Translation: “Simulations Call MH370 Search Strategy Into Question” (Der Spiegel)

[Note: the following is a translation from an article published by Spiegel Online on Friday. Thanks to @littlefoot (Sabine Lechtenfeld) for her assistance.]

by Christoph Seidler

What happened to the missing Boeing 777 of flight MH370? The aircraft with 239 people on board has been missing since March 8, 2014. As the end of July, a piece of wreckage washed up on the French island of La vunion, giving investigators that the wing flap might help solve the riddle–among other things, because it could show how the piece of debris made its way across the Indian Ocean.  And that, in turn, should provide a clue to at least the general area that the plane went down.

Now computer calculations by German oceanographer suggest that perhaps the search for the Malaysia Airlines aircraft has been carried out in the wrong area. Until now, says Andreas Villwock of the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel, it’s been assumed that MH370 had crashed far south of the equator at 35 degrees latitude. Computer models by his colleagues show, however, that the debris  “probably comes from the eastern equatorial Indian Ocean,” far from the nothern end of the current search area.

Over the course of several weeks, the Kiel researchers Arne Biastoch and Jonathan Durgadoo used a computer model to reverse the track of the debris across the Indian Ocean. Their model used daily current data that had been obtained in past months by French colleagues. The key question: Which path did the piece of debris take across the Indian Ocean, which scientist liken to the inside a pinball machine because of its chaotic eddies and turbulence?

Researchers understood from the start that a computer simulation can’t calculate a precise location of the crash site, but at best only point to a broad area. This coming Tuesday, they will present their results in detail at a press conference in Kiel. However, this much is already clear: The reseachers’ results are contrary to the Australian search strategy.

The current seabed search is focused on an area of ocean west of the Australian coast, and not in the equatorial region, which the simulations now seem to point to.

A total of 120,000 square kilometers will be scanned, an area as big as Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg and Hessen put together. Two ships of the geotechnical company Fugro are carrying out the task on behalf of the governments of Australia, Malaysia and China. So far, they have examined around 55,000 square kilometers with sonar, without tangible result. The simulation seems to suggest that large parts of the southern region were scoured in vain.

Meanwhile, the wing flap that washed ashore has been examined in a laboratory in Toulouse, France. According to Malaysian reports, the wreckage definitely belongs to MH370. French investigators speak of a “very strong suggestion.” details the wreckage belongs definitely MH370. French investigators spoke of a “very strong presumption”. Tha’s why Australia expresses confidence that the wreck will be found.

Two German scientists believe that so-called goose barnacles could provide clues to the crash location. These colonized the piece of debris as it drifted across the Indian Ocean. Geologist Hans-Georg Herbig and the biologist Philip Schiffer, both from Cologne, have identified the small crustaceans in photos.

Both are experts in the small animals, which are part of the barnacle family. Herbig and Schiffer have compiled the first genetic fingerprints for five barnacle species from different parts of the world’s oceans. They have also found that each subspecies dwells in specific climatic zones dependent on the latitude.

But because the French authorities have provided them no sample material of organisms from the wreckage, they can’t apply their insights to help narrow the search for the crash site. “I’m pretty frustrated because despite making requests through various channels, no one has replied,” Hans-Georg Herbig told SPIEGEL ONLINE. “We have tried many things, but got no response.”

In summary: Researchers from GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel will officially present their findings next Tuesday–however they have already give a first clue: Computer analysis suggests that a a piece of debris from flight MH370 that washed up on La Réunion orginated from the “eastern equatorial Indian Ocean.” This is far from the area where two ships are currently searching for the wreckage of the Malaysia Airlines aircraft.

187 thoughts on “Translation: “Simulations Call MH370 Search Strategy Into Question” (Der Spiegel)”

  1. From the Australian – possibly of interest….

    Failures in Tasmania’s $6 million air surveillance system — including planes disappearing from radar screens for minutes on end — are still occurring ­almost monthly, as air traffic controllers warn the system is “unreliable”.

    Reports previously missing from the public record but provided to The Australian show the Tasmanian Wide Area Multilateration (TASWAM) radar-like surveillance system failed 38 times between June 2013 and last month.

    There have been 14 failures reported this year, including on June 18 when an aircraft near Launceston disappeared from radar screens “for several minutes”. That was the third such ­occurrence since June 2013, ­including an August 9, 2013, ­report of an aircraft departing Hobart not being visible on screen for 20 minutes.

    These latest failure reports are in addition to more than 90 faults reported between 2010 and May 2013 and revealed last month.

    They include blunt assessments from clearly frustrated and concerned air traffic controllers that TASWAM’s “unreliability” is sapping “confidence in their surveillance ability”, adding to their workload and even delaying flights.

    While the earlier data was publicly available on the website of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, the more recent data — post-June 2013 — had not been made publicly available.

