Five chilling clues that could help solve MH370 mystery as plans for new search mean wreckage could be found in 2023
EIGHT years into the search for the doomed MH370 jet, five clues could help crack the world’s biggest aviation mystery.
Just 39 minutes into its journey from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014, the flight lost contact with ground control and crashed at an unknown location – killing all 239 people on board.
Experts and amateur detectives have written 150 books about the aviation mystery during the lengthy search for the flight.
The official script for the Boeing-777’s disappearance suggests the plane executed a dramatic U-turn less than an hour into its planned flight before plummeting into the Indian Ocean.
Several other theories have suggested the plane was hijacked while others have claimed the aircraft was down by the US Air Force or that the plane was in “cruising mode” when it crashed.
Malaysian authorities believe the last words heard from the plane, from the pilot or co-pilot, were “good night Malaysian three seven zero”.
But it has been one of the world’s most enduring mysteries.
Five clues could now help untangle how the jet vanished off the face of the earth – and plans for a new search mean the wreckage could be found in 2023.
Landing gear door
A piece of debris from the flight provides a bombshell clue of a criminal plot to sink the plane forever, experts have claimed.
The landing gear door from the Boeing 777 was found at the home of a Madagascan fisherman in November – and it’s thought to be the first physical evidence to suggest the jet was crashed deliberately.
Richard Godfrey, a British engineer, and Blaine Gibson, an American MH370 wreckage hunter, believe damage to the landing gear door – known as a trunnion door – suggests one of the pilots lowered the aircraft’s wheels in the last seconds of the flight, pointing to criminal intent.
Pilots don’t usually lower the landing gear during an emergency landing on water as it increase the chances of the jet violently breaking up into many pieces.
It also increases the chances of the plane sinking quickly – limiting the time for survivors to get out, the experts said.
Godfrey told The Times that the discovery of the landing gear door was “the first item of physical evidence that indicates a possible criminal intent behind the demise of MH370”.
A report published by the pair said: “The combination of the high speed impact designed to break up the aircraft and the extended landing gear designed to sink the aircraft as fast as possible both show a clear intent to hide the evidence of the crash.
“The realistic possibility that the landing gear was lowered shows both an active pilot and an attempt to ensure the plane sank as fast as possible after impact.”
In their conclusions, Godfrey and Gibson point to damage on the door that they believe was caused by one of the aircraft’s two engines disintegrating on impact – suggesting the wheels were down.
The engines on a Boeing 777 are made up of a fan at the front, a compressor and a turbine at the back.
The researchers suggest the plane’s four-inch damaged compressor blades match the four-inch slashes seen on the door.
And former French Air Force air traffic controller, Gilles Diharce, said damage to the jet’s flaperon – which was the first piece of debris to be found on Reunion Island in 2015 – suggests the plane glided rather than spiralling out of the sky.
An aircraft’s flaperon helps to control the plane’s speed and position and is used during landings.
Gilles has never been able to analyse the debris up close only through images shared with the public before a report by the French DGA came to the same conclusion in 2019.
Talking about the plane’s final descent, he said: “It’s not easy to understand how the plane was flown at this point, it’s a hypothesis. What we can consider is that the search was unsuccessful.
“The officials made some assumptions in order to define the search area. On the seventh Arc, we know the aircraft sent messages to the satellite to regain contact.”
“They considered that it was a high-speed crash at the end. I’m not totally sure of that.
“The first debris found was the flaperon… the back of the flaperon is called the trailing edge. This part was not present on the flaperon.
“It could suggest the flaperon was still moving upward when it hit the water.
“We don’t have this debris if you have a high-speed crash.”
‘Soft ditching’ theory
Gilles believes MH370 was downed intentionally in the South Indian Ocean – in a spot that has never been searched.
He spoke to The Sun Online about evidence that he says proves the disappearance of the Malaysian Airlines Flight was no accident.
A study Gilles worked on suggests that the pilot could have been attempting a “soft ditching” – a controlled emergency landing, during the flight’s final descent into the ocean.
This goes against official reports that point to a high-speed “death spiral” crash in a spot known as the Seventh Arc.
Gilles worked on a study carried out by aviation experts Patrick Blelly and Jean-Luc Marchand that claims that in his final moments, the pilot could have turned on the plane’s backup power system to regain control of the aircraft when both engines failed due to fuel exhaustion.
It would explain why the plane’s communication system suddenly turned on and tried to connect to the satellite system, Inmarsat.
The report suggests the pilot then landed the plane in a controlled glide – but that this did not go as planned and the choppy waters caused the aircraft to split into two or three parts.
Gilles believes the glide could have been a deliberate attempt to sink the wreckage with as little debris as possible.
The report suggests the plane glided into the ocean instead of the “death spiral” suggested in official reports after the left engine “flamed out”.
With only one engine still functioning the plane’s rudder would have been used to keep the aircraft straight to stop it from spinning in a high-speed crash.
