An aviation expert who has been researching the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 says it is likely the pilot committed suicide.
Ewan Wilson, a New Zealand-based air accident investigator and the founder of Kiwi Airlines, believes captain Zaharie Shah was mentally ill and that his actions ultimately resulted in the deaths of all those on board.
Furthermore Wilson, a veteran commercial pilot himself, alleges five previous incidents of “murder/suicide” in the aviation industry over the past three decades.
Wilson, whose book Good Night Malaysian 370: The Truth Behind The Loss Of Flight 370, was released in July, is in Birmingham to meet with aviation experts to discuss his findings and “have a candid chat about mental health screening for pilots in the airline industry.”
He told the Birmingham Mail: “There is a fundamental desire to ignore the mental health issue in the aviation industry.
“We have shown why hijacking by a passenger or accidental depressurisation are highly unlikely scenarios.
Alleged incidents of murder/ suicide in commercial flights
- Mozambican Flight TM 470 from Mozambique to Luanda in 2013
- Egyptian Air Flight 990 from New York to Cairo in 1999
- SilkAir Flight 185 from Indonesia to Singapore in 1997
- A Royal Air Maroc flight bound for Casablanca in 1994 and
- A Japanese domestic flight 350 in 1982
“By process of elimination, this leaves pilot suicide as the only other serious option in our analysis of what occurred on March 8.
“Our research indicates there have been five previous incidents of murder/suicide in commercial flights over the last three decades or so, accounting for 422 lives.
“The sad addition of MH370 would bring that number to 661.”
Wilson’s book, which was co-authored by investigative journalist Geoff Taylor, surmises passengers aboard the doomed jet died of oxygen starvation before Shah deliberately ditched the plane in the Indian Ocean.
The authors say the most likely scenario is that Shah deliberately depressurised the cabin, thereby depriving those on board of oxygen and causing them to lose consciousness for up to four hours before the Boeing 777 disappeared beneath the waves.
Although oxygen masks would have dropped down automatically from above the seats, the available supply was limited to just 20 minutes.
Those unable to grab a mask, including sleeping passengers, would have passed out within the space of a few minutes.
- Missing Flight MH370: Vanishing Planes Mapped Since 1948 (INFOGRAPHIC)
- Sister Of Prime Suspect In MH370 Mystery Breaks Her Silence
- Malaysian Airlines Pilot Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah 'Attended Fraught Political Trial' Of Anwar Ibrahim, Hours Before Take-Off
The entire 'ghost plane', including her cabin crew whose air supply is only marginally longer, would have slipped into a coma and died shortly after from hypoxia.
Shah, who locked his co-pilot out of the cockpit, survived long enough - either by re-pressurising the aircraft, or from breathing his own, more extensive air supply - to evade radar and "execute his master plan", the pair conclude.
They say he then performed a controlled ditching in the sea, which would explain why no debris has been found because the plane landed and sank in one piece.
An earlier report from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) also concluded that passengers may have died from hypoxia, and Malaysian authorities have previously named Shah as their prime suspect.
While Wilson stressed incidents of suicide flights are “highly unusual experiences”, he called for “more proactive tests for mental health screening”
He added: “This isn’t a witch hunt. Pilots should be encouraged to have mechanisms to feel free to say if they have got pressure in their lives and need some assessment.”
If you've been affected by the issues in this article, please call the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90.
Six months on, this is what we know for sure about the fate of MH370