NEW YORK, NY —
A slow or sudden decompression, causing a loss of oxygen, could have killed everyone on board. If oxygen levels dropped, a loud, automated warning would have alerted the pilots to put on their oxygen masks and immediately descend below 10,000 feet, where there is enough oxygen to breathe without aid.
If the plane depressurized and killed its occupants, which happened on golfer Payne Stewart’s business jet in 1999, that would explain the silence from crew and passengers. But aviation experts say in that case, the plane should have kept flying automatically toward Beijing and been visible on radar.
— HIDDEN PLANE
It’s possible that somebody landed the plane at some remote airport and is hiding it from the world. Maybe they want to hold the passengers hostage, although nobody has taken responsibility or demanded a ransom. Maybe there was something of value in the cargo hold — and this was the world’s most elaborate robbery. Maybe terrorists have the plane and plan to load it with jet fuel and explosives and use it as a missile in the future.
Those scenarios all have holes. A very skilled pilot would have to land the plane at a small airport that normally doesn’t accommodate 777s. They might have had to land in the dark, without normal navigation aids to assist. And they would have to dodge several nations’ radar systems, though some have suggested that it stealthily flew in another jet’s shadow.
Yet it’s hard to rule out anything. It took Thailand’s government 10 days to acknowledge that it spotted what might have been Flight 370 on its radar. Governments aren’t necessarily open to sharing all their information, especially when it comes to their military radar capabilities.
But why go to all the trouble of stealing a commercial jet? A cargo plane would be easier to steal.
— ACCIDENTAL SHOOT-DOWN
Civilian aircraft have been unintentionally shot down by a country’s military. In July 1988, the United States Navy missile cruiser USS Vincennes accidently shot down an Iran Air flight, killing all 290 passengers and crew. In September 1983, a Korean Air Lines flight was shot down by a Russian fighter jet. There is no evidence that Flight 370 was brought down by a government entity.