Gilles believes that the lack of debris from the crash also points to a ditching attempt and that MH370 could have broken into two or three parts mentioned in the report.
The attempted ditching of the plane has led French investigators to map out a different search area for the doomed aircraft.
Blelly and Marchand refined a new search area that is consistent with Gilles’s initial site.
Plane’s communication system
Gilles explained how the plane’s communication system could provide another clue on the aviation mystery.
He said passenger planes are equipped with several backup systems should anything onboard fail – meaning it would be impossible not to make contact in an emergency.
A serving member of the French Air Force for 17 years, Gilles said: “It’s impossible to consider that this plane had a technical failure.
“When you study the first part of the disappearance, it’s very difficult to explain that it was a technical fault with the aircraft but someone on the plane who didn’t want to call on the radio.”
MH370’s SATCOM communication system was turned off for approximately an hour after the disappearance.
It then reconnected for the duration of the flight over the Indian Ocean until a period between the Sixth and Seventh arc.
Talking about the first time the system is turned off, Gilles said: “It’s certainly surprising. At this time the SATCOM was powered up again so the question is why was the SATCOM not powered before?
“Is there someone in the cockpit who disconnected this electric power input?
“When the SATCOM has a new connection the plane should be able to send messages again that show the position of the plane every 30 minutes. That was not the case.”
Meanwhile, Richard Godfrey said he is also “very confident” he has found the exact spot where MH370 crashed.
He has been using new tracking technology in a bid to solve one of the greatest aviation mysteries in history.
With evidence collected over the last eight years, Richard has pinpointed the crash site 33.177°S 95.300°E and has narrowed the search area down to just 115 square miles.
Marine robotics company Ocean Infinity will use newly built “cutting-edge” autonomous robotic vessels to go over the area – covering 88 nautical miles wide and 183 nautical miles.
He claims the system using radio signals acting like “tripwires” has helped him locate the jet which he says lies 13,000ft below the surface of the ocean.
Godfrey believes the plane is about 1,200 miles west of Perth, Australia lying at the base of what is known as the Broken Ridge – an underwater plateau with a volcano and ravines in the south-eastern Indian Ocean.
The engineer said the new tracking system called Weak Signal Propagation Reporter (WSPR) is like having a “bunch of tripwires that work in every direction over the horizon to the other side of the globe.”
Godfrey combined the new technology with satellite communications system data from the plane.
He said: “Together the two systems can be used to detect, identify and localise MH370 during its flight path into the Southern Indian Ocean.”
The Brit says he is “very confident” he has found the missing plane which he claims crashed at 8.19am.
“We have quite a lot of data from the satellite, we have oceanography, drift analysis, we have the performance data from Boeing, and now this new technology,” he added.
“All four align with one particular point in the Indian Ocean.”
Richard said the CEO of Ocean Infinity will now meet with the Malaysian Minister for Transport to put forward the proposal.
The company will offer the Malaysian Government a “no find, no fee” deal unless the wreckage is discovered.
Richard also claims the pilot flew the doomed jet in circles to possibly check he wasn’t being followed.
Pilot’s emotional turmoil
In another clue to solve the mystery, the daughter of MH370’s pilot suggested her father was in emotional turmoil over the impending breakup of his marriage.
She said Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah was distracted and withdrawn in the months leading to the crash.
Zaharie had refused pleas to attend marriage counselling sessions to improve the relationship, and is said to have had extramarital affairs.
Malaysian investigators said Zaharie could have deliberately steered the Boeing 777 off course.
The pilot’s wife, Faizah Khanum Mustafa Khan, told investigators he had stopped speaking to her in the weeks leading up to the flight on March 8, 2014.
She said: “He just retreated into a shell.”
And his daughter Aishah Zaharie, 28, said during her final conversation with her dad she barely recognised him.
She said: “He wasn’t the father I knew. He seemed disturbed and lost in a world of his own.”
Faizah and Aishah, along with other family members, were interviewed in detail by police in Kuala Lumpur.
Aishah said she tried to persuade her father to seek the help of Islamic elders to try to mend the relationship but he refused.
The pilot’s wife and daughter said they don’t think he was responsible for the plane’s disappearance, despite his unusual behaviour.
But in 2019, a report in The Atlantic uncovered how an FBI examination of the simulator revealed that Zaharie experimented with a flight profile very similar to that of MH370.
He directed his path north around Indonesia, followed by a long run to the south, ending in fuel exhaustion over the Indian Ocean.
Dr Victor Iannello, an engineer and entrepreneur in Roanoke, Virginia, found something staggering during his independent investigations.
Of all the paths on the simulator, the one that matched MH370’s was the only one that Shah did not run as a continuous flight.
In all the others he would take off then let the flight play out until it reached its destination.
In the contentious one, Shah advanced the flight manually in multiple stages, repeatedly jumping forward and subtracting the fuel as necessary until it was all used.
Dr Iannello believes the suspected near-identical simulation was Shah’s way of saying goodbye.
He said of the real crash: “It’s as if he was simulating a simulation.”