Minor MH370 Mystery Resolved

Did a missing AUV like this one cause an international furor?

 

On January 31, Seabed Constructor vanished from the ship-tracking websites that various observers had been monitoring. This set up a minor international tizzy, with a number of outlets publishing headlines such as “MH370 mystery deepens as search vessel vanishes off radar for three days sending conspiracy theorists into a frenzy.”

The ship had been acting strangely in the hours leading up to its disappearance, sailing around in a big circle and then steaming in a beeline towards southwestern part of the search area, where it had started its work weeks before. It was in the midst of this beeline run that its AIS tracking system was apparently turned off. (This disappearance had nothing to do with radar, but whatever.)

Seabed Constructor reappeared a few days later, this time heading for a scheduled resupply stop in Perth. Ocean Infinity offered no explanation for what had happened. Some of the more imaginative independent MH370 researchers speculated that the ship had surreptiously been plundering shipwrecks found during the first seabed search.

On February 8, the notoriously unreliable Australian aviation journalist Geoffrey Thomas wrote a story in Perth Now claiming that the explanation was that the searchers had found found some interesting “geological formations” and “had returned to revisit those points of interest discovered on its first sweep and turned off its satellite tracking system so as not to give the relatives false hopes.”

Coming from Thomas, this almost certainly had to be untrue. Sure enough, more evidence has now emerged, and it appears that some kind of equipment fault was to blame.

The eighth search update released this morning by the Malaysian government reveals that “Earlier during the underwater search operation, an ROV was damaged and a decision was made to ‘wet store’ the ROV to minimize disruption to search operations.” Probably whoever wrote this meant AUV, autonomous underwater vehicle, rather than ROV, remotely operated vehicle, since ROVs are used to hone in on a target once it’s been identified. So far the search has found no targets.

Most likely, what happened is that at the end of January one of the AUVs went rogue, Seabed Constructor sailed around trying to find it, realized that it was probably at the southwestern corner of the search area, sailed down to go look for it–and while doing so realized that its bizarre behavior was being watched and so shut off the AIS to avoid further embarrassment.

Yesterday Richard Cole tweeted that Seabed Constructor had apparently deployed seven AUVS at the southern end of the southern leg of the secondary search zone, then dashed down to where the AUV lay on the seabed and deployed its ROV to retrieve it. “Probably the most complex search configuration we have seen so far,” he observed.

Earlier this morning Seabed Constructor finished its ROV work and hurried northward to gather up the AUVs, which were nearing the end of their endurance.

I’m guessing that the AUVs have a feature whereby if they lose communications with the mother ship they go to a predesignated point and rest on the seabed to conserve energy until they can be recovered.

I love the euphemism “wet store,” by the way. This is a major advancement in nautical terminology. If it had been around in 1912 then the White Star Line could have just said that the Titanic had been put in wet storage.

In other news, the latest report says that Seabed Constructor has now scanned 24,000 sq km. That doesn’t mean it’s 1,000 sq km from finishing the designated search area, though, because it still has to do the “southern leg” segments of the secondary and tertiary zones. These are not large however and should not take more than a few days.

333 thoughts on “Minor MH370 Mystery Resolved”

  1. @Jeff

    “So were investigators merely unlucky (and the plane happened to fly in a quirky, bendy, up-and-down way that by coincidence created signals that made it look like it was flying straight, fast, high, and normal)”

    That’s really ironic because that is what a few (unreliable) witnesses say. Is it possible? We all know what the IG thinks the data tells us but is there another side to it? Is there an alternative meaning to the what the data represents? What is the formula used to determine the BTO based on? How do they know that the SDU couldn’t have been hacked or spoofed or even malfunctioned. How do they know with confidence that there was no latency in the signal transmissions?

  2. @Jeff Wise:

    Boeing has already admitted to Boeing- Honeywell Uninterruptable Autopilot (BHUAP) technology having been installed on its aircraft

    Evidence of the Hijack of Malaysian Airways Flight MH370 using the Boeing-Honeywell Uninterruptable Autopilot (PDF):

    https://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=40&ved=0ahUKEwieo9mNsZTaAhUL9IMKHdTrCmQ4HhAWCGYwCQ&url=http%3A%2F%2Fn8waechter.info%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2015%2F04%2FBUAP_May-2014_Folder3.pdf&usg=AOvVaw1CVt3uZNKlqDD3SN0xYrcs

  3. @Jeff:
    “b) being that the satcom was turned off, there would be no way to remotely control the plane”

    I just don’t think that if a remote control system that can override the pilot’s commands were installed into an aircraft, that system could be disactived as easily as switching the satcom off.

