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ASSOCIATED PRESS
Ground staff take a break under a Malaysia Airlines plane at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, March 9, 2014. An international fleet of planes and ships scouted the waters between Malaysia and Vietnam for any clues to the fate of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777, which disappeared less than an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur bound for Beijing on Saturday, March 8. (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin)

Report: Missing airplane flew on for hours

Associated Press
Sand artist Sudarshan Pattnaik creates a sculpture depicting the missing Malaysian Airlines aircraft on the beach in Puri, India, Wednesday, March 12, 2014. (AP Photo)

– The Wall Street Journal is reporting that U.S. investigators suspect a missing Malaysian jetliner flew on for four hours once it lost contact with air traffic controllers.

The suspicion is based on data from the plane's engines that are automatically downloaded and transmitted to the ground as part of routine maintenance programs.

The report raises questions as to why the Boeing 777 was flying like that, and if anyone was in control during that time.

The plane's last known confirmed position was roughly halfway between Malaysia and Vietnam.

Malaysian authorities have since said they tracked what could have been the plane changing course and heading west.

Investigators have not ruled out any possible cause to explain the disappearance of the plane and the 239 people on board.

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