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Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 report: A new wave of theories about missing plane

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If there is one thing that the missing Malaysia Airlines plane has in abundance, it is the theories that have been presented as to what might have caused the plane to crash or how certain acts and incidents may have conspired to bring about the Boeing 777's disappearance. No, theories about how the missing plane became missing are not lacking. Answers, though, well, those are short supply. And the report from the Australian Trasportation Safety Board (ATSB) seems to have added heavily to the former and been a bit stingy with the latter.

The Australian reported July 4 that the recent report concerning the flight, disappearance, and possible whereabouts of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, missing now for over 115 days, is awash with fresh speculation about the missing plane and how it came to be in its current status. The additional information will undoubtedly fuel even more fact-based speculation about the plane, not to mention add to the growing volume of conspiracy theorizing going on.

The speculation included:

  • The most popular scenario, and the one that gained the most headline space was the idea that the Boeing 777 was deliberately tampered with, causing the power outage onboard, resulting eventually in the jet's disappearance somewhere over the southern Indian Ocean. This scenario takes into consideration that someone or several someones intentionally placed the plane in a state of non-communication, that the plane was taken over by experts. Of course, it does not explain what ultimately happened to the airplane and its 239 occupants -- and why.
  • Another popular scenario that grabbed headlines, that the crew -- and passengers -- succumbed to hypoxia, or lack of oxygen, as the Boeing jet flew on autopilot until it ran out of fuel, was favored by the ATSB investigators. They saw the hypoxia/autopilot scenario as fitting more of the known factual points presented by the actual data available. Flight MH370, once it had started on its southerly course over the Indian Ocean, continued without variance, suggesting that it was on autopilot, until it stopped being tracked via the electronic "handshakes" between the plane and the Inmarsat satellite.
  • Investigators discovered that there was an unscheduled "log-on request" during the flight, something that usually never occurs. It is believed that the "request" occurred due to power interruption. This scenario leads back to the deliberate tampering, as if someone intentionally switched off the power. However, the ATSB did not offer a suggestion as to why the unusual log-on request may have occurred.
  • The ATSB also looked at scenarios of inflight upset and of a controlled glide, among others.

The report came after recent developments with Inmarsat data suggested that there might be a search "hotspot" location, although Inmarsat executives were quick to note that there were actually no real "hotspots," just areas of higher probability where the Malaysia Airlines jet may have gone down. Inmarsat officially only provides satellite data and passes no recommendations on to those in charge of the searches or those handling the investigations into the missing plane.

The ATSB is set to begin searching for the missing plane again in early August.

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