Why would someone want to disappear a plane?
I don’t really speculate on a specific reason, I just focus on the evidence that it is consistent that they did. “They” could be anyone, from the Captain to passengers, or if you want to go to extremes, hackers (I’ve seen it mentioned). If pilot suicide is your theory, this hypothesis is compatible with it, even if the destination is a little different. I don’t accuse Capt. Zaharie. In fact, I have developed thought exercises to make people reconsider when everyone wanted to accuse him of being the culprit. This hypothesis does not depend on who or why, but does assume a specific, deliberate intent that I believe the evidence supports.
Why Punta Arenas?
If someone is trying to disappear a plane, they probably want to fly straight and fast to one of the remotest locations on Earth. It just so happens that the RUNUT to Punta Arenas path is just about as far to the southwest as MH370 could fly while still having enough fuel to make it to the 7th arc. It is virtually straight or as direct as you can fly a plane. It is essentially the furthest west path that matches the typical 777 cruise speed at high altitude on long range cruise while still being generally compatible with satellite data and fuel range. If MH370 took it, it flew fast and relatively economical at high altitude. Punta Arenas is one of three or four likely paths very close together that have these characteristics and seemed to achieve the assumed objective the best. Perhaps the actual point is connected to a message we may one day decode, or perhaps it is meaningless, but simply fit the objective.
When the original hypothesis was developed, the figure above had not been released. It was released about two days later by the Malaysian Government (the black annotations are my own). The two hypothetical routes were early hypothetical routes developed by Inmarsat based on the satellite data. Analyses have been refined considerably, both by Inmarsat and experts around the world since then, but it’s still amazing to me to look at this figure and realize how little has changed. The blue circle is not quite big enough, and paths have refined and multiplied from the yellow and red lines, but that’s about all that’s discernable at this scale. Punta Arenas is essentially a natural extension of the yellow line on a great circle, which is pretty close to the waypoint hypothesis path. It gets you to the middle of nowhere.
If you were trying to disappear a plane, which path would you take? Would you fly closer to Australia? The red path implies slower speeds – would you fly slower, on a curving path, toward Australia? If you chose yellow, you basically just went through the same thought process I did.
If you believe the plane disappeared for some other reason, then think in your mind and decide which of the two is more likely, whatever the reason. The red path essentially splits the middle of various areas covered by underwater search over the past year. Only recently has searching moved to the south towards the yellow path, but it isn’t there yet, and will not reach it this season, if at all.
Personally, I have only come up with relatively complicated reasons why MH370 would have taken the red path, or something like it. These involve navigating by magnetic heading, but the question always remains: why would someone deliberately do that? If it wasn’t deliberate, how could the red path possibly occur? I cannot come up with a satisfying answer to that, regardless of reason whether mechanical failure or deliberate action. The yellow path, essentially the Waypoint Hypothesis, relies on simple assumptions, and is the only one that so far makes sense to me.