About the New MH370 Search — UPDATED

The Economist has just published an article about Ocean Infinity with the headline: “A fantastical ship has set out to seek Malaysian Airlines flight 370.” The piece reports that “Contracts have yet to be signed, but Oliver Plunkett, Ocean Infinity’s boss, has decided to go ahead anyway…”

I was emailing earlier today with Mark Antelme of Celicourt Communications, who handles public relations for Ocean Infinity, and he says that “without a contract we’re not going to conduct a search. That said, we are very hopeful of the contract being awarded soon (which is why the vessel is where it is).”

UPDATE 1/12: I don’t like to substantially change a piece after I put it up, and don’t think I have done so before, because it feels like rewriting history, but in this case I have heavily revised this piece to reflect the fact that most of my concerns about the Economist piece were either fixed or were rendered moot by subsequent events, and leaving it up in its original form was causing psychic trauma for the author of the Economist piece, Hal Hodson. Whether or not Ocean Infinity was sincere about its claim that it would carry out the search without a contract, the contract has been signed, and so the road to a second seabed search is open.

I still take issue with the with this final sentence:

“As the oceans are watched with ever closer scrutiny, from space and the depths, it is increasingly difficult for anything to get lost in the first place.”

It’s important that the world not overlook the fact  that things are vanishing without a trace at an accelerating pace. In 2016, an Antonov An-32 belonging to the Indian Air Force disappeared over the Bay of Bengal; less than two months ago, the Argentinian sub San Juan went missing during a training exercise. We should perhaps try to figure out what made these things happen before getting too smug about them not happening again.

UPDATE 1/2: Shortly after I posted the above, the ship headed out to sea and  is currently (21:49 GMT, 2 Jan 2018) on a heading of 147. I’ll seek clarification from Mark Antelme about the discrepancy between what he told me and what Plunkett apparently told the Economist.

I’d like to add that I also take exception to this statement:

“Seabed Constructor is the most advanced civilian survey vessel on the planet today. If its array of technology cannot find MH370, then it is likely that nothing will, and that the mystery of MH370 may never be solved.”

If Seabed Constructor looks for the plane in the designated search area and fails to find it, that will be due to the fact that the plane is not in the designated search area, not because the technology is lacking in some way. Indeed, as I’ve written in earlier posts, there are many good reasons to doubt that the designated search area is correct.

UPDATE 2: I’ve just heard back from Mark Antelme. Regarding the Economist quote, “Contracts have yet to be signed, but Oliver Plunkett, Ocean Infinity’s boss, has decided to go ahead anyway…” he writes, “…in getting the vessel in position… is how it should be read. I think that’s consistent with our exchange.”

In other words, the company is clearly signaling that it will NOT conduct the seabed search until it has the contract nailed down with Malaysia. However, it apparently is going to position the ship so that it can be in place in the event that that happens.

This makes sense from the perspective of wanting to make the most of a limited search season, but it would seem a rather terrible strategy from a negotiating perspective. Leasing the ship and crew and getting it into position means an outlay of a significant amount of money, so by the time they arrive on station the company will have a strong incentive not to walk away from the table, no matter what terms Malaysia offers.

Of course, all of this is academic if the airplane is not in the search area, since in that case Ocean Infinity would not get paid anyway. An analysis conducted by Australian scientists during the official seabed search calculated that there was effectively a zero percent chance that the plane could have come to rest where the planned search is going to focus.

UPDATE 3: [3 Jan 2018, 10:00 GMT] The Economist’s story has escaped into the broader media ecosystem, with a number of mainstream publications, including The Guardian, picking up a story by the Australian Associated Press which states that “the search for MH370 is back on with the ship Seabed Constructor sailing from Durban today for the search area.” Perth Now has its own story. Both seem to be repeating the Economist’s claim without having done any additional reporting.

A check of Marine Traffic shows that Seabed Constructor has spent the last nine hours holding position 30 nautical miles off the coast of South Africa.

Since I’ve identified a number of inaccuracies in the original article, let me restate what is the core issue here. A lot of people have been waiting a long time for Ocean Infinity to sign the contract with Malaysia and officially restart the search. The Economist is reporting that both of these things have happened. Ocean Infinity’s spokesman tells me that they have not.

Indeed, I find it hard to believe that either of these things could have happened without either Ocean Infinity or the Malaysian government releasing a statement.

