Theories of piracy or pilot suicide gain more credence as search for missing plane expands

Published: March 14, 2014

A Royal Malaysian Air Force Navigator captain, Izam Fareq Hassan (C) looks at a map onboard a Malaysian Air Force CN235 aircraft during a search and rescue (SAR) operation to find the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 plane over the Strait of Malacca on March 14, 2014. MOHD RASFAN/AFP/Getty Images

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Piracy and pilot suicide are among the scenarios under study as investigators grow increasingly certain the missing Malaysian Airlines jet changed course and headed west after its last radio contact with air traffic controllers.

The latest evidence suggests the plane didn’t experience a catastrophic incident over the South China Sea as was initially suspected. Some experts theorize that one of the pilots, or someone else with flying experience, hijacked the plane or committed suicide by plunging the jet into the sea.

A U.S. official said Friday in Washington that investigators are examining the possibility of “human intervention” in the plane’s disappearance, adding it may have been “an act of piracy.” The official, who wasn’t authorized to talk to the media and spoke on condition of anonymity, said it also was possible the plane may have landed somewhere.

While other theories are still being examined, the official said key evidence suggesting human intervention is that contact with the Boeing 777′s transponder stopped about a dozen minutes before a messaging system on the jet quit. Such a gap would be unlikely in the case of an in-flight catastrophe.

A Malaysian official, who also declined to be identified because he is not authorized to brief the media, said only a skilled aviator could navigate the plane the way it was flown after its last confirmed location over the South China Sea. The official said it had been established with a “more than 50 per cent” degree of certainty that military radar had picked up the missing plane after it dropped off civilian radar.

Malaysia’s acting transport minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, said the country had yet to determine what happened to the plane after it ceased communicating with ground control around 40 minutes into the flight to Beijing on March 8 with 239 people aboard.

He said investigators were still trying to establish with certainty that military radar records of a blip moving west across the Malay Peninsula into the Strait of Malacca showed Flight MH370.

“I will be the most happiest person if we can actually confirm that it is the MH370, then we can move all (search) assets from the South China Sea to the Strait of Malacca,” he told reporters. Until then, he said, the international search effort would continue expanding east and west from the plane’s last confirmed location.

On Thursday, a U.S. official said the plane remained airborne after losing contact with air traffic control, sending a signal to establish contact with a satellite.

Boeing offers a satellite service that can receive a stream of data on how an aircraft is functioning in flight and relay the information to the plane’s home base. Malaysia Airlines didn’t subscribe to that service, but the plane still had the capability to connect with the satellite and was automatically sending signals, or pings, said the U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the situation by name.

Scores of aircraft and ships from 12 countries are involved in the search, which reaches into the eastern stretches of the South China Sea and on the western side of the Malay Peninsula, northwest into the Andaman Sea and the Indian Ocean.

India said it was using heat sensors on flights over hundreds of Andaman Sea islands Friday and would expand the search for the missing jet farther west into the Bay of Bengal, more than 1,600 kilometres (about 1,000 miles) to the west of the plane’s last known position.

A team of five U.S. officials with air traffic control and radar expertise — three from the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board and two from the Federal Aviation Administration — has been in Kuala Lumpur since Monday to assist with the investigation.

White House spokesman Jay Carney sidestepped questions Friday about the possibility of human intervention in the plane disappearance, saying only that U.S. officials were assisting in the investigation.

“I don’t have conclusive answers and I don’t think anyone does,” Carney said.

Malaysia has faced accusations it isn’t sharing all its information or suspicions about the plane’s final movements. It insists it is being open, and says it would be irresponsible to narrow the focus of the search until there is undeniable evidence of the plane’s flight path.

At this point, there is no evidence of any wrongdoing on the part of the two pilots, though Malaysian police have said they are looking at their psychological background, their family life and connections.

Related stories:

Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53, and Fariq Abdul Hamid, 27, have both been described as respectable, community-minded men.

Zaharie joined Malaysia Airlines in 1981 and had more than 18,000 hours of experience. His Facebook page showed an aviation enthusiast who flew remote-controlled aircraft, posting pictures of his collection, which included a lightweight twin-engine helicopter and an amphibious aircraft.

Fariq was contemplating marriage after having just graduated to the cockpit of a Boeing 777. He has drawn the greatest scrutiny after the revelation that in 2011, he and another pilot invited two women boarding their aircraft to sit in the cockpit for a flight from Phuket, Thailand, to Kuala Lumpur.

Mike Glynn, a committee member of the Australian and International Pilots Association, said he considers pilot suicide to be the most likely explanation for the disappearance, as was suspected in a SilkAir crash during a flight from Singapore to Jakarta in 1997 and an EgyptAir flight in 1999.

