Media Reaction to “The Spoof”

BBC (UK) A wild and chilling theory about what happened to MH370, by Robert Cottrell

What if the MH370 flew north and landed safely on a Russian airstrip in Kazakhstan? Of course it’s a wild theory. It’s also a great yarn, with just enough data points to sound plausible.

Le Monde (France): Un an après, l’improbable disparition du MH370, by Florency de Changy

Mais si l’avion n’est pas au fond de l’océan Indien, où est-il ? Pour certains, il ne s’agit plus d’affiner des calculs déjà suraffinés, mais bien de remettre en cause la démarche tout entière. Se peut-il qu’une partie des données Inmarsat aient été trafiquées ? C’est la thèse du journaliste américain Jeff Wise qui vient de publier un livre numérique The Plane That Was not There (« L’avion qui n’était pas là »). Il propose un scénario dans lequel les « vraies fausses » informations d’Inmarsat ne sont là que pour faire diversion, alors que les vrais coupables sont les deux Ukrainiens et le Russe qui étaient assis à l’avant de l’avion et dont les passeports sont les seuls à ne pas avoir été vérifiés par leurs autorités nationales respectives. Le Groupe indépendant a immédiatement exclu Jeff Wise.

Das Bild (Germany): Das Sind die Theorien

Der amerikanische Wissenschaftsautor und Pilot Jeff Wise, der das Drama um MH370 seit Monaten für den US-Nachrichtensender CNN begleitet, glaubt sogar: Rebellen könnten die Maschine nach Zentralasien entführt haben – um die Boeing eines Tages für ihre Zwecke einzusetzen. Wise zu BILD: „Die Idee, MH 370 könnte nach Kasachstan verschleppt worden sein, ist nicht neu.”

Il Post (Italy): La teoria di Jeff Wise sul volo MH370, di Andrea Fiorello

Un anno dopo la scomparsa nel cielo dell’Asia del volo Malaysia Airlines MH370 – di cui non si hanno notizie dalle 2,40 del 3 marzo 2014, quando i radar persero le tracce dell’aereo circa due ore dopo il decollo da Kuala Lumpur con destinazione Pechino – il giornalista americano Jeff Wise ha pubblicato sul New York Magazine un lungo articolo che racconta la sua personale storia di “esperto” del volo MH370 e gli sviluppi delle teorie su cosa sia successo all’aereo, che lo hanno portato di recente a un’ipotesi che racconta come incredibile e convincente insieme.

RT (Russia): ‘True story!’ MSM spins theory that Putin hijacked MH370 and landed it in Kazakhstan, by Nebojsa Malic

Judging by his observations about MH17 and Russia, Wise has clearly fallen victim to what psychologists call confirmation bias – a tendency to see and interpret information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions. However, almost the entire mainstream press in the West suffers from this when it comes to Russia – prompting several commentators to dub the phenomenon ‘Putin Derangement Syndrome.’ Witness the recent announcement by a “Pentagon think-tank” that Vladimir Putin is supposedly autistic, dutifully reported as fact. Now it seems Jeff Wise’s fantasy is due for the same treatment.

Daily Mail (UK): Vladimir Putin ordered Russian special forces to steal MH370 and secretly landed it at huge space port in Kazakhstan, claims expert

Jeff Wise, a U.S. science writer who spearheaded CNN’s coverage of the Boeing 777-200E, has based his outlandish theory on pings that the plane gave off for seven hours after it went missing… However Wise admits in New York Magazine that he does not know why Vladimir Putin would want to steal a plane full of people and that his idea is somewhat ‘crazy’.

Associated Press: Alien abduction? Stolen by Russia? MH370 theories keep coming, by Jane Wardell

The Independent Group (IG), comprised of around a dozen satellite, data, maths and aviation experts, expelled Wise this week following articles linked to his book.

“It’s a bunch of garbage,” said New Zealand-based IG member Duncan Steel.

