Across the world, people were fascinated and confused by Flight 370, the Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 that seemingly vanished in October of 2014. The plane itself, all 239 passengers, the crew, and the piolet, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, disappeared when it was assumed the flight had to have crashed into the Indian Ocean. Radar records show that the airplane reversed course, headed East instead of West towards Beijing, its initial destination, flew across all of Malaysia before turning northwest into open water, where all communication was lost. The hull of the plane and bodies have yet to be discovered, although debris from the plane have washed up on the shores of Reunion Island, Madagascar, and several East African countries.
It was presupposed during the early stages of the investigation that the plane malfunctioned in some way or was hijacked.
However, new evidence has come to light that suggests that the Flight 370 disaster was purposeful and perpetrated by the pilot, Captain Shah.
The first of this evidence came to light in August of 2016. It was found that Shah owned and operated a flight simulator in his home, where he practiced flying planes into the Indian Ocean. Most damming, however, is the final report published by the Austrian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) this October, who was in charge of the rescue and investigation. Forensic analysis of the debris showed that the plane was moving with “a significant amount of energy” before it crashed. Furthermore, satellite transmission data shows that 370 was descending anywhere between 150 to 285 miles per hour. It could not have been an uncontrolled nosedive; somebody was deliberately driving the plane downward.
The evidence supports the conclusion that Shah purposefully killed hundreds of people and himself.
There has been little to no legal remedy thus far for those litigating in Malaysian courts, and the same can be said for those litigating from the United States. The US only has jurisdiction if (1) the victim had a roundtrip ticket where the end destination was in the US or (2) if the victim lived in the US at the time. This was the case with some of the people involved in the crash.
Because Captain Shah was killed in the incident as well, and he likely held few assets, the families are likely not to seek damages against him or his estate. Therefore, the families are likely to shift their focus to Malaysian Airlines. The airline giant is responsible for a variety of reasons and could be charged with all or some of the following: negligence in hiring a violent, homicidal piolet; emotional distress; lost wages; and consortium (loss of intimacy), among others.
The victims, regardless of citizenship, may run into issues regarding the Montreal Convention. This is an international treaty meant to standardize and regulate commercial air travel and is an amendment of The Hague Protocol of 1963. The Montreal Convention established that damages cannot be paid by a commercial airline for psychiatric suffering unless it is linked to physical suffering. Prosecutors may have a hard time establishing that the family members of those in the crash suffered physical harm. This tenet of the convention has been widely criticized since its inception in 2003.
Though the tragedy made headlines for months in 2014, it does come as surprise that the ATSB report went nearly unnoticed in the press.
Read the full ATSB report here.