UK & World News
Missing Plane Mystery: Debris Sheds New Light
If two large objects photographed in the Indian Ocean are confirmed to come from the missing Malaysia Airlines flight, they will shed new light on the theories of what happened to Flight MH370.
Electrical fire, structural damage, plane malfunction, hijacking, pilot murder-suicide and theft are among the numerous ideas circulating on forums and social media.
More outlandish claims include landing the plane somewhere to be used later in a 9/11-style attack, or it being involved in a collision with a military aircraft.
The plane carrying 239 people disappeared 12 days ago some 40 minutes into its flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
The Boeing 777-200's communication equipment was turned off and it was intentionally diverted west and could have flown on either a northern or southern arc from its last known position.
Seven "pings" were picked up from the plane six hours after military radar last detected it over the Strait of Malacca.
Former British Airways pilot Alastair Rosenschein said if the two pieces of debris, found 1,500 miles off the coast of Western Australia, are from the plane, it is most likely to point to pilot incapacitation through structural failure.
One possibility is the pilots' oxygen tanks exploded, blowing a hole in the cockpit, and causing the communication equipment to fail at the same time.
Another is the pilots may have been rendered unconscious by a fire in the cabin, and the tracking equipment was disabled to prevent the blaze getting worse.
If the pilots had fallen unconscious, the plane would have carried on along its diverted route for up to 3,500 miles before the fuel ran out.
It would then have glided and crashed somewhere in the southern Indian Ocean.
Mr Rosenschein said this would take it into the region where the possible debris was found, especially given that sea currents could have moved the wreckage more than 1,000 miles from the crash site.
"It's no surprise they might find it there," he told Sky News.
He suspects the plane was picked up by Indonesian radar as it flew near Sumatra and this is why investigators have been searching near Australia.
He said if the debris is found to be from the plane, it is still possible the cause was hijacking or pilot suicide.
But he said these were much less likely given the location of the crash, as neither scenario would require the plane to be flown so far and for so long.
However, David Gleave, chief investigator at Aviation Safety Investigations, said authorities needed to be "very, very cautious" about assuming the debris is wreckage from the plane.
One piece is 24 metres long and if it is the front fuselage it would have filled with water and sunk to the bottom of the sea, he said.
If it is a wing, it might have floated, he said, but this is unlikely.
If the debris is from the plane, he believes it would point to an "insurance job".
"What other possible motive could there be for dumping a plane in the middle of the Indian Ocean," he told Sky News.
Paul Edwards, former Chief of Staff for Army Aviation, said the debris is "the first credible lead" in the investigation.
But he stressed it needed first to be located and then identified, and should not detract from searches in the northern arc.