INDIA – How to Get a Pilot License After 35 Min in the Air.

Anupam Verma has a certificate that shows he has flown an aircraft for 360 hours. He says he got it after sitting in the co-pilot’s seat for just 35 minutes.

He’s one of dozens of pilots in the country who obtained certificates showing inflated flying hours and ground training, according to court documents and interviews with pilots, regulators and industry analysts. The son of a poor farmer, Verma was given a 2.8 million-rupee ($44,000) subsidy by the Indian government to learn to fly a commercial jet.

“What if I was flying and had an emergency? I wouldn’t even know how or where to land,” Verma, 25, said in an interview. “We’d kill not only the passengers, but we might crash in a village and kill even more people.”

The spotlight on aviation safety has swung from aircraft reliability to pilot reliability in the past few years after a series of disasters that were thought to be either deliberate acts of destruction, or the result of inadequate training. The latest, in March, killed 150 people when Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz appears to have locked his captain out of the cockpit and flown his jet into a mountain.

Concern about the quality of India’s pilots has been building over the past decade as a proliferation of budget airlines created demand for hundreds of new pilots. In 2011, the government reviewed the licenses of all 4,000-plus airline pilots in the country, as police investigated at least 18 people suspected of using forged documents to win promotions or certification. The findings of the review were not made public.

India Under Fire for Quality of Airline Pilots
“The fudging of log books is rampant both in airlines and in flying clubs,” said Mohan Ranganathan, a former commercial pilot and aviation safety consultant based in Chennai. He said the 2011 audit found violations in most flying clubs in the country. “Hours were logged with aircraft not even in airworthy condition. One aircraft had no engines but several hundred hours were logged.”
Asked about the continued use of fake certificates, India’s Director General of Civil Aviation, M. Sathiyavathy, said on April 24 the directorate would be conducting a new audit that would require the “recertification of all the flying schools.”

Fake Flying
Over logging has been common practice in India since the 1960s, according to a retired commander who has flown in India for over 40 years and asked not to be named because the information was confidential. With the increase in budget airlines the typical number of faked hours rose from about 20 hours to a peak of as much as 150, he said.

He said airlines can soon tell if a pilot has faked certificates because they don’t have basic skills, but the carrier can’t fire them because they have DGCA licenses. To bring them up to scratch, airlines have to do expensive corrective training, he said.

Of India’s seven major airlines, Tata SIA Airlines Ltd.’s Vistara said it is aware of over logging, but tests all new pilots and provides its own training. SpiceJet Ltd. said it only hires from prestigious air schools and tests and trains all new pilots. IndiGo, Air India Ltd., Jet Airways India Ltd. and AirAsia India Ltd. didn’t respond to e-mails and phone calls about the issue. Go Airlines India Pvt. Ltd. declined to comment.

The rise of budget carriers not only increased demand for pilots, it also sparked a price war that wiped out the industry’s profit. India’s carriers have lost $10 billion in the past seven years as they offered base fares as low as 1 rupee (2 cents). That works out as a loss of about $22 for each passenger that stepped on board during the period, according to the Sydney-based CAPA Centre for Aviation.

Yet, for people like Verma, the award of a government grant to learn to fly is a chance to escape poverty. His father supports his family of seven by selling vegetables grown on a plot of land half the size of a football field. Most of his siblings only work part-time to supplement the income.

Yash Air
Verma enrolled in December 2009 at Yash Air, a flying school in the city of Indore, halfway between Mumbai and Delhi. On his first day, he said he was taken on a 35-minute “air-experience” flight to give him a feel of what it was like to be in a plane. Moments after the aircraft landed, he was handed a certificate of flying for 360 hours, he said in an interview on June 1. He said he was told he will do the actual flying later during the course, but that he eventually flew for just 3 hours at the school.

When Verma and other trainee pilots realized they weren’t going to gain the necessary flying experience, they complained to the school and Verma sued for return of the money he paid. The Allahabad High Court ordered that his fees be returned, according to a court order in February this year.

