MH370 may have been brought down by rogue pilot: Experts

The shadow of a maritime search aircraft is seen as it flies over the southern Indian Ocean looking for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, on March 31, 2014.
The shadow of a maritime search aircraft is seen as it flies over the southern Indian Ocean looking for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, on March 31, 2014.PHOTO: REUTERS

CANBERRA - A leading air crash expert has said missing Malaysia Airlines fight MH370 was likely to have been in controlled flight as it hit the water, giving support to the theory that the plane was brought down by a rogue pilot or hijacker.

Canadian air crash expert Larry Vance told Australia's Nine Network that there was no other way to explain why a wing section called a flaperon, found off the coast of Madagascar a year ago, was "extended", meaning it would have been in controlled flight as it hit the water, Xinhua news agency reported.

Mr Vance said the only way to extend the flaperon, something which happens when a plane is attempting a landing, was for the pilot to engage a switch, something which is unlikely to have occurred during a sudden disaster.

"You cannot get the flaperon to extend any other way than if somebody extended it," Mr Vance said on the Nine Network's 60 Minutes programme on Sunday (July 31).

"Somebody would have to select it (in the cockpit)," he added.

Mr Vance said from photos released of flaperon showing a jagged edge - suggesting high-pressure water erosion on the flaperon - there was evidence to show that the aeroplane hit the water at a controlled speed, pointing to it being a "human engineered event", according to Xinhua.

"Somebody was flying the aeroplane into the water... There is no other alternate theory that you can follow of all the potentials that might have happened. There's no other theory that fits," he said.

"The force of the water is really the only thing that could make that jagged edge that we see (on the flaperon). It wasn't broken off. If it was broken off, it would be a clean break."

Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) crash investigator Peter Foley also told 60 Minutes that there was a possibility that someone was in control of the plane as it went down, Xinhua reported.

"There is a possibility there was someone in control at the end and we're actively looking for evidence to support that," he said on Sunday night.

He admitted that if it was brought down by a "rogue" pilot, the wreckage could be outside the parameters of the Australian-led 120,000-sq-km search zone. The search for the Boeing 777 is scheduled to end in coming weeks, considering less than 10,000 sq km has yet to be searched.

"If you guided the plane or indeed control-ditched the plane, it has an extended range, potentially," Mr Foley said.