How We Know Where MH370 Went

DSTG report 1

One of the most misunderstood insights into the riddle of MH370 is how the plane’s final path can be derived from Inmarsat BTO data alone.

Recall that the data, which was generated after someone on board caused the Satellite Data Unit (SDU) to re-logon to the Inmarsat Satellite 3F-1 over the Indian Ocean at 18:25, comes in two flavors. The first, the Burst Timing Offset (BTO) data, reveals how far the plane is from the satellite at a given time. This can be mathematically converted into a set of “ping rings” along which the plane must have been at a given time. The BTO data is very well understood and fairly precise, providing an accuracy of within 10 km.

The second, the Burst Frequency Offset (BFO) data, is more more complicated and much fuzzier than the BTO data; its inherent uncertainties are equivalent to a position error of hundreds of miles. It doesn’t have a single physical correlate but is related to how fast a plane is going, what direction it is headed, and where it is located.

For a time after MH370 disappeared, searchers hoped that they could combine these two data sets to identify the area where the plane issued its final ping. After months of work, however, they determined that this would be impossible. The BFO data is just too vague. However, along with the bad news came some good: it turned out that by the clever use of statistics they could figure out where the plane went using the BTO data alone. The methodology developed by Australia’s Defense Science and Technology Group (DSTG) and explained in an ATSB report entitled “MH370 – Definition of Underwater Search Areas” released last December.

Many independent researchers do not understand the technique and believe that it is invalid. For instance, reader DennisW recently opined that “The ISAT data cannot, by itself, be used to determine a flight path. One has to invoke additional constraints to derive a terminus.” But I believe that the DSTG position is correct, and that one does not need to invoke arbitrary additional assumptions in order to calculate the plane’s track. I’ll explain why.

First, some basics. Imagine that you have two ping rings, one created an hour after the other. For the sake of simplicity, let’s say the rings are concentric, with the later ring’s radius 300 nautical miles bigger than the earlier one’s. Let’s further assume that the plane crossed some arbitrary point on the innermost ring. If that’s all we know, then the plane could have taken any of an infinite number of routes from the first to the second. It could have travelled radially directly outward at 300 knots. Or, if traveling straight at 400 knots, it could have turned left or right at an angle. Or, it could have traveled faster than 300 knots on any number of meandering paths. So, the fact of the matter is that this simple understanding of the plane’s situation indicates that it could have traveled by wide number of paths and speeds to a wide range of points on the second arc.

However, there are some pecularities of commercial aviation that narrow the possibilities considerably. The most important is that planes can only travel in straight lines. They can turn, but in between turns they will fly straight. Knowing this vastly reduces the number of paths that MH370 could have taken between 19:41 and 0:11. It could not of simply meandered around the sky; it must have followed a path of one, two, three, four, or more straight segments.

Through the marvels of modern computing, researchers can generate a huge number of random routes and test them to see which fit the observed data. It turns out that if the plane flew straight in a single segment, the only routes that match the data are those that are fast, around the speed that commercial jets normally fly, and end up over the current search area. If you assume that the flight involved two straight segments, it turns out the ones that fit best are those in which the two segments are nearly in a straight line and are also fast and wind up over the current search area.

If you suppose that the flight after 19:41 involved a larger number of segments, your computer’s random generation process will be able to come up with valid routes that are neither straight nor fast, and do not end up in the current search area. But to come up with such routes, the computer will have to generate many, many others that do not fit. So it is extremely unlikely that by random chance the plane would have happened to travel a slow, curving route that just happened to “look like” a straight, fast route.

“Well,” you might object, “presumably whoever was in control didn’t fly randomly, they had a plan, so modeling by random paths isn’t appropriate.” But a plan of unknown characteristics is equivalent for our purposes to a random one. After all, there is no imaginable reason for someone to fly a plane over empty ocean in the dark at a slower-than-usual rate, making slight turns every hour or so. (Before you say that they might have done it to throw searchers off their trail after the fact, bear in mind that whoever took the plane would have had no way to know that Inmarsat had started logging BTO values a few months before, let alone imagine that they would be able to conduct this kind of analysis.)

