Diego Garcia

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Diego Garcia and Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370

Diego Garcia is a coral atoll in the Chagos Archipelago, 7o south of the equator in the central Indian Ocean. In November 1965 the United Kingdom purchased the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius to create the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT). In December 1966 the UK permitted the United States to use the BIOT for defense purposes. Inhabitants were involuntarily relocated, and in 1971 the United States Navy started construction of a base in Diego Garcia which now includes a large naval ship and submarine support base, military air base, communications and space-tracking facility, and anchorage in the lagoon. The Commander, Navy Installations Command (CNIC) website includes a section for the Naval Support Facility on Diego Garcia.[1]

The airport has two runways with lengths of 9202 ft (2805 m) and 12003 ft (3659 m)[2]. The longer runway was suitable for use as an emergency landing site for the NASA Space Shuttle, and is also listed as an ETOPS emergency landing site, as described below:-

Diego Garcia may be identified as an ETOPS (Extended Range Twin Engine Operations) emergency landing site (en route alternate) for flight planning purposes of commercial airliners. This allows twin-engine commercial aircraft (such as the Airbus A330, Boeing 767 or Boeing 777) to make theoretical nonstop flights between city pairs such as Perth and Dubai (9,013.61 km or 5,600.80 mi), Hong Kong and Johannesburg (10,658 km or 6,623 mi) or Singapore and São Paulo (15,985.41 km or 9,932.87 mi), all while maintaining a suitable diversion airport within 180 minutes' flying time with one engine inoperable.[3]

There are many conspiracy theories suggesting that Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which went missing on Saturday, 8 March 2014, headed towards Diego Garcia; perhaps passing through the Maldives; possibly being shot down in the vicinity of Diego Garcia; or landed there and the aircraft occupants were held in captivity. These ideas conflict with the evidence that flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean closer to Australia.

  1. Diego Garcia Naval Support Facility (NSF) - Link
  2. Diego Garcia location in Indian Ocean - Link
  3. Diego Garcia as an ETOPS Emergency Landing Site - Link
  4. Link to article "Katie” the PBY Catalina of Diego Garcia! - Link
  5. MH370, Captain Shah and Diego Garcia - Link

Diego Garcia Naval Support Facility (NSF)

Diego Garcia Naval Support Facility (NSF)
Source: Google Earth

Diego Garcia location in Indian Ocean

Diego Garcia location in Indian Ocean
Source: Google Earth

Diego Garcia as an ETOPS Emergency Landing Site

Diego Garcia as an ETOPS Emergency Landing Site
Source: ETOPS, Extended Operations and En Route Alternate Airports Boeing (2003)
http://www.boeing.com/assets/pdf/commercial/airports/faqs/etopseropsenroutealt.pdf via Web Archive

"Katie” the PBY Catalina of Diego Garcia!

An interesting article published by the Squadron Posters website describes a PBY Catalina which was moored in the lagoon at Diego Garcia blown ashore by a cyclone in 1944. The aircraft was damaged beyond repair, stripped of useful components, and remains on the beach.

View the article at https://www.squadronposters.com/71670-2/ [4]

MH370, Captain Shah and Diego Garcia

Captain Zaharie Shah was the Pilot in Command of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 when it went missing on Saturday, 8 March 2014.

Captain Shah built a sophisticated flight simulator which was confiscated by the Royal Malaysia Police (RMP) and analysed for any data that may relate to flight MH370.

The RMP did not release specific coordinates for Diego Garcia or any other island but speculation exists that Captain Shah had used his simulator to 'land' at Diego Garcia.

There is also unfounded speculation that MH370 flew over the Maldives, located north of Diego Garcia, and may have landed at the military base.

If Captain Shah did have an interest in Diego Garcia it would likely be for two reasons:-

  1. The Naval Support Facility on Diego Garcia is an alternate en route landing site which Captain Shah may have practised landing at using his own flight simulator, and
  2. Captain Shah was also interested in the PBY Catalina, built and flew a model of one of these famous aircraft, and likely knew about the aircraft known as Katie beached at Diego Garcia.

Both reason are entirely reasonable.

  1. https://www.cnic.navy.mil/regions/cnrj/installations/nsf_diego_garcia.html
  2. https://www.airnav.com/airport/FJDG
  3. https://military.wikia.org/wiki/Diego_Garcia
  4. If the page at https://www.squadronposters.com/71670-2/ is not available, an alternate is embedded from the Web Archive here.