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Pilot suicide scenario most likely says criminologist

Pilot suicide scenario most likely, Canterbury criminologist says

March 26, 2014

A University of Canterbury (UC) criminologist, Professor Greg Newbold, agrees the pilot suicide scenario looks increasingly likely in the loss of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370.

Whoever changed the aircraft’s computerised flight plan and turned off its electronics had to have sophisticated knowledge of the workings of the aircraft, Professor Newbold says.

World academic experts in various fields are seeking to make sense of the conclusion to the tragedy. Some say the Malaysian authorities responsible for handling the MH370 crisis were unprepared for intensity of international scrutiny that began on March 8.

The case may be explained in part by the political system in Malaysia. Officials on the frontline of the extraordinary MH370 case were subjected to relentless questioning by media and families.

Professor Newbold, who lectures on terrorism, says the co-pilot was relatively inexperienced and was on his first unsupervised flight as co-pilot.

The pilot, on the other hand, was highly experienced and was in a state of emotional turmoil. His wife had left him recently and he was having problems with a new relationship.

``We know that after changing course, the aircraft flew briefly above its maximum ceiling. If the pilot had then depressurised the aircraft, all passengers and the crew, including the pilot, would have lost consciousness within a few minutes.

``From here, the re-computerised flight plan would have allowed the plane to fly itself at a predetermined altitude and course, until it eventually ran out of fuel and crashed.

``If this is correct, it would explain why no-one on board apparently attempted raise the alarm using a cellphone. If the cabin was suddenly depressurised, it is unlikely that anyone on board would have known anything was amiss until this point,’’ Professor Newbold says.

Among the 239 people on board was New Zealander Paul Weeks, who had studied at UC.

Ends

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