When DSTG ran the math, they came up with a probability distribution along the arc that looks like the image at top.

Worth noting that the peak of the curve, and the lion’s share of the area under it, lie in the southern half of the search box, but it also has tails that extend past the box in either direction.

When the search of the seabed began, many expected that the plane would be found in short order. When it wasn’t, the burning question then became: how far out from the 7th arc should we search? A one-dimensional question had now become a two-dimensional one. Based on past loss-of-control accidents and flight simulations, the ATSB decided that an out-of-fuel 777 with no pilot would enter a spiral dive and impact the surface within 20 nautical miles. Mapping the two probability distributions (i.e., where the plane crossed the 7th arc, and where/how far it flew after that) yielded the following probability distribution:

DSTG report 2

I believe that we have to take the image above with a grain of salt, as I don’t think it is really possible for a plane to fly more than 40 km by itself. It’s generally agreed that the only way the plane could have plausbily gone further than that is if the pilot was conscious and actively holding the plane steady in a glide, in which case it might have gone as far as 100 nm.

A few months before the ATSB publlshed this analysis, a further set of information about the impact point of MH370 became availalble: the plane’s right-hand flaperon washed up on Réunion Island. Reverse-drift analysis was performed by several independent groups to determine where the flaperon might have started its journey. The German institute GEOMAR came up with the following results:

map_mh370_figure_0516_en_a74ba7fb33 small

As you can see, the probability distribution hardly overlaps at all with the probability distribution derived from the BTO data; it only touches at the northeastern corner of the search box. Drift analysis performed by other groups reached a similar conclusion. Using a branch of mathematics called Bayesian analysis, it’s possible to take two probability distributions and merge them into a single one. I’m not a mathematician myself, but intuitively one would surmise that given both the BTO and the drift-model data sets, the new peak probability are should lie somewhere between the northern end of the current search box and Broken Ridge.

The ATSB report disagreed, arguing that the drift analysis

… made no meaningful changes to the ATSB search area due to the relative weighting of the significance of the drift analysis in comparison with the analysis based on the satellite data. While this debris find is consistent with the current search area it does not provide sufficient information to refine it.

What this means is that the ATSB considers the BTO data and its analysis “hard” and the reverse-drift analysis “soft,” because the random motion of ocean currents introduces a large amount of uncertainty. However, the reported also noted that “if additional debris is identified it will be included in the analysis to provide further information on the location of source areas.” Indeed, after the report came out other pieces of debris were found, and drift modeling of these pieces be used to refine the search area. Indeed, after I published last week’s guest post by MPat, reader Ge Rijn pointed out:

Over those 20 years in MPat’s model only 7 out of 177 buoys landed in Australia. Those 7 all passed the search box under 36S… [this] points clearly to the trend the more south you go under ~36S the more likely it becomes buoys (debris) will land on Australia and the more north you go above 36S the less likely it becomes buoys~(debris) will land on Australia. This is also because the more south you go under ~36 the currents tend to go further east and the more north you go around 36S the currents tend to bend stronger to the north avoiding Australia. And this is exacly what the facts about found debris shows us till now.

Note that 36 degrees south is just shy of the northern end of the current search area; as Ge Rijn observes, historical drift data suggests that if the plane had crashed south of this latitude, debris should have been found in Australia, which it obviously hasn’t.

The size and species mix of barnacles growing on ocean debris could provide clues as to which waters it floated through; oxygen isotope analysis can provide information about the temperature of the waters that it floated through. As far as I know, no such analyses have been conducted. For a long while now, the ATSB’s weekly update reports have included the phrase “In the absence of credible new information that leads to the identification of a specific location of the aircraft, Governments have agreed that there will be no further expansion of the search area.” The fact is, though, that further information is available, and it could be used to determine which of the two possible explanations is more likely: that the plane passed over the current search area and was held in a glide, or crossed the seventh arc further (but not too much further) to the northeast.

