This will see the new search phase widened to take in the Indian Ocean and areas as far north as Kazakhstan.
The original search in the South China Sea has ended.
The crew and passengers are being reinvestigated after the Malaysian Prime Minister said the aircraft’s transponders were turned off in a deliberate move by somebody on the plane with a considerable understanding of aeronautics.
The plane stopped transmitting its position about 40 minutes after takeoff, leaving officials with only the radar blips to track its course.
Despite reports the plane was hijacked, the Malaysian authorities said all options remain on the table.
US officials claim radar signals show the plane radically altered course and flew northwest over the Strait of Malacca and out into the Indian Ocean for between four to five hours before disappearing.
The New York Times reports radar signals recorded by the Malaysian military appear to show the plane climbing to 45,000 feet and making a sharp turn to the right not long after it disappeared from civilian radar.
That is above the approved altitude limit for a Boeing 777-200.
This adds to the increasing evidence pointing to a deliberate diversion by an experienced pilot.
Authorities are expected to step up the investigation into the two pilots - Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53, and Fariq Abdul Hamid, 27.
Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah.Source:Supplied
First officer Fariq Abdul Hamid.Source:Supplied
But senior aviation sources told the Sunday Herald Sun that, after a week of searching, the kamikaze crash theory is the most probable explanation.
Pilot Mike Glynn, a member of the Australian and International Pilots Association, considered pilot suicide to be the most likely explanation.
It is also the suspected reasons for the SilkAir crash from Jakarta to Singapore in 1997 and an EgyptAir flight in 1999.
“A pilot, rather than a hijacker, is more likely to be able to switch off the communications equipment,” Mr Glynn told the Associated Press.
“The last thing that I, as a pilot, want is suspicion to fall on the crew, but it’s happened twice before.”
Australian Federation of Air Pilots president Bryan Murray said the Malaysia Air mystery was particularly puzzling because the plane’s transponders could only be turned off by someone who knew what they were doing.
“It’s assumed that when an aeroplane departs somewhere it’s always under the full control of the crew,’’ he said.
“It sounds very much like there has been a deliberate act by someone with the transponders being turned off.
“They just don’t go off. It is the ... most baffling mystery I’ve ever known of in the aviation game - it really is.’’
The plane, travelling to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur, disappeared last Saturday, with 239 people, including six Australians, on board.