Airliner Stalls, Crashes After Trying to Climb Over Thunderstorm

My thanks to @socalmike_SD, who has been researching airplane crashes that closely resemble AirAsia Flight 8501. Particularly striking is the case of Pulkovo Aviation Enterprise Flight 612, a Tupolev Tu-154 which crashed in 2006 near Donetsk, Ukraine. The plane was flying at 37,000 feet when it entered an area of thunderstorms and experienced severe turbulence. The flight crew asked for (and was granted) permission to climb 2000 feet to avoid the worst of the storm, but soon after doing so entered into manual flight mode, stalled, and entered a flat spin. Here is an excerpt from the cockpit voice recorder transcript:

11:33:06 CPT: Lets temporarily go to 400 or whatever, this is completely ###. Yes, ask for 390, otherwise we won’t be able to go around!

11:33:12,5 [Sound of Angle of Attack alarm (AoA)]
11:33:17 NAV: Changed
11:33:20 NAV: Tower, this is Pulkovo 612
11:33:21 TWR: Pulkovo 612, receiving you.
11:33:22 CPT: Climb, yes?
11:33:24 NAV: Pulkovo 612, temporarily requesting flight level 390.
11:33:28 CPT: Tell him that its pretty shaky.
11:33:34 TWR: Pulkovo 612, cleared for 3-9-0.
11:33:34 NAV: Climbing to 3-9-0 thank you very much, Pulkovo 6-12
11:33:37 CPT: We will still get this ### (unintelligeble)
11:33:39 CREW: (unintelligeble)
11:33:45 CPT: Where are those (unintelligeble)?!
11:34:24 CPT: That ### is ###! (referring to the thunder storm – author)
11:34:27 CPT: Holy ###!
11:34:32 CPT: She, oh and hail too?
11:34:40 CPT: Give me (unintelligeble)
11:34:43 CPT: And where to? Maybe to the side? Igor, move a bit more.
11:34:48 CPT: Igor.
11:34:49 NAV: What?
11:34:49,5 CPT: Maybe to the side? Where else can we get away from her (Referring to the storm cloud – author)
11:34:52 CREW: (unintelligeble). No.
11:34:54 CPT: Tell me, did we take 390, Andrew?
11:34:56 ST: Pulkovo 612, we are at flight level 390.
11:35:00,3 CPT: Say something? Ah ###! (this is when the crew lost control of the aircraft)
11:35:05 CREW: We are descending (unintelligeble)
11:35:06 CPT: Where the ### are we descending, ###!
11:35:09 CPT: Full power, ###!
11:35:10 EN: Full power.
11:35:12 CPT: Tell them that we are ### descending, ###!
11:35:13 ST: Descending, Pulkovo 612.
11:35:15,9 [Computer Alarm – AoA].
11:35:17 CPT: Carefull.
11:35:20,9 [Computer Alarm – AoA]
11:35:22 CPT: Watch the bank!
11:35:23 CREW: At full power.
11:35:24 Signal
11:35:28 NAV: Pulkovo 612, descending to 3-6-0.
11:35:30,8 [Computer Alarm – AoA]
11:35:31 CPT: Say ### severe turbulance.
11:35:33 NAV: Serious turbulance.
11:35:34 TWR: Pulkovo aircraft, descend 3-6-0.
11:35:36 CPT: ### descending!
11:35:38,9 Signal
11:35,37 CREW: (unintelligeble).
11:35:41 CPT: Carefull, we’re all holding it.
11:35:44 CPT: Holding, ###!
11:35:45 EN: Generators (unintelligeble).
11:35:48 EN: Flameout. Descending. Vanya, flameout. (Vanya is a kind form of “Ivan” – author.)

Less than three minutes later, the plane hit the ground. Everyone aboard was killed.

Recall that AirAsia reportedly requested permission to climb from 32,000 to 38,000 in order to avoid a thunderstorm; after Air Traffic Control denied the request the plane climbed anyway, then apparently stalled and entered an increasingly steep spiral dive or spin to the left, as shown in this image supplied by Victor Iannello:

QZ8501 by Victor Iannello

84 thoughts on “Airliner Stalls, Crashes After Trying to Climb Over Thunderstorm”

  1. @Victor

    I have never accused the IG of malfeasance. Nor have I ever suggested the IG efforts were anything but sincere. Not sure where you are getting those notions.