Maclean’s (Canada): Inside the search for Flight MH370, by Chris Sorenson

Of course, because nothing to do with MH370 is ever simple, one of the Independent Group’s members, science writer and CNN aviation analyst Jeff Wise, recently wrote an article for New York magazine that laid out an alternative scenario, where MH370 might have flown north and landed at a remote runway in Kazakhstan. He called it his pet theory on MH370 and claims it fits the available data as well as any other.

News Corp Australia: Expert Jeff Wise links Vladimir Putin to MH370 disaster, by James Law

Now, a far-out theory from one of CNN’s chief commentators on the aviation disaster, science journalist Jeff Wise, has been circulated worldwide — and has more credibility than you might think.

WAToday (Australia): MH370 flew to Kazakhstan: Jeff Wise outlines new theory, by Michael Koziol

Others who have examined the hypothesis regard it as fanciful. Aviation expert Sylvia Wrigley, who wrote her own book on MH370, said no aircraft had previously been tracked using Inmarsat’s BFO data. “The idea that it was even possible was a major revelation, even to Inmarsat,” she wrote. Therefore, the notion that hijackers would deliberately falsify the data in order to lead investigators on a wild goose chase was “crazy” and “inconceivably sophisticated”, she said.

La Press (Canada): Et Si L’Avion S’Était Posé… Au Kazakhstan?, par Philippe Mercure

Les gens qui défendent des théories du complot cherchent habituellement à vous persuader à tout prix qu’ils détiennent la vérité. Jeff Wise est un autre type de personnage. Le pilote et journaliste scientifique américain a été l’un de ceux qui ont le plus commenté la disparition de l’avion MH370 depuis un an. Et il vient de lancer une thèse particulièrement controversée, celle voulant que l’avion ait été dérouté par des Russes, qui l’auraient fait atterrir… au Kazakhstan. La théorie, on s’en doute, a été accueillie avec beaucoup de scepticisme, incluant par son propre auteur.

« Il y a des matins où je me réveille et je me dis que c’est ce qui est arrivé. Et il y a d’autres matins où je juge que c’est complètement fou… et que je le suis aussi. »

GQ: The Vanishing, by Sean Flynn

The specifics are very technical, and there are problems matching parts of it to the available data. “The fuel model,” Wise says, for instance, “doesn’t really allow it.” The route would have traversed militarized and tightly monitored airspace, and the motive is completely unclear, except Vladimir Putin is an irrational thug. But it’s a reasoned, good-faith exercise, and Wise argues Kazakhstan is more probable than any other terrestrial landing and no more improbable than a crash into the ocean. “You either think the debris must have washed up by now or you think it evaded all those northern radars,” he says. “Which seems more impossible to you?”

203 thoughts on “Media Reaction to “The Spoof””

  1. @ZRichard: well-argued: I just don’t think we have the time or resources to “impeach” the BFO values one at a time. And you must admit that more than just that (to you) discountable data point is drawing us away from the SIO.

    Thanks for the edit, but if you make a habit of it, this petulant scribe may respond by “issuing some powerful ordnance”…

  2. @ Dr. Bobby Ulich

    the main problem with math is that it can’t describe nature&human behaviour…and these models as good as they are begin to remind me on famous “global warming” models and we all know how those worked out

  3. @Richard,

    The only online description of the slotted aloha protocol clearly states that both burst frequency and timing are compensated by the aircraft’s position. This is done to ensure that the signals arrive in their expected time slot, which in turn allows maximization of the bandwidth and minimization of collisions. That unequivocally means that both BTOs and BFOs are partially compensated.

    Either 1) this protocol document does not apply to 9M-MRO’s communication, 2) it’s wrong, 3) the understanding that BTOs are not compensated is mistaken, or 4) there is some other highly nuanced interpretation that isn’t clear.

    Can you shed any light on this? I’m struggling to understand why the “uncompensated BTO” is repeated despite no documentary support and despite clear contradiction in available documentation. I’m not a satellite expert, but a contradiction is a contradiction.

