What Sort of Person Was MH370’s Captain?

After nearly five years of investigation, it has long since become glaringly obvious that if MH370 did fly south into the southern Indian Ocean, as the Inmarsat data and recovered debris suggest, then the perpetrator was almost certainly the plane’s captain, Zaharie Ahmad Shah.

But Shah’s character poses a riddle. As I wrote in a post last year,

In the months after the disappearance of MH370, Malaysian police searched for any clues that might suggest that the plane’s captain, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, was the culprit. This would have been the simplest explanation for why the Boeing 777 suddenly went electronically dark and pulled a U-turn forty minutes into its flight, and scarcely a minute after Shah’s voice was heard over the radio calmly telling air traffic controllers “Good night, Malaysia 370.” But to their chagrin, the evidence was slim. Zaharie had left no note. His family and friends had noticed no sign of mental disturbance. There was no evidence of political or religious extremism or of marital discord. He was under no financial pressure. He just didn’t fit the profile of someone who would kill hundreds of innocent people and take his own life in the process.

The suicidal pilot who brought down Germanwings 2925 (covered in my Kindle Single “Fatal Descent”) had a long psychiatric history and left numerous clues in his browser history. In contrast Shah seems to have been a boringly stable personality. Two of the leaked Royal Malaysian Police Reports contain detailed information about him. “Folder 1: Pilot” includes documentation of his work history, an assessment by a psychologist, and raw data pulled from his flight simulator. “Folder 4: SKMM Analysis” looks at his internet and cell phone use, as well as that of other crew members. The totality of all evidence left investigators with the impression that:

“The PIC’s ability to handle stress at work and home was reported to be good. There was no known history of apathy, anxiety, or irritability. There were no significant changes in his lifestyle, interpersonal conflict or family stresses… there were no behavioural signs of social isolation, change in habits or interest, self-neglect, drug or alcohol abuse…” (Safety Investigation Report, 1.5.11-1.5.12)

However, a recent  article in the UK’s The Sun suggested that, based on Shah’s Facebook activity reported in Folder 4, the MH370 captain was “self-destructive” and “should have been fired.” The main focus of the article is the 97 responses he reportedly posted to Facebook postings by minor-league Malaysian models, which prove (the article alleges) that Shah was a googly-eyed pervert.

This claim struck me as eminently worth investigating. In modern life one’s computer is practically a part of one’s brain; what one browses, emails and texts about is virtually a life cast of one’s personality and interests. If Shah was deranged, it would certainly show up in the tracings of his internet use.

According to Folder 4, Zaharie’s favorite site to comment on was one of two Facebook accounts maintained by model QiMin Lan. I scrolled through her feed and found that the pictures she posted to be chaste. They are mostly head shots; where her full body is shown, she’s fully clad.

She posted about 50 times a month, so over 100 posts from the beginning of 2014 until Zaharie’s disappearance. In that time I was only able to find a single comment from Zaharie:

He wrote:

Two months earlier he had posted the same comment…

Before that…

I don’t know what “chomel u!” means.

And that’s all I was able to find, going back to November 1, 2013. Far from a pestering nuisance, he seems to have commented rather sparingly, and his comments were benign (at least as far as I could understand them).

Now, the Star reports that one of his comments was “just showered?”, which does have a rather leering tone to it. But I wasn’t able to find that particular post. It’s hard to judge out of context, and the article provides none.

I’d be curious to know if any readers have better luck than me in tracking down Shah’s comments. The URLs, and thumbnails of the pictures he commented on, can be found on pages 9-41 of Appendix A-3 of Folder 4 (pages 60- 92 of the pdf linked above).

55 thoughts on “What Sort of Person Was MH370’s Captain?”

  1. @ Jeff Wise
    the kind of behaviour supposedly exhibited by ZS would be described as ‘predatory’ by some living in the West where currently the MeToo movement is toppling all kinds of celebrity figures.
    But in an Asian society where partriarchy is still the norm, this sort of behaviour wouldn’t be considered of any significance in contributing to alter the mental state of ZS to the extent that he would kill himself and planeload of fellow passengers.
    This would likely be considered the symptom of a minor midlife malaise in a 50 yr old man who is enjoying a successful but boring career.

  2. @Will, I certainly wouldn’t put any faith in The Sun per se, but just because they publish something doesn’t mean its false. I think the question bears looking at: is there anything in Zaharie’s social media use, or indeed in any of his electronically-recorded behavior, that suggests anything out of the ordinary?