489 thoughts on “How We Know Where MH370 Went”

  1. @Victor

    It would seem that some 70% of the Malay networks use WCDMA technology which has no inherent range limitation (as does GSM). 40 miles or so is not unreasonable without having to worry about “horizon” effects. Don’t really know what cell site or technology the alleged call used, but it is likely that it was WCDMA just based on network usage statistics.

    Like you, I am inclined to believe that the cellular network registration actually happened.

  2. @Victor: thanks for replying, and clarifying. Two observations:

    1) you addressed knock-on impact of RANGE, provided the nominally reported speed changes were accurate. But I was asking specifically about the knock-on impact on post-Penang SPEED required to get to the 18:22 fix. Can I impose upon you to demonstrate a sample path that would permit a speed & altitude drop sufficient to ping the Telco tower, yet which doesn’t require a post-Penang “catch-up” speed which allows MH370 to reach the 18:22 fix without pushing the limits of a B777’s capability?

    2) FYI: not only do I still consider both “honest string of errors” and “snow job” to be legitimate explanations for search conduct to date, even within the “snow job” family, I see a broad range of possible reasons why the US would abet such activity – including ones in which, as you postulate, the shadowy leaks are in fact authentic, against the grain snippets of truth. What I have always called for – as you well know – is merely a stiff audit forcing full accountability for all search decisions taken to date, to help us all rule out “snow job” with full confidence. That the SSWG remains as shadowy as ever in both composition and conduct – despite this pressure – speaks volumes, and (I think) tells us a lot about which of your two book-ending theories is closer to the mark.

    P.S. what were the exact words of CNN’s source? Was it “near Penang”? How near is near? Did the source directly and explicitly give a time? How near to Penang did MH370 come “near Penang” during initial ascent out of KL, PRIOR to IGARI? In my view, these are the questions we need to ask, if the task is to assess the veracity of this leak. In the past, propaganda has often involved the statement of true facts, carefully arranged to create false impressions. CNN may have unwittingly helped change an innocent Telco ping pre-IGARI into an ominous smoking gun post-IGARI, merely by falling into a carefully set trap, and obediently misconnecting the dots.

  3. @ikr

    I concur with that. RetiredF4 and me have not always seen eye to eye, but his street cred as a fighter jock is definitely beyond doubt.

  4. @Dennis: To return on subject, are you saying that if the cellular network registration actually happened, that does not require the airplane to be flying at low altitude?

  5. @DennisW @Victor

    After studying Victor’s radar graphic , and using the 60 nmi circle in that graphic as visual reference and reducing it visually to 2/3s it’s raduis (~40 nmi), it seem to be very reasonable that the plane would have been within cell range of any tower in Penang during this time period (17:52-17:55 UTC).

    So I believe it is possible that this story could be true.

    However if the story is false it may have been planted to reinforce the narrative that MH370 was the plane seeing flying on radar at this time near Pennang. This story would help to discredit any eye witness reports around this same time that saw a low flying jet off the East coast of Malaysia.

  6. @Gysbreght

    Correct. The important things are range to the cell site, and being in the cell site antenna pattern. Cell site antennas are long and narrow to create a “thin pattern” in elevation and a “broad pattern” in azimuth. You don’t want to be wasting power broadcasting energy upward. Your customers are all on or near the ground. A plane flying directly over a cell site even at low altitude would not be in the base station antenna pattern. The plane needs to be near the horizon of the base station in order to achieve connectivity.

  7. @Gysbreght

    Hmmm. I thought my answer was directly on target with respect to your question.

  8. So it would seem MH370 would have needed to be flying very close to the ground if the Co-pilot’s cell made a connection attempt.
    IE; were they trying to land or landing?
    maybe this story is not really true since I remember the stated fly over Penang was near cruising altitude.

  9. @MH

    As Dennis has pointed out it may have made the connection as the plane was flying away the cell tower with it’s line of sight becoming lower to the horizon. The cell phone signals radiate in the Tangental plane so if aircraft is directly over the tower it would not be able to connect but as it become lower towards the horizon then it could be possible for a connection to occur providing it is within RF range of tower.

