French investigators suspect MH370 pilot was in control 'until the end'

A simulated image of MH370 crashing into the ocean.
A simulated image of flight MH370 crashing into the ocean. Photo credit: National Geographic

A new development in the case of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 reportedly shows the plane's pilot was in control "until the end".

According to French newspaper Le Parisien, investigators said new data from Boeing "lends weight" to the idea that "someone was behind the control stick when the plane broke up in the Indian Ocean".

The report comes after The Atlantic published a story in June recounting how investigators suspected the pilot, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, was clinically depressed and likely starved the passengers of oxygen before crashing the plane into the ocean.

Flight MH370 was on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014, with 239 people on board when it disappeared.

In July, 2018, Malaysian investigators released a 495-page report, saying the plane's controls were likely deliberately manipulated to take it off course but they were not able to determine who was responsible.

But French authorities were unsatisfied with the findings, and two investigating magistrates are currently looking into the deaths of three French passengers.

According to Le Parisien, some of those investigators have only recently been granted access to flight data at plane maker Boeing's headquarters, along with documents and satellite data from Inmarsat - a communications company that was able to track the plane's automated 'pings' for hours after it was lost to air traffic control.

The paper cited a source close to the inquiry as saying someone was definitely in control of the plane and it was likely to be the captain.

"Certain abnormal turns made by the 777 can only have been carried out manually, someone was in control.

"It's too early to assert it categorically but there is nothing to suggest anyone else entered the cockpit."

A host of theories have been suggested by both professional and amateur investigators as to what happened to MH370.

Speculators have said the plane was accidentally shot down by the Malaysian military, that a battery fire brought down the plane, that a stowaway hijacked the plane and that the plane was deliberately crashed by the pilot in an act of murder-suicide.