Ocean Infinity Further Expands MH370 Search Area

 

Fig. 1: The seabed search as depicted in the most recent Malaysian report

When Malaysia announced on January 10 of this year that it had contracted with Ocean Infinity, a US-registered company, to relaunch the seabed search for missing Malaysian airliner MH370, Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai stated that there was an 85 percent chance that the plane’s wreckage would be found within a 25,000 square kilometer search zone previously demarcated by the Australia National Transport Board. As I’ve noted in earlier posts, Australia’s stated position at the time was that if the plane was not found in this area, which stretched from 36 degrees to 32.5 degrees south latitude, it could offer no rationale for looking anywhere else.

On January 30, the Government of Malaysia released its first weekly “MH370 Operational Search Update” showing the progress of Ocean Infinity’s search vessel, Seabed Constructor. In addition to the ATSB’s 25,000 square kilometer search area, the new report designated two “extension” areas, stretching up to 29 degrees south latitude. (See Figure 2, below.) “The advice to proceed north towards 30S latitude came from Independent Group members,” News.com.au noted, referring to a theory put forward by Victor Iannello that the plane’s captain, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, had hijacked his own plane and set its navigation system for Antarctica.

Fig. 2: The seabed search area as depicted in the first Malaysian update.

That bizarre hypothesis is about to be put to the test: at time of writing–April 18, 2018, 1200Z–Seabed Constructor is working an area around 30.5S. Working at its current rate, it will have soon have finished scouring both the extension areas and laid Iannello’s idea to rest.

What then? With the ATSB’s and the IG’s ideas all exhausted, one might argue that it would be time to pack up and go home. But this is not what will happen. Yesterday, in its 12th weekly update, the Malaysian government unveiled a new supplementary search area, to stretch all the way up to 26 degrees south latitude. (See Figure 1, top.) As far as I know, no one has yet hypothesized a scenario that matches the data and would result in the plane ending up this far north, but hope springs eternal. Perhaps Ocean Infinity, for whatever reason, just wants the process to drag on for as long as possible.

By the way, little attention has been paid to the fact that Seabed Constructor has blasted through the Broken Ridge area of steep, craggy terrain while scarcely breaking stride. This is a testament to the capability of its AUV technology. It also rules out an idea that has been promoted by certain MH370 theorists, to the effect that the captain abducted the plane and headed for Broken Ridge in the hope that the wreckage would never be found there. That idea can now be scratched off the fast-dwindling list of possibilities.

301 thoughts on “Ocean Infinity Further Expands MH370 Search Area”

  1. @SteveBarratt @BorisTabaksplatt- Thanks for your replies guys and Boris you raise a good point.

    @all
    Of course all we can do is speculate about 1MDB – and some certainly assume MH370 has something to do with it (although with the proviso that it might have nothing to do with the disappearance at all)!

    To paraphrase, Jeff said in one of his posts a while ago:

    “Often people tend to complicate things and miss what’s staring them in the face…”

    So I’d suggest that if the plane really went to Kazakhstan, are we not complicating matters by automatically assuming Russians have to have a hand in this?

    After all, from this very forum, we’ve come to learn about the close ties between Kazakhstan and Malaysia.

    I also recall an incident where the Kazakh president’s son (?) or daughter (?) threatened some hotel concierge over an unpaid hotel bill with something like:

    “Do you even know who I am? Do you know what I can do to you…?”

    The Kazakhs are not to be messed with. In fact, contrary to the purported close ties between them and Russia, at times they seem to be flexing their muscles and wanting to go it alone, seeking closer ties with Western Europe and pushing Astana to be the next Central Asian ‘Dubai.’

    Then again all this might be wide off the mark!

  2. @all

    on a loosely-related note, this short clip of DPR soldiers (pro-Russian fighting in Ukraine) has always confused me:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ECHclOjjPs

    * Why does the Kazakhstani guy hesitate when they ask him his name/where he comes from?

    * Why does he say it’ll be difficult for him to return back to Kazakhstan after the war?