Thus, the Economist has reported a major development that appears not to have occurred.





249 thoughts on “About the New MH370 Search — UPDATED”

  1. I’ll have a go:

    1: It’s a private independent news site therefore it is possible it sources it’s news from MSM thus why it’s articles could appear late.

    2: I would say that the picture is airbrushed. If it looks fake. It probably is. The focus is on the Ship & AUV & there is also the possibility of privacy laws to consider in regards to the personnel.

    3: As the picture has been taken from a 3rd parts vessel & captures Seabed Constructor & a AUV then I would say it is more than likely a “Floating Advertisement”.

    PS I could be wrong on any or all 3.

    OI is clearly a Privately Owned company that is headed by Oliver Plunkett & made up of various members with varying levels of experience in the field. We know OI “Hires In” equipment & possibly the main workforce. I think The HQs (1 in London & 1 in Houston) are basically satellite premises. The main registered office is in the Virgin Islands. I suspect that Oliver & the others work remotely. Quite clearly OI uses an outside media company to handle PR. I found it amusing that The Economist was more up to date than this PR company on OIs activities…. Which probably led to the confusion that triggered Jeff’s blog here. Of interest to me & others is who is the money behind OIs funding & why are they happy to plough vast sums of money into a project that has no guaranteed returns?

  2. @ Laura– I think you may be missing people on deck by misguiding the scale of the ship, which is nearly 380 feet long. It looks like there are a pair of crew, visible from the chest up, amidship, directly under the boom tip. Look for white hats and orange shirts. Likewise there seems to be two additional crew under the boom’s cradle and another two or three farther aft, where you may make out those same white hats, essentially in between the pairs of USVs. That said, yes, the photo very much looks like a public relations handout.

  3. Michael John, you wie: “of interest to me & others is who is the money behind OIs funding & why are they happy to plough vast sums of money into a project that has no guaranteed returns?”

    I fully agree with you. That’s a very good question actually, respectfully, I would say a better question than some others. Someone has to be funding this with millions of dollars. Where does the money come from? I may have missed that in the discussion here, if so, apologies. Otherwise, this is key. Who does that? Who has that money, and is willing to spend it on this – probably fruitless – search?

  4. @Havelock

    Its not the ‘prize money’ they receive for finding 9M-MRO its the international reputation that comes with it. Frankly though its easy to gain the impression of an honest outfit being led up the garden path.

    Recent incident with MH122 travelling from Sydney to Kuala Lumpur. An A330-300 had to divert to Alice Springs due to ‘technical difficulties’. At least SOP were followed in that transponders were left on and the plane landed at the first available airport (vs. 9M-MRO)

  5. @ SteveBarratt:

    Thanks for your reply.

    I understand what you say, however, the question remains: Afaiu the search company is an otherwise unknown (?) small company, with unclear, to some extent opaque, ownership structure. I don’t understand the logic of someone spending so much money in order to gain reputation for an otherwise unknown firm? If you regard this as a sort of publicity stunt, that would (again, as far as I can fathom a logic) make sense for an established firm with an interest in gaining customers and contracts etc. But not for a small unknown one?!

    The other thing is, even if we take it as a given that it makes sense for this small, unknown firm to risk many millions on a publicity stunt, the money still has to come from somewhere. OI sounds too small itself to normally be expected to have this sort of money to throw away as part of their ongoing business. So someone has to be funding them don’t they?! Someone who is able and willing to plunk many millions of dollars down into the ocean, so to speak. I would find it interesting who that would be.

  6. As far as I can tell OI are a bunch of experienced experts that have come up with a new concept designed to save both time & money.

    I think they have sold the idea to an Hedge fund type company who have used the cash of a potential investor or investors to fund the new concept thus why we are unable to find out anything about where the money is actually coming from.

    My research found Oliver Plummet to become involved with a company in the UK. His role here seems irrelevant to the current topic. At the same time he took the head job with OI. The 1st company also lists a director of an Hedge fund company as 1 of it’s directors. Thus my belief it could be possible that as part of this investment OP could have been put in charge of OI as part of any agreement.

    My concern is to what level is this investment. What guarantees are in place to ensure that OI fulfil it’s promised obligations? Could whoever is investing in OI suddenly stop the flow of cash therefore causing the search to be curtailed prematurely?

