Air safety experts have come to the conclusion that missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 may have crashed as the result of a murder-suicide mission planned by its captain.
The aircraft went missing on route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in 2014 with 239 people on board. In 2015, the Malaysian government officially declared the crash an accident.
A search coordinated by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) combed the seabed for three years before being called off in January 2017.
Satellite data shows the aircraft ran out of fuel and crashed in the Indian Ocean west of Australia – thousands of miles from its planned flight path. Debris found in the ocean in 2016 believed to have come from the aircraft seemed to corroborate this evidence.
American company Ocean Infinity picked up the search late last year, but this is expected to end in June, according to the Independent.
Now, a panel of experts told the 60 Minutes Australia programme that Captain Zaharie Amad Shah may have intentionally diverted the aircraft in a suicide bid.
Martin Dolan, who led the initial seabed search, claims the captain planned the crash “over an extended period of time”.
Evidence collected at Zaharie’s home revealed he had used a flight simulator to practise a ‘suicide route’ less than a month before the aircraft disappeared.
Zaharie was accompanied on the flight deck by inexperienced first officer Fariq Abdul Hamid, who had never flown a B777 and was on the flight without a training captain.
Captain Simon Harvey, a British pilot with B777 experience who also sat on the 60 Minutes panel, said that if he had been asked to make the aircraft disappear, he would have followed a similar flight path to the one Zaharie used, which followed the Thai-Malaysian airspace border ‘to prevent either side from taking action’.
Canadian air crash investigator Larry Vance said he believes the captain may have put on an oxygen mask before depressurising the plane to incapacitate the passengers and crew.
However, the panel disagreed on whether Zaharie was in control of the aircraft when it crashed. Some believe he ‘ditched’ the plane to keep it intact, while others claim the evidence shows it spiralled into the ocean.
There have been cases of pilots utilising aircraft in suicide bids in the past, including the 2015 Germanwings crash orchestrated by the flight’s co-pilot.