Explaining the theories in Netflix’s MH370: The Plane That Disappeared
A new Netflix documentary exploring a flight that disappeared has outlined several possible theories that attempt to solve the mystery.
MH370: The Plane That Disappeared investigates the fate of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, which vanished on March 8 2014 while on a routine flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. To this day, only a few pieces of debris from the plane have been found, with no trace of any of the passengers or crew that were on board the flight.
The plane lost contact with air traffic control while travelling over the South China Sea, sparking one of the biggest aviation searches in history. The three part docu-series interviews the families of those on board, officials from Malaysian Airlines, journalists and investigators to garner a better understanding of where and when the plane crashed. There are also several claims about whether the aircraft could have been brought down on purpose.
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Just over two weeks after the plane’s disappearance, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced the flight had very likely “ended in the southern Indian Ocean.” This was based on analysis by British satellite firm Inmarsat and the UK’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), who found some automated signals the plane emitted after the last contact with the authorities.
The Australian Transport Bureau argued a fatal drop in cabin pressure could have caused the accident. However, no firm conclusions were reached on what caused the crash, and as time went on other arguments emerged.
Phone calls from passengers
One of the most harrowing points of the documentary was hearing from people close to those on board MH370 who claimed their relatives’ phones were still active. Some said their calls went through, while another said she had a missed call from a relative on board. The families claim they asked the authorities to trace the calls, but were told it was not possible to do so.
Other claims of sightings
There are several other claims surrounding where the plane crashed. Cyndi Hendry, a volunteer for now-defunct satellite imagery company Tomnod, argued she studied images shortly after the crash which showed the plane’s debris in the South China Sea. This goes against the argument by then Malaysian PM and others that it had crashed in the Indian Ocean.
She has argued her findings have been repeatedly ignored, despite her new claim of the logo of Malaysian airlines being visible in the debris. Other possible sightings include a British woman sailing in the Indian Ocean who said she saw the plane on fire.
Hijacking by pilot
The most prevalent theory of why the plane crashed, explained by aviation journalist Jeff Wise and others, was that the plane was hijacked by the pilot. Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53, is put at the centre of this. This is because he was far more experienced than 24 year-old co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid, who was on his final training flight aboard a Boeing 777.
It is alleged that Shah could have locked Hamid out of the cockpit, decompressed the aircraft and turned off all tracking software before flying the plane into the Indian Ocean. However, no clear motive for his actions are confirmed in the documentary.
He was vocal in his views on Malaysian politics, but no clear link can be established between that and deliberately crashing the plane. No suicide note, or any other signs of mental health struggles have been found either.
Another argument links the fate of the plane with Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. This aircraft was shot down by Russian controlled forces on July 17, just four months after MH370 disappeared. Wise says the disappearance of MH370 could also have been done by Russian actors.
The aim of this would be to distract the world from the Russian annexation of Crimea that occurred later that year. However, this line of thought is disputed by other experts interviewed, including the claim the plane’s system could have been hacked remotely.
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