Pilot psychology may be “far greater danger” than hijacking
More than 100 days after Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 vanished, an early suggestion by some Malaysian media that it was the result of a decision to commit suicide by a pilot, possibly to protest political developments in his home country, seems to have been ignored.
But pilot psychology could be “a far greater danger” than hijacking, writes Gregory Clark, a former Australian diplomat and university president in Japan.
“We know of at least one precedent – the deliberate 1982 dumping of Japan Airlines Flight 350 into the waters near Haneda airport by a mentally disturbed pilot,” he says. “There could be others.”
The United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) has held power in Malaysia for 56 years. Its only rival was Anwar Ibrahim, a popular former deputy prime minister. In 1998, he was hit with charges of corruption and sodomy, which many say were invented so that the UMNO could remain in power.
Anwar spent six years in jail for corruption, much of it in solitary confinement and was later acquitted on the sodomy charge. But on March 7, the day flight MH370 vanished, a Kuala Lumpur court overturned this acquittal so he could be sent back to jail for another five years.
MH370 pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah was known to be an ardent Anwar supporter, possibly even a distant relative. He was at the March 7 Kuala Lumpur court hearing, seven hours before being at the controls of flight MH370.
It now seems clear there were no hijackers and no malfunction on board the plane, Clark writes. It’s likely Shah remained in full control. He could not have chosen a better location than the deep and remote southern Indian Ocean to evade radar and cause maximum inconvenience to his searchers. This theory may also explain the evasive attitudes of the Malaysian authorities from the start, Clark suggests – perhaps hiding evidence while refusing to admit the crash was deliberate, thus avoiding costly victim compensation.