    I think The simple answer over what is gained is that if OI is successful or not is irrelevant. As long as the concept is successful & with the free WorldWide MSM coverage OI could be called in to help find other lost wrecks. Therefore like any new business initiative any investment at the beginning should in theory be offset at a later date. Just seems a big risk to me so someone clearly has plenty of money to gamble.

  7. @ Michael John:

    Thank you for your detailed answer, actually, that is really really interesting.

    Frankly, what you say makes the search firm sound pretty shadowy at the end of the day. So there is probably an unnamed hedge fund behind it… I absolutely understand your concerns regarding the money potentially being cut off at any point.

    If I may, I would add that this sort of lack of transparency seems per se dubious and questionable to me. The search for this plane has hitherto been a multinational affair on a governmental level. Sure, you could look at the bright side: Someone generously risks a lot of money trying to solve an issue of public interest (to some extent). However, this state of affairs raises a whole lot of further issues above that mentioned already. In my view, the least of the problems would be if the generous ANON would suddenly pull the plug. I personally find the fact that whoever is behind this does not seem to care about being directly paid fairly troubling – to me, this raises the question whether they have motivations different from altruism or PR.

    Off the top of my head, I can come up with the following problems. First of all, a private company gains – under the potential guise of looking for this plane – precise oceanographic data of a region that apparently has not been mapped in such detail before. As far as I understand, this even has defence and intelligence implications, as was mentioned when the area was first explored. We don’t know why this area and data might be of interest, but there might well be reason to put value to such data that we don’t know of.

    A second issue is that apart from being able to pull funding at any point, the person or persons controlling the search ship effectively control what they find. (Afaik there are no government officials on board the vessel?). The search ship is to my knowledge more or less unmonitored apart from some websites tracking transponders (?). For what it’s worth, whoever currently has effective control over the ship initially, and most likely permanently, controls whatever they find. I would assume that all personnel on board have signed NDAs (which I further assume is perfectly legal). This means, should they actually find anything, it is by no means in any way certain that the public would ever get to know about it. Should the financier decide that they wish to use the findings in any way other than publicising them or presenting them to relevant authorities, I would assume that there is no way to stop them, or even for anyone not currently on the ship to ever know about.

    A third issue is that this effort could be used as a backdrop to planting evidence whilst at the same time potentially tainting and devaluing any actual findings due to the fact that it will not be provable whether whatever they find has actually been found in the ocean in the way that they claim. As I stated above, we have no outside validation of whatever goes on on board the ship. If they present any findings, official investigators will run into the same troubles as with, f.ex., the Blaine Gibson findings. If this ship removes evidence from the ocean ground, and transports it somewhere to authorities (if), once this evidence reaches said authorities, its authenticity will be hard(er) to ascertain and the full intel potentially gainable will not be gained. I would argue that this ship presents a similar problem as archeologists of centuries past: Even if they acted with fairly good intentions (again, if), what they left for modern day archeologists is irreversibly tainted and potentially less than useless.

    This raises a last point: Forgive me if I am simply not sufficiently up to date on the matter, but afaiu OI run on a ‘bounty hunter’ contract. Is there any particular specification what evidence exactly they have to present to get the money?? If not, or if it is fairly vague (my hunch), that again would make me suspicious whether the financier behind the ship really is after this money, and is really “in it” for the publicly stated objective, or whether they are really acting out of different motivations.

  8. You can find official updates on OI here:


    I think there is a lot of speculation. The y are due to arrive in the search area on the 21st of January. They are planning on a 90 day search. We will just have to wait & see if they find anything.

    For the record I personally don’t believe the plane is in the SIO. Although I do believe it is in the Indian Ocean.

  9. Havelock:

    “(Afaik there are no government officials on board the vessel?). The search ship is to my knowledge more or less unmonitored apart from some websites tracking transponders (?)”

    From: https://www.cnn.com/2018/01/10/asia/mh370-ocean-infinity-search-intl/index.html

    “In addition to the Ocean Infinity’s 65 crew members, two personnel from the Royal Malaysian Navy will accompany the search as representatives, Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said Wednesday”

  10. @ Another Rob

    Thank you – I clearly haven’t spent enough time researching this matter.

