A veteran military and commercial pilot said today that with radar and transponder information alone, investigators should be able to tell if missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 blew up in mid-air.
The veteran pilot, with 40 years experience, said that since the military revealed yesterday that such readings exists to show that the missing Boeing 777-200ER aircraft may have changed course, then they should also quickly dispel or confirm one or two other theories being probed.
"We need the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) to come up with the radar picture - the speed of the turnaround and height of the plane.
"What was the radar picture showing? During the turn back that came with a heading change, was it abrupt or gradual?" said the veteran Malaysian pilot, who declined to be named.
Looking at the radar and transponder data, the veteran pilot said, DCA could then rule out searching in the Straits of Malacca and zero in on the exact location of the plane.
"It is highly unlikely that the plane could turnaround and fly towards the Straits of Malacca without our radar detecting it anymore," he said.
Although rare, he said there have been two cases where a plane exploded and disintegrated in the mid-air - the 1988 Lockerbie incident and Trans-World Airlines Flight 800 (TWA 800) in 1996.
In the first tragedy, which occurred in December 1988, a terrorist bomb destroyed Pan Am Flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie, killing 270 people.
Meanwhile, the TWA flight exploded and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean near New York in July 1996, killing 230 people onboard, probably caused by a faulty fuel tank.
'Information could be withheld'
At a press conference in KLIA yesterday, air force chief Rodzali Daud ( left ) said military radar records indicate the plane may have tried to change course, but could not reveal further details due to ongoing investigations.
The veteran pilot further told Malaysiakini that a commercial Boeing plane typically has a 12-kilometre turning radius and could be very slow and easily detected by the radar.
"If the turnaround is fast and tight, something is not right," he said.
DCA has, however said that there had been no distress call reported from the plane which went missing in the wee hours of the morning.
But the veteran pilot insists that even if civilian radar readings and the transponder did not give the information, the defence radar should also give a clue, but acknowledged that such information may be withheld.
"There is a possibility that MH370 could be out of radar coverage on primary mode. If that is the case, what about our air defense radar, did they see anything? This is a security question and the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) is privy not to answer in public," he said.
The plane, which took off after midnight on Friday from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) went undetectable less than an hour later, and did not arrive in Beijing at 6.30 am on March 8 as scheduled.
Three day since the plane went missing, authorities are still searching for the airplane.
The missing plane had 227 passengers, including two infants, and 12 crew members on board. Of these, 152 are Chinese nationals, 38 are Malaysians and the rest are from 12 other countries.