Canadian aviation legend Pierre Jeanniot spoke to MH370Latest by phone on Thursday, revealing what has intrigued him the most about the missing flight and why searching the Indian Ocean for a passenger jet is so difficult.
Mr. Jeanniot also revealed two things that make him believe that MH370 was a deliberate act—the change of flight path and the interruption of power to key equipment.
“Essentially, it’s the total circumstances surrounding the event,” he said when asked what intrigued him the most. “It has the hallmarks of a deliberate attempt to change the path of the airplane and therefore create an accident/incident somewhere.”
“There’s a deliberate interruption in electricity in a very reliable piece of equipment [Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System or ACARS] that provides some degree of knowledge of the whereabouts of the airplane,” he said. “These two things were obviously a deliberate attempt to divert the airplane.”
Currently, the search for MH370 is suspended but officials had been searching an area in the Indian Ocean known as the “Seventh Arc” without success. Jeanniot said it would be very difficult to determine what happened to MH370 without locating any debris, or the flights data/voice recorders in this area.
“Of all the oceans in the world, the southern part of the Indian Ocean is one of the least patrolled. There is very little shipping and almost no air communications,” he said.
“It hasn’t been surveyed to the same extent as the Atlantic and Pacific has been surveyed so we have a better knowledge of the profile of the water, here we don’t,” he said referring to the Indian Ocean.
On technology, Jeanniot said that ACARS did help a little in the case of MH370 but “It’s not as precise as it could be.” “I think Australia and Malaysia have carried out remarkable efforts to search for the wreckage,” he added.
Jeanniot, who ran Air Canada between 1984 and 1990, instituted many changes at his airline during this time, including one that relates to MH370: sudden decompression, which is among one of the most probable theories surrounding the flight.
“When I ran Air Canada, I made it mandatory at the time that whenever a pilot would be alone in the cockpit, he or she would put on an oxygen mask so in the case of a sudden decompression, they would be able to run the ship.”
Jeanniot said many airlines and organizations resist additional costs when it comes to adding new systems and equipment, like upgrades to an existing ACARS. “Anytime you add some new equipment, some new systems, it costs money,” he said.
“It costs money to install it, it costs money to create it, it costs money to monitor it and naturally, people in the aviation business tend to resist additional costs because it’s so infrequent,” he added.
How has MH370 changed aviation?
“ICAO and others have studied the problem and started to take some action. Maybe it’s not as vigorous action as it could be, but ICAO stipulated you need to broadcast the position of an airplane every five or ten minutes,” he said. “Still a long time if you’re travelling at 600 miles per hour.”
About Pierre Jeanniot
Pierre Jeanniot has over six decades of aviation experience, beginning as a Junior Technician at Air Canada in 1955 amd later working his way up to Chief Executive Officer in 1984. He would later become Director-General at the International Air Transport Association [IATA] from 1993 to 2002.
Currently, he serves as Director General Emeritus of IATA and Senior Aviation Advisor to the President and Chair of the Aviation Think Tank at Concordia University. He also contributed to the first comprehensive flight data recorder, which records parameters like airspeed and altitude which would help investigators in the event of an incident.