In yesterday’s post I argued that the reboot of MH370’s satellite communications system at 18:25 is a key piece of evidence about what happened to the missing plane. In fact, I would go so far as to say that we should discount any scenario which cannot explain the reboot.
That being the case, I thought it would be a good idea to clarify what we do know about rebooting the satcom and discuss the implications. Right up front I’d like to emphasize that I am by no means an electronics expert and I welcome any corrections or clarifications.
First, some basic background for those who might be new to the discussion. Flight MH370 took off from Kuala Lumpur International airport at 16:42 UTC on 3/7/14 bound for Beijing. At 17:07:29, the plane sent an ACARS report via its satcom. At 17:20:36, five seconds after passing waypoint IGARI and a minute after the last radio transmission, the transponder shut off. For the next hour, MH370 was electronically dark. The next ACARS transmission, scheduled for 17:37, did not take place. At 18:03 Inmarsat attempted to forward an ACARS text message and received no response, suggesting that the satcom system was turned off or otherwise out of service. At 18:22, MH370 vanished from primary radar coverage over the Malacca Strait. Three minutes later—about the amount of time it takes the Satellite Data Unit (SDU) to reboot—the satcom system connected with Inmarsat satellite 3F-1 over the Indian Ocean and inititated a logon at 18:25:27.
The question is, by what mechanisms could MH370’s satcom have become inactive, then active again?
Logging on and off the satcom is not something airline pilots are trained to do. A pilot can deselect the satcom as a mode of transmission for ACARS messages so that they go out over the radio instead, but this is not what seems to have happened in the case of MH370. According to the ATSB report issued in June of 2014,
A log-on request in the middle of a flight is not common and can occur for only a few reasons. These include a power interruption to the aircraft satellite data unit (SDU), a software failure, loss of critical systems providing input to the SDU or a loss of the link due to aircraft attitude. An analysis was performed which determined that the characteristics and timing of the logon requests were best matched as resulting from power interruption to the SDU.
Satellite communications expert Mike Exner addressed the issue specifically in a guest post here and likewise concluded that in all likelihood the SDU was powered down, and then powered up again.
There is no on/off switch for the SDU in the cockpit. A person wanting to turn the SDU off has two options. The first is to descend into the electronics and equipment bay (E/E bay) through a hatch at the front of the first-class cabin and flip three circuit breakers located there. The second method, which can be accomplished directly from the cockpit, is to isolate the portion of the plane’s electrical system which feeds the SDU, the left AC bus. According to IG member Barry Martin, the left main AC bus can receive its electrical power from any one of four sources:
- left main engine IDG via a left generator circuit breaker
- right main AC bus via both left and right bus tie breakers
- auxiliary power unit generator via an auxiliary power breaker and the
left bus tie breaker
- backup generator converter which connects to the left transfer bus via a
left converter circuit breaker, and the left transfer bus connects to the left
main AC via a left transfer bus breaker.
In order to prevent any of these from supplying electrical power, Martin writes, a multi-step process is required:
The left IDG can be disconnected in a couple of ways via the flight deck electrical power system control panel. The preferred method would be via the left generator control switch. The second method is by use of the guarded drive disconnect switch, which permanently disconnects the IDG and the connection can only be remade on the ground. The L GEN CONT switch will open
the left generator circuit breaker, but the left bus tie breaker would then automatically close to re-energise the left main bus so the left BTB must be switched to ISLN on the electrical control panel before attempting to disconnect the IDG.
The left main bus can still be powered from the left transfer bus which picks up power from a solid-state variable-speed constant-frequency backup generator converter. The easiest method of preventing this is by simply opening the left transfer bus breaker, which allows the left transfer bus to remain energised to ensure the left transformer rectifier unit stays powered. However, I don’t see an option on the flight deck control panel to manually open the left transfer bus breaker. A second option would be opening the left converter circuit breaker, connecting the left transfer bus to the backup generator. Again, there’s no L CCB switch on the panel. Therefore the third option is to switch both backup generators off, which is possible via the panel.
This explanation is somewhat above my paygrade but my takeaway is that isolating the left AC bus requires some technical savvy. Indeed, when Mike Exner went to visit a professional flight-sim facility last November, the instructors there had never heard of this method of de-powering the SDU. (These are pilots whose job it is to train other airline pilots in every aspect of aircraft operation, so if it were common knowledge one would expect them to know about it.)
This is why I feel the reboot of MH370’s satcom suggests that whoever took the plane was technically sophisticated.
Some people have resisted this interpretation and instead raised the possibility that the SDU was power-cycled because someone wanted to turn something else off and back on again. The crucial question then becomes: What else is powered by the left AC bus? It wasn’t easy to find out, but after some careful digging, IG members were able to determine that the other systems fed by the AC bus are:
- TCAS (Traffic Collision Avoidance System)
- Cockpit door lock
- The centre tank override and jettison pumps
- Some galley equipment
- IFE (in-flight entertainment system)
- One of the high-frequency radios
- The main passenger cabin lighting system (the night, cabin and cross-aisle lights remain powered)
Looking at this list, it’s hard to imagine that a hijacker or suicidal pilot would feel a pressing need to depower an entire portion of the electrical system in order to turn any of these things on and off. (Also, given how hard the IG had to work to compile this list, how would they know?) I can imagine wanting to prevent passengers from seeing the moving map feature in the IFE, but it’s possible to turn this off from the cockpit without isolating parts of the electrical system.
