UK & World News

  • 19 March 2014, 20:57

Missing Plane: Could A Fire Explain Mystery?

Both pilots on the missing Malaysia Airlines plane may have been incapacitated by a fire in the cabin, an expert has told Sky News.

The theory, which has been gathering pace within the aviation industry over recent days, suggests the tracking equipment was disabled to prevent a fire getting worse.

Experts say it would mean the pair had changed course in a bid to find an airport where they could land the stricken aircraft - but were overcome by smoke.

While officials investigating the mystery have not commented on the theory, if true, it would make the two men in control of flight MH370 heroes rather than the suspects they have become.

Pilot Fikri Zambi told Sky News: "Let's say you have an electrical problem inside the wiring and you have smoke in the cabin.

"If it is anything to do with the wiring from the transponder or ACARS that's causing the smoke, then we have to pull out the circuit breakers to make it stop."

He said the next thing the pilots would do is attempt to get the plane to the nearest airport, which would mean turning left and back to the peninsula.

Experts say the jet could have kept heading southwest because the crew were rendered unconscious by the smoke.

Under such circumstances, if the plane remained in auto-pilot mode, it would continue flying south over the vast Indian Ocean until it ran out of fuel or was overcome by the flames.

Another pilot, Chris Goodfellow, a Canadian with 20 years' flying experience, also put forward the theory of a cabin firein a piece he posted online.

He suggested Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah was a "smart pilot" who "just didn't have the time" to land at an airport within a reasonable distance before he was overcome by smoke from the fire.

A contributor to the Professional Pilots Rumour Network forum, under the username Aerobat77, wrote: "For me, (either this) or a similar event happened. No James Bond secret landing on a desert strip."

Others on the forum said suggestions the flight inexplicably climbed to 45,000ft - 10,000ft above its cruising altitude - could also be consistent with attempts to put out a fire.

A number of other theories have also been put forward since flight MH370 vanished.

Hijack

Among the more common theories in circulation is the idea that the aircraft was hijacked, either by a member of the crew or one of the passengers.

This gained weight when authorities revealed tracking and communications devices had been turned off deliberately.

However, the lack of any contact or demands from supposed hijackers indicates otherwise and experts say it would be almost impossible to land on an airstrip undetected.

Theft

Similar arguments are made in response to the theory that the Boeing 777 has been stolen by persons unknown, who would use it for a terror attack or simply sell the parts.

Experts also say serial numbers on all the aircrafts components would make it very difficult to sell any.

It is also pointed out that it would be much easier for terrorists to steal one of the thousands of business jets and cargo planes that take to the skies every day and which would attract far less attention.

Flight MH370 hid below another plane

Keith Ledgerwood, who describes himself as a "hobby pilot and aviation enthusiast" said the plane may have flown "in the shadow" of Singapore Airlines flight 68 to avoid detection on its way over India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Experts say such a manoeuvre would have roused suspicion from the Singapore Airlines pilots and that the theory does not explain how MH370 eventually peeled off and landed without anyone noticing.

Pilot suicide

Despite previous air crash investigations concluding they were the result of pilot suicide, this possibility has received relatively little coverage in this case,

The efforts to disable tracking and communication systems would appear unnecessary under such circumstances and no notes have been found during searches of the pilots' home.

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