    What I did say was that any MH370 theory needs to explicitly address motive (causality), lack of debris, and the Inmarsat data to be taken seriously. I stand by that minimalist set of constraints. The IG and ATSB models ignore two out of three. Occam’s razor only works if it is consistent with the observables.

    An initially erratic diversionary flight path is strongly suggested by the data. Why it makes the most sense to assume that the flight path suddenly became fixed when the plane turned South is difficult to explain. That is the assumption the IG and ATSB made, and it should be clearly characterized as an assumption. Justifying it on the basis of degrees of freedom and some vague notions of probability are what I object to. Yes, it is the simplest assumption that fits the Inmarsat data, that is really all you can say about it. While that is a positive attribute, that assumption ignores the previously erratic flight path, and the lack of debris in the area where that assumption leads.

    Your going in position seems to be that the only reason someone disagrees with you is that they don’t understand what you are saying. Yes, I do apologize when I step over the line, most recently to Spencer. That is the proper thing to do. I don’t apologize for being wrong. It happens all the time.

    BTW, I am certainly not in love with the Xmas Island terminus. I offered it only as an alternative largely because of the IG “if you don’t like our model then suggest one of your own” mind set. I would never have even put it out there otherwise.

  2. @Dennis: Here is a word of advice: If you want to express that a group’s action are sincere, you should avoid saying they are putting up a “smokescreen”. A smokescreen is “a ruse designed to disguise someone’s real intentions or activities.” You should also not make accusations that a person is trying to “fool” people. Otherwise, you might give somebody the “notion” that you are making an accusation of insincerity.

    I have no problems with somebody disagreeing with me. The lack of debris found on the surface is something that bothers me to no end. If no wreckage is found in the search area, that is another strike against the path to the SIO. However, I still believe that conducting the search in the SIO was the correct thing to do with the data at hand at that time.

    Now you say you are not in love with the Christmas Island terminus, but only offered it as alternative to the IG’s model because the IG challenged its detractors to come up with something better. (That was probably mostly me making that challenge as most of the IG shuns conflict, to their credit.) So you’ll have to clue me in as to what exactly it is you are proposing at this time. Because at the end of the day, the adults in the room have to make decisions about where to search, how long, and for how much money.

    Better yet, help strategize in finding ways to extract more information from the authorities, whistleblowers, or witnesses, so less guesswork is involved. That is the most productive thing we can do now.

  3. @spencer
    You said “Try the left AC bus (which, incidentally, when de-powered may have rendered the locking mechanism to the cockpit dead, thereby preventing Fariq of any chance of reentry). I haven’t been able to confirm this, but was told by a pilot that this might be something else to consider (in regards to why he would have shut down the bus).”
    Can anybody confirm or discount this with any certainty? If it is true, it would appear to be a BIG missing piece to the puzzle that I’m sure many of us have been wrestling with for months.
    The SDU coming back online apparently captured arguably the most crucial data we have with regard to finding the missing plane. In my opinion, just as crucial, is the information regarding when/where the SDU may have gone dark, and when/where it came back online. By exhausting all technical options of HOW this can occur, we just may start to better understand the WHY the SDU cycled, and in turn shed more light on the disappearance.
    For someone trying to make the plane’s digital signature disappear and knowledge to turn the SDU off, it doesn’t make a lick of sense to turn it back on- especially at the moment preceeding the FMT. (Unless it’s Jeff’s Spoof, of course)
    For a thwarted hijacking scenario, which might involve someone going into the EE bay to try and re-initiate comms or override a locked cockpit door, it would have been extremely lucky to have achieved either objective, but then very unfortunate to apparently fail to communicate or regain control of the plane. Even more so if the result is a plane under nobody’s control.
    For a catastrophic mechanical failure, the chances are extremely slim that the system would reboot itself when it did, and just happen to capture the miraculous Sat data. Admittedly, this lucky reboot could have been the final actions of a troubleshooting crew, however, other more circumstantial evidence- such as an apparent lack of descent, comms, or approach- tend to discredit this heroic notion.
    If it is true that the SDU can only go dark via the EE bay, the left AC bus, an obscure keystroke sequence, or a failed antenna connection- then can any of these methods be paired technically with the reboot about an hour later?
    After much discussion about stowaways in the EE, much discrediting of the keystrokes, and much debate about the antenna, we are left with a great likelihood that the left AC bus is the main culprit for the SDU going dark.
    Assuming that the potential for BTO/BFO trace was unknown at the time, then what else is tied into the left AC bus that somebody wanted to turn off, and then turn back on again?
    At first I felt there must be associated functions needed to fly the end of the flight, but it was apparently manually flown during the time it was off, so it didn’t seem likely. I was left to ponder if oxygen systems were turned back on with it, or perhaps like the hourly handshakes, if the SATcom automatically tries something each hour which would cause it to reboot, and other obscurities.
    Then I read @spencer’s post and realized that if true, the left AC bus could have been used to simply disable any cockpit entry override attempt. Then about an hour later, after the threat was neutralized, the FIRs threaded like a needle, and AP set due south, then someone needed to stretch their legs, get a drink, take a bathroom break, and who knows what else. So the AC bus was turned back on, door unlocked, and SAT started silently handshaking.