  10. @MH

    No. We are living on a sphere. Being close to the base station horizon could be at a significant altitude at 30 miles from the base station.

  11. @Brock McEwen: There is a misconception that a drop in altitude means the true airspeed reduced. That is not necessarily true. We don’t know what airspeeds are achievable for 9M-MRO, especially during a descent. We only know that Vmo = 330 KIAS. That is not an upper limit on achievable speed.

    (There is much controversy about what speed UA175 achieved before crashing into the South Tower of the WTC on 9/11. The radar data said 510 knots.–AA11,_UA175.pdf)

    As for making a cell phone connect to a tower on Penang Island during the climb out of KLIA, that represents a distance of 330 km. That is impossible. The claim is that there was a cell phone connection at the same time that the plane flew south of Penang. There can be no other interpretation.

  12. @Susie @all

    Now I look closer again with zoom on piece 9 of the dropbox series @Victorl posted.

    That piece shows obviously a same kind of decorative pattern on the white laminate as the Rodrigues piece.
    This would be important as it would indicate we have another piece of interior here.

  13. @Gysbregh
    Zahire had flown combat jets and had air defensive training.”
    Where did you get that?

    Thanks for the headsup, he was not. I mixed that one up. Sorry for that mistake.

    A break turn is a turn, which is initiated with the maximum bank angle and turn rate to change the direction in the fastest possible way. With a fighter jet it would look like the 90° turn to the left at IGARI, which we discuss here. Wether a handflown B777 could do such a tight turn while excessivly trading altitude for energy I only can do an uneducated guess.

    Do not know where this discussion is leading though, wether it was Shah or any other pilot will imho not help to find the aircraft. The key points can be found in the happenings after MEKAR, wether MH370 turned early or late, and to which direction it turned to. Whoever was on the controls and for whatever reason is imho nice to know at the moment.

  14. @All
    What if the intent of the turn at IGARI was not evasion but to keep the plane within Malaysian airspace? He made the turn as he was being handed off to Vietnamese atc. If Zaharie was negotiating with the government he would not want to cross any international boundaries and involve any other nations. He flew along the FIR out to MEKAR. Is there a bto/bfo resolution that would allow a holding pattern within Malaysian airspace while negotiations were taking place?

  15. Imho the IGARI flight inconsistents maybe related to military aircraft performing such tight moves….

  16. @All
    We know Zaharie had an empty calendar after the flight. I can’t believe Zaharie committed suicide. What if Zaharie was planning to make political demands? And realized there was a good chance he wouldn’t return and was willing to give his life for a higher cause. If he planned this he would have realized that his flight simulator would be found. He programmed it to show the sio to lay a trail for investigators.

  17. If he planned a more or less suicidial flight why not destroy all evidence of planning this? To me whatever happened was surprising and unplanned.

  18. @Victor: thanks for the geography lesson – pending clarification of precise date, time, and location of the telco ping, I concede the point.

    (UNTIL precise date, time, and location of the Telco ping are supplied – by a named US official – I will continue to treat this “confirmation” with a healthy dollop of skepticism. These are basic facts which have zero military or proprietary value, and should have been supplied, to support the claim. I do not trust the unsupported claims of unnamed government officials – history shows this to be a galactically stupid thing to do.)

    I also appreciate the KTAS lesson for descending aircraft, but I really was hoping for a sample path (track, speed, alt) from 17:21 to 18:22 in its entirety. Obviously, I’m as unconcerned about descent as I am about range. The key issue would be whether MH370 – between Penang and the 18:22 fix – could either maintain low altitude or reacquire high altitude without losing enough KGS to put the 18:22 fix beyond reach.

  19. @Brock,

    Yes, until we see the actual cell phone connection logs from the Telco company we should treat this report as just another unsubstantiated story which may have no truth to it.

  20. The split happened when mh370 rapidly descented. One flying high and one flying low. The one flying low connected with mobile phone being close to same height as the tower and the tower was to the right almost 90 degrees. The merging of the two i dont know when happened, maybe sdu had something to do with, because going south mh370 was one again.

