Grand Strand pilot: Malaysian jet crash was "deliberate"

The mysterious crash of Malaysian Airlines flight 370 in the Indian Ocean will lead to big changes in commercial aviation.

That's the opinion of one former airline pilot who lives on the Grand Strand.

Harrison Hall, who lives in Murrells Inlet, spent 12 years flying Boeing 737 and Embraer 170 jets for US Air before starting Air Transport of the Carolinas, an aviation management company in Horry County.

Hall says at first he believed the crash of the Malaysian jet was caused by a mechanical malfunction.

He soon changed his mind.

"My professional opinion is it was deliberate," Hall said.

That's because the transponder, the device that identifies the plane to radar, was turned off during the flight.

"And that would have to be done by someone that knows airplanes and knows the specific purpose of the transponder."

Whether the crash was an act of terrorism is speculation, Hall says, but it was deliberate.

Hall thinks the crash will lead to changes involving the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System, or ACARS, used on modern jets.

ACARS transmits real-time data in short bursts about the jet's functions. The plane's black box gathers information, too, but is only useful if it can be recovered after a crash.

Hall thinks the Malaysian crash will lead to the elimination of black boxes.

"The information that is captured in a black box will now be captured by ACARS," he said.

Hall says the Malaysian crash captured the world's attention, because people today assume technology can provide answers to everything.

But even if the black box is found, he says the crash will still be a mystery, because a human was in the pilot's seat.

"No matter how far technology goes, there's still humans at the controls, human error will play a part, and then human emotion and human interaction."

Hall thinks another post-crash change will involve how airlines handle the human tragedy.

"You'll probably see more formalized policies mandated from the government instead of from inside the airlines because of this."

Another improvement Hall sees coming involves the Federal Aviation Administration's planned implementation of NextGen, a system that would combine radar, satellite and on board communications.