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Australia: MH370 likely on autopilot with unresponsive crew in flight's final stage

June 27, 2014

Published on Jun 27, 2014

By Jethro Mullen and Pamela Boykoff


(CNN) -- Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 likely flew into the southern Indian Ocean on autopilot with an unresponsive crew, Australian authorities said Thursday, divulging new details about what they believe happened during the missing plane's final hours.

The information emerged as officials announced a southward shift, as expected, in the underwater search for the Boeing 777, which disappeared March 8 with 239 people on board.

Searchers have found no trace of the jetliner or its passengers, making the case probably the biggest mystery in aviation history and leaving the families of those on board bereft of answers.

The Australian officials said Thursday they believe the plane was on autopilot throughout its journey over the Indian Ocean until it ran out of fuel. They cited the straight track on which the aircraft flew, according to electronic "handshakes" it periodically exchanged with satellites.

"It is highly, highly likely that the aircraft was on autopilot, otherwise it could not have followed the orderly path that has been identified through the satellite sightings," Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss told reporters in Canberra.

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