    I never got this and I’d assume Kazakhstan wouldn’t have an issue with pro-DPR fighters

  3. @Sajid UK, one reason it might be hard for a DPR sympathizer/mercenary to return to Kazakhstan might be because he shows his allegiances to be with Russia and not the former and tenuously independent republics that once made up the Soviet Union. Not good should the majority Kazakhis desire to maintain that independence rather than be forced back into a totalitarian empire of the kind we’re told Putin would like to recreate. The soldier would be be seen as a traitor.

  4. @All

    (Rob says:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    May 13, 2018 at 12:01 pm) and waiting, and waiting…

    My apologies Jeff for imposing upon your excellent blog site but to put it bluntly I have no confidence any more in Victor’s impartiality in these matters, particularly as OI are about to trash the IG’s (among others) drift models and the improbable McMurdo great circle track. Sad that it should have come to this.

    Victor asked for comments on the 60 Minutes program.

    Victor, my takeaway was that pretty much everybody was now on the same page – that Shah’s intention was to make the plane disappear. He was controlling the plane right up to impact.
    And what would you do if you wanted to make the plane disappear? Answer: you would fly it as far south as possible, on the available, and when the fuel runs out, you would keep going (which to the uniniated, means gliding in the same direction) then crash it in such a way as to make it sink as quickly as possible. BTW, the Chi Squared analysis done by HB pointed to a small initial debris field.
    The drift modeling guy didn’t exactly exude confidence, but did he?
    The drift modeling will be shown to be totally misleading, and confounding to the search effort.
    Victor, I was also asked if I would participate in the program, but had to decline. I think they were originally planning on a studio audience and I baulked at an Oprah Winfrey style interrogation environment but now after the event, I wish I could have been there to explain about my discovery that Shah has planned fuel exhaustion to coincide with sunrise, and accordingly had put S41 E88 into the FMC in order to be sure of getting that result.
    The McMurdo, S45 E104 SIM flight was a deliberate decoy and a sprinkling of breadcrumbs for the chooks (chickens) and it appears to have worked!

  5. @Scott O.

    Yeah you may be right. After reading a little about it online, I can see that Kazakhstan has been sending such pro-Russian mercenaries to jail.

    But I don’t understand the logic behind it. After all, aren’t Kazakhstan and Russia deep allies and close neighbours at the end of the day?!

  6. Sorry, what I said above appears to contradict my earlier point about the Kazakhstanis wanting to ‘go it alone’ and move more towards ‘the West’ (which is true).

    However, whatever’s said and done (for now at least) Russia and Kazakhstan are still close allies and neighbours. To jail mercenaries wanting to fight for Russia doesn’t make any sense to me.

    The equivalent of, say, the UK handing down jail sentences to British have-a-go-heroes fighting alongside American marines. Doesn’t make sense.

  7. After seeing the sh!tshow of a 60min program, don’t think we’ve done anything but distracted ourselves. They really didn’t provide anything but more speculation. Im 100% now in Jeff’s camp that the plane went North. It’s the only logical explanation. If not, the damned plane or traces of it would have been discovered by now.

  8. @Tex, Thanks, I appreciate the sentiment! It is depressing that they could go through all the trouble of making a documentary while overlooking the main facts in the case. Worse, they’ve now made two 60 minutes shows feature Larry Vance…

  9. Suzie Crow: The plane may have been used as a display of horrific consequence, a powerful message of blackmail or revenge by a casualty of 1MDB. Very interesting!

  10. @Sajid UK, I think the whole situation is a complicated dance, with different factions desiring different things, and even the respective country leaders not always consistent.

    This would actually mirror the situation in the Ukraine to some extent.

    Independent but supplicant, good. Independent but with too much will toward free will, bad. Western interactions leading to western money invested, good. Western interactions leading to interest in Western military or political alliances very bad.

    A dictator such as Nursultan Nazarbayev, who has been in power for more than 25 years, may send or allow mercenaries to help Putin to keep him happy, but at the same time Nazarbayev may want to make it clear that such activity against the government at home would not be tolerated.

    We want things to be black and white, simple and carved into neat little pieces by Occam’s Razor.

    But it seems that geopolitical machinations in Russia and the its Soviet-era colonies are not at all that easily reduced to good and evil or even us and them.

