It was March 8 when Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 vanished into thin air. But until now, its whereabouts remain a mystery to the families of the 239 passengers and crew, along with the rest of the world—who are all waiting in agony.
Investigators, aviation experts and news agencies around the globe are all investigating, hoping to pinpoint what really transpired to the Malaysian plane.
Countless of theories and logical hypotheses have surfaced, but all of them are flawed .
Here is a look at the eight leading theories.
1. Pilot involvement
Pilots-suspects: Capt. Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53 has been a pilot for Malaysia Airlines since 1981, and was reportedly a fanatical supporter of Anwar Ibrahim, leader of the opposition party in Malaysia. Co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid, 27 just started flying a 777. Both pilots, from what little is known of them, do not appear to have any psychological problems.
Thus, the theory that the pilots killed themselves and committed mass murder did not have the ring of truth; that is, until the black box is finally obtained and the last hours of the flight comes to light.
According to reports, “the plane’s transponder stopped signaling its location to air-traffic controllers and other planes at the perfect moment: the handoff from Malaysia’s controllers to those in Vietnam.”
It added that after the co-pilot told Malaysian controllers, “All right, good night,” no radio contact transpired again while the plane rapidly turned and kept flying for up to seven hours.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak believes that “the communication systems were manually switched off and the airliner was deliberately diverted” based on the evidence presented.
In their quest to find possible evidence linking to Malaysian Airlines Flight 370’s sudden disappearance, Malaysian authorities have raided the homes of Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah and co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid but found nothing that would pin them down as the ones responsible for the jet’s disappearance.
Terence Fan, an aviation expert at Singapore Management University, believes that the pilots’ suicide bid is possible. He said, “If that’s the case there might not be a lot of debris because the plane would have come down in relative structural integrity.”
He added, “The aeroplane is not meant to float and if the aeroplane sinks in the water, water will go inside because the door seals are not meant to seal water.”
A SilkAir crash in 1997, and an EgyptAir crash in 1999 were believed to have been the results of deliberate actions by pilots.
It was also found that in 2011, Flight 370′s co-pilot and another pilot invited two women boarding their aircraft to sit in the cockpit for an international flight.
2. Terrorists in action
Possible terrorists on board. This theory came out after it was discovered that two Iranians were on board—and were travelling on stolen passports.
Though the investigators didn’t find any trace that the two suspected carriers of stolen passports—one, 18 and the other, 28—are connected to terror groups, they still found the hypothesis logical.
3. Sudden Catastrophe
The sudden catastrophe theory was first suspected by aviation experts—but as the investigation progresses, its possibility decreases.
The typical scenarios: A bomb on board, or an engine failure.
But the biggest question of aviation experts and investigators was: Why were pieces of the plane not visible on radar?
In its 19-year history, the Boeing 777 had just one crash—the Asiana Airlines crash in San Francisco, which happened in 2013.
It was theorized that MH 370’s sudden disappearance from the radars could be possibly due to an electrical fire or a fire from hazardous cargo. The fires were believed to have shut down all communications equipment and prevented crewmembers and passengers from calling for help.
What if the pilots were debilitated because of the smoke? Investigators pointed out a hole in this theory. If that were the case, they said, flight attendants and passengers would have had the time to try to enter the cockpit and take control of the plane.
Aviation experts and investigators are also looking at the theory that the crewmembers and the passengers were killed due to a slow or sudden decompression, causing a loss of oxygen.
But again—the flaw. Provided that the oxygen levels dropped, a loud, automated warning would have alerted the pilots to instruct the passengers to put on their oxygen masks and immediately descend below 10,000 feet (3,050 meters), where there is enough oxygen to breathe without aid.
In 1999, golfer Payne Stewart’s business jet plane depressurized and killed its occupants.
But if that was also the case for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, aviation experts said that the plane should have been visible on the radar as it should have kept flying automatically toward Beijing.
6. Hidden plane
Another theory surfaced that someone might have landed the plane at some remote airport to hide it from the world.
Possible scenarios presented were: A group wanted to hostage the passengers, or they wanted to rob something of great value in the cargo; or they planned to load it with jet fuel and explosives and use it as a missile in the future.
Again, all these scenarios had flaws. According to investigators and aviation experts, “a skilled pilot would have to land the plane at a small airport that normally doesn’t accommodate 777s.”
7. Accidental shoot-down
History suggests that accidental shoot-down could be another possible scenario.
In July 1988, the United States Navy missile cruiser USS Vincennes accidently blasted down an Iran Air flight, killing all 290 passengers and crew. In September 1983, a Korean Air Lines flight was likewise shot down by a Russian fighter jet.
As of this writing, there is no evidence that a government entity brought down Flight 370.
As the investigators and aviation experts continue to unmask the mystery behind the sudden disappearance of MH 370, they formed another theory: some countries are just covering up the plane’s likely whereabouts due to an alleged security risk.
According to Jakarta-based independent aviation analysts Gerry Soejatman, it is bizarre that no one had detected the Malaysian plane on its radar, considering that the aircraft flew north across Asia, following one of two air corridors currently being searched.
“It’s extremely difficult to comprehend that so many countries might have seen it and kept it under wraps,” he said.