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Malaysian Airlines flight MH370

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    #16
    You are assuming, as is apparently "everybody" else, that there must have been "somebody" taking control of this plane and flown it deliberately to a yet unknown destination. The who, where and why speculations are rife with more or less wild guesses.

    I repeat; If this was a hi-jacking, why has nobody claimed responsibility? If it was the intention to fly it into a tall building somewhere (9/11 style) why hasn't that happened yet? If it was capture for ransom, why is there no claim? If it was suicide by one of the Pilots, why fly it "to the end of the earth" to do the deed? If some passenger had taken control, what was his/her motif? How was it possible get access to the c0ckpit?

    If it had come down to an altitude of only 5000 ft., which is now being speculated on, that would be consistent with the procedure to be followed in case of loss of cabin pressure, but if so the likelihood is that the plane was under control of the Pilot and the need for oxygen no longer there. It is not likely that the plane was flying that low to be "under radar" military style, unless you believe that there were a fighter pilot flying it at the time.

    The most likely scenario is that the plane was flying on autopilot and nobody was in control, regardless of what Najib says.

    This "it possibly flew North, or maybe South" scenario is not consistent with the report that they had positively identified the plane as the one seen on military radar. If it was plotted on military radar until it disappeared "under radar horizon", they should know what altitude it was on and thus be able to calculate approx. fuel consumption and approx. range remaining.
    If they plotted it's course and speed they should also be able to estimate where it would come down, allowing for wind conditions at the time along that path.

    I think they should stop wasting resources on looking for it in the near area and start looking at the outer reaches of that possible range, concentrated in the Southern Indian Ocean, maybe as far south as the Kerguellan Islands area.
    There are quite a few fishing vessels in that area, but they may be reluctant to report anything, since many of them are fishing illegally for Toothfish.

    Will be interesting to see how close, or how far away, I am with these assumptions, once they locate this plane, which they will eventually.

    Comment


      #17
      "Why" will be the big mystery to this whole event. It is looking more and more like a hijacking or some other controlled event. For what purpose is the big question. Terrorist groups are always coming forward claiming responsibility for things they did not do but this event is off the charts. Why take so many people and disappear?

      If the plane were flying on autopilot it's course was programmed by one of the flight crew. More likely I think the aircraft was being hand flown. Either way a human told it what to do.

      Oxygen? Below 15'000 it's not really needed and certainly not if you are planning a one way trip. At lower altitudes fuel consumption increases but if it's a one way trip does it matter.

      As for radar. Just like on ships search radar does not provide altitude. The transponder provides the altitude information. There is radar which can provide altitude but it much shorter range and is generally followed by a missile or bullets. There are still very large areas of this world not covered by radar. Much of the USA, especially the west is not covered by radar. Even with a working transponder there are vast areas where your location is not visible.

      It took years to locate Air France 447 when they had a general area to search. It may take a very, very, very, very long time to locate this aircraft. I think this is less a technical investigation of aircraft failure and more about why someone would want to take 200+ innocent people off into the ocean. Since no group has claimed responsibility it becomes more a enigma.

      What James Bond movie was it that had a pilot kill the other crew and fly the bomber off to land in the ocean to steal nuclear bombs? Fireball?

      Comment


      • ombugge
        ombugge commented
        Editing a comment
        Some military radars are able to detect and record altitude, but even if the Malaysian radar in question did not, it is possible to determine altitude when the plane dips below radar horizon. (The further away the higher the target is flying)

      #18
      The latest I heard this morning was that it is now possible that both communication systems could have been switched off (note the words "switched off" rather than "failed") at the same time. Up till then we had various contradictory "definite" statements that there was a time lag of 20, 10 and 2 minutes between both systems becoming silent. Right from the start and aside from the usual media speculation and experts' opinions there have been utterly contradictory statements issuing from the Malaysian government. It has made the whole search operation a farce, wavering from one area to another following the latest "it is now known" by the PM.
      As Dane said - why?
      Ivy

      "To thine own self be true.......
      Thou canst not then be false to any man."

      Comment


        #19
        If this was some sort of hijacking, then the more time that passes makes me think that the attempt went seriously wrong. Either that or someone is making sure they have dotted all the i's and crossed all the t's before they make their demand. But i must say that is more wishful thinking than anything else.

        But, be it either a hijacking, or electrical or mechanical failure of some kind, the fact that the plane stopped 'pinging' the satellite 7 hours after take off does not bode well. Enough fuel onboard to stay in the air for approx 7 hours - plane stops pinging after 7 hours. Not good.

        Were the crew and pax unconscious whilst the plane flew itself until the fuel ran out?, or could this be similar to the Ethiopian Airline, flight 961 hijacking back in 1996? Hijacked, ran out of fuel and crashed into the Indian Ocean.

