MH370 Investigation – Speculation

Speculative theories

Speculation becomes rife when a mystery such as the disappearance of MH370 without trace leaves no evidence.

 

On Sunday 9th March 2014, the newsinfo.inquirer.net speculated 'Why Malaysia Airlines jet might have disappeared' http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/583544/why-malaysia-airlines-jet-might-have-disappeared:

“Either you had a catastrophic event that tore the airplane apart, or you had a criminal act,” said Scott Hamilton, managing director of aviation consultancy Leeham Co. “It was so quick and they didn’t radio.”
No matter how unlikely a scenario, it’s too early to rule out any possibilities, experts warn. The best clues will come with the recovery of the flight data and voice recorders and an examination of the wreckage.
Airplane crashes typically occur during takeoff and the climb away from an airport, or while coming in for a landing, as in last year’s fatal crash of an Asiana Airlines jet in San Francisco. Just 9 percent of fatal accidents happen when a plane is at cruising altitude, according to a statistical summary of commercial jet airplane accidents done by Boeing.

Some of the possible causes for the plane disappearing include:
— A catastrophic structural failure of the airframe or its Rolls-Royce Trent 800 engines. Most aircraft are made of aluminum which is susceptible to corrosion over time, especially in areas of high humidity. But given the plane’s long history and impressive safety record, experts suggest this is unlikely.
More of a threat to the plane’s integrity is the constant pressurization and depressurization of the cabin for takeoff and landing. In April 2011, a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 made an emergency landing shortly after takeoff from Phoenix after the plane’s fuselage ruptured, causing a 5-foot tear. The plane, with 118 people on board, landed safely. But such a rupture is less likely in this case. Airlines fly the 777 on longer distances, with many fewer takeoffs and landings, putting less stress on the airframe.
“It’s not like this was Southwest Airlines doing 10 flights a day,” Hamilton said. “There’s nothing to suggest there would be any fatigue issues.”
— Bad weather. Planes are designed to fly through most severe storms. However, in June 2009, an Air France flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris crashed during a bad storm over the Atlantic Ocean. Ice built up on the Airbus A330′s airspeed indicators, giving false readings. That, and bad decisions by the pilots, led the plane into a stall causing it to plummet into the sea. All 228 passengers and crew aboard died. The pilots never radioed for help.
In the case of Saturday’s Malaysia Airlines flight, all indications show that there were clear skies.
— Pilot disorientation. Curtis said that the pilots could have taken the plane off autopilot and somehow went off course and didn’t realize it until it was too late. The plane could have flown for another five or six hours from its point of last contact, putting it up to 3,000 miles away. This is unlikely given that the plane probably would have been picked up by radar somewhere. But it’s too early to eliminate it as a possibility.
— Failure of both engines. In January 2008, a British Airways 777 crashed about 1,000 feet short of the runway at London’s Heathrow Airport. As the plane was coming in to land, the engines lost thrust because of ice build-up in the fuel system. There were no fatalities.
Loss of both engines is possible in this case, but Hamilton said the plane could glide for up to 20 minutes, giving pilots plenty of time to make an emergency call. When a US Airways A320 lost both of its engines in January 2009 after taking off from LaGuardia Airport in New York it was at a much lower elevation. But Capt. Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger still had plenty of communications with air traffic controllers before ending the six-minute flight in the Hudson River.
— A bomb. Several planes have been brought down including Pan Am Flight 103 between London and New York in December 1988. There was also an Air India flight in June 1985 between Montreal and London and a plane in September 1989 flown by French airline Union des Transports Aériens which blew up over the Sahara.
— Hijacking. A traditional hijacking seems unlikely given that a plane’s captors typically land at an airport and have some type of demand. But a 9/11-like hijacking is possible, with terrorists forcing the plane into the ocean.
— Pilot suicide. There were two large jet crashes in the late 1990s — a SilkAir flight and an EgyptAir flight— that are believed to have been caused by pilots deliberately crashing the planes. Government crash investigators never formally declared the crashes suicides but both are widely acknowledged by crash experts to have been caused by deliberate pilot actions.
— Accidental shoot-down by some country’s military. In July 1988, the United States Navy missile cruiser USS Vincennes accidently shot down an Iran Air flight, killing all 290 passengers and crew. In September 1983, a Korean Air Lines flight was shot down by a Russian fighter jet.