“Several discrepancies have been noticed with regard to over logging of flight details, flight authorization, maintenance of various log books and fuel consumption registers,” according to a DGCA enquiry into the complaints about Yash Air, dated June 6, 2014, a copy of which was given to Bloomberg News.

On May 19, 2010, a qualified pilot from Yash Air took a trainee pilot on a “joy ride” in a Cessna-152 and hit a power line, according to the DGCA’s final report into the accident. The two-seater, single-engined trainer crashed into a dry river bed, splitting into five pieces and killing the men. They were both about 20 years old, according to the report, dated Dec. 17, 2010.

The owner and chief trainer at the school, Yash Raj Tongia, was appointed as the DGCA’s director of flying and training in 2011, even though his flying skills were “below standard,” the June 2014 DGCA report said.

Court Ruling
Yash Air changed its name to Centaur Aviation Academy Pvt. Ltd. after the allegations were made in 2010, according to the Allahabad High Court. Yash Air issued certificates to its students without conducting ground classes and flying training, the court said in December 2014.

Attempts to get the flying school or Tongia to comment on Verma’s claims were unsuccessful. Calls to Tongia’s mobile phone number listed in the court documents were unanswered. Kshemendra Shukla, one of the lawyers who represents Yash Air, said he doesn’t have any contact number for Tongia. He didn’t respond to questions concerning Yash Air.

Telephone numbers for Yash Air and Centaur Aviation were no longer in service. The DGCA said Centaur Aviation’s approval remains suspended.

Even with the minimum 200 hours mandated by the Indian government, pilots would be unlikely to have experienced all of the weather and other conditions they’re likely to meet flying a commercial jet, said Neil Hansford, an aviation consultant, who has worked in the industry in Asia, Europe and his home country, Australia since 1984.

Airlines should hire pilots with at least 1,000 hours of flying time and preferably match the 1,500 hours mandated by Qantas Airways Ltd., he said. Pilots in countries like Australia often gain years of experience in general aviation — delivering mail to remote areas, ferrying mine workers or in the Royal Flying Doctor Service — before flying jetliners.

That will test a pilot in a variety of conditions, so “when th chips are down, they still remember the basics of stick-and-rudder flying,” Hansford said. “The wrong time to be challenged is when you have 300 people behind you.”

Asian Carriers
For budget airlines in Asia, that’s often not an option. Singapore’s Tiger Airways Holding Ltd. said it hires holders of multi-crew or commercial pilot licenses with about 200 flying hours and then gives them further training.

Full-service carrier Asiana Airlines Inc., based in Seoul, looks for at least 300 hours, said spokesman Daewoong Im. “Realistically, it’s difficult to get a non-military person with more than 300 flying hours,” he said.

Carriers also use simulators and other ground training to improve pilots’ experience.

In India, many private Indian flying schools began as clubs that trained pilots without formal regulations. While schools in the U.S. use a Hobbs Meter, which automatically logs flight times and other data for training aircraft, some Indian schools still enter flight times by hand, making it easier to falsify data. Indian flying academies that falsify data run cars on aviation fuel to avoid a mismatch between flight times and fuel consumption, said three people who have worked directly with flying schools in the country.

India’s government has made successive efforts to stamp out false documentation and improve safety in the industry. After the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration downgraded India’s safety rating in 2014 on concerns over insufficient manpower, India hired more safety inspectors and carried out a fresh audit of its airlines. The FAA restored India to its top safety tier in April.

Fewer Accidents
Since 2000, the number of fatal aviation accidents in India has declined, data from Aviation Safety Network show. The last major airline disaster was in 2010, when an Air India Express plane overshot the runway in the city of Mangalore and burst into flames, killing 158 people.

India is putting in “a lot of effort” to ensure safety of airline passengers and student pilots, civil aviation chief Sathiyavathy told reporters on April 24. The DGCA didn’t respond to phone calls and text messages asking for comment on the issue of fake certificates.

That hasn’t stopped under-trained pilots applying for jobs with the nation’s biggest airlines. One qualified pilot, who asked not to be named because it may harm his career, said he completed fewer than 120 of the 200 hours his certificates say he has done. He said he is in the process of applying to fly for IndiGo, the nation’s biggest carrier.