  4. Associated Press has a report on today’s briefing by Malaysia’s transport minister Liow Tiong Lai:

    “By the end of May, if we still can’t find the plane, then we will have to go back to the drawing board,” he said in the interview. “We rely on the expert group … to come up with the plan. I am cautiously optimistic it should be in this area.”

    He said “we need directions, we need plans, we need to review all the data that we have” under experts’ guidance.

    He said that ships looking for debris from the plane at the ocean floor off the coast of western Australia have so far scoured more than 40 percent of the 60,000 square kilometers (23,166 square miles) area where the search has been focused on. In the latest report he received Friday, he said the search team identified 10 hard objects which are still to be analyzed.

  5. Brock,

    Ok, I think I start understanding what you are saying. Basically the 6 plots on the left side in your slide are provided just for comparative reason, right? And this was the topic of your arguing with ALSM, who insists that LANL event was a splash sound as opposed to ice cracking. Correct?

    If so, is there any chance to see the same kind of the pressure records for the “Curtin event” at the Scott Reef station?

    Re the bearing plot. What I mean is that it shows another event at ~1:30 am, but bearing ~210 deg. And the resolution of the jpg is not sufficient to correlate these events with the plots of the “Curtin event” posted earlier (shortly after the disappearance of MH370). That is why I asked how you know that 300 deg event is the “Curtin event”.

  6. One year after the dissapearance of MH370, I still havent heard among all kind of conspiracy theories one that is in my mind since the begining. Has anyone considered the possibility that someone developed a way to penetrate and take over an airplane REMOTELY, catching its operation and navigation systems. Jeff Wise said in its interview he has no idea why Putin would steal a plane with so many passengers, and that gives a possible explanation as to what are the motives, and accepting that ithe aim was not to steal a plane but to test te ability to do that remotely. If that was the case, onse the hijacking was successful the plane itself was needed no more, so i doubt it flew north, my guess is it was sunk in deep waters, with the intention never to be found.

  7. A reflective word of thanks.

    It’s hard to believe it’s a year. I extend a heartfelt THANK YOU to the IG team for all their efforts last year, hard work, and brilliance. (Also to a few outside ‘crunchers’ that also poured their hearts and sharp minds into this mystery.)

    Thanks for the efforts of the respectable non-crunchers. Freedom of speech is important and generation of ideas, even new ideas, is important to solving this great mystery.

    Keep in mind, the IG group performed the proper analysis of the available data before the official investigators reached the same conclusion. Investigators being the talented resources from ATSB, NTSB, China, Inmarsat, etc. In addition the IG did it without all the data! Take a minute and think about that.

    If the IG had all the data, who knows where the updated locations would be?

    I have not forgotten Duncan Steel’s tireless efforts ‘herding cats’ that helped derive a consensus theory, an amazing feat in itself, and the first of a kind at scale in history. A special thanks to Mr. Exner and Mr. Iannello who have patiently addressed the social media ‘dart throwers’. We all seem to observe the constant drone of low brow dart throwing and know deep in our hearts these people have offered nothing of substance, published no reasonable theories, sad Monday morning quarterbacking at best. Those who simply repeat “the IG is wrong” without publishing a solution of their own earn a 2014 MH370 Internet Coward award.

    The dead silence from the US, Chinese, Malaysian, French and Russian governments is very disturbing.

    Thanks again to the IG and all the honorable folks who poured their heart into trying to solve this tremendous mystery. Shame on those who simply throw darts from comfort of mom’s basement. Let’s not forget to pray for the all those affected by this tragic event. The next of kin have not been treated fairly by entire whole governments; this is a travesty that we all should fear.

  8. @kundi, That’s an often-asked question; the problem with remote takeover is that the plane was offline for a considerable period of time prior to 18:25. It’s hard to see how it be controlled without a link.

  9. @kundi “and accepting that ithe aim was not to steal a plane but to test te ability to do that remotely.”

    those capable of doing that would have the money to buy their own 777 and test it

  10. Bobby,

    The 3-station analysis and coincidence with your prediction is interesting. Do you have the raw pressure data at all the 3 stations?