 

On 13 March 2014, channelnewsasia.com media (http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/distrust-adding-to/1034752.html) reported that "Deep distrust between Asian neighbours and sensitive security issues are jamming essential communication lines in the chaotic hunt for a Malaysia Airlines plane, analysts said on Thursday.

Authorities appear to have no idea what happened to the plane, with the search covering both sides of peninsular Malaysia, an area of nearly 27,000 nautical miles (more than 90,000 square kilometres).

Levels of confusion appeared to hit startling new highs on Thursday when Malaysia claimed that Chinese satellite photos, which had appeared to indicate possible debris in the South China Sea, were released in error and showed no such thing.

China, which is deeply involved because there were 153 Chinese citizens on board, on Wednesday accused the Malaysian authorities of releasing information in a "chaotic" fashion.

It then appeared to surprise the Malaysians by releasing the satellite data. Malaysia and Vietnam deployed planes to the area highlighted by the Chinese but found nothing.

At his daily briefing on Thursday, Malaysian Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told reporters that China had told them the satellite photos were released "by mistake and did not show any debris".

Highlighting the lack of cooperation, Vietnam Civil Aviation Authority deputy director Dinh Viet Thang earlier said Vietnamese officials had only learnt of the Chinese satellite sighting on the Internet, not from official channels.

Communist-run China, though, insisted on Thursday that Malaysia was to blame for the bulk of the confusion, while warning the search would continue to suffer unless there was greater transparency.

"As Malaysia Airlines is state owned, the Malaysian government is the core force in the fact-finding mission," the state-run Xinhua news agency said.

"Unless transparency is ensured, the huge international search operation can never be as fruitful as we hope and expect."

 

Also reported same day (http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/pilots-of-mh370-under/1034704.html):

"The day of Malaysian denials only exacerbated the puzzles surrounding the search for flight MH370, which has been blighted by false alarms, swirling rumours and contradictory statements about its fate.

Authorities have chased up all manner of leads, including oil slicks, a supposed life raft found at sea and even witness accounts of a night-time explosion, only to rule them all out.

Malaysia has contributed to the confusion by saying the plane may have turned back after taking off.

Military radar detected an unidentified object early Saturday north of the Malacca Strait off west Malaysia but it is unclear if it was the missing airliner.

The search for the plane now encompasses both sides of peninsular Malaysia, over an area of nearly 27,000 nautical miles (more than 90,000 square kilometres) -- roughly the size of Portugal -- and involves the navies and air forces of multiple nations.

Theories about the possible cause of the disappearance range from a catastrophic technical failure to a mid-air explosion, hijacking, rogue missile strike and even pilot suicide.

Malaysian police said Thursday they were investigating the two pilots, after an Australian television report of a past cockpit security breach, although the transport minister denied that their homes had been raided.

Malaysia Airlines has said it was "shocked" over allegations that First Officer Fariq Abdul Hamid, 27, along with a fellow pilot, violated airline rules in 2011 by allowing two young South African women into their cockpit during a flight.

It also emerged that months before the Malaysia Airlines jet vanished, US regulators had warned of a "cracking and corrosion" problem on Boeing 777s beneath their satellite antenna that could lead to a drastic drop in cabin pressure and possible mid-air break-up.

But Gerry Soejatman, a Jakarta-based independent aviation analyst, said the warning did not apply to the missing aircraft, a Boeing 777-200ER, which has a different kind of antenna.

"When an aircraft simply disappears from radar with no trace whatsoever, normally it means a rapid deterioration of the aircraft -- an explosion or structural failure that's very rapid," he added.

"That means the wreckage would be found near where it was last reported. But in this case, this doesn't seem to be the case."