To my mind, the only plausible explanation for the satcom reboot is the simplest one: somebody aboard the plane wanted to reboot it. But why? Again I am only able to think of one plausible answer: that they took it offline in order to tamper with it in order to effect a spoof. The fact that the reboot was apparently initiated less than a minute after MH370 left primary radar coverage would tend to support this hypothesis.
In the course of yesterday’s discussion, it was suggested that the SDU may have shut off due to fire. I don’t find this very plausible, given the evidence that MH370 went electronically dark just five seconds after passing the last waypoint in Malaysian airspace. This seems to me a clear indication of deliberate purpose. And if someone isolated the left AC bus in an attempt to fight an electrical fire, why on earth would they turn it on again an hour later without attempting to make an emergency landing or even radio for help?
Another suggestion that came forward yesterday was that hijackers might have wanted to distract the passengers and cabin crew by turning off the IFE and galley equipment. But it seems to me that doing so would have had the opposite effect—it would have alerted them to the fact that something was wrong, if they weren’t aware already.
Can anyone come up with an alternative explanation for the mysterious satcom reboot?
- After receiving input from Don Thompson, who is perhaps the most knowledgeable independent experts in the world on this topic, I’ve change the wording of the third paragraph to clarify that it was the failed transmission of an ACARS text message at 18:03 that provides the first clear-cut evidence that the SDU was inoperative.
- On the advice of Gysbreght and LG Hamilton, I’ve removed “ACARS (VHF 3)” from the list of systems on the left AC bus and added “cockpit door lock.”
199 thoughts on “The Mysterious Reboot”
thanks for explaining that original digitally signed PDF was OCRed, I missed such info before; still curious how bad OCR tool they had
you definitely overplayed my own crazy theories by pointing to “windows seal” video hidden meaning – all I see from all his videos is simply that captain is not stupid guy 🙂
And I dont point to any big country alone for doing anything BAD today. In history, there was some crazy deception operations done with media support though (Neptune, Argo). All I can imagine is that reuse of all the skills together to perform now something good in fact, can be possible. MH370 was not found yet. MH17 seems to be totally different case, sadly, might be linked indirectly 🙁
Posted July 13, 2015 at 3:00 AM
The ‘logic; is that an MAS pilot just stole your plane, murdered 238 people, flew circles around your country, and disappeared to NOWHERE.
And you guys did what?
Is this a logic you can’t comprehend?
No, i cannot. Your theory is contradicting this logic.
Saying that the MAS pilot did it in a way not to be found and absent of confirmed public knowledge will neither blame that pilot nore his airline, because if successfull nobody can prove that this pilot and this airline is at fault. That is the status quo at the moment, at it will remain that way until evidence is found or some statement from the culprit turns up.
It is basically irrelevant what I myself think could have happened, it would be speculation without hard facts anyway like many others and therefore is not relevant to the discussion. The same hard facts are missing in your arguments for the rouge pilot wanting to disappear without a trace and without letting somebody know to damage his airline and the government of his country.
Before you ask, I can see no hard facts to support your argument, as you have provided none.
As said before, it would be better to start analyzing this event from the beginning, turn around any stone again and look for things which might have been overlooked due to the hunt (which is called search) for MH370 in the SIO.
RetiredF4 – I’m with you, it sounds like the most ill conceived political protest in history. It was never going to damage anyone or anything but Shah and the passengers. Give Shah some credit at least. It’s like a Doctor running around the ICU pulling out plugs. Doesn’t mean he didn’t do it. We don’t know.
Spencer – Are you a forensic Psychologist? Is it significant that people going down the Shah road quite expansively aren’t. What’s the difference between that and exploring the precedent for data manipulation?
@spencer, I was traveling this past weekend so wasn’t able to attend to my moderator duties properly, if I had I would have spoken up earlier. This forum is for the discussion of evidence relating to the disappearance of MH370. It is not a place for repeatedly stating one’s certainty regarding a particular theory. (Absolute certainty about one’s theory, BTW, is the sure sign of a crackpot.) It is also not a place for insulting people who disagree with you.
Consider this a warning.
@all, Regarding speculation that the left AC bus might have been depowered to prevent access to the cockpit: as I understand it, depowering the door-lock circuitry would leave the door unlocked, so would achieve the reverse of the desired aim. As the Germanwings crash showed, it is fairly easy to for a motivated individual to lock himself into the cockpit.
@DennisW, Not having been particularly enamored of the Christmas Island scenario in the past, I have to admit that the failure to find seabed debris in the current search area increases its viability. However, I don’t think that a plane impacting the ocean surface would create the kind of swell that could be detected dozens or hundreds of miles away. Also, the data look like noise to me.