    It appears that 150-210 deg bearing is a ‘casual’ thing based on the plot shared by Brock, and it can likely be attributed to the ice cracking. In addition, a single line would have 2 intersection points with the 7th arc, unless it is tangential. As long as you already did some analysis, what are the coordinates of the second point?

  11. StevanG “those capable of doing that would have the money to buy their own 777 and test it”
    That is right, but it is very different to test something in your lab and out in real life. After all there were people on board, they will certainly present an additional element in the”experiment”.
    The main problem with that conspiracy theories in my opinion is that they require a lot of people involved in it and that makes them difficult to be kept in secrecy.
    And what if the hijackers had someone inside, to take control while the plane is offline, is that possible?

  12. @kundi

    what lab? They could fly 777 around and set up the real situation in a real life environment.

    Who would have the logistics to pull something like this except Russia,India,China,Iran? They could all do this without any hijacking.

  13. test


    IMO a test is one very remote option, if no sound motif can be identified otherwise.

    Though the society of our times brings out exotic forms of crime, like people who dont like to play the playstation games , but do some sort of killing games in reality. I would not even dare to think of such a scenario, but things like that are already in the movies and maybe kids age 12, who are ingenious with computers, hacking and programming but do not know what they are doing, want to test their skills in a real scenario …

  14. PhilD – Regarding the ten hard objects yet to be analyzed? At the conclusion of the bathy survey there was about 58 such objects, just wondering if they are related? Might indicate that there is no 60 metre object as some say exists down there?

  15. Matty, I just wrote the intro sentence in my post. The following 3 paragraphs were an excerpt from the linked AP article. Sorry if that was unclear.

  16. @Oleksandr,
    @Brock / MH370_Canuck,

    Tried a post with 2 links but it seems to be lost . . . .

    To see Prostyakov’s 10-station result, go to:

    His result needs to be confirmed by independent experts. I have asked LANL to do this.

  17. “Tried a post with 2 links but it seems to be lost . . . .”

    happened to me too, probably spam protection so when you put more than one link it doesn’t get published

    and that Prostyakov area should hopefully solve the mystery

  18. Need some clarity on the acoustic/seismic data. The original “Curtin” signal, about 1:30 UT, first identified by the IMOS Rottnest Island hydrophone station and also seen in the CTBTO Cape Leeuwin hydrophone station data, was later shown to come from Carlberg Ridge, a region of frequent geological activity, and thus not related to MH370 (Nature News Blog, Sept 5, 2014). Right?

    The LANL signal is also from the CTBTO Cape Leeuwin station data, but is earlier in time – 00:52 UT. Totally diffferent signal. Right?

    The Prostyakov analysis is based on data from seismometers (sound waves in Earth, not water). It is based on looking for peaks near the expected time of detection. Right? If so, a false-positive analysis is in order.

  19. Dr. Ulich,

    Looking at the recent posted chart, check the lower boundaries for 60,000 km2 ATSB purple UW ‘Search Area 2’. An estimate from the ATSB map for southwest end is (-38.20, 87.37) and (-38.69, 87.80).

  20. @sk999,

    Yes, the signal at 00:52 at HA01 is not the same as the Curtin event.

    I agree that independent confirmation should be carried out. I have asked LANL if they would be willing to do this.

    This type of acoustic/seismic data analysis is difficult because selecting events to be analyzed is sometimes subjective. The SNRs are often low, and there is no unique spectral fingerprint for identifying this type of event. Thus by only looking in a narrow time window, and by selecting low SNR events, one could get a result that simply confirms the assumptions made originally when selecting short data records. I’m not saying this was done here. I’m just saying it is an easy trap to fall into, and an independent analysis is needed to confirm the result.

    I think this confirmation should answer two questions:

    1. Given the stations and the times of the event at each station, is the calculated position and time of origin correct? This is the easy part, and one only needs to make an Excel spreadsheet to check that the results have been calculated correctly.

