So…What did happen to MH370?

The following is an expression of my opinion only and dealing with purely the hypothetical – and I don’t even answer my question!

As I see it, and based on the information at hand (reported by Australian media) these are 3 possible explanations that have the least flaws:

1. Unlawful Interference

It is reported that the aircraft transponders were turned off approximately 1 hour after departure. This is not something any crew member would consciously do whilst in flight. In is usually selected on as the aircraft lines up on the runway for departure and remains on until the aircraft lands and reduces to taxi speed. Indeed, this Boeing 777 likely selected its transponder on automatically. Even if the transponder failed in flight, there is a second transponder readily available to takeover.

Air traffic control (ATC) would ordinarily notice such an event and notify the flight crew. This is a routine but critical function of ATC since, if the controller can’t see the aircraft on screen, then they must establish verbal communication immediately to ensure that all is as it should be.

It is my position that one or both of the flight crew, or someone (originally) outside the flight deck turned of all communication systems that they had access to.

It seems strange that the crew did not communicate anyone forcing entry into the cockpit which would implicate either one or more of the cabin crew or passengers that had been invited into the cockpit.

Then what?

Well exactly. This model is mysterious since there have been no demands made and no willful damage to anything outside the aircraft. No threats. Nothing “terrifying” in the context of terrorism. – other than the fear of the doubt and the unknown.

So that brings me to the idea that perhaps someone has some kind of insurance scheme available. However stealing and crashing a B777 is a pretty elaborate way of taking yourself out…seemingly effective though so far.

2. Major Failure

The only scenario I can think of that doesn’t rely on unlawful interference is a complicated one. This was originally my lead idea, however the information as it stand is consistent with the aircraft turning around which does not match the model of something instantly catastrophic such as in-flight breakup or explosion. So the only thing I can come up with is something like this:

  • Aircraft flies toward destination for an hour
  • Flight crew make standard report at IGARI reporting point
  • A rapid, intense fire breaks out, affecting multiple electrical systems (transponders go offline)
  • Whilst one flight crew member is fighting the fire, the other programs the autopilot to turn back toward Malaysia
  • The fire continues until the flight crew are overwhelmed but then the fire goes out
  • Aircraft continues on the current heading until running out of fuel, probably over the Indian Ocean

This model does not fit precisely either. One would think that such a fire would have had bells going off that would have appeared on ACARS messages that get sent back to the airline’s maintenance facilities. Additionally such a fire would likely have been smelt by cabin crew, and they would have then been able to follow procedures for disabled flight crew. Again, this model is not a perfect fit.

3. Combination Theory

  • The problem with stating that there was simply a major failure is that, according to the latest reports (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-03-17/missing-flight-mh370-good-night-issued-from-plane-after-shutdown/5325816) the aircraft almost certainly turned around and headed back toward land for several hours before finally disappearing, probably into the Indian Ocean. This, after the transponders being deactivated.The only way I can account for this sequence of events is that there was unlawful interference and then some kind of failure. Scenarios that play in my mind go like this:
    • Aircraft flies toward destination for an hour
    • Flight crew make standard report at IGARI reporting point
    • Unknown person(s) disables communications (transponders)
    • Unknown person(s) programs some destination or heading into the autopilot then;
      • Accidentally disengages altitude hold function
      • Aircraft makes slow decent into the ocean and this goes unnoticed by unknown person(s) in the black of the night, or;
    • Aircraft flies toward destination for an hour
    • Flight crew make standard report at IGARI reporting point
    • Unknown person(s) disables communications (transponders)
    • Unknown person(s) programs some destination or heading into the autopilot then;
      • Inadvertently (perhaps during struggle for authority over aircraft) the cabin is depressurised
      • Aircraft continues on straight and level until running out of fuel, probably over the Indian Ocean

This scenario needs a lot of holes in the Swiss cheese to line up. However it seems to me just crazy enough to be possible and is thus my leading theory.

Edited: I couldn’t count!

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One thought on “So…What did happen to MH370?

  1. Pingback: The ever changing sequence of events | AusProPilot

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