UK & World News

  • 20 March 2014, 12:37

Missing Plane Probe 'May Provide No Answers'

One of the world's top air crash investigators has said finding a possible human cause for the disappearance of flight MH370 may be the only way of solving the mystery.

Thomas Anthony, a former security chief with the Federal Aviation Administration, told Sky News finding the aircraft, which disappeared nearly a fortnight ago with 239 people on board, is vital to solving many of the unanswered questions.

It comes after an American scientist who found the wreckage of an Air France plane, which crashed in 2009, claimed investigators may "never find out what happened".

"If the aircraft breaks, the technical investigation will likely disclose the causes," Mr Anthony said.

But he warned: "If the human breaks, the technical investigation may actually provide no answers to what caused the accident, incident or crash."

His comments come as the FBI is brought in to help analyse files deleted from a flight simulator belonging to Malaysia Airlines pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah.

Records of simulations were deleted on February 3, although investigators insist Mr Zaharie is innocent until proven guilty.

Mr Anthony, director of the world renowned Aviation Security and Safety Programme at the University of Southern California (USC), criticised officials for failing to speak with a "single investigative voice".

He also said he believes Malaysian authorities failed to prepare for a major air disaster.

As news of a possible sighting of debris was announced, the US also offered to help in any way it can.

Officials from both the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board are in Malaysia to assist with the investigation.

Most air accident investigators will at some point turn to the USC's crash lab.

Sky News was given access to its vast warehouse in eastern Los Angeles, where the wreckage of numerous aircraft is stored.

Project specialist Daniel Scalese said: "The answers are all here. It does look like a bunch of twisted wreckage but the answers are all here if you know where to look and what to look for."

The USC team said aviation has benefited from the public attention on air disasters as safety continues to improve.

They point to figures showing only 0.4 of every one million flights result in a crash.

Generally, they claim, a chain of five or six factors lead to an accident and discovering just one of those can lead to huge advances.

Mr Anthony said: "We don't have to wait for the final analysis to learn some lessons."

The investigation into the disappearance of flight MH370 is looking at a number of theories, including hijacking, sabotage and terrorism, as well as a fault with the plane, such as a fire in the cockpit.

Authorities believe someone on board intentionally switched off two vital pieces of communication equipment and deliberately diverted the aircraft.

Satellite data suggests the plane flew for at least seven hours after it was turned back across Malaysia towards the Strait of Malacca.

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