Another pilot, who said his certificates showed an inflated number of hours for solo flights, applied to Air India.

Neither of the two pilots has been hired by the airlines.

As for Verma, he said he passed the entrance exam to the government-owned Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Uran Akademi in Uttar Pradesh. He’s looking forward to finally learning to fly this year.

Source: Anurak Kotoki – Bloomberg

Asiana Flights between ICN and SFO Banned.

Asiana Airlines, South Korea’s second-largest carrier, was ordered to halt its daily flights to San Francisco after the crash while landing at the city’s airport in July last year killed three passengers.

The airline won’t be allowed to fly to the city for 45 days from Seoul- Incheon airport, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said today. Investigations by the US National Transportation Safety Board found pilot error, inadequate training on automation system of the B777 aircraft led to the fatal accident.

Asiana strengthened pilot training, appointed a new chief executive officer and hired an official to oversee safety after Flight 214 struck a seawall short of the San Francisco airport on July 6 last year. The carrier violated US law by not promptly helping victims and family members immediately after the crash, which also injured 49 people, the Department of Transportation said in February.

“The government plans to implement additional measures to ensure proper pilot training at Asiana,” the ministry said.

The government reduced the penalty from the maximum of 90 days because of the crew’s efforts to evacuate passengers, the ministry said in the statement. Asiana has six months to comply with the ruling. The order will be finalized if the airline doesn’t object within the next 15 days.

Asiana will consider legal steps against the government’s decision, the Seoul-based airline said in an e-mailed statement after the government pronounced its verdict. The carrier’s shares gained 3.4% to 4,630 won as of 2.21pm in the city.

IATA’s support
Since the San Francisco crash, the South Korean government has stepped up regulations to improve airline safety standards, including steeper penalties for accidents involving casualties.

The International Air Transport Association had sent a letter to the South Korean transport ministry last month that the airline shouldn’t be sanctioned over the crash. A carrier already suffers significant financial loss from life and equipment, legal liability and damage to image, the group said.

The pilots on Flight 214 mismanaged their approach to the airport, failed to
notice the deteriorating speed and lights near the runway showing they were too low, and then didn’t abort the touchdown, which they were trained to do, according to the NTSB. The two pilots also didn’t communicate as they each made changes to the cockpit automation, the board found.

Source: Bloomberg News
Photo: Reuters

FAA Issues a New Icing Certification Rule

The Federal Aviation Administration issued last Wesnesday a new rule amending the airworthiness standards aplicable to certain transport category aircraft certified for flight into known icing conditions.

The FAA adopted this rule to improve the safety standards of those transport category airplanes operating in areas where supercooled large droplets – SLD are present. The new rule requires to achieve certain flying characteristics and performance during an icing encounter, also expand the engine installation certification and some component certification regulations like, angle of attack, airspeed indication, etc.

See the new rule here

Indian Pilots and the PPC

Indian airlines currently have almost 350 commercial pilots flying the skies with lapsed or invalid licences due to their failure to to renew their pilot’s proficiency check – PPC.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is now contemplating action against the heads of training department of these airlines, while asking the carriers to complete the required training of pilots in a time-bound manner.

“All Indian carriers — Jet, Air India, SpiceJet, GoAir and IndiGo (in this order)—have some pilots who have not completed all checks required to keep their flying licences valid. While Jet and AI have 131 and over 100 such pilots, respectively, the three low cost have almost 100 cases. Now, we have written to AirAsia India and Air Costa to tell us if they too have any such pilots,” said a senior official, adding that in all there would be over 350 pilots with invalid licences.

DGCA chief Prabhat Kumar is learnt to be contemplating action against the training heads of airlines, just like he had ordered removal of Jet’s training chief last month after 131 pilots of that airline were found to be flying even after expiry of validity of their last pilot proficiency check (PPC). This test is required to be given every six months and Pilots are not supposed to fly without a valid PPC. The action will be decided when the data from all airlines comes in.

