The Mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

Transponders, Conspiracy Theories, Rogue Pilots and Media Madness: A Continuing Series on the Disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines 777.

UPDATE: June 26, 2014

WHO VETS THESE THINGS? In today’s New York Times, it says, “Angus Houston, the retired head of the Australian military who is overseeing the country’s search, said in an interview earlier this month that he assumed the flight would have been on autopilot even if a conscious pilot had been at the controls. That is because a Boeing 777 is a very difficult plane to fly manually.”

Those italics are mine. They are mine because the statement is absurd. If anything a 777 is an easy plane to fly manually.

Sure, the autopilot would have been engaged even with a conscious pilot at the controls. Virtually all commercial aircraft have their autopilots engaged during the cruise portion of flight. It has been this way since the 1940s. It has nothing to do with the planes being difficult to fly. It’s because hand-flying a jet for several hours, on a more or less straight course across the ocean, would be incredibly tedious. Easy, but numbing and exhausting.

This is another example of the media relying on outside specialists (military sources, aeronautics professors, researchers and bureaucrats) to comment on commercial airline operations — something they often know very little about.

Meanwhile, the latest reports are saying that hypoxia — that is, the crew falling unconscious due to lack of oxygen — appears to be the “best fit” for the MH 370 mystery. How this may have happened, if it did, remains unknown, but possibilities include a cabin breach caused by a bomb or structural failure, or a major pressurization malfunction. Pilots are trained to deal with such things, and even a total loss of cabin pressure is seldom dangerous. But, they have to respond quickly and appropriately.

The hypoxia idea has been there from the beginning (I’m one of several people who’ve been citing it as a possibility, right from day one), but has been lost amidst the more colorful theories of pilot suicide, hijacking, UFO abduction, and so forth.

With its occupants unconscious, the jet would have continued on its last programmed routing until running out of fuel and crashing. And no, to answer a question several readers have put forth, the jet would not have been guided via autopilot to a smooth touchdown on the ocean surface.

Once the engines quit, the plane would have stayed stable for a certain amount of time, then eventually would have stalled and/or plummeted and crashed. How much time? It’d somewhat depend on which modes of the autopilot had been engaged, as well as the plane’s altitude and speed. If the engines failed simultaneously (unlikely) the plane would stay aloft somewhat longer. If one engine failed before the other (much more likely), the resulting asymmetrical forces, without a pilot on hand to react, would have been quickly catastrophic. See the Helios Airways accident in 2005, for an example.

 

UPDATE: May 7, 2014

JUST A FEW THOUGHTS on Matt Wald’s New York Times story, titled “U.N. to Consider Ways to Track Planes Over Seas.”

To be clear, planes are tracked over the ocean, even in remote, non-radar areas. This is something the media hasn’t been good at explaining.

It’s a semantic discussion to some degree (what does “tracking” mean?), but headlines the likes of “U.N. to Consider Ways to Track Planes Over Seas,” and similar phrasings, which have been rampant, give people the impression that once a plane hits oceanic airspace, it effectively disappears until making landfall on the other side. This is not the case, at all.

Crews are always in touch with both air traffic control and company personnel on the ground, and both of these entities are following and tracking you. Tranponders aren’t used in non-radar areas, but you’ve also got HF radio, SATCOM, CPDLC, FMC datalink and so forth. Which equipment you’re using to communicate depends where you are and which air traffic control facility you’re working with.

What happened in the case of flight 370, of course, is that all of this equipment stopped working — it was either switched off intentionally, or failed. The plane wasn’t being tracked because the communications equipment was dead. We can and perhaps should argue whether some sort of fail-safe, independently powered locator signal ought to be installed aboard transoceanic aircraft, able to transmit latitude and longitude position, but in normal operations the existing equipment works quite well, and is a lot more sophisticated than people are being led to believe.

The Times story also segued into an annoying and misleading discussion about — here we go again — why it is that pilots are able to turn a transponder off. The comments of retired pilot Robert Hilb were especially frustrating. To cut and paste from a prior post (which you can read further down this page)…

The ability to turn off a transponder exists for three reasons:

The first one is operational: to avoid cluttering up air traffic control radar, the unit is turned off when parked at the gate. We switch it on shortly before taxiing, then switch it off again (actually it’s moved to a standby mode) after docking in. Second, 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. And third, transponders will occasionally malfunction and transmit erroneous or incomplete data, at which point a crew will “cycle” the device or swap to another unit. Typically at least two transponders are onboard, and you can’t run both simultaneously. Further, there are various transponder subfunctions, or “modes” as we call them — mode C, for example, or mode S — responsible for different data, and these can be turned off separately.

In any case, with respect to the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, a discussion of transponders is only partly relevant in the first place. For air traffic control purposes, transponders only work in areas of ATC radar coverage. Once beyond a certain distance from the coast, the oceans are not monitored by radar, and transponders are not used for tracking. We keep the units turned on because the TCAS anti-collision system is transponder-based, but we rely on SATCOM, ACARS, FMS datalink, and other means for position reports and communications. Thus transponders are pertinent to this story only when the missing plane was close to land. Once over the open water, on or off, it didn’t matter anyway.

 

UPDATE: April 26, 2014

IT’S AMAZING how this story has fallen off the table. The big TV networks (this means you CNN) finally faced up to the fact they couldn’t keep leading, hour after hour, with a story that wasn’t changing. The jet was missing, and it kept on being missing, and here we are in the middle of April and it’s still missing.

Count me among those who feel that this is how it ends: a mystery. The plane is out there somewhere, at the bottom of the Indian Ocean, and in all likelihood we’re not going to find it. Even if the wreckage can be pinpointed, dredging up the black boxes from 15,000 feet of seawater would itself be a monumental task. And even with the recorders salvaged we might not learn what happened.

My hunch is that a malfunction, rather than foul play, brought the plane down. A poorly handled decompression, for example, caused by a structural problem or windscreen failure. Or a catastrophic electrical failure combined with smoke, fire or fumes that rendered the crew unconscious. Granted that doesn’t totally jibe with the evidence, but none of the theories do. Not ruling anything out, including the possibility of a pilot suicide mission. I’m somewhat mystified that more hasn’t been made of the captain’s domestic situation — his failing marriage and, according to some, unusual behavior — in the days leading up to the plane’s disappearance.

This is how it goes sometimes. The archives of aviation accidents, rare as they might be, contain numerous unsolved disasters — including aircraft that have never been found or recovered. The fate of Malaysia 370, it looks like, will be added to the list.

 

UPDATE: April 4, 2014

THE MEDIA really needs a chill pill. And for the love of heaven, would people please stop talking about transponders. National Public Radio host Robert Siegel was on the air yesterday, the latest in a know-nothing chorus complaining about the ability of pilots to turn transponders off, clearly possessing little or no idea how the devices actually work.

The ability to turn off a transponder exists for three reasons:

The first one is operational: to avoid cluttering up air traffic control radar, the unit is turned off when parked at the gate. We switch it on shortly before taxiing, then switch it off again (actually it’s moved to a standby mode) after docking in. Second, 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. And third, transponders will occasionally malfunction and transmit erroneous or incomplete data, at which point a crew will “cycle” the device or swap to another unit. Typically at least two transponders are onboard, and you can’t run both simultaneously. Further, there are various transponder subfunctions, or “modes” as we call them — mode C, for example, or mode S — responsible for different data, and these can be turned off separately.

In any case, with respect to the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, a discussion of transponders is only partly relevant in the first place. For air traffic control purposes, transponders only work in areas of ATC radar coverage. Once beyond a certain distance from the coast, the oceans are not monitored by radar, and transponders are not used for tracking. We keep the units turned on because the TCAS anti-collision system is transponder-based, but we rely on SATCOM, ACARS, FMS datalink, and other means for position reports and communications. Thus transponders are pertinent to this story only when the missing plane was close to land. Once over the open water, on or off, it didn’t matter anyway.

 

UPDATE: April 3, 2014

ACCORDING TO Reason.org, a new Reason-Rupe poll finds 35 percent of Americans think a mechanical problem caused Malaysia Airlines flight 370 to crash; 22 percent believe the pilots crashed the plane intentionally; 12 percent feel it was destroyed by terrorists; 9 percent say the plane landed safely and is in hiding; 5 percent believe the disappearance is related to supernatural or alien activity; and 3 percent think it was shot down by a foreign government.

That’s slightly more encouraging than I expected, with some 57 percent of people overall hewing to what have been, from the start, the two most credible avenues of possibility: mechanical problem or rogue crew hijacking.

 

UPDATE: March 30, 2014

I’VE READ AND HEARD some pretty asinine characterizations of airline pilots before, but rarely have I come across anything as absurd, inaccurate, or irresponsible as what was printed on the front page of the March 28-30 weekend international edition of USA Today.

I’m talking about the story by Mahi Ramakrishnan headlined, “Flight Change Blamed on Pilot.” (A slightly different version of this story ran in the March 27th U.S. edition.)

“The pilot of the missing Malaysia Airlines jet is believed to be solely responsible for steering the flight hundreds of miles off course…” begins the story. Right away I feel an ulcer coming on.

I find it almost inconceivable that after decades of covering commercial aviation, USA Today would fail to understand there is always a minimum of two pilots in the cockpit: a captain and a first officer. The latter is known colloquially as the copilot, but they both are fully qualified pilots. They both perform takeoffs and landings, and both are certified to operate the aircraft in all regimes of flight. A first officer is not an apprentice. In fact, owing to the quirks of the airline seniority system, it is not unheard of for the first officer to be older and more experienced than the captain. More here.

How many times have I been through this? I’ve explained it repeatedly in blog postings, articles, and in my book. I have no idea how many people have been listening, but in one fell swoop USA Today has misinformed hundreds of thousands of readers.

But wait, it gets worse…

Later in the same story we are told that one of the Malaysian investigators said of the crew, “Only the captain possessed the experience and expertise to fly the plane.”

I’m not sure what disturbs me more: that an accident investigator would say such a nonsensical and untrue thing, or that USA Today didn’t have the common sense to vet it. I can’t believe that nobody on the editorial staff of a paper that runs so many airlines stories, and that caters to travelers, didn’t at least flag this statement for review.

The idea that a first officer on a Boeing 777 wouldn’t have the experience or expertise to operate the aircraft on his own is beyond preposterous. Why the investigator would assert otherwise, if in fact the quote was interpreted correctly, I have no idea.

The details of the Malaysia Airlines mystery have been subject to enough misinterpretation and general media overboiling as it is. This puts things over the top, into the realm of total and complete nonsense.

And hang on, there’s more…

The same issue of USA Today, on page 10A, features a letter to the editor by a man from Minnesota named Tom O’Mara. His topic is the tracking of commercial flights. He asks that we “demand that airlines track all their flights from takeoff to landing.” Five dollars per passenger, he submits, ought to be invested in a “tracking system for commercial flights over the ocean.”

The problem here is that commercial flights are tracked over the oceans. Air crews must always be in contact with both air traffic control and company dispatchers on the ground. Most intercontinental aircraft have datalink or satellite communications systems that allow for constant real-time tracking.

Of course, this equipment works only so long as it’s powered. A fire, failure, or act of sabotage can render it inoperative — no different, I would presume, from any piece of equipment in any application in any industry. Maybe that’s O’Mara’s point; possibly he’s arguing for some type of fail-safe tracking mechanism that can’t be destroyed or turned off? But he doesn’t say so, and the tone and implication of his letter is simple and clear enough: planes are not tracked.

Which is untrue. And here the newspaper again drops the ball, by publishing a letter based on a false premise.

 

UPDATE: March 27, 2014

THE GRAPHICS ON CNN say “Breaking News…” followed by, “There is no new information in the disappearance of flight MH370.” Can’t make this up.

Malaysian authorities, meanwhile, have put out the blockbuster announcement that they are confident the plane crashed into the sea. Damn, and all this time I believed the jet was hidden away in a hangar somewhere on a “remote airstrip.”

Except of course that plenty of people really do subscribe to such an idea. And it’s this conspiracy mongering that’s the most discouraging and distracting aspect of this entire story. How it got there we don’t yet know — and we may never know — but there is an extremely high certainty that the plane is in the Indian ocean. This is by far the likeliest possibility, and I wish the TV networks would cease and desist from giving further credence to notions of a kidnapping conspiracy. There is zero evidence to support such a claim, and analytically it makes no sense. Some buffoon was on Fox News the other night saying, “This has all the makings of a hostage situation.” Actually, it has none of the makings of a hostage situation.

Not that I’m shocked that so many people are willing to accept these ideas. What is it about our society nowadays that foments such fanciful and illogical lines of thinking?

Meanwhile, here’s a bullet-point look at some of the topics and theories we’ve been hearing about from the start:

TRANSPONDERS    The media has been throwing this term around without a full understanding of how the equipment works. See my explanation at the top of this post.

“ALL RIGHT, GOOD NIGHT”    If I hear one more person attempt to make something of the first officer’s final words to air traffic control — “all right, good night” — I’m going to hit the roof. There is nothing unusual about this salutation. While it sounds cryptic in the context of the ongoing mystery, it’s a perfectly normal sign-off — the kind of thing pilots say to controllers all the time.

THE RADAR RUSE    I’m talking about this post, by an aviation enthusiast named Keith Ledgerwood. His hypothesis is that the missing Malaysia Airlines jet had tucked up underneath a Singapore Airlines 777, causing the two planes’ radar signatures to appear as one. Thus disguised, the Malaysia jet flew on, undetected for hours before eventually breaking off and landing at an airfield in…? See that’s what I don’t like about this idea. It fails to offer any explanation as to how, once separating from the Singapore flight, the Malaysia jet could have completed its secret diversion without being seen — to say nothing of why such a difficult and elaborate plot would be put in motion to begin with. It makes very little sense, other than it allows an aviation hobbyist to show off a little, and provides more fodder for a media starved of useful information. Beyond that, if the Malaysia plane had been directly below the Singapore 777, the latter’s radar altimeter would have shown it. The radar altimeter is a device that displays physical distance, in feet, to an object below. (They differ from a plane’s main altimeters, which reference height above sea level.) In normal operations that object is the ground, but during cruise they commonly pick up crossing traffic, momentarily showing planes as they pass beneath. So, ask the Singapore crew: was your radar altimeter flashing on and off, showing some sort of object below you?

FIRE OR FUMES?    This theory has gotten a ton of attention thanks to a Wired magazine story penned by a general aviation pilot named Chris Goodfellow. He proposes that the flight’s sudden turn off course was a response to an inflight emergency — an intentional deviation forced by an electrical or cargo fire. While headed for an emergency landing, the crew was overcome by smoke or fumes. Its autopilot on and course reprogrammed, the plane then continued on for a time before crashing. The theory is described in the headline as “startlingly simple,” though in fact there’s nothing startling about it, and Goodfellow more or less repeats what I said in a post back on March 14th. That a fire would be potent enough knock out communications and incapacitate the crew, yet not destroy the aircraft very quickly, is certainly a sticking point, but neither is it impossible.

THE TERRORIST PLOT    If indeed this was a hijacking, did the plane land somewhere, as some are suggesting, possibly to be used later as an airborne weapon of some kind, perhaps loaded with a nuclear or biological weapon? I seriously doubt it. Remote as some airports are, the task of stealing and then secretly landing and hiding a 777 would be exceptionally difficult. But more than that, what sense would it make for a terrorist group steal a commercial jetliner full of passengers from one of the most prestigious airlines in the world, guaranteeing that everybody on the planet will be looking for it? There are hundreds or even thousand of cargo planes and business jets that move around the world each day more or less anonymously, any one of which would do the job equally as well as well, with only a small fraction of the attention. That’s not to discount the possibility of a hijacking outright, but I can’t imagine the plane actually landed somewhere. As to other motives, remember that the long, long history of air piracy did not begin and end with September 11th, 2001, so it’s important not to view every hijacking through the crucible of the 9/11 template. People hijack planes for different reason. It may even have been a rogue crewmember.

REMOTE CONTROL    This one is full-on James Bond. We’re told how the plane’s “flight computer,” whatever that is, was hacked, allowing the plane to be flown remotely, like a drone, either to crash it into the ocean or carry it to a secret airstrip somewhere. I’m frustrated by how often this is suggested, because there is simply no way to remotely pilot a Boeing 777 or any other commercial plane. People seem to have a vastly exaggerated idea of how modern jetliners are flown — that is, they vastly exaggerate the capabilities of cockpit automation, and what a person with access to this automation, whether from inside or outside the plane, would be able to do with it. People read and hear things out of context — simplified explanations and experimental applications of technology — and they extrapolate unrealistically. And it’s not as if the pilots don’t monitor and crosscheck a plane’s progress when its autoflight system is engaged. We are constantly doing that. If something were messing with one or more of the system’s modes, we’d know it, and could easily disengage that mode and fly using basic course, altitude, or power commands. Worst-case, we can switch the automation off completely and do everything by hand.

WHY NO PHONE CALLS?    Some have wondered why, assuming the jet was hijacked, passengers did not place cell phone calls to loved ones, as occurred during the 9/11 attacks. Does the absence of call records suggest the passengers had been incapacitated somehow, or that the plane had met a sudden end? No. Unless an aircraft is flying low and within range of a cell tower, cellular calling from a plane does not work. Your phone will not maintain a signal. Some airplanes are equipped with special technology that permits calling via satellite or using radio frequencies to transmit cellular calls, but I’m uncertain if Malaysia’s 777s have this technology. Even if they do it could have been intentionally turned off or suffered a power failure, no different from the plane’s other communications equipment.

THE MISSING MAYDAY    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.

INTO ORBIT    Of the wackier ideas I’ve been hearing, my favorite is the one that goes like this: Would it be possible for the 777 to have climbed clear out of the atmosphere, so high that “it disintegrated,” went into orbit, or otherwise became impossible to track or locate? In normal circumstances I wouldn’t burden the rest of you with an answer to such nonsense, except that no fewer than five readers already have asked some version of this question. The answer is no. It is totally impossible for that to happen. At a certain altitude, a plane’s engines will no longer provide enough power and the wings will no longer provide enough lift. The plane will no longer be able to sustain flight. All commercial passenger jets have maximum certified cruising altitudes below 50,000 feet or so. And even this altitude isn’t always reachable. The maximum altitude at a given time depends on the plane’s weight, the air temperature and other factors.

HYPOXIA    Could a rapid loss of cabin pressure, perhaps as a result of a fire or some other problem, rendered the flight crew, and possibly everyone else on the plane as well, incapacitated, at which point the plane continued on before eventually crashing. This is conceivable, yes (though maybe no more so than assorted other scenarios). Depressurizations by themselves are perfectly manageable and almost never fatal (see chapter two of my book for a story about the time it happened to me), and something that all airline crews train for, but only if the crew understands the problem and does what it’s supposed to do. See Helios Airways.

THE STOLEN PASSPORTS    Interpol says the Iranians with stolen passports were migrants hoping to be smuggled into Europe. 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    It’s doubtful this was any factor. 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.

 

All we know for sure is that a plane went missing with no warning or communication from the crew. The culprit could be anything from sabotage to fire to a bizarre mechanical problem — or, as is so common in airline catastrophes, some combination or compounding of human error and/or mechanical malfunction.

And all the while people keep asking “how can a plane simply disappear?” It’s an idea that to many makes no sense in an age of instant and total connectivity. But consider: if somebody yanks the power cord out of your computer, suddenly all the wonderful immediacy and connectivity of the internet is effectively vanished. Similarly, all of the fancy equipment in a 777’s cockpit is only useful if it’s actually running. Thus, together with an absence of primary radar over much of the ocean, the idea that a plane can disappear becomes a lot more conceivable.

And 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. Hopefully their number continues to diminish, but a certain number of accidents will always be inevitable. In some ways, the weirdness of this story speaks to how well we have engineered away what once were the most common causes of crashes. Those that still occur tend to be more mysterious and strange than in decades past (have a look at the year 1985 some time, for an idea of how frequent large-scale air disasters once were).

Meanwhile, it’s fascinating how this story has moved from being one about a presumed airplane crash to, really, a mystery story. It’s the very missing-ness of the plane that the public finds so captivating. If and when the wreckage is discovered, I have to wonder if suddenly people will stop paying such rapt attention. If so, that’s too bad, because the question at hand ought to be what happened on board the jet, not where is the jet.

I say “if and when” because I think people need to reconcile with the possibility that the plane might never be found. I know that sounds absurd in an age where fast and easy answers are taken for granted, but it could very well happen.

 __________

 

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.

Malaysia Airlines logo

 

Related Story:
DATELINE BORNEO:MALAYSIA AIRLINES AND A TRIP TO THE EAST

 

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1,182 Responses to “The Mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370”
  1. J.C. Landers says:

    As a former journalist, what bothers me most about news media reporting of the Malaysian Airlines tragedy is the failure to explain certain speculative possibilities for the crash — primarily whether two passengers could have brought down an airliner in flight. Journalists should include information from aviation safety experts, especially engineers, who might have some informative perspectives. Unless there was an egregious security screening lapse, would it be possible for an individual, or two, to carry components of an explosive device aboard without detection? Then, how much explosive power would be necessary to substantially damage a Boeing 777 in flight? Then, where would the device have to be placed for maximum effect? (bathroom?) Of course, this would be a response to a speculative question, but it is the nature of news media, and human nature, to wonder why an otherwise safe aircraft might disappear at cruise altitude. Media have an obligation to analyze speculative reasons by including information that would provide perspective.

    • Jim Houghton says:

      If there had been an explosion, wouldn’t there be debris scattered everywhere, easy to see? I think it’s much more likely that the plane went into the water more or less in one piece.

      • Dianne says:

        I am not 100% sure but I would be thinking if it was coming out of the sky it would be falling pretty fast… hence on impact into the water it would break up. Unless of course it was guided down nice and easily then different story.

        • Rachel says:

          I am curious- what are the probabilities of it breaking up as opposed to staying in one piece and sinking straight down? I was watching a documentary about Ethiopian Flight 961 the other day. The pilot was forced to land it in the ocean next to a beach after it ran out of fuel. According to the doc, some planes have a smooth bottom, others have engines hanging beneath the wings. The ones with a smooth bottom have a somewhat better ability to land in water than ones with engines hanging below the wings, because the engines act like a scoop, fill with water, and cause the plane to cartwheel. That’s what happened to the Ethiopian Flight, and it broke apart into 4 or 5 pieces. So if for some reason, the pilots tried to land the Malaysia plane on the water, it would have probably broken apart, and I’m guessing there would be more debris. I think the only other possibility is that the plane plunged into the water at a high rate of speed, with no one attempting to slow it down to execute a controlled landing. Would it be more or less likely to break up if that were the case? I really don’t know, so I’m hoping someone here could enlighten me.

          • Rachel says:

            You know what, nevermind, I answered my own question after thinking about it for a bit. It’s obvious, actually. Water is just as hard a concrete to an object slamming into it. Of course the plane broke up, probably into lots of small pieces. I assume much of the debris has sunk by now, making it difficult for anyone to find a trace of the plane.

          • Jeff Latten says:

            Rachel, you make several good points: landing on water is like landing on green concrete, except it’s wet. And, low wing-mounted engines might certainly cause the cartwheeling process you describe. Under that theory, a plane like a 727, with its fuselage and tail mounted engines has a better chance of landing in one piece. Anyone care to chime in on that?

            But the more important idea is that if the plane broke up, as is likely in a forced ditching in the open ocean, and even if every part of the plane sank, there is still a huge amount of floating debris that comes off the plane; seat cushions, luggage, clothing, personal items, blankets, bodies, insulation, plastic panels, etc. The idea that all this stuff is nowhere to be found really argues against a sea ditching, but where the hell in the suspected area (or the max fuel range) would/could you land something this big without someone noticing? You can’t land a 777 on a grass strip or road or field or beach, or even a little local airport designed for Cessna 172’s. I’m sure Patrick knows what the minimum runway is for a loaded 777 at that temp and altitude is, but it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if it was 7-8K feet or more. Also, if you’re doing this at night without ATC landing guidance then runway lights would be a good thing. Just where do you have all that and no radar?

          • Mary says:

            Circulating on email – –
            The American is withdrawing from the Afghanistan, one of their command and control system (used for controlling the pilotless drones) was hijacked by the Talebans when the American transport convoy was moving down from one of the hill top bases. The Talebans ambushed the convoy and killed 2 American Seal personnel, seized the equipment/weapons, including the command and control system which weighed about 20 tons and packed into 6 crates. This happened about a month ago in Feb 2014.
            What the Talebans want is money. They want to sell the system to the Russian or the Chinese. The Russian is too busy in Ukraine. The Chinese are hungry for the system’s technology. Just imagine if the Chinese master the technology behind the command and control system, all the American drones will become useless. So the Chinese sent 8 top defense scientists to check the system and agreed to pay millions for it.
            Sometime in early Mar 2014, the 8 scientists and the 6 crates made their way to Malaysia, thinking that it was the best covert way to avoid detection. The cargo was then kept in the Embassy under diplomatic protection. Meanwhile the American has engaged the assistance of Israeli intelligence, and together they are determined to intercept and recapture the cargo.
            The Chinese calculated that it will be safe to transport it via civilian aircraft so as to avoid suspicion. After all the direct flight from KL to Beijing takes only 4 and half hours, and the American will not hijack or harm the civilian. So MH370 is the perfect carrier.
            There are 5 American and Israeli agents onboard who are familiar with Boeing operation. The 2 “Iranians” with stolen passports could be among them.
            When MH370 is about to leave the Malaysian air space and reporting to Vietnamese air control, one American AWAC jammed their signal, disabled the pilot control system and switched over to remote control mode. That was when the plane suddenly lost altitude momentarily.
            How the AWAC can do it ? Remember 911 incident ? After the 911 incident, all Boeing aircraft (and possibly all Airbus) are installed with remote control system to counter terrorist hijacking. Since then all the Boeing could be remote controlled by ground control tower. The same remote control system used to control the pilotless spy aircraft and drones.
            The 5 American/Israeli agents soon took over the plane, switched off the transponder and other communication system, changed course and flew westwards. They dare not fly east to Philippines or Guam because the whole South China Sea air space was covered by Chinese surveillance radar and satellite.
            The Malaysian, Thai and Indian military radars actually detected the unidentified aircraft but did not react professionally.
            The plane flew over North Sumatra, Anambas, South India and then landed at Maldives (some villagers saw the aircraft landing), refuelled and continued its flight to Garcia Deigo, the American Air Base in the middle of Indian Ocean. The cargo and the black box were removed. The passengers were silenced via natural means, lack of oxygen. They believe only dead person will not talk. The MH370 with dead passengers were air borne again via remote control and crashed into South Indian Ocean, make it to believe that the plane eventually ran out of fuel and crashed, and blame the defiant captain and copilot.
            The American has put up a good show. First diverting all the attention and search effort in the South China Sea while the plane made their way to Indian Ocean. Then they came out with some conflicting statement and evidence to confuse the world. The Australian is the co-actor.
            The amount of effort put up by China, in terms of the number of search aircraft, ships and satellites, searching first the South China Sea, then the Malacca Straits and the Indian Ocean is unprecedented. This showed that the China is very concerned, not so much because of the many Chinese civilian passengers, but mainly the high value cargo and its 8 top defense scientists.
            Don’t ask how true is this but Grt conspiracy theory …… worth a read

          • Patrick says:

            This email is barely coherent to begin with (i.e. “the Talebans”), but for the record…

            >> How the AWAC can do it ? Remember 911 incident ? After the 911 incident, all Boeing aircraft (and possibly all Airbus) are installed with remote control system to counter terrorist hijacking. Since then all the Boeing could be remote controlled by ground control tower. The same remote control system used to control the pilotless spy aircraft and drones. <<

            This is totally and unconditionally FALSE.

            There is no way to remotely control any commercial jetliner. Not even CLOSE.

      • Joe Stitzel says:

        Hello Jim, landing on water in one piece, a remote maybe-could be done to a, sharp point of success, but at what speed ? too slow you fall too fast and break up, leaving debris, too slow you plummit, too fast you break up on impact, hitting water even at 50 miles an hour is like hitting cement, since it can’t be compressed it will resist like cement–just the right speed to not break up and sink would be same odds as entering earths atmosphere from space with not knowing at all what angle to enter for success, but that narrow angle is about exact window of 11 degrees i believe. no not the same for landing on water especially with no skids. hope to hear from you :) Joe S. bc MI

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    • Jo-anne says:

      What about all the passengers with cell phones? If I thought my plane was having trouble I’d be sending out all of my “goodbye, I Love you” messages. Maybe no cell signal at first but for 500 miles? Just seems odd to me not one call or text rec’d from passengers. Are there onboard telephones that crew could have used?

      • mickey says:

        Indeed that is why every single one is absolutely dead, barring perhaps a lone miracle or two who quite possibly could have survived the initial crash. There is zero chance the plane could have been sucessfully hijacked or otherwise safely landed, as somebody would have gotten off a message.

        • Donna says:

          I was wondering the same thing..not ONE passenger of flight attendant tried to get a call out after they relized they weren’t going to China & assuming that one of the pilots was flying, why didn’t they try to talk to them? What were the passengers told, if anything? Someone would definitely have used an electronic device to send the word out something was horribly wrong.

      • Eji says:

        If the catastrophy happened so sudden and so violet, there wont be enough time for the passengers to respond and have messages sent out.

      • Rick Damiani says:

        Cell phones have a range of maybe 5 miles. They were a couple hundred miles out to sea. There isn’t any way a cell phone could have worked.

      • Alison Bardo says:

        I’m so glad someone finally addressed the question of passenger cell phones. Many calls and texts were sent out on 9/11. It’s impossible for me to understand how not one message seems to have been sent or received. For this reason, I think the passengers perished FAST and before there was any hint of trouble.

        • Izraul says:

          No. For this reason, the 9/11 story was b/s.

        • Crella says:

          The planes on 9/11 were flying much lower, over land, and so could access cell phone networks. Seat back phones were also used.

          You aren’t saying that all those voice mails and messages on answering machines were faked ? Families have saved the messages.

      • Izraul says:

        Exactly.. and the answer addresses an issue with the so called, official 9/11 story. But it didn’t seem to be a problem on that day. Funny how that works!

        • Jan says:

          ” For position reporting and traffic sequencing purposes, transponders only work in areas of typical ATC radar coverage. Most of the world, including the oceans, does not have ATC radar coverage. Transponders are relevant to this story only when the missing plane was close to land. Once over the ocean, it didn’t matter anyway”.
          No.
          An additional radar, an ELT (emergency locator transmitter), is a radar transmitter that is mandatory equipment in aircraft. Its primary purpose is to identify the location of an aircraft that has crashed. An ELT signal wouldn’t be detectable after an aircraft had sunk in the ocean, in any case, but the ELT was turned off when this flight disappeared.
          It’s getting hard to see the disinformation through the chemtrails. The white aircraft that spray these chemicals are required to report their position to the FAA. In fact, they don’t ever do so, and they’re not visible on radar.

          • Mitch says:

            This is completely incorrect. An ELT (emergency locator transmitter) does not use radar whatsoever. It is a simple device that transmits on a discreet VHF and UHF frequency for search and rescue purposes. It can be manually activated in the flight deck or automatically activated after recognizing a hard impact such as a crash.

            If electrical power was compromised or a fire broke out its very possible the ELT was not activated. Even if it was it would be unlikely that the signal would be noticed if the aircraft was indeed in a remote location. Newer ELTs are designed to send a signal to a satelite or GPS location for accurate detection. It is not known if this aircraft was equipped with that new system.

            Chemtrails? Come back to reality. You self proclaimed experts do yourself more harm then good. If you are truly interested in Aviation do yourself a favor, go to an airport and find a flight school. Take some lessons are learn something by actually doing it. Not reading crazy stories on the internet.

      • Jack says:

        Did you not read the “Why no cell phone” section in the above article? Good grief.

      • Ceb Jorliss says:

        Joanne you did not read the article did you…the cell phones do not work.

        WHY NO PHONE CALLS? Some have wondered why, assuming the jet was hijacked, passengers did not place cell phone calls to loved ones, as occurred during the 9/11 attacks. Does the absence of call records suggest the passengers had been incapacitated somehow, or that the plane had met a sudden end? No. Unless an aircraft is flying low and within range of a cell tower, cellular calling from a plane does not work. Your phone will not maintain a signal. Some airplanes are equipped with special technology that permits calling via satellite or using radio frequencies to transmit cellular calls, but I’m uncertain if Malaysia’s 777s have this technology. Even if they do it could have been intentionally turned off or suffered a power failure, no different from the plane’s other communications equipment.

        next time read before you make an ass of yourself

    • Patrat says:

      YOU WROTE: Unless there was an egregious security screening lapse, would it be possible for an individual, or two, to carry components of an explosive device aboard without detection? Then, how much explosive power would be necessary to substantially damage a Boeing 777 in flight? Then, where would the device have to be placed for maximum effect? (bathroom?)

      … God bless you are a FORMER journalist.. What do you think? If this was really done by terrorists, why should any media solve questions like the best place to put a bomb? For the next terrorist? You wanna produce a Podcast for them too? THINK …

    • Mike says:

      from a Malaysian point of view; i think this is a distraction but the conspirators underestimated the global attention.

      the global community must press on with due diligence and take no words from that govt for granted.

    • Yvonne says:

      If malaysian military tracked an unknown aircraft over their country wouldn’t they send fighter planes to investigate? Surely they wouldn’t just watch it……. Maybe they shot it down.

      Today they acknowledged that there was a radar sighting of something but couldn’t say what it was.

      I smell a cover up here.

    • John says:

      Did the aircraft have enough fuel to hit the Maldive International Airport in the Indian Ocean?
      Wall Street Journal gives me the impression that officials are entertaining the notion of hijacked — and the Maldives seem to fit the bill geographically and sadly, politically. It’s recently taken some heat for it’s new and very lovely Islamic make-over.
      Just saying.

      • vickey says:

        I’m with you John on that location. Ask the clairvoyants – could prove more a sure thing than speculation.

        • Janet says:

          I’m puzzled by the villager sightings of a large low flying plane on a southerly Maldives Island around 06.35 am Saturday morning, fits with theory of sudden catastrophic fault causing pilots to take immediate turn back but failing to program in the whole ‘new route’ code before losing consciousness. The plane then flys on (probably having soared in height due to depressurisation) and continued on the input trajectory until the aircraft ran out of fuel, would have lost altitude over time due to fuselage damage. Makes sense, why was it dismissed? Why would a bunch of villagers on some remote island make up something as vivid as that? I think the search crews are looking in the wrong place and the sorrow I feel intuitively when I meditate is palpable and excruciating, almost as if a spiritual collective mind is telling me: why can’t they find us, why can’t our relatives know where and how we perished.

          • Anne says:

            I think the reason that has been dismissed is that the Maldives authorities have ruled that out as a possibility. They said no such aircraft flew over their airspace.

          • Randall says:

            Also note, Maldives is a shallow water tourist destination – lots of foreigners in a small space. If it landed, everyone near the airport would know. If it went in the water, there would be a large number of eyewitness, and the wreckage / debris field would be visible from a boat on the surface.
            The same goes for Diego Garcia theories – US personnel are on the island year round. I have met people who were deployed there.

    • knightrider says:

      Why is nobody talking about this being related to all the other crisis going on in the world?This airplane could have been used to test the satellite and radar capabilities of other countries as a strategic military exercise. Think about it….fighter jets and submarines carrying around nukes during WW3! There are to many things going on everywhere to deny the obvious, the only question is when will the war be publicly announced and in full effect. We have China and Japan, North and South Korea, Israel and the Arab Nation, Russia and Ukraine, Syria and all other crisis as well. These countries are way more advanced and have enhanced strategic plans from experience during the first two world wars. The rumors of wars could be at the end to where the war is finally here. Dont get me wrong by reading this, I am a decent human being and do send my condolences to the passengers of the missing Malaysian plane. GOD HELP US ALL!!!!

