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19th Mar 2014

Missing Malaysia flight MH370: A look at what we know & don’t know

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 has been missing for 11 days now, so here’s an in-depth look at what we know along with the theories that aim to explain the fate of the missing plane.

Oisin Collins

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 has been missing for 11 days now, so here’s an in-depth look at what we know along with the theories that aim to explain the fate of the missing plane.

Fact – What we know…

There has been a lot of speculation over the fate of Flight MH370 as well as some pure and blatant lies, which we’ll get to in a moment, but for now, here a look at what we do know…

Flight path: Flight MH370 disappeared while en route from Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia, to Beijing Capital International Airport in China; a route that should have lasted just 6 hours and 25 minutes. However, neither the plane, a Boeing 777-200ER, nor the crew/passengers, all 239 of them, have been seen since March 8.

The plane took off from Kuala Lumpur at 00:41 local time and it was due to land in Beijing at 06:30. The last confirmed position from Flight MH370 occurred on March 8 at 01:30 local time. According to reports, the plane had another eight hours of fuel remaining at this point. The last words that Malaysian air traffic controllers recorded from Flight MH370 was at 01:19, and they were “All right, good night”.

This is the flight path that Flight MH370 should have taken…

Screen shot 2014-03-19 at 10.50.33

Pilots: The pilot and co-pilot were both highly experienced professionals with the captain, 53 year-old Zaharie Ahmad Shah of Malaysia, having 18,365 hours of flying experience under his belt, while the first officer (co-pilot), 27-year-old Fariq Abdul Hamid, had 2,763 flying hours. Both of the pilots’ homes have been investigated intensely and neither pilot is suspected of being maliciously involved with the plane’s disappearance.

Crew/passengers: Apart from the two pilots, there were 10 other crew members on board the flight, all of whom are Malaysian citizens, while there was also a further 227 passengers who have since vanished without a trace. Two thirds of the passengers are from China (152), while there were another 15 nationalities on board with passengers hailing from Australia (6), Canada (2), France (4), Hong Kong (1), India (5), Indonesia (7), Iran (2), Malaysia (38), Netherlands (1), New Zealand (2), Russia (1), Taiwan (1), Ukraine (2) and finally the USA (3).

Theories – What we don’t know…

From aliens to the Bermuda Triangle, there have been some hair-brained theories on what has happened to the missing Boeing 777 and all 239 people on board, so here’s a look at the more plausible ideas that are currently doing the rounds in the media.

  • Mid-air disintegration/depressurisation

One popular theory is that Flight MH370 simply lost cabin pressure in mid-air, which could have accidentally killed everyone on-board within a matter of minutes. With at least eight hours of fuel left, the plane could have gone into auto pilot and crashed somewhere along its flight path. Also, the plane may have disintegrated for a number of reasons high up in the air, making it almost impossible to find small pieces of debris that could have scattered miles apart from each other.

  • Mid-air fire/smoke filled cabin – everyone died mid-air

One of the most recent and certainly one of the more plausible theories comes from veteran pilot Chris Goodfellow, who wrote on his Google+ page: “What I think happened is that [the passengers & crew] were overcome by smoke and the plane just continued on the heading probably on George (autopilot) until either fuel exhaustion or fire destroyed the control surfaces and it crashed.”

It’s a good theory, certainly better than aliens, and it could explain why the plane took a sharp turn off-course shortly after taking off. The pilot, captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, could have been simply heading for an emergency stop off at the closest airport…

  • Hijacking/Possibly North Korea

It’s possible that the plane was hijacked in mid air. Hijacking incidents have happened a number of times in the past, so the idea can’t be ruled out just yet. One theory is that the plane was taken by North Korea for propaganda purposes. Why? Well, it wouldn’t be the first time North Korea hijacked a plane full of people for propaganda purposes.


  • Accidentally shot down

It’s also possible that another country’s air force or navy may have accidentally shot down Flight MH370. It’s not an overly far-fetched idea, seeing as it has happened in the past (the US Navy accidentally shot down a civilian Iranian airliner over the Persian Gulf back in 1988) and the potential offenders may just be doing their best to cover their tracks.

  • The Snowden Connection

Remember Edward Snowden? He’s the guy that lifted the lid on all the US spying last year. Well, one theory suggests that there’s a Snowden connection involved in this disappearance. Reddit user Dark_Spectre has theorised that the entire plane could have been kidnapped in order to get to employees of a Texas-based tech company, Freescale Semiconductor, who were believed to be aboard.


From Reddit: “So we have the American IBM Technical Storage Executive for Malaysia, a man working in mass storage aggregation for the company implicated by the Snowden papers for providing their services to assist the National Security Agency in surveilling [sic] the Chinese.. and now this bunch of US chip guys working for a global leader in embedded processing solutions (embedded smart phone tech and defence contracting) all together..on a plane..And disappeared.. Coincidence??”

No, not according to Mr. Spectre who says this was no coincidence. His explanation: “US intelligence got late wind that their flying brain-trust of 21 were going to be arrested/detained and interrogated upon landing in China and the US intelligence community deemed the risk too great to their Asian based espionage programs and took appropriate action to ‘sanitize’ the plane in flight.”

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