A pilot did it, says NatGeo documentary on MH370
An aviation safety expert suggests that someone in the cockpit deliberately flew the plane towards Antarctica.
The 44-minute video appears on YouTube and is said to be a leaked National Geographic documentary scheduled for airing on March 8, the anniversary of the tragedy.
On March 8 last year, what was meant to be a routine night flight turned out to be the aviation industry’s worst nightmare. A Boeing 777 carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew flown by Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah and first officer Fariq Abdul Hamid disappeared without a trace after taking off at 12.41am from Kuala Lumpur bound for Beijing.
In the video, former air force and airline pilot John Nance, an internationally recognised expert in aviation safety, said the conversation in the cockpit before the plane went missing had gone according to routine.
At 1.19am, air traffic control in KL made its last transmission to MH370. The crew was then expected to contact air traffic control in Vietnam in less than one minute, but 19 minutes later there was no word from the plane, and it had disappeared from radar screens. Malaysian and Vietnamese controllers scrambled to contact it, but could not elicit any response from the cockpit.
Following this, Malaysian authorities launched a massive search for the missing plane, and were later joined by Australia, the US and China.
But things proved difficult as Flight MH370 had disappeared over the Gulf of Thailand, where there was limited radar coverage. So they turned to the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS), which used satellite to transmit information between the ground and aircraft in flight.
But unlike GPS, ACARS does not provide constant location data, and without knowing the flight’s direction, there was not much to go on.
While scrutinising the plane’s passenger manifest, authorities discovered that two persons had boarded the plane illegally, leading investigators to examine the possibility that the plane had been hijacked.
On March 11, the Malaysian military released radar data that seemed to support a hijacking theory. Three minutes after its last radio call, MH370 had made a sharp turn off course.
Also, photos from a previous flight of Fariq posing with a passenger surfaced and sparked speculation that the cockpit’s security had been compromised.
But aviation experts dismissed the hijacking theory. Nance pointed out that pilots had several ways to send emergency signals during a possible hijacking – radios, emergency frequencies, ACARS, and codes to key into the transponder. Air traffic controllers never received any of these, and the two suspects travelling on stolen passports were cleared as they had no links to terrorism.
Fire theory doused
Authorities then focused on why the plane’s transponder cut off two minutes after the last communication from the cockpit, followed by signals from the ACARS.
According to Nance, this could be attributed either to a purposeful act or an emergency, such as a fire.
Malcolm Brenner, the US National Transportation Safety Board’s former senior investigator, agreed that a fire could have affected the capabilities of the ACARS.
The video suggested that the plane might have changed course to prepare for an emergency landing.
But the fire theory was doused by Nance, who pointed out there was no radio call and the plane was later discovered to have flown for seven hours after it disappeared.
In London, a team of engineers at Immarsat, which runs a satellite system, uncovered a series of automated signals received from MH370 long after it had vanished from radar screens. The signals continued from 2.25am until 8.19am. This meant the plane had not crashed over the Gulf of Thailand, but had enough fuel to fly for seven hours.
Another theory the video explored was that the plane suffered pressurisation failure and flew for hours on auto pilot.
But well before hypoxia (lack of oxygen) could set in, the plane had made three turns, taking the plane south towards Antarctica over the next one and a half hours.
Brenner concluded that this suggested that someone in the cockpit deliberately flew the plane off course.
“The flight over the next hour makes a few more turns that appear to be human directed and finally ends up heading to Antarctica. So it is apparent that this was a carefully thought out action to evade detection,” he said.
Brenner added, “It is conceivable that a pilot could deliberately de-pressurise the airplane as part of an effort to hijack the airplane or take it for some purpose.”
The video also explored the possibility that the pilot had sent the first officer for a coffee and locked the door. Then, he could have switched off the transponder and changed course to somewhere with little radar coverage, and later switched off the ACARS without realising that some part of the signal would remain on.
“Somebody did this and it was a pilot,” said Nance. “Whether it was one of the two individuals up front, or in charge of keeping the plane safe, or whether it was somebody else, we do not know.
“I feel very strongly, very very strongly, given all the evidence we think we have – we always have to put that caveat on it – that whoever did this intended for the airplane and the passengers to simply vanish from the planet” he added.
February 27, 2015
MH370 Malaysian Flight: Real Truth Behind (Full Documentary)