You are right in what you are saying, powering down the Left AC to lock someone out of the cockpit is arse about. The cockpit door lock is DC powered but ultimately from the Left AC; so isolation would have unlatched the mechanism. HOWEVER these things have a mechanical deadlatch which can be set from inside the cockpit. So if you want to stay locked in the cockpit, you can.
Please disregard this in the context of the Air New Zealand incident which was just a hissy fit!
“@DeepBlue, if someone inside the cockpit wants to open the door all they have to do is open the door. They don’t need to isolate the left AC bus. If someone outside the cockpit wants to de-power the cockpit door there’s a circuit breaker in the E/E bay that can do that, it has nothing to do with the circuit breakers that de-power the satcom.”
are all breakers in E/E bay clearly labeled? Also even if he depowered cockpit door, there is a physical lock (I guess, I know there is one in Airbus planes). Maybe he tried somehow to deconcentrate the Captain by fiddling with breakers trying to disturb him and convince him to let him in?
“One explanation might be that the perpetrator didn´t wanted that the investigators would able to blame him after an analysis of the blackboxes.”
1. Why would he care?
2. They would suspect him anyway as he was the only one on board able to pull this.
“An explanation might be to create one big mystery to reveal how incompetent the malaysian government really is. A government who is unable to give answers of highly urgent questions should not lead an country anymore. This would be best preconditions for an politcal change in Malaysia after over 50 years of political dominance by the National Front party.
Just notice, the politcal leader of the People’s Justice Party, Anwahr Ibrahim was sentenced to prison (5 yrs.) just 8 hours before MH370 took off. Far worse was the ban of Ibrahim to stand as a candidate for his party in 2018. In other words, Ibrahim was and is politcally dead after the trail on 03/07/14.
And who wished that Anwar Ibrahim should lead Malaysia some day ? Yes, it was “Z”. He was sparkling supporting him.”
Absolutely agree and I can’t believe that no foreign official is mentioning that. It seems that malaysian dictatorship suits other countries interests and malaysian people can continue to suffer, who cares for them anyway.
“A question to you : When do you believe could the perpetrator have planned all this ?”
Planned before Anwar’s trial, decided after the trial (in those 8 hours before the flight).
“When the perpertrator is confident his plan is perfect and his plan MUST lead to the wished outcome, do you believe that this guy has any doubt his plan could not lead to the wished outcome ?”
I think he underestimated possible complications during the flight and didn’t plan for that.
I also think he was very aware that RMAF could scramble jets and alert other countries when he leaves malaysian airspace. I think he even counted on it(possibly planned to ignore them), that’s why suicide is not the first option IMO.
“Yes, when it was the plan to destroy the malaysian government, the plan failed. But from the perspective out of the perpetrator there was no room for such thoughts. Possibly he was on a mission and absolutly certain his plan was perfect.”
But if you plan to do political impact then you certainly plan to deliver the message, landing on the airport and attracting all the media would certainly do much better job than suicide in the middle of nowhere.
“1.) Z was not political fanatic
2.) He was a husband (3 kids)
3.) He lived with the upper class
4.) He owned two houses in Shah Alam and Subang Jaya
5.) He had no financial difficulties
6.) He did an great job for over 30 years and had never ever any problems with his employer”
1.) he was in my book, judging by his social media posts
2.-6.) I agree, which all doesn’t correlate well with suicide theory.
” Z’s ONLY mission was to embarrass Malaysia in the most potent manner possible, resulting in grave repercussions for the regime, period. Tragically, this included murdering a plane full of people.”
but he would embarrass the government a LOT more if he landed somewhere while they were searching for him in South China Sea and Malacca Strait, all that while continuing to be alive AND seeing the consequences of his “heroic act”, when you do all the planning and hard job and SUCCEED in all of it the last thing you want is to kill yourself, it’s human psychology…when he overflew Malaysia unchallenged he sure felt highly content and selfconfident, that is NOT the state that one would kill himself in, if you don’t believe me ask any psychologist around
he would do everything to smile in front of TV cameras directly in face of malaysian government
don’t you agree with this?
On Shah – If it was a political protest why did he implicate Thailand by flying down their border? If that was aimed at avoiding interception he could have used his radio or transponder to the same effect. No problem. No way they would shoot down an MAS plane crossing back into Malaysia and spearing up the strait. Using the Thai border does not look like a protest – it looks like someone determinedly trying to get the plane from A to B.
“I also think he was very aware that RMAF could scramble jets and alert other countries when he leaves malaysian airspace. I think he even counted on it(possibly planned to ignore them), that’s why suicide is not the first option IMO.”
Yes, i think also he was very aware that the RMAF could scramble jets and alert other countries when he leaves malaysian airspace.
But what´s next ? No fighter jet in the world would be able to flew 5000 km behind the wings of an hijacked aircraft in the direction straight ahead to antarctica. After some time the fighter jets must turn back to fly home and the aircraft would be alone once again.
It would be impossible that any fighter jet would be present in the middle of nowhere when the tanks running dry.
