The Daily Caller

The Daily Caller
Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER flight MH318 to Beijing sits on the tarmac as passengers are reflected on the glass at the boarding gate at Kuala Lumpur International Airport at approximately 12:20am March 17, 2014. Malaysia Airlines flight number MH318 replaces the flight number of the missing airplane, MH370, that was retired as a mark of respect to the passengers and crew while the flight route remains unchanged. Reuters photographer Edgar Su boarded the flight in Kuala Lumpur on March 17 and documented the journey to Beijing. This is picture number 1 of 23 in this series. REUTERS/Edgar Su (MALAYSIA - Tags: TRANSPORT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTR3HDWS Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER flight MH318 to Beijing sits on the tarmac as passengers are reflected on the glass at the boarding gate at Kuala Lumpur International Airport at approximately 12:20am March 17, 2014. Malaysia Airlines flight number MH318 replaces the flight number of the missing airplane, MH370, that was retired as a mark of respect to the passengers and crew while the flight route remains unchanged. Reuters photographer Edgar Su boarded the flight in Kuala Lumpur on March 17 and documented the journey to Beijing. This is picture number 1 of 23 in this series. REUTERS/Edgar Su (MALAYSIA - Tags: TRANSPORT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTR3HDWS  

The simplest and most plausible Flight 370 theory yet – from an actual pilot

The latest speculation over the whereabouts of missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 – from an experienced pilot – is easily the most plausible, and a far step away from hijacking, terrorism, or meteors.

Chris Goodfellow, a pilot with more than 20 years of experience on multi-engine planes, wrote on Google+ that a fire aboard the plane – and a pilot’s standard operating procedure in such a scenario – could account for almost all of the evidence surrounding the missing plane.

“I tend to look for a simpler explanation, and I find it with the 13,000-foot runway at Pulau Langkawi,” Goodfellow wrote in a post that was later edited and published by Wired Tuesday.

After the Boeing 777 took off from Kuala Lumpur en-route to Beijing around midnight March 8, the plane lost communication with air traffic control and disappeared from radar along with its transponder tracking ping. Radar evidence from the Malaysian military discovered days later picked up what could possibly have been Flight 370 turning around and heading back toward the western coast of Malaysia, specifically the Strait of Malacca.

“When I heard this I immediately brought up Google Earth and searched for airports in proximity to the track toward the southwest,” Goodfellow said.

According to the former pilot, the necessary left turn to head back toward Malaysia by pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah – a captain with 18,000 hours of flight time – is strongly indicative of a pilot’s instinct in an emergency situation.

“We old pilots were drilled to know what is the closest airport of safe harbor while in cruise. Airports behind us, airports abeam us, and airports ahead of us. They’re always in our head. Always,” Goodfellow said. “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.”

The most likely explanation for the turn was to make an emergency landing at a nearby airport – in this case, Palau Langkawi, a 13,000-foot airstrip approachable by water and free of obstacles. Shah would have avoided heading back to Kuala Lumpur with a damaged plane due to the 8,000-foot ridges crossed on approach.

“The pilot did all the right things,” Goodfellow said. “He was confronted by some major event onboard that made him make an immediate turn to the closest, safest airport.”

Losing transponder and communications could easily have occurred from an electrical fire, after which a pilot would shut off all electrical buses and turn them back on one at a time in order to isolate the troubled circuit.