The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 has been deemed one of greatest mysteries of modern aviation. In 2014, a routine flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing vanished with 239 passengers on board never to be seen again. Now, an expert panel of aviation specialists believe they have the answers.
Appearing on 60 Minutes Australia, leading air safety experts believe pilot Captain Zahari Ahmad Shah deliberately crashed into the Indian Ocean in a criminal act of mass murder-suicide.
Senior Boeing 777 pilot and instructor Simon Hardy, who has spent the last two years heading the search, said he made the discovery by reconstructing the MH370’s flight plan from military radar. The aircraft avoided detection by Malaysian and Thai military by flying along and weaving in-between the two country’s borders. It was along the border that the plane’s transponder turned off, an act Hardy says showed clearly deliberate maneuvers.
“As the aircraft went across Thailand and Malaysia, it runs down the border, which is wiggling underneath, meaning it’s going in and out of those two countries, which is where their jurisdictions are,” said Hardy.
Before disappearing, Shah veered off course and “dipped the wing” over his hometown of Penang in what Hardy says was an “emotional goodbye”.
“It might be a long, emotional goodbye – or a short, emotional goodbye," he said.
Larry Vance, former Senior Investigator with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, said he is “confident” he knows what happened, and the general public can “take comfort” on the growing consensus, saying the pilot was “killing himself” and took the aircraft to a remote place so that it would “disappear”.
“Unfortunately, he was [also] killing everybody else on board, and he did it deliberately,” said Vance. “He was taking it to a predestination, someplace that he had planned to take it, and he flew that six hours to get it there.”
Not everyone is convinced. Two of the experts disagreed, saying no one person was in control when the flight disappeared and that Shah flew an additional 115 miles than originally thought, putting the aircraft remains outside of the current search area.
In March of 2016, a piece of the wreckage washed ashore off the coast of Africa. It’s a clue some say offers further evidence Shah had control of the aircraft and it as not an accidental high-speed crash.
“The front of it would be pressed in and hollow. The water would invade inside and it would just explode from the inside. So, this piece would not even exist," said Vance.
Texas-based company Ocean Infinity launched its hunt for the plane last January after a $200 million search failed. The company has 90 days spread over the course of several months to look for the plane, with the investigation expected to end mid-June. Officials told news.com.au there is an “85 percent chance of finding traces of the wreckage in a new 25,000 square kilometer search area”.