Kiwi pilot dismisses missing plane fire theory

16:00, Mar 20 2014
The MH370 story in pictures
The saga begins on March 8, when Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 departs Kuala Lumpur at 12:41am, local time. On board are 227 passengers and 12 crew.
The MH370 story in pictures
Captaining the flight of the Boeing 777-200 is 53-year old Zaharie Ahmad Shah, shown here on the right.
The MH370 story in pictures
At 1:21am the MH370's transponder stops signalling, halting the regular responses it usually gives to radar signals. The plane makes a series of strange but controlled movements, turning west sharply, then climbing above its designed height limit and back down.
The MH370 story in pictures
At 1.30am, on point 4, the plane is spotted for the last time on civilian radar. At 2.15am, on point 5, military radar spots it, although it is not clear at the time that this was MH370. Satellite data suggests the plane could also have angled towards point 6.
The MH370 story in pictures
At 6.32am air traffic control in Kuala Lumpur sends a radio signal on an emergency channel asking MH370 to contact them. The plane is now overdue at Beijing Airport, shown.
The MH370 story in pictures
Relatives of passengers despair, and the search begins.
The MH370 story in pictures
International news media focus on the story immediately.
The MH370 story in pictures
Multiple false leads pop up, like this oil spotted by a Vietnamese search plane.
The MH370 story in pictures
Malaysian government and airline officials have released confusing and contradictory information. Here, Malaysian Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, left, and Department of Civil Aviation director general Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman take questions at a press conference.
The MH370 story in pictures
Concerns are raised when it becomes apparent that two Iranian men, shown here, boarded the plane with stolen passports. Interpol rejects the suggestion of terrorism, however, concluding the men were probably asylum seekers.
The MH370 story in pictures
The search intensifies, covering new areas with a wide array of international support.
The MH370 story in pictures
The search intensifies, covering new areas with a wide array of international support.
The MH370 story in pictures
The search intensifies, covering new areas with a wide array of international support.
The MH370 story in pictures
The search intensifies, covering new areas with a wide array of international support.
The MH370 story in pictures
The search intensifies, covering new areas with a wide array of international support.
The MH370 story in pictures
Outpourings of grief and support are expressed worldwide.
The MH370 story in pictures
Outpourings of grief and support are expressed worldwide.
The MH370 story in pictures
Outpourings of grief and support are expressed worldwide.
The MH370 story in pictures
Outpourings of grief and support are expressed worldwide.
The MH370 story in pictures
Outpourings of grief and support are expressed worldwide.
The MH370 story in pictures
The anguish of the relatives is palpable.
The MH370 story in pictures
The anguish of the relatives is palpable.
The MH370 story in pictures
The anguish of the relatives is palpable.
The MH370 story in pictures
The anguish of the relatives is palpable.
The MH370 story in pictures
Theories abound. Fellow pilot Chris Goodfellow has suggested that a tyre may have caught fire, causing the pilots to turn towards the closest suitable airport, with the rapid ascent and descent perhaps representing an attempt to extinguish the fire. Critics of this theory have pointed out that the change in path was programmed into the plane's computer 12 minutes before the calm toned "good night" transmission, suggesting the change in course was planned.
The MH370 story in pictures
Given the amount of fuel on board, the plane could have made it as far north as Kazakhstan, on a possible flight path shown in orange.
The MH370 story in pictures
Or somewhere southwest of Australia, on a possible flight path shown in orange.
The MH370 story in pictures
Others have speculated that the pilot or co-pilot may have intentionally crashed the plane. The FBI is trying to restore deleted simulator-flights from Pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah's computer – but these could be innocuous. Critics of the crash theory say neither the pilot nor co-pilot had ever expressed any kind of radical sentiment or displayed mental issues, and both possessed adequate flying experience.
The MH370 story in pictures
The ever-present worry of terrorism remains. No groups have claimed responsibility for the incident, and a political motivation is unclear - but that doesn't rule it out.
MH370
On March 20, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott told his parliament that objects had been spotted in waters hundreds of kilometres off the western Australian coast. Further searches, by Australian, New Zealand and US planes, were needed to find out if they were part of the missing plane.
Perth
The crew of one of two Chinese Air Force Ilyushin Il-76 aircraft used in the search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 walk away from their plane in Perth.
MH370 search
Thirty-eight days after the plane went missing, an Australian navy ship is guided into position by a Royal New Zealand Airforce P-3K2 Orion aircraft. Officials say they will deploy an underwater robot to aid in the hunt.
MH370
Announcing that an underwater drone will be deployed imminently, Joint Agency Co-ordination Centre chief Angus Houston says an oil slick has been detected in the search area for the missing plane.

An experienced Hamilton pilot has challenged suggestions the crew on board missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 were overwhelmed by an aircraft emergency - saying evidence pointed to a hijacking or pilot suicide.

Hamilton commercial pilot and city councillor Ewan Wilson's comments came as the search for possible wreckage of the plane started off the coast of Perth, Australia, last night.

Theories on what may have happened to the aircraft took another turn this week when a senior Canadian pilot, Chris Goodfellow, argued the crew on board flight MH370 may have been overwhelmed by fire.

The flight carrying two New Zealanders vanished on March 8 while flying over the South China Sea.

Mr Goodfellow said indications that the loaded Boeing 777 took a left turn suggested the pilot was heading for an airport at Pulau Langkawi.

"He was confronted by some major event on board that made him make an immediate turn to the closest, safest airport," Mr Goodfellow said.

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The loss of transponders and communications on board the flight made "perfect sense" in a fire.

"What I think happened is the flight crew was overcome by smoke and the plane continued on the heading, probably on . . . autopilot, until it ran out of fuel or the fire destroyed the control surfaces and it crashed."

But Mr Wilson said he was not convinced by Mr Goodfellow's scenario, adding he would be "astonished" if the crew was overwhelmed by an aircraft emergency.

Mr Wilson, who is studying toward an air accident investigation qualification, said available evidence suggested "clear, deliberate steps" were taken to shut down the aircraft's normal functions.

"If the argument is there was an overwhelming electrical failure and the pilot had to pull the main fuse it would have shut down the ACARS (data monitoring system) and transponders at the same time," he said.

"Instead ACARS was shut down first and some 14 minutes late the transponders were shut down. The reality is if there was an overwhelming fire, how does he [Mr Goodfellow] explain the fact the aircraft continued to operate for up to another eight hours?"

Mr Wilson believed the missing aircraft was instead the victim of a hijacking or pilot suicide.

"I'm convinced one of the crew or somebody who is incredibly well trained on the 777 played an active role," he said. "The debate is was the pilot operating on their own or was one of the pilots operating with a group of other individuals."

Mr Wilson, who has been flying for 28 years, has been in Australia completing a course examining the role of human factors in transport accidents.

Waikato Times