    However, I would argue that even with two Malaysian officers on board, the main thrust of my argument still holds. Those officers likely have minimal technical knowledge and anyway can’t be everywhere on the ship at the same time (2 police vs. 65 crew!). They probably get ‘parked’ at the bridge or worse, in a ‘situation room’, and taken on tours every now and then. They probably get great coffee with the expensive biscuits. It would still mean that evidence could be planted, evidence could be withheld or tampered with. I don’t think that two pro forma Malaysians would substantially change that.

    Another thought I had: Suppose OI don’t come up with anything. Miraculously though, a few months or even years later, someone again takes a look, and whoppee. Here’s the plane! Or parts of it. I guess OI is technically large enough to hold largeish pieces of fuselage on board? And further, I guess producing such pieces would even be profitably doable given the bounty amount? That would sound like a much better business proposition now wouldn’t it compared to vaguely searching with limited hopes – “hey Malaysia, about that embarassing incident of yours. Wanna put the matter at rest? We have a ship, will produce a carcass, drive it to SIO, drop it, find it, big media circus, suicide note, Malaysia and M. Airlines acquitted! 60 Million only!!”

  11. If you guys are feeling paranoid, here’s something to think about. Buzzfeed (https://www.buzzfeed.com/jasonleopold/newly-uncovered-russian-payments-are-a-focus-of-election) reports that the Mueller investigation has uncovered some mysterious payments from Russia to the Unites States in an interesting time frame:

    From March 8 to April 7, 2014, bankers flagged nearly 30 checks for a total of about $370,000 to embassy employees, who cashed the checks as soon as they received them, making it virtually impossible to trace where the money went. Bank officials noted that the employees had not received similar payments in the past…

    We know that Russia launched an extensive disinformation campaign within an hour of the shootdown of MH17; I wonder if they might have done the same in the wake of MH370… with the help of some persuasive voices here in the US.

  12. @ Jeff
    WOW, this definitely deserves further investigation.
    It must clearly be a payoff to a few people.
    But who are these persuasive voices?
    Talking heads on TV?
    Opinion columnists?
    Web news writers?

  13. @Jeff, you may recall the Russians sent a curiously similar $380,000 to five dozen of its embassies in the fall of 2016 with an even more curious transfer memo stating “to finance election campaign of 2016.” Given that it’s unclear which election the memo referred to, and with the knowledge that not all of those 60 countries had their own elections, and given what we now know of its social media efforts in the U.S. election, it’s not hard to believe that the money was used to pay for social media content creators to speak to a particular point of view. Distributing that money outside of Russia to influencers who would be posting from outside of Russia, would have its advantages. Likewise, a desired narrative about MH17 would be best told from outside Russia’s borders.

  14. Scott O. it’s for financing their own elections held in embassies around the world, no need for tinfoilery here.

  15. @ Stevan G, that certainly well may be, but the Russians have roughly 150 embassies and many more consulates around the world, not just the 60 that received money, and neither the FBI nor any reputable news source has confirmed your interpretation, at least as far as Google search results suggest. In the meantime, and in support of Jeff’s point, it has been confirmed that the Russians do pay to manipulate sentiment via bots, such as on Twitter, and, through content farms spinning out erroneous stories. One’s hat needn’t be made from tin foil to be suspicious, given the pattern.

  16. Could the loss of the KURSK submarine in 2000 have had a significant impact on President Putin?
    Could the lessons learnt from that incident explain the appeal of a DISASTER MYSTERY in the deep ocean?

    Putin had been president of Russia for barely a few months before he faced the most challenging crisis of his life, the sinking of the nuclear submarine the Kursk.

    More than simply a shared tragedy, the Kursk disaster psychologically staggered many here who seemed to feel that Russia’s last bragging rights — to technological excellence, to military competence, to first-tier global status — went down with the biggest and most fearsome boat in its submarine arsenal.
    The accident quickly generated a public excoriation of the Kremlin, President Vladimir V. Putin and the military, followed by a backlash against the West.


    When a visibly rattled Putin met with the wives and families of Kursk seamen on August 22, 2000, no one was afraid to scream at him and accuse him of incompetence or worse:
    That encounter.. may have been “the worst moment” of Putin’s life — and he immediately set out to make sure he would never face anything like it again.


    But now the Russian public has more or less forgiven the Kremlin.

