Guest Editorial: Why This Plague of False Information?

By Victor Iannello

Don’t be fooled by claims of the red tape causing the delay in the determination of the provenance of the flaperon.

Boeing and the NTSB were parties to the investigation when the flaperon was first brought to Toulouse. It is very unlikely that the Spanish subcontractor ADS-SAU did not immediately turn over all documentation when requested by Boeing. The investigators had to know soon after the start of the investigation what the provenance of the part is, whether or not that determination was made public.

I have said before and continue to believe that there was an attempt to delay the release of the results of the investigation in parallel with planting a seed of doubt regarding the provenance of the part. Just look at the series of events this week. First the claim that Spanish vacation schedules have delayed the identification of the part. Then the claim that the identification was not possible. This was followed by the claim that the flaperon was certainly from MH370.

The pattern of leaking contradictory or false information to the media from off-the-record sources continued in full force this week. I believe this is a story in its own right that should be getting a lot of attention. Perhaps when enough journalists are made to look foolish by reporting contradicting statements, their “reputation instincts” will kick in and compel them to dig deeper.

We who are following this incident should demand that more facts be fully disclosed. Technical reports should be released so that we are not parsing statements from a judge-prosecutor to understand the true meaning of what was written. And journalists should not blindly report statements without attribution.

872 thoughts on “Guest Editorial: Why This Plague of False Information?”

  1. VictorI Posted October 2, 2015 at 12:42 PM: “By your assumption, the difference of BFO values between the Log-on Request and the Log-On Acknowledge is only due to the Doppler correction term, which assumes the satellite is at the nominal subsatellite position (0,64.5). Therefore, the Doppler correction, for a given horizontal speed and ROC, will be symmetric about the track angle corresponding to a line between the position of the plane and the nominal subsatellite position. ”

    Another illustration shown here:

  2. Hi Jeff,

    China Southern themselves apparently reported selling tickets to 7 pax:

    1 Austrian (Iranian)
    1 Italian (Iranian)
    1 Malaysian
    2 Ukrainian
    1 Dutch
    1 Chinese

    I remember thinking at the time that it was odd that it was dominantly to foreigners and not locals.

    I’ll have a look for relevant press, but it is referenced for example as early as 10th March on the original MH370 Pprune thread, see page 68 post 1342.

  3. @Gysbreght: Interesting way to present the result. I think the graphic implies that if the aircraft was near NILAM at 18:25 and flying level, Oleksandr’s assumption about the BFO anomaly would imply a horizontal speed of 250 kt and a track angle of 330 deg.

  4. @DennisW
    Thanks for your clear explanation.

    I also don’t think there was power interruption at KLIA.
    For one, there is no drift, and secondly 0x40 and 0x41 frames are not sent – BTW is that the system table being sent?

    If it is, is it possible that the IOR satellite position in the bootstrap table is slightly different than in the one broadcast (the SDU would then have to recalculate the bias, and possibly steer the antenna)?

    Could there be other causes for drift in AES?

    I’ve been quite interested by the diagram on page 5-35 of the SDU manual. It describes the connections between Inertial Navigation Unit 1 & 2, Signal conditioning unit, and SDU.

    What happens to the INU when power is lost and then restored?

    It most likely needs GNSS to calibrate again? How long does this calibration take? Could that explain some drift in the first few messages after logon (0x10 to possibly 0x22)?

    And finally, could it be that the first BFO of 142 at 18:25 is calculated based on the INU thinking it’s still at the last position before power outage (pending GPS lock)?

    I know it’s an over simplification but to illustrate if we then interpolate between 2 seemingly stable BFO (135 @ 17:07 and 148 @ 18:28) we have a theoretical power failure at around 17:50 (BFO 142).
    Where was the plane at that time?

  5. @VictorI:

    Yes, that is correct. NILAM at 18:25 is assumed in Oleksandr’s Note, and 250 kt (129 m/s) at 330 degrees for ROC zero is a single point in Oleksandr’s Figure 1.

  6. Gysbreght,

    If my reading of your plot is correct, your results are consistent with mine. Basically it is independent check of my calcs. Figure 1 in my paper is good for data extraction (red – groundspeed, blue – heading); Figure 2 (vector plot just posted by Jeff) is better for visual perception of the results.

    My BFO calculator has some minor discrepancy from Yap’s V2 (up to ~1 Hz), but the apparent source of this difference is in the assumed shape of the Earth and position/velocity of Inmarsat satellite (we use different interpolations).

  7. @Oleksandr:

    Yes, your understanding is correct. My plot is only background to your interesting paper, it doesn’t add anything.

  8. Here is the info on china transit visas. You do need to show your passport and you will be issued a stopover visa stamp. This seems like a much greater risk with a stolen passport than flying direct. China would return you to Iran. Netherlands and Germany are both EU entry points and I would say based on my experience equally strict.

    The 24-hour visa exemption
    Nearly all nationalities can transit in China for a period not exceeding 24 hours as determined by scheduled flight arrival and departure times.

    You need to pass immigration and show your passport and onward ticket. A special stopover permit will be stamped in your passport. There is no fee charged for this.

  9. @Trip, Thanks so much for this important info. I wonder if some intrepid investigator could make contact with someone in the human-smuggling business and ask them how much sense it makes to them to route to German or the Netherlands through China.

