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Saturday, 29 March 2014

MH370: Dead men tell no tales

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MH370: Dead men tell no tales

March 29, 2014
Despite the many plausible scenarios, we might never know what really happened or why, for years to come.
COMMENT
mh370
By Robert Chaen
On March 8, 2014, the day of the disappearance of MH370, I attended my cousin’s wedding in Ipoh. Five of the Freescale Semiconductor managers with whom he used to go out for lunch were on MH370.
Many questions were asked about what really happened to the plane, and even harder to answer is why it happened the way did.
People’s lives are unsettled when they do not know the painful truth.
Here I share some scenarios, and hopefully shed some light. These possible scenarios are purely for discussion and poll purposes. No one is blamed. A person is innocent until he is proven guilty.
Hijack
It is clear from the flight path data that whoever flew MH370 was a very experienced pilot with full command of cockpit controls. This alone eliminates hijackers. From history hijackers have only basic or limited cockpit control experience like the 911 hijackers, or no flying experience.
All passengers of MH370 have since been cleared of terrorist links.
There were no terrorist’s claims or demands. If it was supposed to be a 9/11-type hijacking, there would be a short window of say, less than 60 minutes, after the two data systems were switched off to hit the target. The crew and passengers would be banging down the door like in the United Airlines 93 in 9/11.
It took 19 hijackers to hijack the four 9/11 planes, that is 4-5 hijackers to secure the cockpit of one plane. But MH370 was most likely flown by a single very experienced pilot. But the flight path deviated from all the busy flight routes, city areas and radars.
One of the accusations by the victims’ families was there was a cover-up and that the Malaysian government was secretly negotiating a hostage situation and that the plane had landed in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.
Yet both governments stressed that they would have detected the plane, and did not.
The SOP for hijackings is most governments will quickly reveal to the media, although secret negotiations will not be revealed until it is over. Hijackers usually want the world’s media attention to report on their cause.
Fire disaster or catastrophic accident
Some say a fire from the 200kg lithium batteries cargo could have cut off all data and transponder systems. And the pilots might have tried to turn back to save the plane, with the contact systems down.
If a fire had not knocked the pilots unconscious, they could have programmed the system to head for some easy and nearby airport to land, such as Langkawi.
And if the pilots died after the cabin lost pressure as in the Payne Stewart Lear jet case that flew for four hours, the plane would have ended far west in Africa. But the flight path of MH370 was away from airports and was avoiding radar.
The hardest reason to explain is why did the plane go on for 7.5 hours and ended up way down south of the Indian Ocean, thousands of miles from the nearest airport, with no distress calls, and the communication and transponder deliberately turned off 26 minutes into the flight with a 14-minute interval.
This is obviously going to be the most ‘convenient’ and popular reason.
By human nature, most people would predictably not want to blame anyone. But, the implications just don’t match up.
Pilot suicide or sabotage
If it was not a hijack, then it could be narrowed down to the pilot and co-pilot.
Fariq Abdul Hamid, the 27-year-old co-pilot did not fit the profile as had a lot to live for, a wedding soon to a female pilot, and a future to look forward to.
Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah had a political ideology. Born in Penang, he was a known opposition supporter. He worked as a poll monitor during the last 2013 General Election.
On March 7, 2014, the Malaysian court sentenced Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim to five years in jail after overturning his acquittal on sodomy charges. It shocked the 51% of Malaysian who voted for the opposition.
Zaharie might have been deeply troubled about the one-hour decision and rushed sentencing of Anwar, as this would likely mean that latter cannot legally run for the Prime Minister’s office in the next election in four years’ time.
Whether Zaharie was actually at or near the court room did not matter as shocking news is shocking news. A deep, desperate loss of hope. The last straw on the camel’s back may have triggered him to act on what he might have practiced and planned for months.
Seven hours later Zaharie took command of MH370 and piloted it at 12.41am. Most suicide pilots are known to quickly crash a plane so as not to prolong the agony, like in EgyptAir from JFK, and SilkAir from Jakarta.
Until today the respective governments, communities, and the pilots’ families refuse to accept pilot suicide for EgyptAir and SilkAir.
So why would Zaharie go through all the trouble to avoid radar and fly for 7 hours 30 minutes (12.41am to the last satellite contact at 8.11am)?
Unless he wanted to bring the world’s attention on Malaysia and its problems.
Closure for families
Some friends had come out openly to support and defend Captain Zaharie, saying he was a community-minded person, and a responsible pilot.
Yes he was – when he was in a normal state of mind. But you can never compare a person in a normal situation with one when he was extremely disturbed.
If MH370 crash was due to the psychological state of the captain, then we will never know what happened to MH370, and why it happened.
I predict that the MH370 air crash investigation would be hotly debated for years to come – with no acceptable overall conclusion for everybody.
Because the dead MH370 pilot tell no tales. Families will need to find closure somehow, and I’m afraid that it’s going to be a very long search for the wreckage and black box.
Meanwhile, we pray for the souls of MH370, their families, and anyone affected by this global episode.
And once again I repeat, these possible scenarios are purely for discussion and poll purposes. No one is blamed. A person is innocent until he is proven guilty.
The writer is an international change expert and writes at www.robertchaen.wordpress.com

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