    The saying goes that “time is a great healer” and in the case of the Kursk the idiom appears to be true, at least in terms of President Vladimir Putin’s reputation.
    A poll, timed to coincide with the 15th anniversary of the sinking, reveals that 40% of Russians now feel that the state did everything possible to save the crew – up from just 23% in the months immediately following the disaster.


    Fastward to 2017, Putin offers to help search for Argentina’s lost submarine

    President Putin sought to reestablish Russia’s reputation and standing in the world by hosting events such the Olympics, restore Russian pride with its annexation of Crimea, and reassert Russia’s relevance in the global stage by its involvement in many conflict areas such as Ukraine, Syria, Iran, North Korea etc.
    In line with this, could his recent offer to assist Argentina in searching for its lost submarine ARA San Juan be an attempt to bury the memory of the Kursk nightmare?

    President Mauricio Macri said the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin, had phoned him to offer to deploy a survey vessel and crew with experience of similar operations.


    It’s worth noting that it was Putin who called Macri, and offered Argentina the use of Russia’s new search vessel. And this was after many vessels from other nations had had no luck locating the missing submarine.
    The Russian president maybe keenly aware of the sentiments of the Russian public who still remember the KURSK incident, and his offer to help Argentina may have as much to do with his domestic PR concerns as much as any genuine concern about locating the missing sub.

    What can be learnt from the KURSK incident?
    – the Russian military’s handling of the Kursk incident that was somewhat shrouded in secrecy, but was interpreted as incompetence
    – Russian military’s obfuscation and misinformation, a holdover from Cold War days, not only created confusion for the public, but compounded the bad publicity surrounding the incident.
    – The Russian media, which was largely independent and free at that time, chased ratings by reporting every new development in the rescue efforts
    – the international media focussed the attention of the world on the incident and made Russia & Putin look bad and somehow complicit in the tragedy
    – the longer it took to locate and recover the survivors, the more frustrated the public became, further complicating an already complicated situation

    The disappearance of MH370 over the Southern Indian ocean, the initial handling (or mishandling) of the situation by Malaysia, and the subsequent criticism of the public brought on by the attention of the world’s media bears some similarities to the Kursk incident.

    President Putin bore witness to the full power of the media’s antics and the resulting backlash during the Kursk incident, and resolved to avoid it at all costs in the future.
    To that effect, he got his media advisor Mikhail Lesin to get rid of the Russian oligarchs who controlled the independant media, and brought most of the Russian media landscape under Kremlin control. Putin and his party then won the next few elections in Russia.
    Mikhail Lesin then turned towards the international media by launching Russia Today to compete with the likes of CNN, & BBC. The Russians discovered the world doesn’t particularly care for news about Russia, but it does care about alternative opinions to those spouted by mainstream media of the likes of CNN & BBC.
    So Russia Today became RT, and instead of news from Russia, it ‘Question[ed] More’ the news on CNN & BBC and offered alternative opinions.

    Today we know that Russia also ‘hacked’ the Western media and news coverage during the 2016 US presidential elections, the 2017 Brexit, and French elections.

    Therefore it is not inconceivable that Russia sought to ‘hack’ the media coverage of the invasion of Crimea in 2014 as part of it’s Hybrid War strategy by distracting the world’s attention with an incident on the other side of the world.

    And what Mikhail Lesin knew about the Kremlin’s media strategy is not inconsequential information, information that probably got him killed in Nov 2015 before he could share it with the DoJ in USA.

    What precipitated the attention of world in the case of the Kursk was the lack of visible wreckage & closure denied to the Next of Kin of the victims. The same has happened in the case of MH370.
    In the absence of a wreckage, the world is free to speculate, and the media is an active enabler of these speculations because it seeks ratings. Those with a keen understanding of this will seek to exploit it to their own advantage.

  17. @Havelock

    Thanks. OI clearly has better technology in that they can scan an area much faster than older tow fish scanning system. I presume the false negative rate for both systems is close to zero. Even if the revised search area is negative then they can rightly say they covered it in much faster time. I’m not sure of the extra cost for a more ‘standard search’ though this of course is irrelevant for the MG with the contract it has signed.

    Anyway an article in the local media with Blaine Gibson endorsing the OI effort;


  18. @CliffG, not to dispute your conclusions at all, but in your scenario, do you imagine MH17 to be a follow-on event or a reckless accident? MH17 doesn’t seem to have succeeded as the same kind of diversion that MH370 may have been–unless of course that diversion worked so well we remain ignorant of what it was in support of!