    2. The more difficult question, and perhaps the most time consuming one to answer, is to validate the selected event in each station’s records. One has to troll through about +/- an hour’s worth of recordings of each seismograph and hydroacoustic sensor to see how many similar events occur in a relatively wide time window. Then one has to assess which of the fairly obvious events are plausible candidates for further computation as part of a multi-station data set.

    Basically one has to guess a rough position and time for the impact in order to know where in the data records to look. Then, if you find some roughly similar-looking signals from multiple stations, you use an iterative search in 3-D (lat, lon, and time of origin) that minimizes the propagation time errors (by weighted least squares technique). Then, if sufficient consistent signals are present, you will find the estimated impact information (lat, lon, and time) when the sum of the squares of the propagation time errors is minimized.

    If you have three stations and know the sound/seismic wave speeds, you can determine lat/lon/time. If you have 4 or more stations, you can also solve for the wave propagation speed, assuming it is the same to all stations.

  21. I did Item #1 above. My numbers closely match Kirill’s. I asked him to have a look at a couple of stations that have larger errors.

  22. @JS
    That’s a very interesting question which required some thought which shows I didn’t fully understand how the system works. Some comments:

    a. There are slots on the R-channel communications channel. The time stamps in the communication log show they are 500ms long which is confirmed by the AMSS standard. The slots are defined by a frame structure transmitted from the GES, to which the AES has to synchronise. There is a concept of a superframe which is up to 16 frames long.

    b. For the later BTOs the P-channel ping and R-channel reply are ~2000ms apart. The P-channel message tells the AES which frame of a 16 frame superframe to use, so the 2000ms/4 frame separation is part of the P-channel message.

    c. Thus the BTO is the difference between the clock edge of the frame clock transmission at the GES and the time a message is received from the AES, which was sent by the AES when the clock edge was received. Some fixed offset is applied to the measured BTO in the GES before it is logged; hence the round trip nature of the BTO.

    d. I can’t see any mention in the AMSS standard about compensation of the transmission times to get them to the satellite in some time slot – can you post a reference? The satellite is a bent pipe so does not care about timing. Some maritime satellite terminals are simple units that would not necessarily have a GPS receiver to allow compensation for the time delay of transmission to the satellite. Frequency compensation is required under AMSS but is only an issue for aircraft, not maritime users.

  23. Bobby, Sk999,

    The original “Curtin” signal occurred at ~1:34 UTC, and it was reportedly recorded at two stations. No information was released about bearing, so I was wondering why Curtin Univ. discarded the sections of the line. I suspected they have bearing information, but my questions remained without answers.

    A long while ago I did basically the same thing as Bobby suggested in his Point #2, assuming the impact at the 6th arc (7th arc was available only from models at that time):
    (add www in front).

    However, later it popped up that the bearing was ~300 deg (at HA01). Meanwhile, for some unknown reasons LANL selected another event, which appears to be within the group of typical ice cracking events, according to the slide recently posted by Brock:
    (add https in front).

    The main question is in which way this LANL event is different from several dozens of other similar events of the same bearing?

    ALSM (and IG) are apparently aware of more details, but reluctant to publicly share this information. It is strange to me why IG publicly criticize Malay government and ATSB for the lack of transparency, but meanwhile they are not willing to disclose more information that might be helpful to others…

  24. The bearing of the LANL signal is given as 246.9 degrees, but without an error bar. I tried estimating an error and ran into a problem. Figure 1 of the report shows that the signal arrived at three hydrophones in the order W1, W2, W3. The cross-correlation plot (2nd panel in Figure 2) purports to show the correlation among all three pairs, but longest delay (about 1.3 seconds) is labelled “2 vs 3” whereas from Figure 1 we would expect it to be “1 vs 3”. The plot must be mislabeled.

    The location of station HA01 (or H01 – not sure why the difference) is about 100 km West of Cape Leeuwin – use search terms “ctbto ha01 inspecting” and hit “I’m Feeling Lucky” to find the report.