      • Randall says:

        Anyone with funding, e.g., a government, could simply hire a charter aircraft to test the same thing. Drug runners and smugglers penetrate air defense ID zones successfully all the time. But that is no test of the ability to launch a major war undetected – thousands of aircraft, equipment, personnel, etc. have to be mobilized, and everyone with satellites watches for that, e.g., the current crisis in the Ukraine. Besides, who is going to attack whom in your WW3 scenario? Only US and Russia have credible strategic bomber forces. Both also have ICBMs and missile subs. Neither could attack the other without pretty much destroying the entire northern hemisphere. Neither Putin nor Obama seems bent on national suicide. Calm down.

    • Tanojrsds says:

      The weirdest thing of everything is when I asked an air plane technician about THEIR opinions, they said “Im very sorry i am not allowed to comment at this time”. What in the holy is going on! It is not weird people wonder about everything! Especially in the combination of the words of the co-pilot: “All right, good night.” .. Why are not technicians allowed to answer a simple question??

      • Mark says:

        2 possibilities. Either the person you talked to is not a “plane technician” (don’t even know what that means) or your story is a lie.

      • Jeff Latten says:

        Please re-read Patrick’s treatise above on this bit of conversation between the flight deck(Capt or 1st Ofc?) and ATC. This is very common, a polite way of who ever’s in communication with ATC for thanking the controller for his/her help in leaving the Terminal Control Area and handing the flight off to en en-route controller, possibly in this case to Vietnam ATC, since that was the planned route.

        Anything more cryptic and or even borderline rude would have been a source of wonderment by ATC as to why this person on the flight deck had a rag up his/her butt. It’s common courtesy between flight crew and ATC.

    • Savin says:

      I keep seeing everyone say the range of the pinger is 2 miles. Range in what? air? Water, What Type of water, etc.

      I would guess that sound travels as much as 5 x faster in water than air. Also from my science days I remember that in water with lots of different layers you can get a sound wave to change direction by as much as 90 degrees. But TV stations like CNNN just keep saying 2 mile range.

      can someone shed some more light on this?

      Savin

    • Xanthor says:

      Been reading just about every possibility including explosives and have also been keeping up with the Korean Sewol ferry disaster when something clicked that I haven’t heard suggested, well not suggested like this. What is the possibility that the MH370 wasn’t brought down by any type of explosive, what if just one of the two pilots were taken out and before the airline ran out of fuel, had a perfect water landing which left no debris as there was no damage to leave any. On top of what I just mentioned, could the pilot after landing the plane kept it pressurized preventing the staff from opening the emergency doors and on top of that gave instructions to stay put like the captain of the Sewol had done? Could there be enough pressure to stop the doors from being opened and same time sink the plane where as it was then too late to open time doors as the plane sank beneath the sea and if the plane sank while pressurized even with people panicking as the plane went under, could it still have held enough pressure to keep all doors stuck closed? Would an airplane still sink being pressurized plus being far out at sea peoples cell phones not work at all, no text, no email, etcetc. And last but not least, is it possible for any of the flight crew to not only keep the airplane pressurized to not only keep the doors closed, but same time depressurized the cockpit so a window could be broken so they could escape meaning one of the pilots leaving the rest to perish? If this did happen, how long would it take for the plane to decompose and when it happened, would there be anything inside that one day might float to the surface like cushion’s being submerged so long that might one day point to the area where the plane really went down? The above sounds more realistic, though friend of mine who quoted the impossible of the plane going into space made a semi valid point. There isn’t enough power to get an airplane into space but during that time there was an eclipse. Could there have been a rare possibility that this eclipse interfered with gravity high up leaving a window of opertunity for the plane to actually break free of earths hravitional pull and that the satalites ping showing the path of the plane wouldn’t be able to tell that the direction was coming from above it instead of below? I’m more for the first scenario, though the second sounds like a small possibility as well.

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  2. TK says:

    And then I added my own typo in the correction. Good times.

  3. I’d like to know how, in such a technologically advanced age, it’s possible for a plane to disappear.

    Presumably the black boxes are intact and would survive even an explosion on board the plane.

    So why isn’t it possible for the black boxes to emit a signal continuously which would be tracked 24/7? If that were possible, and implemented, we would know the precise route the plane took, whether it turned back or not, at what position the black boxes started to fall, the route they took when falling, and where they are now!

    • Thomas says:

      One would think that a continuous satellite link, transmitting continuous GPS coordinates, would not consume tremendous bandwidth, even for the tens of thousands of jets simultaneously in flight.

        • wallaby says:

          I read that article and while I’m not an aviation expert, it doesn’t pass the smell test in several ways.

          The overall problem with his assertions is that he values features over reliability. And reliability usually *decreases* with complexity. For example, he wants to augment radio communication with internet-based communications. Out in the middle of the ocean, does he really expect internet communications (travelling over good old radio waves) to be more reliable than radio voice?

          Similarly, I suspect the reason why pilots don’t have Yahoo-based weather maps with groovy maps is because they don’t need it. Their company continuously monitors weather with far better systems back at their central control rooms and will let them know if they should change course / altitude / speed / etc to prepare for weather ahead.

          I suspect airplane tech values reliability over everything else. After all, we’re upset that a plane in the middle of the ocean, possibly facing catastrophic systems failure, was unable to communicate, while plenty of us have to reboot our routers / phones / etc on a frequent basis in far less extreme situations.

          Regardless, the facts speak for themselves: despite being ancient tech, air travel is still stunningly reliable. New technology has a very high bar to clear before being accepted as superior to current technology.

    • Peter H says:

      It’s not easy to keep a continuous beacon on.

      First, it requires quite a bit of electricity, and you don’t really wanna put a big and possibly incendiary battery in your black box.

      Second, when over the ocean the beacon has to communicate quite far, either to a satellite or a ground based antenna that’s possibly over a thousand miles away. That takes a lot of power in either case, and for satellites, requires that there be a directional antenna pointing at a satellite. Those antennas need to be dynamically adjusted to keep position with the satellite, which adds a lot of complexity and electricity.

      Third, once the black box sinks into the ocean, it will not be able to broadcast. First, the probability of an electrical short is very high, and second water is absolutely brutal to radio waves, and it’s pretty much impossible to make a radio communication from the bottom of the ocean to the surface, even with vast amounts of transmitting power.

      • B Miller says:

        Couldn’t a beacon from the black box be powered by the plane’s electrical system during flight, and have a small battery to power for (what would be a very) short time once it dislodged from the plane during a crash? Can’t take that much electricity to send your flight #, a timestamp and GPS coordinates every 5 seconds or so.

        This would have to always be on, and not be able to be switched off.

        I don’t really know what I’m talking about, please feel free to demonstrate why this is difficult…

        • Peter H says:

          A little bit about how GPS works:

          The reason almost anything can get a GPS co-ordinate is that all of the GPS satellites are broadcasting at pretty high power all of the time. So your phone’s GPS just receives their signals, triangulates based on the clock content of the signals from the various satellites it hears from, and then it’s got its position.

          Importantly however, your GPS device has not communicated that information to anywhere else. The problem is not getting the plane to know where the plane is, it’s transmitting that to the outside world.

          Over land, this is easy, we’ve got cell phone towers over every bit of populated Earth (except most of North Korea), which can be communicated with by a fairly low power radio. But when you’re over the ocean, you have to transmit hundreds of miles to hit the nearest receiver, either a satellite or a ground based antenna.

          When you transmit, you can either transmit a broadcast in all directions, or use a specially designed antenna to broadcast in a particular direction. An example of a directional broadcast would be those TV trucks with the little dish thing on the top to send their signal to a satellite.

          When you broadcast a radio signal, your signal falls off by the square of distance. So a signal that’s interpretable to 30 miles in clear weather uses 9x the power of one that goes to 10 miles. One that goes 100 miles would take 100x the power, and one to 500 miles would take 2500x the power of a 10 mile signal. Geostationary orbit, which is where communications satellites live, is a bit over 22,000 miles above Earth. Because of this, you basically have to use a directional antenna to communicate with those satellites, or else be using an incredibly high power transmitter (which will interfere with every other plane near you trying to do the same thing as well as possibly the plane’s comms and is a disaster). Even for the shorter distances to land based towers, without directional broadcast, it will be an interference nightmare to have planes making high power pings every minute or two – and there’s no free spectrum for them to do it on anyway.

          So, a directional antenna can be done on a plane. It’s how you can get wifi on some transoceanic flights (I believe American has been adding this to their fleet for one). And the TV systems in a JetBlue plane use one, though just a receiver I believe. But it requires a lot of work to install, and can’t really be fitted within the black box. It would be an expensive mandate to put one of these on every plane, probably a $100k-1000k retrofit. It might be worth doing, but planes vanishing is, notwithstanding this current incident, incredibly rare. And even having the technology might not prevent (m)any of these incidents – just help find the wreckage. I doubt the cost/benefit makes sense.

          • B Miller says:

            Thank you, well explained.

          • Milos R says:

            So what You’re saying is that the Iridium Sat phone system is nothing more than a brainchild or sci-fi. Iridium is capable of receiving ACARS transmissions nowadays and it is used by airlines for that purpose. The sat phones I’ve seen and operated are small mobile units that would easily fit into a black box. However they are unable to transmit when submerged. That would require a very long wave transmission and a long aerial.

          • Curt Breneman says:

            The question of satellite communication uplinks using omnidirectional (or nearly omni) antennas has been definitively answered by the existence of small “Spot 2″ systems and other low-power GPS coordinate uplink tracking devices available to the commercial market. These use less than half a watt of transmitting power (in burst mode), and can run several days with two AAA batteries. There is no real directionality to the antenna system – it just has to be facing the sky (in general) to work. I regularly use one of these for tracking hikes and for a backup ELT for my airplane. These communicate with a set of relatively low earth orbit (GlobalStar) satellites – they are about 900 miles up.

          • ducdang says:

            The information re: “James Bond Remote Control Takeover” is inaccurate. Boeing has coded backdoors into their flight computer software since the late 90’s, mostly for maintenance issues on the ground. However, with the ability to GPS spoof, the RQ-170 comes to mind, it’s entirely plausible that a similar attack was initiated on the gps rx and the aircraft remotely taken. Sounds far fetched until you start studying how Iran was able to gain control over one of the most top secret US drones using MIL GPS…
            Furthermore I believe Keith Ledgerwood’s account to be an accurate depiction of what happend. Radar Altimeter would not show another a/c in the vicinity if the a/c was flying directly above and aft of SIA68. Again, that is entirely plausible and the radar data Mr. Ledgerwood overlaid is legit and factual data.
            I also, don’t believe the aircraft ended up on Diego Garcia island… The Chagos trench happens to be just to the east of DGNSF and attains a depth over over 15,000ft deep. If I was in charge of that operation, I would not put MH370 on the ground where prying eyes and twitter/instagrams could pose a security threat. I’d put it in the ocean where no prying eyes or snooping submarines could see what I was up to. It wouldn’t be hard for the USN to recover the cargo and blackbox in the amount of time the ac has been missing. There are 4000 US and British military personnel on that island. I guarantee someone would have seen something. Also, how does a fire suppression container from a BOEING 777-200ER wash up on an atoll in the Northern Maldive Islands?!?!?! Because those fall out of commercial aircraft on the regular…. lol

          • Patrick says:

            “… The information re: “James Bond Remote Control Takeover” is inaccurate…

            No it is not. There is absolutely no way to fly a 777, or any other commercial plane, from the ground. Period. End of story. I love it how I am the one who flies Boeings for a living, meanwhile all the non-pilots out there are confidently telling me how I’m wrong I am.

            “…Boeing has coded backdoors into their flight computer software since the late 90’s, mostly for maintenance issues on the ground…”

            Whatever. That does not extrapolate to the easy ability to hijack a jetliner via remote control. And what of the fact that the pilots would be sitting right there? The idea that the jet could be “hacked” out from under them and flown off somewhere else is too ludicrous for words.

          • Mrgnome says:

            Short question regarding plane position data transmission. Would it not be possible for future gps systems to use a relay datalink between airplanes. Sort of like in a zigbee fashion? That would mean as soon as one plane is in signal reach of another plane, data is transferred and relayed to the next one eventually ending up at a ground station without the need for satellites. Of course if a plane is outside signal range of all other planes it would still be lost but it would be yet another system that might keep track of the plane’s position. And we know aviation loves redundancy. Mayby there is such a system already and I just haven’t heard of it. Sort of passing the bucket in a fire-line instead of having to have a really long hose.

          • Mono says:

            Are they upgrading their systems under the cockpit on Malaysian 777, do you know? I have a feeling that that may be the problem.

      • Tom says:

        It’s true that broadcasting radio waves from underwater is unfeasible, but the black boxes do have a sonar beacon that can broadcast from the ocean floor, and they work for 30 days continuously. Here’s a quotation from an expert:

        “Under good conditions, the signal can be detected from several hundred miles away. If the boxes are trapped inside the wreckage, the sound may not travel far. If the boxes are at the bottom of an underwater trench, that also hinders the signal, which can also weaken over time.”

        – John Goglia, a former member of the US National Transportation Safety Board.

        The conditions for sonar must not be good; otherwise, I’d think they’d already have been able to locate the black boxes.

        • Tim H says:

          The range for the underwater transmission by the black box is no more than a few miles. If it lies in 15,000′ of water, you would pretty much have to be on the surface directly above it to detect it. We’re talking about an expanse of ocean larger than Texas, with depths in excess of 15,000′ in some places.

    • Mr Haans says:

      Exactly why can’t they do that I mean really it’s not that hard

    • Dale says:

      What the need is all the flight info to be sent to satellites then bounced to a center that tracks all flights and let the black boxes just be back ups.

  4. Carole says:

    Nobody has even mentioned this, so it’s probably a dumb question. Is it possible that MH370 had a mid-air collision with a private plane and that two planes have actually gone down into the ocean? It happened once over the rain forest in Brazil, except the private plane, an Embraer Legacy 600 jet that was struck by a Boeing 737, managed to land shortly after the strike. The people on the Legacy 600 didn’t know what had hit them until the authorities showed up to question them.

    • Paul Murphy says:

      Anything is possible, I suppose, but it seems unlikely. Apart from anything else, there are no reports of a bizjet or whatever going missing at the same time in the same general area.

      • Paul says:

        Not unheard of for a passenger jet to collide with another plane. A McDonnell-Douglas DC-9 collided with a Marine F-4B jet over the San Gabriel Mountains of Southern California in June 1971. I heard the impact about 15 miles away.

        • Paul Murphy says:

          Indeed, I appreciate that – and Carole herself mentioned the collision in Brazil a few years ago.

          All I’m getting at was that had this happened on this occasion, we’d probably hear about another missing plane.

          • JamieO says:

            What if the plane was, say, a drug runner or something on those line? You might not hear about it being missing. A stretch, of course.

          • Carole says:

            @JamieO

            Yes, a drug plane or something similar is what I was thinking at that time, too.

    • Dale says:

      Or a big bird hits cockpit so hard and then decompresses the jet, everyone dies but jet on copilot flies, but gets diverted by high winds and ends up where no one knows. There have been times when birds got that high due to the jet streams.

      • Carl says:

        Can a bird inhale oxygen at that high level?

      • Ethan says:

        I believe this scenario is plausible, however, the analysis of the satellite data by Inmarsat has determined the plane was on a southern trajectory. The search area was then based on the most southerly point of that trajectory given the amount of fuel the jet would have had.

      • Randall says:

        Nothing flies that high except for other jets. A missing jet would be reported. Drug runners landing at outlying fields are flying light aircraft – jets need real airfields and a lot of support to land, takeoff, etc. Smuggling via a jet would have to be a private flight through regular airports with a flight plan, clearances, etc., thus the missing aircraft (though not its real purpose) would be reported.

  5. Msconduct says:

    Thanks for this, Patrick; I was hoping to see your take on the situation. I was particularly glad to read about what the lack of communication does or does not mean. I’d assumed it might come last on the list when dealing with an emergency, but had no way of telling if that were true.

  6. Eirik says:

    * Speculations: Not that I mind, but I think you just threw out a few speculations yourself, Patrick? At least its qualified speculations.

    * Pilots:
    You didnt say lack of hours is a factor (though it could be in any case), but you mentioned hours required in the US to get a job like this. If the amount of hours was a problem in other countries we would have seen a lot more accidents. There are just too many pilots in the US figthing for the same job. Other countries have the same strict rules as the US when it comes to hiring a qualified pilot. Its just like any other demand: the more pilots to chose from, the more hours you need. Its obvious, they pick the ones with most experience.

    *Human error vs mechanical failure:
    This is something that always baffles me when explaining accidents.
    “Oh, it was a mechanical failure. The tail fell off. There was nothing we could have done to prevent this from happening”.
    That was just an example by the way.
    Every part on an aircraft is man made and its our job to make sure all parts are in good condition and replace them when they are not. When done right, there are no mechanical malfunctions.
    Thus, as long as there is not a bomb or outside factors like extreme turbulence etc, all mechanical failures is a human error.

    *I know you asked us not to speculate, but here is mine;
    Pilot suicide. Its happened before and it would explain whey there were no mayday.

  7. A definite funarama! A fortuitous True Detective gathering was swiftly repurposed and we commenced bending our brains. Lots of wonderfully enjoyable clues – we particularly laughed at 17 down and 15 across, and filled 11 across in smugly since several of us wasted our youths that very way. Needless to say, it was taxing. Very, very, taxing. 6 down in particular looked alluringly simple but it took us forever until someone finally hauled it out of a memory crevice. If you ever lie awake worrying you make these things too easy? DON’T BOTHER.

  8. Whoops! Weird page jump meant this was deposited in the wrong place. Apologies.

  9. Zach says:

    Question: I’m surprised that authorities don’t have flight data on hand, as isn’t that auto-generated, regardless of whether there is voice communication from the cockpit? Don’t airplanes “communicate” with ground facilities on a constant basis, one system to another? When the Air France jet went down, weren’t investigators able to immediately refer to a regular cadence of auto-generated data on engine speed, et al?

    Isn’t that standard? Or just Airbus? Or only triggered when certain pre-set thresholds are crossed?

    • NakkiNyan says:

      Aircraft to communicate with the ground at intervals. The aircraft has a special device to do so, called a transponder… which was off.

    • The Guy says:

      Yes, the 777 apparently has communicated with the ground, 4 hours after the last known good location. Was a data update from the rolls Royce engines. New developing story, google it. So they are claiming the engines were running for 5 hours total. Draw a circle for distance, ITS HUGE. My guess, the kid flew back to Iran, almost.

  10. Gil says:

    What was the mental & financial state of the pilot? Did he have debts?
    Why was transponder turned off at 35,000?
    Could the plane then be flown below radar to North Korea?

    • Daniel says:

      good point! That happened to Flight 714 to Sydney.

      • Princess Incognito says:

        Flight 714 to Sydney? Are we talking Tintin here?

        • BD says:

          Yes, the case looks like similar to the Flight 714 case of Tintin. Even the harmless comics are not spared.
          Hope to God the passengers do return safely like in the Tintin comic

    • Victoria Hamilton says:

      Felt this was a highjacking 1st night when I heard how young the Copilot is…

      • Dianne says:

        I am curious what does age have to do with a hijacking or being a terrorist?

        • Dave says:

          My thought was the copilot as well…

          In terms of why we think youth as related to terrorism in this case–Islamic Radicalism, despite much press and popular opinion to the contrary, is a relatively recent phenomenon. The younger population of countries like Malaysia, Iraq, Egypt, etc. tend to be more radical (and thus easier recruits) than their parents or grandparents.

          In addition, there’s the rather obvious psychological idea that younger people are more generally risk takers and/or more willing to do dangerous things–most people, after all, enter dangerous careers (like the military, firefighting, police, etc.) when young (and indestructible feeling).

          …The above said as a man who joined the Army at 18, by the way.

  11. George says:

    What about the possibility of the plane being taken to a remote air strip after a forceful take over and transponders being switched off?

    What about the possibility of crash landing in an abandoned strip of land?

    What about the doors not closing which lead to reduced cabin pressure like the one that happened in A380 Landing in Azar Beijan.

    • Rod Miller says:

      Landing (or even crash-landing) a 777 on “a remote air strip” in the middle of the night?
      And once you’ve turned off the transponder, there’s always primary radar.

  12. John says:

    According to a NOVA documentary on Air France 447, modern airliners are constantly tracked by satellite, and data on aircraft systems are updated every few minutes. This happens even when they are out of range of ground radar, and when no voice communications are made from the cockpit.
    Was this the case with the Malaysian flight? If not, why not?
    Would the sudden disappearance indicate a catastrophic failure with no warning, like TWA 800?
    Thanks, Patrick, as always, for the professional perspective.
    Link to NOVA program:
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/space/crash-flight-447.html

    • MW says:

      I’ve been wondering about this. I have seen no mention of this data stream in the reporting at all. Even if it contains no other anomolies, it should tell us within a few minutes when communication systems failed, which is relevant to where to look.

      Is this engineering data stream optional and not implemented by Malaysia Airlines?

    • Anthony Gennaro says:

      According to what I have read Malaysian Airlines did not go for the optional Boeing, Rolls Royce and ACARS/TCARS monitoring systems. Meaning the airline did not want to pay the extra bucks for these tracking and maintenance options. Pretty much like a Lo-Jack or On Star for my Cadillac. I can go on OnStar at any time of the day or night, know where my car is Long and Latt and get engine tranny and electrical operating conditions for 100 bucks a year. To track and ping my cell phone to find out where it is or where it was when it was last shutdown cost me 4 bucks a month.. I know this sounds condescending, but these third world airline better get their crap together. It could have been suicide. Remember Egypt 990? Similar. But I am going with slow decompression, hypoxia and death.

      -the writer is a private pilot and US Navy Vet with over 2000 hrs of FT

  13. Lucia says:

    Hi Patrick! Congratulations on your exceptional work! I was just wondering if these kind of accidents lead to a revision of the aircraft, in this case 777-200ER if I’m not mistaken, and if so, how long could Boeing take to issue any indication, should they discover structural issues that need to be fixed, parts to be replaced, or even if a recall would be necessary (I know it’s quite extreme, but it has happened). The reason of my question being that there are probably many (can’t really tell exact figure) of those airliners flying at this very moment and I’m not sure airlines will simply replace all their existing 777 scheduled flights with another airliner.
    Well, congratulations once more!! Hope you’ll enjoy the rest of your holiday =)
    lucia

  14. Jim Houghton says:

    Seems like it would be simple to make the black boxes capable of separating themselves from the plane and floating.

    • Dave S says:

      Since the black box is inside a massive pressurized steel canister weighing about half a million pounds… and it’s both inanimate and unable to think on its own… how exactly would it get out of the sinking plane to be able to float to the surface but still know to remain in the plane during normal ascents, descents and cruising?

      Everything “seems” easy to the people sitting at home typing.

      • Tom says:

        The Navy’s P3 plane has a flight locator on the tail which automatically ejects if the front of plane hits something–think air bag, or if it is submerged in salt water. The locator then floats on the surface.
        The system seems a bit more troublesome than on other planes, but it works.

        Is it possible that the plane flying to way points might happen if the navigation system rebooted itself and started flying a previous course programed in? Assuming the pilots were passed out from oxygen deprivation.

        Could the whole scenario happen from some electrical failure and/or software bugs and automatic responses from the plane’s software.

        Shut off cabin air packs, shut off alarms, shut off power to transponders, locators, reboot the nav system, maintain erratic altitude? Seems possible–just real unlikely.

        Also usually radar gets altitude info from the transponders. I’m guessing reports of the plane going to 45,000 ft. then down to 12,000 are based on something like angle over the horizon or something and may not be totally accurate.

        • Mriganka says:

          Hello

          I just want to ask that how will a flight that is so big just dissapear. There is no contact, nothing. It’s just PHOOFF and gone.

          One more question. How do you know so much?

    • Tom says:

      It seems like you’d need a system that would “eject” the flight recorders in the event of a crash, using explosives like a fighter jet’s ejector seats. And you’d have to guarantee the explosives would not inadvertently go off under other circumstances and in such a way as to cause a safety hazard.

      I’m not saying this is an impossible concept, but probably a difficult one, and also probably not one that airplane manufacturers want to spend the money on, given the infrequency of plane crashes.

  15. Zach says:

    Here’s an article in Popular Mechanics by Barbara Peterson that addresses several of our questions, and cites ATP in the process (by referring to her referral, I’ve just brought us fully into the internet age).

    http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/aviation/crashes/malaysia-airline-flight-370-how-can-an-airliner-just-disappear-16578965

  16. Your site was one of the first places I checked when I heard the news, interested to hear your take. I would love for you to one day do a post on flying over the ocean (esp. over-night flights), since this exact MH370 scenario is the worst fear of many.

    Thank you for weighing in, very interested in your input after we have more information.

  17. I am a radiation/fallout researcher studying the Fukushima Accident. You may find this interview interesting. I have been compiling data on pilots passing-out in flight for the past 3 years. When I presented my data to a retired physicist, he stated “I would be much more concerned about planes starting to fall apart” – Wigner Effect, from increased atmospheric radiation from the ongoing Fukushima Accident. Wigner effect is the discomposition of metals and components from neutron bombardment. This is what ‘fries’ robots working in high radiation areas. This conversation took place was one week prior to the Malaysia Airlines incident. There are a number of other recent incidents that are very suspicious, in Hawaii and Japan, including 15 military planes in Japan that have lost windshields and had parts just dropping off of them mid-flight, all recent. RSOE EDIS Mar 5th 2:00 pm est:

    http://hisz.rsoe.hu/alertmap/site/?pageid=event_desc&edis_id=VIV-20140305-42909-JPN

    http://climateviewer.com/2014/02/28/airline-anomalies-post-fukushima-interview/

  18. […] There have been a number of cases in which planes have fallen from the sky — from factors that include catastrophic failure and sabotage. As Patrick Smith, a commercial pilot who runs the popular Ask The Pilot website, writes: […]

  19. […] There have been a number of cases in which planes have fallen from the sky — from factors that include catastrophic failure and sabotage. As Patrick Smith, a commercial pilot who runs the popular Ask The Pilot website, writes: […]

  20. MW says:

    Another point that may or may not end up being relevant in this case:

    The ‘black boxes’ have audio locator beacons (i.e. they make a noise) which activate after a crash, and last about 30 days on battery power. In a number of cases (e.g. Air France, Adam Air) recovery was much more difficult because the beacons ran out of power before they could be recovered.

    Why not change the design slightly, so that instead of pinging once every few minutes until the battery expires, have them ping less and less frequently as time progresses? This would mean that even perhaps 12 months after the crash, there would be occasional pings to listen for. With an onboard clock, the timing of the ping could be predictable to searchers.

  21. Todd says:

    Just a thought…

    Almost any non-terrorist incident that would bearing down a 777 would invole multiple points of failure in which the exact sequence of failure has a 1 in 100,000,000 chance of occurring.. So, maybe we have a Hellios Airways like scenario?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helios_Airways_Flight_522

    A pressurization problem coupled with a cabin pressure warning system failure? That would explain why the wreckage is, thus far, so far from where they are looking.

    • Steve says:

      Todd, I think you might be on the right track with a pressurization issue.

      Possibly the plane failed to pressurize as it gained altitude. The pilots either didn’t get a pressurization warning or they chose to ignore it because they suspected the indicator was malfunctioning. By the time they realised there was actually a problem they would have been close to unconsciousness but were able to turn the plane around but nothing much else.

      This would explain no distress call and no debris in the initial search locations because the plane came down on the west side of Malaysia. It also coincides with the military radar returns.

      • Colm says:

        This is doubtful. I read somewhere else (can’t remember where) that the 777 has a much more modern system that would warn the pilots if the pressurisation was off. Anyway it doesn’t explain why the transponder suddenly turned off…

        • Todd says:

          Anyway it doesn’t explain why the transponder suddenly turned off…

          Where is the transponder control in relation to the cabin pressure control? I would think the transponder is near the comm and the pressure is overhead… but if there were near each other…

          As to your point about the pressure warning system. Yes, it’s state of the art as the 777 is a super reliable aircraft. As such, anything that brought it down must have resulted from multiple extremly rare failures.

          • Steve says:

            I do agree with you guys that the transponder is the big mystery. Could a pilot being starved of oxygen turn it off by mistake?

            Taken on its own merit, the transponder stopping suggests either a hijacking or explosion but there’s no evidence for those. No debris anywhere near the plane’s last known position and no public statements or demands from any terrorist organisation, and I presume publicity would have been the prime goal of any alleged bad guys.

            Regarding the Malaysian military denying the earlier radar reports, it might be a case of them not wanting their neighbours to know what capabilities the radar has (or doesn’t have).

            I still think the plane came down west, possibly far to the west, of Malaysia but I suppose anything is possible.

  22. Justin Foo says:

    These are or seem to be the facts:

    1. American satellite indicates there was no explosion at high latitude

    2. The pilot(s) did not make any Mayday distress call

    3. Radar tracking indicates the plane appeared to have turned back. Some unconfirmed sources had shown on FB the police report lodged by two fishermen declaring that they have sighted a plane heading north at extremely low altitude at the time the plane had disappeared from the radar screen.

    4. Another pilot flying a Boeing 777 heading for Japan was requested by Vietnam control tower to contact MH370 when the Vietnamese could not see the plane on their radar screen. The presumably Japanese pilot did manage to connect with MH370, and he said he there were static interferences but he was certain it was the co-pilot that was “mumbling” at the other end. Then he was disconnected. But why was the co-pilot mumbling?

    5. The two passengers using Italian and Austrian passports were said to have initially booked flights to Frankfurt and Amsterdam without making transit at Beijing. But they could not pick up their tickets on time. They then had to re-book a new flight i.e. this MH370 flight that was making a stop-over at Beijing. Therefore, if it is true they had no intention of stopping at Beijing, it would seem that they were more likely to be drug traffickers rather than terrorists, given the fact that Amsterdam is a notorious hub for drug distribution.

    So if it is true these passengers on faked passports were not terrorists and there was no explosion, why did the plane quietly crash into the ocean?

    • Todd says:

      But why was the co-pilot mumbling?

      Hypoxia?

      • Lynda says:

        In awe of the knowledge on this website, but Todd mentions something I was wondering about for a few days now, and the major media is not discussing, or I don’t know really, but the authorities now seem to keep saying, the ‘final’ words of..the final words? The last words? I read some articles that said there was a pilot, (who? which airline? aircraft? where?) who was asked to contact MH370 and they got a response, but there was ‘mumbling’ and ‘static’? I am in no way an aviation professional, only an ordinary citizen who has the greatest respect for those who take us and keep us in their care and safety so far above the earth, but I heard this evening as well someone ask about the time frame of when the final or last communication with pilots: well, the ‘last’ communication with the pilots would have been that communication that the Viet Nam air traffic control asked to check on the MH370? Is that a true statement, a true fact, at this point, there is so much out there about this and keeps changing, but I am a more vintage person, so maybe hard to keep track of all this, I don’t know, maybe those are not facts, about that event, the asking and the other pilot and the response, the mumbling response and so. To me, ordinary person out here, wouldn’t that really set things in motion to go and find the plane?like right then? is that what happened?And if it didn’t, why didn’t it? I keep thinking back to that Payne Stewart incident: they sent military planes to escort, as soon as they could tell there was some thing very amiss, and also protect anyone else. So, I don’t have an answer Todd, but funny how this matter is not in the news, which is taken over now about the issues of the pilots and they might be bad guys and so forth. Hopefully this will come to closure and soon for all those waiting for answers. And grieving for their loved ones. Maybe we will hear more about the contact that was had by the ‘other pilot’ at request of the other country’s air control. And what was done after they got that message. To be sure, lots of very knowledgeable folks here and maybe they can help more with this or dispel it. Thank you.

    • Patrick says:

      As to point 2… a lack of a mayday call is not at all unusual in air crashes. Communicating with ATC is always secondary in an emergency.

      As to point 3… we keep hearing about this “turning back.” Turned back to where? They were a long way from their departure airport. More likely, if the crew was going to change course, they would be diverting to a closer suitable airport, not “turning back.”

      As to point 4… Was it mumbling, or just typical radio distortion? (And why would it have been the copilot, necessarily, and not the captain?)

    • Luci says:

      More and more is obvious that something went wrong in the plain. How is possible that no one on plane call by mobile phone after plan was passing over the land again on its direction west. Is it possible to track mobile phones on flight?

      • Del Atkin says:

        What about the flight entertainment system it has a sat phone for use with a credit card ? I believe it can be switched off in the galley and cockpit. We have to assume it was .

  23. BraselC5048 says:

    I have a hunch, that nobody I’ve seen has brought up.

    Complete electrical failure. It has happened, United Airlines flight 854, although not in a fly-by-wire aircraft (767), and the plane landed safely. And they has use of the battery, and of course since the engines were running fine they had full flight control via the hydraulic system, where nothing was wrong. They also lost use of the radios.

    So if the same thing happens in a 777, they have 30? minutes to land before the battery runs dry and they completely lose the ability to control the plane. They might well have been too far from land to have a chance.
    And if the battery goes, the plane would presumably be trimmed to fly straight and level, so it would continues flying almost straight and almost level, until fuel runs out, or more likely the plane slowly climbs and loses airspeed until it stalls and crashes into the sea/ground, or descends slowly until it hits something, or until something, perhaps sudden wind guest or turbulence, exceeds the passive stability of the airplane, and it rolls over and dives into the sea/ground.

    In any case, it could continue flying for quite some time, easily out of the search area. Possibly it did turn back toward land, but they didn’t make it before the battery died?

    Can’t believe that nobody on airliners,net has brought the possibility up.

  24. […] There have been a number of cases in which planes have fallen from the sky — from factors that include catastrophic failure and sabotage. As Patrick Smith, a commercial pilot who runs the popular Ask The Pilot website, writes: […]

  25. RM says:

    Is it possible to manually turn off the ACARS system from the cockpit? This is the system that sends limited flight data back to the airlines operations center. If this cannot be turned off manually from the cockpit, the fact that the Malaysian Airlines VP of operations said the last info they had from the plane was that it was at 35,000 feet and not having any problems is very likely the actual condition of the plane before all contact was lost. If this cannot be easily disabled, many of the hijack scenarios fall away. Simultaneously loss of all communications does not bode well.

  26. Todd says:

    you aviate, navigate, and communicate

    Where does get on oxygen fall?

    I notice the 777 has an outwardly opening cargo door.

    What if we had a United 811 like scenario.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Airlines_Flight_811

    IIRC the 777 will automatically compensate for an engine out – but does that trigger the disconnect of the autopilot? I would assume it does…. If not, it seems like a pilots could get preoccupied with a cascade of emergencies and not get on oxygen and the aircraft would then try to fly itself until it ran out of gas.

    • Todd says:

      I’d have to think an explosive decompression, followed by the #2 engine ingesting the cargo door, would be an incredibly chaotic inflight emergency.

  27. […] Patrick Smith on Malaysia Airlines. At Ask The Pilot, airline pilot and aviation writer Patrick Smith makes the frustrating but unavoidable point about […]

  28. […] There have been a number of cases in which planes have fallen from the sky — from factors that include catastrophic failure and sabotage. As Patrick Smith, a commercial pilot who runs the popular Ask The Pilot website, writes: […]

  29. Julian says:

    I understand why we should not expect to a hear a mayday or other call if the pilots are in the throes of an emergency. Aviate, navigate, communicate – understood.

    But it seems like if MH 370 went down in the vicinity of where radar was lost, debris would have been spotted by now.

    That no debris has surfaced lends itself to the reasonable assumption that the plane flew for a significant period after the event causing the loss of radar contact. Seemingly quite a significant period, at least based on where SAR has found nothing and where the search has been expanded to.

    Let’s assume this flying period was at least 15 minutes. I can understand no mayday or other communication in five minutes, but 15 or more?

    It seems like the most likely explanation for a lack of communication during that length of time is either that the pilots were incapacitated or all communications capabilities had failed.

    What would explain that? Which is to say, what would explain:

    1) Loss of radar contact,
    followed by
    2) significant flying time,
    with
    3) no communications,
    ending in
    4) a crash, ditch, or super secret landing

    To me, and obviously this is pure speculation, but the most likely explanations are:

    1) A fire that knocks out the transponder and comms (or the pilots) and eventually brings the plane down
    2) A highjacking.

    But leaving my pure speculation to the side, given that the time between loss of radar and contact with the ground or ocean appears to have been far more significant than a few minutes, it seems very relevant that there was no mayday or communication.

    • Zach says:

      In regards to an incapacitating fire, it’s hard to forget the valiant efforts of First Officer Stefan Low (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swiss_Air_111 )

      Although that fire didn’t impact communications, or the plane’s position on Halifax radar.

    • Timothy says:

      There is a third option and that is oxygen and a lack thereof. There is precedent for this happening with Helios 522. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helios_Airways_Flight_522

      Possible, though i’m not sure how probable.

    • Jane Norris says:

      This page has been more informative than any other I have read. Thank you!
      I don’t understand how the electronics/transponders/radars in planes work, or whether it is possible for a plane to lose all it’s electrical power and thus all communication, yet keep flying for over an hour.
      However, I do know that mobile phones work fine from planes and that there were about 160-180 of them on this flight.
      If all normal pilot communication was lost somehow, wouldn’t someone have made a phone call?
      To me, this indicates that either all the passengers were unconscious or dead at the time of the course change and loss of communication, or that they were prevented from using their phones.
      I realise that the change of direction may not have been noticed by the passengers, but surely some of them were awake and using their phones at the time?

      • MT says:

        Mobile phones only work in the vicinity of a radio tower. These radio towers have a relatively short range, up to around 40 miles or so on flat terrain. This flight was presumably hundreds of miles out to sea, where there are no cell towers. This is compounded by the fact that the plane was moving very fast and flying very high (35k ft). Nobody on board would have had service.

  30. Peggy says:

    Thank you for this illuminating article. Given the lack of debris and lack of communication, what is the likelihood that this may be pilot suicide (like EgyptAir 990)?

  31. Jay says:

    The 777 is made of a composite material CFRB that should float, also it deteriorates very fast with fire see shots of Asiana 214 before and after the fire.

    • ljdramone says:

      Wikipedia’s article on the Boeing 777 says:

      “The airframe incorporates the use of composite materials, which comprise nine percent of its original structural weight (all models outside the 777-8X and 777-9X).[148] Elements made from composite material include the cabin floor and rudder.”

      So the the other 93% of the 777-200ER’s structure is not composite. The fuselage is conventional aluminum construction except for the cabin floor.

      Aluminum structure does not do well in fires. If you’ve ever put an empty aluminum can in a campfire, you have a pretty good idea of why the Asiana 777’s fuselage was destroyed in the post-crash fire.

  32. […] There have been a number of cases in which planes have fallen from the sky — from factors that include catastrophic failure and sabotage. As Patrick Smith, a commercial pilot who runs the popular Ask The Pilot website, writes: […]

  33. Rodney Richter says:

    http://www.flightradar24.com/38.06,-97/7#./7?&_suid=139451977358103042855783082931

    This is the site for flight tracker. The one entry above shows the Maylaysia flight, altitude and everything

  34. Bas says:

    Flew the route a few times in PMDG 777-200 on flight simulator. At 1 hour after take-off the aircraft should be just south of Vietnam when supposedly radar contact was lost. Only way there is no debris field is transponder was turned off (by one of the pilots) and the survivor flew the plane in a different direction and crashed it on purpose. No transponder, no identification of aircraft.

  35. Nic Niewart says:

    I fear the repeat of SilkAir 185 from December 1997. This was a flight from Jakarta to Singapore. A flight time of just 75 minutes. Suicide was the most likely scenario.the plane crashed into thick mud in a river half way. Only because Indonesia is densely inhabited, there were witnesses. Although the plane broke into pieces, all sank into the mud. AIRCRASH INVESTIGATION tv program looked at this and studied the black box outputs. Only manual setting of controls could have resulted in the flight path. Pilot had money problems, from playing the stock market, and had a double indemnity clause or somesuch if accidental death. Indonesia refused to sign off the cause as suicide as national pride on their territory …..Singapore, whose carrier this was, also leant heavily upon the investigation to prevent the cause being cited as suicide. All switches etc manually turned off, cabin door locked….copilot, a bright ozzie young guy was asked to check on crew or to fetch some water…then cockpit door closed from inside….sad. I knew people on this flight.

  36. […] Patrick Smith on Malaysia Airlines. At Ask The Pilot, airline pilot and aviation writer Patrick Smith makes the frustrating but unavoidable point about […]

  37. Roger Kilby says:

    I flew as a First Officer with Patrick back in his days as Captain flying Metroliners out of Boston. As he said, it is aviate, navigate and then communicate. It is thus not necessarily to be expected that any communications would be made before the emergency turned catastrophic.
    Like Pat said, only in time will we hopefully learn what happened and can use this knowledge to further aviation safety.
    Sad truth is we may never fully know what happened.

    Thanks again Pat for your “Ask the Pilot” postings!

  38. Nutcracker says:

    They are seriously looking into the Malakka straight for a place to find the plane now ? That would be 2 hours in the opposite direction – does that make any sense to a pilot ?

  39. Kerstin says:

    In case of an emergency, making a landing necessary, but not immediately necessary – where would they have headed to? What would be the closest, suitable airport known to them? I suppose they had no exact knowledge of the surrounding land regarding alternative landing places apart from airports. Sorry for my English.

  40. david says:

    the plane was flying at night … is it possible it flew straight into the water with some kind of altitude malfunction ? WHat type of wreckage/debris would that result in?

  41. Nad says:

    I can’t wait to board a Boeing 777-200 this Friday for a 10 hour flight :/

    Given the military now say they tracked the plane for an additional hour and it changed course and flew at least 500 miles I am guessing it wasn’t a catastrophic mid air failure. This must mean the chances of it being a terror / hijacking or pilot suicide have increased?

    I also see they have already started to discredit the pilot as a non-safety conscious guy who lets passengers into the cock-pit and posed for pictures in there with them…so the blame could be making its way to him v.soon!

  42. John says:

    The biggest mystery to me is the issue of ACARS. Very little has been said about that. It appears that MH370 had the system and was transmitting, and then suddenly stopped:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/10/us-malaysia-airlines-idUSBREA291D520140310

    In the early days after the Air France Flight 447 incident, ACARS was central to forming hypotheses about what happened. Over a couple of minutes ACARS transmitted a string of failures and warnings. (Iced-over airspeed indicators precipitated a disastrous crew response.)

    Speculation on these things, at this stage, is to be despised, I know. But my take is that you can draw just three conclusions: 1) Malaysia Airlines doesn’t use ACARS, or wasn’t using it on this flight; 2) The airframe failure was so instantaneous and catastrophic that transmissions were shut off like a light; or 3) Hijackers or saboteurs were able to turn off ACARS along with the transponder.

    This is a terrible tragedy. Many of us feel emotionally involved, and it would be immensely helpful for Malaysia Airlines to comment on the status of MH370’s ACARS.

    • Nad says:

      John I think number 2) Instant and catastrophic airframe failure is now out of the picture or extremely unlikely given the military satellite picked the plane up, it changed direction and flew anything from 100-500 more miles before it lost it again. Otherwise what are the chances of a hijacking taking place then an airframe failure happening on the same flight. I mean we must be talking 1 in 100000 billion or something. Unless of course during the hijacking explosives were set-off and caused an airframe failure..otherwise It can now only be 1 of 3 things surely:

      1. Hijacking
      2. Pilot / Co-pilot suicide
      3. Loss of engines or electric and plane diverted to try and land although given the distance travelled I think origin airport was the same distance if not closer and why wouldn’t they call mayday?

      Are there any other circumstances that could have happened other that those 3 given the plane changed course and continued to fly for at least another hour after it was originally lost?

      Nad.

      • Ernest says:

        I think the most likely scenario is 3… the reverse of your post… There is no evidence for you 1 and 2…. plenty of evidence for your 3…

  43. John says:

    I agree, especially on #2. I think there would have been an enormous floating debris field if the plane came apart at altitude.

    I wish they’d tell us, “Everything from ACARS was absolutely normal until the signal vanished.” That scrap of information alone allows you to eliminate some possibilities.

    What an awful thing, no matter what, and let us pray for restraint in the press.

  44. Nicholas Robinson says:

    Patrick,

    My overwhelming question is, even if a scenario that the transponder was turned off, or somehow all communications were somehow purposely disconnected, surely the plane itself would not be completely invisible to any tracking device now everywhere in the modern world?

    It seems inconceivable that if someone or some people had somehow managed to take the plane out of its last confirmed location, there MUST be some trace — even passengers’ cellphones — don’t they have automatic locators? If someone had somehow managed to hijack the plane, there is NO WAY that all the passengers could be prevented from trying to use their phones. At least ONE would have gotten through to somewhere.

    If someone turned off the transponder and then immediately sent the plane into a full nosedive with throttles on full, making the contact with the ground or sea so shattering that there would be very little left to find, STILL wouldn’t there have been something, ANYTHING that would have been tracking the plane? Military satellites — I can’t go down a list because I have no idea what sorts of things are used to track aircraft — but for a plane to COMPLETELY DISAPPEAR without a single trace — it seems completely inconceivable to me.

    just read a very chilling report that the passengers’ — and crews’ — cellphones CONTINUE TO RING but are not answered. What happens when one’s cell phone is destroyed? It would continue to ring as normal, then go to voicemail? Even THAT seems inconceivable. n fact, everything about this case seems to be impossible — everywhere you turn to look for some kind of explanation — and these are, like you EXPERTS in all their fields — radar experts, military experts, spy technologists — in short, every mind that can possibly be working to solve this has been completely stymied, and that is just — plainly — INCOMPREHENSIBLE.

    If it is actually possible for a large, modern airliner with all the latest that technology can provide to vanish — literally DISAPPEAR COMPLETELY WITHOUT A SINGLE TRACE from a spot in earth’s atmosphere 36,000 feet above the ground, WHY is it possible? WHY have the folks who build these things, sign off on them, regulate them etc. etc. not built in some sort of INDESTRUCTIBLE system that can not be tampered with from the plane itself that can at least tell the experts whether or not the transponders went off because they were destroyed or whether they were switched off on purpose?

    This is a monstrously worrisome turn of events that puts into question the ENTIRE INTEGRITY of our commercial aviation system — it destroys any chance of the credibility of the engineers, the technicians, the owners and operators of civilian aircraft being trusted AT ALL.

    Just think about it. On a par with any other reality, it would be almost like say, a village of 230 inhabitants situated in a major urban location were somehow, overnight, in a few seconds, made to disappear with not a single trace that they were ever even there to begin with — if you can believe THAT to be possible, then I suppose you can believe THIS to be possible.

    I hate to sound like a whack-job, but this is beginning to sound almost paranormal, almost Bermuda Triangle-like. Yeah I know, “Get a life!” but my good God, does anyone else including all the finest minds that this earth has to offer have any other plausible explanation for this?

    All I know is that it has severely shaken my confidence in the entire aviation industry and the support network that props it up. There are some incredibly serious issues here that need to be dealt with on a MASSIVE SCALE involving ALL the world’s airlines and aircraft, literally and figuratively from the ground up.

    This points to some unbelievable black hole in the entire aviation system that needs to be taken care of before ANYTHING ELSE like this happens again. To underscore the seriousness of this, I would almost call for the immediate grounding of all commercial aircraft, a la post 9/11, until this plane has been found.

    If YOU, a top-grade, professional expert/specialist/technologist at the top of his game cannot come up with anything that remotely sounds like a reasonable scenario — and I don’t have to remind you that no one else has, either — then I would suggest taking severe and drastic measures within the entire industry. I don’t care how many billions it would take. It is quite obvious that there are flaws in the system that are so incredibly serious — it reminds me of someone building a high-rise but forgetting to put in any elevators — that everything, from safety regulations to the way things work in the cockpit (video cameras that generate real-time images with sound to operations center, for example, on all the time and unable to be switched off inside the plane, streaming of realtime data from all FDRs to the ground throughout a plane’s entire flight, *just for starters*) — all these things and more MUST be implemented immediately no matter WHAT THE COST or “privacy issues” of flight crews — there should BE no privacy inside a cockpit of an aircraft holding hundreds of passengers, but I digress — all this must be done, and, like, starting RIGHT THIS MINUTE.

    I don’t care if this post makes me sound like an unreasonable panic-monger or a nut job — the time has come to stop pussy-footing around with potentially millions of innocent people’s lives for the sake of the almighty dollar — things are only going to get MORE implicated, not less, with the travel sector now expected to double in the next 20 years — or even more, and with the addition of hundreds, even thousands of new low-cost carriers with dodgy management and maintenance a la Ryan Air coming into reality in the coming years, this is a wake-up call of the utmost magnitude, quite possibly the most serious thing that has happened to commercial aviation since the first passenger plane left the ground.

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I am flabbergasted, shaken to the core and shaking my head in disbelief that this whole thing is unfolding the way it is. Accuse me of anything you wish, even the most jaded and skeptical among you must admit that this is a situation that must NEVER be allowed to happen again.

    • D. Moon says:

      Nicholas Robinson says:

      > It seems inconceivable that if someone or some people had somehow managed to take the plane out of its last confirmed location, there MUST be some trace — even passengers’ cellphones — don’t they have automatic locators? If someone had somehow managed to hijack the plane, there is NO WAY that all the passengers could be prevented from trying to use their phones. At least ONE would have gotten through to somewhere.

      Not unless they were specialty satellite phones. Out over the open ocean, there is no cell service.

      > I can’t go down a list because I have no idea what sorts of things are used to track aircraft — but for a plane to COMPLETELY DISAPPEAR without a single trace — it seems completely inconceivable to me

      The world is huge and that particular part of it is not particularly interesting to require 24/7 monitoring, especially of aircraft. Militaries are geared up to respond to radar threats.

      > WHY is it possible? WHY have the folks who build these things, sign off on them, regulate them etc. etc. not built in some sort of INDESTRUCTIBLE system that can not be tampered with from the plane itself that can at least tell the experts whether or not the transponders went off because they were destroyed or whether they were switched off on purpose?

      It’s possible to do this. It’s just expensive to do so on a worldwide basis. This kind of rarely happens – why spend that kind of money? Considering that in most cases this kind of device would only let searchers find the bodies of passengers sooner…I mean….

      > does anyone else including all the finest minds that this earth has to offer have any other plausible explanation for this?

      I would put some sort of crippling failure, bombing, and hijacking ahead of paranormal causes.

      > I don’t care how many billions it would take.

      You don’t. Companies do.

    • leah says:

      Nicolas–I think you have articulated the fear and shock many of us are feeling, though there are answers for some of the points you make (the cell phones for instance) it is incredible the way this story is unfolding. I also feel an urgency to see some sort of action taken to prevent this from happening again. This event has shaken my confidence too, but I will continue to travel.

      Nad–Right there with you, I have some upcoming trips I’m not super excited about at this point (the flying part, that is).

      Patrick–If there is any way you could do a dedicated post about flying over oceans at night it would be greatly appreciated (I know I’m not the only one!). And thanks so much for updating. Your input is valued and helpful.

    • Aneta says:

      http://postimg.org/image/uwmwxghch/ look here please, maybe is flight MH 370

  45. Nad says:

    Nicholas – I am feeling even better about getting on my 10 hour flight on Friday after reading your post :/

    • Michael says:

      Don’t be daft, air travel remains one of the safest modes of transport currently available. There’s near to 50,000 flights every single year, the fact that one has mysteriously disappeared doesn’t make any difference to your flight. You’ll be fine, don’t worry.

  46. Alan Sewards says:

    If the transponder had been turned off, how did the military radar quoted as tracking the flight across to the Malacca Strait know it was the Malaysian flight? I suspect that this ‘clue’ is a mis-identification and there is no real evidence that the flight made a big change in course.

    The coincidence of ACARS messages ceasing when the plane’s transponder signal vanished is highly significant in suggesting that a massive electrical failure occurred, taking out all communications channels. I would not have thought that this was possible.

    • Chuck says:

      You don’t need to have your transponder on to be seen by radar, as has been covered over and over. However, you just appear as a “Primary Target” with no data next to it.

      • Simon Gunson says:

        Chuck the transponder however confirms the target’s identity, heading and altitude on a secondary radar display. Generally radar is only useful out to radar horizon and can’t be relied upon much beyond 200 nautical miles. An aircraft at 35,000ft can be seen by radar over 366nm distance, but radar coverage is not used to control aircraft so distant.

    • Simon Gunson says:

      Alan you are right that massive electrical failure is more logical than hijacking or pilot suicide. Aircraft operating a faulty generator in parallel with a healthy generator risk explosion and massive power surges from reversing the DC current direction if a diode burns out.

  47. Jason Taylor says:

    FYI, here’s why MH370 turned left after their flight attendant failed to secure the door. Didn’t I warn them?

    https://twitter.com/jasontaylor7/status/443432161987682304

  48. Sean says:

    Can someone tell me please why pilots even have the capability to turn off a transponder? What is the purpose of such a switch being engineered? I don’t understand why someone would ever need the capability of shutting off a plane transponder.

    • Chuck says:

      You have to turn it off it it catchers fire or malfunctions. Why wouldn’t you want the ability to shut off a defective piece of equipment?

  49. Zach says:

    The last recorded altitude of 370 was 29,500ft (as it neared Pulau Perak). That’s lower than cruising, but still relatively high…is there anything significant about flying at that altitude vs. the “turnback” altitude of 35,000ft?

  50. JFO says:

    Perhaps a naive question, but here goes. During the 9/11 hijackings there were passengers who had time and presence of mind to use their cell phones. If this is a hijacking scenario, would there not be the same window of opportunity for the Malaysia aircraft passengers to do the same. If however there was a catastrophic and instant event obviously this would not be possible. Perhaps the latter is more the case here?

    • Richard says:

      I would think that given their attitude and flight path, the likelihood of getting a cell connection would be pretty remote. On the other hand, I think people also used the Air Phones, which, if everything else was working, might still be available if the airplane was set up for them.

      But the same thing could be said for circumstance where there wasn’t a hijacker – unless there were serious electrical issues. That no one heard from any passengers suggests their electronic access was gone too.

  51. Joe says:

    He was mumbling: I am outa oxygen brah. Let me press this transponder switch to see if it will give us back some air.

  52. […] at 3:30 on March 11, 2014 by Andrew Sullivan Pilot-blogger Patrick Smith is debunking speculation about the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which vanished from radar […]

  53. Richard says:

    Patrick,

    I don’t know if you are reading the comments, but in light of the new information about 370 apparently reversing course after the transponders were shut down (which as of this point has not been confirmed by a named source), I have a few questions:

    Assuming a power failure and need for emergency landing, what would be a reason(s) for not continuing in the same basic direction for Ho Chi Mihn City?

    The revised course, appears to maximize time over water. Would that be preferable in any way?

    And would this course then make sense to then follow the Malacca Strait back to Kuala Lumpur?

  54. Zach says:

    So it did have ACARS, which transmitted in packets, up until the time the transponder went off. So search & rescue does have “pre-turnback” vital signs on the plane.

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn25201-malaysian-plane-sent-out-engine-data-before-vanishing.html#.Ux9wXCWYbIV

    • Richard says:

      Thanks for finding this. I had been wondering. And yet this info seems to only be the data that Rolls Royce collects. Presumably though, Boeing and Malaysia Airlines might have received some data as well?

  55. Mr Haans says:

    Exactly, you are so right

  56. ThoughtfulGuy says:

    Professional pilots: if electric power is lost, does the pilot lose the capability to send a mayday signal?

  57. Nad says:

    An ex-pilot just told Sky news he thinks the emergency air was deployed and failed and everyone passed out then the plane crashed. …..doesnt explain where the plane is

  58. Rick says:

    Maybe I have overlooked something but did someone explained about those 5 people who did check in in Kuala Lumpur but finally did not get on board 777 ? And what about 19 people who try to reach their love ones after airplane disappear and they claimed to get ringing tone but no answer ? What is that?

    • liz says:

      Rick..I so agree with you..we are in Michigan and NPR radio here reported that 5 individuals actually checked in for that flight but never boarded..go find the five and find out why??????????very weird

  59. ThoughtfulGuy says:

    Is someone hiding something?

    If the plane turned around and headed back to Malaysia, with it’s transponder off, then wouldn’t that have put the Malaysian Air Force on alert? I mean, from their point of view, it would be some sort of unidentified aircraft approaching Malaysian airspace.

    Logically they would have first asked it to identify itself and if no answer, then sent up some fighter planes to intercept it. So either the Malaysian Air Force was talking to the pilots during the last hour or fighters must have been sent to take a look.

    They must know more about what happened than they are letting on…

  60. John Smith says:

    Is it possibile that an electrical fire (with smoke) started in E&E bay (directly below the cockpit). If you take the scenario to its normal progression, it is possible that the Crew on MAS 370 could have taken a/c down to essential power or perhaps even only battery power (augmented by RAT). In an “all-electric” jet, this could explain the loss of transponder signal and also the turn-around. Swissair experienced similar situation and was in process of divert back to land when they went down. Although I hate speculating, I keep thinking back to the EgyptAir 678 on July 29, 2011. Take a look at accident pix of cockpit in final report on page 13. If this fire had happened airborne it would have been catastrophic.

  61. Nicholas Robinson says:

    Forget everything I said above. This is turning into typical Asian buffoonery. Not worth speculating when so many fools are stirring the pot.

  62. Nicholas Robinson says:

    I’m sorry I posted the above somewhat hysterical post. As usual, it has the mundane markings of serial incompetence, lost opportunities, idiotic rivalries and just generally a line of stupid, goofy-beyond-belief errors that signals the usual cause of anything “mysterious” that ever happens in this world.

    No “Bermuda Triangle” anything here — just stupidity in vast amounts. Nothing to see here, folks, move along, move along.

    Umm, the person who said they were worried about their upcoming 10-hour flight into the dark maw of Asian airspace . . . uh, yeah, you have a LOT to worry about. Just nothing out of the ordinary.

  63. Only me says:

    Any chance the plane is on the ground safely somewhere? Is it possible the plane turned, then dropped below radar, then turned a different direction to land at a later time flying below radar the whole time? It happened at night which reduces the chances of being seen as no one could see and people are sleeping. I heard there was 7 hours of fuel on board, that is enough to go a while! Maybe passengers are locked up and bad people have bad plans for the plane. This is all too odd, something does not add up here.

  64. Jim Tucker says:

    I wish people would just say no distress signals were received. We don’t know if they tried to send them or not, and may never.

  65. As a private pilot, I’ve had ATC tell me many times, “Not receiving your transponder. Please recycle and ident.” It’s common. BUT why isn’t anyone discussing the fact that, even without an operating transponder, there still should have been a PRIMARY radar return without the additional information, e.g. altitude and identification, that the transponder supplies? The blip on the radar screen doesn’t just disappear when the transponder quits working, unless the operator has the screen running on a mode that does not display primary radar returns.

    • Nicholas Robinson says:

      Gonna have to agree with this one too. There are so many things out of whack that I’m almost beginning to revert to my old Bermuda Triangle theory.

      Either someone is hiding something they don’t want the world to know — like the cockpit crew and the cabin crew were obviously fooling around when one of them “dived onto the throttle” — in other words, something that would cast a hugely negative light on Malaysia (like the continued denials of the Egyptians to what to everyone else was a simple case of pilot suicide — there really was not much argument there, but they protest to this day) or something completely off the wall, unexpected, and never encountered in aviation history happened — two hundred coincidences just happening to fall in a neat row.

      Weirder stuff has happened that you just could not make up — flight attendants plummeting from 30,000 feet and surviving with no parachute and so on. And no one has yet put DB Cooper to rest, either.

      Not saying aliens abducted anyone, just saying a series of monstrous coincidences — which WILL be unearthed — will come to light eventually. Meanwhile, I, like everyone else, continue to comb the news for anything.

      BTW Patrick, your captchas are completely unintelligible. “products terskag?” Is IKEA’s boss manufacturing them?

  66. Richard says:

    Looks like we now (according to CNN) have a different unnamed official denying reports of the other unnamed official who claimed the plane was tracked for an hour and ten minutes after changing course. The military really needs to make an official statement one way or the other.

  67. billbai says:

    Can any pilot look at the flight path that would have been necessary to go from where the air traffic control last spotted the transponder to where the military radar last them up? Then, elaborate on the kind of skill necessary to do that, whether it is 3,000 or 20,000 flight hours. For example, if it required some special skill then we can guess it was either pilot, or maybe there was another pilot among the passengers that could hijack the plane… Although I keep reading that the experienced piloy was a great guy and a good neighbor, the fact that he had a 777 flight simulator at home makes things more suspicious. Might he have trained someone to be his co-pilot (and then taken out that young guy)? Sorry, just speculating since it seems more and more like a nefarious act.

  68. billbai says:

    So cell phones keep ringing, so they cant be under water. And that would suggest that the cell phones were turned back on (you know, since the stewards ask people to turn them off during the flight), but how could they have been turned on and no one successfully sent out a message? A couple ideas: 1. if it was a hijack, then the hijackers collected all the phones and put them in a bag and threw them in a place to shake off the trail (you can already see they the hijackers have been one step ahead of the searchers). 2. if cell phones are active, and assuming NSA uses their Echeclon Tumbleweed technology to listen in on and track the location of the phone, why havent the officials told us any news about that.

    • leah says:

      No billibai, the cell phones ringing aren’t significant as they can apparently appear to be ringing when they really aren’t at all.

  69. Melissa says:

    NOAA data for 4 days ago shows a major disturbance of three of the buoys west of Smith island. Displacement of the first buoy shows approximately 1500 feet. Weather doesn’t seem to have been severe enough to cause this type of disturbance. Does anyone else have any data?

  70. Patrat says:

    YOU WROTE: Unless there was an egregious security screening lapse, would it be possible for an individual, or two, to carry components of an explosive device aboard without detection? Then, how much explosive power would be necessary to substantially damage a Boeing 777 in flight? Then, where would the device have to be placed for maximum effect? (bathroom?)

    … God bless you are a FORMER journalist.. What do you think? If this was really done by terrorists, why should any media solve questions like the best place to put a bomb? For the next terrorist? You wanna produce a Podcast for them too? THINK …

  71. Zach says:

    There’s a theory I’ve been working on that connects a number of “eyewitness” reports to the military’s initial radar sighting over the Straits of Malaca. I’m taking it more seriously now that I’ve stumbled across someone else with a similar take, who has fleshed it out in a very compelling way.

    http://www.pprune.org/rumours-news/535538-malaysian-airlines-mh370-contact-lost-104.html

    (Scroll down to the handle “onetrack”)

    It goes something like this:
    1) The 370 suffered a massive decompression event at or near the 1:30 mark.
    2) At that time, sounds of jet engines followed by an explosion were heard by a group in Bandar Marang (on the North coast, and roughly in the designated flight path). The original account states confusion about where the explosion was coming from…the group thought it was from the sea (and initially feared a tsunami) yet later checked a wooded area.
    3) The event knocked out communications on the aircraft.
    4) The crew soon pivoted the aircraft back towards Malaysia.
    5) And eventually blacked out.
    6) But not before “mumbling” a response to the plane-to-plane call on emergency frequency at 1:40(?).
    6) A fisherman near Khota Bharu had filed a report that he saw a “white streak” that he took for a plane…yet it had no red running lights and was flying the opposite direction that he was used to seeing (sorry, this was reported on the forum threads in the link above, and I’ve lost the page #). This is the point where the 370 crosses back over the peninsula.
    7) The 370 keeps running towards Pulau where the military loses it.
    8) And finally crashes into a mountainside in the remote northern end of Sumatra (across the Straits).

    Maybe I’m completely off..but I kind of like a theory that doesn’t force me to buy in to darker scenarios.

    • Zach says:

      Sorry, there was no explosion, but a loud “ringing noise” that sounded like a jet fan.

      http://www.nst.com.my/latest/font-color-red-missing-mh370-font-loud-noise-reported-believed-linked-to-missing-plane-1.507926

    • Richard says:

      Well, given the peaks on Sumatra are only about 12K ft high and the possibility the auto-pilot was still engaged, under such a scenario, the plane very well could have cleared the island as well.

      • Zach says:

        Could have, but obviously it would be in the crew’s best interest to put the plane on a descent schedule so they can get to oxygenated air.

        But “ask the pilot”, because I’m not one!

        • Richard says:

          Well from your earlier comment about the altitude over the Strait, that’s only a decent of 5K over an hour and certainly not down to an altitude with adequate oxygen concentration. And at that rate of descent, the plane easily clears Sumatra.

          I am perplexed why the Malaysian military hasn’t officially confirmed the turn back route. I can’t see the US military withholding such information in a similar circumstance especially as it will help in the more general search effort.

    • Richard says:

      Is is even possible to hear modern lower noise commercial jet engines (at cruise) at 35K feet from the ground? That’s six and a half miles right there and the incident seems to have occurred dozens of miles from the coast.

      I am not trying to pick on you Zach but just wondering about the underlying data you are using.

      • Zach says:

        No, pick on me that’s fine. I was just relying on the report filed by the “eyewitness” group on the beach, as reported by the local paper in the link above.

  72. Kika says:

    There’s something they aren’t telling us. How could a massive plane like a Boeing 777 disappear from radar. The black box wasn’t found for years for the Air France flight off the coast of Africa. But they found wreckage within a week or so. Two precedents ring over in my mind – China Airlines Flight 611 (botched repairs many years earlier lead to mid air and sudden break up once reaching 35,000FT). And SilkAir Flight 185.
    Though I honestly think if there was a bomb or the plane crashed they would have found it by now. The plane went down very quickly and is out in the straits out towards the Bay of Bengal.

    • Richard says:

      In terms of previous repairs, the aircraft suffered damage to a wing tip about a year and a half ago – probably not a factor.

      But I do agree that both the airline and the Malaysian military could be more forthcoming with information.

  73. Paris1stClassInternational says:

    I really don’t get it anymore.
    It has been too long since MH370 disappeared and so far THERE IS NO EVIDENCE for what so ever.
    Yes we can speculate as much as we want but the fact is something terrible has happened and it is NOT A JOKE.
    For me the first question that I ask is why the transponder was off? Was it just a human reaction in stressed situation while trying to change a SQUAWK to emergency?
    There are different possibilities why the plane went down…
    One of them is DECOMPRESSION caused by cracks in the fuselage or even rapid decompression caused by explosion. It is almost IMPOSSIBLE to brig such an amount of whatever kind of explosive on board of the airplane that is able to explode it in two pieces, but YES it could cause a crack or make a hole in the fuselage.
    Current training standards (FAA, IATA) require all pilots who fly commercial airliners to complete annual rapid-decompression training in flight simulators.
    Most often, the first indication that something is wrong is the cabin altitude warning horn blasting in the cockpit. Concurrently, the pilots experience abdominal pain and the feeling of having the wind knocked out of us, because trapped gas expands with the loss of cabin pressure. Our first move is to don our oxygen masks, check the regulator to 100 percent oxygen and establish communication with the copilot or PIC. Depending on the altitude of the aircraft and the fitness level of the pilots when the decompression occurs, the UTC, or useful time of consciousness, can be as little as 5 to 10 seconds.
    Once the oxygen masks are in place, it is difficult to exhale as oxygen is forced into our lungs through automatic pressure breathing. So we reach for the response checklist and begin the steps to safely descend the aircraft to a lower altitude where the crew and passengers can breathe without supplemental oxygen.
    WE ALL KNOW WHAT IS GOING ON WHEN THIS HAPPENS… Even a flight attendant in training knows what’s going on.
    The next step on the checklist is an immediate call to Air Traffic Control (ATC) explaining our situation and declaring an emergency, followed by changing the transponder code (squawk) to 7700: the universal signal to ATC that we are experiencing an emergency. Squawking the code allows expedited handling in descents and vectors for the incident aircraft as we continue to the nearest suitable airport.
    Pilots must handle all three of the steps required to end this scenario almost simultaneously. We are aviating (flying the airplane), navigating (descending to our divert, or alternative landing point) and communicating (talking to ATC and to each other). A breakdown in any of these three tasks could be catastrophic. When navigating, we need to know the precise height of the flyover terrain—we don’t always have the luxury of being able to see the ground. A descent over an UNKNOWN territory directly to 10,000 feet could be disastrous. What if due to some previous problems we’ve lost a track of the planned flight route? What if NAV and GPS are not functioning?
    If we still have everything under control and are conscious the next up on the checklist would be that the pilot who’s not flying makes a call to the flight attendants to discern the condition of the cabin and inquire about any injuries. From the cockpit, we don’t know the cause of the decompression or the extent of damage to the aircraft. If we’re lucky enough to see the size and location of the hole in the fuselage, we’ll know more about the severity of our emergency. These details give pilots a good sense of the structural integrity of the airframe and if further damage may be a concern. We don’t want to subject the damaged aircraft to any additional stresses (air load) as we start a high-speed emergency descent.
    Without a pressurized cabin, our target level of altitude would be 10,000 feet because that is the highest altitude where we avoid significant oxygen deprivation of the passengers and crew. Those little masks that drop down from above can create chemically generated oxygen for only 10 to 20 minutes, so we must descend quickly to a lower altitude. Ten thousand feet keeps the aircraft high enough to manage the fuel burn. At low altitudes, fuel burn can leave long overwater flights (such as Los Angeles to Sydney) critically short of fuel, even during a divert to a known alternate field.
    Once the aircraft has descended to 10,000 feet, the passengers and crew can remove their masks and breathe the ambient air as we make our final descent into the divert airfield. If the structural integrity of the aircraft has been assessed as sound, we’ll make a normal approach and landing.

  74. Trevor Alaine says:

    Did this flight have in-flight internet? If so was it turned on ? If yes then you know exactly where the plane last was when the internet ended. Everyone with “find my iPhone” has the position in their icloud. Just get their login from their spouse or other means. In fact all the planes can be tracked this way if they have in-flight internet. Is in-flight internet cheaper than the “expensive” streaming GPS systems recently discussed in the media?

    • Paris1stClassInternational says:

      Smartphones and all other phones without signal are not of any use… Icloud and other applications will show the LAST position your phone registered while receiving the signal and in the best case that might be 3000ft above the ground while leaving the airport. At the open sea there is no signal at all. Satellite phones are other story… but nobody carries them anymore…they are too expensive; I bought my Iridium 9575 for about 1500$… and never used it. But still when I fly in Cessna all by myself it gives me reinsurance that if I have to do emergency landing somewhere unexpected I can always call for help. With my flight schedule I can allow that to myself 2X a year… conclusion I don’t need it because my chances to win a lottery jack pot are higher than to have a flight accident.

  75. fiona says:

    What are chances the pilots smoking cigarettes in cockpit could statr fire that could explain all of this?

    • Paris1stClassInternational says:

      Even if we smoke we always make sure that nonsmoking signs in the cabin are ON… If we smoke we always have a glass with water where to put it off. And NO it is almost IMPOSSIBLE… Most fires on board are caused by electrical shortcuts or passengers smoking in the lavatories the last ones are more often; less dangerous but still.

  76. Ronny says:

    Hi Patrick,

    I have my own speculation, but there are some airplane things that I need to ask you to confirm mine.

    Q: If the plane is flying in the middle of Indian oceans, is the pilot able to contact any land?

    Q: Is it possible for the autopilot to be malfunction without the pilot realizing?

    Note: Damn great website you have here!! (I am a web developer)

  77. […] say that in the case of Flight 370, the transponder disappeared suddenly. This could happen if there’s a sudden loss of power or if it was switched off […]

  78. Craig Russell says:

    Unfortunately what I think you will find is that the integrity of the plane was compromised leading to a high compression leak in the plane at 35000ft. The transponder was turned off as the frantic pilots were trying to work out why the emergency oxygen wasn’t working and lastly the plane descended as low as they could go in a last and final attempt to get some air as the poor souls on board passed away the plane would pretty much fly itself until it ran out of fuel and crashed into some remote area of the world be that desert or ocean; who knows. Sorry if my message is a bit graphic but hey this is what I came up with after piecing the information together. Hopefully I am incorrect.

    • fiona says:

      this is first explanation that made sense to me. with every alternate theory I’ve wondered why nobody, pilot, crew or passengers so much as sent an sos text during that hour following diversion. If they all passed out within moments this would all make sense. i was wondering about poison gas — but loss of oxygen sounds less fantastic and all the more plausable.

