MH370 disappeared without a trace five years ago and it is still a mystery what exactly happened – but a shocking theory has emerged that suggests machines wrestled control of the plane from the pilot.
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 concluded the plane must have ended up in the Indian Ocean, but this has been disputed. In the Channel 5 documentary ‘Flight MH370’, risk management consultant Dr Sally Leivesley explained how it could be possible that MH370 fell victim to cyber-terrorism.
This theory suggests the plane’s main computer network could be accessed and compromised via a mobile phone or a USB connection in the flight entertainment system.
Dr Leivesley said: “The core of the theory was that the plan was being managed by machines not people.
“You can have chips in the avionics that run the cockpit and those chips can have malware.
“The controls look right, but underneath there is another system actually running the plane.”
In this way, the pilots could have been lulled into a false sense of security thinking they are going one way, when actually they are flying in a different direction.
Aviation security expert Jim Termini told the documentary that a cyberattack, whilst unlikely, is not impossible.
He said: “A cyberattack would be a highly sophisticated attack which, at the moment, would seem the most unlikely, but that’s only because we haven’t seen it before.
“The day before 9/11 we would never have imagined that an aircraft would have been used effectively as a cruise missile to attack New York and Washington – but, of course, that happened.”
Mr Termini went on to say that he thinks it is “highly likely” that a hijack took place but that there are a number of different ways it could have been hijacked.
The four options he gave were: a crew member, a passenger, a stowaway and an electronic takeover from a ground-based station.
Dr Leivesley pointed out that that there was missing documentation for who had access to MH370 in the hours before take-off.
She suggested it might have been possible for a saboteur to sneak on to the plane and launch the cyberattack.
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The consultant said: “We know from the Malaysian government reports there was a maintenance activity in it February, but in the immediate period before the plane took off we don’t have that history.
“We need to know who had access to the plane.
“Was there an opportunity for someone to get on with a USB stick or in other ways to initiate a cyberattack on the plane so it would never reach its destination?”
This theory is intriguing as it could mean investigations into those on board would be fruitless.
A recent report by The Atlantic suggested the plane’s captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah could have been responsible.
It claimed Mr Shah had flown a similar route on his home flight simulator and that he had been struggling with mental health difficulties.
Other individuals who have come under the microscope include two passengers who boarded the plane using fake passports.
However, it was concluded that these men were trying to emigrate to Europe and were not considered likely to be part of a terrorist organisation.
Meanwhile, aviation expert Jeff Wise suggested MH370’s disappearance could have been caused by the Russian government to take the world’s focus away from the conflict in Crimea.
He said: “There could have been a Russian on board who interfered with the systems and left a false trail of breadcrumbs.”