  11. @Jeff
    I’m in agreement with you that the plane didn’t fly south. You might already have explained this, but how do you think the plane was not spotted by radar flying north past a number of countries?
    Thanks

  12. @Rob:
    Thanks for posting Victor’s response to the 60 Minute puff piece. The quote below beggars belief. Why would someone who does not want his crime revealed then plant evidence on his own computer which points the finger at a location in the SIQ? Rubbish.

    My view is that the authorities planted the SIM data on Shah’s computer to avoid any possibility that the co-pilot, Fariq Abdul Hamid, the son of a high ranking Malaysian Government Minister, could be fingered as the culprit. Especially as he would fit the profile of a suicidal radicle Muslim activist much better than Shah. Not that I think that either of the pilots were responsible for what is likely a planned Intel Op.

    ‘…I wish I could have been there to explain about my discovery that Shah has planned fuel exhaustion to coincide with sunrise, and accordingly had put S41 E88 into the FMC in order to be sure of getting that result.
    The McMurdo, S45 E104 SIM flight was a deliberate decoy and a sprinkling of breadcrumbs for the chooks (chickens) and it appears to have worked!’

  13. @Boris Tabaksplatt

    Interesting idea about the copilot. May explain why his phone logged on. But there is no way he could have done this by himself (ie still no trace of the fuselage at 4+ years).

    Multiple articles on MH370 in the press here (Australia) but really a written version of the 60 Minutes report. One is written by Larry Vance.

    Article today about a whole lot of 1MDB documents being seized by police post Malaysian election.

    https://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/police-raid-apartment-linked-to-former-pm-najib-in-search-of-stolen-documents/news-story/fc48f60aa5dc4432fdc5a63f159409d2

    Behind a paywall I’m afraid

  14. @ Scott O.

    “We want things to be black and white, simple and carved into neat little pieces by Occam’s Razor. But it seems that geopolitical machinations in Russia and the its Soviet-era colonies are not at all that easily reduced to good and evil or even us and them.”

    Yes – well put!

    @all

    On a slightly separate but related note, I wonder how straightforward it would be for the relevant ‘northern arc’ militaries to be given advanced notice of a clandestine “Russian” flight northwards?

    (Sorry I am just writing this off the bat so apologies if I make any erroneous assumptions…)

    Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia would be the hardest ones to negotiate imho. Due to physical and political distance, as well as the blindingly obvious fact that a Malaysian airliner has disappeared around the same time, alarm bells would be set off.

    But beyond that: India (and Pakistan?), Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan…

    The thing is, I can see the militaries of these countries providing clearance to the Russians with minimal ‘vetting.’ Surely there’s implicit acceptance amongst most militaries that clandestine activities (aerial or territorial) are part-and-parcel of their modus operandi. As long as the activity isn’t a threat to that particular country, why would they be bothered? And note that the above countries are either allies of Russia or at the very least, remain oblivious to it.

    In other words, the Indians or anyone else on the Northern Arc ain’t gonna suddenly come out with “oh yeah, and on 8th March 2014 around the same time MH370 went missing we gave clearance to a anonymous Russian military flight coming outta the SIO…”

  15. @Sajid UK, Of course Russia would not give advance warning that it would be bringing a plane through these countries’ airspace. As I’ve written previously, there is no reason to believe that India or China would have primary radar surveillance of these areas in the middle of the night. The ‘stans, of course, are former parts of the Soviet Union and close Russian allies. We can’t be 100 percent sure; but Russia would certainly know whose radar was operating when, and where.

  16. @Jeff: This reminds me of when Mathias Rust flew a light aircraft to Red Square. It pointed out to the world what the US military already knew: there’s lots of holes in the border airspace, especially at night.

  17. @Victor

    I’m sorry you feel that way about it. But why keep picking on Ge Rijn? Unlike me, he is completely harmless.
    I am not an asshole BTW, I am merely trying to help the cause and find the plane. You can sensor me if you like, but you will not be doing the cause any favours.

    It’s easier I suppose to spend your time in showing how brilliant you all are as you argue the ins and outs of a monkey’s armpit, not to mention the completely irrelevant civilian radar data, but it won’t do anything for the task at hand, it is only playing into the hands of the Malaysians and letting them expedite the imminent publication of their final report

  18. @Jeff

    I do see your point and you may very well be correct. But I also see why it may be sensible for these countries to publically downplay their surveillance capabilities, especially at night.

