After four years, we still don’t have concrete answers to one of the most confounding mysteries of our time: what happened to flight MH370?
On 8 March 2014, the routine Kuala Lumpur to Beijing flight disappeared from air traffic controllers’ radar and has never been seen again. A few pieces of wreckage have washed up on the coast of Africa and in the Indian Ocean, leading to the obvious conclusion that the plane went down somewhere in the open ocean, but no bodies have ever been recovered.
But a new report from the Malaysian government has shed some light on the MH370 conundrum by suggesting that the plane was more than likely deliberately steered off course.
Explaining the detour towards the Indian Ocean, Monday’s report said: “It is more likely that such maneuvers are due to the systems being manipulated.”
“The change in flight path likely resulted from manual inputs,” the 1,500-page report said, while adding that the plane’s loss of communications was probably the result of “being manually turned off or power interrupted to them.”
This focus on a deliberate turn-around could seem to confirm an earlier argument from flight experts who argued that MH370 Captain Zaharie Amad Shah carefully planned a deliberate murder-suicide mission.
“This was planned, this was deliberate, and it was done over an extended period of time,” seabed search leader Martin Dolan previously told 60 Minutes Australia.
However, in this latest report, the authors vehemently deny this.
“We have examined the pilot and the first officer and we are quite satisfied with their background, with their training, with their mental health,” Dr Kok Soo Chon, the investigator in charge of the MH370 safety investigation, said at the report’s press conference, according to the Guardian.
“We are not of the opinion that it could have been an event committed by the pilot.”
“I’m not ruling out anything, but there were two psychiatrists in my team and they were responsible for examining the audio recordings of the pilot and they concluded there was no anxiety and no stress in the recording, it was just normal, and they also recorded the footage from CCTV … they didn’t find any significant behavioural changes.”
Similarly, the report said there was little chance that a mechanical failure was to blame.
“There was no record of malfunction or defect in the aircraft that could have contributed to the disappearance,” said Kok.
Most of the blame given in the report is to air traffic controllers, in both Kuala Lumpur and Ho Chi Minh City, who did not follow ‘watching’ protocol, meaning that the plane was off radar for 20 minutes before an alert was issued.
“The air traffic controllers did not initiate the various emergency phases required of them, thereby delaying the activation of the search and rescue operations,” Kok said.
“They did not maintain a continuous watch on the radar display, did not release control according to the agreed transfer time, relied too much on masked information and did not initiate the various emergency phases as required.”
In the end, then, we’re still left scratching our heads about what brought the plane down.
The mystery continues.