Landing gear on MH370 was DOWN, experts claim

Landing gear on MH370 was DOWN, suggesting the pilot may have deliberately crashed into the sea and tried to sink the jet, experts claim

  • Discovery of new piece of Boeing 777 has shed new light on possible cause
  • Experts say it shows landing gear was down when it landed in Indian Ocean
  • This, they say, would have caused plane to break up on impact and sink faster 

The landing gear on missing flight MH370 was down, suggesting the pilot may have deliberately crashed into the sea to sink the jet quickly, experts have claimed.

Theories have been circulating ever since the Malaysian Airlines passenger jet went down somewhere over the Indian Ocean with 239 people on-board in March 2014.

The most persistent theory has centred on the pilot  – Zaharie Ahmad Shahand – and suggestions that it was a deliberate act.

Last month, a landing gear door was found in the possession of a Madagascan fisherman. According to experts, it is the first piece of evidence to be found to suggest one of the Malaysian Airlines pilots acted deliberately.

The landing gear on missing flight MH370 was down, suggesting the pilot may have deliberately crashed into the sea to sink the jet quickly, experts have claimed. Pictured: Malaysia Airlines fight MH370 pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah (file photo)

The door has been identified as a component of a Boeing 777, known as a trunnion door. It likely penetrated the inside of the aircraft’s disintegrating engines.

This, experts have said, makes it highly probable that the landing gear was down when the aircraft crashed into the ocean, The Times has reported.

Officials did not announce the finding of the crucial piece of evidence until Monday, but it has already prompted calls for further a further investigation into the March 8, 2014 disappearance of the aircraft and that of its 12 Malaysian crew members, and its 227 passengers who hailed from 14 different countries. All are presumed dead.

The Boeing 777 vanished from radar screens as it was flying from Kuala Lumpar to Beijing. The plane took an unexpected U-turn from its planned flight path and was instead tracked on military radar over the Malacca Strait before losing contact.

After years of questions over the cause, analysis by Richard Godfrey, a British engineer, and Blaine Gibson, an American who searches for MH370 wreckage, has suggested the plane was crashed quickly, and with deliberate intention.

Last month, a landing gear door was found in the possession of a Madagascan fisherman. According to experts, it is the first piece of evidence to be found to suggest one of the Malaysian Airlines pilots acted deliberately. Pictured: Malaysian Minister of Transport, Anthony Loke (C) looks at the Wing flap found on Pemba Island, Tanzania in 2019 (file photo)

Should an airliner be forced to make an emergency water landing, pilots are trained to keep landing gear retracted for a controlled, low-speed impact.

This was achieved by US airline captin Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger who heroically landed an Airbus on New York’s Hudson river in 2009.

Pilots would not, however, have the landing gear extended. This would cause a violent impact with the surface of the water and increase the risk of the plane breaking up upon impact – dramatically decreasing chances of survival.

The experts have now said, based on the new evidence, that the flaps on MH370 are not believed to have been retracted when it landed in the southern Indian Ocean. 

By deliberately extending the landing gear, one of the pilots likely caused the immediate break-up of the aircraft’s fuselage. This would also have increased the chances of the airline sinking quickly, The Times reported.

This would have given any survivors limited time to evacuate the plane.

‘The combination of the high speed impact designed to break up the aircraft and the extended landing gear designed to sink the aircraft as fast as possible both show a clear intent to hide the evidence of the crash,’ the newspaper quoted the researchers as saying in their report.

The Boeing 777 vanished from radar screens as it was flying from Kuala Lumpar to Beijing on March 8, 2014, resulting in the loss of all 239 people on board 


Mr Godfrey has previously said pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah deliberately changed direction and speed to avoid ‘giving a clear idea where he was heading’.

‘In case the aircraft was detected, the pilot also avoided giving a clear idea where he was heading by using a flight path with a number of changes of direction,’ Mr Godfrey said in a separate report last year.

His latest findings only add to the theory that one of the pilots was behind the disappearance of the airliner. Friends of Mr Shah claim the pilot was ‘lonely and sad’ and was believed to be ‘clinically depressed’.

Mr Shah was a 53-year-old experience pilot, from Penang. His co-pilot, Fariq Abdul Hamid, 27, had joined Malaysian Airlines seven years earlier.

