Captain Karlene Petitt spoke with MH370Latest earlier this week and revealed some theories as to what might have happened to the missing passenger jet, including why she believes the flight deck may have been compromised during the flight.
Capt. Petitt, who herself has over 34 years of flying experience on some of the most popular passenger jets like the Boeing 737 and 747 workhorses, theorizes that because the flight was late at night, pilots would have been drinking coffee to stay awake. “Pilots need coffee at cruise, that would be the time they open the door,” she said.
“A pilot prepared to fly at night could be rested but night flight would lead to passengers sleeping, or pretending to sleep, and less attention to security details. More times for the pilots to open the door for coffee.”
Even after 9/11, when cockpits were reinforced to prevent intrusion, pilots still open the cockpit door for things like meals, coffee and briefings with the cabin crew during long-haul flights. This opens up the possibility for an individual or group [i.e. 9/11] to storm in and compromise both pilots, who may have been less inclined to be as vigilant because they were fatigued.
“Night flight is extremely fatiguing, and hard to ever fully prepare,” Capt. Petitt said.
Military radar tracked MH370 flying between 43,000 feet and 45,000 feet shortly after the last radio transmission from the cockpit, according to a report published in 2014. It descended after that. “Plane descends, someone got it under control.”
Capt. Petitt theorized that “The plane going above max altitude indicates a fight of some kind.” The 777-200ER, the model used to operate MH370, has a max service ceiling of 43,100 feet and pilots are fully aware of this.
Many have speculated whether MH370 Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah crashed his own jet to purposely end his own life. There are several ways to do this if he really wanted to, including by depleting the oxygen supply on his jet, basically putting everyone on board to sleep.
Capt. Petitt said MH370’s captain “Didn’t have to fly to [high] altitude to deplete the cabin, we have the ability at cruising altitude. If he was going to crash it, shutting down the engines at low altitude is the easiest and most effective way to make that happen.”
Capt. Petitt quickly dismissed the MH370 fire theory, saying “A plane on fire doesn’t fly for six-plus hours.”
Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 went missing on March 8, 2014, with 239 people aboard. Aside from small parts of debris discovered off the coast of Africa, no other physical evidence has been discovered.
How to stay safe while flying?
“People should pay attention, stay aware and when something doesn’t feel right, speak out! If they think it doesn’t feel right, say something. If someone looks suspicious, tell someone.”
About Captain Karlene Petitt
Captain Karlene Petitt has over 34 years of experience as a commercial airline pilot and in addition to flying, has spent 21 years training pilots on Boeing jet aircraft. She has two masters degrees and is married with three daughters.