A woman writes on a banner of well wishes for the passengers of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 at Kuala Lumpur International Airport yesterday. – Reuters pic, March 15, 2014.
In the first few hours after Flight MH370 went missing last Saturday, the immediate thought was that it had somehow crashed along the route to Beijing. The notion that hijackers were responsible seemed far-fetched.
A week later, evidence points to the Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777-200ER being deliberately flown west, and today, Reuters reports that data showed it might have run out of fuel and finally crashed in the deep Indian Ocean.
The Wired magazine reported this week that hijacking was not thought of at first because since the 9/11 attacks, commercial pilots have been trained to prevent the weaponisation of their planes by never unlocking their cockpit doors for hijackers – even if the lives of passengers are being threatened.
Even if the MH370 captain or first officer broke with official policy and opened the door, why wouldn’t one of them first use the jet’s transponder to squawk “7500”, the universal code for a hijacking in progress, the magazine asked.
It also said another possibility was that a crew member was the culprit, much like the Ethiopian Airlines pilot who recently diverted his Boeing 767 to Geneva in search of political asylum.
But assuming the motive in such a caper would be escape to a foreign land, the pilot-turned-hijacker would have no clear reason to shut down the plane’s communications systems; doing so would vastly complicate his journey.
“Early on, then, the smart money was on the disappearance being the result of a catastrophic mechanical failure that had caused the plane to plummet from the sky, and that it was only a matter of time before bits of wreckage started to wash ashore,” according to the Wired article.