  4. The sim data overwhelmingly convinced many people of Captain Zaharie’s guilt

    The facilitation of this data is weak, flawed by the contradictory early reports of FBI’s analysis finding nothing incriminating, subsequently filtered back through controlled Malaysian channels, silenced for over a year
    until the only method of fuition was being sneaked out to the public domain.

    Not exactly a credible process.
    Analytical steps determining the sim data value were skipped in this regard.

    Additionally, spoofed data and sim data are part and parcel in consideration. If the data was altered, incriminating Captain Zaharie’s simulator would be integral to the plan.

  5. @Jeff

    “@Scott O, Whoever wants to explain the disappearance of MH370 now has to contend with a new fact on the ground: that the plane did not wind up where any reasonable interpretation of the Inmarsat data would have it go.”

    I don’t expect this post to survive your moderation. Your comment above is simply not true. The recent Jean-Luc et. al. paper flies in the face of your understanding. There are many areas that satisfy the Inmarsat data that have not been searched.

  6. @Jeff Wise

    “My eyes rolled so hard they’re in traction.”

    Sorry, I don’t know what you mean, but that doesn’t sound good. I only used to fly C172 planes in VFR when I still had some money, but some captains here may need to learn to have some humility.

    OK, that’s my last post here and I will not come here again to disturb your eyes. Good luck to find 9M-MRO.

  7. @Susie Crowe

    “Additionally, spoofed data and sim data are part and parcel in consideration. If the data was altered, incriminating Captain Zaharie’s simulator would be integral to the plan”. I can’t agree more with this statement

    @Peter Norton @Marc

    Whilst the idea of a 100% ground based hack is cognitively interesting it’s also adding an extra layer of complexity after after all the 9M-MRO hijack worked (if it was a hijack!).

    Also if a ground based hack worked then I would expect that 9M-MRO wouldn’t be the first or last of these.

    I would contend that traditional ‘reliable’ techniques such as maximum surprise where it’s least expected (red eye flight) would be more likely to work.

    BTW @Peter Norton I think your work on the Rolls Royce stencils was excellent.

  8. @SteveBarrat: Thank you for the stencils feedback.
    Did anyone have any luck in contacting Farid Manap concerning his photograph ?
    I think I’ve found his yahoo email address:
    http://www.blogger.com/profile/11506443640917063594
    Maybe those who have already contacted him via jetphotos could resend their message to his yahoo address (or contact him via yahoo messenger) ?

    @Marc: You sure got a not very factual response. But don’t let that offend you. It would be sad to leave just for that.

  9. SteveBarratt: « @Susie Crowe: “Additionally, spoofed data and sim data are part and parcel in consideration. If the data was altered, incriminating Captain Zaharie’s simulator would be integral to the plan”. I can’t agree more with this statement »

    Maybe. Whoever framed Z, however, had to bet on:
    • Z’s sim being examined
    • a portable HDD being examined
    • the shadow volume on this HDD being examined
    • data on the portable HDD being rescued despite having been deleted and subsequently overwritten (according to VI) – this is a inherently random process with uncertain outcome, meaning that the data could very well have been lost forever, which is actually the goal of data wiping
    • the retrieved data being examined, analysed and linked back to the flight sim for interpretation

    It’s a bit like hiding an Easter egg somewhere in the woods and hoping it will be found unharmed 10 years later.

    « Whilst the idea of a 100% ground based hack is cognitively interesting, it’s also adding an extra layer of complexity after all the 9M-MRO hijack worked (if it was a hijack!). »

    At any rate certainly less complex than the extremely sophisticated (and IMO excellent) spoofing theory.
    And to be honest: At the point where we are now, can you name a single “uncomplex” scenario able to explain e.g. the SDU shutdown, SDU re-logon, the inexplicable flight path, and all the rest of the weird stuff going on during the flight ?

    Also consider that contrary to a conventional hijack, a remote hijack would dispense altogether with the need for finding people who are
    – willing to commit suicide
    – AND sufficiently erudite to tamper with the SDU etc.
    – AND physically able to fend off 237 PAX+cabin crew fighting for their lives
    – AND mentally strong enough to kill 239 people (besides themselves) without getting unconcentrated in the process.

    I could name 100 examples of what could go wrong.

  10. @Peter Norton, I’ve posted about this here before, but anyone who has the inclination should read Operation Mincemeat by Ben Macintyre–or to save time, the wikipedia entry.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Mincemeat

    I am not necessarily in disagreement with you in re the sim, but what’s remarkable in the Mincemeat story is the lengths to which the British secret service would go to to fabricate the details of a nonexistent life, attach them to the corpse of a tramp, and dump it all via submarine in the ocean off the coast of Spain, where astonishingly the corpse (supposed to be a body from a crashed plane) was recovered by fisherman who eventually passed papers found on the body to the German Abwehr, successfully convincing them the invasion of Italy would take place via Sardinia and Greece, not Sicily.