Realistically, i think he don´t spend much attention to the possibility of fighter jets who shadowing him because nobody would be able to stop this aircraft until the tanks running dry.
“but he would embarrass the government a LOT more if he landed somewhere while they were searching for him in South China Sea and Malacca Strait, all that while continuing to be alive AND seeing the consequences of his “heroic act”, when you do all the planning and hard job and SUCCEED in all of it the last thing you want is to kill yourself, it’s human psychology…when he overflew Malaysia unchallenged he sure felt highly content and selfconfident, that is NOT the state that one would kill himself in, if you don’t believe me ask any psychologist around
he would do everything to smile in front of TV cameras directly in face of malaysian government
don’t you agree with this?”
I want to disagree.
It makes no sense to plan an hijack of your own aircraft only to land somewhere and smile directly in the cameras to show the world what an smart political protest should look like.
Everyone would think what the hell is wrong with this guy ? And most important, how many people would think about how many dudes like him are still present in the political opposition ? I can´t imagine the citizens in malaysia would vote for a party where his supporters are going to hijack their own aircrafts.
as a professional psychologist I absolutely agree with you, my master thesis included analysis of thousand suicides and never have I met a single case of suicide done after an accomplishment, especially one big like this
“On Shah – If it was a political protest why did he implicate Thailand by flying down their border?”
he didn’t implicate them, he just wanted the best chance not to get intercepted, if RMAF scrambled the jets he would just cross in thai airspace and they couldn’t follow him because they aren’t permitted to fly in their airspace and they wouldn’t dare causing international incident
thais likely wouldn’t scramble their jets just because of malaysian civilian plane flying at cruising altitude
“But what´s next ? No fighter jet in the world would be able to flew 5000 km behind the wings of an hijacked aircraft in the direction straight ahead to antarctica. After some time the fighter jets must turn back to fly home and the aircraft would be alone once again.”
They would alert Indonesia, Indonesia would closely follow him on radar and alert US because of Diego Garcia. Then US(and possibly others) would redirect their satellites over IO and he wouldn’t stand chance to go anywhere undetected.
“It makes no sense to plan an hijack of your own aircraft only to land somewhere and smile directly in the cameras to show the world what an smart political protest should look like.
Everyone would think what the hell is wrong with this guy ? And most important, how many people would think about how many dudes like him are still present in the political opposition ? I can´t imagine the citizens in malaysia would vote for a party where his supporters are going to hijack their own aircrafts.”
if he wanted to send policital message he would want to deliver it to the world, there was no better way for him but attracting the world media that way
You wrongly attributed the ‘window seal’ video thoughts to me. Please be more careful in the future. Cheers.
You said “It makes no sense to plan an hijack of your own aircraft only to land somewhere and smile directly in the cameras to show the world what an smart political protest should look like.
Everyone would think what the hell is wrong with this guy ? And most important, how many people would think about how many dudes like him are still present in the political opposition ? I can´t imagine the citizens in malaysia would vote for a party where his supporters are going to hijack their own aircrafts”.
Well said. It’s the most ineffectual mode of protest I can conjure up.
Thanks, I assumed that was true, but what if you wanted to knock out the phones without alerting your companion in the cockpit that that was your goal? So you simulate some form of emergency. As in all things MH370, the dearth of info prevails.
Yes, the ocean data looks weak to be sure. However, this type of data is something I have no expereince looking at, so my impression of signal vs noise does not count for much. A direct quote from the essay below.
“In other words, the waves generated by the impact at this location would have reached the stations with the delays close to the ones indicated above, moving with an average speed of 938 – 955 km/hr. While all of the signals are extremely weak and can be discounted on their own, the time alignment among all four signals makes the case stronger.”
Victor and I both questioned the propagation speed as well. These are obviously not surface waves, but some other form of energy similar to a tsunami disturbance which is known to propagate at speeds up to 600mph. I would like to get a second opinion from a qualified expert, but my rolodex is empty in that domain.
“They would alert Indonesia, Indonesia would closely follow him on radar and alert US because of Diego Garcia. Then US(and possibly others) would redirect their satellites over IO and he wouldn’t stand chance to go anywhere undetected.”
Sorry, i must smile a little bit. As you can see clearly the RMAF was unable to do anything. In my opinion, it might be that nobody was in command on the RMAF because the doors were closed at the weekend on the military. The RMAF might have playbacked the radar recordings not before Sunday afternoon after an special request from the DCA. This is one issue Malaysia might want to hide because it´s highly embarrassing for the government that nobody might be in command on that morning.
“if he wanted to send policital message he would want to deliver it to the world, there was no better way for him but attracting the world media that way”
I don´t believe that would be an plausible way to force an political change in this country. In my opinion, he has send really a political message.
The message was and still is : Find this aircraft.
Yes, we are still searching. 16 months and counting and we still talk about this tragedy. Every day. This was an perfect message to switch the lights on with the Malaysian government in the spotlight.
To be back on topic….
Why this mysterious reboot ?
MH370 flew out of radar range @18:22.12 UTC.
All of a sudden @18:25.27 UTC, the AES sent an Login-Request to the satellite.