    And speaking of media as being an “enabler,” I find it so curious that the OI stories that Blaine Gibson has been quoted in (per the one from @SteveBarratt, above, and others) take his “expertise” on OI’s deep sea submerssibles and their superior technology at face value. Regardless of his prior involvement in the search, there is nothing in his background to suggest he is the appropriate person to make such a judgment. But then I also find it curious that he has so thoroughly inserted himself into this portion of the search. From beachcomber to search insider and technical expert in the technology of autonomous deep-sea drones… It would be a fantastical story even on the big screen.

  19. On Twitter Richard Cole has pointed out that a ship called the Maersk Mariner, and “anchor handling vessel,” is en route from Freemantle to a rendezvous with the Seabed Constructor, expected to arrive in a couple of days. No announcement was made about this ship, someone apparently just noticed it on one of the ship-tracking sites. IMO this adds another layer to the mystery–what is this ship going to do, who’s paying for it, etc?

    The Mariner is slated to take part in a drilling project starting in March:

  20. Update regarding the Maersk Mariner: Don Thompson, who seems to have an inside track on the Ocean Infinity project, writes on Twitter: “I expect it’s bringing the two Malaysian observers out to Constructor. Contract not signed before it departed Durban, MY stated observers would accompany Constructor, presumably contract clause. Gotta get those guys onboard.” Mike Exner seemed to support this in a subsequent tweet.

    A lot of money to get two guy on board a ship!

  21. @Scott O.

    ” it has been confirmed that the Russians do pay to manipulate sentiment via bots, such as on Twitter, and, through content farms spinning out erroneous stories. ”

    every government does that even small countries, 2016 elections may have been impacted more than usual but educating citizens not to believe every stupid sorry they find online is everything you could do realistically

  22. @JW

    “A lot of money to get two guy on board a ship!”

    I presume that the Maersk Mariner doesn’t just go there to drop those guys off?

  23. @Havelock, Yeah, you’re right, now that I think about it a little more that doesn’t make much sense. There has to be a faster, cheaper way to get two guys out into the middle of the ocean than to send them on a 300-foot ship.

    And Seabed Constructor shouldn’t need resupply given that they just left port (and won’t be out that long; if they really can do 1200 sq km per day they’ll finish in like three weeks.)

    It seems like a pretty good mystery to me at this point.

  24. @ JW

    Well so it seems that Maersk Mariner will help drill oil wells.

    Maybe the OI efforts are at least partly about mapping the ocean floor for the purpose of drilling for oil? That seems like a neat explanation to me. Does anyone know whether the area searched by OI is in some way currently not open for drilling or exploration? In that case, the plane search would be a neat cover for mapping the area and doing preliminary exploration, maybe in order to establish whether there is anything to be found there at all before expending time, money and political capital on legally having the area ‘opened up’. Finding the plane would in that case merely be a bonus.

    It will be interesting how long OI will be searching for. As JW says, searching only the places that they ‘should’ search shouldn’t take long. However if they stay (a lot) longer, that might be an indication that they’re mapping larger areas, possibly not strictly because they’re so interested in The Plane.

  25. @Havelock, Well, it helps ships by setting their anchors, moving them around, doing resupply, etc. It doesn’t search the seabed or drill itself, so I don’t think that’s what it’s about.

  26. @ JeffWise
    Thank you. Hope I can help keep this blog lively.
    Staring at MarineTraffic can be SO boring.

    @Scott O
    I posited the following reasons why MH370 was disappeared by Russia:
    – signal its resolve against the West during the annexation of Crimea.
    – distract media attention during the annexation of Crimea.
    – open a potential second front against the US in S.China sea that can be exploited by China in case things escalate in Ukraine.

    MH370 had predominantly Chinese citizens as victims, whereas MH17 had predominantly European victims. In terms of country of origin, the victims were chosen randomly, on an equal opportunity basis, thus displaying no bias against any particular victims. This in itself conveys an important message, that the fight is not with anybody particular from Europe, China, or other countries. The fight was with America.
    As Jeff Wise has previously written, MH17 happened during a phone call between Obama & Putin. It simply re-inforced the signal that MH370 was designed to convey to USA.

