MH370 is believed to have been hijacked, but an aviation engineer has told Express.co.uk that the main theory that the pilot was planning a ‘murder-suicide’ does not make sense – instead, he suggested the plane could have landed.
Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 went missing on March 8, 2014 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board. The official investigation deduced that the plane likely took a U-turn at the edge of Malaysian-controlled airspace and flew back towards the Malay peninsula, before turning again and flying up the Malacca Strait. This is known because the plane was still appearing on primary radar owned by the military.
When it reached the Indian Ocean, it is believed it flew south for several hours before crashing into the sea west of Australia.
This part of the journey was calculated using a brand new technique using data from satellite 3F1, owned by British satellite telecommunications company Inmarsat, which communicated with the plane several times during its journey.
Data including Burst Timing Offset (BTO) and Burst Frequency Offset (BFO) were used to calculate the estimated flight path, but some claim the data sets for each do not match.
In February, former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who was involved in the investigation at the time, told a Sky News documentary that Malaysia secretly concluded that it was “almost certainly” a murder-suicide by the plane’s pilot.
He said: “My understanding, my very clear understanding from the very top levels of the Malaysian government is that from very, very early on they thought it was murder-suicide by the pilot.
“I’m not going to who said what to whom, but let me reiterate – I want to be absolutely crystal clear – it was understood at the highest levels that this was almost certainly murder suicide by the pilot.”
However, extensive search missions in the area of sea where the plane is believed to have been came up with nothing.
Aviation engineer Ismail Hammad has his own theory as to what happened to the plane.
He pointed out that if the hijacker had wanted to commit a mass murder of everyone on board the plane and himself, he could have done so straight away, rather than taking a bizarre seven-hour trip out over the Indian Ocean.
He told Express.co.uk: “I think that the purpose of this hijacking and hiding was something other than mass murder-suicide 3000km south of the Indian Ocean.
“He could carry out a mass murder-suicide without having to travel long and exhausting distances over sea and ocean water.
“Besides, the water is always under the plane from the first moment without the need to do this sharp of course deviation in southern Thailand, heading north and then disappearing from radar screen.
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“It was as if he wanted to gain more time to do some specific thing.”
Mr Hammad suggested that when the plane disappeared from military radar near the Andaman Islands, that it did not fly south over the Indian Ocean.
Instead, he claimed, it turned around again and flew back east.
He insisted that the hijacker wanted to land the plane somewhere remote before sunrise.
The engineer worked out a circle of possible destinations that the plane could have reached during the time, based on how fast it was flying.
He concluded that the most likely area for landing was on one of the islands in the South China Sea and that the previous flight path had been merely a distraction technique.
Mr Hammad particularly focused on the Philippines, which consists of 7,641 islands, and named a few as possible landing sites including Palawan, Mindanao, Badian, Negros, as well as the Sulu archipelago and its largest island Jolo.
He said: “I do not think that the deviation to the west direction for more than an hour and then the disappearance of the aircraft from military radar screen, was a coincidence.
“But I think that this deviation occurred according to advanced planning and accurate timing.
“And I believe that those who controlled the plane planned to stay the remaining hours of the night hidden from eyes and radars by darkening the aircraft, switching off all its internal and external lights and the flying at low altitude close to the sea level, starting from the moment the plane disappeared from military radar screens, until it reached where the hijacker wanted to land.”
If the plane did indeed manage to land on one of these islands, there is a slim chance that not all those on board died.
However, this is just one theory among dozens of others, with little evidence to prove either way.