4 Years Later, Experts Believe They May Have Finally Solved the Mystery Behind Malaysia Airlines Flight 370’s Disappearance

Since its disappearance in 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has been one of the biggest aviation mysteries of all time. Now, investigators recently concluded what they believe really caused the mysterious disappearance of the plane — and who is responsible. Check out page 4 to see what happened.  

On March 8, 2014, Malaysia Airlines flight 370 vanished

Planes in a Malaysian airport.

The missing plane made headlines all over the world. | Manan Vatsyayana/AFP/Getty Images

MH370 took off at 12:41 a.m. from Malaysia, en route to Beijing, with 239 people on board. But after about 40 minutes, air traffic controllers noticed something amiss with the plane: Its transponder had been turned off. Shortly after, it disappeared from military radar. After hours of attempted contact, Malaysia Airlines finally announced the missing plane at 7:24 a.m. The plane was never found.

Next: Satellite data indicated the plane crashed thousands of miles away from its intended path. 

Satellite data indicated the plane crashed west of Australia, thousands of miles from its intended destination

Volunteers look at a piece of plane debris.

Some analysts believe that the plane was intentionally taken off course. | AFP/Getty Images

Based on satellite data, it appears the plane changed its direction entirely after it took off. The plane looked to be traveling south toward Australia instead of north to Beijing. But aviation officers were never able to make contact with the plane to figure out why. According to CNN’s timeline, at 8:11 a.m., the plane made contact with a satellite, which was more than seven hours after it took off. Remains of the plane have washed up in the Indian Ocean, indicating it went down somewhere in that area. But years-long search operations have turned up almost nothing.

Next: Here’s how the plane was able to disappear so easily. 

The plane flew between fly zones, which enabled it to ‘disappear’ without anyone taking immediate action

A plane flying in the sky.

The plane quietly disappeared. | Richard Wainwright/Pool/Getty Images

The Boeing 777’s actual flight path, from what could be seen of it, uncovers a very troubling question: Was the disappearance intentional? According to one pilot, yes. When planes fly over countries, they enter that country’s “airspace” and essentially become that country’s responsibility. Captain Simon Harvey, a British pilot who often flies 777s over Asia, said that MH370 captain Zaharie Amad Shah intentionally flew the plane along the Thai-Malaysian frontier in order to avoid either side taking action on its disappearance. “If you were commissioning me to make a 777 disappear, I would do the exact same thing,” he told investigators.

Next: Australian investigators recently concluded this is what really happened. 

Now, Australian investigators have concluded the pilot intentionally crashed the plane in a murder-suicide

Mourners praying at a vigil.

Officials have been investigating the incident relentlessly. | Wang Zhao/AFP/Getty Images

In May 2018, investigators concluded that Zaharie intentionally crashed the plane in a murder suicide mission. The Independent reported that Zaharie evaded radar on purpose in order to go undetected. Investigators suggest Zaharie chose that flight because the co-pilot, Fariq Abdul Hamid, was an inexperienced co-pilot. MH370 was Hamid’s first time flying in a Boeing 777 without a training captain overseeing him. It’s possible he didn’t realize what Zaharie was doing until it was too late.

Six days after the plane disappeared, Zaharie and Hamid’s homes were searched, and electronics were seized. Zaharie’s home flight simulator showed that he had previously plotted that course toward the Indian Ocean — another indication he is responsible.

Next: Here’s how the pilot was able to carry out the crash without passenger interference. 

Investigators think the pilot put everyone unconscious before crashing the plane

A woman holds a candle.

The pilot might have purposely made passengers unconscious. | Wang Zhao/AFP/Getty Images

But the next question begs: How did passengers not know something was horribly wrong? If the plane was in the air for hours, passengers likely would have turned on their phones and notified family and friends that something didn’t seem right. But one explanation for why nobody took action is that the pilot rendered passengers unconscious. Airplane cabins are pressurized, and if the pilot turns off the pressurization at anything higher than 10,000 feet, passengers almost instantly suffer from hypoxia (lack of oxygen).

Investigators believe Zaharie might have put on his oxygen mask before rendering the rest of the plane unconscious and continuing the deadly flight path.

Next: This isn’t the first time murder-suicide has been the cause of a crash. 

This wouldn’t be the first instance of murder-suicide by a pilot

A plane on the search for the missing Malaysian flight.

Not the first time something like this has happened. | Greg Wood/AFP/Getty Images

Believe it or not, pilots have plotted murder-suicide missions before. Most notably was the Germanwings flight 9525, which crashed into the French Alps in 2015. It was later discovered that the pilot had intentionally crashed the plane, committing suicide and a mass homicide. The pilot of the Germanwings flight had previously been treated for suicidal tendencies. His doctor said he was unfit to fly. And although instances like this are rare, they do occur. Investigators believe MH370 crashed under the same conditions.

Next: This one caveat about the investigation is very important to note. 

But without evidence from the plane itself, it’s impossible to absolutely confirm the cause of the crash

A light being cast on the water.

There are still unanswered questions. | Kim Christian/AFP/Getty Images

Although investigators have concluded the crash to be a murder-suicide, there is still no plane. And without a plane and the evidence it might hold, there is no way to guarantee what really happened to MH370. The plane’s black box was never discovered. An investigation by Ocean Infinity was introduced in January 2018. It has not provided much additional information.

Check out The Cheat Sheet on Facebook!