A search and rescue operation is under way for MH370, Malaysian Airways Boeing 777 which was en route between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing. 239 people were aboard and it looks like there were no survivors.
The most effective aviators site to monitor incidents is PPRUNE, professional pilots rumour network. pprune.org.
Despite there being rumour in the title, its a cut above most other forums which discuss aviation.
Here are two facts about the flight which are starting to worry me. The first is that there were two people on board who were carrying stolen passports. The second was the extremely slow response by Malaysian authorities, who were still denying an incident two hours after the plane was due to land in Beijing.
While carrying a stolen passport is not that unusual in our crime-riddled world, the extraordinary fact is that both feature Europeans. One an Italian and the other, Austrian. Both were not on the plane. But their passports were, in the hands of someone else. And the ticket numbers were linked.
MH370 was carrying mostly Chinese passengers on a flight from Malaysia, while the other nationalities are all from Asia or Australasia, and an American, according to the manifest.
If one of those on board was in possession of a stolen Chinese passport, we could then put it down to co-incidence. But the fact that at least two passengers were carrying illegal Euro passports is very unusual and immediately raises a red flag.
As speculation starts about what’s behind the accident, there are two main scenarios.
1) Massive failure of the airframe – technical.
The crew did not report any problems, the plane simply vanished. Possible. Unlikely.
2) Act of terror – bomb.
Two men carrying large cases which were insufficiently screened by tired staff servicing a flight that took off close to midnight? Not out of the question, particulary as both carried “safe” passports – Europe. Possible. Likely.
While the wreckage has yet to be found, its starting to look like Malaysia has been drawn into some kind of act targeting China. Sorry to leap to conclusions, but other data from tracking agencies make this likely.
The plan descended from 35000 feet to 0 feet in 10 nautical miles according to FlightRadar24. While PPRUNE pilots are arguing back and forth about how accurate FlightRadar is, there’s no doubt that at at around 1.43 local it plunged into the ocean.
One of the puzzling aspects of this incident is that the Chinese have said very little. Why were the Malaysians so slow to respond?
Now the families of those involved wait. And if anyone leap to conclusions about the pilots, the PIC had over 18000 hours. But compare this incident with Air France 447 which stalled and fell into the Atlantic Ocean off Brazil. They are similar in that the crew failed to send a message, they were in an area where they had completed top of climb and on auto-pilot, and heading towards that post-midnight period where humans don’t perform too well when it comes to quick thinking. Still, I’m tending towards something more sinister.
The weather was excellent, the PIC highly experienced, no turbulence, a relatively short flight which means little chance of exhaustion, two men who weren’t who the said they were, it’s looking more like terror than the French flight.