Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 missing

Professional airline pilot Patrick Smith has an article Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

I agree with the author however I believe the authorities know much more than they are saying to the world and that there is a massive coverup taking place.

The Mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
UPDATE: March 11, 2014

STILL NO WRECKAGE, and reports now say that military authorities tracked the missing plane for nearly 500 miles after contact was lost with air traffic control.

I hate to say it, and to violate my own anti-speculation rule, but it’s looking more and more like something very strange, and possibly nefarious, is behind the disappearance. A hijacking, perhaps, that ultimately ended in disaster somewhere in the South China Sea.

Investigators also say the plane’s transponder signal — a location and altitude signal that is tracked by air traffic controllers on the ground — disappeared suddenly. This would indicate a sudden loss of power, as would happen during an inflight explosion or breakup, for instance. But if that were the case, why is the wreckage not where it should be, and what’s to explain the 500-mile continuation? Was there a complete loss of electric power, rendering the transponder inoperative, after which the aircraft continued on for many miles? Or was the device switched off* intentionally during a hijacking?

Unfortunately it could be weeks or even months before we have a solid idea of what happened. And tempting as might be, we should be careful not to speculate too broadly. Almost always the earliest theories turn out to be at best incomplete; at worst totally wrong. Seeing how little evidence we have at the moment, any theories are, for now, just guesses.

All we know for sure is that a plane went missing with no warning or communication from the crew. That the crash (assuming the plane did in fact go down) did not happen during takeoff or landing — the phases of flight when most accidents occur — somewhat limits the possibilities, but numerous ones remain. The culprit could be anything from sabotage to some kind of bizarre mechanical problem — or, as is so common in airline catastrophes, some combination or compounding of human error and/or mechanical malfunction.

Apart from this latest news of the military tracking, let me briefly hit some of the points I’ve been seeing and hearing in the media…

Lack of a mayday call: No matter an aircraft’s location, the crew is always in contact with both air traffic control and company ground staff. When flying in remote locations, however, this is often a more involved process than simply picking up a microphone and talking. Exactly how it’s done depends on which equipment the plane is fitted with, and which ATC facility you’re working with. Flying over open ocean, relaying even a simple message can be a multi-step process transmitted through FMS datalink or over high frequency radio. In an emergency, communicating with the ground is secondary to dealing with the problems at hand. As the old adage goes: you aviate, navigate, and communicate — in that order. And so, the fact that no messages or distress signals were sent by the crew is not surprising or an indicator of anything specific.

The stolen passports: Reportedly, two of flight 370′s passengers were traveling on stolen passports. This has raised eyebrows and incited speculation about a bombing, a possible hijacking attempt or other sabotage. Is this something worth looking at? Absolutely. But so is everything else, from the weather to the cargo manifest to the aircraft’s maintenance history. For what it’s worth, I suspect there are thousands of people jetting around the world on forged or stolen documents, for a variety of shady reasons, but that doesn’t make them terrorist bombers.

Pilot experience: A factor? Maybe, but probably not. The captain of the ill-fated flight had logged close to 20,000 flight hours, a substantial total by any standard. The first officer (copilot), on the other hand, had fewer than three thousand hours to his name. Pilots in North America — those like me, at any rate, who come up through the civilian ranks — generally accrue several thousand hours before landing a job with a major airline. We slog our way through the industry in a step-by-step process, building experience along the way. Thus it would be unheard of to find a Boeing 777 copilot with such a small number of hours. In other areas of the world, the process is often different. Pilots are frequently selected through so-called ab-initio programs, hand-picked by carriers at a young age and trained from the start to fly jetliners. We can debate the perils of this method, but I tend to doubt it’s anything more than a side note. Plus, flight hours in and of themselves aren’t necessarily a good measure of a pilot’s skills or performance under pressure. And any pilot, regardless of his or her logbook totals, and regardless of the airline, needs to meet some pretty rigorous training standards before being signed off to fly a 777.

The Boeing 777: I see no reason for the news media to keep reminding us about last summer’s Asiana crash in San Francisco, which also involved a 777. That both incidents involved the same aircraft model means little or nothing.

