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Aviation Expert Disputes Missing-Jet Fire Theory

There's simply no evidence of an in-flight blaze, Greg Feith told NBC News.
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A theory holding that a fire brought down the missing Malaysia Airlines flight was gaining traction on the Internet Tuesday — but there's simply no evidence of an in-flight blaze, an aviation expert told NBC News.

"I've seen those remarks. I've seen the articles. If there was an electrical fire on board, there still has to be a source. And you can't take out the entire electrical system all in one fell swoop without really catastrophically compromising the structure of the airplane," said Greg Feith, a former National Transportation Safety Board crash investigator and NBC News analyst.

The fire theory first appeared Friday in a Google+ post by veteran Canadian pilot Chris Goodfellow. That post was then edited and republished Tuesday by the magazine Wired.

Goodfellow argues that the loss of transponders and communications suggests a fire erupted on Flight 370 — and that the aircraft's abrupt westward turn is a clue that the pilot was trying to land at the nearest airport on the Malaysian island Pulau Langkawi.

Feith told NBC News that the theory doesn't hold up under scrutiny.

"Typically, with an electrical fire, you'll have smoke before you have fire. You can do some troubleshooting. And if the systems are still up and running, you can get off a mayday call" and pilots can put on an oxygen mask, Feith said.

— Daniel Arkin