    And ultimately, how would a group of Russian hijackers know for certain the intricate details of the radars of 8+ countries, countries as vast as India where there are most likely multiple such radar surveillance sites operating more or less autonomously from one another?

    Not to mention sites that may not even be public knowledge.

    I cannot claim to know how militaries work, nor am I questioning your assertion which may very well be the right one, but I also feel high-level military clearance would simplify things. Luckily for Russia, the countries in the Northern Arc are not ones that would likely cause an obstruction nor ask too many questions.

    @all

    as regards ’60 Minutes,’ what Jeff has touched upon in the past comes to mind:

    ‘Suicide and flying until a piloted glide at the end is counterintuitive.’

    In fact its totally f**kin illogical!

    The autopilot suicide scenario (unpiloted) does in theory make sense to me (whether or not the evidence supports it is another matter).

    (Apologies if I’m bringing up old shit, I only mention it in relation to what I saw on ’60 Minutes’)

  19. @Sajid UK, It would be a trifle for any decent Air Force to map out active primary radar installations anywhere they wanted to; it’s like picking out the lighthouses along a coast.

  20. The latest AU60 minutes story quickly wound up the social media twits.

    With brain power and stamina of the energizer bunny, they are continually beating the stupid drum… you know what “they say”…..

    you can’t fix stupid.

  21. The point I have been hammering gets lost in translation.

    An opinion is an estimation not necessarily based on fact.
    A fact is indisputable.

    It is indisputable Captain Zaharie was the pilot of MH370 when it left Kaula Lumpur. It is indisputable data was recovered from his simulator.

    It is disputable Captain Zaharie was the villian because he was the pilot. It is indisputable that his stellar background produced nothing to incriminate him.

    It is indisputable, data was siezed from Captain Zaharie’s simulator.
    The provenance of the simulator data is disputable.
    Multiple interpretations of the sim data with conflicting results are disputable .

  22. I guess you guys can finally all go home now. Because apparently in the last 24 hours according to this article “experts are finally convinced they know exactly what happened to MH370”. This is via Yahoo UK. Of course not one bit of anything new is put forth in the article.(apologies if this has been already posted) but…https://www.fliegerfaust.com/mh370-search-2568824489.html

  23. @Susie Crowe:
    “The latest AU60 minutes story quickly wound up the social media twits.

    With brain power and stamina of the energizer bunny, they are continually beating the stupid drum… you know what “they say”…..

    you can’t fix stupid.”

    Not stupid social media users, just the Britus Intel troll and AI Bot farms at Hermitage and Langley kicking in to support the latest disinformation meme. Now that their carefully constructed cover operation is starting to look a bit ragged, expect some more surprising disinfo very soon!

  24. @BobC
    This article is essentially a rehash of the 60 minutes documentary aired in Australia a few days ago.

  25. In the USA, the 60 Minutes Aussie (not shown here) but the conclusions were quite widely covered as “we now know the apparent cause”.

    So I’d say the show made an “impact”. I’ll leave it there for now.

  26. Another perspective of the @TBill mentioned “impact”.

    “Articles about the programme are trumpeting the fact that “aviation experts” have changed their views on what happened to MH370 and the “mystery” about what happened has now been resolved.

    Nothing could be further from the truth.”

    “I, for one, am not comfortable to fly long haul flights knowing that there is an, as yet, unexplained set of circumstances that led to the loss of an airliner full of people.

    And “the pilot did it deliberately” is not a comforting or reasoned answer.

    It is a lazy, ill-advised and insulting cop-out without – as yet – any concrete evidence to support it.”

    http://flightlevel42.co.za/blogs.html#60_Minutes:_How_to_create_your_own_facts_before_the_real_ones_are_at_hand

  27. An aside of AU60 Minutes story

    To conjecture position of an official duty within the investigtion is unethical.
    Using the inference to help validate his opinion is sleazy.

    Mr. Larry Vance has no official authority in the investigation of MH370, yet for years, he has publicly appeared as an expert and published a book about it.

    Business must not be very lucrative as an “independent air crash investigator” if he has to capitalize on investigations that do not include him.

