visited the mosque where Hamid prays on Fridays when he is not flying. Imam Ahmad Sharafi Ali Asrah characterized Hamid as a good man. The mosque prayed for him and his family.

The Search

The new information about the plane’s flight path has meant the search efforts have been rerouted from the South China Sea to the Indian Ocean.

The hours between the plane’s disappearance from radar and its final data transmission to a satellite means officials are left to search a staggeringly large area, around 5,000 miles from Kazakhstan to the south Indian Ocean.

More than 40 ships and 39 aircraft from 12 countries are searching for signs of the plane in the water but have not found any debris yet.

The Passengers

Aboard the flight were 239 people, made up of 227 passengers (including one infant and one toddler) and 12 crew members. Four passengers who were waiting on the stand-by list to board flight MH370 were given seats on the plane after four ticketed passengers did not show up for the flight.

Three Americans, including two children, are among the missing. Philip Wood, 50, an IBM executive, had just come from Texas where he was visiting family on his way to Beijing. Fourteen nationalities were on board, though 152 passengers were Chinese.

Twenty passengers on the plane worked for the Austin, Texas, company Freescale Semiconductor. Another passenger, Chng Mei Ling, worked as an engineer for the Pennsylvania company Flexsys America LP.

Investigators discovered that two passengers used stolen passports - one from Austria and one from Italy - to board the flight. Interpol identified them as Iranians Seyed Mohammad Reza Delavar, 29, and Pouria Nourmohammadi, 18, and said they have no known links to militant groups, downplaying the possibility they were terrorists.