  21. Trond

    I looked at that possibility in my theory however if the eye witness reports of this low flying aircraft that occurred on the Eastern coast of Malaysia between (17:30 UTC -18:00 UTC) are true then at this time the plane would have been nowhere near any cell tower in Penang. It would have been still heading at slower airspeed towards the East coast of Malaysis around 17:55UTC (~ time of cell phone connection).

  22. Retired F4 and those sadistic guys attacking defenceless Captain Zaharie”I can see why. I’m looking at the turn and the maneuvering done in a tactical sense. Zahire had flown combat jets and had air defensive training.”Retired F4 You made false statements about my brother HE HAS NEVER flown combat planes and why did you make up stories like this? It is hurtful and upsetting more for us his grieving relatives.We have had 2 years of torture by the media and you are adding to our grief for a dear brother, a kind man who would not hurt anyone the way you are doing What gives you the right to be judge and jury and find a man guilty with nothing but your own grandiose belief that you could decide who is guilty or not and making up tall tales to support your point . Only sadistic people would hurt grieving families this way What are you?

  23. @Ken S

    There are no witnesses from Malaysia seeing MH370. The descent and split happened at Malacca Strait. The story is that MH370 crossed national border between Malaysia and Vietnam, but the steep and fast accelerating descent happened much farther south-east. At the same time after Igari there are different readings of where and how MH370 behaved, like an impossible sharp turn and an impossible high climb, and multiple readings continued so until it flew south. That is the only time MH370 was one when it flew south for many hours. The end is also multiple, like turning upside down, glide landing and nose spiral down.

    There are also no witnesses from the boats in the SIO even though they would have had it in their sight, because it physicly wasn’t there.

    That is what I am getting out of this.

  24. @Brock McEwen said, “The key issue would be whether MH370 – between Penang and the 18:22 fix – could either maintain low altitude or reacquire high altitude without losing enough KGS to put the 18:22 fix beyond reach.”

    I think there is enough engine thrust to maintain a high true airspeed (TAS) at low altitudes. To first order, and ignoring compressibility (Mach number) effects, the drag is proportional to the air density times the square of the TAS. Similarly, the maximum engine thrust is proportional to the air density. So, there is sufficient thrust capability to maintain a high TAS at low altitudes. However, the indicated airspeed (IAS) would be much higher than Vmo=330 KIAS, which means there would be very high aerodynamic forces on the aircraft which could cause structural failure. Whether or not this precludes 500 KTAS at low altitudes, I do not know.

    The bottom line is it may be possible that MH370 flew at low altitudes and at high speeds. Of course, the fuel consumption would have been several times what it would be at high altitude for the same TAS. I suspect that this was the reasoning behind the shift of the search to the north.

    As for the cell phone connect, you are asking the wrong entity for more information. The cell connect would have been captured by a Malaysian cell phone company operating in Malaysian Penang, and supplied to the Malaysian investigators. This was also reported in the Malaysian press. The US official was providing information that the Malaysians should have officially provided.

  25. Trond

    i have all the eye witness reports documented on my blog, there were 4 eye witness reports in Malaysia. if you hookup with me on Twitter (@kstaubin) I’ll send you the links to these reports.. I can’t post them here.

  26. @dah ha

    I have interacted with Retired F4, and I can assure you that he is a good guy with no intentions of character assassination relative to Shah. I too believe Shah had no intentions of harming anyone. My detailed look at his character and persona confirm that. Please do not be hurt by our speculation here. It is simply speculation, and our choice of words does not consider your sensitivities.

  27. @Jeff- this is the real Julie. It looks like I’ve been spoofed as that last comment was not by me. Presumably your security measures need to be extended to my account too? Thanks in advance.

    wow Jeff, I’m the real Julie. I don’t know how he did this, but he spoofed that message. The last comment (in which I pointed out the 2 errors) was indeed by myself. I think he is trying to trick you into blocking my real account :-(. Please don’t fall for that. How can I prove it’s me ?