    • Melissa says:

      I hope you ARE correct considering the other more likely alternatives. If I was on a plane that was going to crash for one reason or another I’d rather be unconscious when it started going down.

  79. Nad says:

    I still don’t understand why the 5 people who checked their baggage in but never got on the flight have not been mentioned again? It says their luggage was removed but what if a bag wasn’t…Did they have bombs on their bags? If people with fake passports can get on the plane isn’t it likely that people can check in luggage with something sinister in it. Even if they didn’t do this why go to the airport and check-in and NOT get on the plane. Did they know something?

    Also why was the picture of the 2 suspected stolen passport people doctored so they both had the same legs? Very weird. Not even doctored in a good way a white line is clearly visible where they have done it. Is this relevant? Probably not but why do it…just starts of conspiracy theories.

    I cannot believe that at this stage someone doesn’t know something! I think someone knows where the plane is. Why is a source now saying the military didn’t track the plane for an additional hour? Like someone mentioned above if it was then an un-identified flying object why wasn’t military jets deployed??

    Nothing adds up and the silence from Malaysia speaks volumes…..

    • Richard says:

      I think think it is pretty common for many flights to have people not board at the last minute (often because they are late going from check-in to the gate). If they don’t board, the practice is to remove their luggage but it is also likely the luggage was never loaded in the first place.

      In any case, a mid-air explosion from a bomb in the cargo bay seems unlikely as the have found no debris along the fairly well-searched intended flight path. That’s really the conundrum: no large debris field from a sudden massive structural failure/explosion but no word from the cockpit after a less serious event whereby the plane could keep flying for some time, the length of that “some time” being a very open question at this point.

    • Nicholas Robinson says:

      Apparently they subsequently denied that any luggage was checked. The five people simply did not show up for the flight at all, let alone check in and check their baggage, so the was no baggage “to take off.”

      And ask yourself, why would five people check in, check their luggage on board, then not get on the plane? They would have all been identified (they would have had to pick up their “offloaded luggage” and if this were so it would be a highly suspicious event that would have received MUCH more scrutiny than it did.)

      The officials just “misannounced.” They meant that five people didn’t show up for the flight, therefore their luggage was never on board the flight at all.

      Is my understanding.

  80. Nad says:

    This is interesting (picture of life raft http://wstaw.org/m/2014/03/12/raft2_1.PNG )

    PORT DICKSON: A group of fishermen found a life raft bearing the word “Boarding” 10 nautical miles from Port Dickson town at 12pm yesterday.
    One of the fishermen, Azman Mohamad, 40, said they found the badly damaged raft floating and immediately notified the Kuala Linggi Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) in Malacca for assistance to lift the raft as it was very heavy.
    “We managed to tie it to our boat as we feared it would sink due to the damages,” he said.
    When the MMEA boat arrived, the fishermen then handed over the raft into their custody.
    However, a Kuala Linggi MMEA spokesman said the raft sunk into the sea while they were trying to bring the raft onboard.

  81. Nad says:

    Sorry to post again the news conference is bringing up interesting things… five passengers were no-shows at the airport and replaced with four standby passengers, consequently no baggage was off-loaded. This contrasts with the statement a few days ago that five passengers who had checked in failed to board and their baggage was off-loaded.

  82. Ben says:

    Why doesn’t a plane have an active gps tracking device (like you put on expensive machinery on land in case they get stolen) ? Active gps tracking devices are not expensive. I just don’t get it?

  83. Kev says:

    The five passengers who did not board the plane can be interrogated unless of course if they also have false documents and cannot be found. The second question is, do Malaysian military defences allow aircraft spotted on their radar without identification or a submitted flight plan to continue to fly across the entire country in the middle of the night? Was there a plane flying west or not. One thing for sure the plane did not go down where it has been suggested. The sea is too shallow for it not to have been spotted by now.

  84. XCC says:

    Just my opinion that just came in after read several aircraft accident:

    Incorrect setting on the cabin pressurization panel caused the pilots and everyone else on board to succumb to hypoxia. (like Helios flight 522)

    Last word from crew “alright good night”, crew do not realize they are a bit began to lose consciousness, the crew just think the possibility of drowsiness.
    shortly before 17:30, the crew realized that something was wrong with the cabin pressure, No distress call because crew unable to speak then they do last attempt to return to KL with re setting the autopilot (heading, but maybe altitude too), but before they finish set new heading, they pass out. then the planes still fly towards strait of malacca and crash into ocean, or still fly till the planes runs out of fuel, or crash on mountain around Sumatra.

    Note: according to passenger that have been fly with this planes, 1 month before accident, this planes have some problem with the rear door (the rear door can’t be closed properly, so they cancel the flight). Decompression maybe one of the possibility.

    • Richard says:

      In Helios 522, there was some pretty serious misbehavior on the part of the crew. The pilots would have had to ignore numerous alarms going off much prior to their hitting the hypoxia wall. And there immediate course correction would have included a drop down to 10,000ft.

      A decompression event, assuming there is no other damage to the plane is pretty easily dealt with, My mom and step-dad experienced one on a 737 size jet (not sure it was specifically a 737) over California. There was a loud pop and then hiss and the masks dropped down. My mom, who admittedly is not the nervous type, said because the plane otherwise showed no signs of problems, it was more surreal than anything. The pilots dropped down to 10k feet and, because it was a short flight, ended up landing at the destination airport anyway. My step-dad’s ears were pretty screwed up for a long period after though.

  85. Marcio V. Pinheiro says:

    Sorry folks. We really do not know. Let´s wait hoping that some more information will show up, especially where the 777 is.

  86. dodgy says:

    I think there was a catastrophic failure of the air craft either the wing came off from damage to the wing previous and had not been repaired correctly, maybe just dodgy maintenance.

  87. Bob says:

    Could there have been a collision with an unknown flying object, e.g. a stealth aircraft, resulting in a catastrophic disintegration of the 777 while rendering the stealth object radar-visible but temporarily still navigable — with the westerly radar track corresponding to that object?

    I realize that sounds pretty implausible but so does every scenerio at this point. Something caused the transponder to stop communicating; something caused the crew not to be able to communicate. Is it even conceivable that a 777 that loses electrical power to all means of communications still has electrical power allows flight?

    This is quite the mystery.

  88. The following email from an offshore oil rig worker is now in the hands of the the Vietnamese authorities:

    ——–
    Gentlemen,

    I believe I saw the Malaysian Airlines flight come down. The timing is right.

    I tried to contact Malaysian and Vietnamese officials days ago. But I do not know if the message has been received.

    I am on the oil ring Songa-Mercur off the coast of Vung Tau.

    The surface location of the observation is

    Lat 08 22’ 30.20” N

    Long 108 42.22.26” E

    I observed (the plane?) burning at high altitude at a compass bearing of 265* to 275* from our surface location.

    It is very difficult to judge the distance but I’d say 50-70km along the compass bearing 260* to 275*

    While I observed (the plane) it appeared to be in ONE piece.

    The sea surface current at our location is 2-2.3 knots in the direction of 225-230.

    The wind direction has been E-ENE averaging 15-20 knots.

    From when I first saw the burning (plane?) until the flames went out (still at high altitude) was 10-15 seconds. There was no lateral movement so it was either coming toward our location stationary (falling) or going away from our location.

    The general position of the observation was perpendicular / south west of the normal flight paths (we see the con trails every day) and at a lower altitude than the normal flight paths or on the compass bearing 265* to 275* intersecting the normal flight paths at normal altitude but further away.

    Good Luck

    Michael Jerome McKay

    ———

    He was on the rig Songa Mercur. Source:

    http://oilpro.com/post/3263/missing-malaysian-jet-mystery-solved-by-an-offshore-driller

  89. Nad says:

    Malaysian Airways say this on their website:
    Stay connected
    Communicate with loved ones or workmates via calls or text messages using your seat entertainment controller that also works as an air-to-ground phone. You can even send and receive emails mid-flight.

    In addition would any of their planes have wifi meaning people could have been on facebook, watsapp etc.

    Everyone could have called or txt from their seat controller so its even stranger no one did…

  90. Tony Soldo says:

    Here is a possible scenario to what happened to Malaysian flight 370.
    What if, either by remote control flight takeover, or suicide hijackers, or mad pilot, the plane went up, not down.
    Has it ever been attempted to take a 777 passenger jet above the atmosphere, through the stratosphere, and into outer space?
    Could this plane be floating above the earth right now?

  91. Dunno about that … Bob Woodruff claims to have contacted the gent’s employer and verified the email.

    Of course he could have seen something else, but there’s no indication of a hoax yet. Time will tell.

  92. […] According to a Wall Street Journal analytical piece by Daniel Michaels and John Ostrower on March 11, the search for #370 could be further hampered by the fact that the region it was traversing is one of the busiest on the planet: Southeast Asia. Moreover, according to Golson, radar isn’t good enough after the plane’s farther than about 200 km from the nearest control tower, while precise GPS locations aren’t relayed continuously by the pilots to air-traffic controllers—this is why we rely on a ‘last known location’, not a definitive ‘last location’. At the same time, controllers don’t panic when pilots don’t ping back frequently because, according to pilot Patrick Smith’s blog: […]

  93. Thinker says:

    Here is something that I have been thinking from the very start of this disaster. Lets take into consideration for a moment the remote poss. that (Post 9/11/01) once a plane has lost communication with ATC and the transponder is switched off things change very rapidly as to response and handling of the situation. The Malaysian military clearly states the plane lost contact with ATC Radar and was still tracked by the military radar system for at least 500 miles…..assuming the plane was full of fuel it was within range of a LOT of targets that would make it in the best interests of the Malaysian Military to do whatever it had to do to assure the safety of those targets should the plane no longer be in control of the flight crew. I know that there have been NO statements made to infer in any way that the military had attempted to contact the plane during that 500 miles….but come now….are we so naive as to think that in today’s world that this wasn’t done? That they made no attempt to contact that plane whatsoever….once that plane popped off of ATC radar and contact was lost with it from the ground crew rest assured the military was contacted in minutes….at this point the military has already stated they continued to track the plane for 500 miles….. ok do the math here 400mph and they tracked the plane for 500 miles????? No contact full of fuel no known intentions or destination????? What would the US Military do in this case? I think the answer here is obvious.

  94. ThoughtfulGuy says:

    I don’t see why the primary radar at Georgetown (Penang International Airport) did not pick up this plane if it went back over Malaysia as the military radar seems to be indicating.

    If you draw a straight line between the last known location in the gulf of Thailand and the island of Pulau Perak where the military radar lost contact – then you see that the plane must have passed within a few miles of Georgetown.

    Either the Malaysian government is hiding something or they are completely incompetent!

  95. Thinker says:

    Several things come into play here …esp. since the bulk of the passengers on the plane were from China….if they (Malaysia) claim now that they did NOT track the plane the competence of the ATC controllers and Malaysian Military come into question to the world….esp to China….if they say they DID track it for about an hour or 500 miles then the world wants to know why no action was taken and if there was action taken why would Malaysia not admit to it?
    Political nightmare no matter which way they turn now.

  96. Pelegrin says:

    I’d like to ask some speculative questions in regards to the various possibilities that have been put forward about the missing plane and its passengers. Principally, taking different particular scenarios and asking, Why? or How?

  97. Pelegrin says:

    For instance, if the plane did in fact make the turn and it was the plane spotted by Malaysia military radar over the Malacca Strait, then Why? What are the possible reasons why the plane would’ve been heading in that particular direction, and apparently at an altitude just sufficiently low enough not to be detected by commercial airline radar?

  98. fiona says:

    assuming the pilots were nolonger making mechanical decisions – where would the plane have landed/ crashed/ or entered water if it stayed the precise course it was on when last (supposedely) observed by Malaysian military?

  99. fiona says:

    were any of the passengers communicating at any time during the flight?? seems like there’s gotta be messages sent at least during first hour of normal flight — if not what does that mean???

  100. Pelegrin says:

    Well yes, fiona, if I may be so direct, that’s the $1000 question, Where would it have crashed, landed, or entered the water? But I’d like to try to focus on some possible answers as to Why, or How? Regardless if the pilots were unable to control the plane, if it didn’t fall from the sky in a catastrophic malfunction, in which the pilots would’ve been frantically trying to get control of the plane, then there would still have been means for the pilots or people on board to communicate with someone on the ground. Why was there no such communication?

    • fiona says:

      Hi Pelegrin. you can be direct.

      I’m no pilot — so I don’t know but

      can’t aviators calculate an answer to that $$ question?

      they’ve got two points to utalize — the point at which the plane first changed course and the point at which it was last tracked by military — can’t they draw a straight between those two points — take weather patterns into account — trajectory, incline, all that — and make a very educated guess as to where that line would touch ground?

      • Pelegrin says:

        Sorry, fiona, I missed that reply of yours. Well yes, of course they can plot that trajectory. The question though would first be: Why did the plane then disappear from the military radar over Malacca Strait? One logical answer would be that it finally went down there or exploded there, or something of that nature. Then the area they have to search is quite specific, in a relative sense. If the plane continued on that path, well as you say, you just draw a line and continue searching along that line. But that relates again to my first question here: Why that direction?

  101. fiona says:

    if there is loss of breathable air — what is protocol?

    • Richard says:

      Pilots and crew put on oxygen masks. Crew makes sure all passengers have masks on. Plane needs to descend somewhat quickly to a breathable altitude, typically 10k ft (at least on older planes, there’s limited oxygen for the passengers, maybe 20 minutes – the pilots have access to much more). Assuming no other issues, the plane will likely be diverted and land without incident

  102. Pelegrin says:

    Certainly most of the passengers would likely have been sleeping. It was a night flight, it left at 12:20am, I believe, and at the time of it being last seen on radar, at 1:30am roughly, most passengers may well have went to sleep. Certainly there would’ve been some awake, but unless there was some abrupt movement or sound coming from the plane, a gentle altering of the flight’s direction and/or altitude may well have not been noticed by any passengers who were awake, again especially at that time of night and at high altitude.

  103. Pelegrin says:

    Have you flown, fiona? Of course there are the oxygen masks which are supposed to immediately drop from above each passenger’s seat (as well as with the pilots and crew).

    But again, back to my first question: IF the plane did make that turn and fly in the direction that took it over Malacca Strait, then why, why that particular direction? Just accidental or by chance that it went in that direction?

    • fiona says:

      i’ve flown as a passenger plenty of times. that’s it. no real aviation knowlegde. just very interested in the mystery. that’s why I got on here – to see what people with aviation expertise were saying.

      to try to answer your question —

      why did they turn around —

      maybe — it was the initial instinct to try to return to the take off airport since it was far closer than destination. and the impitus was mechanical trouble or other physical emergency with the plane. however — there was not enough controll to get to the airport so instead the tried for the softest straight decent they could arrange given limited control. or maybe they lost control even of consciousness — passed out, etc — and had started to aim back for the airport but within moments were unable to do more and the plane continued based on very last incomplete “flying” of pilot, etc.

      either that — or somebody wanted to duck under radar and fly to a foreign country to the west or north west, etc.

      those are my two guesses. i was leaning toward the latter then got on here any people were talking about how loss of cabin pressure could lead to drifting on autopilor for a long time with everybody on the plane asleep and I started leaning toward the former. — kind of like reaching for the way out in your last breaths but you can’t get there before you collapse. — ugh — that’s morbid :( it’s just a guess.

      • Pelegrin says:

        Both reasonable possibilities. Though, for the loss of cabin pressure idea, one would still have to ask why, what caused it? And wouldn’t there be enough oxygen stored on board to at least keep the pilots conscious for several hours in case of something that caused a loss of cabin pressure?

        But then again, what if the loss of cabin pressure was something directly effecting the cockpit? But what could such a thing be at that altitude, which is supposed to be the safest part of the flight.

        And yes, it’s logical that they would’ve turned back for KL if there were a problem, but again, why wasn’t there some kind of communication if there was time to give communication?

        Ok, here’s another idea… rather than a loss of cabin pressure, what if some sort of gas was released through the air vents and either slowly killed everyone on board or at least put them all to sleep?

        • Richard says:

          Anybody have any insight into the Malaysian government’s behavior? They’ve been hedging all over the place about whether they tracked the plane or not. Presently they are not confirming the revised course but still searching in areas that match the claims of the unnamed sources. It has gotten so bad that Vietnam is curtailing their search efforts because they don’t feel they are getting useful information. Similarly there is a crowd-sourcing effort to review high-res satellite images from a company in Denver; that effort would surely benefit from some official best guesses being put forth by those with the flight data.

          A second unrelated question. I assume it would be the case that either the pilots or the crew can shut off the passenger communication systems easily?

  104. Pelegrin says:

    @ ThoughtfulGuy, Do you think that the area in the general vicinity of where the plane was last seen on radar at 1:30 has likely been searched enough already to at least speculate that there’s no evidence that the plane went down directly in that area?
    Of course the plane could still be underwater in the Gulf of Thailand, but as of yet there simply hasn’t been any debris found there. I guess it’s possible that the plane could’ve landed on the water in tact and then sank, not spreading debris; but the waters there are fairly shallow and it shouldn’t be too difficult to find the plane. However, I do imagine that it’s now so easy to see a plane lying 50 meters below the surface. But then again, still following this scenario, if the pilots were somehow able to land the plane on the water and then it sank, that still should’ve allowed time for some kind of communication to be made, even by cell-phone if other communications were out.

  105. Pelegrin says:

    Sorry to all that I haven’t been clicking on the “reply” button but rather have just been posting, when some or most of my posts have been “replies”. I’m learning. ;-)

  106. fiona says:

    I’ve never fallen asleep rt off getting on plane. I know some do — but some don’t. there’s GOT to be some history of passengers messaging people on land in the begining of the flight. and at some point it stopped. where is that information?

    • Pelegrin says:

      Aww, excellent question. Yes, of all the passengers and all of today’s communication networks, you’d think that some people must of been communicating with people on the ground. But still, after an hour into the flight, at 1:30am, it’s possible that no one was communicating with anyone on the ground at that time; it’s possible.

  107. fiona says:

    super strange — esp if nobody messaged even from beginning of take off!!!!! kinda throws every theory out window…

    sudden mechanical failure would have allowed communication up until then

    hijacking would have inspired at lease some rogue desperate messaging

    ——- I think there’s GOT to be some messages at least from very early on, but they aren’t being published? somebody with access needs to confirm if or if not there was any messaging at all. that would give a lot of info.

    • Pelegrin says:

      Yes…
      With a loss of cabin pressure, and the existence of the oxygen masks, one would think that some people would still have the ability and time to send messages, whether it be the pilots of some of the passengers. It could’ve been a slow loss that no one took notice of, but anyone awake, and trying to stay awake, the pilots for instance, are going to notice if they’re slowly feeling that they’re losing consciousness, I would think,… and then put on their oxygen mask and try to figure out what’s happening.

    • Dianne says:

      I would be thinking as with most airlines you are required to have your phone in flight mode. I know some flights in the USA now that you can get internet access but it is not all over the world as of yet.

  108. fiona says:

    I’d venture to say it’s not possible — that none of those 200+ passenger attempted to message at any time if the flight was fine until it lost contact.

    I think the chances of that being the case are so slim that saying it is possible is statistically outlandish. IMO

    if they did not message I think it means something was stopping them from doing it.

  109. Pelegrin says:

    There are theories about terrorist, suicide, mechanical malfunction, pilot error, etc…. But what about sabotage?

  110. JFO says:

    Just a left turn from the most recent comments…. I tried to access the crowdsourcing Tomnod.com site which invites Web users to scour DigitalGlobe’s satellite imaging for any types of “clues.” The site had crashed early this morning from too many users trying to get on, me included. But it is another creative idea for gathering info (albeit from “regular citizens”). The world is coming together, perhaps a bit, in this…?!

    I am of the mind that there is more information out there that is known but is not being shared.

    Unprecedented, confounding, exasperating, tragic. The answers are out there — need to ask the right questions. (Of which I have long ago exhausted).

  111. Pelegrin says:

    Ok, getting off track here with my original objective,… it’s really easy to get distracted, I know… There seems to be so many possibilities, but continually mixing various things together just doesn’t address any one thing directly. If we take one specific scenario and analyze it, then perhaps it could be one idea that either has potential or could be eliminated. But we’d have to focus on a specific scenario…

    So again, if the plane did turn, and it was the plane flying over Malacca Strait, and if the direction was a conscious decision, and there had been time to send some sorts of message between the time of turning around and then later being spotted over the Strait, then Why, why in that specific direction, and why no communication whatsoever? All just by chance???

    • fiona says:

      i would say absolutely not just by chance. if they were flying as they were intentionally than there was an intenional reason behind not communicating

      but i’ve seen here people say communication is third priority in an emergency and communication takes a lot of effort so maybe even over that hour there didn’t seem to be time.

      I feel like there would have been — over an hour — if they had wanted to /been free to. but that’s for an experienced pilot to weigh in on

  112. Pelegrin says:

    The following taken from:
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/03/11/the-botched-hunt-for-malaysian-airlines-flight-370.html

    [Quote]If it is true that the 777 headed off into the vastness of the Andaman Sea toward India, no longer able to relay its position, it could eerily have echoes of what happened over the Mediterranean in 2005. A Boeing 737 of Helios Airways flying from Larnaca, Cyprus, to Athens suffered what was called an uncontrolled decompression, due to a mistake made by the crew to the cabin pressurization settings after a door seal had been affected by freezing temperatures. Oxygen gradually leaked from the airplane and as a result the passengers and crew were rendered unconscious. The 737 flew on for three hours until it ran out of fuel and crashed into a mountain in Greece.[/Quote]

    Could it then not be calculated, as fiona was suggesting, based on the last direction the plane was heading, and how long the fuel would last, as to roughly where the plane would’ve ran out of fuel and went down?

    We could be looking for a crash site somewhere in the middle of the Indian Ocean, perhaps somewhere as distant as Mauritius.

    • Pelegrin says:

      The trajectory shown on the maps we’ve seen online doesn’t suggest the direction of “India” to me, but more so Madagascar. Besides, if it were in the direction of India, and it were able to maintain it’s altitude, it would then likely have gone down at the southern end of the Arabian Sea, perhaps almost reaching Somalia.

    • fiona says:

      interesting aboit helios

    • Garrett says:

      According to information presented on Discovery about the plane that crash landed on Canadian drag strip the Ram Air thing didn’t provide power to the transponder????

      Any more indepth information on the previous post about the disruption in NOAA buoys near Smith Island (Andian Sea)?

  113. fiona says:

    Freescale Semiconductor
    google it,.

    I’m down with the conspiracy theory. apparently 20 employees of a company developing military cloaking devices for planes were on the flight. maybe they were testing or proving their wares. maybe they were selling to a country that would be interested in buying. what better way to make the sale — then to confound the world on their way over there.

    • Pelegrin says:

      It all sounds exotic and interesting, fiona, but greatly illogical. So Ok, we go on the assumption that such technology was developed; 1st, why use a commercial flight to demonstrate it? 2nd, cloaking the plane shouldn’t make it unflyable. 3rd, if cloaking would also make it impossible to communicate in any means with the ground, one would then imagine that the pilots would return to KL and circle around until they saw a runaway available to land on. 4th, why would those cloaking the plane endanger their own lives? Of course, maybe they cloaked the plane and then couldn’t uncloak it. 5th, so OK, the plane was cloaked and then flown to the destination where the buyers are for the technology… But again, why use a commercial passenger plane for such a test run???

      • fiona says:

        I’m adjusting my theory as I read up more on this semicondoctor place and other theories posted on line about it.

        I don’t think they cloaked the plane — I don’t think they were the ones who “did it” think they were the target and they were kidnapped. I think the plane was hijacked for the purpose of kidnapping these 20 semiconducter employees. I think a country — first guess Iran – but I dunno — wanted their knowledge and their technology.

        I don’t think the plane crashed – I think it was landed somewhere and those employees were transported to the country of interest. I don’t know wht else in regards to other passengers. But I don’t think the plane crashed.

        don’t have much evidence but that’s my current theory, — I think it’s LESS CRAZY than some 20 people on board had such desireable info in their heads – for international wafare — and that ithey are NOT related to the plane vanishing.

  114. Mike says:

    I think the plane must have flown undetected over Sumatra and off into the Indian Ocean, and then ran out of fuel and crashed. The pilots must have become incapacitated just as they got the plane turned around, and thus no distress call. By my rough estimate, assuming the plane had enough of fuel to go a couple hundred miles beyond Beijing, from where it turned back, it would have crashed just southeast of Diego Garcia Island in the Chagos Archipelago.

    • Pelegrin says:

      If the plane was able to maintain altitude, and there’s little reason why not using this scenario, then I figure a bit further than he Chagos Archipelago, since I believe these flights carry a bit more fuel than is necessary just to get to their destination, in case there have to be last minute detour. I’d say somewhere between Chagos and Mauritius.

      • ThoughtfulGuy says:

        Suppose that the plane indeed crossed the Malacca strait and then also crossed Sumatra. Well, Sumatra is Indonesian territory – if it entered Indonesian airspace, then shouldn’t it have been picked up by Indonesian military radar?

        This whole thing is not making sense.

        First, the Malaysian Air Force detects an unidentified flying object that enters Malaysian airspace and does absolutely nothing other than track it. No fighter jets to intercept it, nothing. Then, this plane supposedly goes on to cross the Malacca strait and enters Indonesian airspace and the Indonesian Air Force also neither detects it, nor does anything.

        How can this be? Indonesia and Malaysia between them possess F-16, Sukhoi and top of the line MiG aircraft. Indonesia has an airbase on Sumatra island called Pekanbaru.

        What does it mean that Malaysia cannot decide for sure if the blip on it’s screen was MH370 or something else? Every type of aircraft has a distinct radar signature and they should not have had any problem identifying it as a Boeing 777. Nor would the Indonesian Air Force.

        So what information are these people hiding?

        • Yvonne says:

          I am with you on this but heard on the news this morning that the best time for a plane to disappear is at the point of transfer between air traffic controllers.Coincidence that there was a malfunction at this point?

          Vietnam ATC asked another pilot in the area to make contact but there was an amount of static and he said the co pilot seemed to be mumbling…….

      • Mike says:

        Perhaps a bit further… I just used my thumb and forefinger on a globe in my office to make the estimate. I’m sure the authorities could pinpoint it much better knowing exactly how much fuel the plane was carrying upon takeoff and the direction of it’s path across the Malaysian peninsula. Also they could further focus on the less-travelled waters, outside of shipping lanes where someone would have seen the wreckage by now.

  115. Pelegrin says:

    I started my participation here by taking the scenario that the plane had in fact been turned around and it was the plane seen flying over Malacca Strait. However, if that is the case, then again why did it again disappear from radar, military radar? One would think that (unless there was some “cloaking device”, you know, all scenarios…, being turned on and off) that the plane must have went down at that point.

    The Malacca Strait is not that wide, although certainly possible, that if a plane exploded in the air no one would’ve seen it. It’s also reported to be one of the business water traffic areas in the world, and if an explosion wasn’t seen then any debris from an explosion would almost certainly have been seen by now.

    • fiona says:

      if they couldn’t track it for all that distance recrossing Malaysia before the military spotted it — no reason to think it couldn’t have continued on untracked again.

      • Pelegrin says:

        That’s a good question, fiona; however, there could be a number of variables there. Malaysia isn’t at war with anyone, and who knows how vigilant the Malaysian military are at watching radar for planes. Was the Military informed immediately about the missing commercial jet? If not, perhaps the plane observed on military radar was just by accident; or if the military was informed, perhaps they weren’t informed immediately and by the time they were it was then that the plane had already reached the Malacca Strait. And really, do we know how long and at what distance the military were tracking this plane before it disappeared from their radar? Was it a matter of only a few minutes or as much 20 minutes or more??

  116. Nick N says:

    I have a question. In the case of the Air Canada Flight 143 and from what I understand US Airways Flight 1549 both crashes resulted in a loss of power in one way or another; however, both flights deployed the ram air turbine which generated power to provide critical flight instruments and control. IF the plan had turned back to malaysia and had they deployed the ram air turbine could this not have provided enough power to turn on the transponder and communication equipment?

  117. Given the state of the art of underwater surveillance (submarine detection) and the number of military vessels in the search, the inability to detect the “ping” from the black box is significant. My opinion, as uniformed as anybody else’s, is that the odds are increasing that either the aircraft came down on land or the searchers are in completely the wrong place.

  118. fiona says:

    people were protesting that the Malaysian gov were withholding info. at first I thought — misguided anger– – give em a break they just don’t know and are trying like the rest of us,

    but now i wonder if those protesters were onto something

  119. Pelegrin says:

    Apparently they’re searching over land as well. So I go with the latter idea, that they’re not yet searching in the right place or that they’ve only just arrived to the right place. But then the question still remains, if the plane didn’t go down in the relative vicinity, and with all the countries in the general area, didn’t anyone anywhere notice the plane on their radar as it passed over their country? Perhaps some of these countries don’t have radar, maybe. And unless everyone on board were passed out, then why no attempt at communication?

  120. Zach says:

    Here are the Chinese satellite photos just released:

    (scroll down)

    http://www.avherald.com/h?article=4710c69b

    • fiona says:

      gulp — sad. matches up with oil rig email. seems like the simplest most logical. maybe that ties it up.

    • Zach says:

      I thought this was an insightful comment by the handle “aerobat” over at pprune, in response to a question about why pic 2 looks like the object is submerged:

      “Not sitting on the bottom, but “swamped” like a boat – essentially floating just below the surface at neutral or near neutral buoyancy. Perhaps the aircraft experienced minimal breakup at impact so much of the fuel may have remained in the tanks, thus acting as buoyancy compensator. The engines most likely broke off rendering the remaining hull structure even closure to neutral buoyancy. An object that is neutrally buoyant can be driven well below the surface by small vertical currents only to re-surface later when the currents change. This might explain the lack of a visual sighting on earlier searches.”

      http://www.pprune.org/rumours-news/535538-malaysian-airlines-mh370-contact-lost-130.html

  121. ThoughtfulGuy says:

    Let’s recap this.

    IF the plane indeed turned back and flew across Malaysia to the Strait of Malacca THEN:

    1. Penang International Airport at Georgetown is almost directly on that path. Why didn’t the airport’s primary radar pick up a big 777 airliner in it’s vicinity?

    2. Why didn’t the Mayasian Air Force try to scramble a jet or two in response to an unidentified aircraft entering it’s airspace and obviously refusing to communicate? Or did they communicate, in which case they are hiding something.

    3. If the plane continued on and even crossed the Malacca Strait, then it would be in Sumatra which is Indonesian territory and would have been picked up by Indonesian military radar as soon as it entered their airspace.

    4. Why aren’t the media folk asking these questions? How dumb are they anyway?

    I can’t believe both these militaries just gave a free pass to a large unidentified aircraft passing through their airspace and not communicating either! Either they are not telling something or they are amazingly incompetent!

  122. Pelegrin says:

    Yep. I’ve got the report!

  123. Pelegrin says:

    Now we just wait and see if this Chinese lead pans out. We should know something more definitive in the next 5 hours or so, I’d think, since it’s dark there now.

  124. fiona says:

    but they had the pics on sunday. surely they’ve gone down for a closer look by now.

    • Pelegrin says:

      Since it’s in the general area of where the plane was lost from radar, I just find it incredible that this debris site wasn’t found already by physical search other than by this satellite on Sunday.

  125. Pelegrin says:

    Looks as though perhaps the plane did turn slightly, but to the right rather than to the left. Still hard to believe though that that general area wasn’t already searched thoroughly and any possible debris not spotted. Seems a bit incredible.

    • fiona says:

      the pics really look like a big white plane :(

      it is weird that everyobdy thought it turned the other way… but maybe that assumption was just an error and product on exhuberant journalism as much as anything else. and maybe we shoulda beliebed the Malaysians whe they said that other report was false.

      I WISH it was a kidnapping because that would be way more exciting and mean it was likely the passengers were still alive.

      looking at that pic :(((((

      • Pelegrin says:

        It’s not supposed to be satellite images of the plane, fiona, at least not as far as I understand, but rather of 3 sizable pieces of debris floating on the water.

  126. fiona says:

    anybody seen a sunken plane before??? is that what it looks like??

    why did the chinese wait so long to publish it?????????

  127. fiona says:

    the ocean is filled with so many things,

  128. Richard says:

    Assuming the Chinese sat photos do pan out to be debris from the aircraft (which is a big if at this point), it seems we would be back to a relatively short period from last contact to crash. This might explain the lack of communication (as with Air France 447) – crew was too busy dealing with a sudden emergency.

  129. Pelegrin says:

    I’m a member of forum on a whole other topic, and this topic is being discussed there in a small degree. One guy just asked if what the oil worker saw might not have been a meteor, because allegedly there had been one in the area around that time. And then I responded…
    Seriously?
    What about this… Could a meteor fragment possibly even have hit the plane; imagine that.

  130. fiona says:

    I dunno — seems about as plausable as the rest of this. but if somebody was tracking the metior wouldn’t they have wondered what happend to it — if the two collided it meant the metior went off course too

    that said — I’d add metior to list of theories 4sure

    i was just looking around to what people are posting in respose to chinese pics and post are pretty doulful, but maybe that’s not credble doubt.

    • Pelegrin says:

      It’s only doubtful to me in the sense that it’s rather difficult to believe that these large pieces debris weren’t spotted during the 4 days of searching the area, and area very near to where the plane was last seen on radar. Remember also that there was some debris spotted in the area very early on, but that debris proved not to be part of the plane. Could this debris on the Chinese satellite just be the same debris??

      Personally though, as it’s the best possibility so far, I’m leaning about 65% in the direction that this satellite image could bring everyone close to the end of this apparently tragic story.

  131. Janine says:

    Is it possible the aircraft simply shut off the transponder and continued flight ‘off the grid’? I know it may be a stretch to believe a plane with innocent passengers could be overtaken, but I find no media has speculated where a 777 could go with its mileage capacity and a off grid flight plan. With the lack of published factual data, there may be other possibilities. What other locations within the range of the aircraft could the plane have landed safely? I simply like looking at both sides of a coin, especially as so few facts have been provided to media outlets, and what other global events are in progress where governments/agencies would need such a distraction?

  132. fiona says:

    i think it’s it. until it’s proved otherwise — & then i’ll get back on my tech secrets kinapping kick.

    and if it is proven other wise — boy is that gonna make everybodies heads spin.

  133. J.C. Landers says:

    hmmm…. so someone who plans to blow up an airplane in flight relies on media information to learn how do to it? … hmmmm. You just saved billions of dollars in antiterrorist spending worldwide.

  134. fiona says:

    who u responding 2? watt u talkin bout?

  135. Patrick says:

    I hope some of you people are clicking on my Google ads!

  136. fiona says:

    what do you think happened to Jet Patrick?

    i’m wondering if the chinese-spotted debree is som other material. wouldn’t there be lots more color if it was the plane? all that luggage and seating, etc. and why would the plane be in three white pieces?

    us sattelites did not pick up heat from explosion — so almost certaintly there was no signiicant blast or explosion. so wouldn’t the plane have remained whole? do planes break on impact hitting the ocean? and do they float?

    i’m less convinced. but would love to hear opinion from a plane expert which was why I cam on here!!

    i don’t see any google ads or id click 4 u.

  137. fiona says:

    i think i just got you 20cents

  138. Lola says:

    Hello,

    Could it be possible that the plane was stolen and landed and hidden away somewhere in Yemen or Somalia, or Pakistan and never be found again?

    Is there any possibility that we might never know what happened to the plane, or are we absolutely sure that we will find something in a couple of months?

    Thank you!

    • Richard says:

      Not sure what the point of stealing a plane to hide it away would be. I am sure there is a secondary market for older jet parts, etc., but this is a 777.

      It is possible that the jet will not be found quickly and possibly never. It is more probable that it, or confirmed parts of it, will be found eventually.

  139. Mike says:

    OK it’s been daylight there for several hours and still no update on the supposed wreckage. I expected to see Anderson Cooper out there in a tuna boat by now.

