Top 10 Theories Behind The Disappearance Of Flight MH370

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Photo by Aero Icarus on flickr

MH370 refers to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, an international passenger flight that went missing en route to Beijing Capital International Airport from Kuala Lumpur International Airport on March 8, 2014. It’s one of the biggest aviation mysteries, and no one can really ascertain the truth behind its disappearance.

The aircraft was a Boeing 777-200ER, and there were 227 passengers from 13 different countries including Malaysia, as well as 12 Malaysian crew members.

MH370’s Flight Path

MH370’s schedule is to fly from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing, China. It departed at 12.41 am (MYT) and was expected to land in Beijing at 6.30 am local time.

The original flight path should take the plane over the South China Sea towards Vietnam before it reaches Beijing.

What Really Happened To MH370

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Photo by Andrew Heneen, topography vectorised by Shattered Gnome on Wikimedia Commons

Flight MH370’s take-off went off without a hitch. However, it lost contact at 1.21 am when the plane deviated from its planned flight path, leaving the air traffic controller’s radar as it headed west instead.

The aircrew also failed to signal to the air traffic control in Ho Chi Minh City (as scheduled) when the plane was about to reach Vietnam’s airspace. The flight lost contact and radar signal just before they entered Vietnam’s air traffic control. The captain of another aircraft, at the request of the Vietnamese air traffic control, tried to contact MH370 at 1.30 am for them to establish their position. However, there were a lot of static and interferences, and he lost connection.

Military radar last detected the plane at 2.22 am from Penang Island, over the Andaman Sea. And again, for the last time, at 8.11 am through a satellite. However, the actual location of the plane could not be determined due to the type of satellite data.

There were no distress signals relayed by the crew or the aircraft’s communication systems, or any reported technical problems with the plane; the weather had been good, too.

Flight MH370 never landed in Beijing, despite its expected arrival the next morning.

The Search For MH370

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Photo by DVIDSHUB on flickr

There was a multinational frantic search for the missing plane.

Despite the efforts of the international community and the huge amount of resources put into the search and rescue, MH370 and its passengers could not be found. Based on MH370’s last position over the south of the Indian Ocean, the authorities concluded that the plane had crashed into the ocean, seeing as there was nowhere else it could’ve landed.

MH370 Debris

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Photo by Miwok on flickr

Thus far, searches found many bits of debris from different places all over the world. After examination, only the debris from Reunion Island – a remote French Indian Ocean island – was confirmed to be part of the MH370 aircraft by Malaysian authorities.

The wing fragment that washed up on the shores of the island was from a Boeing 777 and had the same model as the missing plane. Additionally, it also corresponded to the route of the ocean currents from the area where the aircraft had allegedly crashed.

Theories Behind MH370’s Disappearance

Unsurprisingly, there are many MH370 conspiracy theories floating around even until today. Some theories are just incredulous, while some sound probable. The loss of MH370 baffled many, as it seemed impossible for a plane to just vanish without a trace.

Here are 10 theories behind the disappearance of MH370 that have surfaced over the years:

1. Hijacking

This is one of the most common theories: terrorists hijacked the aircraft and then flew it to a remote island.

The day after Flight MH370 went missing, an unknown terror group called the Chinese Martyrs’ Brigade had claimed responsibility. Chinese journalists received an anonymous email that details that the culprits sought vengeance for one of their killed clan members. The authorities doubted this claim, believing it to be a hoax due to its lack of credibility.

On the same flight, authorities also revealed that two Iranian passengers used stolen passports. However, Interpol’s investigations had shown that they had no links to any terror groups.

Meanwhile, expert Tim Termini proposed a few hijacking possibilities. One, a crew member could’ve taken over the aircraft. Two, a passenger had hijacked the plane. Three, there was an unsuspecting stowaway who took over. Lastly, there could have been a ground-based electrical takeover.

However, records have also shown that none of the passengers on board had any experience flying a plane. Thus, he concluded that it’s possible that there could be a stowaway in the plane.

2. Deliberate Crash By The Pilot

The Captain on flight MH370, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, crashed the plane in a plan to kill everyone on board, including his own demise. This is by far the most popular MH370 conspiracy theory.

Some people claimed that Shah deliberately steered the Boeing 777 off its intended course, and waited for the fuel to run out or just crashed it into the ocean.

Another theory posited that Shah flew the plane 12,192 metres above sea level to depressurise the aircraft and cause the passengers to die of suffocation before he crashed the plane into the ocean. Upon impact, the aircraft disintegrated.

Furthermore, David Learmount, a pilot and aviation commentator, stated that the plane can only be controlled by someone who’s extremely skilled and not by any amateur hijackers. There were also talks of Shah being depressed or mentally unstable at that time of the incident.

3. The Plane Had Been Shot Down

Another MH370 conspiracy was that someone shot the aircraft down.

But by who?

A theory by Nigel Cawthorne posits that it is possible that a joint military exercise between the U.S. and Thailand accidentally shot the plane shot down. He claimed that as part of the cover-up, authorities deliberately misled the searches. However, people dismissed and criticised this theory for its insensitivity. There was no evidence backing this conspiracy theory either.  

Similarly, a few others also speculated that it was an accidental shoot-down. It wouldn’t be the first time civilian aircrafts had been shot down by military forces, even by accident.

4. Flight MH370 Was Switched

This is perhaps one of the most outlandish MH370 conspiracies to surface. This theory proposes that flight MH370 was shot down on July 17, 2014, instead of flight MH17.

