In the early hours of 8 March 2014, 227 passengers, including a 23-month-old baby, boarded a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
At 12.42 am, the flight took off from the runway. Less than an hour later, 53-year-old captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah would make the last verbal contact with air traffic control.
Nothing before that moment had indicated anything suspicious. But for the next seven hours, the plane flew westward into what authorities say was a descent into the southern Indian Ocean. There were no mayday calls, no goodbye messages – only silence.
Two and a half weeks after MH370 disappeared, the families of those on board the flight received a text message. “We have to assume beyond reasonable doubt that MH370 has been lost and that none of those on board have survived,” it read. “We must now accept all evidence suggests the plane went down in the southern Indian Ocean.”
Four years later, those families still have countless questions.
On Sunday night, however, Channel Nine’s 60 Minutes claimed they could reveal the ‘true fate’ of “aviation’s greatest single mystery.”
A panel of aviation experts said they suspect the plane’s disappearance was a premeditated murder-suicide.
“The thing that gets discussed the most is that at the point where the pilot turned the transponder off, that he depressurised the airplane, which would disable the passengers,” said Larry Vance, former Senior Investigator with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada.
“He was killing himself. Unfortunately, he was killing everyone else on board. And he did it deliberately.”
The assumption, then, is that all but one of the 239 people on MH370 were unconscious for the final several hours of the flight. Zaharie, they say, had an oxygen mask.
According to Simon Hardy, a Boeing 777 senior pilot and instructor, these ominous hours contain a particularly chilling clue.