That’s a question for the intelligence community to suss out, using their vast resources, analyzing “chatter” around the world and so forth. I just hope they do it quickly, before this becomes even more of a tragedy than it already is.
It seems pretty clear to me that the missing Malaysian Airlines 777 was definitely stolen, most likely with the complicity of one or both pilots.
The first thing they did was climb above 30,000 feet, which was the plane’s last reported altitude before they turned off the transponder. Now the plane was no longer responding to ground radar, so that they would only show up as an unidentifiable blip on the controller’s radar screen. They said “good night” to the controller – sounds like they were being handed off to the next one, with whom they never checked in.
The plane’s engines transmitted that they climbed to nearly 45,000 feet, which is above the plane’s maximum recommended operating altitude. Why? To put the passengers and non-cooperating crew members to sleep.
Remember, the plane took off after midnight. Everybody was no doubt hunkered down for the long overnight flight. The pilots only needed to surreptitiously let the plane’s cabin pressure altitude climb, instead of setting it at around 5000 feet, which would have been comfortable.
If they did it slowly enough, no one would have noticed. The passengers would have simply nodded off, never to awaken. I used to hear pilots joke about adjusting the cabin pressure to control unruly passengers.
At around 12,000 feet, the cabin masks should have dropped. Maybe they did, or maybe the system was disabled, which I believe could have been done by something as simple as pulling a circuit breaker. If they did drop and the passengers started using them, the oxygen supply would have run out after about 12 minutes, according to various sources.
Airlines are only required to have enough oxygen on board for the passengers to breathe for the amount of time it would take the plane to descend from cruising altitude to 8,000 feet, whereupon the ambient air would be breathable. And we all know the airline’s not going to go beyond that if they don’t have to.
The pilots have their own supply, and crew members have oxygen bottles in the cabin.
At 45,000 feet, hypoxia would have rendered anyone not breathing oxygen unconscious within less than a minute, with death occurring 4 or 5 minutes later. This would certainly explain why no one is answering their cell phones.
The plane’s rapid descent from 45,000 feet could have been because the remaining crew members were running out of oxygen, or it could have mushed around and stalled in the thin air.
An aviation hobbyist and blogger by the name of Keith Legerwood has a very plausible theory about where the aircraft went from there, that has got a lot of people talking. It seems there was another 777 in the vicinity of the spot where the Royal Malaysian Air Force radar last picked up the plane, after it had altered course and flown west out over the Malacca Strait, just south of the southern tip of Thailand.
Singapore Airlines Flight 68 (SIA68) was in the immediate vicinity, and on a heading towards the same airway waypoint that the missing flight appeared to be heading for when it was last seen on RMAF radar.
Legerwood believes the 777, with all of its reporting equipment turned off, could have slipped right underneath or above SIA68 and “shadowed” the plane. With just 500 feet vertical separation, and SIA68′s transponder transmitting its discrete code, the two would have appeared as one aircraft on any radar screen.
And because the missing aircraft’s transmitting equipment was disabled, the Singapore Airlines plane would have no clue the other plane was there. They certainly couldn’t see it above or below them (have you ever tried to look out of one of those cockpit windows?) and their equipment couldn’t detect it either. But because THEY were transmitting, the pilots of the now stealth plane could easily use their own detection equipment to maintain position with SIA68.
Although they weren’t responding to radio calls, it’s believed the radio equipment was still turned on, which would have enabled the pilots to monitor SIA68′s communication with controllers, to anticipate any heading or altitude changes. Other pilots who attempted to contact the plane reported hearing muffled conversations and cockpit noises through the radio, but no response.
Legerwood was able to obtain SIA68′s complete flight path, across the Andaman Sea into the Bay of Bengal and finally into India’s airspace. Those searching the Indian Ocean for wreckage maintain the plane could not have penetrated India’s airpace unnoticed, but in this scenario, I believe it could.
SIA68 continued across India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan, and then crossed Europe to its destination of Barcelona, Spain. I doubt our missing airplane is in Spain, however there’s an awful lot of stans along the way, with a lot of wide open spaces to land and stash a plane and a lot of hostile people to hide it.
Supposedly you need at least 7,000 feet of runway to land a 777, and the experts are saying that any airport with a big enough runway would also likely have a tower and air traffic control and so the plane could not have surreptitiously landed at one of them. Not without, say, some sort of prior coordination by complicit personnel. I think anyone who could have pulled off the rest of this scenario certainly could have managed a landing spot and place to hide the 777.
I remember during the first Gulf War they would shut down a stretch of Tapline Road periodically to land and take off C130s. A flat stretch of road out in the desert somewhere and some camouflage netting are really all they would need, especially if it was somewhere no one was looking, like anywhere but the Indian Ocean.
So why steal a 777? To fill it with gas and explosives and fly it into a high profile target? Could the same “shadowing” maneuver be used again, to penetrate other airspace? Or could a scheduled airline flight into Washington, DC be blown out of the sky at some point in its flight by a missile, and replaced immediately by another 777 slipping into its airspace, emitting the
same transponder code of the downed aircraft?
Was pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah sufficiently outraged that Malaysia’s ruling party had used his own airline to charter as many as 16 flights a day from Borneo into Kuala Lumpur to fraudulently vote in the national election, ultimately securing their victory and control of parliament despite the opposition party winning the popular vote, to seek revenge? In which case, will the plane be used for a local attack in Malaysia or is it part of a bigger terror network like Al Qaeda?
I hope smarter people than me are looking at this, because I think concentrating all the effort on the Indian Ocean is stupid. Nobody goes to all the trouble to steal an airplane full of people just to fly it quietly into the ocean without a peep, or a “hey look at me” or “Allah will prevail.”
What the pilots didn’t count on was the aircraft continuing to respond to satellite pings, which tell us the airplane continued for fly for some eight hours. They probably thought it would be assumed lost at sea and eventually forgotten. Then once the alert level goes back down, and everybody gets complacent again, they could put their ultimate scheme in motion.
Check out http://keithledgerwood.tumblr.com/post/79838944823/did-malaysian-airlines-370-disappear-using-sia68-sq68 for more details.
That’s diabolical Peewee!
Hey how’d your job interview go ?