  4. Seems like two camps.
    Camp 1: Worked, and continues to work, TIRELESS hours, without compensation, with minimal data, to help locate the people on board MH370. Developed and refined open minded scenarios based on known ‘data’ in hand in PUBLIC forums (Duncan Steel) and other sites. PUBLISHED findings, stated their names and credentials for all to review and critique. Standby to hear any alternate findings and remain open to data based challenges. Gainfully participate with old and new non-members that bring additional skills and energy to pursue MH370’s fate and tackle QZ8501 type crisis.
    Camp2: Individuals, who in large part, throw darts with minimal effort expended. Offer an occasional ‘good point’ or something worth considering as a challenge to published findings. Generally provide no significant rebuttal beyond petty personal ridicule and teasing of “you’re about to see”.
    The public can see the strong credentials of the IG team (and others who publish) and have the opportunity to challenge their findings on public forums such as Jeff Wise’s. Perhaps Camp2 should band together and put forth the effort to develop and publish their findings. Until then it is really nothing more than low grade entertainment.

  5. @Victor

    I can see how my choice of words has lead you to conclude the malfeasance implication. I assure that was not my intention.

    Smoke screen was intended to describe using probability and degrees of freedom to embellish what the cognoscenti know is nothing more than the most simple working assumption. Probably a bad choice of words on my part. Anyway, we have been swapping posts for a long time. If I had anything bad to say about the IG you would have heard it long before now.

    I’ll spend more time wordsmithing any future posts, but frankly, I’ve pretty much run out of gas on this effort.

  6. Late last night, in response to the statement tweeted by Voice370 (@cryfortruth), one of the NoK (his wife was on MH370) responded — and said that Voice370 was “misrepresenting” and wasn’t authorized to speak for his family. Voice370 did not respond to these tweets.

    That caught my attention. And after I tweeted a screenshot of the NoK’s comments, he (‘John’) began talking to me directly. He shared some very interesting information over the span of about two hours, all of which is viewable on my TL (and his: @dfatcrazy).

    Before going further, John told me that he’s Australian — his wife was Chinese. He’s a long time (heavy) pilot who lives in China and flies for a major airline. And, he’s getting information from an insider — the specific source I can’t disclose — who told him, amongst other, that “the data might be corrupted.

    What follows are verbatim tweets from John (some not in order as tweeted, but I grouped them here for continuity):

    “too much politics involved now, the truth is never be told”

    “when aircraft hit the water, where is the debris, look at AirAsia flight 8501, so why no trace #MH370”

    “many in China, many ask me as pilot, the French and Chinese have stated looking in the wrong area”

    “up until December JACC was informing families in English in China, Zielke Judith JACC has refused to come to China”

    “i have invited her [Zielke], December last year, you Remember @TonyAbbottMHR stated only few KM in finding the plane”

    “she [Zielke] was in Kuala Lumpur, not sure of her reasons, have no faith in her or @atsbinfo”

    “The Americans never released anything from Jindalee Operational Radar Network, @Boeing trying to get this data”