On its part, AI said that the issue arose after the DGCA last September made it mandatory for pilots to give the PPC every six months. This check was earlier also required to be given bi-annually but the first one in first eight months of the year and the second in last four. “This new six-monthly check would have required us to renew nearly 800 licences overnight, which was not possible. All licences valid before this CAR has been renewed uptil October 2014 as per the old rule by DGCA,” the AI statement said.

AI added that all the licences have been renewed till date. “At present, therefore, there are no pilots flying without a valid licence,” the airline statement said.

Source: The Times of India
Photo: Weekly Times of India

How can they lose an airplane?

The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 resumed this week with three ships combing a remote region of the Indian Ocean off the western coast of Australia. Meanwhile, the NTSB – National Transportation Safety Board gathered in Washington with aviation experts from around the world to discuss ways of improving how planes are tracked while in the air and how they are located when they crash.

Malaysia Flight 370 has now been missing for seven months after dramatically changing course and vanishing without a trace approximately eight hours later. The flight left Kuala Lumpur for Beijing on March 8. Early in the flight, the plane’s transponder signal and radio went silent. Some speculate that the communications were switched off in the cockpit and remained off as the plane flew for as long as it had fuel to do so. Satellite data were used to piece together a rough flight path, but the plane and its passengers have yet to be found.

“When a flight cannot be located, an incredulous public asks: ‘How can they possibly lose a plane?’ ” NTSB’s acting chairman Christopher Hart said at the conference.

Aircrafts that crash on land can be quickly located by ELT – Emergency Locator signals. Finding an aircraft that ditch in the ocean is more difficult. Boeing estimates that ocean crashes have been occurring roughly once every year over the past 30 years. Two tragedies in recent years emphasize how challenging these crashes can be to find. In addition to Malaysian 370, Air France 447 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean in 2009. It took two years for investigators to locate the French plane’s black boxes on the ocean floor.

The potential solutions that the NTSB is considering address the challenges faced in locating ocean crash sites. The Malaysian craft used automatic dependent surveillance — broadcast, or ADS-B, which allows a plane’s movement to be monitored by land-based radio towers. The system is expected to soon allow tracking by satellite too, which increases coverage into open ocean waters.

Other options under consideration involve live streaming of cockpit and flight recorder data as a plane proceeds along its route. Current recorders capture either the most recent one or two hours of data, and officials say this can be increased to up to 20 hours. Black box pinger batteries may be improved to last 90 days instead of the standard 30. Finally, the kind of black box used in some military aircraft, ones that detach from a ditching plane and float on their own, could be repurposed for commercial use.

“This system could be deployed today,” said Richard Hayden, whose company builds the devices.

Source: Daily Digest News.

A350 XWB at One Step to Win Certification

 

The Airbus A350 XWB is expecting to win European certification next Tuesday, according to the manufacturer.

The Airbus A350XWB expecting to win certification next Tuesday.

The Airbus A350XWB expecting to win certification next Tuesday.

This approval will allow Airbus newest wide-body jetliner to enter service once the first production model has been tested and delivered to launch customer Qatar Airways, which the companies expect to happen in the fourth quarter.
The competitor of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner was developed at an estimated cost of $15 billion.

In a larger version to be developed, the A350 is also expected to compete with Boeing’s larger 777.

After more than year of flight trials, the European Aviation Safety Agency and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration are expected to give their approvals simultaneously, but without the glitzy celebrations which marked the certification of the A380 superjumbo in 2006.

Airbus officials said last week the certification could take place in coming days. The company declined further comment. EASA was not immediately available for comment.
Airbus had set a September target for the first flight of its upgraded A320neo, which took place on Thursday, and for the certification of the A350.

Source: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

A350 XWB takes centre stage at Istanbul airshow 2014

The A350 XWB test aircraft MSN5 will fly to Turkey for the first time ever and be the star of Airbus’ presence at the 10th Istanbul airshow between September 25th-28th 2014 at Istanbul Ataturk airport.

The A350 XWB will arrive on September 25th and be open to media and airline visitors during the morning of September 26th. The aircraft is scheduled to depart from Istanbul returning to its home base in Toulouse on the evening of the 26th September.