  28. @Susie Crowe, Couldn’t agree more. What’s especially frustrating for me is that I’d been in contact with 60 Minutes Australia, they came to my house last year to interview me, I told them all about the case, and made it clear to them that Larry Vance was not a credible source. All to no avail.

    My overall impression is that this story got a lot more play than it should have organically, on its own merits. I think there’s a push now to say, in effect, “Well, we didn’t find the plane, but it doesn’t matter, because we know what happened based on other evidence.” This is a version btw of what Australia said after the end of the 120,000 sq km search–“we’re more confident than ever of the plane’s final trajectory, pity we can’t go search there, oh well.”

  29. @Jeff Wise. With all due respect, your theory is not shared by any of the key players associated with the search, and your omission from the show, and any mention of a “Northerly” explanation of the disappearance, should probably give you cause to re-evaluate your position. Despite what you may think of Larry Vance, he WAS included in the show (along with others) and is seen as credible, whereas you (and your theory) apparently are not. Otherwise you (or someone else with the same notion) surely would have been included in the show since it is in such sharp contrast to what the key players think. Or, do we all really think this is some sort of grand conspiracy too keep the “real” truth from coming out? Come on. Are all the people on the show “not credible” since they all have basically the same theory.

    Again, just because they have not found the plane in the SIO YET, does not mean it isn’t there. The idea that the “pilot did it” is not a lazy cop-out; it happens to be the most likely conclusion based on evidence and reason.

    He crashed it down there in the SIO for a reason. So it would be hard (or impossible) to find. He was right.

  30. @CliffG, Thanks for the link — not clear if he’s talking about me specifically, but ugh, what a despicable human being. Sanctimonious bleating about hurting the feelings of the next-of-kin is a sure sign of a scoundrel.

  31. @Susie Crowe

    “Najib’s demise lends credibility to opinion MH370 was orchestrated to facilitate his destruction” (from an earlier post).

    Taking a 180 degree view of the data set rather than the wildly popular “Captain did it” scenario what’s the possibility Zaherie was rostered onto MH370 at the last minute as a way of “dealing with” a known and active supporter of the recently released Anwar Ibrahim?

  32. @SteveBarratt:
    “…Zaherie was rostered onto MH370 at the last minute as a way of “dealing with” a known and active supporter of the recently released Anwar Ibrahim?”

    Nice bit of lateral thinking Steve, but the thing that bothers me about this is why would they have allowed Fariq Abdul Hamid, the son of a very high level Malaysian government minister, to be involved in the mess and possibly be accused of pilot murder/suicide. After all he fits the profile of a terrorist far better than Shah does.

    Unless, of course, he was the real target for those wanting to blackmail or do other damage to the powers that be in Malaysia? Perhaps this could the reason for the 1MDB fund swindle. As always, follow the money.

  33. @SteveBarratt
    My feeling is Najib, notwithstanding other weaknesses, handled MH370 as best he could. As far as I know, he never blamed the opposition for MH370. The reason for this was probably not to alienate those Malaysians. The opposition was still intensely angry with Najib for saying apparent intentional diversion, because that could possibly imply an domestic dissident pilot.

    Now we have that the “opposition” has unexpectedly taken power, which I celebrate as freedom of elections. My gut feeling is MH370 did not factor much in to that election.

    But I am worried now that the opposition will trash the existing MH370 final report and go with some wild explanation that they like better. But I hope cooler heads prevail and they do not obfuscate. If they do misbehave, then that is interesting however, maybe USA tells what it knows in that case, if the US feels a misdirection is being attempted.

    Interesting times.

  34. There’s a lovely little transcript in this article which, quite politely, seems to suggest that – brace yourselves – Larry may be at least partially speaking out his er… behind? 😉

    https://www.fastcompany.com/40572194/mh370-heres-the-key-exchange-that-suggests-the-mystery-still-isnt-solved

    Martin Dolan, another airline expert who aided in the flight’s investigation and appeared on this same episode, wasn’t so sure. He admitted that there are “two viable theories”–one that the pilot was in control of the plane until it crashed, the other that he was not. The current investigation into the whereabouts of the plane is focused on the latter idea. But Vance questions this operating theory, to which Dolan asked for evidence.

