After more than 10 days and numerous theories as to the whereabouts of Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight MH370, the Business Insider has reported of an alternative theory proposed by a former pilot, which has emerged as a very plausible cause for the disappearance of the aircraft.
A few days ago, American Chris Goodfellow had written his simple case on his Google+ page on what he believed happened to the missing aircraft.
Goodfellow had based his theory on the key information of the turn back move shortly after the aircraft had left Malaysian airspace off the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia.
His theory suggests that all relevant officials, investigators and the international media are overthinking the incident behind the disappearance of flight MH370.
Based on Goodfellow's theory, the following is what could have transpired on board the aircraft, and more specifically in the cockpit:
- Shortly after takeoff, as MAS flight MH370 was flying out over the South China Sea, smoke began filling the cockpit, perhaps from a tyre on the front landing gear that had ignited on take-off.
- The captain immediately did exactly what he had been trained to do, that is to find the closest airport and turn the plane toward it so he could land.
- The closest appropriate airport was in Pulau Langkawi, as it had a massive 13,000-foot runway that could cater for the Boeing 777-200. The pilot was likely to have known that beforehand, as any experienced pilot with more than 18,000 flying hours under his belt would.
- The captain programmed the destination into the flight computer. The auto-pilot turned the plane west and put it on a course right for the runway.
- The pilot did not consider returning to Kuala Lumpur International Airport because the plane would have to cross over a mountain range in between. He knew the terrain to Langkawi would be friendlier and also a shorter distance to cover.
- The captain and co-pilot tried to find the source of the smoke and fire, but it soon filled the cockpit and overwhelmed them (a tyre fire would do this).
- Such a fire could also short-circuit the cockpit systems one by one, including the transponder. Quite possibly, both pilots had passed out or died by then.
- With no one awake to instruct the auto-pilot to land, the plane kept flying on its last programmed course... right over Pulau Langkawi and out over the Indian Ocean.
- Eventually, six or seven hours after the incident, it ran out of fuel and crashed.
This pilot was a hero struggling with an impossible situation trying to get that plane to Langkawi. No doubt in my mind. That's the reason for the turn and direct route.
Goodfellow further elaborated that Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah did all the right things.
"He was confronted by some major event onboard that made him make that immediate turn back to the closest safe airport.
"For me the loss of transponders and communications makes perfect sense if in the event of a fire, and especially an electrical fire. The first response is to pull all the main busses and restore circuits one by one until you have isolated the bad one.
"However, if they pulled the busses, the plane indeed would go silent. It was probably a serious event and they simply were occupied with controlling the plane and trying to fight the fire.
"Aviate, navigate and lastly communicate," Goodfellow wrote on the priority that is set for pilots to follow in the event of any emergency.
According to Goodfellow's theory, one possibility, given the timeline on how the fire started and then spread is that perhaps there was an overheat on one of the front landing gear tires and it blew on takeoff and started slowly burning. This could happen with under-inflated tires.
He added: "This pilot was a hero struggling with an impossible situation trying to get that plane to Langkawi. No doubt in my mind. That's the reason for the turn and direct route.
"A hijack would not have made that deliberate left turn with a direct heading for Langkawi. It would probably have weaved around a bit until the hijackers decided on where they were taking it.
"Surprisingly none of the reporters, officials and other pilots interviewed have looked at this from the pilot's viewpoint. If something went wrong where would he go? Thanks to Google Earth, I spotted Langkawi in about 30 seconds, zoomed in and saw how long the runway was and I just instinctively knew this pilot knew this airport.
"He had probably flown there many times. Also, another good clue would be the age and number of cycles on those nose tyres."
According to Business Insider this theory fits the facts and makes sense, most especially because it explains the manual course change as well as the "pings" that a satellite kept hearing from the plane hours after the communications systems went down. – March 18, 2014.