Claims MH370 shot down by US military
A FRENCH former airline director has claimed that the US military may have shot down Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 and covered it up.
Marc Dugain, who headed Proteus Airlines and is an established author, speculated that the Americans may have targeted the aircraft because they feared a September 11-style attack on a military base in the Indian Ocean.
In an article for French magazine Paris Match, he claimed that the Boeing 777 crashed nowhere near where international search teams have been combing the ocean for wreckage, but near an American military base in the British territory of Diego Garcia.
"It's an extremely powerful military base. It's surprising that the Americans have lost all trace of this aircraft. Without getting into conspiracy theories, it is a possibility that the Americans stopped this plane," he told France Inter, according to a translation by The Local.
Mr Dugain asked how "in our technological world" a 63 metre-long object could disappear without a trace, suggesting there must have been a deliberate effort to hide evidence.
The atoll, almost 3,000 miles north-west of Australia, has been used as a significant US military base since the 1970s and is currently home to 1,700 military personnel.
Many conspiracy theories about Diego Garcia have been aired since the disappearance of MH370 but the US government has repeatedly denied that the plane came anywhere near it.
Mr Dugain cited witnesses in the Maldives as evidence, who reportedly told him they had seen a "huge plane flying at a really low altitude" towards the island bearing the Malaysia Airlines colours.
Shortly after the aircraft's disappearance on 8 March, with 239 people from 15 countries on board, local media in the Maldives reported that an object believed to be a fire extinguisher from the plane had washed up on a beach in Baarah. The find was never confirmed.
Mr Dugain argued that the MH370 may have been remotely hijacked by hackers and steered towards Diego Garcia, which is far from its planned flight path from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
To explain the absence of electronic communication as the plane disappeared from radar, he said a fire could have forced the crew to turn off all devices, without damaging the plane's exterior.
The official report on MH370 said its passengers most probably died from suffocation as the cabin ran out of oxygen, leaving it to continue on auto-pilot until it ran out of fuel and plunged into the ocean.
No new evidence from within the Boeing 777 has emerged, leaving the Australian Transport Safety Board to compare the flight with previous disasters to draw their conclusion.
Mr Dugain claimed he had been warned by a British intelligence officer of taking "risks" by looking into the fate of MH370.
"Someone knows," he added.
The head of Emirates, the world's largest international airline, is among those who have echoed Mr Dugain's questions about the availability of evidence.
Sir Tim Clark revealed his doubts in October, saying he did not believe "that the information held by some is on the table", and that his electronic engineers believe that even with communication systems switched off, the plane would still be traceable.
Countless conspiracy theories have been floated in the nine months since MH370's disappearance, with several claiming it was shot down either deliberately or by mistake during military exercises.
Others claim it may have flown in the "shadow" of another plane to conceal itself or was downed in a pilot suicide, life insurance scam or botched hijacking.