    Here’s a transcript of the section:

    VANCE: I think that most people will agree that the flaps were down–not only were they down, they were fully extended.

    DOLAN: All we’re saying, Larry, is that the evidence is not yet sufficient to draw as firm a conclusion as you appear to have done.

    VANCE: My intention is–the [investigation] starting point … is not supported by the evidence.

    DOLAN: So which parts of the evidence are not correct?

    VANCE: The fact that the airplane ran out of fuel. It did not run out of fuel. The fact that the…

    DOLAN: So your evidence for that is?

    VANCE: The fact that the flaps were down and it conducted a controlled…

    DOLAN: The speculation that the flaps may have been down.

  35. @Jeff Wise:

    Sorry, I clicked on the wrong tab in my browser. Please ‘trash’ this comment as you did with the others.

  36. @Jeff Wise: To avoid similar mishaps in future, please take me off your list of subscribers.

  37. @Boris Tabaksplatt & @TBill

    Thanx for your comments. Yes interesting times.

    @Gysbreght

    Please don’t, your comments about Martin Dolan are appreciated.

  38. If
    *Captain Zaharie recently bought a life insurance policy.
    *His financials revealed unusual withdrawals, deposits.
    *There was history of a gambling, achohol or drug problem.
    *His employment history showed prior misconduct issues or erratic behavior.
    *Any of his children had legal, criminal or health issues.
    *His wife had an affair.
    *He had a life threatening illness or received psychiatric care.

    Any one of these red flags would substantiate motive, case closed, but none are true.
    As a result, the theories of Captain Zaharie’s guilt
    lack plausible motive (cause, reason, intention, purpose).

    To continue pumping out the guilty pilot scenarios without acknowledging it
    as incrimination without motive, is bizarre.

    Some theories describe elaborate planning, or a nonchalant flight of murder, all from a man with no motive.

    Created motive by falsely portraying a bad marriage or radically violent political agenda, is not motive.

    When looking at the bigger picture, it is worth considering his political affiliation and value of a pilot, as an asset (willing or not).

  39. Thanks Gysbreght for posting Suzie’s link to the short article – it is very telling…

    ’60 Minutes: How to create your own facts before the real ones are at hand’

    Link…
    http://flightlevel42.co.za/blogs.html#60_Minutes:_How_to_create_your_own_facts_before_the_real_ones_are_at_hand

    The link shows just how easy those who do not employ a basic level of critical thinking to have their opinions manipulated by the media. I’m an inveterate ‘news freak’ and have always found that very few articles are without spin/propaganda. After a while you develop a nose for spotting the crap.

  40. @Jeff Wise, CliffG,

    Setting aside the laboriously articulated swipe, I found the footage from 4:00 on to about 4:20 so astonishing as to be hilarious–the sanctimonious head nodding around the idea of the media inviting someone onto the air with an opposing point of view! How utterly irresponsible! how utterly disapproving of the Orthodoxy. So much better to shrug your hunched, blue-blazered shoulders to the NOK than look for the truth… I felt like I was watching a black and white newsreel on the dangers of rock and roll or long hair. Every one of them should be ashamed for being so closed minded.

  41. It is statements like this that frustrate me more than anything.

    He said the event was not caused by a defect in the aeroplane, or by some unknown intervention.
    “We know that the pilot took it, and we know how he took it, and we know where he took it, and we know it was all deliberate and well planned,” Vance said.

    There is no proof, there is no motive, there is NOTHING that supports that Shah was responsible.
    If I were a member of Shahs family, I would be filing a lawsuit for defamation.

    IF, and that’s a big if, Shah did want to make MH370 disappear, killing all on board, there was no guarantee that this so called well thought out plan, would get the desired outcome.
    And IF, Shah managed to control ditch the plane, what then, he just sat there and waited to drown?

    What a load of BS.

    http://www.news.com.au/travel/travel-updates/incidents/aviation-experts-believe-current-search-is-nowhere-near-wreckage-as-crew-doesnt-rule-out-new-hunt/news-story/7b5e86994ee03182f20d70c90e544fd8

  42. @ABN397, What a delightful headline: “Malaysia’s Najib Razak has home searched by police”!

    Cheering to know that eventually the wheel does turn.

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