How Zaharie Shah Navigated His Flight Sim–& What It Signifies for MH370

Screenshot of the PSS 777 cockpit

There are three basic ways to fly a Boeing 777. The first is traditional hand-flying: manipulating the yoke to change pitch and bank. This is a fun way to fly a plane in a simulator, but in practice, pilots don’t do this in commercial jets at altitude because it is inefficient and requires too much attention. Which leads us to the second way to fly the plane: by using the autopilot to fly from waypoint to waypoint. This is called LNAV, for lateral navigation, and is the way that pilots generally fly commercial routes. The path from airport to airport consists of a series of such waypoints, which the pilots plug into the flight management computer so the plane can fly itself.

The third way is to use the autopilot, but in a different way. By selecting HDG (heading) or TRK (track) hold, pilots can aim the plane in a certain direction and let it fly straight.

You can use any of these in Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004, the program that MH370 captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah use to practice flying a 777 five weeks before the plane disappeared. You can also use a fourth. By opening the map display panel, you can use your mouse to physically drage the plane to a new location.

Looking at the data recovered from Zaharie Shah’s flight simulator, it seems that he used at least three and possibly all four of these techniques during his session that ended with the plane above the southern Indian Ocean with no fuel.

— At point 3N, the plane is close to airway R467, with a heading that is close to what would be required to reach the next waypoint. It’s possible that at this point he was flying the plane using LNAV.

— Between 5N and 10N, the variable which records the maximum G force that the plane has experienced jumps from 1.4 to 2.2, and the minimum G force descreases from 0.6 to 0.1. These are accelerations that will never be experienced by a plane flying on autopilot, so we can infer that Shah was hand-flying the plane.

— At point 10N the plane is located is 13 nautical miles from airway N877 on a heading of 255.5. It’s been suggested that the plane could have reached this point if it were flying along that airway, and then the active waypoint were changed from DOTEN to a point somewhere in the south. However I have run the simulation in a Boeing PSS 777-200LR and found that if that manoever is performed the plane will enter a left bank of 20 degrees (as observed) and achieve a heading of 255.5 about 6 nautical miles from the airway. It seems impossible, then, that the plane could have been flying along airway N877, and since there is no other route it could have been turning away from, I assume that Shah was flying in HDG or TRK mode, which also make turns by putting the plane in a 20-degree bank.

— Between 10N and 45N, the plane moved a distance that is not commensurate with the quantity of fuel burned. The only plausible explanation is that the plane was moved on the simulator’s map display.

The upshot of all of this is that the recovered flight simulator data tells us that Zaharie Shah did not practice flying a 777 to fuel exhaustion in the southern Indian Ocean on autopilot. Instead, he moved the plane manually to the southern Indian Ocean, altered the setting of the fuel load to zero, and then hand-flew a gliding descent.

Given this understanding, the flight simulator session shows significantly less similarity to the accident scenario than was originally believed. Could its uncannily resemblance to MH370’s eventual disappearance be merely a coincidence? A hallmark of a coincidence is that it’s an outlier, with no other similar or corroborating evidence. And that’s exactly the situation here. Nothing else found on Shah’s computer, or uncovered by the Royal Malaysian Police investigation into his personal or professional life, suggests his guilt. As a piece of evidence, the simulator data looks shaky, and all the more so the closer you inspect it.

202 thoughts on “How Zaharie Shah Navigated His Flight Sim–& What It Signifies for MH370”

  1. “The French” also have an “accredited representative” in the Safety Investigation conducted by Malaysia. In that capacity they have nothing to win and a lot to lose by not respecting the obligations placed on them by ICAO Annex 13.

  2. @DennisW et al. RE:”I too was disappointed by the forensic report on the outboard flap. I was expecting more.”

    Me too but I would argue that this analysis fitted the ATSB objectives (as per their instructed scope of work) to inform the “where to search in priority” but unacceptable to understand the “how it happened”. I understood the latter is still within Malaysia’s scope (and well overdue) not within ATSB remit.

    The main issue i can see is that the ATSB approach was by inductive reasoning (ie the data tend to point to a particular location with a certain degree of unquantifiable confidence) supported by location specific subsea scans (ie trial and error approach – with hindsight, of course such approach has a low probability of success). The debris data was only used to that purpose to support the ‘inferred’ conclusion(s). Example to this is the report that the flaperon was not in deployed position from visual observation ignoring all the composite and hinge failure mechanism evidence. For ATSB, it was seen as one more pointer to their inferred conclusion and as such there is no need to cross check with the composite and hinge failure evidence.
    This approach is still ok (arguably) to inform priority search areas but not acceptable to inform what has happened. No need to say how misleading this approach can be as, without more detailed analysis, other scenarios could possibly fit the data.

    Rest to see how the debris data is used in logical ‘deductive’ arguments to report what has really happened but I doubt it has ever been ATSB’s scope. Any deduction (and I stress the word ‘deduction’ as this implies resolving inconsistencies) from debris analysis would be extremely useful to progress the case. Especially now that we have several debris to squeeze data from.

