MH370 disappearance 'a catalogue of errors' — top pilot on why plane will never be found

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Sylvia Wrigley, a German-born author and pilot, says the plane fell victim to several different key mistakes, which unpicked the levels of defence designed to keep the flight running smoothly.

Speaking to Daily Star Online, Sylvia explained why the case has fascinated her, and why she wrote about it in her two-volume book on aviation mysteries Without a Trace.

Sylvia said: “These days, an aircraft, especially a commercial airliner, doesn’t crash without a sequence of bad decisions.

“There’s a phrase used in aviation which is ‘the holes in the cheese lined up’.

“This is based on the Swiss Cheese model, where there are layers of defence, modelled by slices of cheese, which are meant to protect us from things going wrong.

MH370

THEORY: MH370 is one of the greatest aviation mysteries of all time (Pic: DS)

The Swiss Cheese model

EXPLANATION: Sylvia says the Swiss Cheese model shows how various errors linked up (Pic: WIKIPEDIA)

MH370 wreckage in Thailand

SEARCH: Wreckage said to be from MH370 has been found as far apart as Thailand and Madagascar (Pic: GETTY)

“An aircraft, especially a commercial airliner, doesn’t crash without a sequence of bad decisions”

Sylvia Wrigley, pilot and author

“But these slices always have holes in them — humans make mistakes, procedures break down, systems malfunction.

“Normally, the next slice of cheese would protect against the flaw so that the flight is still safe — one hole or one issue will not cause an accident in a modern aircraft.

“But when these issues accumulate, multiple layers of protection can be bypassed, which is what’s described as the holes lining up.”

She explained how this model applied to MH370, adding: “We can see this in practice without even knowing what happened on the aircraft.”

Sylvia went on: “Air traffic control was aware that MH370 was not in contact very soon after the Boeing 777 flew off route but they waited over five hours before sounding the alarm.

“Malaysian military saw the aircraft pass but decided that as it was civilian, they could ignore it, even though it was off track and had no business being there.

“Search and rescue operations searched the South China Sea while MH370 continued to fly for almost another three hours over the Indian Ocean.

“By the time anyone thought to look there, the Boeing was long gone.”

MH370 victims's families

CAMPAIGN: The families of those on board MH370 are still fighting to find out what happened (Pic: GETTY)

Sylvia Wrigley

EXPERT: Pilot and author Sylvia Wrigley (Pic: TWITTER/AKASYLVIA)

Without a Trace by Sylvia Wrigley

RELEASE: Without a Trace by Sylvia Wrigley documents aviation mysteries (Pic: FEAROFLANDING.COM)

She added: “If air traffic control had alerted the world to the missing aircraft immediately, if the military had reported that they’d seen it on the radar, if the search and rescue had been centred on the Indian Ocean on that same day, then we might have some answers.”

All 239 passengers and crew on board Malaysia Airlines flight 370 are missing, presumed dead.

The plane disappeared on March 8, 2014, just 38 minutes after taking off from the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur.

It was bound for Beijing, China, but vanished from air traffic control radar screens over the South China Sea.

Military radar tracked the plane for another hour as it travelled westwards away from its planned flight path.

As it crossed the Malay Peninsula and over the Andaman Sea, it left radar range and was never seen again.

Wreckage believed to be from the plane has washed up as far away as Madagascar, but as yet, no definitive explanation for the flight’s disappearance has been made.

One theory is that MH370 was hacked through the in-flight entertainment system.

Expert computer hacker Chris Roberts explained the plane could have been hacked mid-air while the attacker was on the ground.

Another possible theory is that the Malaysian government hid the truth about the plane after it disappeared.

Private investigator Noel O’Gara said the plane was accidentally shot down on government orders before they covered up what they had done.

Sylvia Wrigley was speaking about her book Without a Trace — a two-volume work covering aviation mysteries from 1881 to the present day.

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