Air France redux? Similarly, there are no good reasons yet to be drawing parallels between Malaysia 370 and Air France flight 447 five years ago. Although both planes disappeared in mid-flight over the ocean, that’s hardly a meaningful coincidence when you consider the many possible causes. And rare as airline catastrophes are, I’m sorry to say that the annals of civil aviation contain many mishaps that are similar in general profile, but vastly different in the details.

We will probably learn the full and sad story eventually. But the possibility exists that we won’t. Much of what happened to Air France 447 still remains shrouded in mystery. Or consider the crash of a South African Airways 747 into the Indian Ocean back in 1987. Investigators believe that a cargo fire was responsible, but officially the disaster remains unsolved, the wreckage having fallen into thousands of feet of water, the bulk of it never recovered. We don’t always get the answers we need.

No matter who or what is to blame, we shouldn’t let this latest tragedy overshadow the fact that air travel remains remarkably safe. Worldwide, the trend over the past several years has been one of steady improvement, to the point where last year was the safest in the entire history of commercial aviation. A certain number of accidents, however — and however unfortunate — will always be inevitable. Hopefully that number continues to diminish.

Malaysia Airlines was formed in the early 1970s after its predecessor, Malaysia-Singapore Airlines (MSA), split to become Singapore Airlines and Malaysia Airlines. Both carriers are renowned for their outstanding passenger service, and both have excellent safety records. Cabin crews of both airlines wear the iconic, floral pattern “Sarong Kabaya” batik — a adaptation of the traditional Malay kebaya blouse.

Malaysia Airlines’ logo, carried on its tails from the beginning, is an indigenous kite known as the Wau. True story: In 1993 I was in the city of Kota Bahru, a conservative Islamic town in northern Malaysia close to the Thai border, when we saw a group of little kids flying Wau kites. At the time I didn’t realize where the airline’s logo had come from, but I recognized the pattern immediately. It was one of those airline/culture crossover moments that we aerophiles really savor.

  • Several readers have asked why the capability exists to switch off a transponder.

Very few of a plane’s components are hot-wired to be, as you might say, “always on.” In the interest of safety — namely, fire and electrical system protection — it’s important to have the ability to isolate a piece of equipment, either by a standard switch or, if need be, through a circuit breaker. Also transponders will occasionally malfunction and transmit erroneous or incomplete data, at which point a crew will recycle the device — switching it off, then on — or swap to another unit. Typically at least two transponders are onboard, and you can’t run both simultaneously. Bear in mind too that switching the unit “off” might refer to only one of the various subfunctions, or “modes” — for example, mode C, mode S — responsible for different data.

I believe captain is right. This plane was hijacked and was landed somewhere. Maybe has something to do with the Iranians on board who had stolen passports?

[QUOTE=brjones;132774]I believe captain is right. This plane was hijacked and was landed somewhere. Maybe has something to do with the Iranians on board who had stolen passports?[/QUOTE]

I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case and they just don’t want the Iranians soaking up all the credit for it. A terrorist attack is meaningless to a political movement if no one gets to find out that they were responsible for it. Outside of political credit a terrorist attack on a plane amounts to not much more than a plane going down because of a bird-strike. Either way it’s bad but without credit it doesn’t accomplish anything for anyone.

I dont know. Where can you land and hide as big a jet as a 777 and keep it a secret??

Is it possible to hack a 777?

Have you seen the jungles of Southeast Asia? Where can’t you hide a 777? There’s probably still WWII landing strips in that area that no one knows about. Vietnam too for that matter. Air America had secret air bases all over the place. Since the CIA moved out they’ve probably been kept up as drug smuggling bases since then. Secret locations like that are how that part of the world had been able to stay one of many drug capitols of the world for so many decades.

Sure, why not? You can hack anything now! Even a toaster…

[QUOTE=PaddyWest2012;132783]Sure, why not? You can hack anything now! Even a toaster…[/QUOTE]
Its unbelievable what can be accomplished with today’s tech. Remotely operating a plane is common. I’m striving to remotely operate my toaster via my iPad. Now that’s progress!!!