This are 03:15 Minutes between this two events.
When the AES is without power supply for a while and reboots after power is available again the AES needs approximately 02:40 Minutes to sent an Login Request (ATSB Report Page 33).
03:15 minus ~ 02:40 = ~ 35 seconds.
So, the perpetrator must activated the left bus again at around 18:22.47 UTC, 35 seconds after MH370 flew out of radar range.
Just an coincidence ? Absolutely not. It was an feature of this highly sophisticated plan and was perfectly executed.
But why ?
It might be an possible explanation that the perpetrator wanted to tell : I´m still airborne but i´m out of radar range.I´m safe but catch me when you can.
In the deeper sense it might be possible that the perpetrator was aware about the hourly electronic handshakes. When he studied the AF447 incident closely he got knowledge that the BEA studied in 2011 the possibility to find an aircraft when only “Pings” are available.
After the study, the BEA came to the conclusion….
BEA’s working group also assessed the likelihood that triggered transmissions would be picked up and relayed by the Inmarsat constellation of communication satellites, when location and aircraft orientation were taken into account.
Simulations replicating 42 of the accidents in 597 different points of the world demonstrated that, in 85% of cases, transmission of data “would be possible before impact”, said the working group.
For 82% of the accident and location combinations the corresponding search zone for the wreckage would be contained within a 4nm (7.4km) radius.
So, that means in my opinion the perpetrator might be aware about the “Pings” and used this hourly handshakes to give the investigators a chance to search for this aircraft but it will be a long one.
When the aircraft didn´t sent signals then nobody has ever been a chance to search for this aircraft and we´re not here today to talk about this incident because we have nothing to talk here.
Short said : Make “Pings” available after being out of radar range, give the investigators a lead to search for this aircraft for a long time and meanwhile the malaysian government is in the spotlight and have huge problems to give answers of highly urgent questions. As i said earlier, a government who is unable to give answers to highly urgent questions should not lead an country anymore.
it’s military not your local supermarket, even if doors are closed (and they aren’t) there has to be someone in command, if he is on vacation then his deputy etc.
That’s how military is organised.
I agree with you they were asleep and noticed the plane only after reviewing radar recordings, but it’s something Z(or anyone) couldn’t count on as certain(although flying at night increased his chances to not get intercepted). If the radar operator was looking at the screen he would certainly try to establish contact with the plane and alert the airbase to scramble jets after no response.
They have pair of SU30s in Gong Kedak and pair of F18s in Butterworth on 24h duty. MH370 flew relatively close to both of these airbases.
“I don´t believe that would be an plausible way to force an political change in this country. In my opinion, he has send really a political message.”
He has sent nothing, and “find this aircraft” is not the political message nor it ever was.
Not to mention that he wouldn’t choose the southeastern SIO as a resting place, it’s a very bad place to hide anything.
“So, that means in my opinion the perpetrator might be aware about the “Pings” and used this hourly handshakes to give the investigators a chance to search for this aircraft but it will be a long one.”
eh?! How would he know the position of satellites? If third satellite was not behind the horizon we would have the exact position of the last ping.
You are contradicting yourself here, if someone wanted to hide the plane forever he would just turn off the AES and disable pinging. And he would choose a calm sea patch to ditch it without debris, he wouldn’t head for roaring forties.
“You are contradicting yourself here, if someone wanted to hide the plane forever he would just turn off the AES and disable pinging.”
But then, the spotlight on the malaysian government went off quickly.Nobody would search for the aircraft because no leads are available and when no leads are available nobody talk controversial for a long time about the role of the malaysian government. And when nobody talk controversial about the role of the malaysian government there is no chance for a change in this country.
So you suggest that he somehow managed to intentionally give them the lead but at the same time not enable them to find it?
In the case of AF447 ACARS was programmed to send a position report every 10 minutes, so there never was one hour of inactivity and therefore no “hourly handshake”. Also the BTO was not logged at that time.
“Also the BTO was not logged at that time.”
That is not correct. The BTO´s were logged after the AF447 inicident.
Note on the satellite communication
The satellite’s normal function is essentially communication and it was never initially intended to have the capability to track an aircraft. Following the Air France 447 accident, Inmarsat engineers began recording the BTO in order to provide another potential means of geo-locating aircraft in the event of a similar accident.
One question that has constantly been popping up in my mind is how can these logs, pings, handshakes, etc be guaranteed to have originated from MH370? Are the logs being analyzed from a computer that is on land? Or is the info coming directly from a satellite? If it can be proven they originate from a satellite, what checks are in place to know that the logon comes from a plane? Why couldnt someone on MH370 shut down satellite comms in coordination with someone on the ground turning on a box that spoofs everything beginning with the logon event in question?
@TonyM, This is one of the ideas that is being explored.
Per the omission I referenced ia ways back in the FI. One would think it would be material to report anything that would suggest a knowledge of the PIC’s state of mind.
Considering the verdict/affirmation by KL appellate that morning, it’s reasonable to assume Zaharie would not have been in a buoyant frame.
