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Author Topic: Malaysia Airlines Flight 370  (Read 20657 times)
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jnc
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« on: March 13, 2014, 10:53:11 PM »

So I was going to post about the conflict between the reporting in the WSJ (saying they'd gotten messages from the engines for some hours after the last radar transponder echo) and what the Malaysian government said about it (they denied completely that they had such messages), but as of the 9PM news tonight, it now seems like there is confirmation that the WSJ report was correct.

(For those who didn't see it, they said US Govt people "believe the plane flew for a total of five hours, based on data automatically downloaded and sent to the ground from the Boeing Co. 777's engines as part of a routine maintenance and monitoring program".)

So if it really did fly out into the Indian Ocean, that seems to rule out a bunch of scenarios (e.g. major mechanical failure which caused the plane to go down at the site of the last transponder reply). So what's left?

- The plane was hijacked (either by the original crew, or hijackers), and either landed or crashed (probably way out in the Indian Ocean, in deep water).

- A massive electrical failure that knocked out all the electronics. But I did hear a report of two different comm systems being turned off about 15 minutes apart, which would seem to rule that one out.

- There was a depressurization and the plane went out on its own (like Helios Airways 522); however, I think that's unlikely, because it doesn't explain how the transponder got turned off.

I have a whole bunch of questions, though.

- Why are the Malaysians muddying the water so much? All the back and forth about whether they did or did not have radar info indicating a turn; and then the denial of the engine information this morning? I've seen some of this attributed to the Malaysian government's history of not being open. However, I wonder if the governments involved know something (e.g. that this is either about to be used for some kind of terrorist strike, or is a test run for a series of these) and want to limit how much information gets back to the perpetrators about what they know.

- The passengers - why didn't they communicate? During the 9/11 hijackings, quite a few called in on their mobiles. Now, at the presumed end of the flight, out in the Indian Ocean, there wouldn't be any cell service, but on the presumed path, the plane cross back across Malaysia. Did nobody realize there was something wrong by that point, or what? And if the plane was hijacked, and not crashed, what happened to them? Killed? How?

Leading on from that, here's one possible scenario: the plane was hijacked, intending to be landed, and eventually the passengers realized it had been hijacked and tried to do something, and the plane crashed.

If it was hijacked with the intention to crash it - why fly all the way to the Indian Ocean? To make it harder for the wreckage to be recovered (the Indian Ocean is much deeper)? For the suspense to build (knowing the plane would 'disappear'), and garner world attention? (One tongue in cheek scenario: Osama bin Laden was buried at sea in the Indian Ocean - perhaps the plane was crashed there as a tribute to him.)

Noel
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« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2014, 09:28:37 AM »

So if it really did fly out into the Indian Ocean, that seems to rule out a bunch of scenarios (e.g. major mechanical failure which caused the plane to go down at the site of the last transponder reply). So what's left?

Oh, one other scenario: someone hacked into the plane's flight-control system and took it over and diverted it. There have been demonstrations of this sort of capability already. I'm not sure that can explain the transponder, etc being turned off - nor the radio silence from the crew, though. I'm not sure those systems are under the control of the flight-system computers.

Noel
« Last Edit: March 14, 2014, 10:32:20 AM by jnc » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2014, 11:19:35 AM »

So what's left?
- The plane was hijacked (either by the original crew, or hijackers), and either landed or crashed (probably way out in the Indian Ocean, in deep water).

One interesting sub-possibility of this one is that if the hijackers didn't have a good understanding how much range the plane had with the fuel it had on board, they may have forced the pilots to fly it until it ran out of fuel and it crashed (possibly out in the middle of the Indian Ocean somewhere). This is what happened with Ethiopian Airlines 961.

Noel
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« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2014, 12:50:05 PM »


UFOs were seen in the area around the time the airline disappeared.  Just sayin'....




 Alien UFO  Alien
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« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2014, 01:03:19 PM »

UFOs were seen in the area around the time the airline disappeared.  Just sayin'....

Dunno if you've ever seen 'Millennium', but we were making references to that about a day or two in!


Listening to the coverage, it's amazing how many of these talking heads - and I'm speaking of the specialist guests - are really confused. I guess they're more interesting in getting their faces on TV than anything else.

I mean, I just heard one say 'if it's flying in a straight line, that could be autopilot, but if it's turning at waypoints, that has to be a pilot'. Ah, no. E.g. when Helios Airways 522 (above) got to Athens, it automatically went into a holding pattern.


One point of confusion between various sources and the Malaysians has, I think, been cleared up, which was the 'engines phoning home' thing. The plane did not send full messages back to Rolls-Royce, because Air Malaysia hadn't signed up for that service (and RR confirms no messages to them). But apparently the equipment on the plane did send 'hi, I'm here, and ready to connect' messages to the satellite (similar to what cell phones do, so the cell-phone system knows what tower to reach a mobile through when an incoming call arrives), and it seems to be those that were received.

That's a big deal, because if confirmed, we then know it was aloft a long time after the transponder stopped responding, which like I said rules out a whole bunch of scenarios (catastrophic failure) but also, alas, means we don't know where to look for it.

One piece of good news: I don't think those satellite 'pings' have a really long range; I would guess (haven't looked it up) that they satellite has to be pretty close. If so (I'll go research this), if they know which satellite heard the plane, and where the satellite was at the time, that will give them some idea of where the plane was.

Noel
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« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2014, 01:07:25 PM »


I actually missed that movie.   Alien

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« Reply #6 on: March 14, 2014, 01:20:31 PM »

I actually missed that movie.

