MH370 plunged sharply into sea – investigator

ATSB Chief Commissioner Greg Hood (credit: Michael Wilson, West Australian Newspapers)
ATSB chief commissioner Greg Hood (credit: Michael Wilson, West Australian Newspapers)

An Australian crash investigator has told the aviation website AirlineRatings.com that flight MH370 plunged sharply and quickly into the ocean, suggesting that no-one was in control of the aircraft.

In his first interview since taking over as chief commissioner of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), Greg Hood said that automated satellite communications revealed that the Boeing 777’s rate of descent increased dramatically in its final minutes, from about 1,200 metres per minute to up to 6,700m per minute. This would mean the aircraft struck the water at a speed of almost 400kph.

Hood’s statement counters the theory, which has recently been reignited, that MH370 Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah made a controlled water landing.

He also stated that he is “confident” that the aircraft will be found, despite the recent tripartite statement that the hunt will be suspended upon the completion of the existing 120,000km² search area.

The disappearance of flight MH370 generated global media attention
The disappearance of flight MH370 generated global media attention

It could take until December to search the remaining 10,000km², due to the difficult underwater terrain. This will require an autonomous underwater search vehicle to be deployed, and conditions need to be right for this to happen.

“I am still confident that we will find it,” Hood told AirlineRatings.com. “These are locations that require further investigation. However we can’t launch this vehicle in conditions above a 9-foot (three-metre) swell but for several weeks, the search vessels have regularly encountered conditions greater than 10 metres including last week when the Furgo Equator encountered a 78-foot wave.”

AirlineRatings.com’s editor-in-chief, Geoffrey Thomas, said the new revelations “shed a great deal more light on the final tragic moments of MH370”.

“It is important that the ATSB, on behalf of the multinational search team, dispel the destructive speculation about what may or may not have happened on MH370,” said Thomas.

The Malaysia Airlines flight disappeared on 8 March 2014 while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. It was carrying 239 passengers and crew, none of whom have been seen or heard from since.

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