Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 could have flown north — instead of south, where the official search is still being conducted — and if it did, there are three airports where it plausibly could have landed, according to an independent researcher who published a detailed online paper last week, calculating exactly where the missing plane could have ended up.
In addition to publication as a "guest post" on the blog of aviation expert and author Jeff Wise, the paper authored by Victor Iannello may be downloaded as a PDF file at this link.
Wise, of course, has been one of the most-quoted experts on the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which vanished without a trace on March 8 of last year, and is best known for proposing that the vanished Boeing 777-200 may have taken a hard northerly turn, rather than southerly — a fact that would have escaped the official investigation because, Wise speculates, the satellite data indicating that the plane turned south could have been "spoofed" or faked.
Wise proposed the Makaysia Airlines plane made its way to the Yubileyniy airfield, a remote airport in Kazakhstan, but under Russian military control.
But by Ianello's calculations, the amount of fuel loaded into the plane's tanks, according to Malaysia Airlines records, was not enough to take the plane all the way to Yubileyniy — but there are three airports in closer range where the plane could have touched down, he believes.
Of course, the satellite data would need to have been faked, or somehow "corrupted or misinterpreted" to make a northerly course possible, Ianello says.
"Three airports were identified that are located near the 7th arc, as defined by the last BTO data point at 00:19 UTC: Kyzlorda, Almaty, and Kuqa Qiuci. The viability of each airport was determined based on fuel requirements," the researcher wrote.
But he then concludes that Kyzlorda Airport, just outside of the Kazakhstan city of the same name, makes an "unlikely" destination, also due to fuel requirements.
That leaves Almaty and Kuqa Qiuci.
Almaty is Kazakhstan's largest commercial airport, just nine miles outside of the country's largest city, also called Almaty. A landing there by a rogue Boeing 777, Ianello admits, would certainly "raise suspicion." But a smaller airstrip at privately --owned Boraldai Airport not far from Almaty has a runway just barely long enough to land the Malaysia Airlines plane, which would have been nearly out of fuel.
Kuqa Qiuci is located inside China in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region. The problem with both Almaty and Kuqa Qiuci is that to reach either, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 would have had to cross deep into Chinese airspace — meaning that any theory that the plane landed at either airport would have to explain why China did nothing, especially when 153 of the 239 passengers and crew who vanished along with Flight MH370 were Chinese nationals.
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