What’s the plane truth?

March 21, 2014 - 12:00:00 am

Investigators shouldn’t discount the possibility of pilot ingenuity misfiring and putting MH370 into trouble. 

The sighting of two floating objects off the Australian coast is being seen as adding a new twist to the flight MH370 saga. There have been instances in the twelve day search marathon for the lost aircraft, when investigators have claimed to be close to sighting something that might lead to a breakthrough. However, such leads have never given investigators a reason to be happy. 

Australia has said that it will take at least two to three days to find out the nature of the two floating objects. For now, one can safely say that the search for the 239 missing persons on the Boeing 777-200ER aircraft is as elusive as it has been since March 8, when it mysteriously vanished from radar screens. By now, the case of the missing flight has started reading like a high-octane detective tale. What really happened to the flight bound for Beijing has become an emotional story of the unknown fate of 239 people combined with the technological wizardry of aviation and the sophistication of search operations. 

Let’s assume that Malaysia did not spare any effort to look for the plane. However, the steps taken by the authorities sound facile if one digs a little deeper. From the moment the plane lost contact close to 1.30am, the web of mystery bordering on the intrigue has become denser. If one believes, and it is almost certain by now, that the transponder was switched off close to when the co-pilot radioed: all right, good night, why didn’t the air traffic controllers follow standard procedure so that air force jets could be scrambled to look for the missing plane. It is quite normal to send military jets to track missing commercial aircraft when they go off the radar and can’t be contacted by any other means. 

With time, passengers’ families are becoming restive. On Wednesday, there was bedlam in a Malaysia hotel when the mother of a passenger was bodily removed by securitymen while she was talking to the horde of international mediapersons. The episode exacerbated the damage to Malaysia’s image, which has been eroded in the aftermath of the tragedy.

Families wouldn’t want to believe the floating objects belong to the lost airliner because that would mean they have lost their loved ones.  Whatever the truth, it is hard to let the pilots off the hook. With the US Federal Bureau of Investigation tearing into the details of the flight simulator installed at the captain home, new facts may come to light. If the pilot was so obsessed with flying that he built himself a flight simulator at home, will it be too far-fetched to consider that the pilot may have been adventurous enough to try a new manoeuvre that went awry. The flying geek that he was, he would have thought of breaking new ground by his new-found move. The investigators should not ignore this angle in the probe.