    • Pelegrin says:

      Yea, I mean what’s going on? They know exactly the coordinates of where those pieces of debris (or whatever they are) were on Sunday morning, not many hours after the plane would’ve went down; so if they plane is there it should be reasonable near to where those pieces were. Of course the pieces of whatever they were have almost certainly floated far away by now.

  140. Pelegrin says:

    Could an electrical fire do extensive damage to the plane, as well as perhaps many people on board, making it unable to fly and damaging communications (if people weren’t already incapacitated), but Not cause the plane to explode. Meaning the fire could be extinguished after the debilitating damage was done, the plane is essentially dead in the air and falling, but no explosion; it falls pretty much in one piece. Could that be possible?

    Because if what that oil rig worker saw was the plane, and if those satellite images are the only debris, this plane must have came down essentially in tact. There has been no debris field which would’ve made the plane easier to find.

    • Richard says:

      Again with the unnamed sources :(

      It isn’t stated clearly, but it would seem to be referring to the ACARS stream going to Rolls Royce (though maybe Boeing was cc-ed as it were).

      I think they were supposed to refuel in Beijing prior to Europe. I believe many airlines minimize the amount of fuel carried unnecessarily, so five hours is probably about how much range they had from Kuala Lumpur.

      More importantly, what were the ACARS messages coming from the engines? They may very well be minimal if there was nothing wrong with the engines. But certainly, if confirmed the content of the messages matters less than how long they were transmitted for.

      • Richard says:

        Scratch that. Certain passengers were continuing to Europe. I am not sure I know where the aircraft was supposed to fly to next. Does anyone know what the standard service schedule for the plane was?

      • Miguel says:

        Do you know if (for an usual flight with this configuration) Rolls-Royce and Boeing would both receive ACARS signals ?
        It seems the only information given by Boeing about the ACARS signals is from an un-named source (meaning there is no official communication from them).

        Are the ACARS signals not also received by the flying company ?

  141. Sylvia says:

    I was just wondering if somebody can tell me how far could the signal
    From the black box be heard? Are they not supposed to make
    Some kind of alarm? Even under water?

  142. billbai says:

    Their communication and mayday device broke due to electronic fire, so they werent able to communicate with Vietnam before entering their airspace, and in order to avoid seeming threatening to Vietnam, they turned off their transponder, lowered altitude and turned around back to KL, but Malaysia sees them as dangerous unidentified plane and shoots them down, the Malaysia airline holds up notifying the public about the missing flight meanwhile the military cleans up the mess. Chinese satellite image is image of the plane but in a different spot, the real spot, Chinese give image to public (but give different coordinates) in order to show Malaysia that it knows more than it seems. Malaysia upset that didnt show them the image first, but actually worried the Chinese know too much. There was another image by a Chicago IT guy that seems to show the airplane in the water, with a big boat connected on its side, they were trying to clean up the evidence…

    • Richard says:

      That’s a lot of interesting geo-political intrigue but my impression is that few countries have a motivation for blowing things up that enter their airspace.

    • StevenSG says:

      1 – Persons attributing competence and/or professionalism to Malaysian military or government employees are likely to be disappointed. Witness the lack of information from Malaysian government sources. They don’t know how to run a press conference. Nor, apparently, Xerox machines.

      2 – While scrambling a couple of F-16s to investigate violation of sovereign airspace may seem like a natural response to residents of the lower 48, the Malaysian Air Force has (drastically!) different priorities.

      Yes, SOMEthing happened. Whether Malaysia will be a help or hindrance in figuring it out is an open question, between the constantly new revelations of days-old facts and the two-steps-forward-one-step-back aspects we’re all getting tired of.

      I’m guessing that the US NTSB people and/or the UN’s ICAO will separate the wheat from the chaff much faster than anyone local, simply because of developed expertise in those institutions and the lack thereof in Malaysia.

      At this point, the most likely explanation (from “the Pilot”) is massive electrical/mechanical failure, but malevolent intent can’t yet be ruled out either.

      It would really help us if the Malaysian authorities would
      1) SHARE what they know, and
      2) BE RELIABLE in what they tell the world.
      Those two things would help a LOT.

  143. John says:

    Surely the American military, with all their assets, can pinpoint exactly where this plane went down. Or are we to believe that a missile, launched from this part of the world, would not be detected. No doubt that would keep North Korea very happy. Its time that the US gave real positions, they don’t need to give us the pictures.

  144. […] The Mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 […]

  145. Steve says:

    I do agree with you guys that the transponder is the big mystery. Could a pilot being starved of oxygen turn it off by mistake?

    Taken on its own merit, the transponder stopping suggests either a hijacking or explosion but there’s no evidence for those. No debris anywhere near the plane’s last known position and no public statements or demands from any terrorist organisation, and I presume publicity would have been the prime goal of any alleged bad guys.

    Regarding the Malaysian military denying the earlier radar reports, it might be a case of them not wanting their neighbours to know what capabilities the radar has (or doesn’t have).

    I still think the plane came down west, possibly far to the west, of Malaysia but I suppose anything is possible.

  146. Yvonne says:

    Has anyone considered that the captain was being blackmailed?

    He left Malaysian airspace, did not proceed on flight plan and all communication apparatus ceased to be operating.

    Apparently the engines continued for another four hours.

    From what I have read the flight altitude dropped enough to evade radar but not enough to counter a decompression effect.

  147. Pelegrin says:

    Holy crap! Just when it seemed that this might be getting close to a close with those satellite images from China.

    So guys, how about this… The pilots appeared to have closed down their normal communications at night shortly before the plane went off radar. Could it be possible to assume that flying at that hour and at altitude that then the pilots might not try to communicate with the ground until they got near to Beijing or at least into Chinese territory? If so, then just perhaps they never new that the plane had lost its capability to communicate with the ground until they next tried to communicate with the ground; and by then it might have been too late to turn back to home base, KL. So there they are, flying somewhere over the South China Sea or over China and they can’t communicate.

    Really though, that idea seems ridiculous, because certainly somehow they could’ve found a way to communicate with all the communication devices that would’ve been on board that plane.

    It seems that the theory which was being discussed yesterday on here, that all on board had become incapacitated by a loss of oxygen, and the plane flew for hours until it finally went down on its own from being out of fuel. If it flew on its route, it would’ve went down somewhere north of Beijing. Would China have not noticed or allowed an aircraft flying over its territory without communication with the ground? Or, Flight 370 was in fact that plane observed on Malaysian military radar flying over Malacca Strait in almost the opposite direction, probably after a failed attempt to get back to KL. The plane is in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

  148. Yvonne says:

    Meant to say that maybe this was all planned from the start? The plane with it’s passengers could be ok but in the hands of god knows who…..

    Now the Malays say the latest debris spotted is nothing to do with the missing plane……

  149. I have a question in mind that the numbers have given by the airline authority of Malaysia doesn’t work in emergency situations. It is too frustrating time for a family person.

  150. DS Ullman says:

    Yeah, point four is far to specific. You might or might not be able to identify the sex of the person who briefly mumbled over the radio but you are not likely to be identify the person unless A) you know them AND B) they have a very unique voice pitch.

  151. […] Ask The Pilot: The Mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 — “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.” […]

  152. markmongold says:

    Mobile phones require cell towers within a few miles to operate. No cell towers mid ocean! Inflight cell phone systems require a satcom link system installed on the plane. No system was on this plane and even if there was, a catastrophic electrical failure that would knock out the cockpit HF and/or satcom systems as well as transponder would also most likely kill any inflight cell relay system.

  153. Richard says:

    So my understanding of ACARS is that the ground networks that collect the data and, according to wiki, there are two (ARINC and SITA), provide the data to interested parties for a fee. Given the fact that there’s not yet a lot of direct competition and ultimately not a lot of potential customers, I imagine the fees might be quite high. Thus it seems possible that some airlines may go without ACARS streams and/or have only “basic” plans if there are such things. After all there are a lot of more traditional ways to keep track of their equipment.

    BTW, they have considered increasing the capability of ACARS to be be more like an instantaneous “black box” but the cost/benefit is apparently not good at present.

  154. Pelegrin says:

    Why are Malaysian officials disputing the report that the plane kept flying for 4 or 5 hours? The report mentioned by the Wall Street Journal appears to be quite official regarding US investigators. So what evidence do Malaysian officials have to dispute that report?

    • Richard says:

      Yes, except no named officials. I get that papers want to first but this constant citing of people unwilling to back up their statements with their names has gotten to the point of ridiculousness.

      But it is a little weird that the WSJ piece says engine data was transmitted for hours while in another report Rolls Royce said they received only two ACARS messages, both before the disappearance. The gulf between that reporting is a mile wide.

      • Nicholas Robinson says:

        I find it also amazing that the main players here: Boeing, Rolls Royce and other manufacturers connected with the 777 are not only NOT stepping up to the plate to defend either themselves or their products, but are actually keeping as silent as possible. Holding any cards that *might* point to failures on any of their equipments’ parts to protect their reputations.

        Like the A-380 explosion of the Rolls-Royce Trent engine on the Qantas plane several hers ago, Rolls Royce chose, in lieu of stepping to the front of the fray and participating in the general uproar surrounding the incident, instead decided to “withhold all comment,” which extended to not participating in any way in several investigative journals-type stories done by various media about the incident.

        Hiding behind Mummy’s dress when things you might have been responsible for did (I love this euphemism) not “turn out necessarily to your favor” — is not only cowardly, but it’s totally counter-productive to your image as a world-class provider of technology that fuels our confidence in today’s aviation industry.

        In my mind at least, Rolls Royce took an indelible hit for that one — I will personally never view them in the same hallowed light again that I once saw them in. And no amount of backpedalling after the fact will save them from that initial “guilty” stance — it’s reminiscent of the worst pathetic denials of wrongdoing by politicians or even nations when the facts quite obviously point to their obvious complicity in the whole affair.

        Deny deny deny is going to get you exactly NOWHERE. Well, it WILL get you somewhere — in MY black books, at least. It’s especially galling when no one is outright accusing you of ANYTHING, yet you set the denial machine into operation anyway. Rolls Royce or Boeing should have absolutely NOTHING to hide in this saga. Why then, are they not putting their engineers alongside the talking heads on these news shows to explain some things about the equipment THEY manufactured? It would not only remove suspicions as to the reliability of their product but actually lend a humanitarian spin to their respective images — and I don’t know many large corporations who are very good at projecting any sort of “humanitarian spin.”

        Instead, they dig their graves deeper with every missed opportunity to come out and explain — or at the very least, PARTICIPATE — in this mind-numbing and soul-shattering process of finding this thing.

        So, RR, makers of the vaunted Trent engine, can you tell us a little bit more in detail just what this noise is about your engines reporting back to base every thirty minutes, instead of hiding behind your corporate curtain and insisting you have nothing to do with anything? On the contrary, this case may HINGE upon your machinery, so, umm, what’s up, anyways?

        And Boeing: I think they’re a step above Airbus in the Blame Game but still, it’s not enough. Their frantic denials and mindless reassurances in the wake of the 787 debacle said *not much* about their corporate ethics, and I would expect that in THIS case, in which NO ONE is pointing any fingers at any failure of the 777 — far from it — indeed, inordinate amounts of praise are showering forth from all quarters — why aren’t THEIR panel of experts participating along with all the retired FAA and NTSB guys and gals on all these talk shows? It would most definitely give them some credibility, if not show off their unquestioning support for the devastated families of the now-certainly deceased aboard the plane that rolled out onto the tarmac of THEIR FACILITIES in Seattle not so many decades ago.

        In this case, regrettably, their silence shrieks volumes.

        • Nicholas Robinson says:

          Sorry, my “auto-complete” gets it wrong almost as often as news sources about this missing plane. I hereby take full responsibility for my computer’s missed steaks.

        • AmandaM says:

          Regarding Rolls’ “silence” on the ACARS issue:

          Form what I understand, both Boeing and Rolls are prohibited by international law from revealing the contents of the ACARS reports to anyone other than investigation officials, in an emergency situation. (I presume this is to prevent them from holding the info “hostage” to the highest media bidder.)

          It seems to be standard procedure for these situations for the spokespeople from Boeing, etc to say “We can’t comment” because legally they cannot. The Malaysian government has repeatedly said that they are working closely with Boeing and Rolls, to figure out if the ACARS data gives any clues to this mystery.

          Rolls has done nothing wrong. Neither has Boeing, in terms of the ACARS data. They are following the law and assisting the investigation.

  155. JCL says:

    Several posts have directly mentioned or alluded to a cockpit electrical fire, such as the Egyptian Air in July 2011. Presumably all airlines certified that nonconductive material was in place to prevent another fire.
    Let me ask this: if another cause for an ignition in the cockpit forced pilot and first officer to instinctively and immediately evacuate because of intense heat or flames, then shut the reinforced door behind them, could the plane have continued flying? Is the cpu in a separate compartment? the oil rig worker saw a flaming object in the sky, then the flames faded. Could the aircraft’s nose area have burned without compromising structural integrity for the fuselage and wings? Could overheated circuitry have commanded autopilot to turn? Are there any avionics technicians or aeronautical engineers reading these posts? Or is that for another website?

  156. Mick says:

    The ACARS data is TX using VHF HF or Satellite up-link.
    I dont believe this Plane had or used the Sat up-link option.
    Just because the ACARS base station did not pick up the TX from ACARS does not mean it was not sent and picked up by US Intel, Spy Sats or other listening posts.
    US could also pick up any passenger cell phone TX from this plane, even though out of range of cellphone base stations.
    Sounds like US Intel knows the plane flew for 4-5 hours and have a rough idea of where it’s ended up in the Indian Ocean.
    We only have a vague idea as to capabilities of US Spy Sats and no doubt the USA is keen to give us as little clue as possible as to their true capabilities.
    No doubt time will tell.

  157. fiona says:

    I’d expect wsj checked their sources. but — be nice if they sources were rechecked.

    those Malaysians sure are in the spotlight!! their gov got a goofy way of relaying information. just deny deny — but don’t explain the contradiction. I’m going to go out on a limb here and call it very annoying.

    they got some quote out ” it’s only confusing if you want to see it as being confusing’.”

    only the way they said it is more confusing than that I can’t qiote remember. haha. ahhh.

    my theory is still — kidnapping. but there might be all sorts of political dynamics that have nothing to do with us or iran or any country i can even guess — this could have to do with Malaysia itself … all i can say is i’m engrossed in the mystery and i love feeling somehow they might all still be alive.

    • Yvonne says:

      Me too Fiona. This is all pointing to a well planned operation…… I do hope the mystery will be resolved soon.

  158. fiona says:

    what I don’t get about the wsj report is this: if they got engine data every thirty minutes how can they say they plane flew for 5 hours. data that comes thirty minute intervals is always going to give you a window of 29 minutes when you don’t know if the engine was still going or not. unless the final data involves the stopping of the engine.

    otherwise the only way to ulatlize the info (I would think) is to say the plane flew for at least 5 hours but at 5 1/2 hours the engine did not send data so we believe the plane engine ceased functioning or was nolonger in use sometime between five and five and a half hours after takeoff.

    • Yvonne says:

      Presumably the engines stopped after 5 hours which could mean on landing or ditching……. Either way if this source is reliable then all the searching in the areas at the moment is a waste of time.

      I can’t help feeling that someone knows but we are not being told.

      Starting to feel like the start of a James bond film.

      • fiona says:

        ya. I wish Liam neison was on that plane.

        • Yvonne says:

          There were some folk with lots of very useful knowledge though……. I can’t imagine how awful this is for all the families waiting and waiting…… If we all feel frustrated with this mystery how must they feel?

          Please God we all get answers soon.

      • Nicholas Robinson says:

        My God, that is EXACTLY how I felt a couple of days ago . . . that the mysterious Dr. Don’tknow sand his evil minions have somehow diverted MH370 off its intend flight path and into his secret hangar on a desolate island in the New Hebrides.

        I can almost see Sean Connery up there, just having pulled off his tuxedo to reveal his black skin-tight dry suit, binoculars in hand, way up above the aircraft in a convenient cubbyhole in the dark walls of the monstrous cavern, watching the technicians in their white suits scurry to and fro all over the aircraft, which is in impeccable shape after being falsely laser-guided into landing on the well-hidden 6,000 foot landing strip on Don’tknow’s mysterious island.

        Now all we need to know is what evil intentions Don’tknow has for the plane, and whether Sean will be able to thwart them . . . next up, the sharkquarium!

  159. RedTrack.ME says:

    […] The Mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 […]

  160. Nicholas Robinson says:

    I’m so sure that when the truths finally come out — that the wreckage is finally found on the side of some misbegotten hillside of a dense rain forest where no one at all expected it to be, and the FDRs have been examined, everyone is going to just walk on home, shoulders hunched, saying something like “I KNEW it was going to be something mundane like this.”

    But as I said in an earlier, rambling and somewhat hysterical comment (at least three days ago now — seems like a century!) the aviation community must somehow take this as a massive wake-up call. This doesn’t just apply to the Asian side of things, even though I believe I noted that in the Asian area alone, the number of people getting on planes is expected to double or triple in the next ten years or so (sorry if my numbers are not accurate, but you get the idea) — it’s just that this kind of thing, as inconceivable as it might be to us all over the world, no matter what nationality — must not be allowed to be able to occur in ANY MANNER WHATSOEVER. From the insidious apparent bungling of all the “authorities” involved –and if one looked at this incident with a jaundiced eye, one would have to seriously call into question these people’s designations as legitimate “authorities” — one must be resigned to admitting that no matter WHAT happened to this plane, the “powers-that-be” are sorely inadequate to the task of finding a crashed Hindenburg or a Titanic, let alone this instrument-bristling marvel of modern technology.

    It is truly a sad commentary on the ability — and I don’t want to point any fingers, but let’s just call them “the folk who reside east of Katmandu” — of these people to get a handle on ANYTHING, let alone the whereabouts of the plane. They are simply too busy stepping on each other’s feet, criticizing and contradicting each other’s findings, and just generally squabbling like a pack of schoolchildren when what they should be doing is coming together in a visibly united front, a damn-the-torpedoes, we’re-all-in-this-together sort of thing that at this point in time seems like a Disney fable.

    The plane WILL be found. We WILL find out what happened to it. But meanwhile, the circus surrounding the search is not a great commentary on our supposedly “technologically advanced” 21st Century achievements.

    I don’t even want to wander into the territory of what all this must be like for the relatives. I wish there were some unified address where we public Joes could at least send our wishes of support and encouragement. I have no idea what mood I would be in if one or several of my family were in that plane, but it would probably really make a big difference to me knowing that a whole bunch of strangers from all over the world were pulling for me and not letting me feel how alone I would most undoubtedly feel at this moment.

    • Pelegrin says:

      In some ways, I think many expect more from our modern technology than what actually exists. And I don’t necessarily think that the Malaysian government has been stumbling all of itself. I think it’s simply been trying not to give public expectation one way or another until it has confirmation, one way or another, that something is true.

      Now yes, I do think that there are or certainly could be technological resources that could be used to help find this plane, but in the area of such potential technology a lot of it is secret, and those in charge of it probably aren’t going to let it out of the bag in order to resolve some case of a missing airplane, no matter that there were 239 people on board. They look at what they think is “the bigger picture” and that is of keeping the black cat in the box. But part of what’s been happening here, and making all sides look bad, is that ideas might be being leaked out which are intended to get people looking in the right direction, but without making it official. The Malaysian military obviously did that with the first hints that the plane was possibly seen on the west side of the peninsula, but that was small fry compared to any information that US intelligence might possibly be leaking out.

      No matter though how much intelligence actually exists, there is still a vast area, oceans and jungles, and that’s not even to consider some hijacking the plane that could’ve taken it and hidden it some place, which this plane could’ve disappeared into. And there are literally thousands of planes in the air at any one time; and with most of them being commercial airliners, I’m sure that no intelligence anywhere in the world is watching every single aircraft at every minute of its flight. If satellites functioned like radar, which as far as I know (Haha) they do not, then perhaps there could be an eventually assembled map of information regarding where this plane headed, but still that would mean checking virtually every single blimp in the general area and trying to pin-point what it related to, and slowly eliminating all until you have the only ones left that could be the trajectory of this flight.

      This plane disappeared at what is considered to be it’s time of being most safe, but also at it’s time of being most invisible to track if some part of it’s tracking capabilities malfunctioned or was deliberately turned off. Does that make it possible to find a way to find it, NO. But it shouldn’t in any way be considered easy. And the fact that it did happen at that apparently safest part of the flight, when the flight could be at its most invisible, doesn’t make it any more suspicious. It just tells us that there is no certainty of anything. These are still machines which can go afoul or human error can still happen.

      We are not quite perfect yet, and in so many ways!

  161. fiona says:

    I wonder if the pilot was suicidal . it’s pure speculation — he looks harmless and normal/ and his final comment is so benine. but– it’s a little like some parent calmly driving their family into the ocean/

    just choose – turn — set the course — and let it happen.

    the fact that the new course happened just at the moment between being in communication with Malaysia and China — I think that was strategic/as it was so effective – to literally slip under the radar like that at the most opportune time to to deflect tracking.

    I would think only the pilot or somebody equally knowledgeable and privy to this exact flight could execute that timing of flipping off communication/ if it wasn’t the pilot the sabatour(s) would also have to gain access and controll right after the pilot said goodnight and right before the ideal moment to shut off communication. that’s like hitting the moon with an arrow, twice in a row IMO.

    I think the pilot did this. either the pilot or the co-pilot and I don’t know what the other was doing.

    that “alright, goodnight” was no — nothing– as last words — I was frustrated to be be able to place meaning on it — but now I see — it meant the person saying it was not under duress. and yet communication was switched off moments later. if there was a sudden explosion – then thats not suspicious — but now that it’s looking like the plane continued to fly for at least an hour of rour more — speaking calmly right before communication got shut off — suddenly becomes suspicious.

  162. Radaan says:

    Ugh…all the uninformed speculation. I’m with the person that said when this is over…and the plane is found…all the theories…all the ‘brilliant ideas’ will all be seen as a foolish waste of time.

    • Yvonne says:

      Not a waste of time, if people didn’t speculate and ask the questions we would be machines……. Operated by the “instructors “

  163. Radaan says:

    My last message came across a little mean. Although I guess it’s somewhat fun to speculate…some of these come across as ‘Here is what happened’…and to state the truth…no one on this blog knows. I think someone does…but no one here. Its all guesswork…

    • Yvonne says:

      We agree on that then, yes someone knows and not just the crew…… That’s why we all need to push for answers.

      Not inclined to believe the malaysians are so incompetant………. But feel they are desperate to save face.

    • fiona says:

      agreed enough to say — yes, I don’t know. maybe I should add that more clearly each time.

      but I want to know. I want to know so much that I cannot stop speculating.

      though — whatever —- to say we can’t know is about as true.

    • Richard says:

      Ultimately we are all pretty helpless in being able to do something meaningful (though if we had a general area, the crowdsourcing of scanning sat images could be helpful). I’d say most people are inclined to want contribute and be useful in the face of tragedy. So I think there’s a certain therapeutic aspect to these discussions in terms of dealing with the feelings of helplessness.

      And, of course, there is also the mystery aspect, which is perhaps a more selfish motivation. But it is human.

  164. […] The Mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 […]

  165. fiona says:

    how do you not speculate on a mystery of this scope????

    to me it’s human nature to want to solve the puzzle with whatever info you can get your hands on –

  166. Pelegrin says:

    Replied to Nicholas Robinson, but the comments are meant for all of us who are obviously interesting and following this story.

  167. Pelegrin says:

    … interest in… and following this story.

    Really have to be careful on this site, since there is not editing feature.

  168. Radaan says:

    Understood…I’m interested too. I guess I just don’t get it. There is a lot of speculation…and yes it is fun…but it’s all based on what ‘facts’ we think we know…when in fact…due to how all this is coming out…do we really have ‘any’ facts (other than a plane is missing)? Every day we’re told this…then get that reversed the next day. It’s all so convoluted…I’m beginning to question everything…and I mean everything…other than the one fact that flight 370 didn’t make it to Beijing.

    • fiona says:

      I think thats good detective thinking — to question everything.

      I also think it may be a clue that some of the information is discounted. i’m not sure what it means — but there could turn out to be information in the denials as much as in the evidence.

  169. fiona says:

    I’d be interesrted to know if pilot had any sad or angering stuff going on in his life. — very sad I know a man his same age actually resembles him a tad bt and just got diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, — mild boggling even beyond physically – emotionally for him/

    it’s in back of my mind — could some devasting news like this have set this pilot into a psychological place where — he wanted to take plane with him. could have been so many things.

    total speculation. but pics of his don’t show family. perhaps he had too little support for whatever turn of events he was facing/ perhaps it was llittle more than compounding lonliness.

    • Rod says:

      Well, a Singaporean 737 crashed in Sumatra some years ago, and the consensus was it was pilot suicide (financial troubles, etc. etc.). That conclusion suited everybody, especially Boeing.

      It took some very determined detective work and general tree-shaking to reveal, in the end, that it was a fault in the 737.

      Dozens, if not hundreds, of scenarios are possible. At this point they are all equally valid/invalid.

  170. Pelegrin says:

    If in fact there was no tracking information from the plane received after 1:07 a.m. Saturday, as Rolls-Royce and Boeing have reported directly to Malaysia Airlines…
    [Quote]But Malaysia Airlines Chief Executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said Thursday that Rolls-Royce and Boeing have reported that they didn’t receive transmissions of any kind after 1:07 a.m. Saturday. Air traffic controllers lost contact with the plane shortly afterward, around 1:30 a.m.[Quote]…
    And that sort of tracking information is received every 30 minutes, then the last moments the plane’s engines could’ve been working would have to have been at 1:36am. That also means that the plane could not have been that with was spotted on radar over Malacca Strait, and it means that the plane must be somewhere in the waters of the Gulf of Thailand.

    If that data is correct and reliable, then there is no other possibility! The plane was over the Gulf at 1:30am, it could not have gone anywhere at significant distance in 6 minutes.

  171. Zach says:

    Clarification and further insight from the WSJ reporter:

    http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2014/03/13/malaysia-plane-pasztor

    • fiona says:

      thanks for posting! just listened.

      so sounds like it was a technicality malasia was objecting to — not the gyst of the onfo.

      i wonder if they suspect it landed because they can see indicative-of-landing data. i feel they’d have to have some speciic reason to think it landed rather than crashed – other than just that it flew for a few more hours.

    • Richard says:

      That was incredibly helpful. So it seems this may not be ACARS data specifically since such data is very simple and coherent and wouldn’t take any time to analyze. The satellites must be processing a more raw form of data transmission directly from the engines that probably gets processed into ACARS before being sent out. Which suggest ACARS transmission was out like the transponder.

      The one criticism I would have of the reporter is that I would not have passed through the speculation about landing if only for unfairly getting the hopes up for the families.

  172. fiona says:

    I think the Malaysians are lying when they say the rolls royse data does not exist. I think this because rolls royse now says they are not allowed to comment due to status of investigation. IF they agreed with the Malaysians surely they would be allowed to confirm the statement that the Malaysians are making.

    & I think it’s meaningful that the Malaysinans want this info suppressed.

    I SUSPECT it’s because they suspect something they don’t want publicized, something that would put them at fault — like pilot suicide. but now I’m leading the evidence to mean what i want it to mean — still that’s what i think

    • Pelegrin says:

      That’s all extremely short-sighted, and I don’t think anyone directly involved in this search is that naive. Eventually the plane will be found and the story will come out. I think that Malaysians don’t like that they’re being kept in the dark about certain intelligence information, and that these pieces of info are being released to the public before they hear about them directly. And then, when they ask directly, they’re getting different information, and all they’re doing is telling the public the official story as they have it, not stories with speculative or secret sources that they themselves have not confirmed.

      • fiona says:

        hmm. i dunno. they are being very misleading to say only “that’s not accurate” instead of saying — that’s partically true and partially not here’s exactly why. …

        but as I’ve been readin it’s kinda the nature of their gov to communicate like they are, with controll a priority and trancparency out the window. so maybe it’s not as significant as I see it to be. our gov has plenty of issues in communicating to public too, sure every gov does. dunnnnnnooooooo

        • Pelegrin says:

          It’s only merely a government thing in most cases, but rather a cultural thing. I believe the idea is that they are the authorities in charge and that they should principally be communicating to the public only what is confirmed and official. And that other such sources are inappropriate to communicate certain information directly and not through official channels.

          Not saying that’s my perspective about how things should always be done, but that it’s probably how the Malaysians view it.

  173. Pelegrin says:

    I’m sure that US intelligence and investigators would like nothing more than to be able cut Malaysian authorities out of the information loop except for finite information regarding where the plane will ultimately be found, when it’s found.

  174. Yvonne says:

    Heh Nicholas, don’t mock…….. US intelligence will be thinking along this lines. That’s for sure.

    Every possibility is being considered……….

  175. fiona says:

    I’m kinda getting ove my pilot suicide idea. I just can’t figure it with the co-pilot and crew present – and such a long term descent.

    I am right now realizing — it’s not that tere are a number of possibilities — it’s more that zero explanation really perfectly fits.

    or at least close to zero/

  176. Rod says:

    That’s a good point. In East Asia you should always be careful not to cause someone to lose face. Bad reactions. And a US media source revealing dynamite information might be viewed as just that.

    • StevenSG says:

      Hi Rod –

      As someone living in Singapore/Malaysia I felt the need to clarify a couple of points:

      1) Malaysia IS NOT East Asia; crony-capitalist Malaysia and state-owned Malaysia Air Lines are dominated by ethnic Malays, which by constitutional definition(!) are Muslim (NB the Muslim surnames of the Pilot and co-pilot). [Going from the manifest, roughly half of the rest of the flight crew was Malay/Muslim, the other half was Malaysian of Chinese descent (which makes sense when flying to Beijing).]

      2) The Malaysian government ARE afraid of looking like idiots, though, and since there is no press freedom in Malaysia they are accustomed to dealing with a lap-dog, state-controlled “Press” that doesn’t ask difficult questions. (This is why so many Malaysians get their news elsewhere.)

      3) Malay Malaysians are culturally isolated and speak mostly inside their own echo-chamber, with little regard to what happens outside it (aside from English Premier League football, which is what they have instead of their own sports leagues).

      4) Trying to get a straight story from a Malaysian reminds me of this saying:
      “Never try to teach a mule to sing; it wastes time and annoys the mule” (ok, so I paraphrased because of locally-defined animal animosities).

      What do these things mean for the search for MH370?
      That regardless of what happened to the airplane, the Malaysian military/government is not institutionally prepared to or capable of providing intelligent, timely, thoughtful, confirmable information to the Malaysian public, let alone to the Chinese or the rest of the world.

      Not sure that everyone will think these points illuminating, but felt that they needed to be added into the equation.

      • Richard says:

        Thanks! The cultural insight is useful!

      • fiona says:

        so helpful!!

      • Rod says:

        I do know Malaysia and where it is. And even if the Chinese portion of the population is lower than it used to be, I would say that you should exercise the same face-saving caution that you would in any other “Confucian-influenced” society. (That goes triple for Singapore.)

        So “looking like an idiot” is certainly losing face. And to have a bunch of foreigners correcting all your false leads and contradictory statements must be kinda embarrassing.

  177. Yvonne says:

    Someone must be getting the facts……… Press releases are not to be trusted.

    When a flight goes missing it usually means an accident, hijacking or terrorism.

    This one is missing thts for sure.

    No evidence of an accident and hijackers would be letting the world know by now.

    Let’s assume it is not missing……. Just mislaid….. Hope so.

  178. Rod says:

    What the hell? The above was supposed to be a reply to Pelegrin’s reply to fiona.

  179. fiona says:

    what my brain is stuck on now: these pings lasted for ~four hours. and could have come from plane while in air or on land. so plance could have still been flying or landed during that time window.

    …….what would cause the pings to stop after five hours? are destructio or submersion the only things ? or could it be merely lack of use?

    • Yvonne says:

      The pings come from the engines whilst they are running.

      This gives the maintenance guys a diary of the engine to see if it needs attention anywhere.

    • Pelegrin says:

      But apparently that story has now been denied, fiona. Malaysian authorities have said that Rolls-Royse have told them that it was an inaccurate report by the Wall Street Journal.

      And again, if that is true, that the last signal from the engines was received by Rolls-Royce at 1:07, and such signals are received at 30 minute intervals, then the plane’s engines had to have stopped before 1:37. That leaves a 6-7 minute window between when the plane was last detected on radar over the Gulf of Thailand and when the engines must have cut out. And that’s not enough time for the plane to pass over to the Malacca Strait. The plane must be in the Gulf of Thailand, if this info/data is true.

      • fiona says:

        I don’t think they denied it unilaterally, just said it was inaccurate. the wsj journalist explained the inaccuracy — and went on to explain the several hours of pings is still valid .

        I’m inclined to believe the wsj here — esp when they take time to confirm

  180. fiona says:

    OMG I have to get back to work. i have too much of an addiction to mystery.

    i hope they are all found safe. I hope they all just took some crazy mushrooms and forgot which way was which. and they landed safely on some island with lots of coconuts thinking it was the moon/ and about the time they sober up we will find them and everything will be ok/

  181. George says:

    How much truth is in this:

    Radar Playback of the Moment Malaysia Flight 370 Vanished!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5JpbZZKqxy0

    • Rod says:

      It shows the transponder ceasing operation. Maybe. This program is highly unreliable and continually shows aircraft disappearing then reappearing. I’m enough of a geek to watch it occasionally. :-)

  182. Gen says:

    New to this discussion, but I have been confounded, captivated and completely perplexed by Flight 370. After obsessively reading everything I can online, I really believe that the plane landed somewhere remote and is going to be used for something other than its intended purpose. BTW, has anyone considered the passengers may be being held hostage with strict orders to the Malay government to keep it quiet? I don’t know… I just can’t grasp a complete disappearance!

    • Rod says:

      OK, here’s a bit of completely idol speculation:
      The North Koreans somehow ‘turned’ one of the pilots (say through blackmail) and the plane + passengers are now in North Korea. That would sort of match the four hours of continued engine operation (if indeed that is true).

      Wouldn’t be the first time the North Koreans have abducted people.

      Of course, this could presumably be checked on primary radar records.

  183. stacy d says:

    I don’t know if this question has been addressed/answered here, but I want to know why pilots even have the ability to turn off the transponder? How is it possible, in this day and age, that there isn’t something on that aircraft constantly sending data. If the transponder couldn’t be turned off, even by desire or force, we would know where that plane is, correct?

  184. fiona says:

    im no expert bt I asked that somewhere before and I was told that power could be scarse in an emergency — so they keep the option to eliminate all but the most essential use for it. which I guess would be flying while not talking about it,

    • stacy d says:

      Good point. But how much power would that thing need? Maybe more than I think. But with its importance, I would think it would have a battery back-up or be backed up by all of the other redundancies in an aircraft.

  185. Zach says:

    http://abcnews.go.com/International/us-officials-malaysia-airline-crashed-indian-ocean/story?id=22894802

    Two U.S. officials tell ABC News the U.S. believes that the shutdown of two communication systems happened separately on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. One source said this indicates the plane did not come out of the sky because of a catastrophic failure.

    “The data reporting system, they believe, was shut down 1:07 a.m. The transponder — which transmits location and altitude — shut down at 1:21 a.m.

    This indicates it may well have been a deliberate act, ABC News aviation consultant John Nance said.”

    • fiona says:

      wow. it’s been looking deliberate for while but when they say it officially it gets more …. wow.

      MAYBE it was an attempted hijacking/terrorism and the pilots chose to take the plane out of contact and down rather than let the terrorists start a war.

      however — I get so tripped up that it happened RIGHT after signing off from Malaysian contact and before Chinese — seems only person why could have chose that precise timing is pilot.

    • billbai says:

      if the turning off of the data system and transponder was deliberate, then they kind of made a mistake of first turning the plane around before turning off the transponder, which indicates that things didnt go so smoothly. For example, plane turns off data system, informs the cabin that they will be turning around, then there is some disturbance which distracts the pilot from first turning off transponder before turning the plane around. I mean that transponder was turned off pretty quickly after the plane started turning. It was like the pilot and co-pilot were working together, one was turning off the things and when they started turning and asked each other to confirm if the transponder was turned off, they suddenly did it and said on “gees, now they’ll be on to us.” I then wonder how that fact could have affected the rest of their plan.