    “Boeing has been asking the @FAANews to view the data, US Department of @DeptofDefense has refused to release”

    “yes and remember the US Navy was on exercises that night between Indonesia and Malaysia” (I’ll come back to this)

    “yes have more information at home in Tianjin, on the night there was notice to airmen issue by Malaysia”

    “yes that night about the Navy exercises”

    “yes the pilots #MH370 were informed US navy exercises that night”

    “Judith Zielke has frequent contact with the Voice370 Next of Kin group, not in China, from email” [screenshot – see Twitter]

    “yes many families say this to me in China, who are there, no authorization to make statements of behalf of my family”

    “we have tried many time to tell them JACC, many emails with JACC about this subject”

    “i send emails to Voice370 get no reply, my parents in-law received some email, but are in english”

    “still waiting for response, Judith Zielke might be concern of the misinformation coming from JACC”

    “now i have Australian lawyer involved, what there say is not agreed by lot of families”

    NOTE (and Victor, this will interest you):

    I asked John several times whether the US Navy exercises he mentioned (“between Indonesia and Malaysia”) were occurring in the Gulf of Thailand or the Malacca Strait. He finally answered that the exercises were in Malacca Strait. He said he has a copy of the “notice to airmen” about those exercises, which he’ll provide when he gets back to China. I told him that if 370 was flying KL to Beijing it makes no sense that they would have been “advised” about naval exercises in the Malacca Strait. He agreed and said that’s the question he’s been asking – why would 370 have gotten a notification about US naval exercises in the Malacca Strait?

    John was also unaware (announced several hours before our conversation — in Malaysiakini that a Chinese version of the MH370 official website is now available in China. His response:

    “thanks i pass onto many families, may be thats was done because of the lack of information from Aus and Mas”

    John is away from China now and has promised to share more information when he returns, a week or so from now.

  7. @nihonmama: Thank you for sharing. Hopefully his source provides more information. A knowledgeable leaker could turn this thing around.

  8. @Victor:

    You’re welcome. Many of us have been hoping for a leak. What we speak for shows up. And I believe the universe has answered our call. John’s source is in a prime position.

    And all I kept thinking about while talking to him were the lights that Kate Tee reported seeing in the distance, south of her boat.

  9. Gysbreght,

    Do you know whether direction of the jets from the engines is strictly parallel to the ground when flying at a constant altitude? In other words how jet angle relates to AoA?

    Also, what will happen in case of a sequential flame-out of engines within a few minutes time in AT “constant thrust mode”, or TOGA mode? The altitude of the flame-out of the first engine is 6 km.


  10. @Oleksandr:
    “Do you know whether direction of the jets from the engines is strictly parallel to the ground when flying at a constant altitude? In other words how jet angle relates to AoA?”
    If you want it simple you can assume that the net thrust acts in the direction of flight. If you prefer it complicated I recommend you read the book you googled.

    For your second question you might ask ALSM who tested it in a simulator.

  11. Gysbreght,

    Thanks. If you mean ALSM = airlandseaman = Mike, I asked him about 2 weeks ago. Either I missed his answer or he was too busy to reply.

  12. Benaiahu – firstly welcome in, but your’e too late. The two camps here are affectionately known as number crunchers and conspiricists. You are clearly a cruncher so I would point out that all the meaningful crunching happened ages ago, the rest is largely noise. The latter group got frustrated with the air of certainty displayed by the former when the circumstances of the disappearance night not really suit a dry mathematical approach. The SDU coming back on when it did, the data zinging left, could well be the ball game, but that is a spanner in the model isn’t it? I said day one – no plane in that box. We will see I guess.

  13. Dennis – maybe I should be your translator. By smokescreen I gathered you meant – only available premise for an orderly search. They had to mount one and that AP assumption got them there.

  14. Orion – the left AC bus scenario put forward has not been authoritatively declared doable by anyone at this stage(to my knowledge) and it’s been out there all along. It’s also suggested that it would shut down half the plane? I suppose there is no official interest in these questions coming from Boeing because it doesn’t suit them. It might need a fruitless search before they go over the coals, but the cards might still be held pretty close?

