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Malaysia Airlines MH 370


MH370 cover _Med
New book
The Crash Of MH370
Check out the link HERE

8th March 2016

MH370 What Happened?
Hear 6PR's Adam Shand segment
MH370 two years on.
Click the link: 6PR_MH370_Mar8th2016

7th August 2015

2015-08-01 Flaperon

The flaperon found washed-up on a beach a LaReunion island has been confirmed by Malaysia as having come from a Boeing 777. MH 370 is the only 777 that is currently missing. The part has been taken by the French DGA to Toulouse for testing by Airbus Industrie. Whilst Malaysian Airlines is saying the part is from the aircraft, the French are saying that the results are not conclusive at this stage.

Maybe it is from the B747 Sth African Airways freighter, flight
295, that crashed enroute from Taiwan to Mauritius on the 28th November 1987. Maybe it is from Ethiopian 961, a B767 which crashed off the Comoros Islands during a hijack on 23 November 1996. Surely, it is not too hard to decide which model it comes from.

Meanwhile, more wreckage has washed-up on the beaches of Reunion and is yet to be identified.


Monday 24th March 2014

On the 8th March 2014 I posted: 

“How do you lose a 777 at 35,000 feet 2 hrs after takeoff from KUL? 

No weather on the radar. 

1. Uncontrollable fire. 

2. Bomb. 

3. Accidental shoot down
(entering Vietnamese airspace) 

4. Midair. 

5. Hijacking. 

6. Over speed, manual recovery stuff-up, stall, loss of control. 

Totally perplexing. To not get a word out is very disconcerting.”

I omitted mention the possible seventh point,
Death By Pilot because it’s too hard to believe.

You don’t get to fly 777s in this industry by accident. Physics ensures the wings work, and to be paid to sit in the flight deck requires years of dedication, study and training. These two facts are indisputable.

Although suicide has been done by three pilots in the past, there are hundreds of thousands who professionally ply their trade. So, for me, it was always impossible to think that the pilots of MH370 would do anything other than try to complete a safe flight. 

They choose us for this job because - when all the psych test results come in - we are more than a little scared of dying. And that makes for a safety-conscious pilot. 

So, ticking-off the list, we start with fire.  95% of aircraft fires start within the first two hours of flight.

I originally discounted this theory based on the only real evidence available to those of us outside the investigation; the evidence of NZ Oil Rig Worker
Mike McKay.

He saw flames start, and go out, at altitude near where the Vietnamese radar trace concluded,
(his report is below).

That led me to assume a wing / engine separation, as a result of over stressing the airframe in a recovery from a stall and spin. Probably caused by an overspeed. I figured the lack of debris due to the aeroplane going straight-in … compressing the 777  - and its contents - to the size of a bus, like many crashes before.

No-one has publicly discounted his report.

Then the many reports about the aircraft being picked-up on radar west of the Malay Peninsula started to surface.

But these were refuted by the Chief of Royal Malaysian Air Force in a media statement on the 11th March*

Until someone showed me proof of westbound flight, I simply discounted-it.

Spurious radar returns happen in the real world, we get map shifts of TCAS targets when turning the aircraft … it’s normal.

So the staggeringly ridiculous high-speed climb to 45,000 feet defied physics and logic to me. Maybe 35,000 feet was mis-displayed by one digit for a few sweeps. Again, no-one showed us proof.

But now the
Inmarsat interrogation has been refined and checked. They now confirm a Southern Indian Ocean trajectory and loss of signal.

We have to respect that they have enough information to make that call.

So, back to fire.

The first thing about fire is that you don’t have much time. We can show the stats from the crashes in the past to prove - if you want - but take it as read; a fully developed fire in an aircraft is a life-threatening situation. The record for staying alive and aloft is about 19 minutes. 

It came home to all of us in Dubai when lithium batteries sparked a fire shortly after takeoff by a UPS Boeing 747 freighter with two pilots on board.

They were in Bahrain airspace, and instead of diving into Doha, they opted to return to Dubai
(the airport they knew). In this case seconds count. Time ran out.

They couldn’t see the radios to even change frequency, so great was the smoke on the flight deck. 

A South African pilot, doing his last flight before retirement, in the Sheikh’s 747 became the radio relay for UPS as they headed back to Dubai and out of Bahrain radio range. He recounted to a group of us the final chilling exchanges … a few minutes in the last flight of his long career that will haunt him to the grave. They haunt me too.

We held a minute’s silence for the crew at a Pilot’s Club meeting - to which we had invited the UPS Dubai Station Manager and the two overnighting UPS Pilots. That night affected everyone there.

So, flying the A380 at the time, with 565 souls on board a few of us developed a ‘technique’.

For at least the first two hours of every flight we have the charts of the nearest airport already displayed on our electronic flight bag
(a computer screen below our side window linked to a military grade laptop).

We get the current weather (via Acars) of the airports, so we can program the suitable runway into our secondary flight plan.

The Secondary Plan is then setup for the full approach and landing at each airport we pass.

In the event of a fire, the actions can be taken to:

 1) Immediately descend the aircraft to either the altitude of the start of the instrument approach or the minimum safe altitude
(terrain permitting). Dial in an altitude and pull Open Descent.

2) Activate secondary flight plan, with a couple of FMS keystrokes.

3) Select DIRECT TO the start of the ILS.

4) Select MED auto brake so the plane will stop on the runway - regardless of who is still alive.

5) Arm the ILS approach.

The plane is now going to fly down to the start of the approach and intercept it.

All you have to do is apply speed brake to increase the rate of descent … and decide on the speed. 

