You might want to read this article by the Washington Post Beijing bureau, to get some idea of the contradictory statements being made by Malaysian Airlines (considered one of the best in the region 26 years ago when I last flew them), the Malaysian government, and the Malaysian Air Force.
If it weren’t for angry and despondent family members we couldn’t even be sure the aircraft in fact ever veered off its original flight path to Beijing.
In fact, there is no hard evidence that the jetliner ever crashed, even less it exploded, or that the people on board are either alive or dead.
From the outset, the inability of air traffic control to report correctly the time the aircraft fell off commercial radar, by over an hour, (presumably by the transponder being turned off) tells us one of two things…an administrative cover-up, or gross negligence. When a transponder is shut off (an intentional act) it cannot be followed by commercial traffic controllers. It is no longer on their screens. But it can still be followed by military radar, and, as you know the Malaysian Air Force intervened in day 3 to say that the aircraft had turned due west (fixed time not assured) and crossed over the narrow neck of the Malay peninsula from the South China Sea to the Adaman Sea/Bay of Bengal side of Malaysia. If this is true, three days of searching in the wrong place has made searching in the right place all the more difficult, for any pattern-debris would be widely dispersed before anyone even bothered to look.
But from what this Washington Post article has said, virtually everything every Malaysian official has said, officially and unofficially, is now drawn into question. Beyond the fact that the aircraft is missing there is not one single fact that is 100% reliable.
Yes, there is a likely a cover-up in process, but not necessarily of the criminal or sinister kind. Malaysia, like India, was ruled by the British for hundreds of years, and their style of civil service and administration is very similar, in that, when something goes wrong, the first impulse and reaction is to avoid any hint of personal responsibility. If you ever went to the ticket window to pick up a rail ticket at any India rail station, before of after the British Raj, and the ticket wasn’t there, the first thing always out of the agent’s mouth is “I am not responsible.”
That there were massive screw-ups in processing passenger information is undeniable, but whether from negligence or criminal complicity is impossible to know. And Malaysian officials will not say until everyone has their stories straight. (Sound familiar?) The same about the course change due west. Saving personal, corporate, military and national face is at least an equal motive as protecting an unyet-identified criminal acts.
So, with not one scintilla of facts, no one can come up with a clean scenario as to what might have happened to MH370. All we have to go on is that the transponder was turned off, which requires an intentional act. Only, this particular Boeing 770 (we’re told) might be able to have its on-board computer system taken over by a remote source. But just how remote?
Malaysia is a Muslim country, but has no history of being associated with terror cells. Pretty nice folks, you’d find. But I am sure they are sensitive to this fact in this sort of event. But they are corruptible, especially in the “look the other way” variety, as might explain two Iranian kids with European passports boarding so easily. It is this “look the other way” penchant that I suspect Malaysian officials most want to disguise as they look for motives and a time line of events.
So we have to do some amateur profiling here to guesstimate the aircraft’s whereabouts. First, I think we can rule out “jihadist-suicide-terrorism” for the simple reason that that sort of event is always intended to send a loud statement around the world. Hiding the event is outside that profile. When the Egyptian Airline pilot, shouting “Allahu Akbar” , drove his airliner into the Atlantic, he was making a personal statement (we think) so still, while a kind of suicide terrorism was involved it was never linked to a larger cause.
It is possible to “sink” and aircraft with almost no trace, but it requires some skill. A nose-down crash leaves a lot of debris and oil. And in the intervening minutes, cell phones go on and people on the outside are contacted. A takeover of both the pilot’s cabin and the passenger cabins requires several people and arms. In other words, a well-planned attack, obviously with inside help from ground/baggage crew or other Malaysian employees is required.
This size aircraft had enough fuel to fly almost to London, at least western Europe, but would have quickly come under the scrutiny of many nations’ military, first of all, India. Between Malaysia and India there is only one airport that can handle large commercial jetliners (but a 777, I’m not certain) and that is the Port Blair airport in the Adaman Islands. Otherwise, possible safe haven could have been provided from Burma (Myanmar), but which would have required even greater advance planning. Or maybe Vietnam, which is also pretty leaky. China? I doubt it.
Without being able to come up with a motive, and actually, I believe Malaysian officials at some level already know what that is, it is impossible to say what might have happened to this aircraft. But we have seen no conclusive proof that has crashed, exploded or that passengers are all dead, so must at least hold out some hope they are alive.
Any day now, Malaysian officials seem to say, but if, when that day day comes, we need to insure that a full internationally-involved recovery is put in place, for if not, we will never get even an inkling of the true story. This much we do know.