    KUALA LUMPUR: The French-led investigation team examining the wing part
    or flaperon of the vanished Malaysia Airlines (MAS) Flight MH370 aircraft has
    concluded the first phase of inspection work.
    Australian Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) said the French authorities
    would, in consultation with Malaysia, report on the progress in due course.
    On Aug 6, international experts confirmed that the flaperon found on French territory,
    Reunion Island last month was from Flight MH370 – supporting an earlier conclusion
    that the MAS plane crashed in the southern Indian Ocean, about 17 months ago.
    Flight MH370 went missing while enroute to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur on March 8,
    last year. There were 239 passengers and crew on board.
    JACC also said officials from Australia, Malaysia and China were expected to meet
    in Canberra early next month to share information and discuss search operations.
    Meanwhile, both the Fugro vessels, Discovery and Equator, are now back in the
    search location to continue with search operations for the missing aircraft in the

    As far as I know the French, Malaysia or the ATSB has provided further details on this. Considering this quite clearly States that the French will report further after consulatation with Malaysia… Thus my earlier comment about Malaysia “Sitting” on the information this report contains. The question that needs to be asked is why?

    Just for clarification this statement is on Malaysia’s own official website for info about Mh370.

  4. I would say that the Flaperon Report is 1 of 3 things…. Supportive, Inconclusive or Negative (Towards the SIO Theory). Or maybe a combination of 2.

    Malaysia may have chosen not to release any further information of it has deemed it to be of no real value. I certainly know what that is like.

    I have Tomnod Imagery of white caps, sealife & Ocean Detritus from the NIO that (IMO) look like aircraft components (They can’t be because Satellites can’t penetrate water to any great depth. Didn’t stop me getting them analysed though:

    A third analyst (sorry just received) said this:

    Some of the images look like optical images pushed to the limit of resolution and some of them look like radar images because of the speckle. Some of them appear to show a plane-like delta shape but I cannot provide any substantive comments about them, other than they are interesting up to a point. I can see how enthusiasts can get carried away with them. One point of concern, if it is the MH plane and it is beneath the sea then it would not show up on any conventional Earth observation images.


    —- On Mon, 05 Jun 2017 10:33:53 +0000 wrote —-

    I would say that is probably Positive, Negative & inconclusive all rolled into 1.

    Anyway. If you are a little board & want to see what got me hooked on Mh370 & why I was so intrigued on these mysterious “Objects” I have put them together in a file here:

    Personally I still think Mh370 is more likely to be in the NIO although I do acknowledge that based on current evidence it will in all likelihood be found somewhere along the 7th Arc in the SIO.

  5. @Gysbreght

    “The French” also have an “accredited representative” in the Safety Investigation conducted by Malaysia. In that capacity they have nothing to win and a lot to lose by not respecting the obligations placed on them by ICAO Annex 13.

    Lots of answers here, but none of them are any good. The reason the French established the criminal investigation category was specifically to avoid Annex 13. They still have the flaperon (explain why that is so), and there is absolutely no credible evidence that they have provided forensic details to anyone.

  6. @DennisW: “The reason the French established the criminal investigation category was specifically to avoid Annex 13.”

    Nonsense. In the French judicial system starting a criminal investigation is almost automatic when French citizens die of other than natural causes. That has nothing to do with Annex 13.

    On the other hand, the state of France accepted to be represented in Malaysia’s Annex 13 investigation and in that capacity e enjoys the rights and is bound by the obligations that come with that position.

    You have to keep in mind that when talking about “The French” you talk about two distinctly different entities. On the one hand the judicial authority which acts independently of the government and is not bound by Annex 13, and on the other hand the BEA which represents the French government in Malaysia’s Annex 13 investigation and is subject to the provisions of Annex 13. French publication of reports without the consent of Malaysia would violate Annex 13, and would jeopardize the French rights in future investigations where French intersts may be at stake. They have nothing to gain from doing that in an accident investigation involving a Boeing airplane operated by a Malaysian carrier.

  7. @Gysbreght

    You (and everyone else) keep avoiding the question of why the French have not turned the flaperon over to Malaysia.

    The real issue is what was the cause of the damage to the flaperon trailing edge (water impact or flutter)? The French know, and I do not believe they have shared this information with anyone.

  8. @DennisW: “You (and everyone else) keep avoiding the question of why the French have not turned the flaperon over to Malaysia.”

    Why would they do that? Are the Malaysians better equipped and qualified to inspect that material piece of evidence than the laboratories of the French Ministry of Defense? Wouldn’t it be sufficient to provide access to the Malaysians for any inspection or tests desired by them, but conducted under French supervision?

  9. @Gysbreght

    Wouldn’t it be sufficient to provide access to the Malaysians for any inspection or tests desired by them, but conducted under French supervision?

    Yes, it would be.

    All I asking for is any evidence that it actually happened.

  10. @DennisW: “All I asking for is any evidence that it actually happened”

    That has to come from the Malaysians.

  11. @DennisW

    Not much of an answer but in regards to the damage to the trailing edge of the Flaperon. I have looked through many photos on Google of crash scenes & found none that resemble that kind of damage.
    However there is 1 example of similar damage caused & that was to the plane that ditched in the Hudson. I am intrigued by the Flutter theory. Is there any examples out there of this ever happening in previous Aeroplane accidents?

  12. The French have the flaperon, and they are keeping it.

    It is material evidence in a French Criminal Investigation, into the deaths of French Citizens aboard MH370.

    All that is simple enough.


    Point (1).
    It has been confirmed that it was the right flaperon fitted to 9M-MRO “on the production line”, when the aircraft was built.

    Point (2).
    There is evidence that the component had been modified – “not in accordance with” some Boeing Mod / AD.

    Point (3).
    When the Malaysians were given access to the Flaperon in France, they immediately announced / declared that it was from 9M-MRO / MH370 because they recognised “MAS Maintenace Marks”.

    Taking (2) and (3) together, means that:-

    Point (4).
    The flaperon had to have been removed from the aircraft at some point, for that repair / mod to occur.