Shah was married with children, and was an outspoken critic of Malaysia’s president at the time. Police investigating the pilot found he had used his home computer to run a simulation of a replica Boeing 777 flight across the Indian Ocean a month earlier – something that was withheld by Malaysia from a public report.

In total, 36 pieces of MH370 wreckage have been recovered – many by Mr Gibson. Of those 36, nineteen were found washed ashore in Madagascar.

The latest piece – a 32 inch by 28 inch landing gear door – appears to match those used on Boeing 777 planes, according to The Times. 

The fisherman named Tataly – who found it in 2017 near his home on the Antsiraka Peninsula in Madagascar – was unaware of the item’s significance, and it has been used as a washing board by his wife since its discovery. 


Zaharie Ahmad Shah (pictured) was the pilot of the doomed flight


Pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah planned mass murder because of personal problems, locking his co-pilot out of the cockpit, closing down all communications, depressurising the main cabin and then disabling the aircraft so that it continued flying on auto-pilot until it ran out of fuel.

That was the popular theory in the weeks after the plane’s disappearance. 

His personal problems, rumours in Kuala Lumpur said, included a split with his wife Fizah Khan, and his fury that a relative, opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, had been given a five-year jail sentence for sodomy shortly before he boarded the plane for the flight to Beijing.

But the pilot’s wife angrily denied any personal problems and other family members and his friends said he was a devoted family man and loved his job.

This theory was also the conclusion of the first independent study into the disaster by the New Zealand-based air accident investigator, Ewan Wilson.

Wilson, the founder of Kiwi Airlines and a commercial pilot himself, arrived at the shocking conclusion after considering ‘every conceivable alternative scenario’.

However, he has not been able to provide any conclusive evidence to support his theory.

The claims are made in the book ‘Goodnight Malaysian 370’, which Wilson co-wrote with the New Zealand broadsheet journalist, Geoff Taylor.

It’s also been rumoured that Zaharie used a flight simulator at his home to plot a path to a remote island.

However, officials in Kuala Lumpur declared that Malaysian police and the FBI’s technical experts had found nothing to suggest he was planning to hijack the flight after closely examining his flight simulator. 

And there are also theories that the tragic disappearance may have been a heroic act of sacrifice by the pilot.

Australian aviation enthusiast Michael Gilbert believes the doomed plane caught fire mid-flight, forcing the pilot to plot a course away from heavily populated areas. 


Co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid, 27, again for personal problems, was suspected by rumour-spreaders to have overpowered the pilot and disabled the aircraft, flying it to its doom with crew and passengers unable to get through the locked cockpit door.

Theorists have put forward the suggestion that he was having relationship problems and this was his dramatic way of taking his own life.

But he was engaged to be married to Captain Nadira Ramli, 26, a fellow pilot from another airline, and loved his job. There are no known reasons for him to have taken any fatal action.

There have been a series of outlandish theories about the disappearance of the plane

Others have suggested that because he was known to have occasionally invited young women into the cockpit during a flight, he had done so this time and something had gone wrong.

Young Jonti Roos said in March that she spent an entire flight in 2011 in the cockpit being entertained by Hamid, who was smoking.

Interest in the co-pilot was renewed when it was revealed he was the last person to communicate from the cockpit after the communication system was cut off. 


An expert has claimed the missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370 was hijacked on the orders of Vladimir Putin and secretly landed in Kazakhstan.

Jeff Wise, a U.S. science writer who spearheaded CNN’s coverage of the Boeing 777-200E, has based his outlandish theory on pings that the plane gave off for seven hours after it went missing, that were recorded by British telecommunications company Inmarsat.

Wise believes that hijackers ‘spoofed’ the plane’s navigation data to make it seem like it went in another direction, but flew it to the Baikonur Cosmodrome, which is leased from Kazakhstan by Russia.

However, Wise admits in New York Magazine that he does not know why Vladimir Putin would want to steal a plane full of people and that his idea is somewhat ‘crazy’.

Wise also noted there were three Russian men onboard the flight, two of them Ukrainian passport holders.

Aviation disaster experts analysed satellite data and discovered – like the data recorded by Inmarsat – that the plane flew on for hours after losing contact.

Careful examination of the evidence has revealed that MH370 made three turns after the last radio call, first a turn to the left, then two more, taking the plane west, then south towards Antarctica.


