#MH370 four years on: until the plane is found, theories run wild | World news | The Guardian
In the vacuum of information, theories – some more likely than others – have sprung up. These are the four main contenders:
Mass hypoxia event
The official theory, adopted by both the Malaysian government and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, is that the passengers and crew of MH370 were incapacitated by an unknown “unresponsive crew/ hypoxia event”. Hypoxia is a deficiency of oxygen.
Fire or accident
In the immediate aftermath of the disappearance, former pilot Christopher Goodfellow speculated that an electrical fire broke out on board. He said this explained the first turn towards Malaysia as Shah was searching for an emergency landing strip. He believes the fire then incapacitated Shah and the cabin crew, leaving the plane to fly south on autopilot.
Patrick Smith, another pilot, has cast doubt on the fire theory, saying it was unlikely MH370 could have continued for six hours on autopilot after a major fire. Officials believe Shah was unconcious, but have not offered any theories as to why or when this occurred.
The rogue pilot
Byron Bailey, a former RAAF trainer and captain with Emirates, believes the plane was under the control of its captain as part of a deliberate descent into the Indian Ocean.
This would radically alter the current search operation – and potentially explain why the plane has not been found. Current and previous searches assumed the plane dived steeply and suddenly, with nobody at the helm, near the location of the seventh handshake.
But if Shah was conscious, he could have manoeuvred the plane in a long, slow glide, travelling almost 200km further south. This also would have kept the plane more intact, with less debris.
A northern landing
Yet another theory says the plane is not near Australia at all, but rather to the north of Malaysia.
This theory stems from the way satellite data is calculated. After MH370 turned back towards Malaysia, its last known military radar point showed it travelling slightly north-west towards India.
Other armchair investigators have claimed to have discovered photo evidence of debris that places MH370 in various other locations, but all have been discredited.
On Monday, Peter McMahon, an Australian investigator, told the Daily Star he had discovered the plane on Google Maps near Mauritius and submitted photo evidence to the ATSB.
But the ATSB pointed out his images were more than 10 years old and predated the plane’s disappearance.
“The images sent to ATSB by Mr McMahon were captured on 6 November 2009, more than four years before the flight disappeared,” a spokesperson for the ATSB said.