    It was released on request to The Australian, with the bureau saying it no longer classified such radar failures as “incidents” ­requiring inclusion in its incident reports database.

    “In 2013, the ATSB changed its Australia-wide coding practice for classifying infrastructure reports,” a bureau spokesman said. “As a result, notifications of infrastructure failures are only included in the aviation safety occurrence data if the event ­affected the safety of an aircraft.”

    The 38 post-May 2013 ­failures in TASWAM occurred in June, July, August, October and December of 2013; every month of 2014 except August through to October, and; every month of 2015 up until and including July. Outage times varied from one minute to seven hours.

    Bureau media manager Marc Kelaart said none of the reported TASWAM failures — even where planes disappeared from radar screens — were regarded as having compromised aircraft safety.

    “The aircraft were still under full communication and control by ATC and there were no losses of separation (planes flying too close to each other) or other ­safety related incidents,” he said.

    The failure reports made by air traffic controllers show a level of frustration and concern about the apparent fragility of the TASWAM system, introduced in 2010 after concerns about several near misses. One report, dated January 25, 2013, relating to intermittent failures, warns “controllers are losing confidence in their surveillance ability” because of the frequent faults.

    Further failures a day later led a controller to report: “Controller confidence in the system is very low. They’re basically using procedural techniques for separation (of planes) due to the unreliability of TASWAM.”

    On December 19 last year, the system’s failure forced controllers to delay all flights between ­Tasmania and Melbourne by five minutes as a “mitigation” strategy.

    In May last year, controllers complained that TASWAM’s 14 ground stations were not monitored for power failure, unlike other radar or radar-like systems, and that a failure in just one or two receivers was enough to down the entire system. On July 8 this year, Hobart airport reported 11 of the ground receivers went down at a time of high air traffic, with “complete loss” of surveillance across the state.

    Mr Kelaart said some of the failures were due to problems with aircraft transponders, which send signals from planes to the TASWAM ground stations, rather than the infrastructure itself. “In addition, Airservices has advised the ATSB that controllers were encouraged to report everything, regardless of whether the TASWAM was being used at the time, and that some reports were associated with lack of controller awareness around the areas of coverage,” he said.

    Airservices Australia, the government business that is responsible for TASWAM, said it was “confident that Tasmanian airspace is safe”. “In the past five years the TASWAM network availability has consistently exceeded 99.95 per cent,” said Greg Hood, an Airservices air traffic chief. “There have only been three instances where the target was not achieved and the lowest level of service availability was 99.80 per cent.

    “Of the TASWAM faults ­reported by Airservices to the ATSB, none were assessed as impacting on aircraft safety or ­requiring further investigation.”

    There were 14 ground stations, using signals to triangulate aircraft position, and “multiple layers of redundancy in place to safety manage any technical faults”. “In the event of a single ground station fault, there are ­numerous other ground stations fully operational to ensure surveillance is maintained,” he said.

    The number of failures had ­declined over time as controllers grew “more aware of the system parameters”.

  2. @airlandseaman,

    “The flaperon would not separate at any normal speed.”

    I agree for a plane in normal state of repair.

    What I was trying to imply/explore was the possibility that the flaperon may have been subject to some non-normal failure, bad manufacture, shonky maintenance, other prior fault knocking it off, etc., which may have occurred much earlier during the flight and possibly be part of a causal failure chain, which eventually brought down the plane.

    The geomar site seems to be down atm, but from memory, their drift map showed “high probability” areas all around, within the Malacca St and even around Malaysia into the SCS.

    So even if the drift modelling is close to reality it still would not invalidate the SIO, but possibly indicate some kind of early mechanical failure (loosing a flaperon for what ever reason), then escalating over the later portion of the flight turning it into a zombie flight.

    Cheers,

    Will

  3. Let me offer a better motive. Seven hours after Anwar Ibrahim was sentenced to 5 years in prison, mh370 takes off from Kuala Lumpur. The Daily Mail reports, citing unidentified sources, that Ahmad Shah was present during the controversial trial, prompting the investigators to scrutinise whether the plane was hijacked as a political protest by the pilot.

    Captain Zaharie was an active member of Ibrahim’s party. Both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch expressed doubts about the fairness of the trials. .[14][15] Amnesty International subsequently designated Anwar as a prisoner of conscience. The trial also provoked international criticism. Then-U.S. Vice President Al Gore denounced Anwar’s trial as a “mockery”, but Mahathir rejected all such international criticism as “foreign interference.”[16]

    Seeing little hope for Ibrahim and Malaysia, Zaharie goes dark after the hand off and takes mh 370 200 miles offshore and says he is holding the plane until he receives confirmation that Ibrahim has been pardoned and released from prison. Like all Asian governments, no one can make a decision. The plane circles for hours, unknown to the sleeping passengers. As the plane would have been flying in Chinese airspace fairly soon, the Chinese passengers would realize that you can blame anything on the unpredictability of Chinese ATC.

