We live in a world where your every step can be tracked. Your own phone has GPS, and the Orbit of Earth itself is covered with numerous satellites, watching. It is no age of mystery disappearances - but a whole plane has been lost, with all passengers onboard – despite the efforts of several nations fail to find it. What happened to Malaysia Airlines flight 370? Is there any hope? Why is there still no trace of the aircraft? Today on SophieCo we ask these questions to Colonel J. Joseph, aviation expert and former pilot.
Sophie Shevardnadze: Our guest today is Colonel J. Joseph, former pilot and expert from Joseph Aviation Consulting.
The Malaysian prime minister says flight MH370 ended in the middle of the Indian Ocean and there are no survivors. Families of the victims refuse to believe this. Are you satisfied with that conclusion?
SS: I understand that for a pilot the priority is dealing with any catastrophic situation on board prior to communicating the emergency to the ground, but why not give out any distress signal at all?
SS: But once the plane’s transponder signal went off, why was there no action taken on the ground? Did nobody notice?
SS: Earlier on, there were a lot of theories about hijacking. Could the lack of the communication suggest a hijacking, do you think?
SS: Minutes before the flight transponder shut off, the co-pilot was heard to say “All right, good night.” Is there anything unusual in that?
SS: There’s also a change of course: I want to show a map to that of our viewers that haven’t seen it. The plane left Kuala Lumpur en route to Beijing, heading north-east, and as it was going over the gulf of Thailand, it suddenly changed from its course and made a sharp turn west – what’s the reason for this?
SS: Right now the Malaysians are saying the plane crashed in the southern Indian Ocean – that’s near Australia, and that’s really quite far away from Kuala Lumpur. How did it end up all the way there, really nowhere near its destination in Beijing?
SS: Does this look anything like a terror attack to you? Do you think the fact that some passengers were flying with stolen passports is significant?
SS: So could the plane be taken down by something like a missile for example?
JJ: Unfortunately, yes. It could happen, and I think we all know that within the last 20 years, there have been several incidents of accidental shoot down. The most recent was in the Mediterranean with an Iranian airliner. So it does happen. I will tell you that one of my first thoughts when this mishap was first reported was a possibility of an unintentional or even intentional shoot down. It is conceivable, loss of radar data certainly add to that.
I would be very surprised at this point, however, if the intelligence communities throughout the world were not a little more aggressive in pointing something like that out. Most of the world is under this surveillance in some way, shape, form or another, and certainly satellite imagery would be something that would pick up a bright flash like that had that occurred in the night sky over a dark ocean. So I think we would have seen some preliminary intelligence data at least pointing us in that direction, had that been the occurrence.
SS: You are a pilot. You have over 40 years of flight experience. Based on what you think is the most likely cause of this tragedy, what would you have done in the same situation?
SS: You’d think that after 9/11 there would be system in place that could easily track down planes and monitor them. Is there no such equipment that allows any plane to be swiftly tracked down, if necessary?
SS: What about the military satellites? Could they have used military satellites to track the plane down?
SS: But you’re saying it is possible that government agencies are actually withholding information, perhaps in fear of disclosing exactly what kind of satellites they have available…
SS: Searching the vast surface of the ocean could take years. Does wreckage always stay afloat if the plane has crashed in the ocean?
SS: Give me an approximate number: how much time do the search parties have left until the search becomes futile?