 

On 19 March 2014, a Press Briefing by Hishammuddin Hussein, Minister of Defence and Acting Minister of Transport (Malaysian Government), stated:
"Regarding reports that the plane was sighted in the Maldives, I can confirm that the Malaysian Chief of the Defence Force has
contacted his counterpart in the Maldives, who has confirmed that these reports are not true."

 

On 22 March 2014, MAS issued Media Statement #22 which stated:
"Malaysia Airlines wishes to clarify that the lithium ion batteries carried onboard MH370 on 8 March 2014 was in compliance with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) requirements where it is classified as Non Dangerous Goods."

 

On the 26 March 2014, BBC News Magazine published an article by Vanessa Barford titled Malaysia plane: 10 questions that are still unresolved. See http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-26671224. (Archived to: resources/MH370 BBC 26Mar2014 Ten unresolved questions.pdf).

  1. Why did the plane make a sharp left turn?
  2. Is it reasonable to speculate that a pilot could have intended to kill himself?
  3. Is a hijack scenario even possible?
  4. Is there an accidental scenario that stands up to scrutiny?
  5. Why was no action taken when the plane's transponder signal went off?
  6. Why isn't it easier to track missing planes by military satellite?
  7. Did the plane glide into the sea or plunge after running out of fuel?
  8. Would the passengers have known something was wrong?
  9. Why didn't passengers use their mobile phones?
  10. Why can't planes be set up to give full real-time data to a satellite?

In Q1, they speculate that there "could be a fire or sudden decompression" or "malicious intent by a pilot or intruder".

In Q2, they speculate "that Shah may have been upset after breaking up with his wife, but there is so far no reliable source for his state of mind. It's been reported police are still examining a flight simulator found in the captain's home."

In Q3, they speculate that "there are times when the door is open - when a member of the crew either visits the toilet or has to check on something in the cabin. It's always been ... possible to rush the cockpit when this is the case."

They have also speculated (in question 8) that "the plane's apparent climb [to 45,000ft] could have been designed to induce hypoxia - oxygen deprivation - which could have knocked people [passengers and crew] unconscious and even killed them."

 

 

 

 

 

 

On 30 April 2014, International Business Times Australian Edition (http://au.ibtimes.com/articles/550344/20140430/malaysian-airlines-flight-370-analysts-estimate-air.htm) appears to be sensationalising articles disguised as reporting, claiming that:
"There are no doubts over where the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 jet could have possibly crashed, even as a pilot and an Australian company claim the ill-fated Flight 370 with 239 people on board is in the Bay of Bengal."

"As authorities investigate the new claims, while the Australian government announced earlier this week the expansion of the search area, one thing is certain. That is the mysterious disappearance of the aircraft, now missing for almost two months, has worsened the declining financial state of the 67-year-old embattled Kuala Lumpur-based air carrier.

Already running losses of $1.3 billion in the past three years prior to the disappearance on March 8 of the Beijing-bound plane, Malaysian Airlines is forecast to register an additional $346 million loss by the end of 2016, according to estimates of analysts compiled by Bloomberg.

Since the disappearance of the jet, air travellers have been avoiding flight with the MH code that vacant seats rose to 26 per cent in March from 20 per cent average in 2013. It is the highest figure in two years.

With the search still on-going and Malaysian authorities declining to officially the passengers and crew dead to avoid further antagonising their relatives, Malaysia Airlines nevertheless is incurring a lot of expenses in paying for the hotel bills of the kin of the 150 Chinese passengers billeted in a Beijing hotel.

That is ahead of anticipated astronomical insurance claims as well as possible class action lawsuits against Malaysian Airlines, which could be the last nail on the air carrier's coffin. Under an international treaty, the airline is liable to pay up to $175,000 per passenger or over $40 million as compensation.

Shareprices of the air carrier had also dropped 10 per cent since March 8, bringing to 27 per cent the decline in its value since the start of 2014. That translates into MH shares trading at 0.93 times its book value, almost near its lowest level since 2001."