So much has been talked about and speculated over the last 12 days regarding the fate of Malaysian Airlines flight 370. A Boeing 777-200, among the most sophisticated in the air today, has vanished. It seems everyone and their dog has a “theory”, but that’s wheeler it ends. They are all theories, of which I am ad to say are almost all wrong.
First, the possibilities. Yes anything is possible in this world we live in today (including losing a plane full of 239 people). But let’s look at what has been said, and why it is most likely incorrect.
First, the easy ones. Terrorism. I think by now if the plane had exploded in mid air, at 500 mph, the scattering of debris would have been stumbled onto. (It seems that will be how this is discovered eventually, by stumbling onto it). And given the fact that there are enough ships to walk from Singapore, to Kuala Lumpur to Hong Kong without getting your feet wet (Hunt for Red October style quote) I’d say it’s nowhere in the South China Sea basin. Secondly, when a plane explodes, it makes a hell of a flash. This part of e world is full, and I mean FULL of fishing boats. With more then 2 billion people in this corner of the globe, fishing is among the cheapest ways to feed them all. I have seen enough fishing boats between Indonesia and Hong Kong that lit up the black ocean more then the Canadian prairies are lit up at night. Someone would have seen this when it happened, and someone would have found wreckage by now. The same points can be made for an accidental/purposeful shoot down with a missile.
As far as the other theory on terrorism, the plane has been hidden, for a 9/11 type mission at a later date? Why? 9/11 was as dam dating as it was because NO ONE saw it coming. Least of all the authorities. With damn near the whole world looking for a white 777 with a red and blue stripe, it will not get anywhere near a major city without being noticed. So sorry, that’s out too.
Flew by the Maldives you say? Took 11 days for ANY witness to come forward? That right there doesn’t add up. I know they have TV in the Maldives, so someone would have realized they should say something long ago if they did in fact see a 777 cruising by the southern Atoll at sunrise.
The pilot is making a political statement. He has been photographed wearing a “democracy is dead” t shirt. Political extremist wiling to hijack a plane full of people he must be. He is not a political extremist, he sounds like someone who is tired of living in a Muslim nation. It is 2014 after all, some things don’t fly (excuse the pun) anymore (like jailing homosexuals). I can say however that his t shirt collection alone does not make him stand out. In fact, shirts like that with pointless sayings (a t shirt never brought back democracy – revolution maybe, but not a t shirt) are ALL over Asia. Here in Hong Kong I see things on a t shirt almost every day that don’t make much sense, but people think they look cool (like my chip and pepper t shirts in the 80’s).
Ok, the captain has a flight simulator at home. You know why? It’s not because he was practising some elaborate scheme to hide the jet (18,000 hours should have been enough practice). It’s because being a pilot is awesome. We dreamed about flying since a young age, it’s a rush, it’s challenging, and it’s so much fun, many of us do it on our days off. Those that can afford have their own plane, those that can’t OFTEN set up PC based flight simulators. I have rarely seen a lawyer post a picture on Facebook sitting in front of his new laptop with a thumb in the air. But the first thing a pilot does (especially this day in age) when they are checked out onto a new plane, snap a pic and send it to friends/post it on a social media website. People don’t hang out front of a law firm hoping to see a lawyer walk by, but every airport I’ve been too there are “spotters” and “avgeeks” everywhere taking pictures and watching big shiny things make a shit load of noise. If it’s that much fun for people to watch, then obviously it’s that much fun for a pilot to “take the job home” with him/her.
Now for the big one, the viral theory. Which I’m happy to report is starting to be debunked. An in flight fire. Whether it’s a cargo fire, cabin fire, unknown source of smoke, ANY smoke/fire drill calls for two memory items and then auctioning a checklist.
Oxygen mask on.
Breathe, and talk to someone. First your partner in the cockpit. And then ATC. Even if the smoke/fire requires your immediate attention (they usually do) a quick “Hong Kong control Malaysian 370, unknown smoke, emergency in progress, standby”. Why do we do this, so while our attention is shutting down systems, closing valves, and trying to isolate and put out what is among the worst inflight emergencies, ATC starts their work. They immediately will move traffic out of the way, knowing that you are about to turn around and land somewhere, because if you don’t, you are probably going to die in a little less than 20 minutes. They will also instinctively know where the closest airports are and start pulling up weather and NOTAMS to make sure that airport can accommodate your emergency landing. So once you have completed a checklist/procedure and the pilot calls ATC and says, we need to land ASAP, ATC can come back with Langkawi Airport is at your 7 o’clock 70 miles, weather CAVOK. Heading bug left 130 degrees and away you go. Swissair flight 111, the MD-11 that suffered a fire inboard spoke with ATC for 15 minutes before the cockpit roof finally melted on the pilots heads and the plane crashed into the Atlantic. A UPS 747-400F suffered a cargo fire leaving Dubia, and spoke win ATC for 10 minutes until there last calls were “there’s too much smoke, we can’t see anything, which way do we turn”. Pilots talk, even when there is nothing to to we talk to each other. It’s rare, almost unbelievable that they would not have said one thing to ATC. and certainly if the plane was over come by smoke and the pilots coughed their last cough, they would have said something before the pane just headed in the direction it was programmed for 5 hours. And if a fire was bad enough to knock out the passengers, how could the plane fly for 5 more hours without burning up?
So what was it? Where did the plane go that no one could find it? Someone was in control that I am sure. Someone who knew how to turn things off and fly in a way that would be difficult to track. Someone who knew where the deepest part of the Indian Ocean is, and how to get there with the fuel they had. Someone who wanted to die. Sadly, it has happened before, and I think this could be what has happened now. A pilot suicide event. I won’t speculate any further, as there is no need. These are just my thoughts on where something went and possibly why, and most likely why not. Time will tell we are all hoping.