Australian authorities are likely to revive the theory that Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 was deliberately crashed if the search for the plane ends with no concrete evidence about its disappearance, the head of the organization leading the hunt told The Times. The report comes as the search for the missing Boeing 777-200 enters its final phase before efforts are called off in June.
Martin Dolan, head of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, told The Times authorities are preparing to change their theory of what happened to the jet before it went missing on March 8, 2014, with 239 people on board while on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
So far, authorities reportedly believe that the plane was flying on autopilot as its pilots were either incapacitated or dead at the time of the crash. The plane may have later crashed into the southern Indian Ocean, where the current search operations are underway, after it ran out of fuel. However, in a scenario that no wreckage from the missing Flight MH370 is found, authorities might have to consider that someone was in control of the plane.
“We’re not at the point yet, but sooner or later we will be — and we will have to explain to governments what the alternative is,” Dolan told The Times. “And the alternative is, frankly, that despite all the evidence as we currently have the possibility that someone was at the controls of that aircraft on the flight and gliding it becomes a more significant possibility, if we eliminate all of the current search area.
“In a few months' time, if we haven’t found it (the plane), then we’ll have to be contemplating that one of the much less likely scenarios ends up being more prominent. Which is that there were control inputs into that aircraft at the end of its flight,” Dolan reportedly added.
The rogue pilot theory, which was reportedly the first that was considered by authorities just after the plane went missing, also includes the possibility that a third individual took control of the plane.
According to The Times, even though authorities consider the rogue pilot theory, it would not change the final track of the aircraft that was supported by satellite and radar data. However, it would alter the calculations for how far the plane may have travelled before it ran out of fuel.
Dolan’s latest comments on Flight MH370 come just days after he raised doubts over the outcome of the current search in the southern Indian Ocean. He said earlier this week that there is a possibility that the search for the plane might “not succeed.” He also added that search vessels scouring 46,330 square miles of the ocean flood may have missed locating the plane.
So far, the first and only piece of physical evidence to be recovered from the plane is a flaperon that washed ashore on France's Réunion Island in the Indian Ocean — about 2,300 miles away from the current search area — in July 2015. The multimillion-dollar search for the plane has yielded no concrete clues so far.
Last week, rumors surfaced that the Zaharie Ahmad Shah, the veteran pilot of Flight MH370, was alive and recovering in a Taiwan hospital. However, Malaysia’s Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai responded to the rumors saying that the report was not true. "The ministry will provide updates on MH370 from time to time. Any information regarding MH370 must be referred to us," Liow said, according to local report Bernama. "Do not speculate."
Malaysia is reportedly expected to release a report on the second anniversary of the plane’s disappearance on March 8.