    This is a tremendous loss of face for the Malaysians. Just as the Korean Airlines plane crashed on approach in San Francisco, no one either had the authority or wanted to say anything. The plane finally goes down and no one is sent to rescue. The government’s deliberate slow response allows them to deny responsibility. Malaysia couldn’t be happier that the search is in the SIO. Now that’s it’s moving north, they’ll resist it all they can. With parts floating ashore you don’t have to explain where it landed. If you find the plane you have a lot of explaining to do.

  4. MuOne,

    That is interesting, shades of that Jimmy Stewart movie again about the fatigue fracture, eerie. If it was a “casual failure chain” did it commence with the loss of comms prompting the IGARI turn do you think? This ties in with my KISS theory, (keep it simple, stupid) that some terrible unfortunate onboard emergency happened which prompted the turnabout to the vicinity of the nearest airports. Then more series of failures happen and all is lost circa 18:40. But it doesn’t explain the reboot or the loitering (if not some kind of landing attempt). The scenario you state ties in with the IG and ATSB. But I can also see Mike’s version of the flaperon coming off minutes before impact at high speed.

    So catching up here after a few days off, we now have the Spanish factory unable to confirm the flaperon belonging to 9M-MRO, and a group of marine biologists or oceanographers held at bay unable to proceed with barnacle stage or habitat identification as the French have not released info. I see it’s still at a snail’s pace. Is there some point where the Inmarsat data can possibly cross a point further north on the 7th arc where this flaperon could have detached, maybe both are still correct?

  5. Trip,

    Possible holes I see in that theory. I don’t believe there is a “circling for hours” involved, the loitering phase is far short of “hours” as far as my understanding of it in the Straits. The press, media, has been horrible in their reporting from the get go, in the ABC Australian Four Corners episode on MH370, Aswad Kahn, Zaharie Shah’s wife’s brother, specifically states that Zaharie was at home during the court hearing and was informed of the outcome by his wife. Also, in a separate article he stated that Zaharie was repairing his bathroom door that afternoon before the flight and that his What’s Ap was live until about 7:30 that evening. Then one would have to ask was he willing to risk all, his family, his career, his very love of flying, all to free Anwar, then face incarceration? At the very least he would be facing reckless endangerment, kidnapping, misuse of company property (the aircraft), and whatever other legalities there are involving such an act. Then you have the authorities not responding to Zaharie in your scenario and he then flies to fuel exhaustion contemplating the outcome for 5 or 6 hours? Either way he becomes the “antihero.”

  6. @Kevil, To believe that MH370 crashed in the South China Sea requires tossing out every data point we have. In order to keep this discussion on track unprofitable lines of inquiry have to be left behind so I ask that you not bring up this topic any more. (A few months ago it was brought up before by a persistent commenter who I wound up having to ban.)

  7. @Lauren H

    “Fuel needed to be jettisoned in order to run out in the CI area. There was just about enough at 18:22 to go MEKAR>NILAM>POVUS>NIXUL>YPXM (CI)>Bali”

    there was but not if you assume loiter around Banda Aceh, there certainly was something strange going on between 18:22 and 19:40 which burned a lot of fuel for the distance

    @littlefoot

    nah it doesn’t make sense that anyone would want to ditch/hide the plane just south of Indonesia, at least not preplanned

    hijackings go wrong very often and that is the basis of CI theory, what exactly went wrong and why there was no contact from the plane is a mystery but much easier to make plausible scenario for those than for any other theory

  8. @Trip, Since the Germans’ drift modeling seems to have stirred renewed interest in low-and-slow scenarios, I think it’s worth reminding ourselves just how problematic they are. They require that the plane, which was being flown as fast as possible, suddenly began flying as slowly as possible; began flying on a gradually curving course; and ended up in an area which should have left debris strewn all over the southern coasts of Java and Sumatra. Dennis W has often talked of the importance of motive, but I find it impossible to conceive of a motive for flying a plane in a curving path over open ocean, or for flying a plane past Christmas Island if that was your destination, etc. Long and short, it’s a big, big mess. These researchers may work for a well-respected institute, but that in no way inoculates them from being in error, and given that they are very much an outlier among drift-model experts who have studied this issue, I think we have to regard their findings as extremely provisional, and most likely wrong.

  9. @jeffwise

    low and slow scenarios

    1) If the flaperon is true and so disproves northern scenarios, it doesnt change the reasonable doubt in the SAT data. They might heve been spoofed for a southern scenario as well. So maybe there was no slow and low movement.

