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Theories of the Disappearance of Malaysian Plane (Flight 370)

Updated on March 24, 2014

Introduction

Flight MH370 was reported missing on 8th March at 00:30 Local Time. This was indeed an aviation disaster as there are very rare events of missing planes and most missing planes get found after a day or so. This is a special case because it has not be found for 14 days. This is truly an astonishing record because with all these satellites, radar, military planes and boats wandering the seas and sky. Yet the missing plane still cannot be found. Many people has come up with different so called conspiracy theories. These are some of them.

Map of Malaysia - Direction of Plane

Theory 1 - Pilots

Firstly, the most common theory are the two pilots that flew the plane. In aviation, after 9/11; the background lifestyle of pilots are carefully checked such as: happiness, financial control, mental illnesses, family life etc. This is to ensure that they won't commit murder-suicide and crash the plane into the sea. As weird as it is, the two pilots that flew the plane: Capt. Zaharie Ahmad Shah and 1st Officer Fariq Ab Hamid had a good life so there was no need for suspicion. However, when the co-pilot said "Alight, good night", which was the last contact from the pilots, was not considered to be the standard message to air traffic control. This raised suspicion, and now the spotlight is on them.

Theory 2 - Black Hole

CNN Anchor Don Lemon asked his panelists if a 'black hole' had swallowed up the plane. I think this is even beyond crazy! What a coincidence it would be if a black hole appeared on the flight path of a plane. Not only would missing plane be a rare event, but appearance of a miniature black hole would definitely be a first. It's so crazy that it's actually quite hilarious!

Theory 3 - Islands

At some point in the journey, the plane was heading towards india's Andaman and Nicobar islands, which lies between Indonesia and the coast of Thailand. People think it has landed there because the plane disappeared from radar and military radar in/near the islands were probably weren't even operating, due to low threat levels from the island. This is a remote spot in the world, as there are over 570 islands and only 36 are inhabited. If someone were to steal the plane, this would be the best spot to hide it, although it would be extremely difficult to land a plane on an island without an airstrip, it is not impossible.

Theory 4 - Kazakhstan

The Central Asian Republic is another place where the plane can hypothetically land, and it would be easier to land than in the Andaman islands due to the flat desert landscape. Although this is a reasonable theory, the plane had a high chance to have been detected if it were to head there. This is because it would have past the airspace of countries such as India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, which are all normally active in awareness. However, the air traffic equipment in these countries were not up-to-date and the plane would have been mistaken for another object, such as a flock of birds.

Theory 5 - South

The final satellite "ping" suggests the plane was still operational for at least five or six hours after leaving Malaysian radar range. Norman Shanks, who is a professor of aviation security at Coventry University believes that the plane flew south as it is most likely to have avoided detection from the radars than flying north.

Theory 6 - Taklamakan Desert, North-West China

There has been discussion on meetings that the plane could have been hijacked by China's Uighur Muslim separatists. Out of the plane's 239 passengers, 153 were Chinese citizens. One possible destination in this theory would be China's Taklamakan Desert. The region - described by Encyclopedia Britannica as a "great desert of Central Asia and one of the largest sandy deserts in the world" - has no shortage of space. The BBC's Jonah Fisher tweeted on 15 March: "Being briefed by Malaysia officials they believe most likely location for MH370 is on land somewhere near Chinese/Kyrgyz border."

But again, this theory rests on an extraordinary run through the radar systems of several countries.

Theory 7 - Langkawi Island - Because of Fire

Aviation blogger Chris Goodfellow argues that the left that the plane took, taking it out of its flight path to Beijing was due to an fire probably caused by electrical malfunction; the path change could have been a bid to reach safety as it was the closest spot of land from the plane. He said "This pilot did all the right things. He was confronted by some major event onboard that made him make that immediate turn back to the closest safe airport." He also says "Actually he was taking a direct route to Palau Langkawi, a 13,000ft (4,000m) strip with an approach over water at night with no obstacles. He did not turn back to Kuala Lumpur because he knew he had 8,000ft ridges to cross. He knew the terrain was friendlier towards Langkawi and also a shorter distance."

This may look like a good theory but it missed out some important aspects such as: the pilots never send a distress signals, which can just take seconds to do. If one pilot was driving the plane to safety, the other can send a signal. So why didn't he?

Theory 8 - Pakistan

Rupert Murdoch has tweeted ""World seems transfixed by 777 disappearance. Maybe no crash but stolen, effectively hidden, perhaps in northern Pakistan, like Bin Laden." However the Pakistani official insisted that the plane is not in their country as they have fixated eyes on their airspace; this is a reasonable argument as Pakistan has one of the most watched airspace in the world. Furthermore, despite remoteness of the country, there are also drones and satellites on Pakistan, so the plane would have been easily detected.

Theory 9 - Plane Hid in the Shadow of another Airliner

This is another unusual theory demonstrated by Aviation blogger Keith Ledgerwood. He believes that the plane was hidden under the shadow of another airliner so on the radar it shows up as one blip, but it only shows the blip of the airliner and not the missing plane. He argues, "It became apparent as I inspected SIA68's flight path history that MH370 had manoeuvred itself directly behind SIA68 at approximately 18:00UTC and over the next 15 minutes had been following SIA68." He also says "It is my belief that MH370 likely flew in the shadow of SIA68 through India and Afghanistan airspace. As MH370 was flying 'dark' without a transponder, SIA68 would have had no knowledge that MH370 was anywhere around, and as it entered Indian airspace, it would have shown up as one single blip on the radar with only the transponder information of SIA68 lighting up ATC and military radar screens."


Theory 10 - Struggle on the Plane

Another unusual theory which suggests that the plane was flown very unsteadily at different altitudes as at some point it flied far above its "ceiling", flying at 45,000 ft; then shortly after flying extremely low. This suggest there might have been a struggle between the pilots and a passenger (possibly a terrorist).

Theory 11 - Terrorist Attack

This is one of the most common theories. The plane is believed to be hijacked by terrorists, whom entered the cockpit and took out the pilots. It is believed to be flew off to an isolated place and then it will appear and a 9/11 style attack can be committed anywhere. However, it would be difficult to land, hide and take the plane off again, but some people suggest that it is actually still flying outside of country airspace, so the terrorists can plan out where to attack. This is an interesting theory and it can't be ruled out.

Theory 12 - Cyber Hijack

A very interesting theory is that cyber criminals used high tech (or simple) equipment on the ground to actually remotely control the plane and to fly it on another path just like a video game! If this is true, it would be the world's first cyber hijack and it would make world history as it would be the most major aviation disaster since 9/11.

Theory 13 - Zombie Plane

This can indeed be made into a horror film as the title suggest, the plane is basically a zombie. Wolf Blitzer mentioned the possibility that smoke or fumes knocked out the passengers and pilots; so the plane was left on autopilot. Correspondent Suzanne Malveaux pointed out that it has happened before. This is also a crazy theory, but the fact that it happened before means it would be possible.


Conclusion

These are just a handful of many different theories out there and hopefully the plane will be found and all the passengers will be unharmed. If you want to explain your own theories, feel free to do so in the comments section.

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