The following article reflects the growing concern that MH-370 has been “hijacked” or subjected to cockpit intrusion and piracy. This edited press release below is from the UK’s Guardian newspaper. Is this a credible theory, or just another deparate attempt to explain the loss of this aircraft? Areas searched now include the Gulf of Thailand, the Straits of Malacca, the Andaman Sea and now the Bay of Bengal. If as suggested there has been human intervention, and the aircraft has been flown elsewhere it could be anywhere with in a 7 hour 30 minute radius of Kuala Lumpur – assuming that Beijing is 6 hours flying time from Malaysia plus a 1 hour fuel reserve.
In a previous post on the web site, I stated that I thought terrorism, cockpit intrusion or piracy to be unlikely. I still remain unconvinced at this point. However, this will only be confirmed if and when the aircraft is found.
- Investigators are now convinced the missing Malaysia Airlines plane was hijacked by one or more people with significant flying experience, who switched off communications and diverted the flight, an “official” involved in the investigation said on Saturday. But they do not know the motive or where the plane was taken, the unnamed source told Associated Press. “It is conclusive,” said the Malaysian official, who spoke anonymously because he is not authorised to brief media. This would suggest that a commercial pilot would have to had been involved in the “hijack”, as significant flying experience in this aircraft type can only be gained by actual hands on flying.
- The huge multinational search was focused on the Bay of Bengal early on Saturday, one week after flight MH370 vanished, as US officials confirmed they had directed surveillance aircraft to patrol the area for debris. There were reports that Malaysian military radar indicated the plane made at least two distinct changes of course after apparently turning back from its route towards Beijing. US officials indicated that they believed the plane had crashed in the Indian Ocean and said that an aerial search of the area would begin on Saturday.
- The Malaysian official said it had been established with a “more than 50 percent” degree of certainty that military radar had picked up the missing plane after it dropped off civilian radar.
- The New York Times reported that radar signals recorded by the Malaysian military appear to show the plane ascending to 45,000 feet and making a sharp turn to the right not long after it disappeared from civilian radar. This is a curious observation as the service ceiling for a B777-200 is 41,300 feet (13,140 metres). an aircraft can climb above it’s service and certified ceiling. It’s not advisable but it is possible.. This information comes from “a preliminary assessment by a person familiar with the data”, the paper said. The same data suggests the plane descended to 23,000 feet as it approached the Malaysian island of Penang, but then re-ascended and flew northwest over the Straits of Malacca.
- CNN is reporting that authorities think the plane may have gone in one of two directions after it passed through the Straits of Malacca: either northwest, towards the Bay of Bengal and the coast of India, or southwest, out into the expanse of the Indian Ocean.
- If the missing airliner crashed in the Indian Ocean, which plunges to depths of 7,000m (23,000ft), it would mean a significant escalation in scale of the challenge facing investigators. Any debris could have been swept far from the original crash site.
- The last communication with the crew was made at around 1.20am, 40 minutes into the flight, as it headed east over the South China Sea towards Vietnam. The plane had enough fuel to fly for another five hours – meaning its potential range was enormous.
- Investigators believe that one or more people switched off communications devices and steered the plane off course, according to the AP source.
- Both military radar readings and the plane’s automatic attempts to establish contact with satellites have offered key clues to its whereabouts, suggesting it flew for four to five hours and was last seen heading north-west towards the Andaman Islands.
- Experts say that while changes in altitude could be caused by fuel burning off, they would not account for the changes in direction. The New York Times also reported that the changes appear to have taken the plane both above and below usual cruising levels for a Boeing-777 at various points in its journey, with it climbing to 45,000 feet before turning west and descending to 23,000 feet as it approached Penang.
- Earlier, an American official told AP that investigators are examining the possibility of “human intervention” in the plane’s disappearance, adding it may have been “an act of piracy.”
- The official suggested a key piece of evidence suggesting intentional interference with communications was that that contact with the Boeing 777’s transponder stopped about a dozen minutes before a messaging system on the jet quit – making it less likely a sudden catastrophic failure was to blame. Some experts have said sequential failures due to technical problems were not impossible – for example if there was a fire – though they would be unusual. It also appeared to be steered to avoid radar detection. The Wall Street Journal reported that manually dismantling communications systems – such as the transponder, which communicates the aircraft’s position, speed and call sign to air traffic control radar – would have required detailed knowledge of the workings of the Boeing-777. It said investigators are also trying to determine why the plane stopped pinging satellites after five hours while apparently cruising over the Indian Ocean. That could be caused by disconnecting the system – an extremely complex task – or by something catastrophic happening to the flight, an expert told them.
- Malaysian police said earlier this week they would be investigating the backgrounds of two pilots, ten crew members and all 227 passengers.
Meanwhile an extraordinary claim has suggested the jetliner may have flown to a position off the west coast of Australia. This extraordinary claim a source cited by Bloomberg news agency, said the last satellite transmission from the airliner has been traced to the Indian Ocean off Australia, 1,ooo kilometres to the west of Perth!
The other thing that continues to puzzle me here is at the time of writng this post, no credible source has come out and confirmed the “hijack” officially. Terms like “a Malaysian official who spoke anonymously”, “an American official”, “experts say” and “a source cited by Bloomberg news agency” are used in the above article, with no official statement from the Malaysian government or the airline. Too many anonymous sources! This smacks of media hype and the need to report something, when there is nothing to report.
Is this a credible story, or is this another example of the wild speculation and conspiracy theories that have surrrounded the disappearance of MH370? You be your own judge.
Time will tell!