    The Curtin signal was discounted by the original researchers based on new data retrieved on Sept 3, 2014 from the IMOS station at Scott Reef. Here’s my one allowed link per post:

  25. Sk999,

    HA01 Station: 34.3S, 115.2E (150 km NW of Cape Leeuwin);
    RCS Station: 31.892S, 114.939E (west of Rottnest Island).

    Earlier I included references at Duncan’s blog. That time I was unable to find more accurate location of HA01.

    Do you have pressure time series at Scott Reef covering both the events, along with the location of the station?

    Where is the number of 246.9 deg coming from? The figure shared by Brock depicts a cluster of signals ~ 190-210 deg bearing.

    What report do you mean?

  26. Sk999,

    Thanks for the link.

    Interesting… The list I took coordinates of HA01 from, was published by Springer. That means coordinates of HA01 are intentionally provided inaccurately. 150 km would mean > 1 deg deviation.

  27. Hi Richard,

    The source that stating the timing is compensated is actually a white paper, linked below. I will post what appears to be a protocol in a separate post to evade the spam filter but I suspect you have it.

    The relevant part appears on page 40:
    “It should be kept in mind, however, that these timescales are defined at the GES, so the timescale for R channels corresponds to reception. Aircraft must anticipate transmission and apply a timing advance. In the case of AMSS, data rates are low, and slots have a large aperture, so the knowledge of the aircraft position and nominal satellite position is precise enough to calculate this timing advance.”

    As you note, the slots appear to be 500ms each. The round trip times of roughly 510ms would bounce the signal into the wrong slot altogether. It could no longer be a slotted aloha protocol if it did that.

    The other spec, linked in the next post, states that the BTO cannot exceed 300us. Finally, Inmarsat’s article in the JofN states that the BTO is a measure from the beginning of the slot boundary.

    So far, you and I seem to be more or less on the same page, and consistent with the documentation.

    Here’s where I break off: you state the consensus view, that “Some fixed offset is applied to the measured BTO in the GES before it is logged.”

    The problem is that the fixed offset, roughly 495679us, wasn’t known until the calibration exercise. So, how does one apply a fixed offset before logging, if the offset is not known? I agree that an unknown fixed offset could APPEAR in a value, but I can’t see how an unknown is APPLIED to that value.

    As for the maritime units, while they may not have GPS, from another source it sounds like even the simplest devices require a lat/long input. As the paper above suggests, it doesn’t have to be highly accurate – by my calculations anything within 45km *at the edges of the coverage* will still fall within the target 300us, while directly below the satellite a station could be 100s of km off and still time a signal within the 300us range.

    I freely admit that the aircraft position could have been fed to the AES once, at the gate, or even that it could have been entered at manufacture and never updated, and the bandwidth advantage of the slotted protocol is simply wasted. If so, the what we have are indeed numbers relative to some nominal lat/long that nobody remembers, and the results we currently have would be accurate. But, if that’s the case, that needs to be part of the explanation.

  28. @Littlefoot

    Why do you attack everybody who dares to come up with a different narrative? You’re not doing yourself and your scenario any favors. You challenge Matty’s or other posters’ intellect? Have you ever heard about social intelligence?

    I came to praise Matty, not bury him. Sorry you took it the wrong way.

    I’m not trying to do myself nor anyone else other than the families favors. Pointing the finger squarely at Zaharie and Malaysia is the way to do this. You are free to disagree, but you are wrong…and it’s too important a matter to allow for these absolutely fucking insane scenarios to corrupt the flow of REALISTIC ideas.

    My only interest is in the truth. You’ve attacked me twice now for what??? Ninhondrama has called me ‘reprehensible’ for my questioning of the ‘unimpeachable’ Gerry S. and his fictional story that he piggy backed onto Jeff’s.

    He claims it was ONLY written for the greater good of air safety yet begins the article with a defense of the captain did not do it because that would be to obvious. As I said before, any investigator worth his/her salt would fall down laughing at Gerry’s logic.