    2) I fully admit that slow and low might need much work on the motives, but a circling plane that is denied landing in specific locations is one of the standard features in hijackings, maybe during negotiations.

    3) The scientists themselves made their Caveat and insist on the provisional character of their analysis. But i feel its quite strikingly, that all of their 2 million objects originate from the east part of the Indian ocean. I think this basic pattern might not change with more samples. Now you maybe right, that drift modelling may be overstated, but i would not see their proposal as an isolated event. I would rather guess, that they have strong ties to Toulouse and might know more about the investigation results …?

  10. @Jeff

    A reason for low and slow is the necessity to arrive at CI in daylight. It is a doable but non-trivial landing for a 777.

    A clever perp would fly at speeds and headings consistent with commercial traffic prior to the FMT, where there are several primary radars, to minimize suspicion. Once clear of Sumatra, only the radar on the Cocos would be a concern, and the perp would logically try to stay below that radar horizon.

    Flying past CI can be explained by the need to verify a clear runway prior to a turn to the North to execute a North to South landing into a surface wind coming from the SE at that time.

    Lack of debris is a problem for all scenarios, but it is far more likely that a controlled ditch with minimal debris could be executed near CI than at 35S in the SIO.

    The flaperon forensics will be a litmus test. If it is determined that the damage and condition of the part is consistent with aerodynamic stresses, then the CI scenario would be seriously, if not fatally, weakened. If the damage is consistent with ocean contact (controlled ditch), then the CI scenario would be strengthened.

    Just responding to your comments above. Not evangelizing.

  11. @jeffwise: The GEOMAR study might not be fundamentally flawed as much as it provided an answer to a different question and also raises other questions. For instance, in Henrik’s study, he specifically looked for the crash site along the 7th arc that would result in a debris find in La Reunion AND not elsewhere. I think Henrik (and RichardG, who did similar studies using Erik van Sebille’s model) would agree that if you were looking for a crash site location that would maximize the probability that debris was found in La Reunion, the crash site would be much further north than 34S. What the GEOMAR study fails to explain is why a crash off the coast of Sumatra or Java did not produce debris that was found before the landing at La Reunion.

  12. Aren’t Cocos and Christmas Islands part of Austrailia so if MH370 landed there why is Austrailia looking in the SIO. Or if MH370 crash nearby there seems to be debris lacking on nearby beaches.

  13. @Victor: is the statistic whose probability Henrik is trying to maximize along arc7

    1) Pr(debris at Réunion area at t=16 months but not anywhere else at t=16 months), or

    2) Pr(debris at Réunion area at t=16 months but not anywhere else at t<=16 months)?

    (16 could be replaced with 14, or 12, without altering my point)

    It is 2) that matters, but I fear he used 1). I base this on the definition Henrik gives in his paper:

    "Here, p(i,j,t) represents the probability to find debris injected at cell i in the coastal cell j, at time t."

    2) is very different from 1) because Erik explicitly confirmed to me that his model always bounces debris off of shorelines. The higher the t, the more 1) and 2) diverge.

  14. @jeff

    “They require that the plane, which was being flown as fast as possible, suddenly began flying as slowly as possible; began flying on a gradually curving course; and ended up in an area which should have left debris strewn all over the southern coasts of Java and Sumatra.”

    debris after ditching in a calm sea would be minimal, basically flaperons and other 10-20 not so big parts

    and it wouldn’t have to wash ashore indonesian coast, quite possible all of it drifted SW

    it doesn’t necessarily mean it was low&slow, the loiter around Banda Aceh then going to Cocos then rejecting Cocos too and going to CI is also possible and fits BFO&BTO nicely even for cruising speed in that case

    it’s not like he had the flight plan in front him…at least not one finishing on an island

    and flying past CI was maybe not intentional but a mistake from whoever had flown the plane at the moment

    @Victorl

    “What the GEOMAR study fails to explain is why a crash off the coast of Sumatra or Java did not produce debris that was found before the landing at La Reunion.”

    if debris was minimal(in case of ditching) it’s quite possible nothing washed ashore indonesian coast (or found/recognized)

  15. When both engines and the APU are not operating, the ram air turbine (RAT) can provide hydraulic power to the center hydraulic system primary flight control components only.

    The flaperons are primary flight control components, but only the right flaperon is powered by the center hydraulic system.

    The position of the flight control surfaces is controlled by the Actuator Control Electronics (ACE) in response to signals from the pilot controls such as the control wheels and the flap lever.

    Question: With engines and APU inoperative and the RAT providing hydraulic power, and the flap lever moved to the Flaps30 position, will the right flaperon move down to the Flaps30 position?