    For a convincing argument about why Putin likes to reinforce his message with a second punch, checkout the segment about Putin’s first presidential campaign in Masha Gessen’s interview with PBS Frontline. See from 35:00-38:00.


    Signalling in International Relations can be misinterpreted OR worse, ignored. Here is a new article in the Washington Post about the same.


  27. @ StevenG. An excellent point–“educating citizens not to believe every stupid story they find online.”

    Unfortunately sophisticated propaganda usually includes just enough reality with the fabrications to make it hard for even trained journalists and researchers to parse out the truth, as we’ve seen.

    Boost those misdirections via what appears to be a credible news source subsequently liked, followed or forwarded by one’s social media “friends” as well as whatever confirmation biases we may have ourselves, and it’s clear how propaganda can spread online in the same exponential way a virus does in nature. See the work of social scientist Jan van Dijk for a more thorough and far more disturbing explanation on its threat to political order.

    Of course I bring this up because it’s not just our points of view on politics and political candidates that can be influenced this way, but also, say, our understanding of how passionately the people of Crimea suddenly wanted a return to Russia after 17 years (or 6 decades, depending on your interpretation) of Ukrainian administration or even a prevailing point of view around the disappearance of an aircraft.

    Finally, I am not a conspiracy theorist–very far from it–and make no claim as to what happened to MH370 or, for that matter, where it is. I’d call myself a skeptic, actually, and a student of realpolitik or what is today academically known as political realism. Of course, at times, states practicing political realism can engage in significant conspiracies, no theories needed.

  28. Blaine Gibson claims:

    Gibson said the amount of debris found in his searches disproved one crash theory that a pilot murder-suicide caused the plane to fall from the sky.

    “The original theory to explain away Malaysia 370 forever was the ‘pilot suicide controlled glide ditching theory’ — that somehow the pilot decided that he was going to kill everybody on the plane, ditch the plane, sink it intact and create a big mystery,” he said.

    “I can say categorically, absolutely, that did not happen. That theory is simply disproven by the evidence: one, we know that the main cabin, the fuselage is not intact under water. It shattered on impact.

    “Also, the wing flap … was retracted. It was not deployed. It has been examined by Boeing, examined by the ATSB, and they have concluded that it was in a retracted mid-flight position, not in a landing position.

    “So there was no controlled glide, intact ditching. That did not happen.”


  29. @Ken, Of course this argument doesn’t make any sense. There is absolutely no reason to equate pilot-suicide with ditching. In fact every other pilot suicide I’m aware of involves slamming into the surface at high speed. Ditching wouldn’t kill you at all. It’s just a bizarre notion.
    Blaine has floated a lot of weird ideas over the years. There’s absolutely no justification to quote him as an expert on what might have happened to the plane.

  30. @Ken

    This is Blaine’s personal opinion. Most share this opinion based on mostly the same arguments. But in case of the outboard flap retracted or not Blaine’s ‘retracted’ statement is not correct.
    Neither the ATSB or Boeing ever stated this flap was definitely retracted when it seperated.
    The ATSB only concluded it was probably retracted.

    See page 26 of this ATSB report:


  31. @Jeff Wise

    To quicly react. Blaine has done an awfull lot in the wake of this mystery. He might not be an expert in crash-investigations and has his own opinions (like we all have) but he surely gained expertise no one has gained the way he did it.

    Jeff, to serve him off the way you do is maybe more telling about your own lack these days (for long) in showing you’re an expert in this case.
    I just used one of your articles from almost two years ago to post on @VictorI’s blog.

    I hardly reqocnise you anymore when I read your comments since long time. Thanks anyway for those more thoughtfull/objective articles you produced in earlier days.

  32. @Jeff Price…Sure, I see your point about Blaine…I was just posting that piece as it was one of his newest propositions…

  33. @Ge Rijn

    I have read the abuse you get in VIs blog. You have a thicker skin than me. I don’t know how you can tolerate it.

    As for BG he’s given himself huge credibility by the work he has done although IMO he risks undoing that by making assumptions outside of his expertise. Whilst there is a very good chance that Mh370 will be found by OI nothing is guaranteed.

    I went into VIs blog with fresh optimism. Everything was going as well as you would expect. Although I should have learnt a long time ago that the IG do not like to test a theory that isn’t their own…. The sooner they find this plane the better. The relatives deserve to know the truth & the IG need to rest their high horses.

