AN image on Google Maps purportedly of missing jet MH370 may have been the work of hackers, a software expert has claimed.
Open University academic Dr Yijun Yu believes what was spotted on the tech giant’s mapping service may have been digitally inserted.
Dr Yu told Daily Star Online: “I know some data signals for an aircraft to network, you might have hackers insert some false flight.
“So even though in open sky you see nothing, someone can insert a digital record into the network and when people search, they will see an airplane passing by, even though it wasn’t there.
“So the challenge is whether Google’s satellite data was distorted at all.
“It is hard to tell what’s really happened. But that’s one possible explanation, if it’s real then all the other explanations were wrong.”
Dr Yu believes this is the most likely explanation, but has called for a drone to be sent to the spot after claiming the alternative theory could not yet be ruled out.
The plane in Google Maps measures around 70metres in length, a little larger than MH370’s 63.7m but with a mysterious gap between the tail and body.
Daniel Boyer previously claimed to have found the cockpit and tail, complete with Malaysia Airlines logo, of the missing aircraft.
Boyer said that the measurements of the blurry image matched those of the engine perfectly, being 4.3m wide and 2.7m in length.
Boyer’s discovery built off the work of Brit Ian Wilson, who first found what he thinks is an image of the plane on Google Maps.
MH370 took off from Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur for China’s capital Beijing with 239 people on board.
Boyer’s “crash site” is 10 miles away from Wilson’s.
He previously claimed he could make out the aircraft’s cockpit and tail in the grainy pics.
Boyer claims he can make out the cockpit and tail in the grainy images
The photos show several white objects lying on the forest floor north-west of Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh.
In Boyer’s previous interview he told the Daily Star one piece measures 17.8ft – close to the 19ft 3in of a Boeing 777 cockpit, leaving him “convinced” this was the front of the plane.
Previously he insisted he can see the red outline of Malaysia Airlines’ logo on another piece, which he said must be the tail.
The piece apparently measures 31.7ft – whereas a tail piece normally measures 30ft.
Boyer told the website: “I couldn’t believe it when I made the sighting.
“First the cockpit can be seen, and now this.
“The debris definitely needs to be investigated.”
The first images of the jet, which vanished on March 8, 2014, were found after video producer Ian Wilson spent “hours” searching online.
Images from Google Maps showed the outline of a large plane in a remote part of southern Cambodia – which could simply be an aircraft flying directly below the satellite which photographed it.
But Google Earth’s copyright date and imagery date for the picture have been listed as different years in recent weeks, reports The Daily Star.
This has led to speculation the supposed wreckage has been snapped several times in the past by the tech giant’s satellites – ruling out the theory that Wilson’s picture shows a plane in flight.
While the current imagery date is listed as March 2017, last week it was reportedly published as December 2015.
It has also been claimed the outline of the plane was spotted in May, 2014, using Google Maps – just two months after the jet vanished.
Wilson believes this adds further credence to his theory and says he plans to visit the site with his brother – in a bid to capture the £53million finder’s fee.
He told the Star: “After much discussion last night, we’re just organising final vaccinations and the hiring of guides.”
But aviation expert Yijun Yu puts the imagery date mystery down to either a system glitch or that Google hasn’t updated its pictures for the spot.
Flight 370 disappeared on March 8, 2014, en route from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing with 239 people on board.
Just 38 minutes into the flight, MH370 lost contact with Malaysia Airlines.
The plane was never found despite a search that cost millions and lasted for years.
Various theories – some more viable than others – emerged to explain what happened to the plane.
Other than the Cambodian jungle theory, these include the “suicidal” pilot deliberately crashing into the sea, the aircraft being shot down by North Korea and a conspiracy to bring down the Malaysian government.