One of the many problems that MH370 sleuths have in proposing scenarios that account for the mystery of its disappearance has been to explain a period in which the airplane flew between two points barely 60 nautical miles (or 111 kilometres) apart at an implausibly slow speed.

That part of its flight occurred well west of Penang after the Malaysia Airlines 777 had abruptly departed from its filed flight plan between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing early on the morning of March 8, 2014, with 239 people on board.

Queensland-based MH370 follower Michael Gilbert argues that at that point the plane’s pilots, who had been deprived of communications by a short but damaging cockpit fire, attempted to restore contact with Kuala Lumpur while keeping the lights of Banda Aceh in Indonesia in sight as they flew a loitering path safely away from other air traffic.

Gilbert’s new paper on this follows on his earlier hypothesis as to the causes of that cockpit fire, which has been reported with links to his calculations and conclusions here.

His analysis doesn’t involve criminally insane behaviour by one of the pilots to deliberately fly the Malaysia Airlines’ 777-200ER to the southern Indian Ocean, where it ran out of fuel, or to land it intact on the surface of the ocean, while it was deprived of fully functioning and powered control systems, before sinking it. Both types of claims, widely made by rent-seekers and ratbags, are not only unsupported by what evidence has been collected about MH370, but physically contradicted by forensic examination of key pieces of identified wreckage under the management of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau in Australia.

The one deeply alarming inference from Gilbert’s latest paper is that whatever had gone seriously wrong in the cockpit of MH370 during an attempt to restore communications then took an even more serious turn for the worse while it was loitering 30 minutes’ flying time from Penang.

This has to be so because at the end of that attempt the airliner’s satellite phone rang unanswered in the cockpit of MH370.

The timing of this may well tell us when the crisis on MH370 went from being one where the pilots thought they could save the flight to one where all hope was gone.

*This article was originally published at Crikey blog Plane Talking

Peter Fray

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