    Thanks for your advice…but I’ll take that wager on a moments notice. The truth shall surface, eventually.

  29. @LGHamilton,

    That you are steering the families in the manner of direction I see you predisposed to here is a travesty. Truly tragic for them.

  30. @sk999,

    Here is some information related to the ongoing acoustic analyses related to MH370.

    For those who don’t have it already, the first LANL acoustic detection report from last July is available at:

    A second, subsequent report by LANL related to acoustic detections of MH370 is available at:

    The coordinates of the Cape Leeuwin hydrophone array are:

    H01W1 -34.8929 114.15390 250samples/s 1 to 100 Hz HiTech hydrophone and datalogger

    H01W2 -34.89708 114.13403 250samples/s 1 to 100 Hz HiTech hydrophone and datalogger

    H01W3 -34.88093 114.13998 250samples/s 1 to 100 Hz HiTech hydrophone and datalogger

    Other relevant seismic stations are:

    AIS -37.79635 77.569186 20samples/s STRECKEISEN STS2

    PAF -49.351 70.210708 20 STRECKEISEN STS1 + METROZET E300 Electronics

    AIS is Amsterdam Island. PAF is Port-aux-Francais (French Southern and Antarctic Lands).

    Hopefully, these reports will answer your questions concerning bearing measurements with the hydrophone array.

    Using the crossing of the Cape Leeuwin event bearing with the 7th arc leads LANL to an estimated time of origin of 00:20:15 UTC (and I would estimate +/- ~ 1 minute uncertainty based on the SNRs and the resultant uncertainty in the estimated bearing).

  31. Just a lurker who enjoys reading the site. Have there been any searches (land/air) along the northern route to at least check it out? Have there been any other organized searches other than the current one, and the one in the South China Sea immediately after the crash?

    I like reading all the details and theories. I have one complaint. When someone says the plane “just vanished into thin air”… The plane most likely vanished into the depths of the Ocean. If there is one place on the planet that you can lose a plane, it’s in the Ocean. Since no one knows exactly where to look, it’s not a surprise at all that the plane has not be found. The surprise would be if it WAS found.

  32. @Spencer,
    If you’re still reading here, I’ve critcised your style, not all of your arguments.
    If you read the comments from Jeff’s newest post I actually supported the view that the captain’s social pages entries shouldn’t be totally dismissed as irrelevant.
    But I still think the idea that the captain became a suicidal mass murderer because he wanted to make some kind of nebulous political statement by first turning the plane around, going up the Strait, then turning around again in order to hide the plane in the unexplored debth of the SIO is as unrealistic as other scenarios you reject as outlandish and not worth to explore.

  33. Bobby,

    Thank you. Now the hydrophones issue is getting clearer. For the comprehensiveness of the picture, any idea about the Scott Reef station data (links, plots, whatever else is available)?

  34. @JS

    There is no reference to timing correction in the primary documentation, i.e. the ICAO specs for AMSS (classic Inmarsat = Classic-aero) which is what the AES on MH370 was using. Indeed the specs state:
    “ Aircraft system-timing reference point. The reference timing point for signals generated and received by the AES shall be at the antenna.”

    Either the document you referenced is wrong, or refers to some later Inmarsat protocol – 3F1 was an old system.

    On the issue about offset, a fixed number was subtracted from the measured BTO, but that doesn’t mean re-adding it would give a useful value of BTO. There are delays in signal propagation due to delays in transmission by the AES (within the stated window of +/-300us of the frame boundary), retransmission at 3F1 and in the ground station. These factors and the fixed offset are all removed by the same calibration process, which would still be needed if the fixed offset had not been subtracted.

    I would suggest the crude position required by a simple Inmarsat device is so it knows which satellite is in the sky and hence which ID to use on transmissions.

  35. @Richard – correct me if I’m wrong, but you’re thinking a crude position is programmed, enough to communicate with the right satellite? And because the position remained throughout the flight, the calibration exercise is valid? I think that fits the explanation we’re given, to a degree.