  28. @dah ha

    I think your brother, Captain Zaharie, is completely innocent of any wrong doing and is much a victim in this tragedy as any ohter innocent victim that was on that flight.

    Many of us here feel that he is being framed and what happened in this tragedy cannot be admitted by our Governments and there is a massive cover-up to hide the truth.

    However it is justifiable and reasonable from an investigative point of view to consider him a suspect because in many these incidents the pilot, or co-pilot, is involved so I would not blame RetiredF4 for suspecting him.

    You of course are right you on this point, we must be careful and check our facts before saying such things about him.

  29. @dah ah

    Just to be clear. I believe Shah was absolutely responsible for the diversion. I also believe he did not intend to hurt anyone. Something just went wrong with his plan. There is little doubt, in my mind, that he is the perpetrator.

  30. @dah ha

    Beyond the above, everyone knows that Malaysians lie and are deceitful. Perhaps in your DNA? Take a look at the events of this disappearance. Why should we believe anything you say?

  31. @dah ah – I am outraged also that people just make up shit as they go, there has nothing but finger pointing at your brother and that is just plane wrong. Unfortunately the internet is full of people who think they can say whatever they want and it becomes truth. Just makes me very angry and ticked off.

    Too many people are quick to finger point when they dont’ have any real evidence of anything at all. The plane is missing, and all the assumptions that have been made thus far, were based on a flimsy Inmarsat data which even inmarsat said wasn’t to relied on totally to find the aircraft. all the number crunchers who’ve been so sure of their calculations have not been thus far. I never have and still don’t believe that plane is in the SIO, it is further north, but where I have a couple theories but won’t post them on here.

    I DO NOT and never have believed that Shah was responsible for this, if anything he did everything in his power to save that plane and the people on it. I have always though Something bad happened that beyond his control (whether accidental or a strategic take over by an outside source who could’ve been on that plane.

    I wish some people would think before they talk, but I’m glad you called out that Retired guy on his false statements. Too many people on this blog have made similar false statements with no proof but yet presenting them as fact, when IN FACT they have no clue.

    I hope that you and your family will get closure soon for this nightmare that has gone on for too long IMO. The truth must come out for you and the other families involved.

    Please hang in there and I pray that you and the other families will get answers soon.

    All my best

  32. @Bugsy

    Don’t be an idiot. Dah ah is simply not credible, and is playing the part of a wounded eagle. I am not into it for a moment. If he has a beef, it is with his own government. Not us. Shah did it. There is virtually no doubt about that.

  33. @KenS – re the cell tower…now I find it very interesting that call came about only IMO to establish the plane was flying near Penang to fit with the radar to fit with the Inmarsat data. So out of a plane full of 239 people there was only ONE cell phone that pinged a tower??? I find this very difficult to believe.

    I do know for a fact that many people don’t shut their phones off in flight, I’ve witnessed many people trying to use FB and twitter myself on flights, some actually sending texts or fb messages or kik messages while in the air.

    My point is, if there was a tower near, there should’ve more phones that pinged that tower as they all weren’t shut off, they never are, but we are told to believe this. I have never received an answer to this question by the ATSB or the malay govt that I asked either, why is that I wonder?

    Now this whole thing the plane and witnesses, it couldn’t possibly be seen on the west coast at 17:22 and be in Penang at 18:22 ir roughly in there. I think we are being fed a bunch of hogwash IMO.


  34. @Bugsy

    No one said there was only one phone that registered. What was said is that a particular phone registered. A phone of high interest. You are jumping to a conclusion that is not supported by the information we have. Duh!

  35. Trond, You said there are no witnesses in Malaysia seeing MH370. I am surprised by your statement. It seems to me there are some people who offer their opinion on this site without knowing the facts and making up falsehood . Jeff I am surprised at you for allowing such statements that are false to be put up and unchallenged by yourself esp as you have been following this closely. . You also allowed false statement about my brother flying combat jets which are also false There are multiple eyewitnesses in Malaysia on the east coast who saw a large plane flying low with little light and producing loud engine noise, clearly a plane that was not trying to hide itself . There are eyewitnesses. Jeff,no one has a right to judge and be jury of a person who cannot defend himself, Only callous and sadistic people would do this, not once but repeatedly showing no conscience,no kindness and compassion towards my family that have lost a brother that was a kind humane man that we all love dearly by a large extended family, Shame on you Jeff for allowing falsehood to be allowed on your site and attacking fellow human when there is no evidence .

