Various scenarios have been put forth as potential explanations for the disappearance of MH370. As I have shown in my book, there is only one that is consistent with all of the known facts. The objective here is to describe and compare other scenarios, and to examine and assess their validity. This process will allow us to dismiss any scenarios which are not supported by the available evidence and pinpoint how they are deficient.
For MH370, a demonstrative way to present and evaluate the various scenarios is to use a simple table or grid pattern. For example, let’s imagine a traditional Battleship game board, which, if you have ever played it, has rows labelled A to J, and columns numbered from 1 to 10.
Now, let’s replace the letters with all the known facts about Flight MH370. So ‘A’ becomes “MH370 departs”, underneath, ‘B’ becomes “MH370 climbs to 35,000 feet”, ‘C’ becomes “MH370 switches to the next frequency”, and so on. “MH370 transmits ‘Goodnight’”, “Transponder signal disappears”, “Scheduled ACARS reports stop”; all the known facts listed one underneath another until the last known fact “MH370 entered the water with its flaps down”.
Now imagine the top row of your grid. Instead of numbers, these become all the potential scenarios or potential lead events that may have taken place. So, ‘1’ might become “an onboard fire”, next to that ‘2’ might become “rapid decompression”, next to that ‘3’ might become “passenger hijack”, “electrical or mechanical failure’, ‘pilot’s intentional action’ and so on, listing all the potential events that might have led to the fatal crash.
I should acknowledge that time doesn’t permit me to mention all the known facts or list all the potential scenarios here. However, the aim is to outline how this analysis tool and method works. If used in a classroom setting, the number of potential scenarios can be expanded to include whatever the class participants suggest.
As with the game of Battleship, it is now a matter of determining whether the box A1 should be marked as a ‘hit’ (meaning the known fact could have been caused by the potential scenario) or a ‘miss’ (meaning the known fact could not have been caused by the potential scenario); or in our example ‘A’ - MH370 departs (a known fact) and ‘1’ an onboard fire (a potential scenario). A hit can be signified by a checkmark and a miss by a cross. I also acknowledge that it is possible to debate which box deserves a checkmark (✔) but for now let’s not get distracted by the specific details but rather let’s consider how it can be useful in an actual investigation analysis situation.
In working with this methodology, you must consider that when you have gathered all the known facts, there is only one scenario at the top of this grid pattern that will allow a checkmark (✔) in every position of the known facts, and instead of “you’ve sunk my battleship”, from an investigation analysis perspective, we know that this is the scenario that actually happened. If you have a cross in a position under a particular scenario, then either you have an incorrect fact (meaning you have to reassess its validity), or that scenario did not happen, and can be disregarded.
As we examine various scenarios, you may find it helpful to construct your own table or grid pattern for MH370 where you can add all the potential scenarios you can think of, and a column of known facts. You are doing real investigation work when you have to decide what you will add as a known fact. Seeking out and validating facts is the most fundamental activity in professional investigation work.
In the end, for each potential scenario, there will either be an unbroken column of check marks, or a dead end with ‘misses’ or crosses.
This is a good opportunity to explain what leads to so much of the inaccurate commentary regarding aircraft accidents. What typically happens is that people come up with a scenario that, if they used a Battleship-like grid or table like the one I have just mentioned, would string together a number of checked boxes. Then, they present that scenario as a possibility for what happened. What they fail to recognize is that if they were actually using a grid or table that had all of the known facts included, their scenario would reach a point where they would get to ‘misses’ or crosses. People who do not use a method, such as this, do not recognize that the crosses are there.
Here is an example of how that happens, using the scenario of a cockpit fire in MH370. Is it possible that a catastrophic cockpit fire could disable a transponder? The answer is yes – so give that a checkmark. Is it possible for such a fire to disable an airplane’s communication systems? The answer is yes – so give it a checkmark. Is it possible that the airplane could make several turns at high altitude with an ongoing fire? The answer is yes – so give it a checkmark. Is it possible for an oxygen leak to increase the severity of an in-flight fire? The answer is yes – so give that a checkmark. Is it possible for a fire to cause an airplane to depressurize? The answer is yes – so give it a checkmark. Is it possible for a fire to disable a flight crew? The answer is yes – so give that a checkmark.
With all these checkmarks lining up, the individual doing the research becomes convinced they have discovered what happened, or at the very least what could have happened. In the absence of proof showing where the crosses would be on the grid, people can come to believe that their scenario “probably did happen”, and convince others.
It is important to realize that someone who is presenting a scenario that theoretically could happen is not actually providing proof that it did happen, no matter how meticulous his or her research might appear. In the absence of accurate factual information from the official investigation (as is the case with the MH370 investigation), any theory with reasonable looking logic is as good as the next one.
Inevitably, unless someone is working with the scenario that actually happened, their scenario will have boxes that cannot be given a checkmark. Some cannot find the ‘misses’, or crosses, for their scenario because they choose to disregard any fact that does not fit with it. Others do not discover them because they simply do not have the expertise to recognize what all the facts are, or how to assess them.
No matter what method is attempted to assess the facts, it can only work if the inputted facts are correct. The official MH370 investigation team went astray when they accepted the unpiloted airplane theory as a fact. They went further astray when they calculated that before entering the water the airplane was in an unpiloted high-speed dive. Then they went completely astray when they incorrectly assessed that the flaps were retracted (up) when the airplane entered the water.
In examining theories that have been proposed for what happened to MH370, it is not my intention to single out any particular individual for their attachment to any specific theory. From what I have read, for any given theory that has been proposed by an individual, there are many others who have expressed their support or opposition.
I have attempted to group the collective thinking on each general theory into one descriptive narrative – for the purpose of assessing its validity: