An Illusion Made FlyDubai Pilots Crash: Popular Mechanics

Even as Flydubai Flight 981 took off from Dubai on March 18, the pilots knew they’d be in for a difficult flight. Bad weather lay ahead at their destination, the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don. As the plane skirted the Caspian Sea and crossed over the Balkans, the situation stayed iffy. By the time the plane approached Rostov airport, a landing looked challenging, but manageable, with rain and winds gusting to 40 mph.

Setting up for an approach from the northeast, the Boeing 737 broke through the cloud base at 1,800 feet and had the airport in sight directly ahead. But gusty conditions meant a risk of windshear—a sudden tailwind could cause the plane to drop out of the sky. Playing it safe, the flight crew did a “go-around,” increasing engine power and climbing away from the runway. For the next hour and a half the plane flew holding patterns, waiting for a break in the storm, but none came. Finally the pilots decided to bring it around for a second try. Once again they descended through the clouds, got the runway in sight, and set up to land. Once again, wild winds forced them to abort. The plane accelerated and nosed back up into the sky.

Later, security cameras on the ground would show the plane disappearing into the overcast sky—and then, mere seconds later, zooming back out of the clouds at a steep angle and impacting the runway in a fireball, instantly killing all 62 people aboard.

The reason for this tragedy, we now know, was not wind nor rain nor simple pilot error. It was an illusion.

For obvious reasons, initial speculation about what went wrong centered on the weather. Perhaps the plane had been hit by lightning or suffered particularly severe turbulence. Mechanical failure might have played a role, too. In several recent accidents, autopilot malfunction has caused planes to dive unexpectedly. And then there were potential psychological factors. Having already flown nearly two hours longer than they expected, with much of that time spent in turbulence, amid the stressful uncertainty of not knowing how and when they would get their passengers on the ground, the flight crew must have been tired. Pilot fatigue and challenging weather make a dangerous combination.

The picture became clearer this past Wednesday with the release of the official preliminary report (pdf) on the accident by Russian aviation officials. Data recovered from the plane’s black boxes ruled out mechanical failure or a violent weather event. The problem, most likely, was that the pilots fell victim to a pernicious form of disorientation called “somatogravic illusion.”

During a go-around after an aborted landing, a plane tends to be lighter than normal since it’s at the end of its flight and has burned up most of its fuel. That means its thrust-to-weight ratio is relatively high, so when the pilot pushes the throttle forward from idle to full thrust the plane accelerates with unusual alacrity. This acceleration pushes pilots back in their seats, which to the inner ear feels exactly the same as tilting upward.

In this case, the plane really is tilting upwards as it climbs away from the runway. But this weird sensation can throw off even seasoned pilots. As long as they can see the ground below them, the true orientation is clear. “When you initiate the go-around and still have some visual reference, you’re fine,” says aviation analyst Gerry Soejatman, “but once you get into the clouds, your senses start to play on you.”

Black-box data show that as the plane started to enter the cloud after the second go-around, the flight crew briefly pushed the controls forward so that its rate of climb decreased, as if the pilots were momentarily disoriented. Then the plane returned to its previous rate of climb. For a few seconds, all was normal. The flight crew members were almost certainly following their instruments, as years of experience had taught them to do. Then, as if suddenly disoriented and unable to believe their instruments were correct, the flight crew pushed the stick far forward. “It takes time for someone to go from ‘Oh, the instruments are saying this,’ to ‘No, no, no, this is all wrong!’ and start pushing,” Soejatman says.

The pilots probably believed they were preventing the plane from getting too nose-high, which could cause the plane to stall and crash. But in reality they were taking a safe situation and turning it deadly. The lurch downward would have caused them to rise up in their seats as though on a roller-coaster zooming over the top of a hill. By the time they rocketed out of the bottom of the cloud and gained a visual sense of their orientation, they were in a 50 degrees vertical dive at more than 370 mph and just a few seconds from impact. There was no time to pull out.

The violence of the resultant impact can be gauged by the by the condition of the remains recovered. From the 62 people aboard the plane, 4295 “samples of biological matter” were collected.

Somatogravic illusions don’t cause plane crashes often, but a 2013 study by the French transportation safety agency identified 16 similar incidents. One crash that happened just two and a half years prior to the FlyDubai crash was eerily similar. Coming into Kazan, Russia, Tatarstan Flight 363 aborted a landing amid low clouds and gusty winds, started to climb out, then suddenly pitched down and plunged into the ground at a steep angle and high speed. All 50 people aboard that 737 were killed.

Wednesday’s report was only a preliminary finding, meaning that investigators’ findings may change. For the time being, however, they’re recommending that pilots undergo fresh training in how to conduct go-arounds under different conditions and study how somatogravic illusions can occur.

This piece was originally published on the Popular Mechanics website.

144 thoughts on “An Illusion Made FlyDubai Pilots Crash: Popular Mechanics

  1. @Brock McEwen

    The empty search box to date does indeed mean something. It means the ATSB’s assumptions about no pilot control at the end were unfortunately, mistaken. That is all it means.

  2. If they don’t find the aircraft where they are looking, we need to review other discarded possibilities.

    What do we know about this report? How does this line up with Mike McKay’s account? Was this area searched? What is he seeing in the satellite image?

    Article in Daily Mail from April 28, 2014 – 2 years ago today

    A pilot from New York believes he has found the wreckage of the missing Malaysia Airline Flight 370 off the coast of Thailand after searching thousands of satellite images online.

    Michael Hoebel, 60, spent hours trawling through the images made available to the public on a crowd-sourcing website,, before coming across what he believes is the doomed plane.

    The recreational pilot from Tonawanda said he was shocked to discover that the aircraft, which vanished two months ago, appeared to be in one piece beneath the water off the northeast coast of Malaysia, just west of Songkhla in Thailand. The image was taken days after the crash.

  3. @ROB

    I love Monte Carlo, and used it fairly often for things that depend on sampling inputs from a variety of bounded sources (some with a well-characterized probability distribution). Estimating how long it would take a GPS receiver to do a cold start – unknown oscillator offset, unknown satellites in view, unknown initial position,… is a classic use of this technique. It would not occur to me to use it to estimate a terminus for MH370. Likewise with Bayesian methods. I think the original methodology used by Inmarsat and the IG is probably the best and most straight forward way to approach this problem. Unfortunately, all approaches rely on assumptions to be made since the ISAT is not deterministic. You win some, and you lose some in that environment. It really is that simple.

    I do feel that the drift data points to a more Northern location, and it is true that more Northern locations can be reconciled with the ISAT data. My guess is that the die is pretty much cast relative to where the ATSB will spend the remainder of their allocated search time, and I would regard the decision to “stay the course” as sensible at this point. Any other course of action is basically a crap shoot.

  4. Regarding the ATSB’s present search parameters, perhaps a last-minute frenzy of activity will yield the debris field on the seabed. From a purely narrative and then perhaps Jungian perspective, it would would be fitting end to the location effort. While this may sound like woo-woo to many, the search is, after all, a human endeavour. I still hold out hope for a June surprise.

    If the remains of the aircraft are not found via the present search parameters, it will be interesting to see what sort of data set will shape Search II, if there is to be a second search. Perhaps the need to publicly rationalise any new search parameters will lead to the dissemination of information regarding additional data and analysis associated with the flotsam found thus far.

    I have come away very impressed with how rigorous the analysts found here are in terms of the forensics associated with the recovered debris, to the point that I wonder if the authorities are as relentless in the pursuit of ‘all angels.’ Would it come as any surprise if they were not?

    Perhaps we will see a concerted (and paid for)large-scale beach-combing effort along the shores of Africa, Reunion and elsewhere. Back in the day when I was a twenty-something traveller, this is just the sort of thing that would have fired me up, and now with crowd-sourcing it could perhaps be arranged.

  5. Trip many of us searched Tomnod, we all believed we saw the plane or pieces of it. I swear someone went out to scoop up these items and hid them, they always told us it was waves or clouds!!

  6. @IR1907

    By Northern I mean North of 30S. There is no doubt in my mind the terminus is in the Southern hemisphere.

  7. @Rand

    Don’t know about the current version of twenty- somethings. My sense is they would have a difficult time finding the beach. But hey, I am old.

  8. Jeff, I don’t know if you are aware of this:

    I don’t presume to know how strongly you believe in this theory, but I wonder whether it might be a little bit unkind to allow these poor people to take it this way.

    I think you have probably thought it through and so on, but it is a huge, huge responsibility, isn’t it, when NOK are relying on you to keep up their belief that the plane will some day be found?

    Of course how people interpret your theories isn’t within your control. I just…I don’t know what I’m trying to say here.

    I hope you get the gist.

  9. @Lauren H. Two different scale of drift models are being referred to. My amateur understanding having read around the subject…

    One is a relatively short term one over a fairly limited area of ocean ~45S/89E between 8 March and 26 March. This kind of reverse-drift model uses 0.2 degree resolution ocean surface current data, wind data (as inferred from satellite observations) and assumptions on object leeway to model trajectory. With this sort of resolution / timescale / distance it should be possible to model the probable origin of objects sighted with some level of confidence.

    Then there is the very long time-scale (15+ months), very long distance modelling to say where debris might have ended up by the time it has been through the SIO gyre rinse cycle. Given the uncertainties involved and the possibility of multiple eddies along the way, this is never going to give you a precise answer (either forwards or backwards) either in time-to-drift or in origin/end point.

  10. @Susie, Thanks for alerting me to this story. I think I do get the gist of your concern. The important thing to understand is that people in the mainstream media are going to continue to misunderstand and misrepresent the core issues in this case. It’s very hard for them to break free of the groupthink surrounding the official narrative, even when that narrative is demonstrably wrong. Those of us who are trying to piece together the clues through careful research and analysis just have to keep plugging on. You’re right, it is a huge responsibility.

  11. @Jeff,

    Thanks for your understanding. I didn’t intend to criticise in questioning every last piece of information we are given. I think that’s a great stance to take and it’s very important that as many people as possible examine the evidence there is, and are given access to as much of it as possible, in order for the collective imagination and brain power to have the biggest chance of finding the answer.

    I feel so sorry for the people without proper access to the truth, who feel they are being lied to left right and centre by the people in government, and I agree with them that there is little transparency coming out of Malaysia.

    You’re not responsible for their interpretation of your thoughts. They are clearly very desperate, and willing to cling to any hint of a suggestion that the plane may not have crashed.

    I don’t think that is what you are trying to say. You’re just looking at anomalies in the evidence available.

    I guess it just highlights the real and pressing need for clarity in what is put out to the media and the next of kin, by those who DO know the answers.

  12. Sorry, the computer ate some of that first line – it was meant to say ‘criticise your stance of questioning’

  13. @Susie

    You have summed it up perfectly. Jeff’s blog gives us the opportunity to put forward and debate ideas ( some of them more controversial than others, naturally) without fear of censorship or manipulation by those with other agendas.

    Anything that continues to stimulate debate, has to be a good thing. There are those out there who would like to control everything that’s fed to the chooks” (Aussie lingo), without any regard or feelings for the feelings of the NOK.

  14. @IR1907 and @DennisW:
    “You will have fuel issues (+) if you consider a Northern scenario.”

    Further north on the southern arc requires a slow, curving path. If a fuel-efficient altitude was chosen for the trip, it is true that there would be a reserve of fuel at 00:19. However, fuel exhaustion can be explained by either dumping fuel or by flying at lower altitudes.

    One of the observations that suggests a flight into the SIO at a cruise speed and altitude is the last handshake sequence is consistent with fuel exhaustion at about the same time that the fuel consumption model predicts flameout. This does not prove the flight into the SIO occurred, but it would be a coincidence if the same timing of fuel exhaustion occurred for other scenarios.

    In the Factual Information released in March 2015, on Page 1, it states that fuel load for MH370 gave an endurance of 7h31m. This endurance was calculated as part of the flight plan that was filed. For a takeoff at 16:41, the 7h31m of fuel would last until 00:12. Allowing several minutes to start the APU and then several minutes for the SATCOM to initiate the log-on after the restart would produce the observed log-on sequence at 00:19.

    What is interesting to me is that if the satellite data set was intentionally manipulated, there would be guidance from the flight plan that was filed as to the time to simulate the last handshake after fuel exhaustion. I am not saying this occurred. I am only saying that information about the expected endurance of the flight was available to anybody that had a copy of the flight plan without the need to perform any fuel calculations.

  15. @Victor

    Yes, low and slow would characterize my CI flight path. That coupled with the assumption that the fuel usage models were not well-suited to those flight dynamics led me to believe that the PIC was “surprised” to run out of fuel when he did. Unfortunately Don’s information relative to the accuracy of the fuel remaining instrumentation makes that surprise unlikely. The CI scenario unravels due to that fact, and the fact that no attempt was made to broadcast a last position. The latter is especially troubling for any scenario postulating that the PIC did not wish to simply let the aircraft fall into the sea killing himself and everyone on board.

    At this moment I cannot even imagine a scenario that makes any sense whatever.

  16. @DennisW said, “At this moment I cannot even imagine a scenario that makes any sense whatever.”

    I’m glad to have company in the club. I’ve been a member for a very long time. We are missing important pieces of the puzzle.

  17. According to the Inmarsat paper, BFOs derive from six (6) terms:

    BFO = [ df_up,actual – df_compensation ] + [df_satellite + df_down,actual + df_Perth + 150Hz]
    = [ uplink error ] + [[ baseline error ]]

    142 Hz = [ 18.1 Hz ] + [[ 123.9 Hz ]]
    182 Hz = [-31.8 Hz ] + [[ 213.8 Hz ]]

    So, the net uplink errors from the aircraft (due to improper & incomplete compensation) on initial 0x10 logons were +18.1Hz / -31.8Hz. The rest of the BFOs derived from the satellite-to-Perth side of the communications channel.

    Then, the ensuing anomalous uplink errors from 0x15 logon-acknowledgements were:

    273 Hz = [ 149.1 Hz ] + [[ 123.9 Hz ]]
    -2 Hz = [-215.8 Hz ] + [[ 213.8 Hz ]]

    +149.1Hz = 18.1Hz + 131.0Hz @ 5x7820microsec delays
    -215.8Hz = -31.8Hz – 184.0Hz @ 4x7820microsec delays

    In both cases:

    0x15 error = 0x10 error + 0x10 error X # delays X 1.447623

    e15 = e10 * (1 + N*1.447623)

    The 0x15 error equals the 0x10 error, plus an additional error, equal to the initial 0x10 error, compounded by the number of delays (N) derived from the BTOs, multiplied by about sqrt(2) or so.

    According to this model, each additional 7820microsec delay, due to processing aboard the aircraft (?), amplifies the expected uplink error, adding an additional factor of about sqrt(2)*uplink_error per each 7820microsec time slot utilized.

    Inmarsat could easily verify or refute this, by comparing 0x10 vs. 0x15 logons / logon acknowledgements (noting also the number of delays (N) from the BTOs) from other aircraft. The predicted trend is that always:

    up_error_0x15 = up_error_0x10 * (1 + k*N)
    N = # delays observed in BTO
    k = 1.45 ~= sqrt(2)

    If this model is accurate (even if imprecise), then it only mathematically accounts for the anomalous BFOs’ mysterious origins. It provides no electromechanical explanation of the math, other than that the sqrt(2) often appears in communications channels. Nor does it provide any new information regarding MH370, except to deny that the anomalous BFOs imply any dramatic maneuverings by the aircraft. Instead, the anomalous part of the anomalous BFOs is excised, and attributed to the same SDU circuits that induced corresponding anomalies in the corresponding BTOs. The result is a “massaged” BFO_0x15 essentially identical to the immediately preciding BFO_0x10, corresponding to how the “massaged” BTO_0x15 then matches the preceding BTO_0x10 (after it too has been “massaged” by subtracting 4600microsec bootup delay).

    Inmarsat could easily verify or refute this, with existing or easily obtainable data.

  18. @Victorl

    So, the call to the a/c at 23:14 was placed almost exactly one hour prior to expected fuel exhaustion ?

  19. @Erik Nelson: Yes, about 58 minutes. That call produced a handshake at 00:11 after the inactivity timer expired.

  20. On the Durban piece, which side is the forward side? The side with the fasteners holes? or the side with the 676EB marking?
    Thanks in advance

  21. @Victorl

    Thanks, that call occurred at 7:14am SEA time, as the aircraft was about 45min overdue ?

    What about FI, pg. 37, fig.1.7E, showing some sort of severe weather all along the southern coast of Indonesia. Hypothetically relevant to CI scenarios ? Bad night to try for small coastal islands ?

    CB = Cumulonimbus = Thunderheads
    450 XXX -> top @ FL450, bottom unknown below radar, i.e. all the way from sea level to FL450
    ISOL EMBD = isolated t-storms embedded in other cloud formations & layers

  22. @Susie @Jeff Wise

    I realy respect the way Susie puts this issue to attention.

    I’m not so diplomatic. And that’s what I get banned for. And I understand this when confrontating a narcissist in this way but not a well respected journalist/writer who’s been around and can stand the heat.

    It realy upsets me the way you @Jeff Wise just changed subject to a totaly different subject. Without any explanation or respect to your dedicated followers but above all to all those victims who take every straw they hope to believe in. Which you give them!!!
    I consider this as no respect and irresponsible behavior. And then I get sarcastic and confrontating. I’m not a sheep.
    Someone has to confront sometimes to hopefully get someone straightup his mindset.
    Jeff Wise, you’re a public figure considered a authority on the subject of MH370 by many (victims included). That brings a lot more responsebility then a nutcase like me or any other who is touched by this tragedy.
    I just suspect you now of your ego is/has become more important than the feelings in regard of the victims and the willing of me and many others to try and help solving this drama.
    I ask you just take a look at this.
    When egos get eluded too much they might easaly inflate to proportions where a person looses sight on what it was all about in the first place. It just can happen, nothing to be ashamed of. But if it happens, realise it happens and take a step back.

  23. @Ge Rijn: @Jeffwise has the right to post on whatever topic he chooses whenever he wants. He has not stifled discussion on MH370. In fact, I am sure MH370 continues to be of very high interest to him and he welcomes any enlightening new posts. Previous threads are closed so that we don’t have to track multiple threads to see what people are posting. This really is not hard to understand.

  24. I’ll put myself in Victor’s and DennisW’s “At this moment I cannot even imagine a scenario that makes any sense” club and Brock’s “there’s something not right about this search” club and perhaps even the “maybe it flew further south” club.

    I’m not saying that I did some spectacular analysis that shows it went further south. All I am saying is I find Dr. Ulich’s white paper to be very impressive and wonder, “what if he is correct?” His impact boundary goes just a little bit further south than the expanded search area.

    Many have said that in order to expand and/or move the search area one only need to modify some of the assumed flight dynamics. Well, the next question is, “Which ones?” I’ll pick post FMT cruising level and speed. Using our estimated GW of 210mt at 18:22U, the optimum LRC pressure altitude looks to be around 38,000 ft. If the PIC expected to continue for 6 more hours, he/she could have easily chosen 40,000 ft. where it could have been at M0.84 for a greater portion of the distance between the 5th and 6th arcs with right engine flameout around 00:12. At a higher speed, it might not have had to bank to the left to reach the 7th arc at 00:19.

  25. The Inmarsat “raw” data from May 2014 has the 0x15 logon acknowledge at 16:00.

    Who has the 15:59 0x10 logon BFO ?

  26. All the other topics that show up on Jeff’s blog are good for comparative analysis.. As we haven’t seen such an event previously or since.

  27. @Victorl

    I found the following data for the 15:59:55 0x10 to 16:00:13 0x15 events:

    0x10 99Hz 19380microsec
    0x15 103Hz 14820microsec

    The Ox10 displays the usual +4600microsec bootup delay (19380-4600 = 14780 ~= 14820).

