MH370 theories revealed in Netflix documentary on missing Malaysian Airlines plane

Hopes of finding the final resting place of flight MH370 are fading, though parts have washed ashore.

Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 took off just before 12:45 a.m. on March 8, 2014, with pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah at the helm.

The Boeing 777 flew from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, China, but, as we know, never reached its destination. The flight lost all radar contact a minute and a half after takeoff and disappeared without a trace.

What happened during the flight remains one of aviation’s greatest mysteries, with dozens of theories. A new Netflix docuseries, MH370: the plane that disappearedattempts to examine these statements and separate fact from fiction.

Experts were “unable to determine the true cause of the disappearance,” according to a final commission report, and the crash site has never been confirmed, although parts have washed ashore, mainly on Madagascar. This has not stopped dozens of experts and experts from proposing theories.


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The new Netflix series is available in New Zealand.  Photo / Netflix
The new Netflix series is available in New Zealand. Photo / Netflix

Were we looking in the wrong place?

Cyndi Hendry, a volunteer for Tomnod, a satellite imaging company that is no longer operational, tells viewers of the Netflix series that people have been looking in the wrong water.

The volunteer, from Florida, was randomly assigned satellite images from Tomnod to look through.

In an episode of the docuseries, Hendry said that several days after the plane disappeared in the South China Sea miles away from the search area, she saw what looked like airplane debris.

“The satellite images were blank. It was just the blackness of the sea. Then you press next, more black scans. So much black. And then there’s finally something white,’ she said.


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After seeing a mass of white debris, Hendry was able to match the shapes to the outline of a Boeing 777, which gave her “goosebumps”.

Hendry contacted Malaysia Airlines and others, but her ideas were rejected.

“I have tried to reach so many people to tell them that this debris exists. Nobody listened to me,” she said.

Instead, Malaysian researchers listened to data, the Netflix show reveals.

While the plane lost radar communication, it had fuel in the tank for about seven hours and continued to communicate electronically with a satellite owned by a company called Inmarsat.

“Every hour, the Inmarsat system checked whether the satellite terminal in the aircraft was responding. These pings continued until six hours after last contact,” Inmarsat representative Mark Dickinson said in one of the episodes.

Inmarsat data could confirm the plane was in the air, but not its exact location. However, it could report the distance to the satellite. Based on this information, two detour routes have been proposed.

Both suggest that MH370 returned to Malaysia and flew to the South Indian Ocean or north over Central Asia.

For this reason, researchers were convinced that it had landed in the Indian Ocean.

Was it the pilot?

One theory suggests that Shah, the pilot, purposefully crashed the plane into the Indian Ocean to commit mass murder suicide. This is supported by data found on a flight simulator at Shah’s home, which had been used just a month earlier to fly a similar diverted course.


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MH370 pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah.
MH370 pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah.

While it may seem incriminating, a member of the Independent Group – a watchdog group of aviation experts dealing with the MH370 case – said it was not a “smoking gun”.

“It is very strange that a simulation ends up with fuel exhaustion in the southern Indian Ocean,” said Mike Exner.

“I don’t think taking the simulator data by itself proves much. The simulator data is not the whole puzzle; it is only one piece of the puzzle that fits.”

Other experts suggest it would have been nearly impossible for Shah to single-handedly take over the plane, kick out his copilot, turn off radar communications, and then depressurize the cabin to prevent passengers from interfering.

Finally, there was no clear motive, with a final report stating: “There is no evidence of recent behavioral changes for the [pilot].”

Was it a group of Russian hijackers?

Another theory floated in the series is a bit more suspenseful and dramatic.


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Months after the flight disappeared, Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 was shot down by a missile while flying over Ukraine during the Russian invasion of Crimea.

Aviation journalist Jeff Wise became known among experts for controversial theories like this one.

According to Wise, three Russian passengers were seated close to an electric hatch. This meant they could have created a distraction and then gained access below deck to control the aircraft.

Instead of being sent south, Wise believes, it was taken to the former Soviet Republic of Kazakhstan.

But that theory was quickly grounded by former Malaysia Airlines crisis director Fuad Sharuji.

“Anyone who gets into the hatch can turn off the transponder and turn off the communication systems,” Sharuji said. “But it is impossible to control the aircraft from the aviation compartment.”


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Was it American interception?

Another theory suggests that it was not Russians who intercepted the flight, but Americans.

The US military was training in the South China Sea at the time, leading some to suggest that it downed MH370 at the point where it lost radar contact.

French journalist Florence de Changy noted that MH370 had 2.5 tons of electronic devices on board, which had not been scanned before loading and were being transported “under escort”.

“It is well known that China was very eager to acquire highly sensitive US technology in surveillance, stealth and drone technology,” she said. “This could be the crux of what happened to MH370.”

On the night MH370 took off, America had two radar-blocking planes nearby, leading De Changy to believe they could have knocked the plane off his radar and ordered Shah to land.

After ignoring instructions, she claimed that “either through missile strike or mid-air collision, MH370 met its fate”.


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Despite publishing a book on the idea in 2021, titled The disappearing law: the impossible case of MH370, hEr theory is also not supported by Inmarsat data projections and hard evidence is lacking.

For this reason, Mike Exner of The Independent Group said the theories were not worth discussing.

“I just don’t want to talk about Florence or Jeff or these conspiracy advocates,” he said.

“They’re just such a distraction. These are people who don’t really understand the facts and the data.”

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