MH370s captain, Zaharie Ahmad Shah
I personally dont think its the kind of simulation that people do every day on a flight simulator, Godfrey said. Taken as fact, he said, it gave tremendous clues to the whereabouts of MH370, narrowing it down to an area of below 10,000 sq km much further north of the search area that hasnt been searched at all.
His personal view, not unanimous within the IG, he said, was that Zaharie crashed MH370 in an act of murder-suicide a politically unsavoury opinion to hold. If found to be true, it has enormous implications for families ongoing battles for compensation from Malaysia Airlines, which was placed in government administration in May 2015 after the MH370 and
subsequent MH17 air disasters.
The two most advanced of these cases, lodged in the Kuala Lumpur high court and the Australian federal court,
have reached an impasse after the airline refused to hand over logbooks, flight crews medical records and other documentation.
You have to ask the question, when you know that someone has information they are keeping secret, is why why dont they want to divulge, Godfrey said. It is for me rather obvious that they are scared of compensation claims that will go into the billions, not into millions Its not just in [Malaysias] interest to admit that this was a result of a crime.
Sucked into the black hole
If Malaysia wants the mystery of MH370 to just go away, public opinion is on its side particularly in Australia, which is perceived to have gone above and beyond given that it had only six citizens on board.
Wise, the journalist who describes himself as abnormally obsessed with MH370, said the public had lost interest in the story his wife included.
For two years he has argued that MH370 is in Kazakhstan after having been hijacked on Vladimir Putins instruction. He was excommunicated by the IG in March 2015, he said for being so far out on a limb; the IG said for abusing members trust.
Wise, for his part, said the IG really bristle at the implication that the perpetrators could have been smarter than them. Because at face value his theory is disproved by the discovery of debris, he has also accused Blaine Gibson who he says has spent his career eyeball-deep in Russia of planting it; Gibson said he had received death threats as a result.
Wise said his questions over inconsistencies in Gibsons finds were legitimate but acknowledged the challenge of distinguishing them from what he termed the toxic fog surrounding MH370. Theres so much misinformation thats relentlessly put out there Its an almost impossible task for someone who isnt sucked into this black hole.
His conviction has been strengthened by the ATSBs failure in the Indian Ocean. I dont expect you to believe me, I dont believe everyone else. But I would point out that the plane isnt there.
Pointing to a new potential search area in the last stages of a failing mission allowed the ATSB to save face, said Wise: it defended its significant investment to date while presenting next steps that it would have known it would probably be prevented from taking.
Malaysia Airlines aircraft seen from a viewing gallery at Kuala Lumpur airport. Photograph: Fazry Ismail/EPA
Its frustrating to me that theyre taking this attitude of, We know where it is, were just not allowed to look
As the search winds up three years on, the ATSB is trying to say, We did our best, we were unlucky, end of story we never solved Amelia Earhart either, but life goes on. I think this is the one opportunity to say, Were you unlucky, or were you bamboozled?
But a failure can either be an ending or a new beginning. Long before the last ship departed the search area on Tuesday, there had been little incentive to ask Where next?
The real barrier to finding out what happened to MH370 is not a lack of evidence, capability or even a next best guess at the planes whereabouts. Its apathy.
Thompson, the IG member in Belfast, said after three years the mystery had receded from most peoples minds.
But there are about 1,000 or 1,500 people who wake every morning with the reality: My husband, my father, my daughter, my cousin, my sister, my brother still hasnt come home, and I dont know where they are.
Additional reporting by Oliver Holmes in Bangkok