  15. The final location of MH370 is here in the
    Gulf Of Thailand

    103.71E 6.60N ,
    103.76E 6.60N ,
    103.71E to 6.7N

  16. Matty – Perth – Thanks for the welcome. I apologize, I didn’t realize there were already two distinct informal camps defined. For all I knew there were more than two, but decided to post my casual observation here on Jeff’s blog. Your description of crunchers and conspiricists indeed helps me understand the current situation (thanks). My two ‘camp’ conclusion was not solely formed from Jeff’s blogs here, there just seemed to be a plethora of recent venom flying around on websites, twitter pages, etc. Perhaps it’s been ongoing, I’ve been disengaged once the IG report was published, but drawn back into some analysis due to AirAsia QZ8501.
    The ‘crunchers’ have worked SO DILIGENTLY (honorably and professionally), it’s just upsetting to see some folks in Camp 2 attempting to demean their efforts while simultaneously adding virtually no value to the task of finding MH370. Jumping in with both feet on March 12, 2014 probably doesn’t qualify me as too late, however I confess the worn out pencils and my fried MS Excel macros have been on the shelf since July 24, 2014.
    I tried to adhere to ‘data’ and suppressed the urges to theorize scenarios during that period of crunching. I consider the pilots heroes until proven otherwise. I will admit though, that my intuition (proven through the years to be NOT rock solid) kicked in when I first saw Captain Zaharie at check-in, he appeared to me to look into the ‘soul of the security camera’ as if to send a post flight message.

  17. Oleksandr & Gysbreght:

    Regarding sequential flameouts…Assuming the plane is under the control of the AP and AT systems, and there is no human intervention, then the plane maintains altitude after the first flameout, but slows down gradually until it reaches a minimum airspeed. (The AT applies max power on the remaining engine.) When it slows down to the minimum airspeed, it maintains that airspeed and starts to descend as required to maintain the minimum airspeed. When it reaches the single engine service ceiling altitude (~FL240), it remains at that altitude and (lower) airspeed until the second engine flames out. At that point, the AP disengages and does not re-engage when APU power comes up.

    Note however that the decent as I have described above it assumes the second engine failure does not happen for about 15 minutes. It takes that long for the airplane to slow down, descend and reach a new single engine equilibrium. In the case of MH370, the fuel and PDA analysis suggests that the second engine failed about 3-5 minutes after the first engine. In this case, the plane would still be at cruse altitude (assumed ~FL350), but in the process of slowing down when the second engine flamed out. This is what we observed in the simulator when we set the fuel differential to 700 lbs…about 3 minutes between flameouts.

    I posted more details on thai in early November, but I can’t located the posts now.

  18. Orion and many others….

    Many people, including some that are quite knowledgeable about the Inmarsat systems, refer to the SDU as if the SDU is synonymous with the “satellite terminal”. It is not. The complete satellite terminal, or AES (Aeronautical Earth Terminal) as it is formally known in RTCA/ICAO/Inmarsat parlance, consists of several subsystems, one of which is the SDU (Satellite Data Unit). Other subsystems include the HPA (L band PA) and HGA (antenna). Together these subsystems make up the AES.

    There is no evidence that the SDU was ever turned off or was otherwise disabled. All we know is that some part of the whole AES was off or unable to perform normally. It could have been the HGA, HPA or the SDU. Or the entire AES may have been working the whole time, and for some external reason, the AES was not able to track the pilot carrier. In any event, to avoid further confusion, it would be best to refer to the AES, not the SDU, when discussing possible outages.

  19. airlandseaman – AES – Roger that. Sincerely though would it also be best to treat the reboot as a power interruption as the ATSB does because it’s the most likely cause? If we were to introduce doubt in this instance we could do so on many others as well?