If you have a chance to catch it on TV, definitely worth watching. The flash-forwards/flash-backs are kinda cool.


And I looked up the ACARS satellite stuff.

It turns out it can use both Inmarsat, which is a high-orbit geo-stationary system, and also Iridium, which is a non-geo-stationary system in low Earth orbit (at a height of approximately 500 miles).

Clearly, if it was the former, you wouldn't be able to get much location info out of that, but if it were using Iridium, you could. Alas, according to this press release from Inmarsat, they were the ones who saw the 'pings'. So unless it was trying to talk to Iridium too, we won't be able to get much localization out of those.

And I'm appalled that no major news organization has bothered to report the Inmarsat report, and its implication! How the hell is that I, a sole individual, can easily dig up more authoritative and detailed information than they are reporting? My opinion of the MSM continues to decline.

But, like I said, we now do definitely know that it was aloft for some hours after the transponder turned off, which to me makes it 99% sure it was dirty work of some kind.

Noel
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« Reply #7 on: March 14, 2014, 05:23:27 PM »

we now do definitely know that it was aloft for some hours after the transponder turned off, which to me makes it 99% sure it was dirty work of some kind.

I have heard an interesting theory which does also expain all the data we have: a slow-burning fire in the cockpit, which knocks our various comm systems, but not all at the same moment; the pilots turn back towards land, hit something on the autopilot, and then they and the passengers are overcome by smoke, and the plane flies on until it runs out of fuel and crashes.

I tend to think this is unlikely - in in-flight fires I know of (such as SwissAir 111) the pilots issued a Mayday - at 35K feet, they would have time for such a call. But it's not impossible, although I'd still rank a takeover as by far and away the most likely.

Noel
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« Reply #8 on: March 14, 2014, 05:30:07 PM »

Doesn't work.  Check your pm's and emails.
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« Reply #9 on: March 14, 2014, 06:28:13 PM »

Doesn't work.

Sorry, which theory is it that doesn't work? The in-flight fire? Well, I already rated that one as 'unlikely'...


I wonder how long it will take after this for aviation authorities to mandate tracking systems which cannot be turned off? The money pissed away in the searches would probably have paid for it several times over.

Noel
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« Reply #10 on: March 14, 2014, 10:27:35 PM »

I cannot believe how ridiculous the media has been in reporting on this, 30 minutes ago the Wall Street Journal comes out and says investigators now concentrating on sabotage. WSJ basing this on fact that it would take human intervention for the 777 to make the altitude and direction changes it did. No shit Dick Tracey what gave WSJ first clue!

A 777 pilot who has flown that plane for 18 years and in that area of the world said that on one of the first days. Numerous other 777 pilots and NTSB people have said there had to be human intervention. These same people are also saying the 777 could have flown another 1000 miles further than the present search area if it didn't crash.

Then you have the countless others with their opinion that even with the numerous 777 backup systems something could have happened that would rule out human intervention. But they can't tell you what that something might have been.

Most of the info from Malaysian military has proven to be crap and they are leading the investigation at this time.

You have all those families waiting and wondering and hanging onto any hope. They must be going bonkers with all the different scenarios the media has managed to pull from individuals who have nothing to base their opinion on other than a one in a million chance they are right. The longer the mystery goes on the more the media looks for different people to give their opinion of what took place and only adds to the confusion.

If you weed out all the opinions from those without 777 experience, don't have access to reliable data and not experienced aircraft accident investigators all that remains at this time is did the 777 crash or did it land somewhere? The rest makes no difference at this time!!           
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« Reply #11 on: March 14, 2014, 11:08:33 PM »

My wife just pointed out that even if we find a crash location and recover the Cockpit Voice Recorder, we still may not know what happened. Reason? The CVR recycles after 2 hours (for the new ones - old ones were only 30 minutes), and the plane was flying for 5 hours after the takeover event. So if there was one person in the cockpit by themselves, all we'd hear on the CVR is 2 hours of silence.

Noel
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« Reply #12 on: March 15, 2014, 07:49:54 AM »

Malaysian authorities now all but saying that this was a hijacking of some kind. At the very least, it would appear that the transponder was deliberately disabled.
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« Reply #13 on: March 15, 2014, 10:07:44 AM »

Malaysian authorities now all but saying that this was a hijacking of some kind.

I'm not sure what they're basing the 'hijacking' on - it's still remotely possible that everything we saw was caused by something like some sort of slow-moving fire, albeit unlikely. But I agree a hijacking/etc is the most likely explanation for the data we do have at hand at this point - but it's still not certain.

One piece of actual data I heard last night was that the big turn back to the West was made before the ACARS data upload (a separate, higher-level subsystem from the ACARS 'connectivity ping' that went on for some hours) was turned off, and they did get one data packet that indicated that the turn was caused by an actual control input, not by the autopilot.

Some of this makes no sense, though. E.g. if you're a hijacker, and know enough to turn off ACARS data and the transponder, why would you do them 15 minutes apart?

Noel
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« Reply #14 on: March 15, 2014, 10:20:19 AM »

Interesting map showing vanished aircraft from 1946 to present.

Quote
Over the past 50 years, dozens of planes have vanished, according to the Aviation Safety Network. The map below plots incidents of missing aircraft that carried at least 20 passengers.

http://www.cbc.ca/news2/interactives/map-missing-planes/

As an observation, disappearances aren't as "routine" as this might suggest - think the most recent one on the map was 1974.
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