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'Suicidal pilot deliberately crashed lost jet'

By Chiara Palazzo

Published 02/08/2016

One of the world’s leading air crash investigators has said he believes flight MH370 was “deliberately” crashed into the sea by a rogue pilot in a possible murder-suicide bid. Stock image of a similar craft
One of the world’s leading air crash investigators has said he believes flight MH370 was “deliberately” crashed into the sea by a rogue pilot in a possible murder-suicide bid. Stock image of a similar craft

One of the world’s leading air crash investigators has said he believes flight MH370 was “deliberately” crashed into the sea by a rogue pilot in a possible murder-suicide bid.

Larry Vance claimed that erosion on the edges of recovered wing parts suggested the plane was lowered to its doom in a controlled fashion. The erosion was caused by a part of the plane’s wing — called a flaperon — being exposed to the elements when it was extended.

The flaperon can only be extended by a pilot in full control of his plane, Mr Vance said.

Flight MH370 disappeared on March 8, 2014, with a total of 239 passengers and crew on board. The plane had been heading to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur when it vanished from radar screens.

For the past two years, investigators have combed more than 120,000 square metres of seabed using underwater drones, but they have been unable to establish what causes the disaster.

Mr Vance, who led the investigation into the downing of Swissair Flight 111 in 1998, told Channel Nine’s 60 Minutes in Australia: “Somebody was flying the airplane at the end of its flight. There is no other theory that fits.”

Previous theories suggested the plane crashed after malfunctioning or was shot down, with Australian investigators working under the assumption that no one was in control of the Boeing 777 jet when it disappeared.

But according to investigators, growing evidence points to a “rogue pilot” scenario in which Captain Zaharie Shah deliberately flew the plane off-radar before plunging into the ocean with more than 200 on board.

This has been denied by Shah’s sister, who said there was no evidence he was suicidal.

Pilot suicides are extremely rare. The most recent case occurred in 2015, when the co-pilot of a Germanwings Airbus A320 crashed his plane into the French Alps en route to Dusseldorf, killing 130 people.

Mr Vance added that the failure to find floating debris and lifejackets would fit the theory of a slow, controlled landing.

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