    @CliffG, What in his behavior would you describe as “predatory”? If The Sun’s report is accurate, sure, he seems a little skeevy, but all I’ve been able to find is three innocuous comments in three months.

  3. @Jeff,

    No, of course – clearly, you’ve already found comments very much like the ones they describe. But – as I believe you’ve sort of concluded – they don’t really add up to very much as a whole.

    The Sun is particularly good at hyperbole, and finding ‘sensational news’ where there really is just a few arbitrary facts.

  4. Nice article Jeff. Looking closer into Z certainly warrants more attention.

    Combine what we know of him through his Facebook posts you’ve highlighted along with the political posts, his knowledge, intelligence and experience, the sim evidence, Tim Pardi and more intriguingly, his ongoing calls with an MAS engineer and well, its hard not to see Z as a red hot suspect.

  5. @Peter Newton

    Hi Peter, the following post is for you. I think you will know who “those” are that I am referring to below. Keep up the good work. I have been banned from the other site, for not towing the party line. You will have noted how they close ranks when their beliefs and assumptions are challenged. All groups sharing a common interest tend to behave in the same way. Please be careful.

    A very Merry Christmas to you all

    Those who assert that MH370 would have had insufficient fuel to be able to reach S38, if flying a great circle path duly constrained by the BTO data and atmospheric data, are at best, being economical with the truth and at worst, inadvertently endangering prospects for a successful search outcome at some time in the future.

    No1: Dr Bobby Ulich’s fuel model shows that if the aircraft had cruised at 40,000ft at constant Mach 0.82, from 1829 onwards, it would have had both the range and endurance to reach S38 in the required time. Specifically, the model suggests it could have travelled 2,795nm between 1829 and MEFE at 0019, when taking the wind field and air temperatures into account.

    No2: My own calculations suggest that if the aircraft had begun a gradual climb to 40,000ft by 1829 (ie directly after completing the offset manoeuver) and at the same had begun reducing speed to M0.82, and had initiated the FMT manoeuvre by 1835.75, and then continued southwards on a great circle path at a constant M0.82 at 40,000ft, toward custom waypoint S41 E88, it could have reached S37.60 E88.66 at MEFE, and fully satisfied the constraints set by the BTO and the wind field and the varying upper air temperatures encountered along the route.

    For your information, I find that between FMT and MEFE the wind field results in a time-averaged headwind of +2.2Kts, in close agreement with Dr Bobby, and my average value for Mach 1 is 588kts, comparable with Dr Bobby’s value of 587kts.

    Now if as appears to be the case, the pilot’s intention was to make the plane disappear without trace, then one might consider it logical to assume that the pilot was planning to fly into a remote part of the Southern Indian Ocean, ie fly as far south as the fuel would take him, flying under cover of darkness until a few minutes before fuel exhaustion, at which time he would be needing sufficient daylight in order to be able to steer away from any local shipping, and be able to set up the final impact conditions so as to make sure the aircraft sinks rapidly at the same time, leaving behind the minimum of floating debris.

    So it can be no coincidence that the great circle path toward custom waypoint S41 E88, arrives at fuel exhaustion at a place where the the Sun is some 4 degrees above the horizon, as viewed from sea level.

    And synchronizing fuel exhaustion with sunrise is certainly no simple task. Careful planning is essential. If one miscalculates, one can either end up flying the final hour or so in full daylight and risk being seen from below or one can run out of fuel in total darkness – neither outcome desirable to a pilot who wanted to minimise the risk of being spotted from below but needed just sufficient daylight in the terminal area to permit a visually controlled descent and impact with the water Only by flying a great circle path toward a pre-chosen custom waypoint inserted in the FMC, does a pilot have both the necessary degree of flexibility and precision needed for synchronizing fuel exhaustion with sun elevation. Firstly, one has to estimate both the time of fuel exhaustion and the approximate distance the aircraft could be expected to cover after making a final turn south that gives the Banda Aceh Peninsula sufficient clearance. One then has to identify the area in the Southern Indian Ocean where the Sun would be at the desired elevation at fuel exhaustion, and finally one would need to select a suitable latitude/longitude combination that will serve as a custom waypoint positioned comfortably beyond the estimated fuel range. It turned out that on the night in question, fuel exhaustion occurred some 206nm short of the waypoint.