“A pilot rather than a hijacker is more likely to be able to switch off the communications equipment,” Glynn said. “The last thing that I, as a pilot, want is suspicion to fall on the crew, but it’s happened twice before.”

Glynn said a pilot may have sought to fly the plane into the Indian Ocean to reduce the chances of recovering data recorders, and to conceal the cause of the disaster.

——

Lowy reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Ashok Sharma in New Delhi, Jim Gomez in Kuala Lumpur, and Rod McGuirk in Canberra, Australia, contributed to this report.

16:10ET 14-03-14

[+]

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,



Readers Comments (0)

Comments are closed.

Featured

PNG_0920N_BARINDER_RASODE_MAYORAL_ANNOUNCEMENT_218072244

Q & A: Surrey mayoral candidate Barinder Rasode discusses upcoming campaign trail

LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI After months of speculation, Surrey city councillor Barinder Rasode finally confirmed her bid for mayor in the upcoming election at a…
Continue Reading »

PNG_0920N_BARINDER_RASODE_MAYORAL_ANNOUNCEMENT_218072376

Barinder Rasode takes aim at crime as she officially announces her bid for Surrey’s mayor

  LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI After months of speculation, Surrey city councillor Barinder Rasode finally confirmed her bid for mayor in the upcoming election at…
Continue Reading »

Sunday September 19 Vancouver Stanley Park

Gear up for the annual Ismaili Walk at Stanley Park this Sunday

VANCOUVER DESI The 23rd annual Ismaili Walk, which fundraises to improve the lives of local women and children, will take place Sunday in Stanley Park….
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

Oliver urges weaker G20 economies to follow Canadian stimulus model

THE CANADIAN PRESS SYDNEY, Australia — Different economic situations require different approaches to meeting the G20′s economic targets, Canada’s finance minister said Sunday as he…
Continue Reading »

PNG_0920N_BARINDER_RASODE_MAYORAL_ANNOUNCEMENT_218072244

Q & A: Surrey mayoral candidate Barinder Rasode discusses upcoming campaign trail

LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI After months of speculation, Surrey city councillor Barinder Rasode finally confirmed her bid for mayor in the upcoming election at a…
Continue Reading »

PNG_0920N_BARINDER_RASODE_MAYORAL_ANNOUNCEMENT_218072376

Barinder Rasode takes aim at crime as she officially announces her bid for Surrey’s mayor

  LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI After months of speculation, Surrey city councillor Barinder Rasode finally confirmed her bid for mayor in the upcoming election at…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

DEPORTED-PAKISTAN

Rally held in Saskatoon in support of 65-year-old woman deported to Pakistan

THE CANADIAN PRESS SASKATOON — Supporters of a 65-year-old woman who was deported to her native Pakistan earlier this week have held a rally at…
Continue Reading »

Designers-entertainment

Fashion over the years in Bollywood

IMROZ MAUR VANCOUVER DESI Bollywood and Fashion go hand in hand; there is no Bollywood without fashion and there is no fashion without Bollywood. They…
Continue Reading »

fried rat in food

Customer finds fried rat mixed in pakoras at Indian railway snack kiosk

VANCOUVER DESI A snack kiosk at a railway station in Western India has been closed down after a customer found a fried rat mixed in…
Continue Reading »

Vancouver-soccer

‘This isn’t lingerie football’: Vancouver Whitecaps video taken down (w/video)

DAN FUMANO VANCOUVER DESI After some fans and Internet commenters cried foul on a new online video promoting the Vancouver Whitecaps soccer team, club management…
Continue Reading »

Change

Iran sentences ‘Happy’ dancing youths to six months jail, 91 lashes

IANS Tehran – A group of Iranian youths, who released a video on YouTube dancing to the popular song “Happy” by American singer-songwriter Pharrell Williams,…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Deepika Padukone

Deepika Padukone: Respect us as women off-screen

IANS Mumbai – Deepika Padukone says she has an issue when people “propagate objectification of a real person and not a character being played” and…
Continue Reading »

Parineeti Chopra-Aditya Roy Kapur

Daawat-e-Ishq: Habib Faisal missed the plot

SUBHASH K. JHA IANS  Film: “Daawat-e-Ishq”; Cast: Aditya Roy Kapoor, Parineeti Chopra and Anupam Kher; Director: Habib Faisal: Rating: ** There are two different films…
Continue Reading »

Vinay Virmani

A fun ride with Dr. Cabbie

Q&A: Canadian actor Vinay Virmani’s new movie continues his examination of South Asian immigrant experience ALMAS MEHERALLY VANCOUVER DESI Toronto-born actor and writer Vinay Virmani…
Continue Reading »