On July 17, 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17) was shot down while it was flying over eastern Ukraine during the War in Donbass. The shoot-down occurred in an area controlled by pro-Russian rebels. Searchers found the crash wreckage 40 kilometres from the border, near Hrabove in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine.

Both flights’ aircraft are of the same type, the Boeing 777-200ER. Jim Stone, an independent journalist, is a prime supporter of this theory. However, there was no explanation on his part about who would benefit from this switch, how the switch occurred and what happened to the real MH17.

Experts have disregarded this theory, believing that the two flights having the same plane model were only a coincidence.

5. The Plane Landed On Diego Garcia Island

The theory that Flight MH370 had landed on Diego Garcia, a British Indian Ocean island that holds the U.S.’ military base had gradually gained popularity in the weeks following the tragic disappearance of MH370.

This was denied by the U.S. authorities as there was no evidence of MH370 flying near the Maldives or Diego Garcia. Despite this official statement released to the public, some Chinese still believed in this theory.

In particular, a Chinese blogger, He Xin, was adamant in his belief that a CIA operation forced Flight MH370 to land on Diego Garcia. He backed his claim up by positing that some relatives of the missing MH370 flight believed that the cellphones of the victims had rung even after the plane’s disappearance. 

6. A Mysterious New Weapon Destroyed Flight MH370

This MH370 conspiracy theory probably takes the cake in its incredulity.

A conspiracy theorist by the name of Mike Adams had written his own theory about the missing flight. He claimed that it was the work of something new and mysterious because of the missing debris of the plane. Adams wrote this 2 days after the plane’s disappearance. According to him, the powerful and new weapon was capable of destroying the plane in the sky without leaving anything behind.

7. A Fire Broke Out On Flight MH370

There was a possibility that a fire had broken out on-board Flight MH370. This would result in the pilots being unable to land the plane.

Pilot Chris Goodfellow stated that if there was fire or another emergency, the plane would have to attempt to land on the closest runway, which was on Palau Langkawi, Malaysia. Unfortunately, they didn’t make it there. Goodfellow believed that a fire would explain the loss of transponders and communications. He thought that the cabin was full of smoke and the plane continued on autopilot until the fuel ran out. Alternatively, the fire destroyed the controls and crashed the plane.

The fact that there were 221 kilograms of lithium-ion batteries that didn’t go through normal security screening onboard also contributed to the fire theory. They’re flammable and might have exploded or set alight. The batteries in the cargo could also have reacted with the tons of mangosteen fruit and combusted.

However, the theory of batteries reacting with the tropical fruits was dismissed as it seemed improbable that the two objects could’ve mixed with each other. Both items were wrapped and were in different containers. Additionally, the lithium-ion batteries did go through customs inspection and clearance; it had also adhered to the guidelines.

8. Cyber Attackers Took Over The Plane

After the events of September 11, there was new technology put in place that allowed planes to be remotely controlled in case it got hijacked.

Thus, cyber attackers could’ve hacked into and remotely controlled the Boeing 777 aircraft to fly into a secret location. According to Norman Davies, a British author, it’s possible that the MH370 plane could’ve been carrying certain items that someone didn’t want to reach China. Mismatch in the cargo reports explained this further.

In Davies’ book, he further suggested that one cyber hacker could’ve kidnapped the aircraft and another hacker could’ve controlled it afterwards. He then elaborated that the U.S. had first kidnapped the plane to prevent it from reaching Beijing and got it to Diego Garcia instead. This was before a second hacker came in to stop the attempt.

However, it was said that Boeing had not implemented the necessary technology onto any of their commercial planes, thus, debunking this particular theory of flight MH370 being remotely controlled.

9. Life Insurance Scam

Back in March 2014, a life insurance scam was a possibility that the Malaysian police didn’t want to rule out.

Malaysia’s police chief, Khalid Abu Bakar, said that the authorities would look into every possibility and motive, no matter how unlikely they might be. Authorities investigated every passenger and crew for any strange or abnormal behaviours prior to the incident. Someone mentioned that a passenger or crew on-board might want to profit from or needed the money from the insurance to clear off large debts.

10. Cracks In The Plane

Six months before MH370 disappeared, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) warned airlines about an issue in Boeing 777 aircrafts. According to them, there were allegedly cracks in the planes that could result in “rapid decompression and loss of structural integrity of the plane”.

The FAA had also issued a warning two days before MH370 went missing for the airline to check their remaining aircrafts.

However, Boeing claimed that the aircraft used for MH370 flight wasn’t at risk as the antenna was different from the rest of the Boeing 777 aircrafts. Moreover, the plane had also undergone extensive maintenance and checks on February, 23, 2014.

Latest MH370 News And MH370 Update

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Photo by Official U.S. Navy Page on Wikimedia Commons

After 5 years, there are still flight MH370 updates and news reported on various news sites.


In 2017, there were proposals from companies to continue with the search of MH370, including Ocean Infinity and Furgo.


In January 2018, Ocean Infinity resumed the search after approval from the Malaysian government. The agreement is they will receive payment made the wreckage was found.

Unfortunately, they didn’t find anything.


In March this year, the Malaysian authorities were still willing to look into any credible leads or proposals for a new search. Once again, Ocean Infinity took up the search on the same conditions of no payment if the MH370 wreckage wasn’t found.


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