MH370 pilot was in control of plane till the end, new investigation shows, lending weight to suspicions of murder-suicide
The pilot of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 was in control of the plane “until the end”, French investigators reportedly suspect, after gaining access to “crucial” flight data.
The Telegraph and Le Parisien reports that the readouts “lend weight” to suspicions that he crashed into the sea in a murder-suicide, they were cited as saying.
The revelations based on Boeing data came days after a new account suggesting the pilot may have been clinically depressed, leading him to starve the passengers of oxygen and then crash the Boeing 777 into the sea.
MH370 was on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014, with 239 people on board, when it vanished and became one of the world’s greatest aviation mysteries.
In July last year investigators released a 495-page report, saying the plane’s controls were probably deliberately manipulated to take it off course but they were not able to determine who was responsible.
The only country still conducting a judicial inquiry into the crash is France, where two investigating magistrates are looking into the deaths of three French passengers, the wife and two children of Ghyslain Wattrelos – an engineer who met the judges on Wednesday.
According to Le Parisien, they informed him that Boeing had finally granted them access late May to vital flight data at the plane maker’s headquarters in Seattle.
Investigators, led by a judge, told Le Parisien that tight turns performed by the 777 “could only have been flown by hand”. Autopilots are programmed to bank gently. “Nothing suggests that someone other than the pilots had entered the cockpit,” an investigator said.
However, Mr Wattrelos, who has one surviving son, said the investigators told him that there was no proof a pilot had committed murder-suicide.
Early speculation focusing on technical failure, sabotage or hijacking has given way to the theory that a pilot changed course, switched off electronic equipment to conceal the Boeing’s position and flew until its fuel ran out.
Suspicion has fallen on Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53, the captain. An investigation last month by William Langewiesche, an aviation writer and pilot, said that expert analysis showed only a human pilot could have flown the course followed by the Boeing.
The French account is the first from officials to confirm that investigators have reached the same conclusion. Although the captain was cleared by the Malaysian authorities of any suspicion, Langewiesche quoted friends who said that he was depressed because his wife had left him.
He had also practised flights over the Indian Ocean similar to the MH370 course on a home simulator, Langewiesche wrote in his report in Atlantic magazine. After six hours “the plane dived into the ocean”, Langewiesche wrote. “Judging from the electronic evidence, this was not a controlled attempt at a water landing.”