By Jonah Shepp
Chris Goodfellow doesn’t think MH370 was hijacked:
For me, the loss of transponders and communications makes perfect sense in a fire. And there most likely was an electrical fire. In the case of a fire, the first response is to pull the main busses and restore circuits one by one until you have isolated the bad one. If they pulled the busses, the plane would go silent. It probably was a serious event and the flight crew was occupied with controlling the plane and trying to fight the fire. Aviate, navigate, and lastly, communicate is the mantra in such situations. …
What I think happened is the flight crew was overcome by smoke and the plane continued on the heading, probably on George (autopilot), until it ran out of fuel or the fire destroyed the control surfaces and it crashed. You will find it along that route–looking elsewhere is pointless.
Jeff Wise shoots down that theory:
Goodfellow’s account is emotionally compelling, and it is based on some of the most important facts that have been established so far. And it is simple—to a fault. Take other major findings of the investigation into account, and Goodfellow’s theory falls apart.
For one thing, while it’s true that MH370 did turn toward Langkawi and wound up overflying it, whoever was at the controls continued to maneuver after that point as well, turning sharply right at VAMPI waypoint, then left again at GIVAL. Such vigorous navigating would have been impossible for unconscious men.
Goodfellow’s theory fails further when one remembers the electronic ping detected by the Inmarsat satellite at 8:11 on the morning of March 8. According to analysis provided by the Malaysian and United States governments, the pings narrowed the location of MH370 at that moment to one of two arcs, one in Central Asia and the other in the southern Indian Ocean. As MH370 flew from its original course toward Langkawi, it was headed toward neither. Without human intervention—which would go against Goodfellow’s theory—it simply could not have reached the position we know it attained at 8:11 a.m.
Meanwhile, Jessica Trisko Darden considers how the search reflects on national security and politics in Asia:
While the countries of the region lack the ability to effectively monitor their airspace and maritime borders, they clearly have the capacity to blame one another. Political haranguing has been an evident part of the Malaysian-led search process. Both China and Vietnam repeatedly expressed frustration with Malaysia for providing contradictory details that hampered their ability to search for wreckage. Vietnam temporarily downgraded its search in the absence of credible information before ending it following word that Malaysia had suspended its search in the same area. Relations between Malaysia and China have been strained by an inability to locate the 153 Chinese citizens on board the flight and Malaysia Airlines’ handling of the passengers’ families.
David Wertime zeroes in on China’s mounting frustration with Malaysia:
Malaysian authorities have certainly given China ample room for angst. The New York Times reported on March 16 that a series of errors, delays, and obfuscations by the Malaysian government and military has hampered the search process. Chinese social media, which provides the best available public indicator of citizen sentiment, has not shown a proclivity to forgive. An online short comic series shared over 50,000 times on Weibo depicts a haggard boss (China) defenestrating a lazy employee (Malaysia) after he gives lackadaisical answers at a meeting about MH370 also attended by well-prepped Vietnamese and U.S. avatars. (In an introduction, the artist calls the Malaysians a “pig troupe.”) A phrase combining the character for Malaysia with a popular Internet curse word became a Weibo hashtag and been used more than 400,000 times.
Follow all the Dish’s coverage of the missing plane here.