        A mystery for sure, sadly one that involves so many people both on that plane, and those that are on the ground - friends and relatives.
        Your charts, your radar, your eyes and ears - if all 4 agree, you may proceed with caution.

        Comment


          #20
          In the US now the news is full of reports that someone very knowledgeable programmed the FMS to make the turn because the turn was so good. WTF? Really, when did a human become incapable of making a nice turn? And, reporting as fact that someone programmed the FMS might be a little white lie but is inexcusable for a reputable news agency. I think they (the media) are being caught in their own trap. A very big story and really nothing to report... how do you fill all that air time?

          Comment


            #21
            On the television here last week, one of the independent channels actually managed to make a full hour program all about speculations on what may have happened to the plane. I really could not believe that could stoop so low with so little news to go on. So i know what you mean, Dane.
            Your charts, your radar, your eyes and ears - if all 4 agree, you may proceed with caution.

            Comment


            • wherrygirl
              wherrygirl commented
              Editing a comment
              So good to see you back, Steve, albeit on such a sad thread.

            • Steve.B
              Steve.B commented
              Editing a comment
              Hello Ivy, yes, i am in the mood for a bit of CV at the moment, it's been a while.

            #22
            Now they are looking in the right area, the Southern Indian Ocean and the idea that there may not be any terrorist, villains or sinister crew members with political motif, whatever that could be.
            The latest I heard is that there may have been a fire and that the Pilots tried to return to base before becoming incapacitated by smoke inhalation. The only thing wrong with that theory is that it does not explain the switching off of communication, unless the fire was in the instrument room, or in the main electrical switchboard. In that case it is most likely that ALL systems would have failed, not just communications, and the plane would likely have come down in the South China Sea/Gulf of Thailand area.

            I still maintain that the most likely scenario is that the satellite communication dome has been damaged, which was warned by FAA that could happen on the B-777s. This would have shut down communication, but not the necessarily be noticed, since there were no transmission after the co-pilots God night message. It could have caused a slow loss of pressure in the cabin and the c0ckpit due to a crack in the fuselage. This again would lead to lack of oxygen and, by the time the low cabin pressure alarm was activated, could have caused drowsiness of the pilots.
            Once they got aware of the danger they turned to head to the nearest large air port for an emergency landing.

            Why they did not put on their oxygen masks and put the plain into a steep decline to get to "safe" altitude, (10,000 ft or so) is a mystery. This would have been SOP and part of their training.
            In any case, they did not and the plane kept on flying at the last set heading, speed and altitude on autopilot, until it run out of fuel, somewhere quite far south in the Indian Ocean.

            Now that they are searching in that area it is likely that debris will be found, either by the search teams or by ships or fishing boats passing there.
            Once they find the first identifiable debris from this plane, it is possible to project back the direction it has drifted, based on wind and current data for the area and the nature of the debris.
            That will narrow down the search area drastically and for every piece of debris found it will be narrowed down further. Fuel is not likely to be found, since the tanks would have been empty and Jet-3 would evaporate quickly once exposed to air.
            Is this idle guessing?? No this is standard SAR procedure for ocean search.

            If the above scenario proves right and they get near enough to pick up the acoustic signals from the "black boxes" within 30 days from disappearance, they can be recovered using commercially available ROVs.

            If they are too late it is possible the wreckage can will never be found, if the search area is reduced enough.
            It is possible to find relatively small objects by echo sounder, even in 3-4000 m. of water depth. Long liners fishing for Toothfish in the Southern Ocean is using Fish Finder to find fish at that depth.

            The technology to recover things from great depths is easily available from the oil industry, where working ROVs at depths up to 10,000 ft ( 3,050 m.) is now routine.
            Drilling and producing in 12,000 ft.(3,650 m.) is coming and most work ROV can go even deeper (4,000 m.)


            Comment


              #23
              Budget day today in this country so the midday news was full of the Chancellor speaking. But this morning the latest in the plane saga would be laughable if it weren't such a tragic case. Apparently the Thai military had a second look at their radar records and - surprise, surprise - noticed a few little blips about the time of the plane's apparent disappearance. Military radar! Blips not noticed at the time! Just as well they were not enemy aircraft loaded with atomic weapons. I wonder what prompted them to "discover" blips at this late stage?
              Ivy

              "To thine own self be true.......
              Thou canst not then be false to any man."

              Comment


                #24
                The last development, with debris that MAY, or may not, be from MH 370 is interesting. This tallies very much with my assumptions, incl. that the plane could end up somewhere in the Southern Indian Ocean.

                That assumption was based on the pilots having turned the plane around to the reciprocal heading of where they had come from, before passing out, (Approx. 205 degr.) heading back to KLIA or Subang, near KL. The position of the debris seen tallies with this heading.

