NEW YORK, NY —
— TERRORIST HIJACKING
This theory was prominent early on after it was discovered that two Iranians on board — one 18, the other 28 — were traveling on stolen passports. Investigators haven’t found anything linking either to terror groups; it is believed they were trying to illegally immigrate to Europe.
Ever since 9/11, it’s much harder for an unauthorized person to enter the cockpit. Cockpit doors have been reinforced and procedures have been put in place to ensure nobody gains entry when a pilot exits. And passengers and crew have shown a willingness to confront anyone trying to take over or damage a plane.
Could someone have been allowed into the cockpit? It’s against protocol, but does happen. Back in 2011, Flight 370’s co-pilot and another pilot invited two women boarding their aircraft to sit in the cockpit for an international flight. During the journey, the pilots smoked and flirted, one of the women said this month.
Still, no credible group has taken credit for the disappearance and intelligence agencies say they haven’t noticed any chatter in terrorist circles regarding the jet.
— SUDDEN CATASTROPHE
Aviation experts initially suspected that something sudden and horrific happened. Perhaps a bomb on board, or some type of failure with the engines or airframe. But if that were the case, debris would have been found in the spot where the transponder went off. Also, the Boeing 777 has just one crash in its 19-year history — last year’s Asiana Airlines crash in San Francisco. If there was a sudden breakup, pieces of the plane would have been visible on radar.
An electrical fire, or perhaps a fire from hazardous cargo, could have knocked out communications equipment and prevented crewmembers and passengers from calling for help. Some people have speculated that smoke incapacitated the pilots. It’s possible, but flight attendants and passengers would have had time to try to enter the cockpit and take control of the plane.