Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Malaysia 370 Smoking Gun?

The saga of the missing Malaysian airliner is growing somewhat more curious. So far we know that the airliner continued to fly after its transponder and Acars communications were shut off. Now the New York Times reports that because the airliner was shown on primary radar to have made a turn to the west and also to appear to fly directly to several established waypoints that it was likely being navigated by the onboard FMS or flight management system. This also means that someone who was knowledgable of 777 aircraft navigation systems was likely in command of the aircraft.

We also know that the door to the cockpit on the 777 aircraft was armored and reinforced as all cockpit doors were after 9/11 so a forced entry into the cockpit is unlikely. While flight attendents do have a code to open the door, there is a delay for the code to work and the pilots can deny entry if the attempted door opening is unannounced so it seems unlikely that access was gained in that fashion.

All these circumstances are leading investigators to an unsettling possibility that it was one or both of the pilots themselves who commandeered the aircraft, switched off the various communications systems, and then flew the aircraft to who knows where and for what purpose.

Investigators have focused on the captain of the plane, Zaharie Ahmad Shah. Captain Shah is a known supporter of Malay opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who that very day had been sentenced to a five year prison sentence for sodomy (GLAD president, Malaysian chapter, please call your office). Captain Shah had also been photographed recently in a T-shirt which had in large letters: "Democracy is Dead" in an apparent protest against the political situation in Malaysia. He had attended Ibrahim's trial the day of flight 370's departure and was likely upset at the result which he may have believed was rigged.

Of somewhat less interest is 29 yr old copilot, Fariq Abdul Hamid. First Officer Hamid had briefly been in trouble back in 2009 for allowing two young female passengers up onto the flight deck which is strictly against regulations. Our opinion is that in this case the young pilot was likely trying to impress two attractive young ladies and exercised poor judgement. We also imagine that probably having been threatened with termination, the young Hamid subsequently confined his interactions with the ladies to places other than work.

Anything beyond what has already been stated now moves into the realm of conjecture. But being writers of an obscure blog and not bound by the restrictions of responsible journalism, it is a place we will willingly go.

Should the aircraft ever be found, which is increasingly unlikely, we believe it will be found that Captain Shah somehow overpowered or incapacitated his first officer, took control of the aircraft and directed it out over the Indian Ocean. We believe the captain spent some time reflecting about his life and then perhaps purposely ditched the aircraft into the ocean or allowed the fuel to run out.

The irony here is that Captain Shah probably believed that in the unjust conviction of Anwar Ibrahim, Malaysia had proved itself less than a modern democracy.  And while his rash action may have been intended to swing a spotlight of world opinion onto what he thought was a great injustice, it will likely contribute to the notion that in politically immature countries without judicial safeguards and outlets for minority opinion, political passions will manifest themselves in unorthodox manners.


  1. When I heard that the Malaysian flight had gone missing, I was wondering what you thought about it. Interesting dots you have connected.

    On a lighter note....I took Southwest R/T to Denver last week and had one of the smoothest and uneventful flights with no charge for my gear, that included 2 pieces of luggage and 2 carry-on pieces. Further, the wifi was only $8. Not bad at all.

  2. Hi Lew,

    Glad we treated you well. Remember the live tv is free also.

    I think the plane was deliberately hijacked but that it was a crime of passion...there will be no planning emails found as CNN is looking for.

    The fire theory going around seems implausible as no aircraft with a fire has ever remained airborne for more than 20 minutes.


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Capt Rob