    However, in order for the AES to point at the satellite, it needs its own coordinates and orientation. I’m struggling to believe that this data is used for everything EXCEPT the most fundamental requirement of the slotted aloha protocol over its predecessor – the signal timing. So it’s used for both beam steering and frequency compensation, but not distance compensation?

    I understand that neither of us can fully answer this question so I’m not necessarily disagreeing with you.

    You note that the later pings are ~2 seconds after the P-channel signal. Note that the 22:40 ping came back faster than the others, despite the plane being further away. Also note the consistency in the R-channel log times, all around .405 or .905. Those must be receipt times. Doesn’t that all suggest they were sent with a target time in mind? All receipts seem to be +/- 2000us from the slot boundaries of .405 and .905.

  36. JS,

    I won’t disagree with you, but will note the following (and I could be wrong!) It seems like aviation standards are designed around the lowest common denominator. For an AES, what does that mean? Omnidirectional antenna – low bandwidth, but no need to know where the location or orientation of the aircraft. You still need to correct the frequency for Doppler, but that can be done by monitoring a pilot signal. How do you know which satellite to pick? Each satellite has a unique Psmc channel, so you keep a table of all those channel frequencies and find the satellite with the strongest signal. Once again, no need to know where you are. So you can have an AES that is entirely self-contained.

    What is the impact of not correcting the transmission timing for location? I estimate that the spread in arrival times for aircraft visible to a satellite anywhere in a hemisphere would be of order 21 millisec (light-travel time of 1 Earth radius). What is the dead-time between adjacents slots? I haven’t actually looked, but if it is bigger than 21 millisec, then there is no need for an AES to fine-tune its transmission time any better, and the benefits of slotted Aloha will still be realized.

    Anyway, its an interesting topic that has had me a bit puzzled as well.

  37. @sk999 – I think 42ms, right, because it’s round trip?

    That’s 8% of the presumed 500ms slot, assuming no guard. With a guard taking up a few ms it’s likely over 10%. I’m thinking that’s a 10% bandwidth reduction, solely over the omission of the distance calc, which is the simplest calculation to make. I believe on higher data rates the slots are smaller – either 250ms or 125ms – making the effect even worse.

    But the proof is in the log, I think. We have a 12ms variation in BTOs, yet only about a 2ms in arrival times on the pings received on the same channel/same data rate. I’m not sure how all this ties in with the shorter BTOs (with the 4600us offset).

    Under various scenarios, the mere variation in the BTOs, however they are calculated, even wrongly, would lead to the same 7th arc. The real question, I think, is whether any distance compensation was made, and more importantly, whether it changed at any time during the flight. For example, if it was set on reboot, we’d have an issue unless we can nail down the lat/long at reboot.

  38. Oleksander. I have this pdf about the Scott Reef data. Dr Duncan said to share it around, many months ago. You might have it already. Not sure if it will attach okay….?
    [link redacted by JW because 1) doesn’t appear to be working 2) another reader advised that it linked to personal information. @Lucy, if you want to help me fix this let me know]
    I’ve always been interested in the two references cited at the end of the document, but have been unable to find them online. They sound interesting. Perhaps you can have better luck finding them. Lucy

  39. JS,

    Yes 42 msec (roundtrip) is the maximum variation in time that different aircraft will experience. Actually, 40 msec when you incorporate latitude limits.

    For 600 bits/sec rate (the lowest, used when an AES first logs on), R channel slots are 1 sec long (Fig. 4.5 in the Manual for AMS Service, Part III, available from ICAO). The length of an R channel burst (from Figure 4.5 and various tables and supporting text) is 576 bits or 960 msec. So yes, there is a 40 msec guard.

  40. “
    hijacked plane, trying to reach Christmas Island, pilot ditches the aircraft under pressure…”
    (StevanG, March 7, 2015 at 8:38 AM)

    no, trying to reach Australia and ditching near Comoros Islands

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