The passengers of MH370 died from a lack of oxygen before the pilot brought the plane down.
This and other explosive claims have been made in a book by a New Zealand-based air accident investigator.
Mr Ewan Wilson, the founder of Kiwi Airlines and a commercial pilot, spent four months on the first independent study into the March disaster.
In the book Goodnight Malaysian 370, which he co-wrote with New Zealand journalist Geoff Taylor, Mr Wilson claims that the passengers died as many as four hours before the pilot performed a controlled ditching in the Indian Ocean.
Mr Wilson said it was most likely that pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah deliberately depressurised the cabin and deprived them of air, reported the Daily Mail.
Oxygen masks would have dropped automatically from above the seats, but their supply was limited to just 20 minutes.
Those unable to grab a mask, including sleeping passengers, would have blacked out within a few minutes.
The authors believe that Mr Ahmad Shah suffered from mental illness and that he tricked co-pilot Fariq Hamid into taking a break 40 minutes after take-off.
They said Mr Ahmad Shah probably locked Mr Hamid out and made his last broadcast to air traffic control, "Goodnight, Malaysian 370," before switching off the plane's air-to-ground communication links.
He then took MH370 up to 39,000 feet and de-pressurised the aircraft, giving passengers and crew less than 60 seconds of Time of Useful Consciousness.
Mr Ahmad Shah would have had three hours' worth of oxygen, enough time for him to set a course for the southern Indian Ocean and, after the fuel ran dry, glide the aircraft for a further 100 nautical miles before performing a controlled ditching on the surface of the water.
Mr Wilson said he came to this conclusion after considering "every conceivable alternative scenario".
But he has not been able to provide any conclusive evidence to support his theory.
This article was first published on August 21, 2014.
Get The New Paper for more stories.