    The idea of writing data points to a hard drive, overwriting most but leaving some with an incomplete scrub and allowing it to filter into an evidentiary trail seems an obvious ploy when you compare it to the remarkable fabrications, details, feints, and other tricks state intelligence agencies seem to use.

    Remember, those specific sim data points didn’t need to remain–just some that pointed to a similar path so that they could reinforce a particular theory among those predisposed to it.

  11. @Peter Norton, A remote hijack is one of the more easily dismissable theories; the plane was out of contact from 17:21 until 18:25, and after that no signals were transmitted which could be interpreted as sending intructions to the uninteruptible autopilot, which anyway is itself a crackpot idea. This kind of talk is exactly the kind of counterproductive fog generation that it’s my job as a moderator to prevent. In short, please no more of this.

    As to the idea of the flight sim data being planted, I would say the that evidence runs strongly counter to that. If one earnestly wanted to frame Zaharie, one would plant data that unambiguously indicted him–the kind of data that was found, for instance, on Andreas Lubitz’s computers. Instead, there is nothing apart from the flight sim that in any way incriminates Zaharie, and the more closely you look at the flight sim data, the more ambiguous it looks. Taken in context, the mostly likely explanation for the flight sim data is that it was a remarkable coincidence.

    I understand not liking coincidences; however, if Zaharie is the culprit then many more remarkable coincidences would have to have occurred, not least the inadvertant reboot of the SDU (and the coincidence of its timing immediately after the last radar return) and the fact that the BTO data just happened to look like a straight, fast run when it was actually something else.

  12. Jeff Wise: «
    a) the uninterruptible autopilot technology was not installed on MH370 and
    b) [with] the satcom turned off, there would be no way to remotely control the plane. The deed had to be done by someone on board.
    »

    Peter Norton: «
    a) “not installed”: how do you know that?
    b) “SDU turned off”: You infer that mainly from OXCO and no coms with 3F1, right? Setting aside the former for a moment, could the latter be explained by MH370 being switched to another satellite (e.g. to a Russian spy satellite to keep in line with the remote hijacking theory) before reconnecting to 3F1 at 18:25? »

    a) Boeing confirmed its existence in 2007:
    http://www.standard.co.uk/news/new-autopilot-will-make-another-911-impossible-7239651.html

    And the technology was already used in 1984 when a Boeing 720 was remotely controlled:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1984_Boeing_720_crash_experiment
    « During the 14 flights made with safety pilots on board, the Boeing 720 was controlled remotely by a pilot in a ground-based console for 16:22 hours, including 10 takeoffs, 69 controlled landing approaches, and 13 landings. »¹

    b) There are apparently 2 ways to control the plane:
    1) “the aircraft will be capable of remote digital control from the ground, enabling operators to fly it like a sophisticated model plane, manoeuvring it vertically and laterally” (standard.co.uk, cited above)
    2) Instead of the plane being remotely controlled (1), the flight path can be preprogrammed and executed by the autopilot system, i.e. the plane flies itself without external intervention (neither by the pilot, nor by any hijacker, nor by a remote control operator), according to patent US3749335A “Autopilot system controlling entry of a craft into forbidden zones”:
    « In combination with the autopilot system of an aircraft an onboard control system inaccessible to the pilot responds to ground transmitted or onboard computed geographical position signals to restrict pilot heading or descent maneuvers when the aircraft enters a forbidden geographical zone. » (highlighting mine)


    ¹ nasa.gov/centers/dryden/pdf/315492main_FS-2009-02-003-CID.pdf

  13. @Jeff Wise:
    I completely agree with you re flight sim data, Lubitz, etc.

    @Scott O.:
    Thank you for the interesting reading. I think you make a good point. I just wanted to point out that whoever framed Z had to bet on Malaysia, the country who has botched almost everything during the investigation, to conduct a extremely sophisticated FBI-level crime scene investigation.

  14. Peter Norton, you write :

    Also consider that contrary to a conventional hijack, a remote hijack would dispense altogether with the need for finding people who are
    – willing to commit suicide
    – AND sufficiently erudite to tamper with the SDU etc.
    – AND physically able to fend off 237 PAX+cabin crew fighting for their lives
    – AND mentally strong enough to kill 239 people (besides themselves) without getting unconcentrated in the process.

    I could name 100 examples of what could go wrong.

    Well this supposed that the plane would actually have been crashed. If the plane was landed without being crashed (which seems possible given that no wreckage has been found that undisputably proves a fatal crash) then it would suffice to find people able to hijack the plane and either land it on an airfield, land it via autoland, or glide it into the ocean – I want to propose the idea that f ex the Ukrainians could have water landed the plane somewhere on the ocean (f ex the SIO if we want to stick with it) to be retrieved by a ship.