    Point (5).
    That clearly means that “some other flaperon” was fitted to 9M-MRO so that it could keep flying, whilst the “original build” flaperon was in the workshops.

    Point (6).
    The fact that the “flaperon held by the French” does not comp[ly with the Boeing Mod / AD means that it is a “non complying” item, which would make it “highly unlikely” that it would have ever been re-certified to enable it re-enter the “spare parts inventory”, meaning, that it is “highly unlikely” that it could be refitted to ANY B777, not in the MAS Fleet, and not to any other airline’s B777. In other words, it would have become a condenmed item, ready for “disposal”.

    Point (7)
    No records of the removal, or mod, let alone the refitting ot “this” flaperon to 9M-MRO, have been provided.

    Clearly, given that there is no evidence that it was refitted to 9M-MRO, there is no evidence that it was actually fitted to 9M-MRO when it departed WMKK on the 8th March 2014, and indeed, it is almost impossible to beleive that it was so fitted.

    The implications of that are obvious.

    Given these circumstances, I can understand the French position on the matter.

    Back on the 13th January 2016, I posted this:-

    “Once upon a Flaperon”

    MH-370’s Starboard Flaperon is an interesting bit of kit, with, apparently, quite a chequered history.

    Cast one’s mind back a bit.

    On 26th March 2014 (only 18 days after 9M-MRO vanished) we had the “mysterious fire” in the Malaysian Airlines Avionics Centre, that destroyed all the “records” (convenient ………. ?).

    We have a Flaperon found on Reunion Island, a French Territory.

    The Flaperon was flown to Paris, France, for analysis.

    Quick as a flash, the Malaysian Authorities hop on plances and speed off to France, with the intention of “taking possession” of it.

    The French “declined” to give it too them. The Malaysians were not happy.

    The French made it very clear, that they have it, and they are keeping it. It is not going anywhere.

    The French Prosecutors have retained custody of it, under judicial seal, as “evidence” in a “criminal investigation” that had been launched some time previously, into the death of the two French Citizens on 9M-MRO/MH-370.

    As the flaperon is now an item of “evidence” in a “criminal investigation”, it, and any information that may be deduced from it’s examination, thus also becomes “evidence” in-and-of-itself, and thus, the French have refused to release any details of it’s forensic investigation of this “item of evidence” – for perfectly valid legal reasons.

    Just as a “side-bar note:-
    There were six Australian Citizens on 9M-MRO/MH-370, but the Australian Government has shown absolutely no interest whatsoever, in opening a “criminal investigation” into their deaths on M-MRO/MH-370, but they have regarding the deaths of the Australian Citizens on MH-17.
    The Australian Government’s official position is that MH-17 was a “crime”, and thus will be investigated, as a crime, whereas M-MRO/MH-370 was an “accident”, and thus will not be investigated, as a “crime”.
    That legal distinction, between “accident” or “crime”, has totally derailed the search for M-MRO/MH-370.

    However, returning to the flaperon itself.

    It is interesting to note, that the Malaysian Authorities that went to France, were allowed to “look at it”, and within hours, they emerged and assertively pronounced that it was “DEFINATELY” from 9M-MRO/MH-370.
    They claimed that they had recognised “maintenance markings”, that “positively” identified it as coming from “MAS workshops”, and thus, had to have come off 9M-MRO/MH-370. But, it is interesting to note, no evidence, photos, or anything else, was ever provided by the Malaysians, to back up that “assertion”. The French have (publicly) remained silent on the issue.

    Now, if one had a basically suspicious mind, (like a twenty year younger associate of mine (who is a genuine Police Officer), one might ponder a few things. (I don’t by the way – have a “basically” suspicious mind that is – not normally – I am basically a “trusting person” – usually – unless I smell a rat). Copper Dave was not impressed. “Dig Deeper” he said.

    So, what have we got ?

    Let’s go back to “square one”.

    When 9M-MRO “pushed back” from Gate C-1 at KL, according to Malaysian Officials, it had a Starboard Flaperon, which, by their own sworn assertions, had been previously “repaired” (at some point) by Malaysian Airlines Maintenance.
    We don’t know, and the Malaysian Officials “say” that they don’t know, it’s “prior history”, because of that (convenient ……. ?) fire, that destroyed all the records.
    The Malaysian Officials are however “certain” that MAS did repair it mind, but amazingly, “no one from MAS remembers” when, or why, or what the “damage” was, or how it was repaired, nor when or where it was subsequently fitted to 9M-MRO.

    We have to ask a lot of questions, none of which can be definitively answered, yet, operative word yet.
    (1) When was that flaperon manufactured, and what was it’s “real” serial number ?
    (2) Which aircraft was it “first” fitted to when new ?
    Was it:-
    (a) By Boeing, to a new build on the production line, and if so, which aircraft, which airline (it may NOT have been a MAS aircraft), how long was it in service on that aircraft, why was it later removed for “repair”, what was the damage, what was the “cause” of that damage, was there an incident of some kind, perhaps ground damage, was there an investigation, was there a report, somewhere, that may still exist, if we can find it ?
    (b) Was it sold as a “new spare part”, and if so, to whom, and when ? Again, the same questions as above, which aircraft was it initially fitted to, by whom, where and when, how long was it in service on that aircraft, why was it later removed for “repair”, what was the damage, what was the “cause” of that damage, was there an incident of some kind, perhaps ground damage, was there an investigation, was there a report, external to MAS, that may still exist, if we can find it ?
    (3) One might even ask, was it even a “genuine part” ? Could it have been a “bogus part” ?. The “bogus aircraft parts” industry is a rampant “known” problem, world wide. A “genuine part” has a document trail, with all “the boxes ticked” and traceable. Bogus parts come in basically two sub types. The first is the “new manufacture” of a “fake copy” of the genuine article, with fake documentation. The second is the “unlawful recycling” of “condemned” genuine articles, again with fake documentation. Could it be, that a cash-strapped operator (or someone in it’s maintenance and logistics organisation) may have been …… tempted ? After all, they did admit that the pingers were out of date, in the Interim Factual Report. Worms, multiple worms, come to mind.

