3. The plane was deliberately diverted by a pilot or hijacker and landed somewhere else, with a further act having already been planned.The events of 9/11 exposed a vulnerability of the Air Traffic Control (ATC) system. ATC could not track one of the hijacked airliners among the myriad of planes in the air because it had turned off its transponder. That episode begged the question, "If Russian Backfire bombers approached the US coast and was preparing to fire cruise missiles at Washington, did NORAD expect the Backfires to be transmitting transponder signals?"
What we have learned in the last several days has only strengthened the likelihood of scenario number 3. Most importantly, the plane was equipped with a beacon that would send a signal if the plane was about to crash into the ocean. The beacon never went off.
In the last 24 hours, more and more officials are saying outright that the disappearance of the airplane was a deliberate act. In fact, as of this morning it appears to be emerging that a series of deliberate acts were undertaken to minimize the likelihood that the plane could be tracked on radar.
So the narrative seems to be focusing more and more in the direction of scenario 3.
But if scenario 3 is correct, then the persons who planned it are not the underpants gnomes. You know the meme: Step (1) steal underpants. Step (2). ???? Step (3) Profit!
No, these persons already have a plan for Step 2. The did not simply park the plane in a hangar somewhere, high five one another, and over a round of celebratory drinks, start discussing what they might be able to do with the plane at some later date.
IF scenario 3 is the correct scenario, then the preparations to carry out Act 2 are already in motion.
What would be a big enough Event planned for Act 2 to justify all of the planning necessary to actually commandeer a commercial airliner in the manner that took place one week ago? Whatever it is, it must be really Big.
The disappearance of MH370 exposed another flaw in global ATC. When an aircraft is in international airspace over the ocean, they are not under the control of any country's ATC system. Airliners, however, do fly commonly specified routes at specified altitudes as then cross the ocean. When they enter a country's airspace, they then check in with local ATC, who then guides them.
Imagine the following scenario:
- A group of terrorists hijack an airliner, turn off its transponder and other communication systems, and spirit the plane to places unknown.
- The plane lands and it is re-loaded with high explosives, which makes it an even more powerful bomb than the hijacked 9/11 planes.
- The plane takes off again and blends into traffic on an international route.
- When it approaches the airspace of the target country, it identifies itself as a fictitious flight.
- The pilots then flies into its target and the flying bomb wreaks havoc on whatever it hits.
While this scenario would make a good movie, its plausibility depends a number of key assumptions:
- There are enough skilled, dedicated and well-trained volunteers to hijack and take over an airliner (step 1 as postulated by New Deal Democrat).
- The ability to land a 777 somewhere undetected by local authorities;
- The facility to deal with the passengers, either dead or alive, after landing;
- The ability to refuel a 777 at the airport which the plane landed;
- The ability to disable the aircraft engines' software to "ping" the satellites with data once the aircraft has re-started on the way to its final mission; and
- An accomplice to file a false flight plan for the plane on its flight. ATC generally knows the schedules of airliners coming into its airspace and the appearance of an unknown plane with unusual call signs would set off warnings.
What's more, what are the chances that an organization, however nefarious, could pull off such an operation involving so many people without arousing the suspicion of one or more intelligence services?
The disappearance of MH370 remains a mystery, but I suppose that such a scenario could be the inspiration for a book or screenplay.
Cam Hui is a portfolio manager at Qwest Investment Fund Management Ltd. (“Qwest”). The opinions and any recommendations expressed in the blog are those of the author and do not reflect the opinions and recommendations of Qwest. Qwest reviews Mr. Hui’s blog to ensure it is connected with Mr. Hui’s obligation to deal fairly, honestly and in good faith with the blog’s readers.”
None of the information or opinions expressed in this blog constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security or other instrument. Nothing in this blog constitutes investment advice and any recommendations that may be contained herein have not been based upon a consideration of the investment objectives, financial situation or particular needs of any specific recipient. Any purchase or sale activity in any securities or other instrument should be based upon your own analysis and conclusions. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Either Qwest or I may hold or control long or short positions in the securities or instruments mentioned.