Flaps and gear depending on your location and time available. You wanna be the fastest pilot in the world to about 20 miles before slowing-up.

At the same time, the handling pilot is also calling
MAYDAY to clear the airspace, and get help from the ATC and Rescue Fire Services on the ground.

Even if you can’t see due to smoke, ATC can give you your Altitudes and Speeds. The Airbus altitude knob has a nifty feature, each click is worth one thousand feet and by selecting speed you can bleed the speed back in time to get flaps and gear out. 

As the initial approach point nears you can select gear down … and the aircraft will wait until you are at safe speed before lowering the wheels.

The Monitoring Pilot is running the smoke checklist, turning off electrical busses to isolate the problem - and running the smoke removal checklist which depressurises the cabin to blow the smoke overboard.

But few of us imagined this for MH370, because there was spurious reports of flights to 45,000 feet … and no radio contact.

The very first thing Pilots do in emergencies is share the problem with as many people as possible.
“Mayday Mayday Mayday” gets everyone’s attention. I have heard it twice in my career and it chills the blood. Other pilots grab pens and start writing what they hear. 

There was nothing in this case.

But now it emerges that the ‘abrupt turn around’ DID occur and the aircraft descended to 12,000 feet.

And at the end of that turn around was Lankawai Airport, and maybe a few others known to the local pilots. This was in their back yard.

Consistent with a smoke or fire situation.

If it started in the comms rack in the Avionics Bay
(underneath the Flight Deck), then maybe the Acars and radios were gone before anything became apparent.

So, what happened next? And if it got so low,
(some reports 5,000 feet) why didn’t it run out of fuel much earlier?

Let’s imagine that they didn’t pre-plan a secondary flight plan - like we do now
(in memory of the guys in the UPS 747). Most crews don’t.

Imagine also that the handling pilot, probably the experienced Skipper, figured that the fastest way to get down and across the peninsula was to disconnect the autopilot and hand-fly. Good decision.

At some point, after its crew and passengers succumbed to smoke, the aircraft was now flying - autopilot off - all by itself.

These big jets are inherently stable, that’s why they have dihedral wings. Give it a small upset and it will return to stability … provided it doesn't fly into an active thunderstorm cell or the ground.

Only sim tests will prove if, given a slight climb, will it climb all the way and nestle itself into its service ceiling given its current thrust settings? Thereby getting it into a cruise altitude which extends the range. Eventually the fuel ran out and she went in.

Maybe the fire checklist did its job, eliminating the cause of the fire. The equipment burned but not the rack and nearby components. After all, just about everything is made of fire-block materials these days.

But smoke kills - everyone. And it does it quickly. Much faster than people imagine.

Maybe they did the fire checklist and hadn’t completely actioned the smoke removal checklist.

When you think you’ll be on the ground in a matter of minutes, maybe you concentrate on flying the plane and putting out the fire - not a bad option.

To run the smoke checklist at the same time may be beyond even the best crew’s ability in these circumstances.

We may never know. 

But I prefer to think of these guys are heroes - fighting to the last to get their passengers and crew safely on the ground.

Not as terrorists, or pirates …
or idiots.

They’ve earned their seats in this huge jet. Until we learn otherwise, let's treat them with the respect they deserve.

Monday 24th March 2014


*The Royal Malaysia Air Force has rejected the media reports that it tracked the 777 after it turned west in a statement posted on its Facebook page and reproduced in full below.

(This statement could be read as confirming the substance of the reports, that the RMAF did in fact follow MH370 as reported.)


1. I refer to the Berita Harian news article dated 11th March 2014 on Search and Rescue Operations in the Straits of Malacca which (in Bahasa Malaysia) referred to me as making the following statements:

The RMAF Chief confirmed that RMAF Butterworth airbase detected the location signal of the airliner as indicating that it turned back from its original heading to the direction of Kota Bahru, Kelantan, and was believed to have pass through the airspace of the East Coast of and Northern Peninsular Malaysia.
The last time the plane was detected by the air control tower was in the vicinity of Pulau Perak in the Straits of Malacca at 2.40 in the morning before the signal disappeared without any trace, he said.

2. I wish to state that
I did not make any such statements as above, what occurred was that the Berita Harian journalist asked me if such an incident occurred as detailed in their story, however I did not give any answer to the question, instead what I said to the journalist was “Please refer to the statement which I have already made on 9 March 2014, during the press conference with the Chief of Defence Force at the Sama-Sama Hotel, Kuala Lumpur International Airport”.

3. What I stated during that press conference was,
The RMAF has not ruled out the possibility of an air turn back on a reciprocal heading before the aircraft vanished from the radar and this resulted in the Search and Rescue Operations being widen to the vicinity of the waters of Pulau Pinang.

4. I request this misreporting be amended and corrected to prevent further misinterpretations of what is clearly an inaccurate and incorrect report.

5. Currently the RMAF is examining and analyzing all possibilities as regards to the airliner’s flight paths subsequent to its disappearance. However for the time being, it would not be appropriate for the RMAF to issue any official conclusions as to the aircraft’s flight path until a high amount of certainty and verification is achieved. However all ongoing search operations are at the moment being conducted to cover all possible areas where the aircraft could have gone down in order to ensure no possibility is overlooked.

6. In addition, I would like to state to the media that all information and developments will be released via official statements and press conferences as soon as possible and when appropriate. Our current efforts are focused upon on finding the aircraft as soon as possible.

Thank You

Chief of Royal Malaysian Air Force

Released On:
11 March 14 Kuala Lumpur