  20. I have been a little quiet in the last month because I went down a rabbit hole researching what other states or entities might have been monitoring the Malacca Strait that night. It seemed important to me, because if the exact timing and position of the turn south could be determined more precisely, this would be very useful in locating the endpoint of the flight.
    The bearing of the AC before the turn is also crucial to our understanding of what happened.
    I found a fascinating and Byzantine structure of info sharing and streaming among littoral and user states. I found no single document which clearly lays out what the structure is, I have left it in rough note form, because I am simply too busy at work right now to develop any conclusions — and my conclusions might well be off-base anyway.
    When I read Julie’s post on the possibility that an exercise was taking place that night in the Malacca Straits, it occurred that perhaps my research was not quite so dull and pointless, and perhaps it should be shared, mere rough notes and dozens of links and clippings though it is.
    The lights over the horizon and the unusual buoys have always interested me more than the glowing orange plane.
    If anyone would like the (34 pages!) of notes, I can email them if they contact me on twitter. Jeff’s site (wisely) will not let me post such a link heavy doc here.
    If anyone can figure out how to post these links and notes here in a more accessible form, feel free to do it for me!.

  21. Airlandseaman,

    Thanks for your comment. I read your post a couple months ago – good piece of work.

    However, this time I am interested in a different scenario: AP is off; AT is set in a constant thrust mode. Assume the flame-out of the first engine occurs at ~6 km altitude, in the area 99-101 E, 27-28 S, ~425 knots, 155-160 deg heading (this is where my current “AT model” ends up). This is in my understanding that in this mode the aircraft will not maintain its altitude, but rather plummet to the level, where the lift is sufficient. Perhaps it would dive first to lower altitude due to inertia. A quick check by inverting the last velocity to opposite direction, gives BFO ~ -85 Hz, meaning that BFO = -2 Hz is feasible to achieve as a combination of dive + rotation + change in speed after flame out of the first engine in this area.

  22. @everyone

    Eight hour & thirty four minute accident? I’ll never buy it. While I do understand the “business end” of things wanting to move forward to a conclusion, theirs no proof otherwise. Hijackings are motivated by an end game. In this case we’ve found no end game. That to me IMO, means what everyone does not want to believe….the obvious.

  23. Matty – Perth

    Until we have more evidence to support the theory that the loss of AES communications was due to the loss of primary power to the AES, we must keep an open mind. Loss of power may be the most likely cause (simplest explanation), but the fact is we do not know why the sat link was down between 17:37 and 18:25. My reluctance to jump to the conclusion that it must have been due to the loss of primary AES power is based on decades of experience in the MSS (mobile satellite service) industry. It’s not just another opinion based on convenience to support a theory. Let me elaborate on a few possible alternative explanations.

    The potential for loss of the pilot carrier, due to the orientation of the aircraft in relation to the satellite, was increased as soon as the airplane turned WNW. Between the time of this turn (circa 17:50) and the time of the FMT (final major turn circa 18:25-18:40), the aircraft was flying more or less toward the satellite where the antenna pattern was near a null. Don and I have both looked at the antenna pattern in some detail and concluded that the antenna pattern and coincidental direction of flight were unlikely to be so bad that the pilot carrier would be lost due to this geometry. Moreover, according to a MAS Press Conference on March 20, 2014, there should have been an ACARS message transmitted at 17:37, but none was received. ( ) At 17:37, the aircraft was still over Malaysia SW bound, so the HGA pattern would not have been an issue at that point. Taken together, loss of the pilot carrier due to antenna orientation appears to be a possible, but unlikely explanation for the outage.

    Ionospheric scintillation has also been suggested as a possible explanation for the loss of service during this period, but there have been no reports of other aircraft in the vicinity suffering a loss of service, so this explanation is also unlikely. (Note: Ionospheric scintillation in the equatorial regions can be a big problem for VHF and UHF communications, but it does not affect communications in the L band as much.)

    The MCS6000 AES, located in the back of the airplane, requires a continuous feed of INS data (position, speed, etc.) via an ARINC 429 link from the computers in the front of the plane. If the AES stopped receiving INS data for any reason, then it would not have been able to steer the HGA, or compute the required Doppler corrected transmitter frequency. Thus, it is very likely that the AES would be out of service if there was any loss of this 429 data link, or the information carried over the link. Given that there was no VHF voice communications after 17:19:24 and the Transponder Mode S data was lost after 17:21:13, it is certainly possible that the INS data flowing to the AES was disrupted due to a common failure in some piece of equipment in the E-Bay. This explanation for the loss of service cannot be dismissed as easily as the two previous theories.