Visitors are welcome on Airbus stand (in hall 1 B-03) where a 1:20 scale model of the A350 XWB will be exhibited. Airbus teams will be delighted to explain more about the A350 XWB, the world’s most advanced passenger jet, as well as Airbus’ full range of aircraft offering maximum benefits to the airlines without compromising on passengers’ comfort.

Airbus’s family of widebody aircraft is the most advanced and wide-ranging product portfolio in the 200 to over 500 seat market segment. These planes offer airlines the smartest, most efficient way to capitalize on the extraordinary growth in medium and long-haul air travel especially to and from Turkey where traffic is growing at faster pace than the world’s average.

Airbus and Turkey have a long history of partnership. For more than two decades, Airbus has been providing Turkish customers with the most modern and comprehensive family of aircraft on the market, and today there are over 200 Airbus passenger and freighter aircraft in operation with Turkish operators. Airbus considers Turkey to be a strategic industrial partner and is committed to long-term mutually beneficial industrial cooperation. This is demonstrated by the placement of work packages that include transfer of technology and which help to build skills and competences in the highly competitive Turkish aviation industry.

Source: Airbus Media Room
Photo: Airbus

ICAO Joint Statement on Ebola Virus Disease

18 August 2014 – The current Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak began in Guinea in December 2013. This outbreak now involves community transmission in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and recently an ill traveler from Liberia infected a small number of people in Nigeria with whom he had direct contact. On 8 August 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) in accordance with the International Health Regulations (2005).

The risk of transmission of Ebola virus disease during air travel is low. Unlike infections such as influenza or tuberculosis, Ebola is not spread by breathing air (and the airborne particles it contains) from an infected person. Transmission requires direct contact with blood, secretions, organs or other body fluids of infected living or dead persons or animals, all unlikely exposures for the average traveler. Travelers are, in any event, advised to avoid all such contacts and routinely practice careful hygiene, like hand washing.

The risk of getting infected on an aircraft is also small as sick persons usually feel so unwell that they cannot travel and infection requires direct contact with the body fluids of the infected person. Most infections in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, are taking place in the community when family members or friends take care of someone who is ill or when funeral preparation and burial ceremonies do not follow strict infection prevention and control measures.

A second important place where transmission can occur is in clinics and other health care settings, when health care workers, patients, and other persons have unprotected contact with a person who is infected. In Nigeria, cases are related only to persons who had direct contact with a single traveler who was hospitalized upon arrival in Lagos.
It is important to note that a person who is infected is only able to spread the virus to others after the infected person has started to have symptoms. A person usually has no symptoms for two to 21 days (the “incubation period”). Symptoms include fever, weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhea, rash, and in some cases, bleeding.

The risk of a traveler becoming infected with the Ebola virus during a visit to the affected countries and developing disease after returning is very low, even if the visit includes travel to areas in which cases have been reported.

If a person, including a traveler, stayed in the areas where Ebola cases have been recently reported, he/she should seek medical attention at the first sign of illness (fever, headache, achiness, sore throat, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, rash, red eyes, and in some cases, bleeding). Early treatment can improve prognosis.
Strengthened international cooperation is needed, and should support action to contain the virus, stop transmission to other countries and mitigate the effects in those affected.

Affected countries are requested to conduct exit screening of all persons at international airports, seaports and major land crossings, for unexplained febrile illness consistent with potential Ebola infection. Any person with an illness consistent with EVD should not be allowed to travel unless the travel is part of an appropriate medical evacuation. There should be no international travel of Ebola contacts or cases, unless the travel is part of an appropriate medical evacuation.

Non-affected countries need to strengthen the capacity to detect and immediately contain new cases, while avoiding measures that will create unnecessary interference with international travel or trade. The World Health Organization (WHO) does not recommend any ban on international travel or trade, in accordance with advice from the WHO Ebola
Emergency Committee.

Travel restrictions and active screening of passengers on arrival at sea ports, airports or ground crossings in non-affected countries that do not share borders with affected countries are not currently recommended by WHO.
Worldwide, countries should provide their citizens traveling to Ebola-affected countries with accurate and relevant information on the Ebola outbreak and measures to reduce the risk of exposure.

