Mahathir taken to task over MH370 'remote takeover' theory

PHOTO: The Star/Asia News Network

PETALING JAYA - The Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia has taken to task Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for saying that missing flight MH370 might have been "taken over remotely" in a bid to foil a hijack.

"We wish to note that it is inappropriate to speculate theories without any substantive and verified evidence," its chairman Datuk Seri Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said in a statement on Saturday.

He said such allegations will bring distress to the next-of-kin and loved ones of those on board the ill-fated flight.

Azharuddin, who is also head of the MH370 Response Team, said the Malaysian government remains committed towards its search for MH370 with the latest effort by Ocean Infinity searching for the wreckage.

"Until and unless evidence from the wreckage and the flight recorders sheds light on what happened, it is unbecoming for anyone to draw conclusions based on baseless conspiracy theories," he said, adding that this undermines the efforts of professionals who have spent more than four years in the search.

On Friday (March 23), Dr Mahathir told The Australian newspaper in an interview that it was possible the plane might have been taken over remotely.

"It was reported in 2006 that Boeing was given a licence to operate the takeover of a hijacked plane while it is flying so I wonder whether that's what happened or not," Dr Mahathir was quoted as saying.

AFP said according to reports, Boeing in 2006 was awarded a US patent for a system that, once activated, could take control of a commercial aircraft away from the pilot or flight crew in the event of a hijacking.

But there is no evidence it has ever been used in airliners due to safety concerns.

Flight MH370 went missing on March 8, 2014, while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 passengers and crew members onboard.