The Boeing 777 vanished on on March 8, 2014, during a routine flight between Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur and Beijing and remains one of aviation history’s most enduring mysteries. The plane had just left Malaysian airspace, when for unknown reasons it changed course and then flew for more than six hours with its satellite and navigation systems turned off, before disappearing. A new theory suggests the ill-fated plane veered off course after being engulfed by flames in a devastating fire that killed all 239 passengers and crew on board.
Retired United Airlines pilot Captain Ross Aimer told Daily Star Online his “gut feeling” was that the 221kg of lithium-ion batteries in the airliner’s hold of erupted in flames shortly after take-off.
He said the plane could then have continued its flight even after everyone on board was killed.
Capt Aimer said: “The fire may have started during or shortly after take off, since things started to happen as soon as they levelled off.
“It is possible the fire killed everyone onboard then continued burning the aircraft until it crashed. Since the flaperon was discovered in the ocean, it most probably crashed into the ocean.”
A controversial safety report into the disappearance of flight MH370 found the plane was manually turned around in mid-air, rather than being under the control of autopilot, and that “unlawful interference by a third party” could not be ruled out.
But it dismissed theories that had suggested the pilot and first officer brought the plane down in a suicide mission and also ruled out mechanical failure as a cause.
It said all four of MH370’s emergency locator transmitters (ELT), malfunctioned, meaning they did not give off the normal distress signals that would help locate the plane.
The report noted that “there have been reported difficulties with ELT signals if an aircraft enters the water” but could not give conclusive reasons for the failure.
Attempts to locate the plane have been extensive over the past four years, turning into one of the largest underwater search operations in history, but have yielded no results other than three wing fragments that washed up.