    As for the remote control idea, I give it to you that it is theoretically possible that such a system exists, and that it is being hacked. However, all the caveats that I outlined in my earlier posts apply. It seems highly (unnecessarily) complex/expensive, would probably still require on-board physical support thus posing the question of why to use an additional remote control component if you could just abduct the plane with the physical hijackers that you will need anyway. Basically, remote control is an appealing idea but it will at best be an addendum. The real question(s) are, if the plane was abducted, where was it brought? And why was it chosen? Frankly, the more I think about it, the more appealing I find jw’s Baikonour idea – it answers how hijackers were found (“you just need to take over, type in the waypoints, and at the end you can autoland “). It also answers why there has been no debris and no wreckage found by the search efforts. The only thing obviously is how to spoof the sat data, but at most this requires a physical asset in the SIO, plane or ship, and this scenario nicely explains the unusual switch off /on of the SDU.

  15. @Peter Norton, Do you honestly think that neither Boeing nor Malaysia Airlines would know what equipment was installed in the plane? Do you think that this process could be initiated via an Inmarsat satellite with no signals transmitted that could be recognized as such?

  16. « the plane was out of contact from 17:21 until 18:25, and after that no signals were transmitted which could be interpreted as sending intructions to the uninteruptible autopilot, which anyway is itself a crackpot idea. »

    1) It’s not an “idea”, it’s a technology existing for decades, as cited above.
    2a) After 18:25 there was no need for any transmitted control signals as no manoeuvring took place AFAWK.
    2b) Between 17:21 – 18:25 the flight path could either have been preprogrammed (see above) or remotely controlled via another satellite than 3F1 (see above) or remotely controlled via another form of communication (e.g. via a drone).

  17. @Peter Norton, The technology did not exist on this plane. Period. Ergo, not possible.

    @Havelock, Victor Iannello developed a fairly simple way to spoof the BFO data from inside the plane; it involves changing a single parameter in the SDU, which can be accessed from the passenger compartment. So, no need for ships or planes in the SIO.

  18. « Do you honestly think that neither Boeing nor Malaysia Airlines would know what equipment was installed in the plane? »

    I’d say Boeing obviously knows whether a Boeing-Honeywell UAP is installed on its planes. They build them. And the system is way to complex (as it has to be integrated with the all the onboard systems) for anyone else but Boeing to install it.

    As far as I know, the BHUAP was never officially rolled-out, so IF they installed this system, Boeing must have done so in secret. I would therefore conclude that IF that took place, it must have taken place without the carriers’ knowledge or otherwise it would surely have leaked sooner or later.

    « Do you think that this process could be initiated via an Inmarsat satellite with no signals transmitted that could be recognized as such? »

    I am no authority on satcom and I don’t know whether Inmarsat logs all the data transitting via their satellites, but I would assume that
    a) such an effort would be logged (hopefully), and
    b) there are safeguards against unauthorized access to their satellites and we can only guess how easy or tough they are to breach.
    So I guess it would be difficult to use an Inmarsat satellite for RC and even more difficult to do so without being detected.

    Therefore I suggested other forms of communications in my previous posting (point 2b).

  19. @Peter Norton, So Boeing installs this piece of equipment that lets the plane be taken over remotely by the authorities to prevent the plane from being flown dangerously by pilots, but doesn’t tell either the authorities or the operator, and after a plane with this equipment went missing, lied about it to investigators?

    If you’re going to go this deep into conspiracy theory, how about a much simpler one: MH370 never happened at all. The whole thing is a hoax, like the moon landing and Sandy Hook and the so-called curvature of the earth.

  20. Jeff Wise: “The technology did not exist on this plane.”

    I asked you twice how you know that, but you never gave an answer.

    The technology exists for decades and was demonstrated in 1984 (30 years before MH370’s disappearance).
    How do you know that it was not used in 2014 ?

  21. @Peter Norton, You asked how I know that the technology did not exist on the plane. The answer is that the plane was built by Boeing, and Boeing was part of the advisory board to the investigation.

    So for what you’re saying to be true, there has to be a conspiracy involving Boeing.

  22. @Peter Norton: Sure, it is possible to design a system that permits remote control of an airplane. The question is whether such a system has been or could be fitted legally to an airplane used for public transport. None of your sensational newpaper articles unequivocally states that Boeing has admitted to installing such system an any airplane delivered to a customer. It would be illegal for Boeing to install such a system on any airliner without going through a formal approval process.

    – No airplane can be legally operated unless it has a valid Certificate of Airworthiness.
    – No Transport Category airplane can obtain a certificate of airworthiness unless it has been manufactured in accordance with an approved Type Design. The airplane manufacturer obtains a Type Certificate only after he has demonstrated that the type design meets all applicable airworthiness requirements. Any subsequent change to the airplane without prior approval invalidates the certificate of airworthiness.
    – Current airworthiness regulations do not contain provisions that would allow fitment of a remotely controlled system to an airplane used in public transport. Developing a regulatory basis for approval of such systems would require a formal Notice of Proposed Rule Making that provides for public participation.

    There is absolutely no way an “uninterruptible AP” system could be legally installed in a public transport airplane.

  23. Jeff Wise: “So Boeing installs this piece of equipment that lets the plane be taken over remotely by the authorities to prevent the plane from being flown dangerously by pilots, but doesn’t tell either the authorities or the operator, and after a plane with this equipment went missing, lied about it to investigators?”

    Look, Jeff, I think I can offer some possible explanations but I don’t have answers for everything. In my opinion we should look into possible explanations together, collectively. Only together we can complete the puzzle.

    To answer your question, one possible explanation for keeping the BHUAP secret is the possible stance that this would defeat its purpose (just as it’s not disclosed whether air marshals are onboard a flight or not). I’m not saying that is the true reason, just a possibility. But think for a minute of how much stuff is being kept secret “for security reasons” or “for national security”. I heard that millions of times in my lifetime. It wouldn’t be unimaginable that this security measure was kept secret in the wake of 9/11.

    Havelock: « the Ukrainians could have water landed the plane somewhere on the ocean (f ex the SIO if we want to stick with it) to be retrieved by a ship. »

    The SIO is not like the Hudson. How many successful ocean ditchings do you know of ?

    Havelock: « As for the remote control idea, I give it to you that it is theoretically possible that such a system exists, and that it is being hacked. However […] it seems highly complex/expensive, would probably still require on-board physical support thus posing the question of why to use an additional remote control component if you could just abduct the plane with the physical hijackers that you will need anyway. Basically, remote control is an appealing idea but it will at best be an addendum. »

    – I think money is not the issue here.
    – Whatever happened *was* complex (SDU relogon, etc.)
    – Why would you need physical hijackers in a remote hijacking ??

  24. Jeff Wise: “@Peter Norton, You asked how I know that the technology did not exist on the plane. The answer is that the plane was built by Boeing, and Boeing was part of the advisory board to the investigation. So for what you’re saying to be true, there has to be a conspiracy involving Boeing.”

    Good point. Well, I wouldn’t call it a conspiracy. Just secrecy. Much like many neighbouring countries kept the information secret, whether or not they have detected MH370 on radar. Some information is kept secret for national security. Maybe Boeing had to sign a non-disclosure agreement with the US gov ?

    I believe I remember a handful of other (in my view benign) information which Boeing and RR were not willing to share in the course of this investigation. Possibly for commercial reasons.

  25. OK Gysbreght, your arguments are to the point and have convinced me.
    Seeing it from this perspective, it’s difficult to imagine how the BHUAP could have been installed.

    @Gysbreght, given the facts and circumstances you just listed, I would assume you to call BS on the following excerpt from the PDF (page 4) which Marc posted above, right? The source is obviously not very reputable, but I’m asking your opinion solely based on the content:

    « During early 1995, Boeing sales experienced a […] serious internal problem in Europe […]. The German flag carrier Lufthansa discovered that its new Boeing 747-400 aircraft had been fitted with flight directors [auto-pilots] that were vulnerable to American remote-control, ostensibly designed to “recover” hijacked aircraft whether the hijackers wanted to be recovered or not. Lufthansa was not informed about this “free extra” in advance, and was furious that its sovereign aircraft might be covertly “rescued” by America, without the knowledge or permission of the German Government. In a mammoth operation rumoured to cost in excess of $800 million, Lufthansa stripped every flight director out of every Boeing in its fleet, replacing them in total with German systems programmed by the Luftwaffe [German Air Force]. According to a member of the German internal security service in Frankfurt during October 1996, all Lufthansa aircraft had by that date been secured, rendering them invulnerable to remote flight director commands transmitted by any and all American authorities. Under the new intelligence protocols, Russia and France were made aware of these flight director
    risks. »

    I assume you would grade this as impossible, correct ?

  26. @Peter Norton: “I assume you would grade this as impossible, correct ?”
    The short answer is yes. I think the journalist has built a story on a tidbit of information that he didn’t understand. I think what happened is that Lufthansa was not happy with a particular feature of the flight director and requested a change. Yes, a change of the “Type Design” of equipment is expensive and would probably have cost Lufthansa a lot of money to get it implemented.

