Subscribe to our Telegram channel for the latest updates on news you need to know.
KUALA LUMPUR, March 19 — A former crash investigator extinguished today the possibility of an inflight fire forcing the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 off radars, saying data from the jet’s track marks so far did not support that theory.
Greg Feith, a former US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator, added that even if an electrical fire had occurred on board, there would have been enough initial warning for the pilots to do some troubleshooting, including sending out a mayday call.
“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. And you can’t take out the entire electrical system all in one fell swoop without really catastrophically compromising the structure of the airplane,” Feith, now an NBC News analyst, said on the US broadcast channel’s website today.
“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 and pilots can put on an oxygen mask,” he added, according to the NBC report.
But throughout MH370’s nearly eight-hour journey from 12.41am to 8.11am on March 8, no such distress signals were heard from the plane.
All that investigators have to go on are blips on radar screens and faint satellite pings that have now indicated that the plane stayed awake for all those hours, and could be anywhere within a search area that has been likened to the size of Australia.
The fire hypothesis now gaining traction among aviation circles was first proposed by pilot Chris Goodfellow, who suggested that events on MH370 was indicative of a crew battling with a sudden electrical fire.
Goodfellow said such a fire would explain why some of the plane’s electronics, such as the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) and transponders, were disabled.
The aviator also said the altered trajectory indicated that the pilots on MH370 were heading for Langkawi International Airport in the Straits of Malacca, possibly to avoid flying over the Titiwangsa Mountains in the event the plane was forced to descend.
But he also suggested that the plane’s disappearance indicated that the pilots could have been overcome by smoke, and that the plane then flew on to its doom.
On March 8, the Malaysia Airlines (MAS) jumbo jet disappeared mysteriously from radar screens in mid-flight, just under an hour after it had left the Kuala Lumpur International (KLIA) airport for Beijing.
Since then, the case has continued to baffle security and aviation experts the world over as the wide-body aircraft has left behind zero indication that it had crashed and very few track marks to indicate where it had gone.
One week after a large multi-nation search for the plane, Malaysia announced that MH370 was likely taken off course through “deliberate action” and that it was refocusing its investigation on the crew and passengers onboard.
According to data from satellites and military radar systems, the plane with 239 onboard departed from its programmed route to Beijing shortly after departing from KLIA and suddenly turned west to the Straits of Malacca, after which it has not been seen or heard from again.
The reason for its sudden flight path deviation is now the focus of investigations.
But according to investigators, the search of the laptop computers and emails of MH370’s pilots have so far not uncovered anything to explain why the MAS aircraft had been diverted off its programmed route.
In a report on the CNN news site today, US officials said they were briefed by Malaysian authorities who took the items from the Shah Alam homes of pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah and co-pilot Fariq Ab Hamid during searches on Saturday.
The investigators also said that scrutiny of the flight simulator Zaharie built to mimic the Boeing 777-200ER used for the missing plane found no suspicious flight paths that might have been used after the plane disappeared over the Straits of Malacca.
Malaysian authorities confirmed in an evening news conference today that some data had been deleted from Zaharie’s home-made flight simulator, and said experts were working to find out what it was.