      • fiona says:

        that;s a good point — from that poerspective it looks more like problem solving in moment of crisis than anything sinister

  186. fiona says:

    if the pilot or somebody else’s goal was just to crash the plane — I see no reason to take time to cut off all communication. just get on with crashing the plane.

    I think whoever masterminded the cutting off of communication either intended to foil a terrorists ability to communicate with the greater world — which possibly did then result in a crash.

    OR they intended to take the plane somwhere without being discovered. and they intended to survive.

    given the controlled timing of the shut off — for maximum confusion — I’d suspect the plane was then meant to be landed somewhere.

  187. J. Douglas says:

    I read somewhere (here?) that one of the pilots had a flight simulator program of his own, and it included the 777. He could have practiced the following scenario:

    1: Immediately upon takeoff, inform passengers in-flight web and wifi are down due to technical issues and apologize for the inconvenience.

    2: Once out over open waters, turn off transponders, gently descend below radar altitudes and set a new course. No passengers would notice as it is night and thus dark outside. Navigation by simple charts, a ruler, and a calculator would not be impossible, man has been doing it for hundreds of years. Just need to know where you are, how fast you are going, and where you want to go.

    3: There are old airstrips in the region, abandoned after WWII, big enough to land a 777, and big enough for takeoff. These jets can use, and are designed to use, radio guidance systems for landing. Setting one up would probably not be that difficult for someone with access to the technology. As the plane approaches, simple radio communication is established with the “ground crew,” on an oddball pre-arranged frequency, and the system is activated.

    4: Plane lands, camouflaged to look like jungle, while real jungle provides cover for hijackers and the ground crew.

    5: Plane “repurposed” to be weapon delivery system.

    It may sound farfetched, but it is possible. It is amazing what determined people can pull off, history is full of such stories.

    And no one on September 10, 2001 thought 4 jets could be simultaneously hijacked and used as cruise missiles.

    • Patrick says:

      I disagree with this. The “beauty” of the 9/11 scheme was that it was so basic, so low-tech, and so EASY to pull off. The only weapon they really needed was the element of surprise. This other idea is so fraught with complications, logistical and technological…

    • billbai says:

      Sure maybe the passengers were asleep and might not have noticed, but it is highly unlikely that the entire plane crew was in on it and not have noticed the deviation from flight path. What is the protocol for the stewards if they feel the pilot is out of control? Well, I guess contacting the air traffic control tower directly would have been the first impulse, but the data sender was turned off, so what was their alternative, storm the cockpit, struggle…? If so, passengers would have gotten involved too, in which case the plane would have had to destabilize pressure in order to disorient them, right?

  188. Pelegrin says:

    “The data reporting system, they believe, was shut down 1:07 a.m. The transponder — which transmits location and altitude — shut down at 1:21 a.m.

    This indicates it may well have been a deliberate act, ABC News aviation consultant John Nance said.”

    That info is just wrong! The 1:07 time refers to the last signal that Rolls Royce received from the engines (at least the last official report from Rolls Royce to Malaysian Airlines), and they’ve said that they receive those signals from their engines, if running, every 30 minutes. No one “shut down” anything at 1:07, it was just the time of the last received signal.

    Then at 1:30, or 1:21, whichever, was the last location received from the transponder.

    That means, if Rolls Royce did in fact not receive another signal from the engine after 1:07 that something happened to the plane sometime between 1:21/1:30 and 1:37 when the next signal would’ve been received by Rolls Royce.

    The big issue right now is the contradictory info that’s floating around the Internet… Did Rolls Royce receive more signals from the plane’s engines for some hours after the transponder stopped sending location info, or did they not receive more signals after 1:07, which is what they’ve officially told Malaysian Airlines.

  189. Pelegrin says:

    Right now this is hinging on whether or not Rolls Royce and Boeing received more signals from the planes engines after 1:07am or Not. The only other possibility there could be is if there is some technology which could somehow block that signal; I cannot imagine any way the signal could be turned off unless the engines themselves are turned off.

    If more signals were received, then the plane could be anywhere that it would have potential to fly until the last signal was received. If no more signals were received, the plane is somewhere at the bottom of the Gulf of Thailand.

    At least that’s what I’m going by until I read somewhere that there is some other possible explanation.

  190. Pelegrin says:

    I don’t know why some people seem to get so excited whenever there’s some idea of a terrorist, or hijacking, or sabotage angle. I personally just want them to find the plane, as soon as they possibly can.

  191. fiona says:

    this “jet saved for later use” idea doesn’t really work for me either. you better bet moment that plane gets on any radar the world will be on it. and if they don’t give an explanation for themselves instantly they’ll be taken down in seconds.

    I don’t know if it was something/one on board or some other goal but I don’t think it was literally the jet. I think taking the jet was a means to an end.

    & yeah the captain was said to have a flight simulator at his home. I suppose that means he could have been practicing this.

  192. fiona says:

    if somebody was in controll – rather than it being an accident – it means the plance might have been landed somewhere and people may still be alive. and there is still a chance to save them. that’s pretty exciting.

  193. Kiwi Avionics Geek says:

    There are many theories and much speculation, and I try not to comment on them. But, here’s my conspiracy theory using what little factual information had been supplied by the media:

    I believe it is possible that MH 370 may have been stolen. For what purposes? Terrorism obviously springs to mind.

    If you were the leader of a terrorist organisation and wanted to steal a large commercial aircraft to re-enact a Sept 11 event how would you do it?

    First you would need a pilot or pilots. You could train your own pilots or convert, bribe, coerce existing pilots to your cause. The second option is much more attractive especially if they are already working in an airline and have security clearances etc.

    Okay, so now you have your pilot(s) behind the controls of Boeing 777 on a ‘red-eye’ flight. When is the best time to make your aircraft disappear? Obviously as the aircraft passes between two control areas, where ATC of one country are expecting you to disappear off their screens and the ATC of the next country are expecting you to appear (not that I believe it really works like this). So the pilot(s) shut off the transponder, descend and change course knowing they will have about an hour before anybody starts really panicking and searching for them. However shutting down the ACARS and the engine trend monitoring system might prove to be a bit more difficult and with engine data being sent every few hours it could give the game away…

    But how do you deal with 200+ passengers? Easy. While, I’m not familiar with the 777-200, other Boeing aircraft (737 on the P7 C.B Panel if I remember correctly) have a circuit breaker located in the cockpit that deactivates the emergency passenger oxygen system. Pulling this C.B prevents the oxygen masks from automatically deploying once the cabin altitude exceeds approx 14,000ft. Once the passenger oxygen system is deactivated, it is simply matter of manually opening the outflow valve and dumping cabin pressure. Hypoxia will incapacitate everyone in the cabin, while the pilots breath oxygen through their masks which are supplied from a different source. (This scenario could explain why mobile phones have been reported as ringing with no one answering.)

    So now what? The pilots descend to avoid the local primary radar and head towards a ‘friendly’ country. After this, who knows? I would only be writing a Tom Clancy after this point.

    • Ayma says:

      Sadly, I agree with you. I think this is the most plausible explanation considering what we know so far.

      Can anyone clarify how does hypoxia work? How long until you are incapacitated or even dead at 45,000 feet? Could someone sabotage the plane so that oxygen masks weren’t deployed automatically?

      Thanks

  194. rapier says:

    Could the circumstances somehow be explained by a sudden depressurization? Everyone, pilots and all knocked out before they could respond? Seems like a super longshot, with the apparent shutting down of communications systems. Then too where would auto pilot have taken it. Again, long shot but more credible to me on the surface than today’s hot guess, theft.

    • fiona says:

      I keep imagining whole plane flying in air for as long as it can with everybody on plane unconscious.

      however — 14 minutes between turning off one communication device and then another . in a loss of air – -i don’t think you have that much of a tiime frame

      so then i don’t know how that idea makes sense any more

  195. Richard says:

    I think there may be a confusion with ACARS and what the US is reporting. Also, I don’t think ACARS necessarily delivers data on a set schedule rather is it more event driven. The items in ACARS are either errors or summary stats from distinct events. So for example, RR gets a packet about engine performance during take-off then another at the transition to cruise. So the next ACARS to RR, under normal circumstance might have been the transition from cruise to descend. Note also that the pilots can use ACARS to send data, most notably weather events (and receive weather events). I think the pilots can shut down this system if they so choose.

    I think what the US is claiming (and I just heard the White House is confirming US officials do believe the plane might have flown much longer) is that they have (somehow) intercepted raw data from the engines.

    So you have a constant stream of data coming from the engines: rpms, temps, thrust settings, etc that’s a huge amount of data. This gets summarized by ACARS and sent at certain points but the data is being always generated as long as the engines are on. So trying to interpret what the plane is doing (landing, descending, ascending, doing emergency maneuvers) may be hard to discern from the raw steam. Plus, I would guess, like all sat connections, the signal probably drops out here and there creating gaps further complicating interpretation. My guess is, they think they have many hours of recording after the disappearance but are still trying to figure out what they can about the plane’s behavior.

  196. fiona says:

    maybe it was somalian pirates and this was all gonna be for ransom. but once they realized the international military response –they realized they were better off staying hidden.

  197. fiona says:

    It just occured to me there must have been some level of struggle — because the two communication devices got turned off about 7 minutes apart. if the pilot was in full controll mere seconds would have passed between them being turned off — if that. but if somebody was ordering him to do it — he may have stalled, gotten further threatened and than admitted – yes there’s another one – ok – there it’s off as well now.

  198. Gen says:

    I think Kiwi’s conspiracy theory is a real possibility. I think a plane would be worth a lot to a lot of people… I would not be surprised if we discover the plan really has been stolen and the passengers disposed of in a horrible way. I hate to go to the worst case scenario, but I can’t imagine how so many people could remain so hidden for so long.

  199. fiona says:

    apparently US gov suspects same thing — that possibly somebody wanted the jet for later use.

  200. Gen says:

    Wow… But these circumstances? Then again, maybe it crashed before it could reach its final destination. At this rate, anything is possible!

  201. Thanks for the update Patrick. Now there’s a new one to talk about (US Air).

  202. Anton says:

    I am not sure if this has been raised in the comments above, but I do wonder if the captain’s sign-off quoted as “All right, good night” is consistent with his usual practice? If not, it could be suggestive of a flag at third party involvement on the flight deck.

  203. stacy d says:

    From my previous question about why a pilot even has the ability to turn off the transponder, this was on CNN’s website: “There could be several reasons. One reason could be when airplanes get close to each other (perhaps they are approaching an airport). Air traffic controllers may then request pilots to turn the transponders off or to standby. Also, if the transponder is sending faulty information, the pilot might want to turn it off. Planes are still visible on primary radar until they get below the radar’s coverage ability.”

  204. Richard says:

    Yes the plane is worth a lot but only about 1100 exist presently and each one is chock full individually serial numbered parts. I don’t think anyone can just sneak a 777 back into service with a new paint job and a VIN taken from a junkyard. :)

  205. fiona says:

    just watched latest CNN clip. apparently malaysia now confirms series of pings.

    what does not exist tho — is an impact ping.

    which I guess means ther was no point of impact.

  206. Kev says:

    If the plane was carrying 7.5 hours of fuel as previously stated then if the aircraft did indeed fly west it would have to ditch in the Indian Ocean. Why would a probable hijacker fly to his death without declaring to the world of his reasons, unless the aircraft’s fuel tanks were full to capacity on take off (is it possible for someone to clandestinely put extra fuel in, I don’t know) The planes range on full tanks is sixteen hours if reports are to be believed this could take it anywhere e.g. Somalia, Yemen, there plenty of possibilities.

    But the question is would it possible to deceive military air defences. We already know it fooled Malaysian radar, could it deceive Indian military radar? Which brings me to another question. If the aircraft disappeared from civilian radar (due possibly to military radar detecting at lower altitudes, again I don’t know.) I seem to remember the Malaysian minister said “The military did nothing because the radar indicated that it was a commercial aircraft”!!
    How did they know what it was if all communication was supposedly switched off! Red flags should have popping up everywhere.

    So, if somehow they were able to fly below the scope of commercial radar but not the scope of military radar, theoretically it could fly from the east to the west to wherever it wanted to go.

    Far fetched I know but so is disappearing without trace.

  207. J. Douglas says:

    Kiwi ain’t too far off from what I said. The “friendly country” might even be Malaysia itself.

    • backpacker says:

      Yes! (responding to J Douglas).
      I keep thinking that the jet was purposely disappeared rather than crashed. Whenever I see the search arc separated in 2 parts, I cannot help but wonder why they have concluded that it would not be in the middle/central segment of that arc?

      I know, I know, they mention the last ping was 5 hours later–this datapoint determines that arc. But give us all the hourly ACARS datapoints! Perhaps they went out 2 hours into the Indian Ocean and rounded back to Indonesia or Malaysia? Perhaps they landed close and kept the engines running for an additional 4 hours? Either way, these are 2 ways that the engines would provide pings suggesting that it could be 2000 miles away when it might be right in Malay’s backyard under everyone’s nose?

      They keep saying that its unlikely to be in the northern countries thanks to the various radar networks. But India admits that at least in the Andaman Islands, they use the radar on an as-needed basis–so it may not always be monitored or even turned on. Also, it is possible that India, China, or Krygystan, among others, may have been ‘expecting’ that jet. For that matter, don’t count out US at Diego Garcia in the south.

      Too many motives to speculate on, numerous intriguing angles and such, but I am in the crowd that suspects that it has been an intentional act rather than an accidental event.

    • Richard says:

      Have to wonder if that story has been tweaked a bit by authorities. Seems strange the plane had a here-to-for never mentioned capability to ping satellites. More likely, the US has satellites with the technology to ping the plane :)

      Regardless, hopefully the plane’s potential location will become more clear shortly.

  208. fiona says:

    soon five hours of location will be published – I hope.

    I think the plane could have kept going after those five hours. esp since no pings record crash. likely it did.

    there’s got to be a reason why none of the passengers attempted to communicate home.

  209. Kev says:

    Too many inconsistencies with the whole scenario. Sorry to say I have to sign off now and go to my work. It’s been interesting reading everybody’s views on this and the sincerity with which the different views has been expressed. BTW I live and work in KL, so you can imagine the conspiracy theories that are going around here night and day.

  210. Diana from Ojai says:

    I’d like to personally thank PS very kindly for keeping on these updates to his blog. This story keeps getting weirder and weirder (toast to Dr. Hunter S. Thompson), and all us Ask The Pilot wonks are both fortunate and grateful to have our own straight shootin’, honest Injun experienced professional continuously separating the wheat from the chaff. For all the wingnuts & flotsam newly glommed onto our ATP circle, your “kidnap the cloaking software engineers” theory is now running almost neck & neck with “relocate the 777 for nefarious purposes” angle – potentially valid in this ever amping up weirdness – although both seemed highly improbable a few days ago. Add last, say Patrick, care to spin a valid reason Pilot X kept a simulator IN HIS HOUSE? Peace

  211. Nicholas Robinson says:

    Uh . . . all I can say is that *I* personally have MH370 fatigue. Someone should start getting their stuff together here. We’re all going to stand around twiddling our thumbs waiting for the people who should be on this to be on this?

    If no further progress has occurred by the end of this weekend i predict that the vast majority of press and public will have moved on to something else

    How incredibly regrettable.

  212. Clive says:

    My take, the plane for what ever reason turned hoping to make it back.
    But never made it over the Crocker mountain range, I belive the plane rests there.

  213. fiona says:

    one man on the flight going for a “fly in fly out” job left his wedding ring and watch at home and said if something should happen to him his first son to marry should get ring and second son watch.

    is that something people normally do when they take trips??

    ugh – -now that some profiles on pessengers are starting ot come out it’sreally hard not to look for who looks suspicious. the iranian was taking a really round about way to get to germany — as another example.

    ugh. ugh.

  214. Quinn says:

    Is anyone using common sense here ? Judging from the last radar response and direction of travel, wouldn’t the logical place to take this aircraft, under the radar so to speak, be Nias Island ? South southeast of SDN 0706077 Dasomuzoi ? Can I be the only person on this planet seeing this ?

  215. kogul says:

    As one of the pilots was fond of inviting good looking ladies to the “cockpit”, some female agent could have got in their and could have “blown” the pilots, the pilots then lost their way…flew (in bliss) until their fuel(or their stamina) ran out.
    Hows that for a theory?

  216. Clive says:

    Maybe it crashed into the Crocker mountain range heading back

  217. billbai says:

    Could he have intentionally and purposefully turned off the transponder (or whatever radar locating system) in order to avoid being seen? People would be quick to think it was a nefarious behavior, but maybe he was doing it for the benefit of the people, for example, they were shot at which damaged their equipment, and then they wanted to escape the line of fire. Or maybe there were shots on board, or a bomb that blew a hole in the airplane (and knocked out their electronic equipment), and they had to lower the plane in order to get oxygen. If you look at the Flightradar24 video, you can see that in the moments before disappearing the plane cuts right and left a couple times, which may indicate a struggle in the cockpit, or an on-board violent attack.

  218. Jo BLow says:

    Is it possible that the plane crashed into the water with very little breakup and sunk almost whole?

    This would explain almost everything. Everyone drown quickly, hence completely no cellphone activity. No real debris field. The transponder could have accidentally turned off by the impact(maybe it was unexpected(pilots fell asleep). The engine communications thing could still have taken place underwater.

    I’m sure it would be easy to disprove this hypothesis with current information. E.g., If engines can run underwater and the engine communications data says the engines were running then that would be sufficient.

    Basically, the point being is that I do not think having no debris field rules out a crash? I imagine it is possible for the plane not to break up very much in a certain circumstances(unlikely but possible). I could be wrong but look at flight 1549.

    • Richard says:

      Jet engines (like all combustion engines) need air to operate (and lots of it in the case of jet engines). Plus the density of the water would soon tear the turbo fans apart.

      In addition, though electrical transmitters do work under water if sufficiently sealed (like the “black boxes”) the distance they can be picked up is reduced.

  219. Richard says:

    I’m a going to make few conjectures:

    If the plane few for several hours after it “disappeared” AND the radar contact over the Malacca Strait was the plane then:

    1) The crew/passengers were incapacitated and it was effectively a ghost plane that ran out of fuel in a fairly straight line. Well, according to what the auto-pilot would have done. Speaking of which, the wiki on Helios 522 stated the autopilot put the plane into a holding pattern on its own when it got to its destination – that seems like a bad thing to do?!

    2) A pilot or someone else with some training intended to crash the plane in a remote location to not ever be found (for whatever reasons). Thus they cleared civilization as soon as possible (the revised course). In this scenario, they may not have gone on a straight line from the last known course and could be anywhere in a VERY large area of ocean. And if it was with the intention of never being found, they might have taken the plane in at a harder angle (as opposed to a ditch attempt) to reduce surface debris.

    3) Whoever disappeared the plane did so with the intention of landing it. Again the path taken might have minimized potential radar contacts. Plus, it seems like those countries that would have had the best opportunity to see the aircraft prior to it being out over open ocean would have not been particularly aggressive about investigating or tracking (Cf. China). Under this scenario, one would have to expect a course that is mostly out at sea with a sudden return to monitored airspace for the shortest time the pilot(s) could manage.

    Regardless, the fuel load was certainly recorded at departure as part of the cross-check before pushing off so, unless there was a conspiracy with the ground crew, the amount of fuel and effective range should be known to authorities. Not that they will tell us or anything.

    In any case, the telemetry that the US has will apparently be key.

    (I suppose there is sort of a very unlikely 2a option where someone intended to make a “statement” crash that was supposed to be in civilization but somehow, after several hours of good control of the plane, screwed up and crashed well before the target. That’s a very dark horse in my opinion.)

    • Richard says:

      I should add that there is a bit of an issue with option 3. While one could argue that the selection of a red-eye flight of several hours duration might seem like a great target for getting a plane, there is the issue of the passengers. A “re-positioning” flight with no passengers would be even better. As would be “stealing” a large cargo plane (which often fly overnight). In fact, I don’t think we would even be having this discussion if this was a cargo plane with 3-5 people aboard that had mysteriously disappeared. (Personally I feel like casualties from cargo transport don’t get the public concern they should).

      Some have suggested, under option 3, it is about the passengers or some subset of them. A little too James Bondian in my opinion. So many easier and more subtle ways to kidnap and/or buy off people than going to all this trouble which would, by present experience, create far more attention on the event than would be desired.

    • billbai says:

      Ok if we go along with the theory of plane thief:
      For the clever person who disappeared the plane and safely landed it elsewhere, who has been one step ahead the whole time without any problem (except for the lapse of forgetting to turn off transponder before turning the plane), they would surely see to it that the black box be swiftly removed from the landed plane and never to be seen again.

  220. Pelegrin says:

    This is what happened to the Greek airline, 2005, all over again. I’m feeling fairly sure, most signs point to that, if we’re not running around looking for terrorist, sabotage explanations. I suppose if you’re going to die in a plane, it’s the best way to go, die in your seats asleep and not even know what’s happening.

  221. sgblank says:

    Given the sparse information but the satellite data of pings of the ACARS system suggests this hypothesis: could this be this is another SwissAir Flight 11 – a fire in the Main Equipment Center (MEC) underneath the cockpit? If there’s a fire a smoke detector illuminates the ‘EQUIP COOLING OVRD’ message on the cockpit EICAS.

    see diagram here: http://www.skybrary.aero/images/B772_MEC_FIRE.jpg

    It’s possible after seeing a message the crew began a turnback to Malaysia. But if the fire continued it could knock out communications equipment, which would explain the loss of comms, and blow out the crew oxygen bottle which could cause rapid decompression and crew hypoxia if it went off through the fuselage and/or the fire could have damaged the fly-by-wire flight controls which could explain the continued flight.

    While just a hypothesis, unfortunately a 777 had a fire in this exact location – luckily for them on the ground in London Heathrow in Feb 2007. See the UK AAIB report:
    http://www.aaib.gov.uk/cms_resources.cfm?file=/S2-2007%20N786UA.pdf

    The report said, “…Prior to this accident the aircraft manufacturer was involved in investigating 11 in-service reports of power panel overheat events, three of which involved major damage to the panels. The affected panels were the P200 and P300, and the affected contactors were the RBTB, Auxiliary Power Breaker (APB)and the Primary External Power Contactor (PEPC).

    Now imagine if the fire occurred in the air at 35,000 feet.

  222. Laurie says:

    OK, I’m pretty sure this is nothing, but I haven’t seen it in many places and more eyes couldn’t hurt:

    The man who gave his wedding ring to his wife before the flight, his name is Paul Weeks. A google search turns up a Paul Weeks’ Linkdin profile. This Paul Weeks works for Boeing as a mechanical engineer on 777s. Specifically “Product Review Engineer II – 777 Wing & Final Body Join Integration at Boeing”. MH370 had a wing repair two years ago.

    Another man on the flight is Robert Lawton. A search on the name turns up an obituary from last year for a Robert Lawton who works as a Joint Mechanic for Boeing, on 777s.

    Is this anything else but coincidence? Boeing is a big company. It could mean nothing.

  223. Andrew says:

    The transponder stopped working at 1:30 am. (is this correct as different times quoted in various sources!) About this time a plane en route to Japan made contact with the Malaysian flight and heard mumbling in response to request to contact Vietnamese airspace authorities. Are the two connected? Did someone turn off transponder (and more) deliberately to avoid further communication of any kind.

  224. fiona says:

    woah you are rt there! I’m on other side of planet.

  225. fiona says:

    woah — I didn’t want to say paul weeks name before cause i felt bad casting suspicion. but I’m glad you said it. the fact that he worked on those very planes. i don’ know what to think but it keeps me thinking. i’d like to see more investigation into this… these passengers who also knew he plane

  226. fiona says:

    I take it back. i wanna wash out my mouth for even saying it, i don’t think it’s the same paul weeks that works for boeing.

  227. Anthony Gennaro says:

    I think the aircraft slowly depressurized. So Slow no alarms went off. The crew and Pax passed out at FL36 thousand feet. (Hypoxia) The transponder, that squawks the aircrafts ident is routinely, changed in-flite at certain waypoints. Perhaps as the Pilots were passing out they or one of them may have inadvertently switched the IFF frequency instead of his ATC radio. They all died from lack of oxygen and the aircraft flew on auto pilot till it ran out of fuel and crashed into the sea. Just like Greek Helios Airlines, Payne Stewarts Learjet. It has happened before. Sometimes the simplest answer is the right one.

    • Richard says:

      The alarms will sound whether the the depressurization is slow or fast. In fact, if it were slow they would be dealing with alarms and have a lot more time to get the masks in place. Also, the masks drop automatically in the passenger compartment at a below critical threshold (obviously a rapid depressurization hits and passes that safety threshold much sooner). Helios is notable because the pilots willfully ignored alarms and other evidence for quite some time. This terrible error was probably due to common problems with the aircraft ventilation system; the pilots simply assumed it was the return of a far less serious issue. But their behavior was cavalier in any case. Note also, in Helios, they were in contact with the company to try to fix the situation. One would imagine (hope) the pilots would call in for engineering support for a problem they couldn’t immediately identify.

  228. […] ha anche un blog, e ha naturalmente affrontato il tema del volo MH370. Sulla localizzazione […]

  229. Patrick,

    I was glad to read the piece by entrepreneur and fellow pilot Martin Varsavsky, and I wonder if you agree with him:
    http://english.martinvarsavsky.net/general/aviation-is-stuck-in-the-60s-a-reflection-on-mh-370.html

    Contrary to many expert sources, he argues that real-time tracking of flight location and data would not be too expensive — and his take on pilots having less access to modern weather data than a passenger with an iPad almost worries me (think AF447 storm).

  230. Radaan says:

    Ok…here goes. I haven’t read everything since I went to bed last night…when I got up this morning I hear more of the theory tha the plane was purposely diverted because the tracking systems were both turned off within 14 minutes of each other. And the plane seems to have diverted right between the handoff of ATC’s from Malaysia to Vietnam. If he it was a terrorist hijack…headed back out into the Indian Ocean…they didn’t have enough fuel to get back to any land (that we know of). If it was pilot suicide…the pings from the enjines said it flew another 4-5 hours…if it was suicide…why would the guy wait 4-5 hours to do it?

    • anon says:

      Because he didn’t want it to be known that it was a suicide. I suspect he had an insurance policy that excluded coverage for suicide.

      By taking the plane far out into the deep ocean, and by turning off the communications systems, he minimized the chances that the plane would be found, and that anyone would ever figure out what happened. No proof of suicide might mean that his family would get the payout of the insurance policy.

      By allowing the plane to run out of gas, the cockpit voice recorder, which only has a 2-hour loop as I understand it, would not contain any talk from the critical early part of the flight when he hijacked the plane, and likely kicked the other pilot out of the cockpit. I suspect that he actually turned off the breaker to this and the flight data recorders.

  231. Yvonne says:

    Hope someone is checking the captain’s 777 simulator which he had in his home, apparently.

    Must have a record of his activity on it.

    Was he practising an unusual landing in an unusual location?

    Thorough background checks on him and his family goes without saying.

  232. romiha says:

    I’ve been following this thread for several days now but have refrained from making any comments as I am not in the airline industry … however this morning I noticed this report. Any thoughts? Seems to not be getting much attention by media so far. However, in my humble opinion, a catastrophic event, in my mind, seems most likely to have occurred and my thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the passengers and crew of MH370.

    http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/missing-jet/seismic-event-close-missing-jet-path-china-scientists-n52516

  233. Radaan says:

    They apparently have already rule out a catastrophic event because the tracking systems were turned off 14 minutes apart…which would strongly seem to indicate someone was controlling the situation.

  234. There’s a plausible sounding posting over on Slashdot that says this particular data transmission system attempts to handshake with the satellite every hour even when the airline has not signed up for the service. This makes sense. That way, if the airline does sign up, Boeing can activate the service with a single upload to the sat and not require that somebody go out and fiddle with every aircraft in the fleet. If the post is true, the both sides in the “it was transmitting/it wasn’t transmitting” dispute were right. It wasn’t transmitting *data* but it was periodically transmitting *protocol signals.* Which presumably were picked up and stored in some SIGINT database somewhere and later retrieved.

    Which brings up another point. This effort has, and probably will continue to have, recourse to some pretty sensitive technical intelligence systems. I wouldn’t expect partial results to be released because they may expose the capabilities of those systems; I don’t think much will be said until if and when the aircraft is located.

  235. fiona says:

    Seems to me they neither landed or crashed according to pings. just flew in air till engines stopped going.

  236. samhill says:

    is it possible that some type of gas-based toxin
    was released in the cabin that overcame passengers and crew
    nearly instantaneously??? …leisurely stroll up to the
    flt deck door, pop the latch, switch off the comms, and away you go…

  237. fiona says:

    I think they were intentionally following flight routes — not just flying blind. so they were awake and wanted no communication. . who – or why ———- ? And how it worked out…

    • yvonne says:

      We are on the same page here Fiona…….. female intuition at work?

      Want to see some investigation on the captains simulator…… keep looking for wreckage but please think it has landed somewhere.

      A night flight lasting as long as the expected flight to bejing would not alert any of the passengers or cabin crew to a misroute……. until they landed.

  238. fiona says:

    yay ladies

  239. Radaan says:

    fiona says: “Seems to me they neither landed or crashed according to pings. just flew in air till engines stopped going.”

    …unil the engines stopped going…AKA: crashed

  240. Radaan says:

    I’m still waiting for someone to opine on why…if the pilot did a suicide mission…why wait the five hours until the fuel ran out? Why not just ditch the plane in the ocean as soon as they could?

    • fiona says:

      maybe he loved flying. he wanted to spend his last five hours in open air over vast ocean. maybe that was his fantasy of how he wanted it,

      or maybe it was something entirely else.

    • yvonne says:

      There is no reason to suspect it was pilot suicide. The facts are that the plane disappeared at a very opportune moment, turned and dropped below radar level and headed SW…IF the military radar proves it was the 777!!

      Until that and the bleeps are confirmed nothing is definite.

      However, my feeling is that in finding no wreckage AT ALL ( and something always floats to the surface if the ditch was in water….shallow waters too in original area of last contact) then the whole thing has been planned and another few days with the best investigators should see an end to this mystery.

    • Richard says:

      I will opine on the suicide thing as a psychologist (though not a clinician). People do weird sh*t.

      Ok more seriously, while some people just want to die to to make the physical and/emotional pain go away, some want to make statement or leave a lasting impression (for various reasons). The difference between jumping off a cliff in the wilderness vs. off an overpass onto a crowded freeway. More extremely, you have people like Adam Lanza etc. Thus it may have been the intent of a suicidal person in control of the airplane to create a lasting legacy about this event and him/herself. Making sure the plane is never found would certainly do it. Hell, many people to this day still think of Amelia Earhart when we think of airplane disappearances and that happened over 75 years ago.

  241. fiona says:

    at every point where we lost contact — we assume that’s where it crashed — until new contact in revealed – and then we assume it crashed where at the point where that contact ended. this is logical to assume these crash points. .

    but given the pattern of revealed information — it’s now also logical to assume it went further than last know contact.

  242. Radaan says:

    Yvonne, I hope you are right…but where would he have landed if it didn’t crash/run out of fuel. An official from the Andaman (sp?) Islands said there’s no place there that a plane that size could have landed without notice. Where else could it have gone?

    The Indian Ocean is so big…I’ve heard officials say it could take weeks of searching to see any wreckage…if there is any.

    • yvonne says:

      Why assume Andaman and Nicobar islands? I have faith that if enough intelligence is gathered using the US capabilities that missing plane will be found…

    • StaceyRain says:

      Who says no one has to notice? If it were a pre-planned diversion, the receiving country would be expecting it to land.

  243. Radaan says:

    from what I have heard…if its accurate…those Islands would be the only land they probably could have reached. But maybe I missed something…

  244. fiona says:

    I think most likely it did crash in Indian Ocean, considering how far away land is from where it last pinged and it’s fuel supply.

    however I think it is still slim-ly possible it flew to europe or middle east instead.

    I dunnooooooo

  245. fiona says:

    royls royce doesn’t seem to think it crashed., that’s what most eggs me on.

  246. yvonne says:

    yeh! Pings from aircraft for 5 hours……….confirmed

  247. Radaan says:

    just read something from Forbes…I think…that said at some point part of the ACARS info was turned off…and possibly…later…when they stopped getting even less descriptive ACARS data…that maybe…they implied…whoever was piloting realized that they didn’t totally disable ACARS…who knows. Again…there’s so much info tossed out there…some from people who know…some/most from people who probably don’t. I have to think that the US probably knows exactly what went on…but can’t say because it would reveal too much intelligence gathering capabilities.

  248. yvonne says:

    Agree with you on SOMEONE KNOWS ALOT MORE THAN IS BEING RELEASED…. when the plane is found there will be some explaining to do but we will be fed the usual…….Have to be honest though, am a bit fearful of my scenario.

  249. Radaan says:

    unfortunately…if it was hijacked…and landed somewhere else…and the US knows it…being a cynic at heart…I don’t think we’ll ever be told that.

  250. yvonne says:

    in my opinion it was not a hijack at least not in the sense that they had to be on board, although they probably were. My gut feeling is that this was thoroughly planned and the captain was being blackmailed to cooperate….. JUST A FEELING THOUGH and a lot of wishful thinking for the safety of everyone on board.

  251. Radaan says:

    I pray that somehow the passengers will someday be found safe. AND…does anyone else see a ‘made for TV movie’ in about 1-2 years…whether they find something or not?

    • backpacker says:

      Yes.
      That show will be called Lost.
      They’ll make it into a series that plays all season. Even several seasons.

  252. Gen says:

    I can’t believe the developments, or lack thereof, regarding Flight 370. For it to disappear, then to find out it was running for five hours, and yet no real clue to where it went… It’s confounding. I am hoping the passengers will be found safe, but what are the chances? I pray for some peaceful resolution to this quandary.

  253. fiona says:

    just read the latest post on this blog – above. i was kinda forgetting I was actually posting on an personal bloggers perspective. I like this blog!

    I think it’s interesting the idea of when and when – not — this keeps people’s rapt attention. esp cause understand and mastering dramatic suspense is essential to my life and work. here in movie land.

    personally I think the human interest is there — nomatter how sentational or detective-y this gets. the underlying feeling is there are 238 humans — lost. I’m 100% sure people would NOT CARE if this was a cargo plane under exact same circumstances,

    it’s so dark and sad — that we naturally want to turn it into an adventure, detetcive story – to carry us through — to save these people — and our own sense of human safety. and to save our sanity. one can argue that it’s disrespectful to be more engrossed by the utter mystery — than other times and they may have a good argument — bt I’d argue counter that this is a survival mechanism for humanity — to want to solve mystery. this all makes me think of the recent new cosmos show — collective psychology about the unknown is something humans have been struggling with — seems since we started having conversations.

    I’m rambling, :) I’m enjoying anonymity.

    i hope we sold this mystery down to last detail.

  254. Pierre S. says:

    1-On handover to Vietnamese cntl, were they acknowledged by Viet. ?
    2-Lost comm. to Transponder off = 14 mins ?
    3-Veer to west pickup. How long after ? Confirmed 370 ?
    4-Engine pings in zigzag N.W. How long after radar pickup Was it confirmed 370 ?
    5-HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO CHANGE/SUBSTITUTE I.D. CODE OF ENGINE TRANSMITTER OR THE I.D. CODE OF TRANSPONDER AND CONTINUE FLIGHT ON ASSUMED I.D. ?
    6-With fuel quantity at departure, where could be “friendly” airports that could receive highjacked plane ?

    • backpacker says:

      1-On handover to Vietnamese cntl, were they acknowledged by Viet. ?

      No, at least not reported yet

      2-Lost comm. to Transponder off = 14 mins ?

      3-Veer to west pickup. How long after ? Confirmed 370 ?

      NO, not reported as confirmed MH370. All I’ve seen is that shortly after they lost the NE bound flight, they discovered an unidentified westbound flight and they put 2 + 2 together.

