Monday, March 17, 2014

Missing Malaysia Flight 370

I haven't commented on this because everyone else has and because I have nothing to add.  But as I listen to all the speculation, I do have some thoughts on what might have happened.   Some of the key factors would seem to be:
  • Intentional or Unintentional?
  • Who?
  • Why?
The chart starts to outline those choices:

The Why?

If it's intentional the two basic motives (I'm sure there must be more) that I can think of are personal and political/terror.

Personal could be any situation where someone wants revenge or to collect insurance or ??? - possibly in a way that can't be traced.  A business feud, a family feud, or any of the many different reasons people get very angry at each other.

Political/terror would be a situation where some group with relatively little legitimate power is using terror to make their statement.

That brings us back to Who?  There are the usual suspects
  • Al Qaeda and various offshoots.  
  • But this plane was headed to China and had lots of Chinese passengers.  And just on March 1, there was a terrorist attack in Kunming which the Chinese government tells us was mounted by Uighurs during the China's National People's Congress. So there's a possibility there too.
  • Some organization that's either under the radar or not previously connected with terror attacks.

If it was unintentional, something mechanical happened in the plane and it just went down.  But how do you account for the change in flight direction?  Were the pilots trying to go back after there were mechanical problems but the problems were too much?  Why no messages to aviation controllers?  Lots of questions here.

But if it was intentional, there are different options.

  •  I'm not quite sure what would be required to bring down a plane while one passenger attempted to kill another.  I suspect a gun wouldn't be enough. 
  • If someone loaded explosives into someone's luggage, this could have done the trick.
  • And someone on the ground attacking with missiles seems a stretch, especially since they were flying at such a high altitude.  
And none of these scenarios is consistent with the plane making a radical course change and continuing to ping for so long


Petronas Towers from What Do I Know?
Kidnapping - Uighurs possibly thought they could kidnap a plane full of Chinese hostages and negotiate with the Chinese government for concessions.  But given the other Uighur attack with knives in a train station, this seems like a pretty sophisticated plot.  And there is little likelihood the Chinese government would honor any promises that were made to save hostages.  More likely there would be harsh reprisals.

Suicide attack - The last major successful airplane suicide attack was 9/11.  Could plotters have tried to duplicate that effort by attacking the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur?  They were, for a while, the tallest buildings in the world.  What if they tried to take over the plane, but somehow the attempt was thwarted like the third plane in the 9/11 attacks and the plane went down? 

Obviously there are many possible scenarios.  I have no crystal ball, but I suspect that the eventual story, if we ever learn it, will fall within these options. 

Whatever the final story, one can't help but feel great sympathy for the passengers and for their families and friends as the agony of waiting drags on. 

1 comment:

  1. Since the satellite picked up signals several hours after the plane disappeared from contact, it seems impossible that it was unintentional. Planes occasionally have a mishap and continue to fly after everybody onboard is dead (remember Payne Stewart?) but they don't change course and altitude more than once while doing it. I suspect it's going to be quite a while before we find out the truth.


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