    A flight director is not an autopilot. It is an indication on the PFD (Primary Flight Diisplay) that shows the pitch and roll commands that the autopilot is executing if engaged or, if the autopiulot is not engaged, that the pilot must give through the control column and control wheel to achieve the selected path.

    I would grade references to “American remote-control” and “German systems programmed by the Luftwaffe [German Air Force]” as BS.

  27. @Jeff Wise, @Gysbreght:
    Thank you both for engaging in this discussion. @Gysbreght, your nuts-and-bolts insights, and @Jeff, your good questions as journalist have advanced the state of knowledge on this popular MH370 theory.

    My takeaways from our exchange:
    – It’s very hard to see how the BHUAP could have been installed on MH370.
    – Therefore, if MH370 was remotely controlled / cyber-hijacked, it would have had to be done via another attack vector (not BHUAP).

    Seeing where the discussion has led, the likelihood of either possibility doesn’t seem too promising. And I don’t have any other facts to present on top of what I already laid out so far. So unless new facts emerge, I will rest my case.

  28. Peter Norton, per you post on March 29 at 12:51,

    I think your supposition in the paragraph is dead on in terms of one very concrete reason for such a hijacking-a statement of capabilities. I believe Jeff asserted this early on and in his book. A flight with so few Americans on it feeds into that idea. If the Americans saw a Russian exploit kill many of their citizens, the response could be of a very different order than one that killed the citizens of other countries.

    I think a second could be specific to the corruption leading to the siphoning off of the Malaysian sovereign fund. If you believe that Russia is an oligarchy, run by the mob with the Kremlin essentially functioning as its muscle, and if those oligarchs put a lot of money into the fund, only to see it disappear, taking a Malaysia plane is a state-level version of an enforce breaking knee caps in support of the money’s return, which in fact has happened.

    Finally, regarding your third paragraph, as we do not know where the plane went, it’s certainly possible that the perpetrators are safe on the ground. But even if we were to learn that MH370 is at the bottom of the SIO, there’s no reason those same perps couldn’t have abandoned the flight in some fashion somewhere along its journey in a way that was safer than an exit into the engine’s fan blades-say at low altitude and in a portion of the sea that is heavily enough trafficked not to draw attention to a S&R op-say like the Malacca Strait.

  29. Jeff, after my prior contributions and especially my last posting, you put me on manual moderation ?

  30. @Scott O: That was Havelock, not me.
    @buyerninety: That’s completely irrelevant. Content must be evaluated solely based on its merits, not based on ad-hominem arguments.

  31. @Jeff Wise, Gysbreght, Peter Norton,

    At the risk of being barked off the site, but still curious enough to want to ask about the potential for remote operation, do we need to suppose the only method of navigation would be BHUAP?

    Just as we imagine some sort of patch device brought onto the aircraft communicated false data to Inmarsat, could not a device be carried on and used to direct a flight path? While I can’t fully explain the interface to the flight computer or controls themselves, its external connection to the outside world need be nothing more than the kind of GPS receiver you’d use hiking or find on your phone, which has accuracy to about one meter.

    The reason I can’t quite let this idea go, is what so many think of as the potential context: a Russian operation to show the West what it is capable of in asymmetrical warfare. To only be able to do this once–or to do it only with a corps of special forces people on a suicide mission (not the type to normally martyr themselves) just doesn’t square with me.

    That’s not to say a group of operatives isn’t smart enough to fly a jet (special forces people are usually chosen as much for their intelligence as their tenacity and physical ability); it’s the landings I wonder about.

    But to have several dozen operatives execute this maneuver at a predetermined and coordinated time and bail out after installing a navigational device, is a very different thing.

    @Jeff–with respect to the sim data and how complete the hijackers would want it to be: I think it pays to keep in mind the sort of disinformation the Russians have deployed in recent years and most especially what we see uncovered as the special counsel investigation unfolds. The Russians have clearly concluded that a straight line or obvious solution isn’t nearly as effective as sowing the truth with just enough confusion to make every doubt ALL aspects of an investigation.

  32. @Peter Norton, If you were on manual moderation there would be a delay before your comment appeared. So, no. BTW I’m grateful that we were able to have a nice informative, civil discourse and then reach consensus. If it were always thus…

    @Scott O., I think having a patch brought on board is eminently reasonable, but I think there has to be humans aboard the plane to install and turn it on. The very short gap between “Good night, MH370” and the vanishing imply someone on hand closely monitoring the situation. I also think that if there was somehow some piece of equipment installed before the flight, with no one on board to protect it, it would be hard to ensure that the flight crew wouldn’t find and disable it. Finally, it would have to do so many things–fly the plane, turn off and on various subsystems–that it would have to be a very complex system.