    So many question, so few (none – yet) answers.

    Since the French are not saying anything of definitive evidential substance, one way or the other, publicly at least, there is a lingering doubt as to whether or not the flaperon is genuine.

    With nothing else in the public domain to go on, various people have done some pretty detailed analysis of the flaperon from the pictures of it, taken by reporters when it was found. There are a couple of good reports out there, and I assume, all interested persons on AuntyPru have examined them, and have formed their own opinion of those reports, their contents, and their implications, as have I.

    The structural analysis reports pretty clearly suggest that the lack of damage to the leading edge, and the manner of the end web failings, and the disintegration of the trailing edge aft of the rear spar, taken together, imply flutter failure and separation, whilst in a high speed spiral dive at end of flight, A second, less favoured interpretation, is that the flaperon may have been ripped off in a controlled ditching, also in the SIO, very near the 7th arc. I do not fully subscribe to either theory.

    The barnacle analysis is farm more speculative. The consensus of opinion seems to suggest that the photos alone are virtually useless. Only laboratory DNA testing could provide any definitive information, but, and it is a big but, the best guess is that the flaperon got those barnacles in tropical waters, not SIO waters.

    The various “drift studies”, forwards, backwards, and even “round about”, prove one thing, quite conclusively, and that is, that irrespective of the barnacles, this flaperon did NOT enter the water in the SIO, let alone anywhere near the 7th arc. Although not conclusive, the barnacles tend to support that view.

    Unsurprisingly, our mate Beaker (having had a taxpayer funded jolly to France over this) agrees with the Malaysians, ie, that it is from MH-370. He, and they, may be correct, but without “evidence” we can never be sure.

    Then, Mr Foley of the ATSB gave an interesting answer to a question in the Australian Senate Estimates hearing. He was asked if the French had proved that the serial numbers of the sub components of the flaperon conclusively proved that it came from 9M-MRO, and did the ATSB have that in writing. Mr Foley’s answer was an interesting one. See the video here.

    #P2 edit

    Senator JOHNSTON: The aileron or whatever it was that was found on Reunion Island—I have been reading that it is from MH370, a Boeing 777.

    Mr Foley : Correct.

    Senator JOHNSTON: Are we certain that the serial numbers on the component parts of that piece of equipment indisputably match that of the aircraft?

    Mr Foley : The French judicial authorities are actually doing the investigation. They are certain that there are unique identifying numbers within the flaperon which related to 9M-MRO, which is the accident aircraft.

    Senator JOHNSTON: And Boeing have confirmed that?

    Mr Foley : As far as we know, yes, but the French—

    Senator JOHNSTON: Do we have anything in writing?

    Mr Foley : The French have announced publicly that it is definitely from the accident aircraft.

    Senator JOHNSTON: Thank you.

    So, for the moment, let’s “assume” that this flaperon, was fitted to 9M-MRO. If it truly was, we have a problem. We need to explain how and why it got from “on-wing” to “on-beach”.

    Being a fan of David Suchet’s Hercule Poirot, I believe that I have a solution to the riddle of the flaperon. I believe that I have determined where, when, how and why it entered the water.
    All of the clues we need are now to hand (above).
    I have figured it out,
    Can not see Hastings ?

    Think gentleman. I will give you guys a week to:- “sus-it-out”.

    Until then.

    “Poirot: Cards on the Table (#10.2)” (2005)
    Hercule Poirot: The question is, can Hercule Poirot possibly by wrong ?
    Mrs. Lorrimer: No one can always be right.
    Hercule Poirot: But I am ! Always I am right. It is so invariable it startles me. And now it looks very much as though I may be wrong, and that upsets me. But I should not be upset, because I am right. I must be right because I am never wrong.

    Al-rite, I won’t tease you all, here you go.

    The “Reunion Island Flaperon” was:-
    (1) Fitted to 9M-MRO. It did “come off” 9M-MRO.
    (2) Either a genuine or a bogus part, it does not matter, yet.
    (3) It was damaged, and had been poorly repaired, and had suffered further progressive damage in service on 9M-MRO – hours and cycles unknown.
    (4) It was just therefore, “waiting to fail”, when 9M-MRO pushed back from Gate C1.
    (5) Aerodynamic loads in turbulence penetrating the gap between the storm cells, over the sea, just west of Sibola, between the coast and the 18:27 arc, weakened the flaperon to “failure imminent”.
    (6) At the FMT, around 18:30-18:40, during a high speed slight descent (to definitely fall below the radar horizon of the Sibola Radar), the aircraft turned left for the SIO, increasing aerodynamic loads.
    (7) The damage starboard flaperon failed in flutter, and separated from the wing, “at this time”.
    (8) The flaperon entered descended “falling leaf” into the sea, a few minutes later.
    (9) The flaperon then drifted to Reunion Island.