WSJ reports that Flt ML 370ACARS system “pinged” via satellite for the last time 5 hours after the transponders stopped transmitting. The USS Kidd may be headed to a location based on information somehow derived from these no data “pings”.

no-body was showning the fuel exhaustion range circle of the flight from the last known location, I thought that suspicious.
You can fly any plane over Malaysia and all they do is look at it on the Radar, I doubt that considering the object in question almost flew over a Malaysian air force base at Butterworth

[QUOTE=wiseguy65;132784] Remotely operating a plane is common. [/QUOTE]

I guess it is if the plane is a drone over Afghanistan or a target over the Gulf of Mexico.

word on the ground here is it has been hijacked and has gone somewhere…unfriendly

How long of a runway does a 777 need to be landed relatively safely? I’m still leaning towards old Air America/present day drug base in SE asia somewhere, and a lot of them had pretty sizable airstrips, but I have to wonder now if any of them were big enough for a 777.

[QUOTE=PaddyWest2012;132997]How long of a runway does a 777 need to be landed relatively safely? I’m still leaning towards old Air America/present day drug base in SE asia somewhere, and a lot of them had pretty sizable airstrips, but I have to wonder now if any of them were big enough for a 777.[/QUOTE]

Via James Fallows- journalist and amateur pilot a 777 requires ideally 7000+ foot runway. Bare Minimum is 4500 feet. There are 630 or so runways within range.

Here is a link to a map with colors for different lengths runways, also from fallows but to boing boing.

  • Reportedly last voice transmission was co-pilot.

  • CNN coverage is a joke. Panel of “experts” confused LOP derived from satellite “ping” with possible track.

has anyone at all speculated if there are any Chinese billionaires aboard? I bet there is some seriously valuable persons on that flight who would be worth some big ransom money. I also bet that young co-pilot would have been pretty easily “turned” and brought into the “job”. This is a hostage taking pure and simple!

As much as I hope they are on a beach somewhere sipping mai-tais, most likely they are shaking Davy Jones’s hand.

The plane was taken to 45,000 feet for 20 minits to kill the passengers and mabey some of the flight crew then decended to lower altitude and changed course for area not covered by radar. Enroute there at lower altitude they may of dumped the bodies to lessen weight by apx. 22 ton then secured one engine to save fuel (if the 777 flies further on one engine) and landed it someplace for ‘cleaning’ and mabey repainting and to have the transponder/squak codes changed or modified for fast alteration so this plane can rejoin the flight plan i’d suppose within a month before safeguards are put in place. the plane will probably be loaded with howitzer shells or equiv. and lots and lots of gas and flown to buckingham palace or … who know where. and i agree with those above who say we may not get the full story… so typical anymore of ‘‘transparent politics’’. either way, that airplane will have to reenter the flight plan and displace a aircraft all ready there somehow but they’ve probably been planning this for years, building the plan. (best idea i’ve heard yet… even if it is my own.)

[QUOTE=jimrr;133118]The plane was taken to 45,000 feet for 20 minits to kill the passengers and mabey some of the flight crew then decended to lower altitude and changed course for area not covered by radar. Enroute there at lower altitude they may of dumped the bodies to lessen weight by apx. 22 ton then secured one engine to save fuel (if the 777 flies further on one engine) and landed it someplace for ‘cleaning’ and mabey repainting and to have the transponder/squak codes changed or modified for fast alteration so this plane can rejoin the flight plan i’d suppose within a month before safeguards are put in place. the plane will probably be loaded with howitzer shells or equiv. and lots and lots of gas and flown to buckingham palace or … who know where. and i agree with those above who say we may not get the full story… so typical anymore of ‘‘transparent politics’’. either way, that airplane will have to reenter the flight plan and displace a aircraft all ready there somehow but they’ve probably been planning this for years, building the plan. (best idea i’ve heard yet… even if it is my own.)[/QUOTE]

WOW! This is some stretch of imagination and requires now the world to let down its guard towards this plane being used as a manned cruise missile. One would think if this plane is not found soon, anything that puts into the air that is not immediately identified will be intercepted muy pronto and brought down before it gets near any valuable targets. Lots of air defense systems in place all over the planet. Hostage taking and huge ransom demands seem much easier to pull off.

Reads like a Tom Clancy novel. Any thing is possible…