    However, to your final point, I think you’ve hit upon something quite germane. The classic Russian m.o. since 2014 is the generation of multiple narratives to create an enveloping fog. This is certainly the case in MH370. Unfortunately the media has played right along. Just today The Guardian ran a piece enumerating the so-called “theories” that its author claims are currently at large. If nothing else, the hybrid war has laid bare the Western media’s lackluster ability to assimilate and assess complex information.

  33. @Peter Norton

    You raise some interesting points from multiple postings ago which probably have been better answered by @Havelock and @Jeff Wise.

    Yes a conventional hijack is complex enough and I agree with you that a 100 things could go wrong with it. But a ground based hijacking seems to me to introduce a whole new level of complexity. I’m not even sure if its possible (@Havelock).

    You make an interesting point about the hijackers. One assumes they are dead. Possibly they were unaware of their true fate as per 9/11. Passengers on these planes were lied to as they expecting it was a conventional hijack/landing/negotiation etc (the exception is United Flight 93).

    I agree with all the points about Captain Zaharie’s HDD and the effort required to fudge a flight path over the SIO. We make the assumption of course that it’s his drive with his data. Without him being alive to corroborate the flight paths its all speculative. Though as @Jeff Wise points out the data could be genuine but a pure coincidence (not a smoking gun).

  34. Return to reality, guys. There were over two hundred people on that plane. By the time it turned around, all of them were dead. It wasn’t technology that killed them. Someone was in control, you just don’t know who.

  35. @Gysbreght
    I wouldn’t waste too much time on Peter Nortons posts – he’s obviously
    indifferent that the source of his assertion to you is easily findable
    via wiki to be without merit.

    @Peter Norton
    For the record – what is your one sentence personal theory as to the cause
    of the loss of MH370? We are curious, because you don’t seem to assert that any
    one thing happened to MH370 at all, but rather specialize in posting a wide spew
    of differing conspiracy theories ( apparently, whatever takes your fancy?)

    For instance, as poster ‘Only DIRECT DEMOCRACY is Democracy!’ , you posted in
    the comments section of the website of ‘Der Standard’, an Austrian national
    daily broadsheet newspaper;
    Only DIRECT DEMOCRACY is Democracy! 235
    March 12, 2015, 05:20:05
    [Conspiracy? number 53/3]
    Fire in the MAS Avionic Shop
    On March 26, a fire breaks out at the Malaysia Airlines Avionic Shop¹,
    Hangar 2 in Subang – the first time in its 30-year history. Was the fire set
    to destroy incriminating evidence in connection with the disappearance of
    MH370?
    These are a bit too much ‘coincidences’ for my taste:
    • March 08: MH370 disappears, the biggest mystery of aviation.
    • March 17: A young Inmarsat satellite technician dies of alleged heart attack.
    • March 17: Based on Inmarsat satellite data, the search for MH370 is being
    moved from the northern hemisphere to the southern hemisphere, where nothing
    has been found to date.
    • March 20: Inmarsat receives a US General as Director.
    • March 26: Fire in the MAS hangar.”

    Nur DIREKTE DEMOKRATIE ist Demokratie! 235
    12. März 2015, 05:20:05
    [Verschwörung? n°53/3] Feuer im MAS Avionic Shop
    Am 26. März bricht ein Brand aus im Malaysia Airlines Avionic Shop¹,
    Hangar 2 in Subang – das 1. Mal in seinem über 30-jährigen Bestehen.
    Wurde das Feuer gelegt um belastendes Beweismaterial im Zusammenhang
    mit dem Verschwinden von MH370 zu vernichten ?

    Das sind ein bisschen zu viel “Zufälle” für meinen Geschmack:

    • 08.März: MH370 verschwindet, das größte Rätsel der Luftfahrt.
    • 17.März: Ein junger Satellitentechniker der Firma Inmarsat stirbt an
    angeblichem Herzinfarkt.
    • 17.März: Auf Basis von Inmarsat-Satellitendaten wird die Suche nach MH370
    von der Nord- auf die Südhalbkugel verlegt, wo man bis heute nichts fand.
    • 20.März: Inmarsat bekommt einen US-General als Direktor beigestellt.
    • 26.März: Brand im MAS Hangar.”