    The “baseline” was about 93Hz, and satellite motion away from KLIA introduced a redshift of -6Hz, such that all other BFOs on the ground prior to takeoff were about 86-88Hz.

    The Ox10 & 0x15 both deviated from “baseline” in the same sense (+ vs. +), and the 0x15 deviated more, by a factor of about sqrt(2) (+11 vs. +15) (99-88 vs. 103-88).

    Notably, there is no 7820microsec delay in the 0x15 BFO.

    i observe that presence of extra delays during the “ghost flight” of MH370 coincides with the extra helpings of BFO. i intuit that there is still information hiding in the anomalous BFO/BTO data.

  28. @Ge Rijn

    This is a blog format, not a forum organized by topic. As such, I find it much easier when Jeff closes threads. The sidebar of recents posts helped a lot when threads were left open longer, but frankly, stuff was getting lost and/or ignored. I think closing threads works much better, and does not discourage anyone from posting ideas on any topic.

    Jeff’s intro articles are invitations to comment on a new event, they are not intended to close comments on previous subjects.

  29. @Ge Rejin We have witnessed a number of individuals participating in this forum suffer from symptoms of ‘MH370 fatigue’, with some expressing deep-felt frustration, others having taken to sniping at one another, while some, like me, have had to bow out for a few months. I even considered watching professional sports on television as a substitute opioid, but couldn’t bring myself to it and began devouring as yet unread Pulitzer Prize winning novels as a tonic.

    Your concern for the feelings of the NOK are valid. I’m just uncertain whether the inescapable sorrow punctuated by moments of hope that many among them experience can be largely attributed to Jeff’s construct. Rather, the point here, as he has so stated, is that groupthink and subtle elements of confirmation bias are hazards that could prevent proper analysis of the evidence as it presents itself. I am loathe to pull open the green curtain, but perhaps the real function of Jeff’s construct and his arguements regarding the debris finds are meant to keep everyone analytically nimble – and awake – over the long-ass haul of this mystery seeking a solution. ‘Irresponsible’, or quite clever?

    The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt is a great place to start, by the way.

  30. @Ge Rijn
    There have been many kind responses to your challenging rhetoric. Please share what’s really going on. Do you have a personal stake? Did you lose a loved one? If you’ve read the comments you’ll notice we are still talking about the same issues. Nothing has changed. @Jeff shares his insights very thoughtfully.

  31. @Rand

    I have difficulty with female authors. Just me. Maybe it took Ayn Rand (a relationship perhaps ??) too long to make her point. Which I happen to agree with, BTW. No surprise there.

    Professional sports (or any sport for that matter) is best appreciated at the event. Even though the crowds and traffic are sometimes horrendous, I always come away feeling glad that I went. TV is still unable to capture the experience. In fact, Ami and I don’t have cable, satellite, or broadcast TV at any of our residences. Been awhile for Netflix as well. You realize what a waste of time it was once you wean (not to be confused with ween) yourself from it.

  32. ” @Jeff shares his insights very thoughtfully.”

    Are you up to date ? The Chinese believe that their relatives are still alive because of Jeff’s publications (planted debris).

    How is that ”thoughtful” ? It is cruel.

    Pure asshattery.

  33. @ir1907

    That the Chinese believe their relatives are still alive is mainly down to inept and opaque handling of this tragedy by the Malaysian authorities, particularly in the early stages. If they had come clean and acted in a humane and considerate manner, rather than concentrating primarily on just limiting the political fallout, then it would be a different story. So get real.

  34. @ir1907, I find it rather paternalistic of you to imagine that the Chinese NOK suddenly entertain hope for their relatives because of something I wrote. They have never given up hope.
    As it happens, my intention is to follow the evidence where it leads. Whether the end of the story is discomfiting for some individuals or not does not factor into my motivation.
    What the NOK want is not a fairytale feel-good ending but hard facts about what happened to their loved ones. If you think it is cruel to suggest that the plane didn’t crash in the southern Indian Ocean, I would suggest that it is far crueler to tell them that their loved ones are certainly dead due to a new form of mathematical calculation; to then declare that this mathematical calculation has as good as located the site of the crash, and that a seabed search will certainly find their remains; and then shrug, two years and $100+ million later, and admit that you weren’t so sure after all.
    I find it doubly cruel to then withhold the crucial information that can be gleaned from the case’s only physical evidence, especially given the manifestly dubious nature of this evidence.
    And what about you, @ir1907? What consolation can you offer the bereaved? What evidence do you possess to make you so certain that a planting scenario is scorn-worthy?

