Captain Elmo Jayawardena
MH 370 is missing. That we all know. The rest are only theories and while some have reasonable arguments most others seem to be pure nonsense. I am not writing this to sling mud at anyone who had come up with an explanation as to what happened to MH370. But as an Airline Captain who had flown a considerable number of years and who has been in the pilot training business for a long time, I need to say something in defence of Captain Shah as he and I both belong to the same fraternity of aviators.
Leave that Captain alone – I say again. A man is innocent until proven guilty. Shah has not been found guilty and he should be treated as an innocent man until the wreckage is found and the black box is read and all the investigations are complete. The truth needs to be established as to what happened to MH370. Then and only then should the blame game begin.
Him being present at Anwar Ibrahim’s court case is a pretty flimsy detail to talk about in relation to the disappearance of MH370. The same goes for the insinuations about his ‘not-so-ideal’ family life that made him crash the plane due to a troubled mental frame. Then again it is said that he had a small simulator and all the airport charts at home and maybe he was thinking of high-jacking and was practicing to fly into an unplanned destination. That is the most absurd of all opinions. I have an iPad given by the company I work for and that has the charts of all major airports; does that mean I am planning to steal a plane and fly to one of those places?
Anything is possible, but we must look at the probabilities too. Barak Obama may walk out of the White House on a starry night and piss on the presidential lawn, possible, yes. He sure has the equipment, and could be even a pissing expert. But could that happen? Possibility yes, but probability? That is where the meat of the matter lies.
My two cents worth of what may have been the cause of the disappearance of MF370 points to a fire in the cockpit. Any captain I trained I always made it a point to drill into them that the most dangerous situation in an aeroplane is an uncontrollable fire, be it electric or air conditioning. No one can gauge the intensity and no one can fathom the time available for survival. I saw some other pilot too had mentioned this in the internet. The RADAR noted MH370 making a left turn. Captains don’t just turn from their planned route. They do so with very good reasons or in a dire emergency.
This gives a reasonable conclusion that MH 370 had a severe problem. Was it hi-jacked and taken somewhere? Then how come none of the passengers on board did not even send an SMS to some loved one? There were 229 passengers and there may have been at least 200 mobile phones on-board the MH 370. I took off from Hong Kong on the fateful 9/11 day heading to San Francisco. We got a radio massage asking us to turn back saying that the US air space was closed due to an emergency. We did not know why, but the passengers knew as the CNN showed the event and loved ones on ground called people travelling on my flight. That is how they knew every detail of aeroplanes crashing into buildings in NY. Talk about airlines insisting on “mobiles off” policy, people do not heed to that. The question then is why didn’t anyone call someone from MH 370 if it was being hijacked?
Back to the electrical fire, Swiss Air over Nova Scotia had a fire and the plane went down and no one survived. Saudi Air had a fire and the plane landed but still every one died. The instances are many where fires destroyed aeroplanes.
If there was a severe fire in the cockpit, maybe the Captain turned the aeroplane to head for the closest airfield. Take a map and look. Langkawi airport with a long runway is quite close to the point at which the aeroplane turned. The pilot then could have lost consciousness due to electrical smoke and fumes and the co-pilot could have followed suit. Maybe the smoke filled the cabin and passengers too perished. But the engines would have been working and the plane could have continued flying. Maybe that explains how Rolls Royce received the engine data for a considerable time. Maybe due to the fire the Transponder and ACARS both went unserviceable? Possible? Yes, more probabilities than President Obama urinating in the White House lawn.
I do not know what really happened. True I flew aeroplanes for a long time and have a considerable idea of how things may happen in the sky. No one will know the truth till the wreckage is found and investigators do their microscopic fact-finding and announce to the world the cause of the disappearance of MH371. Till then it is purely a guessing game.
And till then I think it is nothing but right we freeze our words and refrain from condemning the Captain as he is defenceless. Maybe he is guilty, maybe not, we do not know? But he sure is innocent until proven guilty. Bad enough that Capt Shah, his aeroplane and his crew and passengers are missing. This therefore is certainly not a time to speculate adversely about the man who commanded the ill-fated aeroplane.
Captains fly passengers around the world safer than in any other mode of transport. The four gold stripes they wear do not come in picnic baskets. They are hard earned laurels that need to be respected. Accidents happen and planes crash or go missing. The need is to find the reason for the loss of MH 370 through proper professional investigations.
Till then, it’s best to leave Captain Shah alone, he sure deserves that.