  16. @Cheryl @ Jeff Doesn’t it seem a little too coincidental that the plane goes dark, initaites a sharp turn to head over the ocean, then everything powers back on after the plane is clear of Malysian milittary radar.The plane seemed fully functional. Unlees someone initiated the autopilot at 17:22 it appears to have been piloted.We still need a motive and the least plausible seems to be a 6 hour suicide flight given his state of mind in Cheryl’s post. Someone might have been holding the plane circling nearby and when fuel ran low they made an attempt to land but it was too late.. The currents west of Java appear westerly on Geomar’s map, so debris would have been carried away from Java. I have been living in Shanghai for the last 8 years. I flew from Hong Kong to Mumbai a few weeks after the mh370. Our flight plan took us right along the coast and at no time did we go over the Bay of Bengal.

  17. @StevanG: Whether or not the debris field was minimal does not explain why debris was not found earlier and in a (cumulatively) more likely location.

    Also, for those that believe the plane successfully ditched with minimal damage, that would imply there should be bodies and rafts. (I know that is not a pleasant thought.)

  18. @Dr. Henrik Rydberg: thank you for your drift paper. Is the statistic whose probability you are trying to maximize along arc7

    1) Pr(debris at Réunion area at t=16 months but not anywhere else at t=16 months), or

    2) Pr(debris at Réunion area at t=16 months but not anywhere else at t<=16 months)?

    (16 could be replaced with 14, or 12, without altering my point)

    It is 2) that matters, but I think you may have used 1). I base this on the definition you give in your paper:

    "Here, p(i,j,t) represents the probability to find debris injected at cell i in the coastal cell j, at time t."

    2) is very different from 1) because Erik explicitly confirmed to me that his model always bounces debris off of shorelines. The higher the t, the more 1) and 2) diverge.

    Thanks in advance for your time and consideration.

  19. For those that believe that a ditching that left the fuselage in one piece is absolutely impossible, have a look at the video of the 777 landing at SFO.

  20. Low and slow scenarios ending IVO 20S were originally suggested for the case of a catastrophic accident at IGARI, resulting in a turn back and descent to land, a subsequent failure to accomplish that goal, followed by a low and slow ghost flight to the 7th arc around 20S. Since those early days, we have learned much more, making all low and slow ghost scenarios less likely.

    Despite the pure speculation from people that are not satellite communications experts, who suggest the Inmarsat data is somehow flawed, there is zero evidence of any material flaws in the system, data or analysis. It is by far the best hard evidence we have for the end game. I don’t know of a single person who understands the data in detail that doubts the authenticity and accuracy of the data. Yes, there are a few individual values out of >1000 that are not fully understood, but the vast majority of the data is well understood by all the experts. Further speculation about the Inmarsat data as a whole or its analysis is a harmful distraction from the goal of finding the plane.

    The path models can reproduce paths at low and slow speeds ending as far north as you want to speculate, but there are at least two major problems with all these paths. First, we know that the B777 cannot fly under any known autopilot mode in an arc. Under autopilot control, it would fly in a “straight line” under track hold, or nearly a straight line under heading hold (modified only by the wind vector). All the low and slow scenarios require an arc (curved) path to minimize the BTO errors. Even then, the BFO errors increase steadily from 2 Hz at 37S to over 12Hz RMS at 20S. If the plane was flying low and slow AND straight, then the BFO errors AND the BTO errors become too large to consider a realistic possibility. Therefore, all these low and slow paths are virtually impossible, given the information and understanding we have today.

    The bottom line is this: The search area around 34S-38S is still, by far, the most promising area to search (next). This area has not been completely searched yet. Therefore, the fact that nothing has been found yet is not proof that it is not there. The CSIRO, Rydberg and Metron drift analysis are all reasonably consistent with this area, given the inherent errors in all drift analysis.

    The path in the final few minutes is not as well understood as the path leading up to fuel exhaustion, so the distance from the 7th arc IVO 34-38S is certainly a valid question. What we do know about the most likely final descent profile is what we see in the simulator, the 2 final BFO values, and now the flaperon evidence, all of which point to a POI fairly close to the 7th arc. That said, the POI may turn out to be slightly further from the arc than what has been searched so far. Thus, the best approach is to continue searching in the general vicinity of the present search, but expand to search a bit further inside and outside the 7th arc.

  21. @airlandseaman, Given the extensive evidence you cite that MH370 was in a very steep rate of descent at 0:19, what is the maximum distance from the 7th arc that we can plausibly expect the plane to have flown? By which I mean to say, at what distance from the arc would the sea-bottom search need to go before you would be willing to accept that the end-scenario as you’ve outlined it is not correct?

  22. @Victorl

    “Whether or not the debris field was minimal does not explain why debris was not found earlier and in a (cumulatively) more likely location.”

    but has south coast of Indonesia been searched at all for airplane debris and what is the possibility someone there would recognize a relatively small aircraft part?

