A new theory about MH370’s final moments has been rejected by the official in charge of Australia’s search for the missing aircraft.
Last week, a panel of aviation experts claimed to have reached a consensus on the reason’s for MH370’s disappearance, alleging the aircraft’s pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah was conscious at the end of the flight and flew the plane into the sea in a “controlled ditching”.
The experts, appearing on 60 Minutes, said Zaharie depressurised the plane to knock out passengers and other crew, using emergency air supply to stay conscious before pressurising the plane for the rest of the journey.
Peter Foley from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) told a Senate estimates hearing in Canberra yesterday that the official explanation from the ATSB is that Zaharie was unconscious when the plane crashed into the ocean, reports the Guardian.
“What they fail to understand is that while you don an oxygen mask and prevent the worst of the hypoxia situation, you are flying an aircraft at 40,000 feet,” Foley said, according to the Guardian.
“You are taking an aircraft from sea level to Mt Kosciuszko in 20 minutes, then you are talking it, over the course of a couple of minutes, to the height of Mt Everest plus 1,000 feet. You’ll get decompression sickness too.”
Foley cited a similar situation documented by the US National Transportation Safety Board that took place in 1994.
“During the climbout, the flight crew was unable to pressurise the aircraft, and the captain elected to proceed with the flight.”
“The crew donned their oxygen masks and shortly thereafter the captain became incapacitated from decompression sickness. The first officer took command and they landed the plane.”
Foley explained that an analysis on pieces of debris salvaged from the crash supports his argument.
“We have an analysis of the final two transmissions that say the aeroplane was in a high rate of descent. We have 30 pieces of debris, some from inside the fuselage, that says there was significant energy at impact … We have quite a lot of evidence to support no control at the end.”
“We certainly listened very carefully to what Simon had to say. We certainly read the articles in The Australianwhere [another pilot] Byron Bailey said ‘Clearly the pilot has done this … He must have been in control at the end.’ But it wasn’t substantiated”
“We haven’t ever ruled out someone intervening at the end. It’s unlikely.”