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A possible depressurization could solve the mystery of flight MH370

19 March 2014 / 11:03:15  GRReporter
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Already 11 days global aviation has been trying, in vain, to find an answer to the mystery surrounding the missing Boeing 777 of Malaysian Airlines. There are many similarities with the case of the plane of the Cyprus company Helios Airways that crashed near Athens in 2005. Therefore, we sought the expert opinion of Captain Yanko Stoimenov, a former chief pilot of Helios Airways, who talked with Maria S. Topalova.

- Mr. Stoimenov, what are the similarities and the differences between the case of the missing Boeing 777 of Malaysian Airlines, which cannot be found for 11 days already, and the crash of Boeing of Cypriot Helios Airways near Athens in 2005?

- This case is very interesting. It has many similarities with the fatal flight 522 of Helios Airways. In both cases the connection with the crew of the aircraft was lost and a loss of control of the aircraft on the part of the crew for some reason is also possible in this case. If we compare it with the case of the crashed plane of the Cypriot company Helios Airways the difference is that it had deviated from the pre-planned route. This route is set in the computer and the plane has to follow it even if the crew is out of service for some reason. Assuming that something had happened on board and put the crew and passengers out of action, this modern aircraft, at that stage of the flight, namely one hour after take-off, would have followed the route and completed it like the plane of Helios Airways had completed it after using up the fuel on board and stopping the engines. However, in this case, there was a deviation from the route and this is a significant difference. This cannot happen without interference. The deviation can happen if the board computer has been pre-programmed or if the autopilot receives direct commands, or if the automatic control is turned off, thus switching to manual control, but it all requires human intervention with high competence in respect of this type of aircraft. Obviously, this could be the result of a deliberate act. If it was the work of the pilots because of an emergency, there was no indication of this. There was no distress signal; there was no code in the transponder, which establishes connection with the ground services, to suggest that the plane was in distress or that there was an emergency, or that it lost radio contact, or was the object of terrorist acts. There are three different codes that pilots can use in these three situations. Like in the case with the plane of Helios Airways, the connection with the crew was lost. In fact, we do not know to date what happened on board the plane of Helios Airways because there was no evidence and the investigation ended with speculation about what had happened. Now everything said in connection with Malaysian Boeing is speculation too. Like in the case with Helios Airways the accident is being politicized and politicians are in the foreground instead of experts. Everything is being associated with the crew, thus shifting the focus on details that can be used as the basis for shifting the blame on the human factor, which is very convenient in such cases.

- Indeed, the investigation is now focused on the two pilots. Is there something strange and unusual that makes you an impression bearing in mind the information about them available to date?

- I do not know in detail their history but the emphasis is on fact that, at some point, they did not want to fly together. This was one of the charges in the case of Helios Airways, although there was no evidence of this. I do not know if there is any evidence in this case either. One cannot expect that the hundreds of pilots in a large company would be of similar temper. However, we are talking about professionals and a difference in their temper does not prevent them from controlling such complex equipment in a safe manner. There are people in the government of a country who cannot stand other people too, and that does not mean that the country is going to collapse. These are quite hasty conclusions. Naturally, if you have to fly with someone in a cabin for 15 hours you would rather prefer to have something to talk about, beyond professional duties. In addition, it is quite ordinary for a pilot to have a Flight Simulator at home, I also have one and like playing with it from time to time.

Tags: MH370Boeing 777Missing planeMalaysian AirlinesCyprus company Helios AirwaysHellenic Air Accident Investigation and Aviation Safety BoardYanko Stoimenov
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