A CANADIAN pilot with 20 years experience has a simple theory regarding the disappearance of flight MH370.
Chris Goodfellow, a veteran flyer, isn’t buying any of the complicated ideas that have been floated by aviation experts since the plane vanished 11 days ago.
In a lengthy Google+ post, Goodfellow argues that the missing Malaysia Airlines flight probably fell victim to a fire, not a hijacking.
A woman offers prayers in solidarity with the passengers of the missing plane.Source: AFP
He says the plane’s sudden left turn is the key piece of evidence.
“We old pilots were drilled to know what is the closest airport of safe harbour while in cruise,” he writes. “If something happens, you don’t want to be thinking about what you are going to do — you already know what you are going to do. When I saw that left turn with a direct heading, I instinctively knew he was heading for an airport.”
Goodfellow believe Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shahs was taking a direct route to Pulau Langkawi, a 3,962-metre airstrip with an approach over water and no real obstacles. If the plane had turned back towards Kuala Lumpur, it would have needed to cross a series of high ridges.
Goodfellow thinks the pilot was heading for this airstrip.Source: NewsComAu
According to Goodfellow, an electrical fire could explain MH370’s failure to communicate.
“For me, the loss of transponders and communications makes perfect sense in a fire. And there most likely was an electrical fire,” he says.
“In the case of a fire, the first response is to pull the main busses and restore circuits one by one until you have isolated the bad one. If they pulled the busses, the plane would go silent.
“It probably was a serious event and the flight crew was occupied with controlling the plane and trying to fight the fire. Aviate, navigate, and lastly, communicate is the mantra in such situations.”
Goodfellow also floats the possibility of a fire being caused by an overheating tyre on the plane’s landing gear.
“Once going, a tyre fire would produce horrific, incapacitating smoke,” he writes.
“What I think happened is the flight crew was overcome by smoke and the plane continued on the heading, probably on George (autopilot), until it ran out of fuel or the fire destroyed the control surfaces and it crashed.
“You will find it along that route — looking elsewhere is pointless.”
The former pilot has not been convinced by other theories that suggest the plane was hijacked.
“There are many ways a pilot can communicate distress,” Goodfellow says. “A hijack code or even transponder code off by one digit would alert ATC that something was wrong. Every good pilot knows keying an SOS over the mike always is an option ... So I conclude that at the point of voice transmission all was perceived as well on the flight deck by the pilots.”
Goodfellow suggests the pilots were unaware that the ACARS system was not transmitting, and says an electrical fire is more likely to have caused that problem than a deliberate shutdown.
A man recites the Koran after a special prayer session held for the missing Malaysian airliner.Source: Getty Images
He says the analysis offered by news outlets has been “almost disturbing”, and the plane’s pilots deserve better.
“There is no point speculating further until more evidence surfaces, but in the meantime it serves no purpose to malign pilots who well may have been in a struggle to save this aircraft from a fire or other serious mechanical issue,” he says.
“Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah was a hero struggling with an impossible situation trying to get that plane to Langkawi. There is no doubt in my mind.”
A young Malaysian boy prays, at an event for the missing flight.Source: AP
Goodfellow may have no doubts about his theory, but other aviation experts do. Greg Feith, a former crash investigator with America’s National Transportation Safety Board, has told NBC News that a fire would have given the pilots time to communicate.
“I’ve seen those remarks. I’ve seen the articles. If there was an electrical fire on board, there still has to be a source,” Mr Feith said. “And you can’t take out the entire electrical system all in one fell swoop without really catastrophically compromising the structure of the aeroplane.
“Typically, with an electrical fire, you’ll have smoke before you have fire. You can do some troubleshooting. And if the systems are still up and running, you can get off a mayday call.”