Australian MH370 search leader rejects expert theory of 'murder suicide' mission

Australian MH370 search leader rejects expert theory of 'murder suicide' mission
Photo credit: Reuters

Just when things couldn't getting any murkier for the mystery of MH370, an Australian official has rejected another key theory from a group of experts.

Last week a panel of five aviation experts appeared on 60 Minutes Australia and declared they were adamant about what had happened to the Boeing 777, which vanished from radar in March 2014. The Malaysian Airlines plane, carrying 227 passengers, was flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

The group stated their belief that MH370 captain Zaharie Amad Shah depressurised the aircraft to incapacitate passengers and other crew through hypoxia (oxygen deficiency).

He then used an emergency air supply to stay conscious and repressurised the plane for the rest of the journey.

"This was planned. This was deliberate," said Martin Dolan, the Chief Commissioner of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) when MH370 vanished.

Others on the panel agreed - senior Boeing 777 pilot and instructor Simon Hardy said the plane was used for a murder-suicide mission. 

Yet a Tuesday hearing in Canberra saw the official in charge of Australia's search for the doomed plane disagree with this theory, the Guardian reported. 

Peter Foley of the ATSB said while the theory presented on 60 Minutes is plausible, captain Zaharie would have been knocked out himself by a sudden pressure change, even with emergency oxygen.

"Most of the people out there are speculating about a long period of depressurisation after the transponder went off," he said. "[They say] this may have been as long as an hour."

"What they fail to understand is that while you don an oxygen mask and prevent the worst of the hypoxia situation, you are flying an aircraft at 40,000 feet. You are taking an aircraft from sea level to Mt Kosciuszko [7,310 feet] in 20 minutes, then you are taking it, over the course of a couple of minutes, to the height of Mt Everest [29,000 feet] plus 1,000 feet. You'll get decompression sickness too."

Mr Foley is referring to the fact the plane was tracked by military radar after it's transponder was turned off flying between 43,000 and 45,000 feet.

At 43,000 feet or above hypoxia (a lack of oxygen) would occur. 

The 60 Minute theory is also at odds with the official explanation from the ATSB and Malaysian authorities. The two parties jointly believe captain Zaharie Amad Shah was unconscious when MH370 crashed into the Indian Ocean.