    The beachcomber from Reunion likely burned more stuff from MH370 if his story is true anyway and I believe it is.

    “Also, for those that believe the plane successfully ditched with minimal damage, that would imply there should be bodies and rafts. (I know that is not a pleasant thought.)”

    yupp I agree it’s mysterious however what if water got quickly in? what if conflict in the cockpit persisted even after ditching?

    @alsm

    “The path models can reproduce paths at low and slow speeds ending as far north as you want to speculate, but there are at least two major problems with all these paths. First, we know that the B777 cannot fly under any known autopilot mode in an arc.”

    but is there any proof the plane was on autopilot?

    “Therefore, the fact that nothing has been found yet is not proof that it is not there. ”

    I agree, but it makes the location less likely.

    The thing is noone would go there to ditch the plane, noone. And if it’s not ditched that implies hundreds of pieces of debris, some of would have to be found, sheer probability.

    “The CSIRO, Rydberg and Metron drift analysis are all reasonably consistent with this area, given the inherent errors in all drift analysis.”

    CSIRO uses very generous wind estimation to match desired location, that’s a very wrong approach.

    @jeff

    “Given the extensive evidence you cite that MH370 was in a very steep rate of descent at 0:19”

    the rate of descent is steep for SE heading, but it decreases if the heading at 0:19 was N/NE or NW if I got that right?

  23. @StevanG – You said, “there was but not if you assume loiter around Banda Aceh, there certainly was something strange going on between 18:22 and 19:40 which burned a lot of fuel for the distance.”

    I do not understand how anyone could know how much fuel was burned between 18:22 and 19:40. Gysbreght calculated the amount remaining at 18:22 but after that one must pick a speed and altitude to predict the fuel burn rates.

    Also note that “low & slow” burns only about 15% less than high & fast (6.3mt/hr at 327 ktas and FL100 versus 5.3mt/hr at 456 ktas at FL400 – note, these values are not from the FCOM but from tests posted a year ago).

    As for the lack of debris, when Johnny Begue first found the flaperon he considered leaving it on the beach as a tourist attraction or possibly to build a shrine. It was a friend who told him this could possibly be from MH370 as he had not heard of the missing plane. What if other beachcombers are unaware of MH370 and did not turn in anything they found? Also, if that boat circled Madagascar in just 8 months, that could put MH370 debris on the west coast of Madagascar.

    Another reason for the lack of debris is everything disintegrated upon impact as was the case for Silk Air where no bodies were found (only parts). The only parts of MH370 that remained intact were the pieces that were ripped off before impact.

    @ASLM – Of course I agree with your 1:30 pm post but I’d like to challenge a portion of your position since the a/c has yet to be found. Based on the FI actual burn rates, you believe the the right engine flamed out before the left engine. Agreed. However, without TAC wouldn’t that tend to have the plane yaw to the right and would that tend to push the plane to the right? The FCOM says that “the TAC does not fully compensate for the failed engine” and goes on to say, “following engine failure, the pilot can trim the airplane using additional rudder trim, control wheel input, aileron trim, or autopilot engagement.” It is not clear to me how the TAC will act if autopilot was engaged at the time of the first engine failure. How did the simulator react?

    I understand Brian’s position that the plane had to go to the left after the second engine failure since it probably could not have covered the required distance to the seventh arc if it had turned right but, what if the elapsed time between the flameouts was shorter and the airplane was flying higher and faster at the time of first engine flameout? Could it have gone to the right before it started a clockwise spiral?

  24. @Lauren

    “I do not understand how anyone could know how much fuel was burned between 18:22 and 19:40. ”

    well I agree, we know approx. flight path and speed from IGARI until 18:22 but after that we know zilch

  25. @StevanG

    You forgot to mention that the Metron model uses the current ATSB search area as a Bayesian prior. Very weird to state that the model supports the current ATSB search area. Maybe you need to be a satcom expert to understand that logic.

    As far as Hendrik’s model is concerned a single piece of debris cannot be used to infer anything from it unless you are sure there is no debris anywhere else.

    The CSIRO model does not strengthen the case for the current search area. Brock’s paper thoroughly debunks that falsehood propagated by the ATSB and now the IG.

    Yes, the AP assumption has always been odd given the maneuvering prior to the FMT.

    In any case, I doubt the ATSB is going to change their game plan based on reading posts here. They have demonstrated time and again that they march to their own music.

    As far as the flaperon damage supporting the steep descent and plunge into the ocean, I would prefer to wait for the BEA weigh in on it.

  26. Lauren H Posted September 2, 2015 at 3:55 PM: ” It is not clear to me how the TAC will act if autopilot was engaged at the time of the first engine failure. ”

    If the autopilot is engaged it will keep the airplane on the selected heading or track.

