Suspicions continue to build as investigators search for answers
It’s been almost two weeks, and Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is still nowhere to be found.
After disappearing from radar an hour after take off from Kuala Lumpur on March 8, the search for the flight has sparked an international mystery – with new developments appearing every day.
Here are five.
1. Investigators have discovered that data was erased from the flight simulator taken from the home of the plane’s pilot, Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah.
Malaysia’s acting transportation minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, did not say who may have deleted the data when revealing the new piece of evidence on Wednesday, but assured authorities — including the FBI — are examining the hard drive in hopes of recovering the missing files.
Although the data deletion is not necessarily a sign that the pilot was behind the plane’s disappearance, experts consulted by CNN consider it “suspicious.”
“There’s no need to do it,” Jay Leboff, owner of flight simulator manufacturer HotSeat, told the outlet. He went on to explain that the files are extremely small, and often kept by pilots to gauge their progress.
2. The plane’s sharp, westward turn — which was detected by radar before losing contact — was programmed by someone in the cockpit at least 12 minutes before the plane’s co-pilot calmly signed off to air traffic controllers by saying, “All right, good night.”
According to CNN, it’s still unclear why, but the discovery corroborates a leading theory from investigators that the Boeing 777 was intentionally taken off course by somebody who knew what they were doing. There is not yet any evidence suggesting the two pilots deliberately changed flight direction, however, the casual conversation recorded in the cockpit after the programming change has been deemed suspicious by some experts.
3. China has cleared 153 of the 227 passengers on board the plane. Russia and Ukraine are the only countries that have yet to share background checks.
The large majority of passengers on Flight 370 came from mainland China or Hong Kong, and the Chinese ambassador to Malaysia announced on Tuesday that the government has found no evidence that any were involved in a potential hijacking or act of terrorism.
Investigators are carefully examining the histories of the 239 people on board for clues, and have received background checks from all nations with citizens on the missing flight, with the exception of Russia and Ukraine.
4. An experienced pilot believes the aircraft’s westward turn suggests Flight 370 was headed for a 13,000-foot runway at Pulau Langkawi, after experiencing “some major event onboard.”
Chris Goodfellow, a Canadian Class-1 instrumented-rated pilot for multi-engine planes with 20 years of experience, publicized his “simpler explanation” for Flight 370’s disappearance on his Google+ account before Wired picked it up on Tuesday.
He believes the flight “most likely” experienced an electrical fire — based on the the loss of transponders and communications — which forced the pilots to fly toward the closest, safest airport. A quick Google Earth search led him to believe that destination was a 13,000-foot airstrip located on the island of Langkawi.
“Zaharie Ahmad Shah was a very experienced senior captain with 18,000 hours of flight time,” Goodfellow wrote. “We old pilots were drilled to know what is the closest airport of safe harbor while in cruise. Airports behind us, airports abeam us, and airports ahead of us. They’re always in our head. Always. If something happens, you don’t want to be thinking about what are you going to do-you already know what you are going to do.”
Goodfellow went on to explain: “When I saw that left turn with a direct heading, I instinctively knew he was heading for an airport. He was taking a direct route to Palau Langkawi, a 13,000-foot airstrip with an approach over water and no obstacles. The captain did not turn back to Kuala Lampur because he knew he had 8,000-foot ridges to cross. He knew the terrain was friendlier toward Langkawi, which also was closer.”
Greg Feith, a former National Transportation Safety Board crash investigator, told NBC News that he had read Goodfellow’s theory, but there is no evidence to support it.
Watch Feith contest Goodfellow’s theory in the video below:
5. Mother of missing passenger dragged out of press conference in Kuala Lumpur after hysterical outburst:
The growing frustration from relatives of the 239 missing souls aboard Flight 370 was caught on camera Wednesday morning, when officials forcibly removed two screaming women from a press conference at a hotel in Malaysia’s capital city.
“I want my son back,” one of the distraught women said, according to NBC News.
The women were reportedly carrying a protest banner with Chinese script.
Watch the incident below: