By Ewan Wilson and Geoff Taylor
The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 earlier this year shocked the world, not only over the tragic loss of life but also the bizarre circumstances surrounding it. An entire Boeing 777, for all intents and purposes, simply vanished into thin air and in doing so became a modern aviation mystery.
The notion that something so large could just disappear without a trace is both unsettling and unsatisfying. And the grip that MH370 has had on the public imagination has only deepened as more facts have emerged, such as how the communication system was disabled, how the plane evaded international radar and how it inexplicably deviated from its flight path, making a U-turn towards the India Ocean, in those last few hours before all contact was lost.
Despite a multinational search effort which now has the unenviable distinction of being the largest and most expensive in history, no trace of the ill-fated aircraft or its 239 passengers has so far been found. What has abounded, however, is a whole host of theories over the disappearance, from the possible to the downright conspiratorial and preposterous.
“Goodnight Malaysian 370” is not the first book to examine the mystery, but in examining the most-likely scenarios in a thorough, systematic and logical way, it is undoubtedly the best.
This is neither a quick and cynical attempt to cash-in on one of the the hottest topics of the moment, nor a sensationalist exercise in yellow journalism. Aware that such a recent and raw tragedy could easily lead to charges of gross insensitivity, the authors clearly state at the outset that their independent investigations are motivated by respect and a drive to “pursue the truth” on the behalf of the passengers and their families, as well as he public in general, to help improve air safety and avoid another MH370 happening again.
New Zealand-based co-authors Ewan Wilson, an air accident investigator and commercial pilot, and Geoff Taylor, a celebrated broadsheet journalist, combine their expertise to present an extremely well-thought-out and compelling assessment as to the most probable cause of the plane's loss, and the ultimate fate of its crew and passengers.
The duo conducted painstaking research prior to putting pen to paper. This included review all publicly-available official reports into the disappearance and conducting exclusive interviews with relatives of those on board, including the pilot, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, to try and get a better understanding of the man at the helm when the plane was lost.
Calling upon an industry standard and well-respected investigation analysis model developed by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, the authors go through each of the main theories concerning the loss of MH370 on March 8th, with a process of elimination worthy of Sherlock Holmes, rejecting the impossible to pare down to the truth, however improbable that may seem — or unpalatable.
After considering all data concerning the disappearance, and taking technology, risk controls, local conditions, and psychology into account, Wilson and Taylor dismiss catastrophic technical failures, human error, military strikes, hijacking or terrorism as the root cause.
Instead, they reach the horrifying conclusion that the tragedy was man-made and, even worse, was carried out deliberately by the pilot. They posit that Zaharie Ahmad Shah was a suicidal, mentally-unstable pilot who coldly and calculatedly killed all those in his care before crashing the plane in act of “post-mortem triumph”.
Goodnight Malaysian 370 also asks some difficult questions about the role of religion in aviation-related incidents and also analyses the recent tragedy in Ukraine when Malaysian Airlines MH17 was allegedly shot down by pro-Russian separatists – an event Wilson and Taylor believe will have “significant ramifications” for the international aviation industry.
This impeccably researched non-fiction title – the first to critically examine the facts as they stand – concludes with recommendations for the aviation industry and lessons to learn from recent events.
There is no clear-cut, definitive answer as to why MH370 went missing, and until wreckage is found there probably never will be, but Goodnight Malaysian 370 provides the most rational explanation as what actually transpired during that doomed flight.
If you are one of the countless millions who have been following every twist and turn regarding the biggest mystery in the history of aviation then this book is a must-buy.
Goodnight Malaysian 370, by Ewan Wilson and Geoff Taylor, is available from Amazon UK as a Kindle eBook, priced £8.