  27. Lauren H:

    As explained several times since last Nov, in all the sims we did, the TAC immediately corrects for the first engine out. It takes about 3-4 degrees of rudder to keep the plane on course. A tiny amount of manual adjustment can be used (optional) to get the wings exactly level, but we did not do that since we were simulating pilotless end of flight stages. It was surprising (to me) that the loss of the first engine produced almost no obvious changes, except for warnings. The plane starts slowing down. It does not descend until the speed drops to the minimum for that altitude. IOW, the AP conserves altitude first, and then speed.

    After the second engine flames out, the rudder returns not to zero trim, but to the previous rudder position manually trimmed in cruise (1/2 deg right for most of our sim’s). The plane does not start turning toward the last engine out (as I expected). It starts turning in the direction of the last manually set rudder trim position. This was a surprise, but it was repeatable. When we set the engines to flame out simultaneously, and with zero rudder trim, it took quite a bit longer for the plane to start turning after fuel exhaustion. With ½ deg of right trim, it always started turning right after fuel exhaustion, no matter which engine flamed out first.

    The left turn after fuel exhaustion is fairly certain given the path and 7th arc geometry plus the speeds involved. The plane simply could not make it to the 7th arc in 8.5 minutes if it was turning away from the 7th arc (to the right). It had to turn to the left (toward the arc).

    The only reasonable explanation for the login at 00:19:29 was due to fuel exhaustion, and the AES rebooting from APU power. That pretty much defines the time of fuel exhaustion to be 00:15:49 +/- 30 sec.

  28. Part of the reason that the TAC does not fully compensate for the failed engine is that it only acts on the rudder. The rudder input causes the airplane to roll and that must be countered by an aileron input from the pilot or autopilot.

  29. airlandseaman Posted September 2, 2015 at 5:13 PM: ” With ½ deg of right trim, it always started turning right after fuel exhaustion, no matter which engine flamed out first.”

    Ahhhh, that explains a lot!

  30. airlandseaman,

    Re: “I don’t know of a single person who understands the data in detail that doubts the authenticity and accuracy of the data.”

    Probably Dennis is right, mathematicians and physicists will never understand communication experts. Your post December 23, 2014 at 9:44 AM:
    “99% chance it [the actual 7th arc] is within ± 10.6 km of the nominal 7th arc”. If I am not mistaken 6 of 17 BTO calibration samples originally taken by ATSB exceeded 11 km in the distance equivalent. On top of it add that nothing is known about altitude except the well known IG’s assumption.

    It is even worse with regard to BFO. Did you forget that you still need to discard the two anomalous values of 273 and -2 Hz? Earlier I have suggested some explanation and expected to hear expert’s opinions, but these never came. What about 23:13-23:15 BFO cluster that clearly does not fit the trend line as good as other clusters? Of course, it is easier to discard presumably erroneous values, adjust light speed as needed, and state that the rest is “accurate and reliable”.

    Re: “The CSIRO, Rydberg and Metron drift analysis are all reasonably consistent with this area, given the inherent errors in all drift analysis”
    In which way they are consistent? By tweaking any PT model coefficients and unknown input forcing (mainly currents and wind) you can make them consistent with whatever you wish. The area 33-34S is also consistent, isn’t it? The reality is that PT models are helpful to show where the debris could not come from; but they are nearly useless to show where the debris came from. At least in the foreseen future.

    Re: “The path in the final few minutes is not as well understood as the path leading up to fuel exhaustion”.
    Not true! The aircraft would be found long time ago if it was the case. In order to find the aircraft it does not really matter how it has descended after the fuel exhaustion; it matters how it did fly prior to it.

  31. @alsm

    Interesting tid bits of information from your EOF sim results that I hadn’t caught or appreciated before.

    Reading between (probably too much into) the lines:

    – rudder had to be trimmed to the left prior to first engine out to make the plane turn left after fuel exhaustion.

    What would cause that? I am guessing any natural thrust assymmetry between the two engines being compensated for in “normal” flight.

    Another or additional cause could be some sort of non-fatal mechanical partial failure of the right engine, similar to that as discussed in

    http://www.pprune.org/rumours-news/250930-malaysian-777-engine-problem-stockholm.html

    Could such a failure have happened earlier on in the flight? And could the departing pieces simultaneously have snapped off the flaperon’s trailing edge as well as have ripped it off its hinges?

    Such a scenario could marry the seemingly counter indicating drift models of originating further north with the ISAT data indicated POI further south.

    Cheers

    Will

  32. ALSM,

    R.E. your post regarding the trustworthiness of BTO and BFO, well stated. I would also add that one need not be a “satellite communications expert” to figure them out – just a good grounding in physics plus some general knowledge of radio communications.