I think this assumption is reasonable enough to be accepted as fact. Of course, we wait with baited breath for the findings of the ‘ongoing’ criminal investigation.
You said “as a professional psychologist I absolutely agree with you, my master thesis included analysis of thousand suicides and never have I met a single case of suicide done after an accomplishment”.
Respectfully, I’m really unsure how to reply here. Suicides take place every day following the suicidal individual having ‘achieved’ his or her aim. In fact, this is implicit in almost ALL homicides followed by suicide.
@StevanG @Lou Villa
I’m on the fence as to whether Z knew or was concerned enough about the Inmarsat capability. IMO it doesn’t matter so much anyhow.
ya, my apologies, it was for LouVilla; anyway I was too hurry to defend the captain; for me he looks as good man, little bit more “activist” but for right things
“So you suggest that HE(?) somehow managed to intentionally give them the lead but at the same time not enable them to find it?”
I can imagine that even the entire process of seeking for the real truth (on many fronts) in the media mess can be the primary objective, these days. But who knows…
Jeff Wise is nearing the truth. The clues were left for people to investigate what happened and why. When something doesn’t make sense it usualy means that something out-of-the-box occured.
Exactly. BTO was not logged at the time of AF447 and has never been used for geo-locating an aircraft before MH370.
they are experts on the matter and pings correlate well with malaysian radar data, I wouldn’t question their knowledge here
“Considering the verdict/affirmation by KL appellate that morning, it’s reasonable to assume Zaharie would not have been in a buoyant frame.”
I agree with you here, however if someone is in a buoyant frame it doesn’t mean he is going to kill himself, if you are mad at someone you are going to make harm to him not to yourself.
“Respectfully, I’m really unsure how to reply here. Suicides take place every day following the suicidal individual having ‘achieved’ his or her aim. In fact, this is implicit in almost ALL homicides followed by suicide.”
I think he referred to positive achievement (like getting your university degree, setting up new record in sports etc.), homicide is hardly one.
Remember that we don’t know if hypoxia ever happened on that plane, it’s just the theory and I’d bet against it at even odds.
“’m on the fence as to whether Z knew or was concerned enough about the Inmarsat capability.”
I don’t think he cared about satellite tracking, his main goal was to hide from secondary (civilian) radar to cross Malaysia as easy as possible.
Maybe he wanted to enable transponder and announce everyone where he is after leaving primary radar coverage so it somehow triggered AES reboot under very moot circumstances?!
Instead of @, I’ll list the subject.
Insurance – I wonder if it’s possible that the maximum payout for an “accident” is different than that for a suicide or a highjacking? This could be a reason for making it so hard to find.
Zahrarie did it – This is the simplest explanation but I just don’t see that the same type of person who posts video’s on how to fix stuff would hurt himself much less take the lives of 238 others. If a political statement, what was it? He might have been piloting the plane, but, if so, he was not in command.
Turn back speed – A year ago I posted about 9M-MRO being “flat out” after the turn back. Someone then posted that I was wrong. The FI shows ground speeds of between 494 and 529 knots. Maximum allowed air speed for a B-777 is around 513 knots and Dr. Ulich’s paper shows a tail wind increased the ground speed by about 14 knots during this leg. It seems like this a/c was near its maximum speed and, if so, was probably in response to some kind of onboard emergency or at the direction of others.
My guess – If I had to bet on the impact location, I would put the plane crossing the 6th Arc at Dr. Ulich’s location and then add Brian Anderson’s left turn into a spiral from that point.
Banda Aceh – But, if you like a conspiracy, you could say it landed at Banda Aceh and the perps installed its AES electronics into a MQ-9 Reaper drone (Max: 435 Knots, 50,000 feet, 18 hours). Then, after about 4 hours to unload the pax and cargo, it flies over the Maldives (at 01:30z) on its way to Somalia. (Note: without the weight of the pax and cargo, it should have had just enough fuel remaining to reach Mogadishu.)
Reboot – After reading Don’s post I’m confused about the reboot. Is Don saying that neither the shutting down the left bus nor a trip to the EE bay is necessary to shut down outgoing AES communications?
If the AES communications were shut down by disabling the left bus, the perps could have been startled by seeing another aircraft around 18:25z. They then turned the left bus back on to power the TCAS (Traffic Collision Avoidance System) while, at the same time, executing an avoidance maneuver that resulted in an offset from the previous track.
Radar Detector – I remember alerts from my old automobile radar detector every time I passed a building with what looked like a huge golf ball on top. I understand the “Golf Ball” building was some type of radar installation but they seem to have been torn down. However, I don’t think one of the latest superheterodyne automobile radar detectors in an airplane would detect current military radar, specially if the source was directly behind the plane. I guess the timing of the loss of the plane from military radar and the AES log-on both occurring almost exactly one hour after the diversion is just a coincidence.
Cell phones – The perps could have gone around the cabin collecting the cell phones from the pax. That’s one reason why there weren’t any “hijack in progress” calls or text messages. Other reasons that others have posted is cell phones can’t connect from 30,000+ feet or the pax were unconscious by 17:30z.