    This analysis is consistent with all known facts, ie:-
    (1) the asserted history of damage and subsequent repair,
    (2) the not insignificant probability of sub-standard repair (or worse),
    (3) the published competent structural assessments of various experts from the photographs,
    (4) the high probability that the species of barnacles live in tropical waters, not the SIO,
    (5) the very high correlation of this position off the west coast of Sumartra with multiple competent foreign drift studies.

  13. Thx Michael John and Ventus…

    Ventus, your catalog of events following the discovery of the flaperon matches mine.

  14. That’s intriguing & well written (IMO) @Ventus.

    Now I’m starting to wonder if 9M-MRO had any other “Modifications” done to it that didn’t comply to manufacturer standards & therefore likely to have been unrecorded in any official documents.

  15. @ventus45,
    Well written Ventus and good attempt to connect the dots though given the similarity of failure pattern with the other pieces and the hinges it may take more than one defects (ie sabbotage) to match your scenario.

    One point on flutter. Flutter can be demonstrated or discarded by calculations. Calculations can be done at relatively low cost to demonstrate what speed is required to lead to flutter based on flutter criteria with different scenarios power failure and power on. Then a mechanical model can be constructed to evaluate the natural frequency of the assembly. Third a stess analysis can be done to confirm whether stress concentrations are compatible with the failure edge shape and location. All 3D models should also be readily available from Boeing. There is evidence that such calculations have been done for other cases including Lockerbie, etc. as per Annex 13 requirements.

    I have a strong opinion about the flutter likelihood for that particular Reunion piece (with a relatively high natural frequency and a failure edge that does not correspond to stress concentrations locations expected from flutter vibrations, also from the apparent hinge failure pattern) but I don’t want to reopen the debate and I am waiting to see detailed analysis in the Annex 13 report. This flutter issue is very problematic as if flutter did not cause this damage, there are some obvious implications on what has happened.

    We unfortunatly have to deal with an official scenario inferred by some subset of data marked as ‘reliable’ by unknown criteria.

  16. @Ventus45
    Correct me if wrong, but unstated in your flaperon theory is your flight path is unique: Penang to Medan overfly Sibolga/Sumatra then FMT.

  17. @Ventus 45 Great article – Thank You, from someone who reads a lot and contributes nothing.

    Would a metallurgical analysis of the fractures of the attachment points on the flaperon side of the breaks revel if the failure was due to flutter? Perhaps the French Authorities have had this done.

  18. @Ventus45

    Please note the following is an just an Idea, there is no proof of this and it’s totally not inline with any official account of route or what could have happened. Just though i’d share because of recent comments on here.

    Were the Petronas Towers a possible target?

    Once at FL350 cockpit door may have been opened for pee or Tea.
    Hi-jackers may entered the cockpit and told to pilot or Co-pilot whoever was still in cockpit to turn off ACARS (because of what they learnt from an aircraft investigation documentary about the 911 towards Pentagon about ACARS location and out of airspace transponder) and pilot or co-pilot told once out of Malaysia airspace to turn of transponder and turn back to KL.

    Possibly the pilot or co-pilot entered UPROB (possibly left turn) instead of UPRON possible right turn. To bide time and ensure plane wouldn’t go to KL.

    Pilot or co-pilot may have been told to say everything was ok (goodnight Malaysia 370) before leaving Malaysia airspace. Once out of Malaysian airspace the plane possibly turned left heading towards UPROB unknown to HI-jackers.

    Pilot or co-pilot knew that this would go over military installations. Once hi-jackers realised they panicked and pilot warned we are over military installations. And asked pilot to try and avoid, so pilot adjusted heights on autopilot to make hijackers think he was doing something about it. Or create this as a distraction so that perhaps military would know Something’s wrong.

    Military not reacting (useless) plane carried over Sumatra past Medan (disregarding SOM radar track) going thought storm cells on western coast. At 18:25- 18:28 caused severe turbulence causing a power reset. Perhaps flaperon came off then.

    Going SW possibly still towards UPROB (or turn at KETIV along the wall south) perhaps pilot was told to fly to Australia (like flight Ethiopian Airline 961 in 1996 shown on aircraft investigation). Hi-jackers want to hit a target perhaps Australia (Perth perhaps) was next alternative. Although pilot perhaps said we can’t make it to Australia not enough fuel next Alternative may have been perhaps Bali where Z flew to 4 days previous. Or Surabaya (nearest runway long enough for a B777 to land). All the time Z trying to avoid plane crashing into something while still under duress.
    Don’t make it to Bali or Surabaya, plane got so far and engines ran out of fuel then crashed.

  19. @TBill
    @Ventus 45

    Another problem with my last comment is it doesn’t include anything explaining why there possibly could have been no power or communication to and from and/or through the satcom after 17:07.48.907 until 18:25.

  20. Just a couple of comments quickly, as I have a full weekend ahead, and have just got up, with my first cup of coffee, and have to get moving pronto.

    Re Flight Path.
    I did propose the UPROB instead of UPRON scenario (as per the Cali accident) on AuntyPru, way back, and it was part of my thinking in initially formulating the via Medan Theory, either by accident (unintentionally) or by design (deliberate action). a classic “each way bet” if you like. I have long since settled on deliberate plan as you all know.

    On the other hand, the hijack scenario, with “a crew acting under duress” of the hijackers, and attempting to “out-fox them”, is possible, and it would explain a few things (think Ethiopian B767), but the timeing is wrong. A hijacker would know “after some time interval” that his requirements were not being met, although he may not have known where he was at that point. What does he do then ? Go into a rage and kill the crew ? What happens then ? Ghost flight ?

