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Was MH370 on a suicide mission?


Satellite data has confirmed flight MH370 carrying 239 people crashed into the southern Indian Ocean.

  • 25 Mar 2014
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Malaysia plane 'crashed into ocean'

Satellite data has confirmed flight MH370 carrying 239 people crashed into the southern Indian Ocean.

25 Mar 2014


Downcast ... grim news in the search for missing Flight MH370. Source: AP

MORE than two long weeks after Flight MH370 disappeared, authorities have declared they believe the Malaysia Airlines plane plunged into the southern Indian Ocean killing all on board.

But as searchers continue to scour a vast stretch of remote water for any wreckage or debris, exactly what happened to cause the Boeing 777 to come to such a grim end remains agonisingly unclear.

Speculation has grown with each day the jetliner’s fate remains a mystery but in light of the latest developments some theories are now holding more weight than others.


Malaysian police say they remain focused on several key possibilities: hijacking, sabotage, and psychological issues or personal problems of the passengers and/or crew.

But inspector-general of police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakal has warned the investigation may take a long time to reach any conclusion. “Such cases may take up to a year,” he said.





Did one of the plane’s pilots or someone else on board deliberately crash the airliner into the ocean thousands of kilometres away in a different direction from its scheduled route to Beijing? An unnamed official source quoted in the UK’s Daily Telegraph newspaper says that is exactly what investigators currently believe.

“This has been a deliberate act by someone on board who had to have had the detailed knowledge to do what was done ... Nothing is emerging that points to motive,” they said.

An analysis of the flight’s routing, signalling and communications reportedly shows that it was flown “in a rational way”.


Terence Fan, an aviation expert at Singapore Management University, said a suicide bid “was possible and if that’s the case there might not be a lot of debris because the plane would have come down in relative structural integrity”.

This fits with the lack of wreckage or debris located so far.

However, nothing has emerged to suggest any serious psychological problems with either of the pilots who were flying MH370 and there has been no alarms from any background checks done on members of the crew or passengers.




Grieving ... relatives of passengers on MH370 after being told the grim news. Source: AFP



Malaysian authorities have raided the homes of Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah and co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid searching for evidence to link them with its disappearance. They have come up with nothing incriminating.

The pair did not request to fly together and appear to have been upstanding professionals, according to several profiles. Neither has any known background of extremism.


While Captain Zaharie was reportedly a supporter of Malaysia’s opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim and was incensed by his sodomy verdict, there is no evidence to suggest he was bent on making any kind of large-scale political statement.

He did keep a flight simulator at his home, which authorities are investigating after discovering some files had been removed from it several weeks ago. It remains unclear whether this is anything more than a professional intent on improving his skills however.



No evidence ... Captain Shah and daughter Aishah. Pic: Facebook. Source: Facebook


Co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid initially came under scrutiny after it emerged he had allowed two women into the cockpit on a flight in 2011. While Malaysia Airlines said it was “shocked” over the reports, nothing more sinister has been uncovered.

While the 27-year-old was on his first flight aboard a Boeing 777 as a fully-approved pilot, analysts believe his inexperience would probably not have posed a risk.

“We do not see any problem with him,” said Malaysia Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya.


No problems ... Co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid. Source: News Corp Australia


Police say they have interviewed more than a hundred friends and family members of the pilots, combed through their laptops and flying records, and enlisted international investigative agencies to help — all without any significant leads.

A source involved in the police investigation told the Telegraph: “We are still clueless. We have not collected anything suspicious.”



Suspicion has largely fallen on the pilots because evidence indicates the plane’s communication systems were manually switched off and the airliner was deliberately diverted.

“These movements are consistent with deliberate action by someone on the plane,” Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak said.


However, authorities recently revealed that the last transmission from the aircraft’s reporting system showed it was heading to Beijing — apparently undercutting the theory that someone reprogrammed the plane’s flight path before the co-pilot signed off with air traffic controllers for the last time.

CNN aviation analyst Miles O’Brien said this evidence was a “game changer”.

“Now we have no evidence the crew did anything wrong,” he said. “And in fact, now, we should be operating with the primary assumption being that something bad happened to that plane shortly after they said good night.”



A message of support on an office building in Kuala Lumpur. Source: AP


A passenger may have gained access to the cockpit and hijacked the plane for a political, psychological or financial reason. If the passenger was armed, they might have threatened the pilot and forced them to fly off course.

Otherwise, if the passenger was a trained pilot, they could have taken over the controls.

While all this is plausible, intelligence agencies around the world have conducted two rounds of checks on the passengers and found nothing suspicious about any.



Investigators reportedly now believe no malfunction or fire was capable of causing the aircraft’s unusual flight or the disabling of its communications system before it veered wildly off course.

A source told the Telegraph: “It just does not hinge together ... [The investigators] have gone through processes you do to get the plane where it flew to for eight hours. They point to it being flown in a rational way.”

This tends to also rule out a gradual decompression in the plane, although it still may be possible.

Central Queensland University aviation expert Ron Bishop said some kind of accident could have led to a gradual decompression of the aircraft and the pilots may have tried to return to Malaysia but passed out after turning the aircraft around. The plane could then have continued flying until it ran out of fuel.



Bad news ... Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. Source: AP



Some have speculated the Boeing 777 may have been stolen because it was carrying a valuable cargo, such as gold.

Malaysia Airlines chief executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya told reporters the most remarkable cargo being carried on MH370 was 3-4 tonnes of mangosteens.

Nonetheless, their continuing refusal to share the full cargo manifest with an Australian-led search and rescue operation has raised eyebrows.


Precious cargo? ... Authorities have not released the full manifest as yet. Source: ThinkStock


Strategic Aviation Solutions chairman Neil Hansford said it suggests Malaysian authorities are not being fully transparent about what the plane was carrying.

“To me, there is no reason why they wouldn’t declare the cargo manifest unless you’ve got something to hide,” he said.

Yesterday, Malaysian Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said the cargo included about 200kg of lithium batteries and some radios manufactured in Malaysia which were being sent to China. He said the full cargo manifest was with the investigators and that Australian authorities would need to request it from them.


In flight ... the crew of an RAAF AP-3C Orion taking part in the search. Source: AFP



Despite exhaustive searches there simply is no evidence to suggest a deliberate terrorist attack targeting the plane.

Seventeen days after it vanished from radar screens, there has no substantiated demands from any known or unknown terror groups.

Experts have also pointed out that there are thousands of business jets and cargo planes that could be captured and used much more easily.

The presence of two passengers travelling on stolen passports fuelled early fears of a terror link but authorities believe the two Iranian men were simply illegal migrants


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