  34. @Billy
    Ah Ha!!! What a great find!!!! I’m sorry for being blatantly in love with my declared pet theory (north Korea) but your article absolutely made my day!!! Ah ha!!! Thank you for posting this!!!

  35. @Billy
    That is very interesting…I did not recall that incident. May not apply for MH370 directly but indirectly points to intentional actions being a generic issue for air safety, as we already know, but the lesson is still relevant.

  36. From SteveBarratt’s ABC link about Blaine Gibson above…

    To his credit, Blaine does say “We will eventually know what happened on the plane… if the Inmarsat data and its interpretation are correct.”

    So even Blaine is open-minded enough to concede that the data may be ‘incorrect,’ even ‘spoofed?’

    Second – maybe this is a little unfair of me – but I couldn’t help notice, Jenya Golubeva, I assume an Aussie journalist of Russian extraction helping to write an about Blaine Gibson…

    But yea, why did I even bring that up? But I did have a chuckle!

  37. @all

    Btw – sorry to ask a dumb question – but do we finally have confirmation that the Malaysians have actually signed any agreement/contract yet, or is SC still sailin’ out there on a whim ?!


  38. Ge Rijn said:

    “To quicly react. Blaine has done an awfull lot in the wake of this mystery. He might not be an expert in crash-investigations and has his own opinions (like we all have) but he surely gained expertise no one has gained the way he did it.”

    Could you explain, in your opinion, exactly what extra, special ‘expertise’ walking along a beach looking for debris could give a person?

    “I hardly reqocnise you anymore when I read your comments since long time. ”

    The difference is perhaps that you no longer agree with those comments – you have joined (or aspire to join) a different group with a different viewpoint. But it seems they’re not that keen on your opinions either.

  39. Was AirFrance flight AF66 A380 CDG to LAX uncontained engine failure the result of a impact with unknown foreign object @ 40k feet?
    You may recall I posted on this forum the news about this flight diverted to Goose Bay New Foundland. I was wondering what could possibly have happened to explain this sudden engine failure.
    I found this very intriguing post on PPRUNE.org.

    Am reliably informed by someone with first-hand knowledge that, as of late last week at least, the GP7200 from F-HPJE was still under a tarpaulin in the car park at GEAES Nantgarw awaiting inspection.

    Friend also mentioned that (at least) significant parts of the fan had been recovered (more than was seen in the photos earlier in the thread) but had not been sent to Wales with the rest of the unit, going elsewhere for inspection. Also that the lack of urgency in examining the core is partially explained by the failure mode already being relatively well understood – and that there was no risk to other engines in the fleet. Hearing him say that led me to draw certain conclusions but hopefully those of you with the experience will be in a position to comment on what it may or may not imply.

    He suggested part of the delay in stripping it was due to the damaged fan hub requiring specialised tooling to be constructed to secure the shaft – and also that there had been very ‘vigorous’ discussion between the BEA, FAA, TSB and AIB Denmark over who should lead the investigation.

    Hardly headline news there, but felt some of you might find the relative lack of urgency in stripping it either surprising or indicative.


    What makes this intriguing is…
    – failure mode relatively well understood
    – does not affect other engines, isolated to this one only
    – not all photos of parts retrieved from Greenland were published online, some photos withheld
    – these parts were not sent for examination to GE’s facility in Wales, unlike the affected engine

    Q: Why the secrecy?
    What could possibly have hit the engine at 40k feet

  40. @all

    Article a couple of days old but even the MSM is willing to deviate a little from the politically correct 9M-MRO script;


    The idea of human intervention rather than just a mechanical failure as the cause of the disappearance of 9M-MRO is a breath of fresh air. If true this infers criminal intent and by definition a conspiracy theory.

    I take exception to the inference that Captain Zaharie Shah put the SIO points on his simulator, it can only be an allegation. It was a shared facility and the HD in question went via the MAG/police prior to the FBI examining it.

    Also the question not strictly answered in this article one human or many? I do accept there is an inference that only one person was involved. However as each day passes without an answer the idea that just one person could pull it off seems more remote.

    A more routine article comparing AF447 debris to 9M-MRO;


    US oceanographer David Gallo responsible for the AF447 search makes some interesting points. Useful if you believe 9M-MRO is in the SIO.

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