                The only really surprising thing is that in that case the plane must have flown overhead KL area sometime in the wee hours in the morning, without being detected, or not being challenged as an unidentified objects. Alarm bells should be sounded, fighter planes scrambled and the Prime Minister woken up. That is if somebody was watching the radar screens and checking anticipated flight paths for know planes in the air at the time. (Malaysia is over flown by dozens of planes not landing there at any time, day or night)

                If indeed this is debris from the plane, the crash site is likely to be well to the West of the location where the sighting was made, and even further from the eventual find site due to the prevailing wind and current in that area. But, with those two positions know it is possible estimate both direction and speed of drift, and thus the approx. position of the crash site, which will narrow the search area dramatically. As more debris is found, the calculations will increase in accuracy.

                As said earlier, there are several Long Liners with very powerful Fish finding sonars working in the general area. These would be able to detect wreckage in water depth of 4000 m. or more. Some of them some are fishing illegally and is not likely to voluntary offer their services, but those who are legal and above board might, if asked by their flag states.

                In the new search area the water depth is in excess of 3,000 m., but the SE Indian Ridge is not too far to the West, with depths of 2300 to 2600 m. in the most likely area. This may not make much difference to the changes of finding the wreckage though. The uneven bottom, with "Mountains and Valleys" along the ridge, could in fact make it worse.

                If the wreckage is found, it may or may not make a difference to recovering the "black boxes".

                This will be something to watch, even after the public interest die down and media loose interest.

                Comment


                  #25
                  Does anyone know what purpose the satellite ping's served? What satellite was the plane talking to, and why? It would seem that the plane was only performing a simple handshake with the satellite involved. Why would the plane be doing that? Information released to the press and news agencies suggests that no other data was transmitted to the satellite in question, other than a simple acknowledgement.

                  But, whatever the reason for the communication, it would seem that without the data from that satellite, nobody would have had a clue where to look for the plane. And even with the data we are still left with two possible routes. It seems that the search is being focused on the southerly route, simply because the other route would have taken the plane through airspace where it would have (or should have) been detected by radar. But, seeing that the plane appears to have managed to overfly the KL area without anyone batting an eyelid, who's to say it did not slip through other areas where it should have been detected?
                  Your charts, your radar, your eyes and ears - if all 4 agree, you may proceed with caution.

                  Comment


                  • ombugge
                    ombugge commented
                    Editing a comment
                    The satellite in question is Inmarsat's Indian Ocean communication satellite, which is geostationary over the middle of the Indian Ocean and has a "foot print" that cover part of S.E,Asia, Australia and Africa. The "corridors the have been talking about is at the outer rim of the coverage area to the East.
                    The "pinging" is similar to what your mobile phone does to announce that "I'm here" and ready to send and receive calls, or data.
                    There is no directional identification, hence only that the phone is within the coverage area of a specific base station can be determined.
                    In this case, that the plane was within the Indian Ocean Satellite's coverage area, which is huge.

                  • Steve.B
                    Steve.B commented
                    Editing a comment
                    I understand how they worked out the two possible routes on which the plane must have travelled, i was just unsure what the satellite was used for with regards to the various equipment on the plane. What services on the plane were relayed via the satellite? Obviously some part of the communications system was still powered in order for the ping to be sent.

                  #26
                  Talking of satellites, i think the time has come to update the whole issue of 'black box' flight recorders. A system should be put in place where the flight recorders are always transmitting data back to a control centre via satellite. And like with the current recorders, the crew should have no way of turning them off.

                  In today's electronic communications age, it is ridiculous to have all of this valuable information go down with a plane. Especially when you consider that so much other non crucial data is transmitted on many flights these days - mobile phone, internet etc.

                  They say that the cost involved implementing black box recorders to transmit constant data would be prohibitive - yet they can afford to implement all these other non critical systems. Okay, live data streaming from black boxes may only be of benefit to one in many hundreds of thousands of flights, but that information could prove crucial to preventing a similar incident in the future.

                  If this flight had such equipment aboard, then we would not have this mystery. We would probably have the information needed to determine what happened, and where exactly the plane went down.
                  Your charts, your radar, your eyes and ears - if all 4 agree, you may proceed with caution.

                  Comment


                    #27
                    This idea of transmitting continuously was forwarded after Air France 447 and yes, it was determined to be cost prohibitive at the time. The most logical proposal has been that aircraft could upload data to satellite when trouble is detected. This would limit the vast amounts of useless data being uploaded but when the aircraft or crew sense things going wrong data starts being uploaded.

                    ELTs in commercial jet aircraft are almost useless. No downed jet passenger aircraft has been located by it's ELT. What ship firmly bolts it's EPIRB to the hull so it goes to the bottom with the ship? Why not combine the ELT with a data recorder and allow it to break or float free in case of accident leaving a beacon on the surface giving at least some general idea of where to search. It may even allow help to arrive in time to help survivors and do more than just recover wreckage.