Useful links:
WHO Advice for travelers

Source:  ICAO

 

Migrate to Asia? Boeing Projects Asia-Pacific Region To Lead the Need to Pilots and Technicians

Boeing projects the Asia Pacific region’s demand for new commercial airline pilots and maintenance technicians over the next 20 years will be 39 percent of the global need for new airline personnel.

The manufacturer projects a requirement for 216,000 new commercial airline pilots and 224,000 new technicians in the Asia Pacific region through 2033. That regional demand is forecasted to be more than North America and Europe combined.

“The Asia Pacific region is seeing tremendous economic growth and is set to become the largest air travel market in the world,” said Bob Bellitto, director, Customer Group, Boeing Flight Services. “That growth rate means booming career opportunities for those interested in becoming commercial airline pilots and maintenance technicians over the next two decades. These are strong, stable and challenging jobs in one of the most technologically advanced industries in the world.”

Leading the region in projected demand for new pilots and technicians:

• China – 98,000 pilots and 101,000 technicians
• Southeast Asia – 55,000 pilots and 55,000 technicians

Other parts of the region will also continue to see long-term demand in the tens of thousands of pilots and technicians:

• South Asia will need 33,000 pilots and 30,000 technicians
• Northeast Asia will need 17,000 pilots and 24,000 technicians
• The Oceania region will need 13,000 pilots and 14,000 technicians

As with personnel demand, the Asia Pacific region also leads the demand for new commercial airplane deliveries over the next 20 years, with 13,460 new airplanes needed by 2033 according to Boeing’s 2014 Current Market Outlook.

MH370 Pilot Depressurized the Cabin to Kill Himself, Claims Kiwi Airlines Boss

The pilot of the missing MH370 flight killed himself and his passengers by switching off the oxygen supply in what is the sixth example of such a suicide, according to an aviation expert.

Ewan Wilson, head of Kiwi Airlines, believes Zaharie Ahmad Shah planned mass murder – locking his co-pilot out of the cockpit, depressurising the cabin and shutting down all communication links before turning the plane around.

Having examined all other possibilities, Mr Wilson insists that Shah, 53, is responsible for the deaths of the 227 passengers and 12 crew members on board the doomed Malaysian Airlines flight, which disappeared on March 8.

Theory: Geoff Taylor (left) and Ewan Wilson who have written a book which claims the pilot of MH370 cut off the oxygen supply to the passengers before deliberately crashing into the Indian Ocean.

Theory: Geoff Taylor (left) and Ewan Wilson who have written a book which claims the pilot of MH370 cut off the oxygen supply to the passengers before deliberately crashing into the Indian Ocean.

And shockingly, Mr Wilson will tell British aviation experts today that there have been five other suicide flights in recent times, as he travels from New Zealand to Birmingham for a meeting, the Birmingham Mail reports.

He said: ‘There is a fundamental desire to ignore the mental health issue in the aviation industry.

Our research indicates there have been five previous incidents of murder/suicide in commercial flights over the last three decades or so, accounting for 422 lives.

The sad addition of MH370 would bring that number to 661.’

Malaysia MH370 Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah.

Malaysia MH370 Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah.

‘Mentally ill’: The book claims the most likely scenario is that pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah (above) deliberately depressurised the cabin then flew for another three hours before ditching into the sea

Although oxygen masks would have dropped down automatically from above the seats, the passengers’ supply was limited to just 20 minutes.

People unable to grab a mask, such as those sleeping, would have passed out within the space of a few minutes.

The entire ‘ghost plane’ – including her cabin crew whose air supply is only marginally longer, would have slipped into a coma and died shortly after from oxygen starvation.

Ahmad Shah, who locked his co-pilot out of the cockpit, survived long enough – either by repressurising the aircraft or from breathing his own, more extensive air supply – to evade radar and ‘execute his master plan’, Mr Wilson has concluded.

The Kiwi Airlines chief says he then made eight different course changes before allowing the jet to fly on auto-pilot for its final few hours.

