I‘ve been quite bothered these past few weeks over the way everyone… both on the Right AND the Left… seems to be leaping to conclusions about what exactly happened to Malaysia Flight370 that disappeared without a trace nearly two weeks ago (as I write this, ships & spotter planes are racing to the Indian Ocean to examine what appears to be large pieces of debris floating in the ocean 1,500 miles off the Southwest coast of Australia.) Fox and Conservative talk radio seems certain this was an act of terrorism likely perpetrated by the Mus’lim pilots or onboard hijackers, while Progressive radio’s Randi Rhodes has been entertaining the idea that the plane was electronically hijacked by people using cellphones. And CNN? When the “legitimate news” network isn’t bringing on psychics as if they were legitimate sources of information, they wonder aloud if God Almighty or possibly UFO’s didn’t snatch the plane out of the sky like the “Prize Claw” in a Chuck-E-Cheese.

I pointed out more than a week ago that the Boeing 777 is the first “fly-by-wire” aircraft with no mechanical link between the flight-yoke and the actual steering of the plane. This makes the electrical system one giant weak-spot. Most of the plane’s electrical system, including the bright orange “black boxes”, is housed in the tail of the aircraft. An electrical fire could have slowly compromised the plane a bit at a time. First knocking out the radio/communications, triggering the plane to automatically execute the secondary (Emergency) flight plan programmed in hours before.

My personal belief is that this will be “Payne Stewart” all over again, but on a massive scale, with a fire in the tail-section slowly disabling the plane’s electrical system, knocking out the radio, transponders, and eventually the steering (fly-by-wire) while the passengers & crew were overcome by smoke/co2. At the first sign of problems, the plane’s onboard computer would likely have automatically executed the Secondary (Emergency) flight plan, turning back towards Kuala Lumpur and reducing altitude, before failing entirely. If the radio went first, there would have been no way for the pilots to send a distress call. While autopilot can steer/turn the plane, pilots are still required for takeoff and landing. So the radio goes out, the plane starts to turn around, the transponders go out (which is why we know the plane turned without the pilots radioing it in), then the electronic steering goes out so the pilots can’t correct course or land the plane. Struggling to regain control of the aircraft in any way possible, they might have even coaxed the plane into changing altitude. The plane then flies in a straight line out towards the Indian Ocean until it runs out of fuel approximately 6.5 hours later (based on the estimated amount of fuel onboard after departure) and glides into the water, leaving the plane mostly intact and limiting the debris field. Consider this, if the plane were “hijacked”, the passengers had almost 7 hours to break down the door and regain control of the aircraft. Early on, while still near/over land, passengers could have used their cell phones or “air-phones” on the plane unless overcome by smoke or knocked unconscious by “explosive decompression” due to a hole in the aircraft. The flight attendants, who’ve made this trip dozens of times, would have immediately known something was up the moment the plane made unscheduled a U-Turn and/or was out over open water for more than an hour. Yet in all that time, no one was able to regain control of the aircraft? You can’t land a plane that size on an aircraft carrier. As soon as they were near land, cell phones would have started working again (no, terrorists could not have confiscated and disabled/destroyed them all that fast, and dumping them would have made for one giant “homing beacon”), so the plane never landed. And think about this: Why has Boeing been so mum on this disaster? They are always on TV following an air disaster involving one of their planes. So where are they now? They are still reeling from the botched 787 rollout and don’t need buyers now panicking over the 777 suffering catastrophic electrical failure.

I’m also bugged by the “suspicion” surrounding the fact the Captain had an elaborate “flight simulator” in his home and posted YouTube videos using it. This is simply a man that loved his job. I work on computers for a living, yet here I am spending hours every week online, reading political websites, researching news material and writing this blog. They say, “If you do what you love for a living, you’ll never work a day in your life.” We are supposed to believe that after logging more than EIGHTEEN THOUSAND HOURS of flight experience, this was the day he suddenly decided to lure hundreds to their death in an elaborate suicide that didn’t involve almost immediately crashing the plane into the ground but instead waiting hours to fly out to sea? And he had a flight simulator in his home, yet never “practice flew” his “act of terrorism” before leaving? Yeah, right. I knew a guy who dreamed of becoming a pilot when he was a kid. He carried around toy planes and read books about flying. No, the fact the Captain had a flight simulator in his home is significant of nothing other than the fact he loved his job. I don’t know too much about the co-pilot other than the fact that he too had racked up several thousand hours of flying time, again raising the question: “why now?” Why crash a plane now when the opportunity presented itself literally hundreds of times over the past dozen years.

So now the search is on. Once the Black Boxes are found, we may very well likely learn that the pilots that so many have been quick to suspect of terrorism, may have in fact have actually been heroes, fighting heroically/futilely to regain control of a crippled aircraft. Can we PLEASE wait until all the facts are in before we slander these men?

Postscript: Apparently, I’m not the only one postulating the simple “electrical fire” theory.

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