In a report from The Wall Street Journal, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), has announced they have concluded it was “highly, highly likely” the autopilot on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 was deliberately turned on after the aircraft veered off course. They also have concluded the crew and passengers has blacked out after they were deprived of oxygen and, after that occurred, the aircraft ultimately ran out of fuel (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/malaysia-airlines-flight-lostoxygen-says-report-2014-06-27).
Just when you thought the Australians were the adults in the room, they go and do something like releasing this type of speculation. And, lest there be any doubt at all, while the Australian Deputy Prime Minister said it was “highly, highly likely” these things occurred, the ATSB stressed that “its conclusions weren’t backed up by hard evidence.”
After reading this, you have to ask yourself whether anyone – any government – has learned anything from the months of missteps since March 8. Think about it, its “highly, highly likely,” but there’s no “hard evidence.” We suggest this is precisely the kind of thing in which professional investigators should not engage. It’s okay to confirm that these are areas the investigation is examining, but to say its “highly, highly likely,” but there’s no “hard” evidence, is “highly, highly” irresponsible.
We note that the ATSB also indicated that the Malaysian authorities, who are leading the investigation, may not share their view. Apparently, and, we note, wisely, both Malaysia Airlines and the Malaysian Government wouldn’t comment on the ATSB report. Bravo!
Apart from engaging in speculation of the highest order, why is the ATSB even talking about the investigation publicly? The Australian Government, admirably, assumed direction of the search efforts since, according to them, the initial search area was in the international waters for which they have search and rescue/recovery responsibility. But they’re not leading the investigation and they shouldn’t be speculating about the investigation, much less doing so and, at the same time, acknowledging the absence of “hard” evidence. We guess the logical question which presents itself is “What evidence is there, other than what we know already, that someone engaged the autopilot and that the occupants were unconscious?”
At the risk of answering our own question, other than speculating, there is no evidence. Our advice to the Australian Government is to focus on the search, and stop making announcements about what is “highly, highly likely.” No one knows what happened other than knowing that it’s highly, highly likely the aircraft is at the bottom of the ocean somewhere. The only things we know, perhaps with certainty, are that the aircraft didn’t fly thru a “black hole” or get taken away by an alien spaceship.
(Originally posted June 30, 2014)