by Victor Iannello
[Note: While attention has been focused on the definition identification of the Reunion flaperon, there remain many other elements of the MH370 case that still require careful attention. Here, Victor delves into what the data that has been released, in particular in the Factual Information (FI) report, to clarify what we know about the first hour of flight after the turnback at IGARI. — JW]
This work analyzes the position and time data derived from the publicly-available radar data for MH370. Some of the findings are:
- After the turn back towards the Malay Peninsula, the flight path recorded by civilian primary surveillance radar (PSR), civilian secondary surveillance radar (SSR), and military radar are consistent with a flight at a Mach number (M) equal to 0.84 at an altitude of FL340.
- If the aircraft did fly at a steady M = 0.84, then the timestamps for some of the PSR contained in the Factual Information (FI) are offset by about 35 s.
- After the left turn at around 17:23:38 UTC, the aircraft might have descended from FL350 to FL340 and accelerated from a ground speed of 473 kn to a ground speed of greater than 500 kn.
- In the FI, the PSR data between 17:47:02 and 17:52:35 UTC is attributed to the radar site at Kota Bharu, but more likely was collected by another radar site. The PSR data between 17:30:37 and 17:44:52 is correctly attributed to Kota Bharu.
- In the FI, it is stated that Indonesian military radar recorded MH370 as it traveled toward IGARI but not as it traveled back over Malaysia. One explanation is that Indonesian radar site was powered down after midnight, local time.
- The sharp turn to the left at around 17:23:38 UTC is unexplained, and could be due to either an inaccurate graphical portrayal of the radar track, or crossing radar tracks from two aircraft.
- The curve in the radar path close to Kota Bharu can be explained by “slant range” due to high altitudes and close distances.
- The fuel consumption models which assume that MH370 flew near Long Range Cruise (LRC) speeds and at cruising altitudes between 17:07 and 18:22 are likely accurate.
You can read the whole document here.