  36. Re mobile phone connectivity:
    Range Limit: The GSM system has a range limit of 32 kilometres based on the time slot protocol. The CDMA system does not have this limitation.
    Doppler Limit: I think I read somewhere once that the doppler limit is about 480hz, which equates to around a 250 knots radial speed (from or towards the tower) for 1.8ghz systems or around 500 knots radial speed for 900mhz systems.
    Vertical Antenna Beam Pattern: Most seem to limit effective useable elevation from the tower to about 3 degrees, which equates to `1 in 20, ie 3,280 feet at 20 kilometres, or 4,920 feet at 30 kilometres.
    (1) if the phone was GSM, at either 900mhz or 1.8ghz:
    For the log on to be possible, the aircraft would have had to have been in a right turn within a 30 kilometre radius south of the tower, at or below 5,000 feet, describing an arc with a radial speed less than 250 knots, which it obviously must have been if the turn position reported is credible.
    (2) If the phone was CDMA at 900mhz:
    For the log on to be possible, the aircraft would have only needed to fly into the antenna beam pattern, at any range/altitude so long as it was under 1 in 20, and at any speed that it was able to achieve.
    This means that it did not have to be turning, it could have remained on course, ie, it could have been a straight fly-by (going to Medan).

  37. Trond, You said there are no witnesses in Malaysia seeing MH370. I am surprised by your statement. It seems to me there are some people who offer their opinion on this site without knowing the facts and making up falsehood . Jeff I am surprised at you for allowing such statements that are false to be put up and unchallenged by yourself esp as you have been following this closely. . You also allowed false statement about my brother flying combat jets which are also false There are multiple eyewitnesses in Malaysia on the east coast who saw a large plane flying low with little light and producing loud engine noise, clearly a plane that was not trying to hide itself . There are eyewitnesses. Jeff,no one has a right to judge and be jury of a person who cannot defend himself, Only callous and sadistic people would do this, not once butattacking fellow human when there is no evidence .

  38. It would make sense that if the co-pilot’s ; others also should have. Why not tell us the whole story. It’s highly suspicious if only the copilot’s cell phone attempted the connection.

  39. @Dennis
    “Beyond the above, everyone knows that Malaysians lie and are deceitful. Perhaps in your DNA? Take a look at the events of this disappearance. Why should we believe anything you say?”

    Wow such a racist statement! Tell me a government that doesn’t lie to their people and other country’s! Also very easy to point the finger and accuse Captain Shah when NO evidence to back your false statement up. So till there is concrete evidence to support that. You’re speculating!

    @Jeff you need to moderate some of these comments as the thread has turned south.

  40. It is probably worth considering a possible pattern here in the last several months when focus seems to shift for no apparent reason. The cadence changes fairly
    quickly from incessant comments, not necessarily relevant to current discussion but effectively ending it. This often involves individuals commenting here for the 1st time. Reminds me of a time-out call in the NBA from the team who has quickly fallen behind.

  41. @Jeff Wise

    I agree with @Aaron.
    If statements like he mentions are left undealt with properly by the moderator your blog becomes very difficult to handle for people who try to discuss constructive and with respect to others and common values.
    Please don’t let your blog get sabotaged by this kind of statements and behavior.
    If left undealt with I’m afraid some people will have no other choice than to leave your blog. And that’s maybe just what this kind of people try to achieve.

  42. @dah ah
    You as anybody else is right to blame my comment concerning Shah being a combat pilot. I did not make that up, but relied on some note I made over a year ago and was not rechecking it before posting. After the heads up by Gysbreght I corrected my false statement in the next post with a big sorry. Please accept my appologies to this failure too.

