Journalist, Cherry Park

Author Bio ▼

Cherry Park is an experienced freelance journalist and reporter who specializes in features, news, and news analysis, in print and online. She has written extensively in the areas of health and safety, fire safety, employment, HR, recruitment, rewards, pay and benefits, market research, environment, and metallurgy, and she also conducts research.
March 25, 2014


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Did a Cockpit Fire Bring Flight MH370 Down?

Boeing_787_first_flight-DAVE-SIZER-2An on-board fire has been added to the growing list of possible reasons behind the disappearance of flight MH370, which Malaysian authorites now believe crashed in remote seas south-east of Australia.

Highjack, terrorism, pilot suicide, depressurisation and other causes, external or deliberate, have also been mooted, as conjecture mounts on the whereabouts of the Boeing 777 passenger jet. A third sighting of possible debris from the lost plane has recently been spotted, this time in the Indian Ocean.

A Google+ post by Canadian pilot Chris Goodfellow suggested that a fire, caused perhaps by an overheated landing gear tyre or electrical short-circuit, could have produced smoke that incapacitated the pilots.


Goodfellow argued that a panicked crew may have disconnected the communications system as they tried to isolate the cause, with the fire then disabling the whole system.

This would explain why the plane lost all contact account for the sudden change of course, the pilot probably making an abrupt turn to reach the nearest suitable landing place before the crew were overcome with fumes. Meanwhile, the jet would have continued on autopilot until it ran out of fuel and crashed.

US website the Daily Kos aired the theory that MH370 suffered a catastrophic cockpit fire similar to one that caused extensive damage to the cockpit and fuselage of an EgyptAir Boeing 777 within minutes while it sat on the runway in July 2011.

The blaze, which started as the jet prepared to depart for Jeddah, caused extensive damage to the cockpit and fuselage. Although the 291 passengers and crew evacuated safely, investigators suggested that a short-circuit caused electrically-conductive cockpit hoses, used to provide oxygen for the crew in the event of decompression, to ignite.

Lithium batteries

Another fire theory pins the blame on the lithium ion batteries carried in MH370’s hold, echoing similar fires on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft at Boston airport and in Japan.

Fire theory questioned

However, the fire theory has been dismissed from several quarters, including a former air accident investigator who believes a criminal act is more likely to be to blame and other experts questioning why air traffic control would have not been alerted to a fire.

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Mike at Multilink
Mike at Multilink
March 27, 2014 5:18 pm

I personally know a BA 777 pilot. He says that if a nose wheel tyre had burst on take off it could have smouldered for some while. If a fire then happened in the nose wheel compartment it could have cause a total power down of many systems.

Are you aware that pilots can switch off the black box recorders ? Whatever happened lets pray that those that are searching for the plane find something soon so that the families can get some closure if not the answer they really wanted.

March 27, 2014 6:49 pm

It is without a doubt a very sad situation and the current lack of information doesn’t help to provide any conclusive evidence as to possible causes.  However based on what we do know, I would suggest that fire and really any mechanical malfunction has to be eliminated from the causes due to the following: 1) The transponder would not be have been switched off as part of a fault finding process due to a fire 2) Any resulting clues to a fire would immediately have been notified to ATC 3) A fire would not cause the ACARS system to stop… Read more »