    Re Flutter Analysis.
    Not my field, so unfortunately I am unable to contribute anything of value on that, although I read the thoughts of others on the subject with great interest.

  21. @Joseph Coleman
    It is surprising that a possible Petronas towers target does not get more interest as a hypothesis. Of course, there was the court case in London right around March-2014 where the Al Qeada defendant mentioned that there had been some early planning for such a mission, allegedly with an MAS insider assisting.

    Even Emirates CEO Tim Clark did not think ACARS could be readily disabled in a UAE777, so it seems odd for a hijacker to expect a pilot to have the ability to turn off ACARS (Transponder I agree is different story).

    Also Medan flyover forces us to reject the Radar data out to MEKAR, but I have some confidence the JIT agreed with the radar data. But if there was Medan flyover, Perth is perhaps within reach of fuel supply.

  22. @Ventus,
    No problem, but you raised a good point about the possibility of the flaperon separating well before the last Satcom ping (ie plane continue to fly with missing pieces after an event occuring at the time around the re-log on). The Satcom data analysis done by others, as per my understanding, tend to infer it seems that a number of manoeuvers (not sure which) have taken place just after the relog on. Whether it is possible that something has happened to cause a separation in that time frame and that something is compatible with the failure modes observed, i don’t know. One more reason to prioritise the failure mode analysis.

  23. @Bart Ganaine
    “…MH370 deviated from its filed flight plan without intrusive interception because it was allowed. Even pre mh370 era trying doing that over head certain countries. The outcome is self evident…”

    Good point. If MH370 was allowed to deviate, possibly because of a hijack situation, it would be very unusual if military jets were not scrambled to intercept the plane. After 911 all countries are aware what can happen in these situations and a fighter escort would be essential to take action if in case it was felt a terrorist incident was possible.

    This being the case, there could be several possible outcomes, including one were some sky-jockey with an itchy trigger-finger severely damages or actually brings down MH370. Food for thought.

  24. @Bart Ganaine
    “…MH370 deviated from its filed flight plan without intrusive interception because it was allowed. Even pre mh370 era trying doing that over head certain countries. The outcome is self evident…”

    Good point. If MH370 was allowed to deviate, possibly because of a hijack situation, it would be very unusual if military jets were not scrambled to intercept the plane. After 911 all countries are aware what can happen in these situations and a fighter escort would be essential to take action if in case it was felt a terrorist incident was possible.

    This being the case, there could be several possible outcomes, including one where some sky-jockey with an itchy trigger-finger severely damages or actually brings down MH370. Food for thought.

  25. @Boris

    In the case of 911 controllers knew that flight 11 had been hijacked at 8:13. The US did not have fighters in the air until 8:53 which was shortly after flight 11 hit the North Tower. The is over the continental US for gods sake.

  26. We should not lose sight of the fact when vetting MH370 information, the information is only as valid as it’s source. Directly or indirectly, vast amounts of this information have been funneled by a dubiously ethical Malaysian hierarchy.

    The radar data research continues to garner thousands of hours of effort by the enlightened. Trying to make it a reality, the complexities of these speculative flight paths, continue to grow.

  27. @Susie Crowe

    Well said!


    Regarding the DSTO Annual Review 2013-14 I was interested to read that JORN had a significant upgrade May 2014, temporarily close to 9M-MRO. Though I presume the reason for the upgrade was not related to this event.

    In fact it seems to more about significant improvements to surface vessel detection. So if the 9M-MRO planting hypothesis is correct it would help explain why no debris has been found on the West Australian coast. Too risky.

  28. @SteveBarratt

    The reason why no debris has washed ashore in West Australia is more than likely due to the way the Indian Ocean currents flow.

    No matter which source you use all the sources say the same thing. That the Ocean currents in the South Indian Ocean would wash debris in a anti clockwise motion. Which is why the debris has not ashed ashore in Western Australia & indeed why it has washed ashore where it has.

    The current stream for the NIO does the opposite. It washes in clockwise motion before joining with the SIO current in the Mid Indian Ocean & both currents flow West towards Africa.

  29. @Susie Crowe

    I agree. Malaysia seems a to have vetted all the potential evidence based on the SIO principal rather than indepently. Basically what I mean is that unless any evidence would point towards the aircraft ending up in the SIO it would be discounted.

    I find this alarming because we still have no evidence that the ISAT Data & the SIO end point is true & to date there has been nothing either substantial or insubstantial to prove that is where Mh370 is. Therefore IMO ALL possibilities need to be looked at carefully & not dismissed on a apparent whim.

  30. It IS odd, the more things change about MH370 the more they remain the same, there is no denying that.

    The drudgery of the data for many, is the holy grail, but it is a mistake to concede that other aspects of this flight may have equal or higher value simply because you are playing the hand that was dealt.

    Determining what happened to the plane has been stunted by a process that does not, and should not, allow informational access to anyone beyond the designated officials. That protocol has left us with details either “leaked”, controlled or irrelevant, which does not bode well for progression.

    When considerable amounts of fundamental information remain undisclosed it seems ridiculous to stop considering rudimentary details. To my knowledge, a timeline and structure of Captain Zaharie’s final day has never been made public, this is critical in determining his culpability. Did he sleep a lot of the day in preparation for the flight, is this common of someone to sleep for hours right before a
    suicidal/murderous agenda….did many people interact with him that day…

    The answer lies within both how and why this plane disappeared, some are more focused on the how, others on the why but there is no denying they are of equal importance.

