Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: 'Electrical fire caused plane to crash into the sea'

Pilot Christopher Goodfellow also claims aircraft was not hijacked

As international crews prepare to continue their search operation to find the missing Malaysian Airlines aircraft on Saturday morning, an experienced Canadian pilot believes he may have worked out the fate of flight MH370.

Christopher Goodfollow, who has flown multi-engine aeroplanes for 20 years, wrote in an article published by Wired that he believes the plane was hit by an electrical fire which caused it to crash.

He claims that during this type of fire, the crew would cut the electrics and restore each circuit until the faulty one is identified – leading communications and transponders to cut out.

He added that on the hot night, in a heavy plane, the fire could have been caused by a slightly deflated front landing gear tire setting fire, and burning slowly. He claims the resulting smoke would have filled the plane, and filtered smoke hoods issued to pilots would only be helpful for a few minutes.

Recognising something was wrong, Goodfellow claims the crew would have known where the nearest airport was, which he believes explains why the plane swerved left. Goodfellow believes the plane would have then been directed across the Malay Peninsula and towards the airport located at the Malacca Strait.

Latest: 'China spots large object in southern corridor'

“It probably was a serious event and the flight crew was occupied with controlling the plane and trying to fight the fire. Aviate, navigate, and lastly, communicate is the mantra in such situations,” Goodfollow wrote.

 

“If something happens, you don’t want to be thinking about what are you going to do–you already know what you are going to do,” he added.

“What I think happened is the flight crew was overcome by smoke and the plane continued on the heading, probably on autopilot until it ran out of fuel or the fire destroyed the control surfaces and it crashed.”

Of the search, which has now extended from the Kuala Lumpur Beijing flight path to the coast of Australia, he said: “you will find it along that route–looking elsewhere is pointless.”

He also disregards speculation that the plane was hijacked, and alleges it would have been acceptable for a pilot to ascend to 45,000 feet to quell a fire by sinking to the lowest level of oxygen at which a plane could continue to stay airborne. He adds that reports that it dropped to 25,000 could have been generated by a stall.

“The pilot may even have been diving to extinguish flames,” he claimed.

“A hijacking would not have made that deliberate left turn with a direct heading for Langkawi. It probably would have weaved around a bit until the hijackers decided where they were taking it.”

Read more: Spotter planes flying low over fail to find any sign of jet
Transcript of last hour shows plane was flying at 35,000 feet
Search remains focused on finding passengers alive

“But going to 45,000 feet in a hijack scenario doesn’t make any good sense to me.”

He concludes "Two plus two equals four. For me, [the fire] is the simple explanation why it turned and headed in that direction. Smart pilot. He just didn’t have the time."

Goodfollow's theory has been debunked online.

In an an article on Business Insider a retired pilot who flew 777-200ERs said it was unlikely the crew would have shut off the transponders to deal with the fire.

“The checklist I utilized for smoke and fumes in the B-777-200ER does not specifically address the transponder being turned off,” said Michael G Fortune.

Speculation by Goodfollow comes as two Chinese aircraft are expected to join Saturday's search 400 miles off the coast of Australia, while two Japanese aircraft will arrive on Sunday, acting Australian Prime Minister Warren Truss said on Friday.

Experts say it is impossible to predict if the satellite images showing two objects suspected to be debris from the plane, which are the basis for Saturday's search, are from the aircraft. But officials have called this the best lead so far in the search that began almost a fortnight ago after the plane vanished over the Gulf of Thailand on the overnight flight.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Digital Trade Advisers - Yorkshire and Humber

£29500 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company in Yorkshire and t...

Recruitment Genius: Project and Resource Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing experience-led technology co...

Recruitment Genius: Production Scientist

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises in the...

Recruitment Genius: Factory Manager - Food

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable