- Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 vanished on March 8, 2014, eventually crashing and killing all 239 passengers on board.
- William Langewiesche in The Atlantic’s July cover story unearthed new findings that lend credence to the theory that Zaharie Ahmad Shah, the captain on Flight MH370, purposefully crashed the flight.
- To crash the flight, Langewiesche suggested that Shah depressurized the cabin, which slowly and gently killed everyone outside the cockpit.
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A leading theory on why Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 vanished on March 8, 2014, doesn’t point to a hijacker, pilot error, or a mechanical failure – but to the captain of the plane.
In a meticulous new report published by The Atlantic, William Langewiesche, a former national correspondent for the magazine, gives credence to that theory.
Friends of Zaharie Ahmad Shah, who was the captain of MH370, told The Atlantic that the 53-year-old pilot was depressed and lonely, engaged in one-sided flirting with young women on Facebook, and spent much of his non-flying time pacing empty rooms inside his home. One close friend of Shah even said he believed the pilot crashed the plane.
MH370 deviated from its planned route at 1:25 a.m. local time, more than 40 minutes after takeoff. Then the flight went on a westward path across Malaysia, rather than north to its final destination of Beijing.
- Samantha Lee/Business Insider
Such a sudden deviation would have been noticed by the plane’s 200-plus passengers. Langewiesche reported that Shah likely depressurized the cabin to subdue any rebellion.
“An intentional depressurization would have been an obvious way – and probably the only way – to subdue a potentially unruly cabin in an airplane that was going to remain in flight for hours to come,” Langewiesche, who is also a pilot, wrote.
The cabin masks have about 15 minutes of supply at altitudes below 13,000 feet, according to The Atlantic, but MH370 stayed at a cruising altitude of 40,000 feet for at least an hour. Meanwhile, Shah could simply put on one of the four oxygen masks, which have hours of supply, available in the cockpit.
In the final minutes for MH370’s passengers, they likely put on the useless oxygen masks and were asphyxiated. Langewiesche wrote:
The cabin occupants would have become incapacitated within a couple of minutes, lost consciousness, and gently died without any choking or gasping for air. The scene would have been dimly lit by the emergency lights, with the dead belted into their seats, their faces nestled in the worthless oxygen masks dangling on tubes from the ceiling.