  36. I have a couple of basic questions that may or may not have been covered ad nauseam already. If my query doesn’t meet the criteria to be posted I totally understand. I have watched these conversations on a fairly regular basis over the past four years. My questions are fairly simple I think. And they relate to the already beaten to death flight simulator data. So here goes. If they assembled flight simulator data from all the pilots that may use flight simulators at home, that fly in that related Corridor Malaysia/China. And say assembled a number of 100 or more pilots that use flight simulators (though I have no idea how many the Number could actually be), and they looked for similarities to Captain Shahs flight simulator path, that so closely resembles at least to a point the actual flight itself.(even if it couldn’t be determined whether the complete path was a series of different flights with similar waypoints or whatever). What would be the probability that any of the other Pilots simulators had a path that was so similar. Specifically the turn back down the straight and as far as they could determine to the Indian Ocean. If say they found a hundred other Pilots that regularly fly in that Corridor that also use flight simulators at home, and looked at their data, and not one of them had any flight path that had closely resembled MH370 as did Shah’s. Wouldn’t a statistical probability be able to be determined if that was the case. If there was even one or two other Pilots that had more or less the exact same path or turn back down the Malacca Strait then it would make the argument null and void I suppose. However if it was only Shaw’s flightsim that as closely resembled the MH370 path. Would that not at least give some statistical probability or circumstantial evidence. Not the kind that would hold up in court. But there would be some determinable probability that would arise had his flight Sim being the only one out of a measurable number of other Pilots, that had that path. Of course this doesn’t find the plane. Of course this relies on the accuracy of what was presented to the public regarding the flight Sim. So of course there are all kinds of variables. But to simplify it down to that one basic question. If nobody else had a similar flightpath amongst the potential thousands of flight paths between the pilot sample pool. Then that would to me at least, raise the probability much higher that it would be an unlikely coincidence. This exact point may have already been covered. I don’t know if this idea was pursued and written about on this blog already. My apologies if so. Thank you.

  37. @BobC
    First of all, the Z flight sim data is only partially recovered, but the SIO flight shows a take-off from KLIA possibly heading to Jeddah starting out over the Malacca straits.

    So we do NOT have a U-turn at IGARI. We do have a FMT (turn south) at a point near DOTEN.

    A few pilots use home flight simulators but I do not think very many pilots do, so the sample size would be small. So you would probably have to say, among all flight sim hobbyists, it there anything like this?

    In general flying to Antarctica is probably a common flight sim activity for beginners. But the context of the Z flight sim seems to be diverting to SIO from a path he tended to fly (to Jeddah).

  38. @TBill: RE “We do have a FMT (turn south) at a point near DOTEN. “

    In the spirit of DrB’s Facts:

    Do we?

  39. @Gysbreght
    I am not sure what you mean. The flight sim data of course has the 20 deg turn in progress near DOTEN.

  40. @TBill: We have no way of knowing what simulations were done between 10N and 45S. The “FMT (turn south) at a point near DOTEN. “ is just an assumption.

    We do know from the time stamps (all files were saved between 15:26 and 16:38) and the fuel used that the simulation did not cover 10N to 45S.

  41. Jeff Wise: “@Peter Norton: I’m grateful that we were able to have a nice informative, civil discourse and then reach consensus. If it were always thus…”

    @Jeff Wise:
    Very well put. The pleasure is all mine – I’m equally grateful for our constructive and informative exchange of ideas. My philosophy is that the best arguments carry the day. And today you and Gysbreght put forward very convincing arguments. Factual debates have merit, even when a plurality of opinions remain and all the more so when reaching consensus. I’m looking forward to other exchanges of ideas on occasion.

  42. @BobC,
    I’ve shared your query since learning of Z’s elaborate video game toy.

    How many commercial pilots who own a simulator use it on occasion to run cockamaime scenario flights, just for kicks. …or forget the thing is on and go watch a ballgame, cut the grass, fall asleep or whatever. Who knows!

    Though I support SIO theories, I don’t put any weight on Z’s sim data. I feel all-things re: Z’s sim data are a distraction rather than a value-added to this investigation.

  43. @Graham Leishman @David @Scott O. @all

    I don’t mean to be an ass by skipping the last 3 pages of comments but I’m still reading through the discussion sparked by Graham Leishman’s on 20th March

    (So apologies if someone has mentioned this already)

    But in the photos provided by the ATSB report:

    https://www.atsb.gov.au/media/5773386/debris-examination-update-2_amended.pdf

    the ‘Recovered part’ and ‘MAB Stencil’ (provided as an example of what it should look like) don’t even match?!

    The ‘Royce’ on the ‘Recovered part’ is much larger than the MAB example, takes up much more space and thus appears closer to the left edge of the black square?

    If this purported debris really is from MH370, then the ‘MAB example’ in the report surely cannot be?!

    Which begs the question how many different versions of their own stencil did MAB end up creating?

    Or is the simpler explanation that this ‘debris stencil’ is a poor attempt at copying a MAB stencil (which in itself is a copy of the RR stencil)?

    Again, apologies if I’m repeating anything said in the past few days or months even

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