    R.E. autopilot modes, one should not leave out magnetic track and heading modes, which produce curved paths and can end at slightly more Northerly latitudes, possibly up to -32.5.

    R.E. autopilot heading modes – these are affected by the wind, which raises the question – how good are the wind models? I have seen no quantitative discussions. I now have some estimates – not entirely consistent. Topic for another post.

  33. Sat data – once you peel away the psychology of consensus we are in the same boat: No one is prepared to guarantee the data because they are not in a position to. If the confidence hasn’t diminished by now – even slightly – then it seemingly can’t. Is that science?

  34. @CosmicAcademy
    “If the flaperon is true and so disproves northern scenarios” – not enough data in this expression, IMO

  35. MuOne:

    The rudder could be used to compensate for thrust asymmetry, but I believe the Auto Throttles normally take care of that (unless you are at full throttle maybe?). But all airplanes, no matter how big or small, are what pilots call “bent”, meaning, none are built to perfect alignment and symmetry. They all fly with some small misalignment of control systems and the airframe itself. These residual manufacturing imperfections are normal, and left for the pilot to “trim out”. The ideal manual rudder trim position can change depending on thrust setting, speed, and other factors. Trim for takeoff will generally not the same as trim at cruise. My B777 pilot friends say the UAL fleet has a tendency to require a slight right rudder trim (for ideal cruise) more often than not, so that is what we used in the sim’s, but it is slightly different for every airplane, and any given airplane might require left or right trim.

    I would also note that rudder trim is only needed to make the airplane fly as efficiently as possible. Some line pilots ignore the manual rudder trim, in which the AutoPilot does the best it can to fly straight and level, but with a slight crab or slip angle required to follow the designated route, if the rudder is not optimally trimmed. It is a very small difference.

  36. @ALSM – Thank you for that explanation. I am glad to hear that you too were surprised by some of the results.

  37. @sk999
    possible huge expert teamwork operation planning on ground and then quite simply plan execution in flight?

  38. @Matty

    I am quite sure the data is OK but the official interpretation of it is moot at best.

    I don’t think there is necessarily any conspiracy behind, just that bunch of people that certainly know their stuff made wrong assumption(which happens even to the best) and now cling to it because their ego doesn’t allow them to say we were wrong let’s look somewhere else on the 7th arc.

  39. sk999:

    Re “I would also add that one need not be a “satellite communications expert” to figure them out – just a good grounding in physics plus some general knowledge of radio communications.”

    Good point. Yes, I agree completely. Understanding is not limited to satcom experts, but the experts all agree while not all of the others do. It also takes some math skill, but anyone with these skills can certainly follow, if not lead the develpment of these models.

  40. It is perplexing that it’s assumed the comms were turned off and back on for the outside world..obviously the comms were disabled prior to IGARI turn so passengers lost the ability to
    (1) SEE the plane make the turn on the in-flight Map that is used for passengers to watch their plane’s flight path (2) disable on board satellite phones where passengers could make calls. When comms were turned back on ATC was no longer a factor so why not turn them back on, could it have been to give them TCAS
    (anti-collision system) capability they would not otherwise have?

    It is fairly easy to envision Zahrie going renegade, using his flying acumen to create a world platform for his perceived political atrocities. Innocuously his brain may have played with this hypothetical many times but now it was becoming a reality with his political ally facing serious jail time.

    He never intended to hurt anyone. He persuaded his co-pilot to cooperate by promising to assume all responsibility claiming Fariq was under duress. Fariq is young, impressed by Zahrie’s experience and they are politically aligned.

    This only worked from the belief that aircraft would be sent for them, I challenge anyone to make a case that a pilot would EXPECT the plane could disappear without challenge…,but it did. A couple of token phone calls to the cockpit didn’t equal the exposure of a military scramble.

    This is the way it could have started but ended vastly different. Being a red eye flight it is acceptable that the passengers could have easily gone all night none the wiser but what happened when the sun came up and the arrival time passed…and passed..for approximately 2 hours after sunrise and arrival time, the plane continued to fly, or did it?

  41. @Susie

    “He never intended to hurt anyone. He persuaded his co-pilot to cooperate by promising to assume all responsibility claiming Fariq was under duress. Fariq is young, impressed by Zahrie’s experience and they are politically aligned.”

    they were everything but aligned, Fariq was the government guy while Zaharie hated the government and all their people (at least that day)

    that said I do agree he didn’t intend to hurt anyone

  42. @Susie
    absolutely not enough data for any hard conclusions yet; and cooperation IS possible between two opposite political views, the more between experienced profesional pilots; on the contrary there are many indirect evidences or hints that Zahrie was generally very good guy

  43. @StevanG
    I must have misunderstood, as everyone knows, his father is deputy director/senior civil service in Malaysia central Selangor state which I thought was at odds with the BNC

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