      4-Engine pings in zigzag N.W. How long after radar pickup Was it confirmed 370 ?

      Same as above response. The discovered westbound flight turned into a zigzag NW path

      5-HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO CHANGE/SUBSTITUTE I.D. CODE OF ENGINE TRANSMITTER OR THE I.D. CODE OF TRANSPONDER AND CONTINUE FLIGHT ON ASSUMED I.D. ?

      Assuming it to be impossible, but with FreeScale Conductor personnel, maybe something along those lines are possible?

      6-With fuel quantity at departure, where could be “friendly” airports that could receive highjacked plane ?

      ‘Friendly’ could be interpreted to include any state agency that might pay, bribe, or coerce the plane to come their way. So it could be any country. It could be any abandoned WW2 runway on an isolated island or even a jungle airstrip…it does NOT have to be a modern functional airport with a 10,000 foot runway. The tricky part is that since it was a red-eye flight, it might be hard to land at night. On the other hand, if they made it to their ‘friendly’ airspace, then they would no longer need to cloak their presence and they could turn their transponders back on

  255. Gen says:

    Fiona, I admit I’m embarrassed to be so obsessed with this flight. I’ve never been one to be so enraptured by mysteries, but I think it’s my hope and optimism spurring me on. If the plane landed intact, then the passengers *could* be alive. If they’re alive, they can be saved. Obviously, if the plane crashed or was overtaken by an extremist group with violent means, well… That would be utterly heartbreaking. Not knowing… This is why I’m obsessed.

    • fiona says:

      I think

      a) it’s human nature
      b) It IS solvable. There are so many clues.Possabilities can be eliminated. Somethng can be figured out.
      c) we are trained by TV, movies and eve video games to — be obsessed with a certain kind of dramatic unfolding, & the way this info has been leaking out and then being retracted and then leaked out again — this IS the way to keep the mind obsessed, it’s even the way drugs work – highs and lows — getting something then having it denied – creates addiction. I think the pattern of denial is playing a strong component here.

      d)WHATEVER — we should want to solve it. A whole plane of people went missing!!!

  256. fiona says:

    also — given the chance they are on rafts out in the water somewhere or on land needing help. & that the black box will sise battery power after 30 days. thank god we are obsessed!! if it were me on that plane i’d want the world obsessed until they found me.

    • yvonne says:

      can someone tell me if the black box only gives out signals after a crash?

      • romiha says:

        Yvonne – from what I understand, there is a beacon on the black box that is activated once the black box has been submerged and pings once every 30 seconds. That is the only “signal” of which I am aware from a black box.

  257. yvonne says:

    guessing it must do otherwise it would be the main source of tracking during flight.

  258. Bette says:

    People have been obsessing over the disappearance of Amelia Earhart’s tiny and (by our standards) primitively equipped plane for over 75 years. They can’t seem to believe that those 2 people just “vanished”. So I guess it’s understandable that losing hundreds of people on one of the most modern aircraft available would capture so much attention.

    • fiona says:

      this is random but true — my relative was last person to track Amelia Airhart, he was pilot that flew behind her. i spent vacation with him when i was a kid but was too young to grill him ;(. weird I just remembered. anyway, he was super nice I miss him :)

  259. fiona says:

    did you guys know Jet Li’s stunt double was on board? can you imagine trying to take over a plane and an acton star stunt double is rt there — makes me think of the massive undertaking of controlling all those passengers period. I think it would be crazy hard

    • yvonne says:

      Like I said earlier, doubtful that there was any violence if the flight went on smoothly through the night as if it was on way to Bejing.

      On landing……………now that would be a bit of a shock but I guess everyone would do as they were told….I know I would.

  260. fiona says:

    pirates just sliped to top of theory list.

  261. JFO says:

    CNN now reporting that US and Maylaysian officials believe the plane made erratic elevation changes (up to as high as 45,000 ft), and may have ultimately crashed in Bay of Bengal or Indian Ocean. Am watching on CNN tv, and also breaking on their web site.

  262. fiona says:

    is 45,000 feet crazy high? i have no idea what is reasonable height.

    sometimes if data is too unbelieveable you assume it’s false… dunno if that applies here.

  263. Pacific moderate says:

    Piracy? Or pilot suicide. Someone who didn’t want the plane, with its incriminating CVR and FDR intact, to be recovered. Hence a diversion to the loneliest part of the Indian Ocean. To the cabin crew and passengers, nothing might have appeared to be wrong (assuming they were still conscious at this point, viz. speculation about the climb to FL4500).

    One question, though, is there a plausible way that the flight crew could intentionally depressurize a 777 at altitude? It’s not like you can blow a hatch on the passenger cabin or something.

  264. fiona says:

    I think the erratic flying means we can rule out suicide or plot by pilot.

    unless the two pilots were struggling with each other.

    either way erratic flying = conflict within cockpit. IMO

  265. Richard says:

    Wow, even with the pings, they have two candidate areas that are in different directions.

    • yvonne says:

      I am beginning to feel like a witch. Have had a gut feeling that this was a planned abduction and the captain is in on it and now we have that scenario confirmed.

      Just seen the press release with the Malaysian PM.AND AT LAST the crew will be investigated……… look at the captains 777 simulator!

  266. Richard says:

    It does appear both routes indicate an intention to avoid land based radar. The odds are increasingly against an mechanical/electrical emergency.

    • Pelegrin says:

      So what is it then, a suicide mission? What’s the point of taking control of a plane and flying it until it runs out of fuel and falls into the ocean. Even if someone were using the plane for a suicide mission, why go to all this trouble; just crash the plane and get it over with.

      I still say that many are primarily focusing on the most diabolical scenarios and not putting much thought into more simply unfortunate scenarios.

      • Richard says:

        Read my reply to Radaan above. Suicidal people are often not rational. Or perhaps are rational on their own terms which are confusing to us who are not suicidal.

        Not that I am convinced it was suicide – but it is plausible (more so if the southern course turns out to be the correct one).

        • Pelegrin says:

          Have they discovered anything about either of those pilots which would point to one of them potentially being suicidal?

          And if it were someone else who took control of the plane, that would be one hell of a scenario… Not only to have the capacity to take control of the plane but also to know what to do to redirect it and also to effect the controls so as to hinder its detection, and then also to be suicidal.

          • Richard says:

            I think if you are considering a suicide scenario it would likely have to be one of the pilots. I have not heard any reports of emotional difficulties or life stress. But if it was more of a “statement” suicide, it would have been planned in secret with few signs.

            One of my wife’s coworkers took his life last year and left an extensive website detailing his fight with depression and his suicide planning including previous attempts. He was an engineer and the level of detail was amazing – it included graphs, photos of sites, and frankly brilliant writing. Reading it was one of the most startling experiences I have ever had – weeping through the loss of this amazingly thoughtful person but at the same time coming to understand his apparently valid reasons for his course of action. His father took it down soon after it was discovered (IMO doing so was a loss but it was definitely his decision). Anyway, none of his coworkers had any clue whatsoever.

          • Pelegrin says:

            Richard, I have some data which doesn’t support your suicide theory very well…

            http://www.worldlifeexpectancy.com/cause-of-death/suicide/by-country/

            Malaysia is tied for the 3rd lowest suicide rate in the entire world. 0.6/100,000 people. Compared to Canada (9.9) and the US (10.3) for example.

          • Richard says:

            Well, I think there are more problems with the suicide theory than that. It would be one thing to assume that one of the pilots could disable the other pilot and without bringing much attention to the mostly sleeping passengers change course. But the rest of the crew is surely awake and would, I would imagine fairly quickly figure out something is wrong. At this point the whole crew and passengers would be trying to get into the cockpit.

            Of course, now that I think about it. if the other pilot was in fact dead, there might not be anyone left on board that could do anything significant about flying the plane or even getting the communication system back on (he could have in fact, damaged the system beyond use).

            I was thinking that it would be very difficult for single person to take over the plane for but maybe it is possible.

          • Richard says:

            Was supposed to be a reply to Pelegrin :(

            This commenting system can be wonky.

          • Richard says:

            Hmmm, following this idea further, the situation described about would really put the crew/passengers in a quandary.

            If the pilot is suicidal, no amount of threats are going to work on him.

            If the pilot isn’t suicidal but rather is hijacking the plane, the crew/passengers have to make a decision: if they think they are going to die anyway, they might, like UA93, attack to prevent the plane being used to kill others. But unlike UA93, they have no communication to the outside world that would confirm this. Attacking him and actually killing him would most likely result in their deaths, not doing so might allow them to live. The pilot still holds most of the cards even if he wants to survive because the crew/passengers retaking the plane gains them nothing under the circumstances.

            Of course this situation is prefaced on the fact that the pilot could confirm that there was no on else on the flight capable of flying the plane.

          • Pelegrin says:

            Another thing is this though; if it’s principally a case of a pilot trying to fly a suicide mission (which I’m certain it is not), then two things for sure that he would have have done in this case are: 1) incapacitate the other pilot, 2) incapacitate pretty much everyone else on board to at least stop them from using whatever communication source they had to communicate with the ground to tell someone that something bad is going on in the plane.

            Certainly there were people with their mobiles, laptops, or whatever, that could’ve sent some sort of message; if they were able to do so. The only thing is that at that time of night most would’ve been sleeping, but not all, and eventually people are going to wake up and realize that something isn’t right, at least members of the crew.

            But no kind of message was ever received, as far as we know, and the only explanation I can think of for that is they were already dead.

          • Pelegrin says:

            Of course, if the pilot with the suicide mission could incapacitate the other pilot and was also able to turn off the oxygen supply to the rest of the plane, then he has total control. So there, Richard, if that would be possible for a pilot to do (though it seems to be a hell of a lot of control to be potentially in a pilot’s hands) then your suicide theory has some greater plausibility. I still though just don’t think it fits either of these pilots; we’ve not heard anything about either of them to suggest this; and again, as I pointed out earlier, suicide is extremely rare within the Malaysian population.

          • (apologies if this is a repeat post–formatting issues)
            I think the suicide theory is extremely unlikely. What an inconvenient way to do it and why take everyone with you? Can’t imagine this being the case. As for the pilot with the home simulator–if he was up to no good, I think he would have destroyed the evidence prior to trip and certainly wouldn’t have been photographed smiling in front of it.

            It is bizarre that this has not been thoroughly investigated however and makes me think the investigators are not doing a very good job at all.

          • Pelegrin says:

            WOW! That’s big time info. Not so much the investigation, but that map showing the possible locations of the plane at the time of the last “ping” detected by the satellite.

            Just, Wow!

          • Richard says:

            Well, can’t we pretty much rule out the northern route? A 777 evading radar for that long pretty much seems impossible.

            It does seem unlikely the pilots could depressurize the plane in flight but maybe Patrick could weigh in on that. But again, I proposed it might be possible to psychologically incapacitate the crew and passengers if no one else can fly the plane. And if he got out of cell range ASAP, the window for passenger and crew to get out calls may have passed without anyone yet knowing the hijack.

            And to be clear, I think the hijack option is mostly (90%) confirmed (I’ll give another 10% to some very unlikely series of mechanical weirdness). But I think the reasons for the hijack remain unclear and could still include suicide. But not that suicide is a better choice than hijacking for other reasons.

          • Gilles S. says:

            “it might be possible to psychologically incapacitate the crew and passengers if no one else can fly the plane”

            This is the dark point, when I try to make all the facts together : why did nobody make a phone call when the plane crossed over Malaysia mainland ?

            * Either there was a terrorist team of several persons, who had practical means to terrorise the crew and passengers – and even in this scenario, it is not obvious to control more than 200 people. This seems unlikely : a quick browse through the passenger list would have been sufficient to the Chinese or Malay police to understand what had happened in a very short time ;

            * Either there was one lone wolf, either one of the pilots or some rogue passenger who had obtained access to the cockpit, who had locked himself in the cockpit. But if this had happened, at least the crew and probably everybody would have understood very quickly that there was a big, big problem.

            So,

            * either everybody -except perhaps the pilot- was knocked out or even dead from the very beginning of the highjacking, probably through depressurisation ;
            * either there was no phone signal while the plane was flying over Malaysia and/or Sumatra.

            Am I right ? If I am, what is the explanation ?

          • Richard says:

            Let’s see if replying to someone else works. See comment 322-323.

          • Richard says:

            And I just realized something else. Even if the jammers were on when the plane was still on the ground, doubtful anyone would have been too concerned, other than the normal frustration, of not being able to get a signal. Otherwise, people would have their devices off from around push-back to when the pilot says it is okay to turn them back on (I assume the captain does in fact tell the crew to give the announcement and that they don’t do it automatically when the plane gets to cruise). Even so, they are supposed to be in airplane mode. So as long the jammers were on by the time the passengers tried to make connections, they were effectively cut-off and would likely not even thought to consider there might be a little box tucked under the seat below them keeping them from making calls.

          • If you want your comment to appear at the bottom of this thread, I believe you need to “reply” to the last comment, otherwise comments seem to be getting lost upthread.

          • Kennedy family says:

            My question is if the flight data is to be believed, by raising the plane altitude to 44000ft, and then dropping to 27000ft, would this cause pressurisation of the cabin effectively cutting oxygen to the passengers. The pilot has his own oxygen supply so carries on his merry way with no threat of passenger interference.
            As to a suicide, was he a disgruntled employee that wanted to cost and humiliate the malaysian airliner by travelling as far and remotely as possible before crashing the plane?
            Surely someone with a flight simulator would have simulated many difficult landings on roads, beaches,etc, even on remote airstrips? Just to add in another theory. We are 7 days behind the 8 ball, enough time to hide a plane. But if it was one of the pilots what now for him if he is alive? The pilot had a family and grown children?

          • hammerton says:

            Why was there no resistance or alarm on the part of the passengers or non-cockpit crew? A scary possibility is that the inexplicable ascent to 45,000 feet was done to kill the passengers and cabin crew. If the plane depressurizes at that altitude the o2 from the bags isn’t enough. The plane is pressurized by air forced in to the cabin from the engines, and can be depressurized by shutting the engines off. The steep dive after reaching 45k may reflect a stall, which depressurized the cabin. During the glide down to 27k everyone perishes except the pilot(s) and then the engines were restarted. Though awful, this is not as awful as being worried about one’s life and loved one for 5 hours then plunging into the sea, if indeed that is what happened.

          • hammerton says:

            The long flight to suicide in the deep waters of the Indian Ocean may have been designed to prevent anyone from ever finding the plane and determining what actually occurred. This could be motivated by the pilot’s desire to not void life insurance policies that have a clause for no payouts for suicide. Also, an indeterminate end of the flight would leave open the possibility of his family getting legal settlements.

          • romiha says:

            Trying this again since I think my “reply” got lost upthread …

            I have a question regarding those “pings” that the satellite(s) “pick up”. At what point or under what conditions would the satellite(s) no longer pick up pings?

            What about aircraft that are not in the air? Sitting at the gate, idle. Or perhaps in a hangar in for repairs, maintenance, etc. Are those aircraft still sending “pings” ??

          • hammerton says:

            An expert was interviewed who state that the pings would continue to be sent as long as the plane had not been powered down. The pings would be picked up until the plan crashed, lost power, or traveled to a point at which the curvature of the earth would put the earth between the plane and the satellite.

          • Pelegrin says:

            It’ll take a lot to convince me that one or both of the pilots were in on this, unless it was a case of someone threatening to kill their families.

            Oh, and the posting problems that some of us have been having… I’ve been clicking on the bottom reply button, but many of my posts have gone up to around post 318, thereabouts.

          • Pelegrin says:

            actually, many of my posts from yesterday went up to around post 312

          • Kennedy family says:

            So who else on the plane has that much planning and expertise to recognise the point just before the plane left malaysian airspace and Infact was in no mans land,? Who else on the plane has knowledge of the very clever navigational route taken to avoid suspicion?

          • Pelegrin says:

            I’m looking for purpose, as one thing. I don’t believe at all that it was a suicide mission. And if that’s not the case, but yet the pilots or a pilot was involved then I’d be more prone to think that he was coerced into it by some sort of death threat to his family. Not saying that that’s what I believe that happened, it’s just the only way that I imagine the pilots being involved.

          • Pelegrin says:

            But again… For what purpose?

            Another possibility is that it could’ve been a failed take over attempt in which the pilots were able to prevent some greater disaster but ultimately died in the process.

          • romiha says:

            2nd try. Got upthreaded in my upthreaded comment! copy and pasted

            “I’ve missed a lot of interesting replies here due to the upthreading phenomenon. Just spent the last hour searching for “March 16″ and reading replies posted on the 16th scattered about. Quite an interesting bit about the Petronas Towers.”

          • Suzie Kellie says:

            trying to repost this as no clue where the first post ended up at… thanks~~

            Is it not standard procedure for an airline pilot to sign off with the word “Roger” instead of the now famous words, “All Right, Good Night”, Perhaps the wording I am looking for is that should he/them not said… Roger, Good Night?

          • romiha says:

            check out reply #348 by Nicholas Robinson, March 16, 2014 at 11:38 pm

            The way these replies keep getting “upthreaded” is nuts.

          • Kennedy family says:

            For me this might not be an attention seeking plot but it certainly reeks of a bit of smugness. It’s so perfectly planned, flying between radars, disabling communications, my theory is the cabin was depressurised which killed the passengers, the plane for over 7 days now has been undetected, I can see the pilot very proud of his sophisticated knowledge. The world is following his mastermind, the maylasian and indeed other world governments and military have been outsmarted. Maybe that is reason enough. Posted again I think due to up threading

          • Frank says:

            I am going to throw out here a stupid honest opinion about this 370 mess from the highness of my armchair experience into plotting a terror strategy for my backyard terrorist organization.

            We all love tropical conspiracy theories, so here’s mine.

            1. Everybody talking about the elder pilot, because of more hours experience, because of the simulator in his house. If I was to train my very next terror-employee, I would raise up a young kid from the start, with no rush, teaching him all the good jihadist basics and giving him all the time (7-10 years) to get a flying license, train and slowly get into the commercial flying world, up to the point of arriving where the younger 370 pilot was.
            In that way, he would just look like a rookie but he would still know his shit and could possibly fly this thing in order to be undetected. He would also be faster and more agile in case of a hand-fight in the cabin at the moment he had to take control of the flight against the elder pilot’s will.

            2. I would develop a plan with my cookie-terror organization to be ready to camouflage the 777 on some remote landing strip the very moment the airplane lands. I would make sure that the young pilot kid takes care of the passengers by either depressurizing the shit out of them while up-there or just simply ignoring them and locking himself up in the cabin. Even if the try to stop him by opening a damn door, he would still just need to bring the airplane down to -what?- 11,000 feet or something like that to be able to still control the bird.

            3. The airplane lands in our cracked and abandoned landing strip somewhere in Pakistan or Afghanistan. We camouflage it or hide it in some hangar. We get rid of the passengers by either imprisoning them or worse (no need to say). By imprisoning them I would still be able to have an asset for blackmailing governments and buy to my terror organization a good ransom to build up the next plan in case this goes wrong.

            4. I would fill up the 777 with high-power explosives, paint something different on the outside just to make it hard to be identified, place a nice Durka Durka Kamikaze boy to the command, and instruct him to crash the plane somewhere against a high sensitivity target such as for example the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, not too far from where I am and the icon of the capitalized world (tallest building in the world).

            5. I would tell my banzai boy to take off at night and with all that explosive fly towards UAE and blow the building at the base. It would make something like a mile-diameter damage and collapse the building.

            6. I would then let the world know it was my terror organization and I would hide for the rest of my life waiting for the next navy seal team to find me and take me for free food for life to Guantanamo Bay.

          • warsesa says:

            could the plance have flown into the stratosphere and burnt up?

          • kim says:

            I agree with Frank’s points above, especially #1.

            Not sure if this has been mentioned previously, but an informant had indicated (before flight 370) a plot involving Malaysian terrorists was in the plans: http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2014/03/16/malaysia_airlines_mh370_investigators_examine_9_11_style_plot.html

            A question about radar detection: Do all countries keep reliable records of their radar monitoring? So for instance, if someone was asleep at the wheel, would they even be able to go back and view the radar from days ago?

            Pakistan states they have no information on the plane and that their radar did not detect it. Didn’t they also assure us their country was not harboring Bin Laden?

          • Pelegrin says:

            Some theories that I have:

            What if someone on board really was experimenting with cloaking technology and it worked? Satellites might still be able to pick up those “pings” but that data is generally reported after the fact and doesn’t provide precise tracking, as we can see from the information we’re being shown now. But some type of cloaking technology, if it’s possible, might work to block all radar, and then perhaps the northern route becomes more feasible.

            Of course, another option could be that the Chinese actually shot the plane down as it was flying over their territory and not responding to communication, before they realized what it was, and then they decided to cover it up and not admit that they shot down a passenger jet with a whole lot of Chinese citizens on board.

            But, other than those options, the northern route seems very unlikely. On the other hand, the southern route only makes sense to me if the plane essentially flew itself there, probably after an attempted turn back to KL which failed because all on board fell unconscious or died before the pilots were able to get the plane fully turned around and back to KL. I just simply don’t believe in the suicide angle, as there’s no evidence to support it and Malaysia has the 5th lowest suicide rate in the entire world. And there’s no “terrorist” angle that makes any sense flying the plane into the southern Indian Ocean.

            And yet another possibility for what happened, other than a cascading event of electronic malfunctions which effected tracking and oxygen supply, could be a failed attempt to try to take over control of the plane remotely; so rather than successfully flying the plane through radar infested territory it actually incapacitated everyone on board and resulted in the plane flying to a watery burial in the Indian Ocean.

          • Richard says:

            Pelegrin – I replied but it ended up at 366.

          • Nicholas Robinson says:

            Okay,

            Another maybe-not-so-loopy one from The Grand Prognosticator (I can’t believe someone took my link to a major hoax site seriously — in which the hoaxer insisted the US Navey had kidnaped the plane and forced it to land at Diego Garcia, and it was tied into the strange drug deaths of the Navy SEALS aboard that freighter . . . Heavens, man, can’t you tell a joke when you see one? But I digress.)

            What if you were the co-pilot, Fariq Abdul Hamid, and a few days before a girfriend had spurned you. I don’t know. Why does anyone commit suicide? I’m not going to ask WHY, I’m just going to assume that this was the case.

            Ab Hamid, despondent but hiding it well, gets on Flight 370. He already has a plan. He doesn’t have the guts to blow his brains out (can’t get a gun, either) but knows ONE WAY he can do it — and it’s a comfy way, a way he’s intimately familiar with. He’ll kill himself in his beloved cockpit.

            So, perhaps even on the way to the airport that day, he hatches a plan. Or perhaps he’s hatched this plan and mentally rehearsed it recently on several flights.

            He knows his schedule. He knows the captain well — he’s a good guy and won’t make any trouble when the time comes. All Hamid needs is a little time.

            They get up in the air. Hamid, thinking furiously, finally makes the decision to do it. But he doesn’t have the guts to plunge the plane into a massive dive — he knows that would freak the passengers out and really, he’s a good guy — he doesn’t want them to suffer.

            But he’s made up his mind. So he puts his plan into action. Just at the upcoming border with Vietnam, he asks the captain to do something for him — we don’t know what — or leaves the cockpit himself. He knows the combination to let himself back in.

            He goes below and turns off the transponder and fetches a bottle of walkaround oxygen that only the crew has access to. He comes back to the cockpit. The captain has noticed that the transponder has been turned off and confronts Hamid. Hamid says something like “I didn’t do anything! But maybe you should go check it out!”

            So the captain leaves the cockpit to go check the transponder below. Immediately, Hamid pulls the throttles to zero. Instantly, the rear cabin depressurizes. Hamid dons the oxygen walkaround and ignores the captain hammering at the cockpit door. He’s somehow changed the conbination. After two or three minutes, when he’s pretty sure the back of the plane is immobilised, he gives the “Good night” announcement to ATC and then boots the engines and immediately climbs the plane to 45,000 feet, making sure that all in the back are now dead.

            He then brings the plane back down to 29,000 feet and repressurizes the cabin. He goes back to the galley and maybe fetches himself a bottle of scotch and comes back to the coskpit. The plane is silent.

            He sets the course for some distant waypoint in the Indian Ocean and begins to drink the scotch. After a couple of hours of drinking and crying, he finally decides to pull the plug. He depressurizes the plane for the last time, and lapses into unconsciousness.

            The plane dutifully flies the waypoints he programmed, way over the Indian Ocean, for hours longer. At around 8:30 a.m. it begins to run out of fuel — first one engine goes, then another, and he’s losing altitude more and more rapidly. He’s almost at sea level when the final engine coughs its last and the plane hits the water at 470 knots, breaks up, and quickly sinks, thousands of miles from the nearest land. It is 6 more days until anyone realises he may have taken the plane that way. By that time, the wreckage — such as there is — is so scattered that there is little left to find.

            Hamid has committed his lonely suicide and now no one will ever know what happened to him and the plane.

            What do you think?

          • Rod says:

            Yeah, good novel. And it qualifies perfectly as one of the 10,000 or so possible scenarios.

            I hope he’s got some warm woollies on because that plane is going to be awful cold. But then of course he has the scotch to keep him feeling warm.

          • romiha says:

            @Nicholas Robinson – if I’m not mistaken, I was the lone replier to your Diego Garcia spiel. and yeah. I knew it was a hoax. lol.
            and creative scenario (#418) but I am afraid we may never know the truth …

          • Pelegrin says:

            Up at post 370…. Can’t this threading problem be fixed? Seems to be a pretty good little group of us posting here, but yet we have to deal with trying to follow each other’s posts and where they are.

          • fiona says:

            replying to you – just to try to help me post get placed at the end.

            I think when the c-pilot said alright goodnight he was attempting to call for help by code — he was saying HELP — because if he had wanted to go undetected he would have said the formal sign off that was expected. which he knew full well. Somebody was literally or otherwise holding a gun to his head – somebody not the other pilot who would also know the correct sign off. So he couldn’t say “help” he had to hope that by saying something that sounded right but was technically wrong – would sound alarms.

            I believe it was somebody who didn’t know the correct sign off who was holding them under duress, somebody who knew how to fly — but not somebody who knew the correct sign offs.

          • StevenSG says:

            (repost from 374; Not sure why it posted way up there)

            I need help understanding something:

            1 – the ACARS system, even disabled, still pings the satellite about every hour

            2 – we have maps of where the LAST ping was, in long arcs over Asia and the Indian ocean

            3 – what about the previous pings? Wouldn’t those previous pings, in sequence, give us a better notion of the flight path, either north or south, given the last Malaysian radar contact?

            What am I missing?

            —-
            On a separate note, can someone please loan me a large round red rubber nose to send to Malaysia’s Transport Minister for him to use during “Press Conferences”?

          • JFO says:

            (reposting via a reply) The NYT has just reported that the change of flight path was programmed in the cockpit. (That would be 9:30 PM eastern time, 3/17). –Significant? Or an obvious assertion?

          • Tycho B says:

            Some questions that I don’t see the media asking:

            Why didn’t the Emergency Locator Transmitters ELTs go off upon contact with the water? Is this normal is airplane crashes? Can they be disabled by a pilot?

            Can a pilot depressurize a cabin and kill everyone? Some sources say yes, others say no.

            Why hasn’t Inmarsat released the other “arcs” so that we could see the plane’s progression over 7 hours?

            Could any weather satellites see the plane’s contrails, or any spy satellite see the heat signature at night?

            Have any of the passenger’s cellphones connected to any cell tower in any country after the transponder was turned off?

            Will Boeing remove the capability of turning off ACARS from their software?

          • Richard says:

            The emergency locators are likely pinging right now. They are ultrasonic so while sonar in the area will work, simply flying over will not. Also, the FDRs may fail at a depth greater than 6000m; there are quite a few areas to the south of Malaysia where this would be the case.

            Not sure on next three questions

            Maybe but doubt they’d tell us that

            As I have noted, I think it would be big news if any calls connected but so far nothing. Given the inaccuracy of the flight path, there may be a lot of data to check. I did previously note that one could buy two or three cell jammers for $200-500 that would prevent passengers/crew from connecting with any towers even if they were close enough.

            The issue is that pilots need isolate electrical systems in case of electrical fire. As electrical fire/shorting is more common than terrorism, I imagine pilots will retain the option of shutting down systems.

          • Richard says:

            I guess Malaysian authorities now say they cannot be sure the transponder and ACARS were turned off at different times.

            http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2014/03/17/mh370_malaysian_airline_ceo_backtracks_on_sequence_of_final_communications.html

          • Pelegrin says:

            ho-humm… post went up to #378

          • Richard says:

            Who’s going to worked on the mystery of the possibly hijacked commenting system? :)

          • Nicholas Robinson says:

            Umm (Here’s hoping this ends up at the bottom of the heap!)

            Just to give you an idea of the caliber of the personnel of the Asian nations who juts *might* have a vested interest in finding out what happened to MH370, and their Inspector Clouseau-like attitude to the whole thing, we have this delightful article from the Bangkok Post: http://tinyurl.com/nog9oaz

            I mean, THESE PEOPLE ARE SUPPOSED TO BE PROFESSIONALS. Yet they held on to potentially crucial data for -wait for it — ten days. And their explanation?

            “With only its own radar to go on, it took Malaysia a week to confirm that Flight 370 had entered the strait, an important detail that led it to change its search strategy.

            “When asked why it took so long to release the information, Montol said, ‘Because we did not pay any attention to it. The Royal Thai Air Force only looks after any threats against our country, so anything that did not look like a threat to us, we simply look at it without taking actions.'”

            How nice to know that the Thais are ON THE JOB! No more worries now!

          • Richard says:

            There is no formal sign-off. Having listened to quite a bit of ATC chatter, “All right, good night” is completely normal.

          • Richard says:

            See above reply to you but, no, “All right, Good night” is a perfectly common acknowledgement leaving an ATC region.

          • Pacific moderate says:

            If the reports of erratic climbs and dives are inaccurate, and it was the Captain or First Officer that committed the act, then the passengers and cabin crew might not have realized that there was anything wrong, at least initially. This was a red eye flight with a portion over water, with a long projected flight time and no moonlight. If pilot #1 incapacitated pilot #2 and hid that fact, there *might* not have been anything obviously amiss in the passenger cabin for a while.

          • Nicholas Robinson says:

            I most emphatically agree with the “already dead” scenario. However, we need to ask a couple of questions; do the oxygen masks deploy automatically upon sensing a lack of oxygen? How are they deployed?

            Furthermore, I disagree with the “dead in 4-5 seconds” comment. I’m no respiratory therapist, but I would bet the even with the meager amount of O2 at 45,000 get, a human being would be able to remain conscious for at least thirty seconds. Please correct me if you know the physiology around hypoxia.

            At any rate, I highly doubt that any passenger — even if they had a single clue as to what was going on — would leap into action with their cell phones — and, referring to an earlier comment of mine, the passengers were mainly mainland Chinese — a group, I will bet, who are not exactly in the “Act now, figure out later” category.

            Finally, it is HIGHLY unlikely that any cellphone at 45,000 feet would be able to reach another cellphone in the same aircraft, let alone the ground.

            In my mind, there would have been zero possibility for anyone, including the cabin crew, to reach the ground in the time frames postulated. Besides, taking care of business ON the plane would have been their first instinct, not trying to tech the ground. Perhaps after ten minutes of contemplation, but definitely not in the dozens of seconds that were probably available to them.

      • Pacific Moderate says:

        As I point out above, the reason could be to fly the plane to a location where it is unlikely that incriminating onboard evidence could be recovered. Among other things, if it was a pilot, the lack of evidence would make the loss more acceptable to his surviving family (think of suicidal individuals that crash their cars so that it looks like an accident). It would be especially plausible if the aircraft is shown to have turned toward the Southeast after passing Sumatra.

      • Tsee Lee says:

        Just look at the worldwide fixation. Is that not proof enough it worked?

        There are several explanations for going to such lengths to conceal a suicidal hijacking, but the simplest is this: terrorists are always cooking up new schemes to scare people. If this plane was brought down by a terrorist (with all the disclaimers about speculations, etc.), this could be a new tactic even more effective, perhaps, in the post-9/11 world where we thought we’d seen it all.

    • Simon Gunson says:

      Richard the aircraft did not fly off from the Straits of Malacca following any Airways path. For a start these airways routes are above 29,000ft for aircraft strictly following ATC proceedures and this aircraft was wandering about the sky below these altitudes. One phrase sums up that issue “Red Herrings.”

  267. Irwin says:

    Patrick… saw you on CNN with professional troll Piers Morgan. I was hoping for a sober discussion but it was evident that Piers wanted to troll right from the beginning. I solute you for trying your best to resist his trolling attempts. The other two panel guests were foolish to engage Piers Morgan by answering his trollish leading questions.

    But I guess this means you won’t be back on CNN for a while…

    • Irwin says:

      For benefit of other people reading – Patrick was on Piers Morgan Live on March 13 as an “aviation expert and airline pilot”, and did his best to try to stick to the facts.

  268. fiona says:

    cool! anybody have link to the show? I wanna see who’s blog i’m posting on!!

    • Patrick says:

      The Piers Morgan thing didn’t go very well. He totally blocked me from the first segment (not a word), and hardly let me talk during the second one, then started spouting on about crying Chinese grandmothers and “WHEN WILL GET AN ANSWER!” Then it was over.

      I actually wore a tie for that abuse.

      I was on with Wolf Blitzer, and Richard Quest’s CNN-I show earlier in the week, plus CNN-I again on Friday. They went more smoothly. I also did two NPR spots, “Inside Edition,” CBC-TV, Bloomberg TV, Al Jazeera, and a bunch of other stuff. See HERE for the full list.

      • fiona says:

        :( my sympathies. screw em :)

      • Zach says:

        Perhaps next time Piers asks your panel a question, you could put your underwear on your head, stick two pencils up your nose, and simply respond “wibble wibble”.

        At the very least, if would grab his attention…

        …and by establishing a cultural connection, you might win a friend.

        http://www.bbc.co.uk/comedy/blackadder/episodes/four/four_goodbyee.shtml

      • I think the suicide theory is extremely unlikely, and what an inconvenient way to do it and why take everyone with you? Can’t imagine this being the case. As for the pilot with the home simulator–if he was up to no good, I think he would have destroyed the evidence prior to trip and certainly wouldn’t have been photographed smiling in front of it.

        It is bizarre that this has not been thoroughly investigated however and makes me think the investigators are not doing a very good job at all.

      • Eirik says:

        Richard Quest is good. Hes actually one of the few (if not the only) regular hosts on CNN who seem to know what hes talking about in this case. And he got the balls to tell them off when they are just plain wrong.

  269. fiona says:

    just learned that somebody who went to one of my schools was on board :(

    lots of scientists/ engineers on that plane.

  270. fiona says:

    wish I could pour over that passenger/crew list.

    yes I’d treat it like a game of clue w/ 238 Ms. Peacocks and Professor Plums

  271. J. Douglas says:

    If Iran can build underground cities for nuclear weapons programs, they would probably have the ability to build a runway fairly quickly. The biggest time factor is in the concrete curing.

    Where would they build it? How about one of the Andaman islands wiped clean by the tsunami. Some of them are big enough and remote enough to go undetected. Work by night, cover with camouflage by day so planes don’t spot. Worked for the Allies building up for D-Day.

    The Malaysian pilots provided the skills, the Iranians with the stolen passports provided the where.

    • Richard says:

      Can you provide the “why?”

      • J. Douglas says:

        You really need to ask? Or do you believe Iran really loves everybody and is just misunderstood?

        They’re certainly not just a couple of kids taking a car for a joyride.

        • Richard says:

          I mean what would the point of taking a 777 be? Iran is on the edge of getting out from under crippling sanctions so if it comes out it was them, it will end up costing them way more than anything they could hope to gain from this.

          If you are thinking they would want to secretly “weaponize” the plane, they already have a 747 cargo plane that would work much better for such a purpose.

  272. Patrick says:

    Er, scratch that earlier message of mine, about appearing on the show “Inside Edition.”

