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Aussie Official Spurns Theory, Cites MH370 Pilot's Weight

Peter Foley says Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah would have gotten decompression sickness
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted May 22, 2018 10:00 AM CDT
A girl writes a condolence message during a "Day of Remembrance for MH370" event in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on March 3, 2018.   (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

(Newser) – The debate over MH370's demise rages on, this time in the Australian Senate, where an official with the country's Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) threw cold water on a recently pushed theory. In an episode of Australia's 60 Minutes, experts alleged that Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah intentionally crashed the plane and that those aboard weren't conscious when he did so. They suggested he depressurized the aircraft by rapidly changing its altitude to inflict hypoxia on the passengers and crew but remained conscious himself using an emergency air supply, then repressurized the plane for the remainder of the journey. Both the ATSB and Malaysian officials say Zaharie was unconscious when the flight went down, and the ATSB's Peter Foley used the example of a 1994 flight as reported by the US National Transportation Safety Board in attempting to dispel the theory.

The Guardian has his quote: "During the climbout [of the 1994 flight] the flight crew was unable to pressurize the aircraft, and the captain elected to proceed with the flight. The crew donned their oxygen masks and shortly thereafter the captain became incapacitated from decompression sickness. The first officer took command and they landed the plane. The pilot in this particular aircraft was 51 and overweight. The pilot in command of MH370 was 53 and overweight. I'm not saying that happened and I hate to speculate, but that is one plausible scenario." The Australian Associated Press reports Foley said Zaharie would have had to battle the effects of decompression sickness for as long as an hour, and that doing so just wasn't likely. (Read more MH370 stories.)

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