Experts investigating the mysterious disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 are increasingly focused on the likelihood that the plane suffered a mechanical fault.
Earlier it was reported that debris was spotted on satellite imagery to the west of Australia, however a ten hour search of the region by the military P-8 Poseidon search aircraft, failed to locate any wreckage, uncovering only a freighter and two groups of dolphins.
Commercial pilot Robert Mark, of Aviation International News Safety magazine, said, however that the site of the new search area off the coast of Perth, in relation to the plane's last-known location, reduced the likelihood of a hijacking, adding to the theory that a structural fault with the Boeing 777 may have knocked out the crew, leaving it to fly on auto-pilot.
According to Mark, the plane could have flown on auto-pilot for another five to six hours, from its last-known location off the west coast of Malaysia before running out of fuel.
"'What I think is interesting is that if you look at where the plane was last seen on radar … it is almost a straight line. I would say it means that once the aircraft turned, it didn't change course. A mechanical fault or emergency seems more plausible to me."
Last week, it was reported that the US Federation Aviation Authority (FAA) ordered airlines to fix a potentially fatal flaw in Boeing 777 jets six months ago.
The FAA reportedly warned the planes could suffer a drastic loss in cabin pressure or even break apart mid-air because of cracks or corrosion in the fuselage. If the plane had lost pressure the pilots may have become disorientated and possible fly off course.
"If the corrosion isn't treated, some of the skin could peel back and rapidly decompress the cabin," explained Mark. "If that happens and the pilots don't get the plane down to 14,000ft to where the oxygen is breathable, then everyone's dead."
He added that speculation that the plane had been taken for a suicide mission was also now more unlikely. "If you've taken a plane to commit suicide, why fly for seven hours?"
Meanwhile, Malaysian authorities have insisted the plane had been 'fully serviced' and all the maintenance checks 'were in order'.
A top air-crash investigator said the fate of MH370 may forever remain a mystery unless a human cause can be found for its disappearance.
Thomas Anthony, a former security chief with the Federal Aviation Administration, told Sky News: "If the aircraft breaks, the technical investigation will likely disclose the causes. 'If the human breaks, the technical investigation may actually provide no answers to what caused the accident, incident or crash."
His comments come as investigators were reportedly trying to identify a mysterious phone call made by pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah while he was in the cockpit, just moments before the plane took off.
Officials believe the call could solve the mystery of the flight's disappearance.
The actions of the pilot, who have come under scrutiny after the Malaysian Prime Minister said the plane had changed course as a result of 'deliberate action' on the plane.
Mark reiterated the view expressed by Anthony saying that the truth about what happened to Flight MH 370 might never be known.
"We thought the Air France crash (in 2009) was a game-changer. It is going to be another one for the (history) books - we have never seen anything like this before."
FLIGHT MH370 FACTBOX
Flight MH370 took off from Kuala Lumpur International Airport en route to Beijing at 00:41 on Saturday 8 March (16:41 GMT Friday).
About 50 minutes later, the aircraft lost contact with air traffic control.
No distress call was made.
On board, there were 12 Malaysian crew members and 227 passengers from 14 countries. They included 153 Chinese and 38 Malaysians.
Two Iranian male passengers, Pouria Nour Mohammad Mahread and Delavar Syed Mohammad Reza, were travelling on fake passports. Neither had any apparent links to terrorist groups.
No debris from the plane has been found in the international search.
At least 10 countries, including China, the US and Singapore, are using a total of 42 ships and 39 aircraft to search for the missing plane in the South China Sea, the Malacca Strait and the Andaman Sea.