    For the second time I wasted a chunk of my day sitting down for a taping by that show, only for them to NOT use the segment.

    Back in October I spent half a day at Kennedy Airport doing a taping about my book with them. It was supposed to air that day, and they DIDN’T USE IT.

    Now it happened again. This morning I got up early after an extremely hectic day yesterday, with another extremely hectic day on tap for today, because they promised, this time, to run the segment and to mention the book.

    Well, once again they DIDN’T.

    You have no idea how angry this makes me. I was exhausted this morning but I went and did it. And it was a very good interview — probably the best I’d done all week.

    CNN’s Erin Burnett show also canceled on me, last minute, after I was already in the studio, on Wednesday afternoon, saying they were “going in a different direction”

    • Aw, that’s too bad! Do they compensate you for this time? They should! Especially if it doesn’t go on air. Maybe you could stipulate that next time? I’m sorry you wasted your time, we are listening here. To every word.

    • Richard says:

      Patrick, I would have thought you would have learned by now that you exist to serve their story and should be thankful for the opportunity :)

      I have only done a little bit of media here and there but only dealing with the legal system is more likely to help you lose faith in humanity than doing television interviews.

  273. I wish we could view the media appearances, I won’t even watch the mainstream stuff because it’s too sensationalized. Patrick would be the voice of reason I’d be interested in hearing.

    Can’t wait for your next update Patrick. Thanks for providing a little community for the MH370 obsessed.

  274. Adrian Maher says:

    There has been a wave of sensational speculation regarding this MH370 flight from last week. But my thoughts concern the very nature of this flight. Firstly we know that it was a check flight for the FO on the 777. In that context, is it not conceivable that the Captain would have assigned a variety of theoretical diversions to simulate weather or engine failures, all while tracking to Beijing? I am a pilot and every check flight I have had involves untold torturous exercises, all theoretical. But to that point, if they would have practiced them, then surely the FO would have been required to enter these into the FMS? That could start to explain the track change, following the NAV Waypoints. Now consider the 12 year old 777. An FD has recently been released regarding possible slow decompression due to corrosion of a panel near the comms area. Given the context of such a busy cockpit, is it not reasonable to assume the pilots may have missed the alert for cabin pressure, supported by the possible mumbling on the radio shortly before loss? As far as the Transponder is concerned, this sits just below the left hand of the FO. Now we know Hypoxia can make people do funny stuff, so is it also now possible to imagine that the FO in his confused state disabled the Transponder to possibly encode 7700 but passed out before turning it back to transmit? If you accept the premies here, then the plane would have then flown onto IGARI waypoint, turned to follow the FMS flight plan amendment to Alor Star, following what ever Flight Level was entered in for that ‘theoretical’ track and then continued well on into the Indian Ocean. If you now accept all of this, given the flight time, the plane would have come down between Diego Garcia and Male in the Maldives.

    Please let me know your thoughts?

    • Ronald says:

      My thoughts are, “Thank you for some thought-provoking words!”

      This thread has been getting sadly more incoherent and you’re a breath of fresh air.

      Cheers

    • Jennifer says:

      My hypothesis: I think this is actually what most likely happened. And to add to your description-I think that while the plane was ascending to an elevation suitable for cruise control, there was a gradual decompression issue that set in especially during the 3 or so minutes after the pilots left Malaysian airspace and as they entered Vietnam else airspace. At this time the Japanese were trying to communicate with the pilot who is mumbling due to lack of air. Perhaps they heard the Japanese telling them that their plane was not communicating. Perhaps the pilot was trying to reset or fix the transponder and passed out while it was in off mode. Also the plane was heading in a 40 degree turn around this juncture to make the NE turn towards Beijing. I think the plane kept turning given lack of pilot control. I also think that the plane was gaining altitude while turning – which pilots often do intentionally. The plane just kept turning until pointing toward the Indian Ocean and eventually stabilized it’s own trajectory and kept flying until it ran out of gas. It did not land smoothly, but most likely spilun sideways crashing into the Indian Ocean I am guessing they will find something from that plane this weekend or very soon. I believe the search is on the right track.

    • Andrew says:

      This seems quite a plausible scenario to me. The question is can you demonstrate any human interaction in the long period after the depressurisation or crisis event? It surprises me that the hijacking theme is pursued without first eliminating the possibility of the plane flying itself according to some earlier programmed simulation that wasn’t revoked.
      Or what would happen if the pilots disengaged from the old course, began to turn and then passed out. Would the autopilot somehow plot its own new course?

  275. Kim says:

    I understand that some of the communication equipment could have been shut off. Is it possible to shut off, or avoid communication with the black box?
    Thank you for all the information you have provided here to help me (us) understand the workings inside a plane!!

  276. Van says:

    The main question is , was there anything worth stealing? Aircraft routinely transport currency and gold and other high valued items. If someone knew this, and would not hesitate to kill over 200 people (hence..no phone calls or msgs). then consider the following the sequence of events …..(1) whoever is in charge of the cockpit turns off the transponder (2) initiates a turn back toward Malaysia (3) dons his oxygen mask and starts to depressurize the aircraft .(4) the passenger masks deploy and he tells the passengers there is an emergency and to put on their masks (5) the aircraft is still at altitude so after 12 minutes the passengers all pass out and die (the plane flew another 30-45 min after turniing…passenger oxygen is only good for 12-15min0 ..(6) the pilot dumps some fuel to leave oil slick and misinformation (7) When close enough to landing field, drops below high altitude radar (8) lands at night somewhere where associates are waiting and has provided enough lighting.(9) cover the plane with tarps so it will not be seen easily from the air…(10) off load your loot……6days head start…..cnn, beauracracy and political egos extend their time

  277. fiona says:

    to borrow from the old “the butler did it” — who better than the crew to both gain access to the cockpit and subdue passengers

    if anybody BUT the crew did it — why didn’t the crew individually attempt to message for help as they would be first to know something was wrong/

  278. Pelegrin says:

    Have they discovered anything about either of those pilots which might point towards them being potentially suicidal?

    And if it wasn’t a pilot but someone else who managed to take control of the plane, well it’s a hell of a scenario to have someone on board who was not only capable of taking control of the plane but also knew what to do to direct the plane in a particular manner and effect the controls to hinder detection, and at the same time be suicidal.

    • LDC says:

      That is similar to my question–pilot suicide has been mentioned as a possibility since the beginning, so why haven’t we heard anything from people who knew the pilots (or the crew)? I’ve heard some personal stories about some of the passengers, but not about the pilots.

      • backpacker says:

        I am not on-board with the pilot suicide scenario. But in a related note, I am curious why the officials have not declared who actually said the final words “alright, good night”. Was it the Captain, First Officer, or neither? Speculation has been FO due to common practice, but I have not seen that officially confirmed.

        Malaysian Air has to have someone who can ID the voice print. Or Flight Control. Or even voice recognition software. Why has no one definitively said who done it? Give us that much, at least!

        Whatever answer they give, it would reduce, by half, the theories and speculation out there.

  279. B says:

    Interesting reading.

    Haven’t read all the comments, but Patrick, I have a question:

    First of all, could some sort of disastrous event — but not “smashing the plane immediately into smithereens” disastrous — cause the transponder to fail, then 14 minutes later, the data transmitter (is that the same as “ACARS”?) -I mean, a severe structural failure, perhaps involving rips in the plane… Couldn’t that kill one instrument, and only finally destroy another one 14 minutes later? (Via further structural rips, perhaps impacts of objects/ structure within the cockpit… or a fire that somehow survives briefly but does not consume the plane [how does fire fare in oxygen-deprived environment, anyway? if depressurization is involved?)

    -2nd question: If pilots/crew are incapacitated by hypoxia or other events, CAN the autopilot — whether swiftly programmed by a not-fully-incapacitated pilot, or, whatever — fly a course that includes going through those “navigational waypoints”? Or does that kind of flying imply an ABSOLUTE requirement that a person is at the controls?

    Could a confluence of events have come together to create this?

    Thank you for your thoughts. -B

  280. Are you kidding me? says:

    After all the comments you’ve posted here (and who knows where else?), you didn’t even realize such a simple and basic fact?

    Please step away from the keyboard for a while, I’m trying to get to the end of the comments and don’t need to have to skip over nonsense to get there.

    Thank you.

    • Are you kidding me? says:

      What the devil? My comment was NOT for the general audience here, but was most certainly a reply to Fiona.

      Issues with ReCaptcha re-directed my comment to top level somehow.

      Here’s what I replied to:

      ————
      > Fiona, please remember that Viet Nam airspace
      > is where MH370 was headed, NOT Chinese.
      ————
      >> oh. didn’t even realize. thanks
      ————

  281. billbai says:

    http://www.canada.com/topics/news/national/story.html?id=0041c1b9-d938-4956-a88e-436c8fc8ba45&k=33368

    Post 911 planes can be controlled from outside and are uninterruptible…

    anyone can verify this?

  282. billbai says:

    Malaysia PM mentioned Turkey as a possible destination and I paste below some related notes that I have been collecting:

    1. There was Chinese Uighur passenger name: MAIMAITIJIANG/A, passenger 99 on manifest:
    http://www.malaysiaairlines.com/content/dam/mas/master/en/pdf/Malaysia%20Airlines%20Flight%20MH%20370%20Passenger%20Manifest_Nationality.pdf

    2. He apparently was flight simulator trained, had a PhD from the UK and was a lecturer in the electrical and electronics engineering department of a Turkish university:
    http://www.smh.com.au/world/missing-malaysia-airlines-jet-investigation-paying-special-attention-to-chinese-uighur-passenger-20140313-hvifh.html
    and
    http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/as-search-for-mh370-continues-police-take-close-look-at-uighur-passenger-cr

    3. Confusingly, there were other accounts that reported the sole Uigur on the plane under another name Memetjan Abdullah, a 35-year-old Uyghur oil painter from Kashgar:
    http://news.wypr.org/post/vanished-malaysian-airliner-carried-artist-whose-name-vanished-too

    4. Recently a Turkish cleric has called on jihad against Chinese:
    http://themuslimissue.wordpress.com/2014/03/04/uighur-muslim-jihadi-we-are-coming-o-buddhists-killing-you-slaughtering-you-and-cutting-off-your-heads/

    But doesnt make sense, with so many other Muslims on board, how could they all be sacrificed. Unless the plane landed and they were removed, and the rest of them to be … on video tape, as has been done before. I am really hoping this is not the case, but it seems like Rupert Murdoch has been pushing this idea all along:
    http://news.oneindia.in/feature/missing-mh370-to-bin-laden-rupert-murdoch-finds-a-link-1412633.html
    and
    http://inagist.com/all/444652513476632576/

  283. Jim Tucker says:

    I have not heard or seen anything that can’t be explained without invoking pirates, (calling Peter Pan) but it seems that nearly everyone is just leaping with joy at that explanation.

    Pat, am I way off here?

    If something happened to depressurize, and it interfered with flight crew O2 they had about 10 seconds of useful consciousness or so. Hard to tell what people losing the ability to think correctly might do. Their actions pitch the plane to 40000 feet or so, where nearly everyone on the plane is put to sleep by the lack of O2 already, except for a small number, perhaps, that manage to get some O2. They try to fly the plane, and perhaps they are fighting some control that is still engaged, but have no radio or other way to communicate. Since the plane was turned around it flies back across the islands where they try to land or do something, but they wind up flying out to sea, and crash.

    A damaged, broken, perhaps had a fire, plane with nearly everyone or everyone dead flying until it runs out of fuel.

    I just don’t see any evidence of pirates yet, without starting to make things up.

    Unless one thinks there is a pirate out there who thinks they are going to scare people by disappearing airliners like David Copperfield. As far as stealing one, I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t just lease one for a month, or knock off a cargo carrier.

    These big ones have controls, people with guns, safety doors, all sort of things that make it hard, and there are so many other easier way s to get a plane like that.

    Could be, but it seems like a leap.

  284. Cynic says:

    Is it possible to swap transponders?

    Could it be that the real MH370 transponders were on some other, smaller plane – a red herring to lead investigators astray?

    The small plane probably rode alongside MH370 for a while then separated into a zig-zag course, with its transponders giving off signals that everybody assumes were from MH370?

    So everybody runs off looking in the Indian Ocean, but the real MH370 probably flew stealth mode, just above the drink, to a secret location to be used later for a nefarious mission?

    In that case, search missions should be looking in the opposite direction from the Indian Ocean, near countries with poor or patchy radar, inefficient military or air force, probably within a 1000 miles of the coast of Malaysia.

  285. Clues says:

    Not that easy to try to land, discretly, such a plane.
    Where can we find a small, but long enough (1,5km as it is the minimum landing distance of the 777 200er), airport in this area ?
    Some small island with an aiport…
    Impossible ?
    Look at Great coco island…..

  286. Antionne says:

    It is very worrying that public and media attention are (intentionally?) diverted away from the plausible theory of decompression and damaged antennas scenario towards the more sensational (‘terror’, ‘lost’) speculations that ease off pressure from Boeing to be more forthcoming about potential problems with the 777. Can anyone out there attract the attention of serious reporters?

  287. Pilotman says:

    I think it will still take some weeks before they find it. They don’t really know where is the aircraft and the surface where they have to look is so huge and still increasing everydays… RIP.

  288. J. Douglas says:

    Reports now say the engines pinged for about 8 hours. Iran itself is now theoretically within range.

    What was the flight time to Beijing? Isn’t it standard practice to add a couple more hours worth of fuel in case of circling or diversions?

  289. yvonne says:

    Going back to suspects…..gotta be the 2 Iranians with the false passports……….so is plane in Iran now?

  290. anon84816 says:

    Here is something I found on the pilot Zaharie Shah’s facebook january 2013

    Politics of fear.. This is what it’s boiled down to… Questioning the qualification of the individuals who dare to standup. (Anuar or Hadi .) These are our only hope to restore democracy. 50 years in power by a single party (coalition) does not say much about democracy in the country. If these leaders willing to stand in the line of fire the least we could do is support them. They might not be perceived to be the best candidate but sacrifice is necessary to achieve the goal of free democracy. When you renovate a house you have to suffer all the consequences. From dust, to the contractor that run off with the money, Aliens workers keeping an eyes on your family. WHY DO YOU RISK THAT? Because at the end after all the loss of extra ringgit for overprice items the contractor billed you and you elude the alien predators from robbing your house and harming your family you know it will be worthwhile.”

    Don’t know if that means anything but it shows he didn’t like the political situation in his country… at this point we have to scrutinize these details.

  291. Sid says:

    Is it theoretically possible to manually turn off or disconnect the ACARS?

    • Richard says:

      Yes, though based on other sources I have read (which sometimes are conflicting) even when off the system checks sat connection on a regular basis (the pings). This is probably done so when the system is turned back on there isn’t a lot of handshaking required to start sending and receiving actual data.

      Also, unlike some reports, the pings do not include location information. This would explain the two disparate course they are now searching. My guess it that they are reconstructing the path by communication transit time (converted to distance) to the satellite and other factors. Geometrically this could generate multiple paths in opposite directions.

  292. […] (See Smith’s fuller explanation of transponders, radar, cabin decompression, and other aspects of airline flying here.) […]

  293. GuyFawkes73 says:

    Put this in your pipe and smoke it……….you steal a plane, fly it to a pre-selected destination, say, Diego Garcia in the middle of the Indian Ocean (home of the US military with a runway long enough to take off and land a 777 and within the 5 hour flying range), kill the passengers, load a nuke, and fly it to where every you want, and detonate. Instant false flag…..blame whomever you want….and makes for a very scary scenario.

  294. Pretty compelling evidence of a hijack, and probably an inside job. I’d look to a member of the cabin crew rather than the pilots, with the rest of the team (including someone with pilot training) among the passengers. Weapon(s) smuggled aboard by crew member or stashed in advance by maintenance or baggage handler. Most plausible target some city in India.

    Cabin crew member uses status to gain access to flight deck, the rest of the tragic and bloody scenario can be left to your imagination. If all this guesswork is true, then the question is: why didn’t they complete their mission?

  295. Pretty compelling evidence for a hijack, and probably an inside job. I’d look first at the cabin crew, with the rest of the team, including someone with pilot training, among the passengers. Weapon(s) smuggled aboard or stashed by maintenance or baggage handler. Most probable target some city in India.

    Cabin crew hijacker uses status to gain access to flight deck, the rest of the tragic and bloody scenario best left to the imagination. Purely guesswork, but if true, the remaining question is: why didn’t they complete their mission?

  296. Apologies for the double posting.

  297. Nicholas Robinson says:

    Scenario X87L9:

    There are two hijackers. They have somehow smuggled a gun on board. Or are using the old “fake bomb” trick. No matter.

    As the plane reaches cruising altitude, one of them walks up front, maybe pretending to get some water or use the restroom. Maybe he DOES have a liquid bomb; it doesn’t matter. He has waited for the flight attendant to open the cockpit door. He pounces, gets into the cockpit, then says the usual hijackery things and whatever he says freaks the pilots out enough to do what he says to do.

    He is now joined by hijacker #2. They are both semi-knowledgeable about aircraft systems — perhaps have small aircraft training.

    They tell the pilots that they want to fly to, say, Mecca. It doesn’t really matter. First, they order the pilots to turn off the transponder. Then, Hijacker #1 stays with the pilot while Hijacker#2 goes off with F/O to go turn off other devices.

    Meanwhile, Pilot is forced to make the turn, being watched carefully by Hijacker #1. He programs in waypoints heading for wherever it is that the hijacker wants to go. Surreptitiously, he somehow begins a slow climb, heading for past the ceiling of the 777. I’m not sure if he can somehow depressurize the plane by himself but his plan is to incapacitate everyone on board, don an oxygen mask and then retake control. At first, Hijacker #1 doesn’t know what’s going on — Hijacker#2 is still with F/O turning things off. He doesn’t have to know what things to turn off — he can just say “I know all about these planes, so you’d better turn everything off that can let the ground know where we are. Or I’ll set off the bomb. F/O, not wanting to take any risks, does at he is told.

    Rapid decompression suddenly occurs but Hijacker #1 twigs to what the pilot is doing and sits in F/O’s seat and avails himself of the F/O’s oxygen mask.

    From then on, my story becomes murky. But all the people in the back are out, maybe permanently. Hijacker #1 now tries to make sure pilot is taking them where he wants to go — or, perhaps both are incapacitated by the decompression, so now we have a plane programmed with a few waypoints — maybe even a destination — but with no one now at the controls, or perhaps one of the hijackers at the controls, the plane starts descending, ascending, whatever.

    But it keeps flying until it ultimately runs out of gas and crashes in unknown wilderness.

    I know there are enough holes in this theory you could drive battalions through — it’s much more likely that one of the pilots — probably the younger F/O — takes control of the plane and incapacitates the pilot, or, co-opts him in turning off all the relevant devices, then incapacitates him and perhaps the rest of the jet using the depressurization method, then finds himself alone at the controls perhaps with a landing strip in mind. Conversely, his intention all along has been to crash the plane; he just does not want any evidence to point to him for whatever reason.

    Maybe he gets smashed on little liquor bottles and passes out. Plane crashes.

    They seem to know that the plane actually went through certain waypoints — but I never heard precisely HOW they knew this. And if they knew that, why didn’t they know the approximate position of the plane when it finally went completely dark?

    Sure, my story is quite a tall tale. But I am willing to bet that one of the pilots was the perpetrator, for sure. There is no mystery about how one person could have been down below the cockpit shutting things down — the perpetrator could just have incapacitated the other pilot, or forced the other pilot to accompany him around the plane turning things off.

    Somehow, they are going to find out by hook or by crook if any of the passengers had evan a remote knowledge of flying — you can’t hide months of flight school from your friends and family. And a 777 pilot has made it quite clear that if you WEREN’T CHECKED OUT ON A 777 — say, you were checked out on an Airbus A320 — you would not have had the knowledge to go through the triple’s systems and know what to turn off or how to do it. Thus, this points again at one of the pilots. And I’m willing to bet it wasn’t the elder one.

    If you accept the facts that they have put on the table — that a human being must have done the things that were done after that last “Good night,” then you MUST accept that it was either one of the pilots or someone who HAD TRAINING ON A 777.

    This requires no scenario-inventing; it is simply an INCONVERTIBLE FACT based on what all the various entities have insisted happened. In the end, what happened to the plane does not really matter — safe to say it is not sitting on the runway at some remote jungle air strip — what matters is finding out who the perpetrator was. And only an atom-by-atom take-apart of every person on that plane is going to yield the answer of who the person was who did this.

    Planes do not program themselves, turn off specific instruments in order to thwart being found, or continue flying for indeterminate amounts of time.

    There should be no “mystery” about WHAT happened — the mystery should be in WHO did it and WHY they did it. And finding that out should possibly be the easiest thing of all to do, lacking the plane or any wreckage from it. You can take my mythical story and spin it 100 other ways, but the fact remains that this is a Whodunnit and not a Whereisit.

    At least, by deductive reasoning, that’s the only possible thing left to explain this mystery-that-shouldn’t-be-a-mystery.

  298. yvonne says:

    The whole investigation from now will be concentrating on WHY?

    Whatever is behind this very well planned abduction relied on the assumption the world would make that the plane has crashed.They are 7 days ahead and tracks will be covered well by now but we can with luck and a lot of help find out where it landed.

    Not likely the actual aircraft was the reason…………more likely the cargo, be it human or otherwise.

  299. Radaan says:

    Ok…Haven’t checked until now on what’s been said since yesterday. I’ll pose the question again for those of you who thinks it’s a suicide. Why…why…why…would someone who wanted to commit suicide…after apparently taking control of the plane when the transponders were turned off…then turned the plane around…fly for another 6 or so hours, in the dark…instead of just ditching the plane in the ocean immediately?

    • Amy says:

      Given all of the information that’s come out now, I think pilot suicide is the most likely reason for all of this.

      I’m guessing he chose to fly out into the Indian ocean for two reasons. One, he liked flying so much that he wanted to spend his last hours flying the plane over the open ocean. And two, he didn’t want anyone to find the wreckage so that someone (or multiple people) could benefit from an insurance policy.

  300. John Micerglobe Lasu says:

    I think the airline went beyond gravity, went to outer space

  301. I think the suicide theory is extremely unlikely, and what an inconvenient way to do it and why take everyone with you? Can’t imagine this being the case. As for the pilot with the home simulator–if he was up to no good, I think he would have destroyed the evidence prior to trip and certainly wouldn’t have been photographed smiling in front of it.

    It is bizarre that this has not been thoroughly investigated however and makes me think the investigators are not doing a very good job at all.

  302. Pelegrin says:

    Here’s an interesting article for those interested in an espionage angle:

    You Won’t Believe What Spies On Malaysia Plane Were Doing
    http://beforeitsnews.com/events/2014/03/spies-on-missing-malaysia-airline-plane-5-major-defense-contractor-companies-26-intel-passengers-2432766.html

  303. Pelegrin says:

    We need a “LOST, Flight 370″, forum.

  304. Loki says:

    Why does the Malaysian transport guy keep on saying “we have nothing to hide” at each press conference?
    Why did the Malaysian police raid the pilot’s residence?
    Why does the Americans are searching in the Indian ocean when the Chinese/Vietnamese/Malays,etc are tripping over themselves in the wrong area?
    What ways can these planes be tracked(known to the Americans, but NOT divulged to the rest of the world)?
    Can somebody within the Malaysian govt be involved in this hijacking(as it is now becoming slowly apparent)?
    Is the Malaysian govt prevaricating because it knows some radical muslim element has hijacked the plane?
    With one pilot inviting women over to the cockpit area, how secure are todays passenger planes-security wise?
    I believe these are the questions we should be asking.

  305. Rod says:

    My guess is that the US and Russians (and plenty of other counries) have satellites with highly developed infrared capacity to detect the launch of a missile. They must also detect hot aircraft exhaust.

    Assuming this is so, and above and beyond all the primary military radar in operation near land masses, would there not be records of this aircraft’s progress across the globe after the transponders were turned off?

  306. Pelegrin says:

    This could well be the Chinese. The timing of that Chinese satellite image of supposed debris in the Gulf of Thailand came just as there was beginning of a shift of attention to the Malacca Strait and the Malaysia military radar sighting. That Chinese “mistake”, as it was later called, allowed the investigation of the plane traveling west to be delayed yet one more day.

  307. Sid says:

    Does anyone know if there are gaps in military/civilian radar on the northern track suggested by the last ping at 8:11 am that could be exploited by a highjacker to fly without detection into one of the ‘stans? Have they determined at what point in the flight the aircraft ascended beyond 40,000 feet and for how long it stayed there? Hiw long for hypoxia at that level? Can pax oxygen be turned off while leaving cockpit O2 on?

  308. J. Douglas says:

    Cell service has a limited range. How extensive is Malaysia’s network? And being miles above, when cell towers are designed for maximum coverage on the ground, I imagine you would have to be pretty close to a tower to get a reliable signal, and even then, at 500 mph, you’d be out of range quickly.

    Two Muslim pilots up front, two Iranian passengers with stolen id’s, who knows who else on board might have been involved. Add a prearranged destination, some portable ground support equipment and teams ready to go, and it is not an impossible thing to divert this plane.

  309. stella says:

    Hi I dont know if its been asked before and Iknow very little about planes,could it be possible if the pilots seen a missile coming and turned off the tracking system,the smoke,damage etc from the missile affected the pilots they drifted on ,apparently one media report said an oil rigger seen plane in flames at first location.?

  310. Richard says:

    So can we agree that if any messages were successfully sent from the plane we would have heard about it by now? So that leaves two options:

    The victims (for lack of a better word but really just anyone who wasn’t involved in the hijacking) were not capable of sending out any messages. Most seem to agree that this would require the shutting off of oxygen/pressurization to the main cabin. It is definitely the case that the pilot and cabin systems are separate but I am not sure even the crew has a 7 hour supply. That might mean extra tanks would need to be smuggled aboard. Probably not an insurmountable task. It would be very helpful to know if it would be difficult or impossible to depressurize the plane while in flight (well, in a way that wouldn’t make the plane difficult to fly).

    The victims were capable but failed to get any messages out to any recipients. Even if, perhaps especially if, the hijacker(s) were brandishing weapons I am sure multiple people would have tried. But the problem is that they just weren’t in a place were the cells could connect. Or by the time they realized (if the hijack was more subtle) they weren’t in a place to connect (i.e., no one tried until it was too late). For that matter it would be rather easy to build/buy (they are pretty cheap really) a jamming device on the cell band that would prevent calls/text from connecting; after all a plane is a relatively small zone. On the other hand, while such a jamming signal would be incoherent, I would think electronic surveillance would flag it as unusual and worthy of investigation.

    Votes?

  311. Richard says:

    Wha? My last comment inserted 322?! Please go read if you want more of my thoughts, ha.

    Anyway, new discovery: easy enough to by cell phone and electronics jammers for really cheap. For under $500 bucks, maybe much less you could scatter 3-5 around the plane and disrupt all cell service on the plane, whether you are flying low near towers or not. I had heard of museums etc., using such systems but did not know how cheap and easy they are to get. Hell, you can buy them for your car so you and your kids won’t be tempted to use the phone while the car is in motion.

  312. Tycho B says:

    Because CVR only records 2 hours. If you fly 6 hours you wipe out whatever happened on the CVR. And you can ditch the plane in 4km deep water instead of 50m coastal waters. And you can ditch it in an unknown location not in the middle of busy waterways.

  313. Tycho B says:

    I want to know why the emergency locators didn’t go off when the plan crashed. Can they be disabled?

  314. Randall says:

    Even if the cockpit voice recorder is found, it probably only has the last two hours or so on it. The sounds from the point where the plane was taken over were probably recorded over a few times in the hours the plane flew afterwards.

  315. If you want your comment to appear at the bottom of this thread, I believe you need to “reply” to the last comment, otherwise comments seem to be getting lost upthread.

  316. LSS says:

    Patrick,

    What is your opinion of the aviation journalist Flying with Fish (tweeting at https://twitter.com/flyingwithfish)? His theory (as I understand it) is that the pilot flew MH370 to Iran (evading radar detection by trailing very close behind another flight), the 20 Freescale employees were given over to the Iranians, and everything remaining (passengers, crew, plane) was eliminated. In this scenario the Freescale employees have knowledge that helps the Iranians with their atomic weapons program.

    Of course it sounds ridiculously far-fetched, but some folks on the airliners.net forums are taking him very seriously and he appears to have a fair number of sources in DHS and (presumably) elsewhere.

  317. LSS says:

    Patrick,

    What is your opinion of the aviation journalist Flying with Fish (tweeting at https://twitter.com/flyingwithfish)? His theory (as I understand it) is that the pilot flew MH370 to Iran (evading radar detection by trailing very close behind another flight – also, apparently India’s radar detection wasn’t activated!?!), the 20 Freescale employees were given over to the Iranians, and everything remaining (passengers, crew, plane) was eliminated. In this scenario the Freescale employees have knowledge that helps the Iranians with their atomic weapons program.

    Of course it sounds ridiculously far-fetched, but some folks on the airliners.net forums are taking him very seriously and he appears to have a fair number of sources in DHS and (presumably) elsewhere.

  318. nycman says:

    There’s still very little information about what was done after the last ATC contact with MH370. Around 1:38 am both Ho Chi Minh City and KL ATC can’t see it on their radars, and ask a nearby aircraft to try to contact, but, per reports, they just hear garbled sounds. And then what? They called it a night and went home? Search the net and you can find nothing as to what the response was after this point. Who did they call, what did they do? Shouldn’t some kind of emergency response be activated at that time? Instead, they wait till the morning to mount the response, and even later to look for where MH370 might have went. Those few hours after 1:38am, nobody’s talking about. A search for a timeline gets you nothing.

  319. Ben James says:

    Thank you for this enlightening post – it is good to know the media is as sloppy with reporting in your field as they are in the fields I have trained in. This has been a really intriguing story, and I am dying to see how it unfolds – can’t wait for the movie on this Mystery of the Malaysian Airliner fiasco. There was a chick over here who had been on board one of those Malaysian Airlines flights before, and she said that her and her friend were invited to sit inside the cockpit with the pilots (one of them being the pilot on the aforementioned missing flight), and they even showed them pics of selfies they had taken with the pilots, inside the cockpit, whilst the plane was flying. So, apparently security was pretty lax.

    • Nicholas Robinson says:

      “Chick?”

      “Selfie?”

      The Summer of Love was 47 years ago and “selfie” is at best, questionable as being an English word at all.

  320. hammerton says:

    Why was there no resistance or alarm on the part of the passengers or non-cockpit crew? A scary possibility is that the inexplicable ascent to 45,000 feet was done to kill the passengers and cabin crew. If the plane depressurizes at that altitude the o2 from the bags isn’t enough. The plane can be depressurized by shutting the engines off. The steep dive after reaching 45k may reflect a stall, which depressurized the cabin, and then the engines were restarted.

  321. hammerton says:

    The long flight to suicide in the deep waters of the Indian Ocean may have been designed to prevent anyone from ever finding the plane and determining what actually occurred. This could be motivated by the pilot’s desire to not void life insurance policies that have a clause for no payouts for suicide. Also, an indeterminate end of the flight would leave open the possibility of his family getting legal settlements.

  322. Paul Jay says:

    The series of missteps, especially by Malaysian authorities, appears to be mind-boggling. This would only be a short-term issue – understanding that we are all still sensitive to fates of all aboard, except that there’s still a (slim?) chance that the airplane landed somewhere and is being refitted for use as a terrorism device.

    It has been reported that, amongst other things:

    Some Malaysian authorities knew very shortly after the plane’s continuing flight and course changes, due to the radar blips, but allowed the massive international search to go forward even though it was entirely in the wrong area.

    The authorities did not immediately visit the residences of the flight crew (not accusing any of the crew here, mind you) after the plane went missing.

    There were great discrepancies between the reports of the Malaysian government authorities and military command.

    Internationally, more immediate oversight of Malaysian air transport control operations was not demanded.

    No matter what happens, if any of the above proves true, the international community should immediately insist upon extremely tight supervision of all Malaysian air transport, both military and civilian, or they should face harsh sanctions.

  323. hammerton says:

    The long flight to suicide in the deep waters of the Indian Ocean may have been designed to prevent anyone from ever finding the plane and determining what actually occurred. This could be motivated by the pilot’s desire to not void life insurance policies that have a clause for no payouts for suicide. Also, an indeterminate end of the flight would leave open the possibility of his family getting legal settlements.

    • Nicholas Robinson says:

      I assume that all the passengers will be checked for having made any sudden (or not-so-sudden) new life-insurance policies for vast amounts of money. On top of that, they will also need to have had the proper training in flying a 777.

      I think that this investigation could be carried out in about 20 minutes, if we discount infants and children from purchasing huge life-insurance policies AND training to become 777 captains.

    • backpacker says:

      That supposed long flight to nowhere in the Indian Ocean would also tie up any purported Insurance settlement for an extremely long time. Insurance would not pay until the plane was found, the passengers/crew found dead, and the relevant ‘discovery’ phase fully evaluated.

      Remember, it took 2 years to find the Air France plane and its black box in the Atlantic –> even though they found jetsam on the surface within 48 hours of its disappearance.

      So for your insurance scam theory, you have to consider that claim payout = 2 years + investigation/discovery time. The corporate settlement angle would include up to 10 years in legal wrangling.

      I would think such a desperate attempt would be wanting a more immediate payback.

  324. romiha says:

    I have a question regarding these “pings” the satellite(s) “pick up” from aircraft – at what point do the pings stop? For example, an aircraft in for repairs, inspection, not in the air, etc. Do the satellite(s) still pick up “pings” from those aircraft as well?

  325. K.C. says:

    I have been flying for 45 years — for 22 years in the Navy and now as a civilian pilot. I have thousands of hours of flight time. Here is what I believe happened:

    1. There appears to have been only 1 flight crew on board the flight (<8 hour flight). Assuming this, either the pilot or co-pilot took over control of the cockpit and disabled the other flight crewmember;

    2. Then the pilot put on his O2 mask and depressurized the entire plane and also disabled the passenger's O2 masks. At 35,000 feet this would have killed everyone on board in about 3-5 seconds. Remember the Payne Stewart plane mishap;

    3. The pilot then turned off 1 of the transponders, followed some minutes afterwards by the second transponder. He initially forgot there were 2 transponders, but remembered after he spoke to ATC;

    4. Because breathing O2 at 35,000 ft can be difficult, the pilot then reduced altitude to FL 260 and proceeded to the west. His natural reaction to traveling west would have had him pick an even altitude and at 260, breathing O2 in his mask would have allowed the O2 to be absorbed into his blood;

    5. The pilot then either traveled to the northwest for a landing site, or, more likely, simply continued to the southwest until fuel eventually ran out about 9-10 hours later. The plane ended up in the vast wasteland of the South Indian Ocean where it will never be found and the pilot is in heaven with his 77 virgins;

    6. The reason the second scenario is more likely is that no signals from any of the passengers cell phones have occurred which is more likely over vast areas of open water (southwest route) than over land (northwest route);

    7. It is also likely that years from now, with still no evidence of MH 370's whereabouts, there will be continued speculation over this flight in much the same manner as with Amelia Earhart and Judge Carter.

    • Kennedy family says:

      Most sensible suggested outcome yet K.C.
      For me this might not be an attention seeking plot but it certainly reeks of a bit of smugness. It’s so perfectly planned, flying between radars, disabling communications, my theory is the cabin was depressurised which killed the passengers, the plane for over 7 days now has been undetected, I can see the pilot very proud of his sophisticated knowledge. The world is following his mastermind, the maylasian and indeed other world governments and military have been outsmarted. Maybe that is reason enough.

    • Richard says:

      I doubt you are due 77 virgins for killing dozens of fellow Muslims. And as far as I know, there’s no jihad declared against China. In general, murder of innocents is a cardinal sin (as with all other major religions). If this were done for fundamentalist religious reasons, this would be a particularly weird target.

    • backpacker says:

      1. Preposterous! When you say flight crew, if you mean 1 pilot and no co-pilot, I do not imagine they would allow that in a 777. If you are referring to flight attendants in the main body, that is equally unfathomable since the customer-service friendly Malay Air would have m