The following will be areas of focus for the investigation of the Malaysian Airlines MH370 crash, involving a Boeing 777-200ER equipped with Rolls-Royce engines. These are standard areas of investigation and at this point, listing them here doesn’t imply or suggest any one area is more prevalent than another.
- Catastrophic structural failure of the airframe and/or engines. We consider this highly unlikely, given the sterling history of the 777, but investigators will look at this possibility.
- Dual engine flame out and immediate loss of control. The RR engines have had a history of icing that cut fuel flow. This was the cause of the British Airways 777-200ER crash landing at London Heathrow. A fix was undertaken, but this possibility will undoubtedly be considered. Even if this happened, unless there was an immediate loss of control, there would have been glide time and the ability of the crew to radio an emergency. The Ram Air Turbine (RAT) would have supplied basic power and instrumentation.
- Control upset caused by clear air turbulence. Apparently weather was good but CAT is not unusual in the Pacific. CAT would have to be awfully extreme to cause an upset of such magnitude as to permit the airplane to dive into the ocean in so short a period of time as to preclude a radio call. But remember that Air France 447 descended from cruising altitude to impact without a radio call in a very short period of time.
- Cockpit penetration and incapacitation of the crew, followed by deliberate destruction of the airplane.
- A bomb.
- Any prospect of an accidental shoot-down by a military missile.
- Pilot suicide. As inflammatory as this possibility is, this has been the cause of at least two crashes into water. The history of the pilots will be studied and any information from the black boxes will help on this point,