  31. I agree but it seems most people are most focused on the where. But to find the where you need to solve the how & the why.

    I have long argued that there should be an independent international investigative body brought in to fully analyse the facts. Malaysia has been linked to corruption at the highest levels. So how much faith can we hold in them leading a true & impartial investigation?

  32. Here’s the full text of a article: The Australian article published yesterday.

    The leaders of the failed Australian government-led search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 have briefed staff of the private underwater survey company Ocean Infinity, which has made an audacious bid to launch a new hunt for the aircraft.

    The move comes as one of the world’s top air crash investigators, US-based John Cox, has joined other international investigators and senior airline captains in saying the central assumption behind the Australian Transport Safety Bureau strategy for the first search was probably wrong.

    Rather than the ATSB’s ­assumption of a “ghost flight” of incapacitated pilots and the aircraft crashing down rapidly after fuel exhaustion, Captain Cox said evidence from recovered wing flaps suggests the more likely scenario is that a pilot flew the aircraft to the end and ditched it.

    At a two-day meeting in London early this week, officers of the CSIRO, the ATSB and other bodies involved in the original search briefed Ocean Infinity staff.

    The move indicates Ocean Infinity is confident its in-principle contract with the Malaysian ­government to search for MH370 on a “no find, no fee” basis will go ahead, enabling the search to start in a matter of weeks. “We only talked about where they would search,” David Griffin, a CSIRO drift modelling expert, told The Weekend Australian.

    ATSB spokesman Paul Sadler referred questions to the federal government’s Joint Agency ­Co-ordination Centre, which in turn ­referred inquiries to the ­Malaysian government.

    Dr Griffin said “key people from the Australian investigation were all represented”.

    MH370 disappeared on a scheduled flight from Kuala ­Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014, with 239 passengers and crew on board. While the Boeing 777’s secondary radar transponder was turned off and radio contact terminated about 40 minutes into the flight, primary radar and automatic satellite tracking data ­suggest it doubled back over ­Malaysia before turning on a long track to the southern Indian Ocean.

    The two year ATSB-led search of 120,000sq km ended in January with no trace of the plane, at a cost of $200 million to Australian, Malaysian and Chinese taxpayers.

    Ocean Infinity, which is headquartered in Houston, Texas, but has offices in other parts of the world, a few months ago put an offer to Malaysia that it would search for MH370 but receive an agreed payment of up to $90m only if it found the wreckage.

    It will send a vessel with ­advanced sonar scanning equipment to survey a 25,000sq km area to the north of the last search zone, identified by the ATSB and its fellow agencies as particularly promising based on new analysis of the satellite data and drift ­modelling of several parts of the aircraft found washed up on and off the coast of Africa.

    Several aviation experts ­including Canadian air crash ­investigator Larry Vance have said the ATSB’s “ghost flight” and “death dive” theories are wrong, because the pattern of damage to the trailing edge of the mostly ­intact flap and flaperon indicates they were lowered by a pilot to slow the plane for a ditching.

    Captain Cox has reviewed Mr Vance’s work, and said: “Based on that analysis I think it is likely, possibly highly likely, that there was at attempt to ditch the ­airplane.”

    Neither Mr Sadler nor the JACC would say whether their ­officials still supported their original theory of a pilotless crash.

    (As originally posted to a FB Group)

    So. The question I have here is simpl:

    Why are the Experts still arguing for the death dive scenario when the Air Accident Investigators are saying otherwise?

  33. @Michael John, Great stuff, thanks for posting this. It all sounds completely daft to me, on every level, but I hope they do actually search this area in an open enough way that everyone can be satisfied that it’s not there people can start to ask why. However, I continue to find it deeply suspicious that this out-of-nowhere organization is prepared to blow tens of millions of dollars and yet still hasn’t managed to ink a deal with Malaysia. I’m sorry, there’s no way an unsuccessful seabed search is going to be worth that much in publicity. It’s not like oil industry research work is very publicity intensive anyway.

    Larry Vance btw is a disgrace to the air accident investigation profession, but a great example how seriously a person can be taken if they have a good credential.

  34. If the article was based solely on LV I wouldn’t have shared it here. I have seen he controversy surrounding him.

    OI is as far as I can see an Hedgefund type of outfit. Maybe that is where the theory of invest lots of money now in the gamble of reaping huge rewards later comes from. I’m still baffled by who the company actually is. They do have an office in Houston but I wouldn’t call it an HQ. I believe the company is registered in the Virgin Islands (Nothing sinister in that) but it just seems odd. No searchable history, a small team, satellite offices that don’t actually belong to them, they appear to “Hire” in staff & equipment & the list goes on. How does a company suddenly pop up from nowhere & suddenly become an industry approved outfit?

  35. @Michael John

    Agree completely with your comments about the anti-clockwise current of the Indian Ocean will tend to deposit debris on the African coast rather than the WA coast. However this infers a more northerly entry point for 9M-MRO in the SIO. Quoting from Victor’s site “The absence of debris discovered along the shores of Western Australia is better explained by an impact to the north of 32.6S latitude”.

    The failed $200 million seabed search centered on the 7th arc and ~38S was based on the ISAT data. According to David Griffin from the CSIRO 40-50 degrees South in the Indian Ocean there is a westerly current. At 20 degrees South the current is easterly and there is not much in between. This point has been discussed extensively on this blog and with a more southerly impact point at least 10% of the debris should have ended on the WA coast (I haven’t recently read these postings).

    The new favoured northerly entry point in the SIO is based on the failed ISAT data, drift data and importantly no debris on the WA coast. This is the reason I guess for the OI search area.

