By Capt Kamil Abu Bakar
SEVEN years ago, on this day, a Boeing 777 took off from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), with 239 people on board, bound for Beijing.
The six-hour flight was supposed to arrive Beijing at 06:30hrs local time. It never did!
Thus, began the world’s biggest and most expensive manhunt for the missing flight. Seven years later, its fate is still unknown.
Time flies; 2,555 days had gone by.
Today March 8, 2021, marks the seventh anniversary the Boeing 777 aircraft operating as flight MH370, which went missing. It was supposed to be a routine flight to the Chinese capital Beijing, when, upon its handover to Ho Chi Minh Control, it went incommunicado and its transponder code disappeared from the Air Traffic Controllers’ radar screen.
The last transmission from the aircraft, which sounded to be perfectly normal, in response to Kuala Lumpur Controllers’ instruction to contact Ho Chi Minh was the now infamous, “Good night, Malaysian Three Seven Zero”.
So much has been said, written and speculated about the disappearance of that flight MH370 after it departed from Kuala Lumpur 45 minutes earlier. The Internet is full of such stories. Videos about what could possibly had happened to the flight appeared on YouTube.
All sorts of hypotheses and theories were made by ” experts” regarding the incident. The fate of the 239 people on board the popular Boeing twin engine wide- body jetliner; two pilots, 10 cabin crew and 227 passengers, remain unknown.
Admittedly, all l know about its disappearance was from the media. Without any evidence, there is not much l can contribute; lest it adds on to the many speculations that have already been made.
Nevertheless, being a former pilot, l might be able to write a bit from a pilot’s perspective into what could possibly have happened.
One theory speculated was that it was a murder/suicide case. That is highly preposterous. I know the commander, Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah. He was my co-pilot during the early days. I know him to be a gentle, soft spoken and a humble person, well-liked by everybody.
It is hard to believe he would resort to such ungodly behaviour. Besides, there was no reason whatsoever for him to commit such a heinous act. He had so much to live for; happily married with grown up daughters studying in Melbourne, Australia.
Theories abound, little facts
On the other hand, from the ensuing tracking on the military radar, it was possible that the aircraft could have been taken over by unknown individuals.
After the Sept 11 incident, aviation security has become much tighter. One of them includes how the cockpit door is to be locked at all times. However, somebody with a motive, would be able to find an opportunity to gain entry into the pilots’ station to take control of the flight.
All it would take was a lapse in security measure by the crew; for example, when bringing in drinks or food to the pilots.
Very recently another book surfaced, written by a French journalist Florence de Changy. Sarawak Report in its narration of the book titled “The Disappearing Act” was highly critical of the Malaysian Government’s handling of the case, insinuating that there was a cover-up to the investigation.
Of what interest would that be to us when we were the victims? For no reason, we lost an aircraft, 12 crew members and 227 passengers.
Another theory postulated by the French journalist was that the aircraft was accidentally shot down by a “jet fighter, missile or a new laser guided weapon system”. However, I questioned back; if indeed so, where were the debris?
Despite a very thorough search by International Naval Forces, not a single piece was found around the area where it was purportedly shot.
In any case, my full rebuttal to Sarawak Report on the theories covered in the book “The Disappearing Act” and others, which appeared in UK Express, Daily Telegraph, The Atlantic Daily and The Star, are explained in greater detail in my soon-to-be-released book “Malaysian Aviation – The Untold Stories”.
Back to MH370, the fact that after seven years no wreckage was found and nothing was heard about those on board, though it might sound heartless, it is best that we just put the heartbreaking episode behind us and move on with our lives.
However, let us offer our prayers for the 239 people who needlessly; went missing together with the aircraft, on this day, seven years ago. – March 8, 2021.
Capt Kamil Abu Bakar was a former Malaysia Airlines Director of Flight Operations, chief pilot, Flight Safety & Security director and member of the International Advisory Committee of Flight Safety Foundation.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.