He then performed a controlled ditching in the sea, which would explain why no debris has been found because the plane landed and sank in one piece.

The theory is the result of the first independent study into March’s disaster by the New Zealand-based air accident investigator, Ewan Wilson.

Mr Wilson, the founder of Kiwi Airlines and a commercial pilot himself, arrived at the shocking conclusion after considering ‘every conceivable alternative scenario’.

However, he has not been able to provide any conclusive evidence to support his theory.

An earlier report from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) also concluded that passengers may have died from hypoxia.

And Malaysian authorities previously named Ahmad Shah as their prime suspect.

The remarkable claims are made in the book ‘Goodnight Malaysian 370’, the culmination of a four-month study into the incident, which Wilson co-wrote with the New Zealand broadsheet journalist, Geoff Taylor.

Wilson, a qualified transport safety investigator, said: ‘One of our objectives in writing this book was, in some small way, to convey the human stories of the tragedy.

‘Our other, more important task was to pursue the truth about what really happened; that is one small contribution we felt we could make to this whole, terrible affair.

‘We could never have foreseen the information we uncovered, or their implications.

‘Neither could we have imagined the horrific scenario that our research suggests took place on board that fateful plane.’

Search continues
Officials claim they are ‘making progress’ as they continue to scour 60,000 sq km of sea for the plane. The orange line indicates ‘high priority’ search areas; the yellow has been searched already.

They believe that Ahmad Shah, who they have concluded was suffering from mental illness, tricked his co-pilot, father-of-three, Fariq Hamid, into taking a break about 40 minutes after take-off.

After locking Hamid out of the cockpit, Ahmad Shah made his last broadcast to air traffic control – ‘Goodnight, Malaysian 370’ – before switching off the aircraft’s air-to-ground communication links.

Alone at the controls, he took MH370 up to 39,000 feet and de-pressurised the aircraft, giving passengers and crew less than 60 seconds of Time of Useful Consciousness (TUC).

Ahmad Shah could not have prevented the plane’s oxygen masks from automatically dropping down or an automated emergency announcement in English.

But Flight 370 was a night flight and, with the cabin lights off, the majority of passengers would have been asleep, or close to it.

And for 227 of the 239 passengers, English was not their first language.

Cabin crew would have tried to help those on board, but would have had to have donned their own facemasks first.

International effort: Australia's deputy prime minister Warren Truss unveiled the latest search plan at a press conference in Canberra earlier this month. The government has contracted a new firm to take up the search.

International effort: Australia’s deputy prime minister Warren Truss unveiled the latest search plan at a press conference in Canberra earlier this month. The government has contracted a new firm to take up the search.

International effort: Australia’s deputy prime minister Warren Truss unveiled the latest search plan at a press conference in Canberra earlier this month. The government has contracted a new firm to take up the search.

‘It would have been a frightening and confusing time throughout the cabin,’ Taylor said.

‘By the time some of the passengers had woken up groggy, heard the commotion and looked around in confusion, it would have been too late for them.

‘Those passengers who did not react within 60 seconds or less would have lapsed into unconsciousness and death would have followed within four to six minutes.’

Those who had found a mask would have had between 12 and 22 minutes of breathing time before blacking out.

The cabin crew’s oxygen supply would have lasted for about 70 minutes, depending upon the height of the aircraft.

By the time MH370 returned to cruising altitude, everyone on board would have perished.

Ahmad Shah would have had three hours’ worth of oxygen – plenty enough, the authors believe, to carry out the ‘final act of his performance’.

They conclude that he set a course for the southern Indian Ocean and, after the fuel ran dry, glided the aircraft for a further 100 nautical miles before performing a controlled ditching on the surface of the water.

Wilson, a trained commercial pilot, said: ‘Ahmad Shah was a man known for his methodical, thorough nature, for his love of the technical, and probably for his ego, too.

‘This would have been his final sad act to his family and to the world: “find this one”.’ -Daily Mail

MH370 New Search Areas

MH370 New Search Areas

Sources:  DailyMail / Malaysia Chronicle / Reuters

  •   GDL 39