This extraordinary claim came from 41-year-old British yachtsman Katherine Tee, from Liverpool, whose initial account of seeing what she thought was a burning plane in the night sky made headlines around the world.

On arrival in Thailand’s Phuket after sailing across the Indian Ocean from Cochin, southern India with her husband, she said: ‘I could see the outline of the plane – it looked longer than planes usually do.There was what appeared to be black smoke streaming from behind.’

Ms Tee’s general description of the time and place was vague and she lost all credibility when she later stated on her blog that she believed MH370 was a kamikaze plane that was aimed at a flotilla of Chinese ships and it was shot down before it could smash into the vessels.

Without solid proof of the satellite data, she wrote on her blog, Saucy Sailoress, the plane she saw was flying at low altitude towards the military convoy she and her husband had seen on recent nights. She added that internet research showed a Chinese flotilla was in the area at the time.

While the debris proved the plane went down in the Indian Ocean, the location of the main underwater wreckage — and its crucial black box data recorders — remains stubbornly elusive. 


On a flight from Jeddah to Kuala Lumpur that crossed over the Andaman Sea on March 8, Malaysian woman Raja Dalelah, 53, saw what she believed was a plane sitting on the water’s surface.

She didn’t know about the search that had been started for MH370. She alerted a stewardess who told her to go back to sleep.

‘I was shocked to see what looked like the tail and wing of an aircraft on the water,’ she said.

It was only when she told her friends on landing in Kuala Lumpur what she had seen that she learned of the missing jet. She had seen the object at about 2.30pm Malaysian time.

She said she had been able to identify several ships and islands before noticing the silver object that she said was a plane.

But her story was laughed off by pilots who said it would have been impossible to have seen part of an aircraft in the water from 35,000ft or seven miles.

Ms Raja filed an official report with police the same day and has kept to her story.

‘I know what I saw,’ she said.


A catastrophic event such as a fire disabling much of the equipment resulted in the pilots turning the plane back towards the Malaysian peninsula in the hope of landing at the nearest airport.

Satellite data, believable or not, suggests the aircraft did make a turn and theorists say there would be no reason for the pilots to change course unless confronted with an emergency.

A fire in a similar Boeing 777 jet parked at Cairo airport in 2011 was found to have been caused by a problem with the first officer’s oxygen mask supply tubing.

Stewarts Law, which has litigated in a series of recent air disasters, believes the plane crashed after a fire – similar to the blaze on the Cairo airport runway – broke out in the cockpit.

After an investigation into the Cairo blaze, Egypt’s Aircraft Accident Investigation Central Directorate (EAAICD) released their final report which revealed that the fire originated near the first officer’s oxygen mask supply tubing.

The cause of the fire could not be conclusively determined, but investigators pinpointed a problem with the cockpit hose used to provide oxygen for the crew in the event of decompression.

Following the 2011 fire, US aircraft owners were instructed to replace the system – it was estimated to cost $2,596 (£1,573) per aircraft. It was not known whether Malaysia Airlines had carried out the change.

If either pilot wanted to crash the plane, why turn it around? So the turn-around suggests they were trying to land as soon as possible because of an emergency.


The Boeing 777 was shot down by the Americans who feared the aircraft had been hijacked and was about to be used to attack the U.S. military base on Diego Garcia atoll in the Indian Ocean. So conspiracy theorists claim.

And former French airline director Marc Dugain said he had been warned by British intelligence that he was taking risks by investigating this angle.

There is no way of checking whether Dugain received such a warning or why he believes the Americans shot down the plane.

But adding to the theory that the aircraft was flown to Diego Garcia, either by the pilot Zaharie or a hijacker, was the claim that on the pilot’s home flight simulator was a ‘practice’ flight to the island.

Professor Glees said: ‘The Americans would have no interest in doing anything of the kind and not telling the world.

‘In theory, they might wish to shoot down a plane they thought was attacking them but they wouldn’t just fire missiles, they’d investigate it first with fighters and would quickly realise that even if it had to be shot down, the world would need to know.’

Mr Rosenschein said: ‘The U.S. would not have been able to hide this fact and in any event, if it were true, they would have admitted their action as it would have prevented a successful terrorist action on this occasion and acted as a deterrent for future terrorist attacks.’ 

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