MH370 was travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, China, on March 8, 2014, when it mysteriously vanished with 239 people on board. Captain Zaharie Shah was in control of the plane when it last communicated with air traffic control at 1:19am over the South China Sea. However, moments later, the plane vanished from civilian radar screens following a routine handover from Malaysian to Vietnamese channels.
Radar and satellite data shows how the jet suddenly changed course and flew back across Malaysia before turning south of Penang and then towards the southern Indian Ocean.
Former pilot Christopher Goodfellow claims this manoeuvre was carried out on purpose by Mr Shah following a mid-air emergency, in a bid to save everyone on board.
He believes the experienced captain was trying to land at Langkawi International Airport in Malaysia after a fire broke out in the cockpit.
He wrote in a blog post in 2014: “The turn [back across Malaysia] is the key here.
A former pilot believes there is a clue in Mr Shah’s flight path
MH370 went missing in 2014
We old pilots were drilled to know what is the closest airport of safe harbour while in cruise
“Zaharie Ahmad Shah was a very experienced senior captain with 18,000 hours of flight time.
“We old pilots were drilled to know what is the closest airport of safe harbour while in cruise.
“Airports behind us, airports abeam us, and airports ahead of us – they’re always in our head, always.
“If something happens, you don’t want to be thinking about what are you going to do, you already know what you are going to do.”
Mr Goodfellow went on to explain why Langkawi could have been a possible option for Mr Shah.
He added: “When I saw that left turn with a direct heading, I instinctively knew he was heading for that airport.
“He was taking a direct route to Palau Langkawi, a 13,000-foot airstrip with an approach over water and no obstacles.
“The captain did not turn back to Kuala Lampur because he knew he had 8,000-foot ridges to cross.
“He knew the terrain was friendlier toward Langkawi, which also was closer.”
Mr Goodfellow went on to explain how he believed a fire could have overwhelmed Mr Shah, though.
Mr Goodfellow believes the plane tried to land at Langkawi International Airport
The families of MH370 hope to find out the truth one day
He continued: “For me, the loss of transponders and communications makes perfect sense in a fire.
“There is the possibility, given the timeline, that there was an overheat on one of the front landing gear tires, it blew on takeoff and started slowly burning.
“Yes, this happens with under-inflated tires, remember [it was a] heavy plane and a hot night.
“Once going, a tire fire would produce horrific, incapacitating smoke.
“Yes, pilots have access to oxygen masks, but this is a no-no with fire.”
Mr Goodfellow went on to claim that the plane would have continued flying on autopilot after the crew were overcome by smoke until it ran out of fuel.
However, there appears to be a fatal flaw in Mr Goodfellow’s theory.
It fails to incorporate the data provided by the electronic ping detected by the Inmarsat satellite at 8:11am on March 8, 2014.
According to analysis provided by the Malaysian and US governments, the pings narrowed the location of MH370 at that moment to one of two arcs, one in Central Asia and the other in the southern Indian Ocean.
MH370 had 239 people onboard
It has been five years since the plane disappeared
Neither of these locations fit Mr Goodfellow’s theory
Greg Feith, a former National Transportation Safety Board crash investigator also revealed there should have been a distress call at some point, even if the Inmarsat data is somehow wrong.
He told NBC News in 2014: “Typically, with an electrical fire, you’ll have smoke before you have fire.
“You can do some troubleshooting.
“And if the systems are still up and running, you can get off a mayday call.”