“…it might be that nobody was in command on the RMAF because the doors were closed at the weekend on the military. The RMAF might have PLAYBACKED the radar recordings not before Sunday afternoon …”
Perhaps, but Hishammuddin Hussein, acting in his capacity as Malaysia’s Acting Minister for Transport, asserted that, in a press statement from May 1, 2014, the RMAF was more diligent than you make it out:
“The radar data was reviewed in a PLAYBACK at approximately 08:30 on 8 March. This information was sent to the Air Force operations room at approximately 09:00. Following further discussion up the chain of command, the military informed the Acting Transport and Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein at approximately 10:30 of the possible turn-back of the aircraft.”
The playback was made just an hour after Malaysia Airlines announced the loss of the aircraft, on Saturday.
@Jeff & @Lauren H.
re: your Banda Aceh comment Lauren, very interesting to know this detail about a drone.
I just wanted to stress that although I’ve referred to landing scenarios and this other type of spoof earlier in this thread, I think them very unlikely and was just trying to cover all angles re: the reboot. Also, I am not doubting Inmarsat’s or ATSB’s integrity either (but the usual caveat of not being 100% certain applies in this bizarre and tragic incident).
However, the satellite data at around 18:25 looks similar to that around KL take-off ?? so could you please confirm whether a landing&take-off might be one possible CAUSE of the mysterious reboot. Thanks.
Radar – It would be interesting hear from Rand on this. It was in the 70’s some time i think that the dashboard detectors hit the shelf and logically there would have been interest in just what capability crooks and other operatives could acquire with one. If you had the Cessna loaded up with cocaine it could come in handy? For these kind of reasone I assume, according to Rand his dad was involved with trialing them on US air force planes. He indicated that they surprisingly effective.
How easily spotted is a MQ-9 Reaper drone (or equivalent) on radar ? Can it be spotted travelling across Malaysia by radar ?
at altitude yeah it would be spotted
Matty – The problem with the early detectors was any and all nearby microwave transmission would set them off. Even the newer models beep when encountering door openers at grocery stores.
The older models would probably work in a Cessna and even detect radar ahead of a B-777. If the final radar on MH370 was from Western Hill (near Butterfield AFB), which is almost directly behind the plane, I doubt the detector would have sensed that source, specially at the 240 nm distance.
@Lauren H, I wonder if a clever hijacker could have used one of the plane’s antennas to measure the intensity of incoming radar energy.
@JeffWise – Yes, I suppose that concept is possible as my V1 has both forward and rear facing antennae. Also, I would think these automobile versions are not nearly sensitive enough to detect any radar source from 200 nm. That’s not to say that a sophisticated electronics person couldn’t build one. I suppose Don could tell us if it was possible.
why would anyone bother fiddling with detectors if he could get the radar coverage just searching the google
@Stevan, I think you can do better than that. You can’t just google accurate radar coverage. It’s never reported with full veracity. And Google won’t tell you in which direction it is turned on any given day or if it is turned on at all. If you could just google that stuff, all countries might well agree that it is cheaper to turn everything off and invest the money into something more promising 🙂
I agree but why would he need full veracity anyway. It’s easy to suppose that it mostly works 24h a day covering that range.
All in all reboot after leaving radar coverage is most probably a coincidence anyway.
@Stevan, your comments show that you’re talking about something you have absolutely no knowledge of. I don’t claim to be an expert here at all, but I took at least the trouble to inform myself a much as possible.And no, depending on the country “they” don’t “work mostly 24 hours a day covering the range”.
Hah, so you think it was coincidence it worked at the exact time of MH370 flyover, friday night? Even when there was noone alert looking at it?
They actually do work most of the time, shutdown times are usually very short when they occur, at least for those deemed to be most important for air defence(like this one for example).
Is it beyond the realm of possibility that the left AC bus was powered off to try to retard an electrical fire and powered on to try to regain full control of the aircraft? That’s been my favorite theory, but I haven’t been following the discussion too closely lately.
Perhaps the hijacker was hungry, and — after setting autopilot to fly due south — re-energized the left bus to power up galley snack bars & coffee makers, and then cabin lights to help guide their way back to the aft cargo hold to deboard ?
Depressurization would enable opening of, say, an aft cargo bulk door, which could be unlatched and kicked out and exited with flight deck parachutes… Our hypothetical hijacker had already survived 80 minutes of HALO-like conditions… So what then is a few more ?? Slight additional drag on say starboard side of the fuselage gradually veers the aircraft slightly W of due S ( or vice versa ) ???