    If you would follow my posts than you would know that I’m not in the “Shah did it” camp. The furthest I would go that he either was framed in good will or that he was forced to cooperate.

    Instead of lamenting about the unavoidable fallout to your family I would welcome a constructive participation in the discussions by providing information and insight we otherwise have no or only limited access to.

    Wether you are real or not, time will tell.

  43. @DennisW. Over the top, mate
    @Susie Crowe. Hope you do not mean interweaving threads are a problem
    @Ge Rijn, Rob.
    Crack in the end rib, extending by the looks to the skin above. Maybe local deformation. There is sign of it in the originals, top photo;

    As to adjacent flaperon there is some deformation to outer end flange.
    see exhibits 10, 13 (tape through them) and bottom skin stripped, though this is not obviously related to flap damage.

    Otherwise bending, auxiliary track inside?
    Anything else in your other photos Ge Rijn please?

    ATSB at it. They will not be free to disclose outcome unless Malaysia agrees, as Ventus45 has said, but conceivably they can give the Ministers a preliminary opinion if relevant to their meeting.

  44. @VictorI

    During the flight only one device connected. It wasn’t an attempt to call. It was a clue.

    @Ken S

    Why can’t you post the links here? I don’t use Twitter. Can you share your links on


    Careful. Remember the plane was off the radar track at the Malacca Strait going stealth. A lot of unscientific moments occured which no man could have done.


    The “plane” did a quick and close fly-by with the radar to its right and disconnected when it flew past very shortly after. It connected only first when it was almost at its closest range.

  45. @RetiredF4:

    Thanks for your reply. Yes, I guessed you got that mixed up with another recent accident.

    I wish you could describe a ‘break turn’ in more detail. How does “excessively trading altitude for energy” take place?

    “Do not know where this discussion is leading though, wether it was Shah or any other pilot will imho not help to find the aircraft.” Well, some readers believe that finding a motive is the only way that can help to find the plane. The simplest way to find a motive is to pin the blame on the obvious suspect, captain Zaharie. Unfortunately, even the more intelligent contributors like Jeff, Dennis and Victor have now firmly fallen into that trap. Therefore I think it is worthwile to continue discussion of that aspect of the accident.

    The popular narrative is that captain Zaharie had carefully planned this mission in every detail weeks, if not months, in advance. He had even rehearsed a particular route on his computer, if we believe the rumour that the FBI found traces of that rehearsal on the erased harddisk of his computer. He had sent his co-pilot out of the cockpit on some errant, and locked him out. Now alone in the cockpit, he methodically carried out his plan step by step. He turned off the transponder, disabled communication systems such as SATCOM and ACARS, and started to turn back to a south-westerly heading.

    Now why on earth would he risk compromising that carefully planned mission by attempting a risky aerobatic manoeuvre, never done before on a B777 or on any transport airplane ever, when he had no way of knowing if a B777 would be able to complete it successfully?

  46. @David

    Thanks for your comment.
    If you mean that crack on the inboard side half way going through the side from top to bottom and further some lenght through the underside skin?
    To me it seems caused by torsion forces bending the trailing edge section upwards than cracking that side in the middle.
    The shape of the crack is widening from top panel to bottom panel extending in the botton panel and to the leading edge through that side. To me indication of bending/torsion forces on the trailing edge section of the underside of the flap.

    I’m not shure what you mean by some defortmation to an outer end flange next to the flaperon. I don’t see any deformation except from the obvious crack and I don’t see a flange.
    Maybe I misunderstand your meaning of ‘flange’. To me this is the same as a kind of ‘hinge’. At least something external attached. Maybe you can clarify.

    I have no photos from this side of the flap other than you have shown yourself.
    Maybe this one is of help for other purpose:

    About the ATSB we’ll see. If they signed an agreement as mentioned here, they sold their independent investigation status.
    I cann’t believe they would allow that to happen. If so then their credibility would become completely worthless. Offcourse they made agreements with all parties on how and when to disclose information.
    But I’m still sure the will come with an independent (technical) report about their findings in the end.

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