  35. @Ge Rijn
    A paradox or irony? These “off topic” comments initiated by you complaining that Jeff had gone “off topic” have now consumed more time than Jeff’s article. As Trip said, you have received extended courtesy, now it is time to either respectfully proceed with the missing plane topic or leave.

  36. “What the NOK want is not a fairytale feel-good ending but hard facts about what happened to their loved ones. If you think it is cruel to suggest that the plane didn’t crash in the southern Indian Ocean, I would suggest that it is far crueler to tell them that their loved ones are certainly dead due to a new form of mathematical calculation; to then declare that this mathematical calculation has as good as located the site of the crash, and that a seabed search will certainly find their remains; and then shrug, two years and $100+ million later, and admit that you weren’t so sure after all.
    I find it doubly cruel to then withhold the crucial information that can be gleaned from the case’s only physical evidence, especially given the manifestly dubious nature of this evidence.
    And what about you, @ir1907? What consolation can you offer the bereaved? What evidence do you possess to make you so certain that a planting scenario is scorn-worthy?”

    Brilliantly said @JeffWise I for one am almost certainly guilty of ‘MH370’ fatigue. But this whole passed 2 years you’ve stuck to your guns the entire time and continue to keep people’s interest piqued regarding this unprecedented tragedy. How you don’t lose your cool regarding certain commentators on here and other nonsense I see in the mainstream is beyond me. Keep up the good journalism

  37. @Jeff. re: what you last said to ir1907 – well said.

    A slight quibble about fasteners….
    From ATSB “Debris examination – update No. 1″…
    “A single fastener was retained in the part. The fastener head markings identified it as being correct for use on the stabiliser panel assembly. The markings also identified the fastener manufacturer. That manufacturer’s fasteners were not used in current production, but did match the fasteners used in assembly of the aircraft next in the production line (405) to 9M-MRO (404) (Figure 4).”
    I don’t have a real problem with this wording/grammar and take the meaning to be that those fasteners are not used now. The report is largely written in the past tense as reports generally are. Yes, perhaps “are not used in current production” would have been clearer.

    The ATSB have said that their report on the marine organisms etc. will be sent to Malaysia, for them to release, yet this report on debris is issued by ATSB. I expect that Malaysia is choosing what to make public and what to withhold and have authorised ATSB to release this debris report. I doubt we are going to see the marine growth report any time soon; if it isn’t released prior to the end of the search I will come to a firm conclusion 🙁

  38. Chinese citizens speak out about other governments because they can’t speak out about their own. It’s their only form of approved protest. I lived there for 8 years. China could have pressured Malaysia to more fully cooperate. China pressures Malaysia to hand over Uyghurs refugees all the time. But I think China is also holding back vital information. In our modern world no government wants to admit what it knows because that would be disclosing its military capabilities. So we have to play this game to see who will disclose first. I think the militaries watched the plane go down and nobody lifted a finger. Once that happened there no reason to do more. Disclosing the plane location wouldn’t save the passengers but it would give away your secrets.
    Someone cleaned up knowing it could plant later. Zaharias could have been trying to pressure Malaysia to release his political leader or for Malaysia
    to stop departing Uyghurs. When China heard this they did Malaysia a favor and took down the plane and then hacked Inmarsat to make it look like the flight terminated in the SIO. China is more than capable of keeping this hidden, they have done so with many recent events.

    Sorry for the extended version. Once my fingers started typing they couldn’t stop.

  39. @All, I’m shutting down the comments for this post now–not to stifle debate, just so that we can all be on the same page and no one’s comments will be overlooked. Let’s continue the discussion at the most recent post. Thanks!

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