The recent tragedy of MH17, and now the disappearance of Air Algerie flight AH5017bring memories of the still missing flight MH370. Theories are still abound to its whereabouts, including this from Chris Goodfellow.
Chris Goodfellow believes the pilot of the missing Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 was taking a direct route to Palau Langkawi airport, pictured, after an in-flight emergency. (Google Earth) A lot of speculation about MH370. Terrorism, hijack, meteors. I cannot believe the analysis on CNN – almost disturbing. I tend to look for a more simple explanation of this event. Loaded 777 departs midnight from Kuala to Beijing. Hot night. Heavy aircraft. About an hour out across the gulf towards Vietnam the plane goes dark meaning the transponder goes off and secondary radar tracking goes off. Two days later we hear of reports that Malaysian military radar (which is a primary radar meaning the plane is being tracked by reflection rather than by transponder interrogation response) has tracked the plane on a southwesterly course back across the Malay Peninsula into the straits of Malacca.
When I heard this I immediately brought up Google Earth and I searched for airports in proximity to the track towards southwest. The left turn is the key here. This was a very experienced senior Captain with 18,000 hours. Maybe some of the younger pilots interviewed on CNN didn’t pick up on this left turn. We old pilots were always drilled to always know the closest airport of safe harbor while in cruise. Airports behind us, airports abeam us and airports ahead of us. Always in our head. Always. Because if something happens you don’t want to be thinking what are you going to do – you already know what you are going to do. Instinctively when I saw that left turn with a direct heading I knew he was heading for an airport. Actually he was taking a direct route to Palau Langkawi a 13,000 foot strip with an approach over water at night with no obstacles. He did not turn back to Kuala Lampur because he knew he had 8,000 foot ridges to cross. He knew the terrain was friendlier towards Langkawi and also a shorter distance. Take a look on Google Earth at this airport. 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. For me the loss of transponders and communications makes perfect sense if a fire. There was most likely a fire or electrical fire. In the case of fire the first response if to pull all the main busses and restore circuits one by one until you have isolated the bad one.
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