Please try to visualize a sudden, jarring, IGARI hijacking scenario. The entire left bus is deactivated. So, the passenger cabin becomes dark, and no help from IFE screens. Air starts hissing out of the pressure hull, and confused ears start popping. A hard banking turn throws everybody off their feet and knocks over food carts. Even if breathing masks deploy, the high G maneuvers ensure they are swinging about erratically and aren’t where they should be. Which way is up, anyway?? Unsecured passengers are falling from one side of the plane across aisles to the other. Cell phones fly out of startled hands, joining ice, juice, hot coffee and peanuts in a hail of distracting confetti and a cacophony of cries. Flight attendants are away from their stations, sprawled across arms and bodies and unable to reach air bottles. People in lavatories are far worse off, with no way of knowing where to swim for their bottles in the isolation chamber darkness. But why fight it anyway, I’m so tired…
After a couple of minutes, the plane has completed it’s unscheduled U-turn, and the noxious passenger compartment falls into ever colder silence… As any surviving eyes adjust, faint starlight gradually reveals a few final puffs of water vapor diffusing in the direction of open air circulation vents.
Surprise, darkness, hypoxia, hypothermia, high G forces…
Only those previously strapped into comfortable cushioned seats with pressurized oxygen masks on could survive…
May I also add mention of the deafening whine of the engines on all-out redline power… The passengers’ worlds erupted in a stunning sensory overload of sounds, smells, unusual physical sensations, juxtaposed with near total visual non stimulation…
Here’s a reason someone might want to reboot the SDU …..
OK I’m no expert either but I too have been trying to understand ACARS and the SDU reboot.
The big question for me is why/how did the SDU Sat Data Unit get rebooted or power cycled at 1825.
As you say Jeff is exceptional rare for an SDU to be rebooted inflight.
Couldn’t get my head around why that would have happened.
I looked back at the previous event which was the upload message from MAS at 18:03/5
My hunch is, which I obviously can’t prove, is this.
Who ever was in control disabled ACARs from ACARS MANAGER function on FD console.
BY this means VHF, SATCOM and HF can all be disabled – meaning that ACARS loses capability to transmit. It would be an easy mistake to assume that this would shut down ACARS completely.
HOWEVER even with all of those transmit options disabled, ACARS is still able to receive upload messages.
Who ever was on the flight deck, (if they were trying to hide and had disabled what they thought was the means for ACARS to work), would have got a very nasty surprise when the upload message from MAS was received.
Yes I realise that there was Message Fail in response to that upload but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t received on by mh370, simply that as the transmit to ground function was disabled the system couldn’t send a received response.
So if you accept the premise that this upload message was a nasty surprise for who ever was in command, especially if they had thought they had disabled ACARS in an effort to hide …..
WHAT WOULD THEY DO?
They would obviously try to take action that they thought would disable ACARS completely, that is to remove FLT ID info (and city pair data etc) from SDU.
As you say Jeff the steps required to disable ACARS from the FD is something many pilots would know how to do or could easily learn.
To disable SDU is another story and a much more complex task requiring specialised skill, and as per your story above perhaps, and most probably, a visit to the Avionics bay.
Regardless to disable SDU is not something most or any pilots would have knowledge of.
So faced by this upload message the pilot would likely panic and want to use his general knowledge, rather that of a specialist, to permanently stop ACARS from working.
It would likely take a short while 10-15 minutes to decide what needed to be done. But most intelligent people would come to the conclusion that it was the SDU that was the problem.
And that time frame to make a decision and take action would match nicely when the SDU was rebooted at 18:25.
I’m guessing here. I would have thought the best way was was to disconnect all power to the SDU. But perhaps there was a reason the person in command thought reboot would be better. As you suggest by turning off all the power that caused other things to go off he needed to stay on.
Question to check – what would be knocked out if the 3 power circuits were turned off in Av bay?
Alternatively perhaps the person involved thought that if he restarted the SDU without flight ID that messages could not be uploaded and that would be sufficient – or if he was flying alone, he wouldn’t be able wait 3 minutes for a reboot and had to return to the flight deck. A reboot was faster and safer than just turning off 3 circuits.
As you would know at start of flight pilots enter flight ID info and city pair details etc into the FMC.
This is transferred automatically to the SDU.
My hunch is that the pilot may have initially deleted all the flight info and city pairs from the FMC.
Then he would move to reboot the SDU. This would then explain why the SDU came back online but without flight ID.
Barring a full power off this to me it seems the most logical a theory as to why the SDU was rebooted when it was and why when it came back up flight data was missing. Especially as it can sequentially after the upload message……..
One final twist.
If this played out as above …….
This might be the ONLY mistake the person who took over MH370 made.
Because up until the point the SDU was rebooted ACARS reporting had been successfully stopped.
If, as I suggest that the person in control rebooted the SDU, to ensure ACARS was fully shut down, what they actually did was start up the INMARSAT hand shake and the pings.
Without which we would have absolutely no idea that the aircraft flew South.
How ironic would that be.
The easiest explanation is probably the correct one – and I seriously doubt that rebooting this or that on purpose is correct.
I think the simplest explanation is that every switch, breaker or other item was simply turned on or off at random because of a fight., or just on purpose as a way of sealing a suicide deal.
Another simple explanation is something really unexpected happened which is a normal part of the aircraft electric or electronic systems, but that problem never revealed its ugly head until something else in the cockpit got broken by accident or fight (ie. spilled coffee into electric switch during fight), or maybe every electrical device turned on at once or repeatedly power cycled as-nauseam until something else broke – something dumb – something simple.