As the days go by without any news of what happened to Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, theories about what may happened have grown increasingly wilder, with even suggestions of aliens and supernatural agents thrown into the mix. (See here for more wild theories.)
Reader Reese sent me a link to a widely circulated article where a pilot offers what he thinks is the most likely scenario and it does sound plausible. Another article examines ten possible not-entirely-crazy theories and the problems with each of them, including the one in Reese’s link. At the Atlantic magazine, James Fallows, who is a pilot himself, explainshow transponders and other navigation guides work and why some of the suggestions about them are not desirable.
As someone with no knowledge of aircraft piloting or technology, I have little means of gauging the merits of the theories and so tend to defer to the opinions of pilots and other aviation experts. One thing that I have read repeatedly is that in an emergency, pilots tend to not immediately report what is happening to ground control. They use the mantra of ‘aviate, navigate, communicate’ to determine in what sequence they should do things. In an emergency, they focus on regaining control of the plane and so the lack of immediate communication with ground control, which has led to much speculation as to possible nefarious motives on their part, may not be as significant as us lay people think.
It kind of makes sense. If you have ever been the driver of a car where you had to take sudden action in an emergency, you become intensely focused on controlling the car and any passenger who yells out asking what is happening is seen as a distraction and ignored until the crisis is over.