    However, there is one additional observation that tends to favor the loss of primary power theory over the loss of INS data theory (or the other two theories above). We note that when the AES logged on at 18:25:26, the BFO values for the first few minutes thereafter appear to have been drifting in a way that is more consistent with a restoration of primary power event than a restoration of INS data event. If the AES power had been on during the outage, the oven controlled reference oscillator would have maintained a stable frequency and there should not have been any significant BFO transients following the 18:25:26 logon.

    In summary, there are multiple alternative explanations for the AES outage, but loss of primary power is the most likely explanation. Like so many other necessary assumptions, like the mode of navigation after the FMT, we have no choice. We must base the search on the most likely assumptions while maintaining an awareness that few of the assumptions have probabilities of .999.

  24. An aircraft accident is some occurrence “…where a person is fatally or seriously injured, the aircraft sustains damage or structural failure or the aircraft is missing or is completely inaccessible”. It doesn’t say anything about what caused an accident, as defined above. A hijacking that ends in death of the passengers in a crash is still an ‘aircraft accident’.

  25. @Richard Cole

    Not wanting to split hairs with ya. But when an a/c is commandeered/hijacked, then intentionally or un intentionally lost/crashed during the course of that action, the court of public opinion would differ. Murder probably sums it up best, not an “accident”. I’m sure the relatives would agree also.

  26. The DCA statement today was solely about the definitions and obligations within the Chicago Convention. That’s how the Convention defines the words. The term ‘accident’ is, as you say, loaded so it was never going to be easy to make that statement without it being seen in different ways.

    The term ‘Road Traffic Accident’ is sometimes replaced with ‘Road Traffic Collision’ to avoid a word that seems to imply a cause.

  27. Since the MH370 search in the SIO is ongoing, is there a statutory deadline (ICAO or other) that made an announcement of “accident”, at this time, paramount?

    That presser non-presser in KL was (and is) emblematic of this entire affair – and I mean ALL of it.

  28. @Richard Cole

    Causation is the mystery indeed regarding MH370. I understand, without definite causation from a legal standpoint that it be ruled an accident but, I’ll refuse to call it an 8:43 minute accident until she’s found. It’s been a fascinating journey along the way with this group thus far & most folks know my opinion regarding MH370.

  29. @Nihonmama

    Yeah….I thought that the ICOA gave them a year, not that it’s that far away, but it still seems hasty.

  30. @Chris Butler:

    “but it still seems hasty.”

    In the interest of clarity (because we have so little), I re-phrased my question (on Twitter) with great specificity:

    “why is accident declaration (per Annex 12 & 13) more “practicable” NOW than when $$$ for #MH370 SIO search end?”

    To which Grant Brophy, a long time air crash investigator responded:

    ” yep – can’t anser that. Have to go back to ‘horses mouth.'”

    See you at the bar.

  31. @Nihonmama: my understanding is that this announcement merely opens the legal doorway to compensation for NoK.

    I don’t think we need to parse the timing to figure out the ulterior motive: the more compensation they pay out at this stage, the less leverage NoK will have to keep the search alive.

  32. @Brock:

    “merely opens the legal doorway to compensation for NoK.”

    Compensation which will be capped and if taken, would quite likely PRECLUDE the NoK from further legal claims, if additional information about the cause of 370’s disappearance were to become known.

    So, this is not just about the search, it’s about a legal strategy to limit liability. Which is pretty interesting, considering that the plane has yet to be found.

  33. @ Victor:

    You posted January 24, 2015 at 2:06 PM:
    “Here is a new map that shows that the plane might have banked around 60 deg at 470 kt for the first turn around 23:16:52, which is 26 seconds before the steep climb at 23:17:18. That is a wing loading of about 2g (…).”

    and on January 25, 2015 at 8:03 PM:
    “By the way, I did not use the “DATA SURVEILLANCE AWQ 8501″ as the source for my path analysis because the image I have was severely distorted by the camera angle.”

    I’m wondering what data you used as the source for your path analysis, because the data shown on “DATA SURVEILLANCE AWQ 8501” are compatible with a perfectly normal turn at 38 degrees of bank, as shown here:

    I’m raising this again because banking to 60 deg in a transport airplane is near-aerobatic and quite unusual, so it would be highly significant if it had occurred. The limited information that has since been released by the investigation does not mention the occurrence of such manoeuvre prior to the stall.

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