A Wiki Commons photo of an Air NZ 777-200ER

Today’s stories about a captain briefly locking his first officer out of the cockpit of an Air NZ 777 somewhere between Perth and Auckland are weird in their own right, and touch on something that could be of critical importance in the mystery of missing 777 flight, MH370.

And that something is the ease with which the supposedly secure doors of a 777 cockpit can by bypassed by anyone who knows about this ‘trick’ which Boeing and airlines have been warned about for years, without any of them showing any signs of paying the slightest bit of attention to it.

But because this means fitting two outrageous situations into one story, let’s start with the Air NZ cockpit stories. The first comes from the NZ Herald and the second from Fairfax.

Read them? Good. The only thing the public can take away from them with confidence was that the incident was sufficiently serious to stand each pilot down for a period of weeks.  Therefore the incident was not insignificant, even if it was silly or weird or whacky in some way.

Note the reference in each to alternative undisclosed access. Be assured, this did not involve going outside and crawling along the fuselage to enter via the windows. No Sir. It involved something that is little more difficult to do than adjusting your shoe laces and can be assumed to be known to every pilot and cabin attendant who works on 777s.

Plane Talking isn’t the only publication which has been urged by one or more ‘concerned’ pilot or cabin attendant to publicize this (once rehearsed) very fast way of getting past the locked door, and none of us are in the business of such a breach of common sense or causing a threat to public safety.

But the inaction of the plane maker and the safety authorities and airlines is another matter best decided elsewhere.

So what has this got to do, however remotely possibly, with MH370? About an hour after the Malaysia Airlines flight disappeared as a transponder identified flight between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing on 8 March there was an abnormal communication initiated by the ACARS fitted jet which told an Inmarsat satellite that it was ready to transmit engine performance data if required.

As outlined in this post, a possible explanation for this abnormality would have been an electrical systems recovery from a transient power failure which may have been caused by tampering, but could have been entirely unrelated to any such interference.  Note the terms possibly  and may.

Anyone with the necessary systems knowledge of 777s who wanted to interfere with the power supply or other electronic systems on the airliner would not be inhibited by the easy to bypass locked cockpit door.

Silly as it may have been, the Air NZ incident reminds us that there is a hole in the 777 cockpit security arrangements, and while it was exploited by its own crew on this occasion, it could, might, maybe, have been exploited with evil intent on MH370.

As with any suspicions concerning MH370, there are factual reasons to support a range of scenarios.  Yet such theories are nothing more than constructs woven around isolated data points that make assumptions about motives and actions for which we do not have (in the public domain) the slightest piece of material evidence to support them.

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