  10. Trip/Jeff – The claim is that going via Beijing was the cheapest flight available but I know I wouldn’t be caught dead going there with a stolen passport if I had made a B line for Europe. You pay 20,000 for someone else’s passport then trim your costs by stopping there. Seems an outlandish risk under the circumstances. Would a drug smuggler do that? Freedom on the line……

  11. Now I’m really curious. What mh370 passengers were in-transit through China? Where were the Ukrainians headed? Were they in-transit through China to Ukraine? If you were in-transit through China and didn’t need to be, I wonder if they figured the plane wasn’t going to end up in China anyway. Non-Chinese passengers boarding the flight would have to have Chinese visas or through tickets, which would be verified by the airline before boarding. A through ticket gets you on the plane without a visa. Ukraine is strong Orthodox Christian and Iran is Moslem, doubtful they would work together.

  12. Among other things, I work with Iranian immigrants after they arrive in the US. As far as Iranians seeking asylum, the Iranian policy changed 2 years ago. They are free to leave but may be very limited in the amount of money they can take with them. Most Iranians go to Turkey and then to Austria, and maybe to the US from there. Iranians are stil allowed to claim refugee status but this may change in the future.

  13. Trip – When we say Ukrainian, remember a lot are ethnic Russians under Vlad’s wing, and Russia and Iran are very close. As it stands they went to Malaysia to what? Buy a stolen passport? You can do that from anywhere.

  14. Trip,

    Ok so the Iranians would have to show their passport and onward ticket once in Beijing and then no stamped Visa required under this 24 hour visa exemption law? Would only aroused suspicion cause those passports to be checked with Interpol or in a database? The Iranians altered their appearance and supposedly dyed their hair to look like the stolen passport photos. If the Chinese workers at the airport in Beijing suspected nothing, would they go right through then undetected enroute to their next destination of Amsterdam? Is that the risk factor, worker suspicion?

  15. Trip,

    Do you suppose someone purchased their tickets for them (i.e. the $20,000) in return for whatever favor, transporting, etc., they would do for the ticket purchaser, then the cost effective route makes sense as it is then out of the Iranian’s pockets the rest of the way? Why would they not go the Turkey route that others do, or did they just get mixed up in this Thai ring supposedly helping Iranians to refuge???

  16. Victor,

    It is unbelievable they say they will address the radar issues in the next report out in March 2016! You are supposed to hang on answers until then? Perhaps it is what Dennis describes, too many cooks in the soup in their opinion, but being that this radar request came from Victor, an IG member, and the IG has been formally acknowledged worldwide, they should be looking at it right now and answering asap in the interest of finding answers for the families and the sake of aviation. The request coming from an IG member, that alone should carry some weight with them, hopefully they reconsider and answer in a more timely fashion.

  17. Cheryl – you can alter your appearance but you are still gambling that the person on the desk will do no more than glance at you. They would have risked it all for a cheaper ticket.
    My eldest sibling(journalist) has spent nearly all of the last 27 years in Hong Kong/Beijing and I’m waiting to hear from him on it.

  18. @Matty
    You’re absolutely right. None of this makes sense. I think this hasn’t been investigated closely enough.

    Why would they buy their tickets from through Mr. Ali in Teheran using a Thai travel agency? Unless their friend, Mr. Ali, was working for the government all along. They risk getting caught if Mr. Ali is apprehended. They could buy the tickets through a travel agency. Mr. Ali is a person of interest.

    Why would they travel through China with stolen passports? China checks passports for in-transit travelers and if caught they would be returned to Iran and punished.

    Why would they think they wouldn’t be caught trying to enter the EU? In the EU they would almost definitely be caught on an Interpol check. They could request asylum when landing however this is less likely with stolen passports.

  19. Trip – the passenger check in the 1st couple of days amounted to typing some names into a database and nothing jumped out. Then it’s a case of investigating each one and a branch of the investigation was devoted to that?? Like everything else there is no commentary or disclosure coming forth.

    Someone may know exactly what they were doing in Malaysia in the first place but it looks shady from any angle. Mr Ali will be part of a dodgy network and possibly an Islamist one as they are extensive in SE Asia now. From baggage handlers to cops to Army officers to pilots to anything really. I read a pay-walled story yesterday that said Indonesia is limited in it’s combating of the IS tentacles there because it’s electorally dangerous to come across as too hardline. 92% of polled Saudi’s say IS is perfectly Islamic – my point being that it’s international, expanding fast, and rife in the region and in the case of Iran goes all the way to the top.

  20. Trip – The SE Asian govts are a little bit hamstrung when it comes to investigating certain things. The Indon anti-terror units are funded by Australia. Iran are not only uncooperative in the war on terror they are responsible for a lot of it and don’t limit their support to Shia groups. While the Sunni are paranoid about Iranian influence the Iranians out there projecting power and are only really obsessed with destroying Israel. If…..this angle existed it might account for the way the Malaysians have gone about it. They have looked distinctly uncomfortable from the outset and they would balk from outing Iranian operatives. The Malaysians are are anti-US and they fly Russian war planes.

  21. Trip/Matty,

    According to one thing I read this Mr. Ali was cooperating with authorities. Another one said they could “flush” the passports, assuming that means literally in the airplane bathroom, and possibly declare the asylum upon landing in Germany? It’s all probably been investigated and like the rest of it we are not privy to any of the information.

    I guess it boils down to the degree of desperation, altering the appearance, fake passports, on a gamble to not get checked? A huge gamble only to possibly lose it all in a Beijing airport immigration point, and having spent $20,000 for what Matty I agree.

    Matty let us know what your sibling says.

  22. It all would make sense if this plane was never meant to fly to Bejing and the passengers knew it would not.

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