Six possible explanations for MH370 mystery

Panel of pilots, airline leaders and manufacturers meet

A panel of pilots, airline leaders, manufacturers and regulators recently met in central London to try to throw light on the mystery of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. Six theories remain, they concluded at the meeting, which was organised by the Royal Aeronautical Society.

1. The aircraft depressurised but continued to fly

This would explain the initial change in altitude and heading, as well as the lack of communication, but not why the ACARS and transponder were turned off. Turning off the ACARS would need systems knowledge.

Summary: Possible

2. The aircraft was overcome by toxic fumes

The pilots should have been able to send out a distress call. And why would the ACARS and transponder have been turned off.

Summary: Unlikely

3. There was an onboard fire which damaged the communications systems

But how could the aircraft have continued to fly as long as it did if the fire continued to burn? The systems could have been disabled by power failure or sabotage. A bird strike is possible, but unlikely to have caused such damage.

Summary: Unlikely

4. The aircraft was hijacked

The plane was not flown to another destination or used in a terrorist attack. No motive has been established and no group has claimed responsibility. But something may have interrupted the hijacking, such as struggle in the cockpit.

Summary: Possible

5. The plane was diverted by the pilot/co-pilot

No reason for this appears to have been identified. Passengers may have been prevented from making calls by cabin depressurisation.

Summary: Possible.

6. Simultaneous failures

More than one scenario may have occurred at the same time, such as a wiring fire and depressurisation. Other outlandish explanations for the unprecedented disappearance include the implications of previous wing-tip collisions and meteor strikes.


[pictured: Economy cabin, Malaysia Airlines, 2009; photo by Andy Mitchell/Wikimedia]


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