Fate of Flight MH370 Remains a Mystery after Release of Malaysian Investigation Report

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The Malaysian International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Annex 13 Safety Investigation Team for MH370 released a report this month stating that they are "unable to determine the real cause for the disappearance of MH370."

The comprehensive report was clear on one thing: the plane was under manual control when it was flown out over the Indian Ocean.

"Evidence shows that Flight MH370 diverted from the Filed Flight Plan route," read the report. 

"The changes in the aircraft flight path after the aircraft passed waypoint IGARI were captured by both civilian and military radars," it continued. "These changes...are difficult to attribute to anomalous system issues alone." 

"It could not be established whether the aircraft was flown by anyone other than the pilots," it concluded.

“The autopilot has to be disengaged,” Chief Investigator Kok Soo Chon said of the initial turn that led the plane off-course.

“It has to be on manual," he said. "We have carried out seven simulator tests, flight simulators, three at high and four at low speed and we found the turn was made indeed under a manual, not autopilot.”

Chief Investigator Kok admitted that the following two turns could not be conclusively proven to have been under manual control or autopilot, and that the rest remained a mystery.

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 went missing in March of 2014, while flying from Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Malaysia, to Beijing Capital International Airport in China.

An underwater search coordinated by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, the largest such search in history, was called off in January 2017 after two years.  However, U.S.-based company Ocean Infinity was hired by the Malaysian government to continue searching for the missing plane in early January of 2018.  That search was embroiled in controversy earlier this year when the ship disappeared from tracking screens for three days after turning off its own satellite monitoring system.

Analysis of the satellite data available suggests that MH370 ran out of fuel and crashed in the Indian Ocean west of Australia, thousands of miles from its intended destination.  Various conspiracy theories have been discussed since the plane vanished; everything from cyber hijacking to the intervention of a rogue state like North Korea to extraterrestrial interference has been used by conspiracy theorists to explain MH370's disappearance.

This most recent report has done little to quiet those interested in conspiracies, especially since while it can't be proven that anyone other than the pilots were in control of the plane, it also can't be proven that the pilots were in control the entire time, and malfunctions have been ruled out--although the report did at least attempt to debunk the theory that Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah deliberately downed flight MH 370.

The report found no suspicious behavior from either pilot, and concluded that the analysis of suspicious flight simulator tracks on Zaharie's home computer were too confused and limited to provide any real detail. That, combined with his otherwise flawless flight record and reportedly idyllic family life, was enough to rule out deliberate sabotage on his part as a possibility.

So, for now, the events leading to the disappearance of MH370 remain a mystery.

“The answer can only be conclusive if the wreckage is found,” Chief Investigator Kok said. “As far as our team is concerned, our work is done, we have released the report.”

But Chief Investigator Kok doesn't consider this the final word on flight MH370.

“We are not ruling out any possibility,” he continued. “We’re just saying that no matter what we do, we cannot exclude the possibility of a third person or third party for unlawful interference.”

“This is not the final report,” he said.

“It will be too presumptuous of us to say this is the final report, if the wreckage hasn’t been found, if no victims have been found...How can we call the report our final report?”

Tobias WaylandComment