Tag: Andreas Lubitz

What did Malaysia know about MH370 and when?

Sunday, 23 June, 2019

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 (MH370) disappeared on 8 March 2014 while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. All 227 passengers and 12 crew aboard are presumed dead and the vanishing of the plane into the widths and depths of the Indian Ocean remains the great mystery of modern aviation. If you wanted someone to write the foreground and background story of this mystery, the writer you’d pick is William Langewiesche, an American journalist who was also a professional airplane pilot for many years. The result of his investigation for The Atlantic is titled What Really Happened to Malaysia’s Missing Airplane and it makes for compelling and disturbing reading.

Two people play a central role in the mystery: Fariq Hamid, the first officer, 27 years old, who was flying the airplane, and the pilot in command, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53, one of the most senior captains at Malaysia Airlines.

“It is easy to imagine Zaharie toward the end, strapped into an ultra-comfortable seat in the cockpit, inhabiting his cocoon in the glow of familiar instruments, knowing that there could be no return from what he had done, and feeling no need to hurry. He would long since have repressurized the airplane and warmed it to the right degree. There was the hum of the living machine, the beautiful abstractions on the flatscreen displays, the carefully considered backlighting of all the switches and circuit breakers.”

The implication here is that Zaharie hijacked his own plane and intentionally murdered everyone on board. The inevitable comparison is with Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot of a Germanwings Airbus who deliberately crashed it into the French Alps on 24 March 2015, causing the deaths of everyone on board. He had waited for the pilot went to use the lavatory then locked him out of the cockpit. Zaharie, as Langewiesche points out, however, “was not a German signing on to a life in a declining industry of budget airlines, low salaries, and even lower prestige. He was flying a glorious Boeing 777 in a country where the national airline and its pilots are still considered a pretty big deal.”

Lubitz suffered from depression and Langewiesche says that there’s a strong suspicion in the aviation and intelligence communities that Zaharie Ahmad Shah was clinically depressed. “If Malaysia were a country where, in official circles, the truth was welcome, then the police portrait of Zaharie as a healthy and happy man would carry some weight. But Malaysia is not such a country, and the official omission of evidence to the contrary only adds to all the other evidence that Zaharie was a troubled man.”

Langewiesche’s conclusion is chilling: “The important answers probably don’t lie in the ocean but on land, in Malaysia. That should be the focus moving forward. Unless they are as incompetent as the air force and air traffic control, the Malaysian police know more than they have dared to say. The riddle may not be deep. That is the frustration here. The answers may well lie close at hand, but they are more difficult to retrieve than any black box.”

The loss of MH370 was a tragedy and, according to William Langewiesche, quite probably a monstrous crime. That the Malaysian authorities could be an accessory to mass murder should terrify everyone who reads his superb reporting.

Malaysia Airlines