    Thank you for providing this article about this search.

  36. @Michael John
    “Why are the Experts still arguing for the death dive scenario when the Air Accident Investigators are saying otherwise?”

    Vance and Cox are controversial outsiders to the investigation, and in particular Vance’s analysis/opinion have been severely criticized by many for disregarding the data, and just shooting from the hip. But he could nonetheless have a valid point.

    Overall there are 3 possible scenarios to the SIO:
    (1) Unintended ghost flight (inactive pilot)
    (2) Intentional ghost flight (inactive pilot)
    (3) Active pilot flight

    Option 3 has not received much attention, in part because it is distasteful. Almost all of the path modelers are trying to model an inactive-pilot flight. Of course it is hard to model an active-pilot flight, so that is another reason for focus on Options #1 and #2.

  37. For what it’s worth….I finished a bit of research on Ocean Infinity. This is my take away:

    As stated on Oliver Plunkett’s bio, he worked several years at Price Waterhouse Cooper in asset management (tax director). Not much of a stretch to assume he and Paul Marshall crossed paths being in the same business.

    When Plunkett left PwC, his employment that same month is shown only as “Leading Alternative Asset Manager”, I believe that means he began work at Marshall Wace, which sparked a subsequent arrangement. Marshall’s money and Plunkett’s expertise to be the custodian.

    With a net worth of over a half billion dollars, Marshall is more than capable of funding OI. It makes sense to pick a company already in place, yet one that can still be manuvered.

    I would bet their motive is clean and their process will dictate needed flexibility in the search. Regarding the foundations discussed here in October, it makes sense they are innocuous tax havens for protecting funds.

    If these guys are what I think they are, it is a benefaction that could finally produce an answer. If they are not, I am an idiot.

  38. Has the work from Vance / Cox published?
    I am currious to see how they come up to such a conclusion.

    As time goes past, the argument of steep descent impact is weakening. If there were so many debris on impact and an anticlockwise current in SIO, would debris would have washed ashore in other locations by now inc Australia, indonesia, etc. How long would it take for debris to come back to SIO? One would expect the remaining debris should have appeared by now.

  39. @Susie That is pretty much what I found myself. I’m still curious on why people talk of it being Houston based. Both senior figures in the company Inc Oliver himself are not only British but are UK based, the spokesperson is UK based & the recent meeting between OI, CSIRO, ATTSB ETC ETC was held in London…..


    Not sure. I don’t know how much credibility to give Cox & Vance so even if they did write a report I don’t know how much faith I should have in what is written. On paper their credentials look good however it seems their professional reputations are a little tarnished.

    In regards to the debris. I suspect this is why Jeff claims the debris was planted & it certainly is why I believe the aircraft ditched, there is still very little evidence of the aircraft washing ashore. I made a point for various reasons about SA295. 1 was in regards to how the current flow from the SIO would cross right through the crash zone of SA295 therefore it stands to reason (in my mind) that wherever debris from SA295 washed ashore we should find bits of Mh370 too. Which possibly could mean that some debris could have washed out into the South Atlantic Ocean. So areas on the West Coast of Brazil seem likely candidates indeed Recife & Natal look good possibilities & also there is a chance the Indian Ocean gyre would have washed the debris back onto the West Coast of Australia.

    Whilst finding much more debris may not help solve the mystery of where Mh370 is it may strengthen the argument of people who favour the high impact lots of debris scenario. Of course some debris would sink pretty rapidly. However with modern aircraft being made of more & more lightweight composite materials you would expect that the aircraft breaking into thousands of pieces would produce an extensive debris field which would be highly visible (although I admit to being no expert in these matters) SA295 suffered such a fate & debris from that aircraft washed ashore far & wide. I do acknowledge that SA295 was closer to land than Mh370s perceived crash location & there is a possibility that the debris could have been spread thinly by the time it reached Africa & indeed some may well be stuck in the Indian Ocean gyre.

    Based on the amount of debris found to date however it seems reasonable to me that a ditch & limited debris field or even Jeff’s planting scenario is stronger than the high impact & thousands of pieces theory.

  40. @TBill
    Awww..I didn’t see that one coming, thank you.

    @Michael John
    Being privately held and not subject to disclosure, information is scarce, which initially had me suspicious. The logic of someone becoming CEO in an industry he had no experience and a country he did not reside was a hurdle. After looking at it from every angle, it now seems fairly basic.

    My assumption is, the company remains headquartered in Houston, Texas USA where it has always been and the relatively new CEO with his staff remain in the UK where they have always been, not enough of a problem to do it otherwise.

    The shameless intent of copy/paste print media now, is not interested in providing anything more than repetition.
    We miss you Ben Sandilands.

  41. @Susie

    We know that Oliver & Sir Paul Marshall are connected via a company called Prosperity UK LTD. I can’t recollect seeing a direct employment with Marshall Wace however.

    I do find it intriguing that at the same time Oliver signed up to Prosperity he also signed up to OI. I always wondered if PM was behind both appointments. It wasn’t long after Oliver’s appointment at OI then the groundwork for a search for Mh370 was put in place.

    I can’t decide whether this expansion of OI was down to Oliver or PM. Or indeed whether PM is involved at all!!

  42. @Michael John
    Prosperity UK is SIC coded for “cultural education”. I see it as another example of spreading, sharing wealth, which is most likely none of our business.

  43. @Susie

    We can try the apples & know the tree from where they grow however we have no right to know where the tree originally comes from, nor the source of its growth…

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