                    While all this goes on other more mundane safety features could be implemented and save more lives. First the big, obvious stuff. Small children are not required to have their own seat or be secured by a seat belt. Empty fuel tanks in most aircraft are not inerted. Only premium classes of first tier airlines enjoy the benefit of passenger air bags. Passenger seats and their mounting tracks are pitifully inadequate in even newer aircraft and are not able to restrain and protect the passenger.

                    Comment


                    • ombugge
                      ombugge commented
                      Editing a comment
                      When a ship goes down, not only the EPIRB flaot up, but also the Voyage Data Recorder, which both will send location signals.
                      Inflatable life raft will also float up and inflate, but those will drift quickly from the location.

                    • Steve.B
                      Steve.B commented
                      Editing a comment
                      And yet the worlds most common form of mass transport between continents - namely commercial aircraft, carry nothing that will float upon the ocean to transmit a distress message. That needs to change.

                    #28
                    I have just read an article in the Guardian regarding the Inmarsat satellite and what function it served for the plane. (I was wondering that a few posts back) According to the article, the plane used it for various operations, voice communication with the ground when out of radio range, plus operational text type messages could be sent to the plane. It also says that the satellite can offer automatic reporting of a planes position via the planes transponder. (Though as usual, never trust what you read in a paper).

                    So i guess that the ping the satellite received was from one of the planes main transceivers, which itself was still powered up, probably sitting in stand-by because of a lack of input from the plane. I am sure that information alone will be of interest to the investigators already - what circuits powered what, working out what power state the transceiver should be in if there had been a total power failure to all the communications equipment in the c0ckpit. Could be that it runs on a totally separate supply (likely i would have thought), but, if they work out it should have lost it's power at the same time, that may bolster the thoughts about the equipment being turned off manually.

                    Well done to the people at Inmarsat and the AAIB in confirming with certainty that MH370 did indeed take the southern corridor, and that they can narrow the corridor down to 100 miles or so. But i guess they will not be able to say how much further along that corridor she flew after making her last ping. I wonder how they managed to determine which side of the satellite she passed?

                    I would be surprised if pieces of wreckage are not recovered within the next 24 hours, maybe at least then the families will know for sure, because until then there will still be doubts. The sooner physical evidence is found, the better for all of them.

                    If the large objects spotted by the satellites do indeed turn out to be parts of the wreckage, then i am wondering if the plane glided down into the ocean, rather than simply falling out of the sky. Two of the objects spotted are estimated to be over 20m in length, would parts that large survive an uncontrolled decent from thousands of feet up? Slamming into water is rather like slamming into concrete.


                    Your charts, your radar, your eyes and ears - if all 4 agree, you may proceed with caution.

                    Comment


                      #29
                      Last night (our time) Prime Minister Najib officially declared that the plane had come down in the Southern Indian Ocean and that there were no survivors.
                      That should be confirmation enough for most, but until wreckage is recovered and identified there is still going to be those who are hoping beyond hope.
                      Recovering the black boxes will obviously be difficult, since it has taken such a long time to find wreckage on surface, thus determining the crash site to within range of acoustic signals will be difficult. But sooner or later somebody may chance upon pieces of wreckage on the seabed, using powerful sonar, whether part of the search effort, or looking for Toothfish.

                      Comment


                        #30
                        I know the UK Royal Navy is sending HMS Echo down to the area to help with the search. She is certainly equipped for the job. I myself have an interest in HMS Echo because we towed her hull out of the dry dock to the fitting out berth in Appledore whilst she was being built. She was one of a pair, both built at the same time. Her sister is HMS Enterprise.

                        I think the black box manufacturers guarantee 30 days of transmission underwater, but dependent on age of the batteries i reckon you could almost double that figure. So hopefully the box will be transmitting for another month at least. That's if it was not damaged during the impact though.

                        Well, hopefully, there is a chance the boxes will be found, i am sure they will already be studying the currents, working out where these large bits of wreckage could have been two weeks ago. Even without confirmation of them being a part of the plane, i think they will be working on the assumption that they are, in order to get a small head start if they are indeed confirmed to be part of the plane. This is where that relatively tight flight corridor is going to come into play. Ok, a flight corridor of a hundred miles or so is big, but not when you compare it to the size of the ocean. They will be back tracking any wreckage to a point where it intersects with the flight corridor. Then follows hundreds of miles of underwater microphone towing.

                        Either way, i cannot see them giving up on this search for a long, long time yet. The world needs to know just what on earth happened to that flight. How can a 777 just turn around and decide to fly itself out of fuel, thusands of miles out into the ocean? I also feel the Malaysian authorities need to ask themselves how a massive jet can overfly their airspace without anyone noticing, or saying, or doing anything about it if they did spot it.
                        Your charts, your radar, your eyes and ears - if all 4 agree, you may proceed with caution.

                        Comment

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