MH370 vanished on March 8, 2014, en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board. While the plane has never been found, investigators have pieced together evidence from primary radar, military radar and ‘handshake’ communication between the plane and a satellite to figure out an assumed route of where the plane went. Aviation expert Jeff Wise pointed out in his 2015 book ‘The Plane That Wasn’t There’ that this route is a very strange choice if the hijackers simply wanted to disappear as soon as possible.
For one thing, after flying along the boundaries between the military radar of different countries, it re-entered Malaysian airspace and flew right across it.
What’s more, after initially turning the satcom off, it was curiously turned back on again and stayed on the plane presumably ran out of fuel and went down.
Communications between the satcom on the plane and satellite 3F1, owned by British telecommunications company Inmarsat, are what have allowed investigators to track the plane to the southern Indian Ocean.
Mr Wise said: “MH370 could have simply disappeared if it had just turned its satcom off and headed out over the Pacific.
“Of course, it did neither. Instead, it turned back and re-entered Malaysian military radar coverage zone and them after traversing that and being in the clear once more the plane’s satcom came back on.
“It’s almost as if someone wanted to be seen. Seen but not in real time.”
Being “seen but not seen in real time” could mean one of several things.
One possibility is the hijackers wanted to be seen to avoid suspicion and stop anyone sounding the alarm in the first few hours after its disappearance, although this was somewhat ruined by not calling in to civilian air traffic controllers in Hanoi, who then started calling round to find out why.
Another possibility is the hijackers were deliberately leaving a trail so that investigators could track the plane and find out what they did and why.
Finally, the hijackers could have been flying at random to try and throw investigators off the scent, before flying off in its intended direction.
Indeed, the flight pattern of the plane seems to be very deliberate.
After it’s initial diversion, MH370 flew right along the border between the Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok Flight Information Region (FIR).
Former RAF navigator Steve Pierson told Mr Wise: “That’s quite clever. Because if you fly down the FIR boundary the controller on each side might assume the other was controlling you.
“Usually a civil air traffic controller would call his counterpart to check – military not so much.
“They might think ‘Oh, that must be the other country’s aircraft, that’s not my problem, I won’t worry about it.’
“And the other country thinks ‘Oh, that’s their problem, I won’t worry about it.’”
In this way, neither side tries to find out what the aircraft is doing or why.