    On March 7th, the southward flight path ran almost exactly parallel to the advancing sunrise line, permitting the aircraft to fly under cover of darkness until about 30 minutes before fuel exhaustion. A flight path which runs roughly parallel to the advancing sunrise terminator line makes it much easier to accurately synchronize fuel exhaustion with sun angle. Calculating the desired position at fuel exhaustion has to take into account both the annual variation in the angle that the sunrise line or terminator makes to the meridian line, and daily journey of the sunrise line around the Earth. Consequently, for MH370 there were only two relatively brief periods in the year when the local lighting conditions at fuel exhaustion were acceptable. These two periods were the first two weeks of March, and the first two weeks of October.

    The flight-path in detail:

    Malaysian primary radar tracked the aircraft following air route N571 until it flew out of range at 1822. Analysis of the BTO and BFO data recorded at 1825 and 1828 ie during the 1st logon request, suggests that the aircraft was most likely in the process of making a 15nm right offset manoeuver. On completion of this manoeuver, the aircraft would have been flying parallel to N571, on a path 15nm offset to the north. The offset manoeuver may have been carried out in order to avoid any potential opposing traffic between 1822 and the FMT, or to avoid getting in the way of flight UAE343. The pilot wouldn’t have known exactly how far behind him UAE343 was at this time, and as he was about to reach one of the crucial points in the flight where he was planning to slow down to optimal long range cruising speed and execute the FMT, he would have wanted to avoid any possibility of UAE343 coming into close proximity during this period.

    At 1829 (N07.17 E95.70) the pilot had reduced his airspeed to M0.82 and begun a gradual climb from FL350 to FL400. The climb to final cruising altitude FL400 was completed by about 1844. The aircraft then maintained a constant Mach 0.82 cruise at FL400 until main engine fuel exhaustion (MEFE).

    The aircraft continued on the 15nm route offset from N571 until 1835.75, at which point the aircraft began the turn south toward custom waypoint S41.00 E88.00. The pilot evidently practiced a similar manoeuver on his personal simulator, on 2nd February.

    The pilot had continued on the 15nm offset until it was time to make the FMT. This manoeuver was initiated 1 minute after crossing the E95 meridian, a timing which the pilot had ascertained beforehand would produce a flight path which sufficiently cleared Banda Aceh, as it proceeded south. Consequently, the FMT was initiated at the point (N7.579 E94.865) when the aircraft was about 22.5nm away from reaching a position directly abeam of waypoint IGOGU. The turn was made at a bank angle of 20 degree (ie similar to the turn practiced on the simulator) turning through 109.30deg in 2.25 minutes. Airspeed at this point was 487Kts, neglecting wind, Initial bearing 296 degrees, final bearing 186.692 deg. At 1840 the climb to FL400 was in its final stages – the BFO values recorded at 1840 when MAS made their 1st telephone call to the cockpit, fit in satisfactorily with a climb rate of 300fpm.

    The distance covered between 1829 (N07.17 E95.70) and the 2nd arc crossing at 1941 works out at 584.81nm and the average air speed works out at M0.822, assuming an average tailwind of 1.5Kts and average Mach 1 of 591Kts for the leg. The 2nd arc was crossed (grazed) at S1.0333, E93.65.

    The total distance covered between 1829 and MEFE at 0017.50 was 2791nm. By way of comparison, if the aircraft had flown from 1829 to MEFE entirely at FL400, at Mach 0.82, I estimate that fuel exhaustion would have occurred one minute later at 0018.50. The proposed path accords satisfactorily with Dr Bobby’s fuel model.

    At fuel exhaustion, the aircraft had reached S37.60 E88.66. A nominal, 16:1 ratio glide starting at say, 38,000ft would terminate at about S39.20, E88.36, or about 97nm downrange of MEFE when factoring in an estimated 7nm reduction in the still air gliding range due to headwinds. A convenient way of defining the search area would be to trace out a circle of 20nm radius, centered on S39.20 E88.36. This circle has an area of approximately 4,300sq km, and is contiguous with the southern boundary of the ATSB Indicative Search Area, and is large enough to include all potential glide ratios between 13:1 and 20:1. This area could be searched in no more than 5 days, using multiple AUVs like the ones operated by Ocean Infinity. So what’s the problem? What would there be to loose in doing so?

    In the following section, the flight path between the 2nd and 6th arcs, ie between 1941 and 0011, is divided into the individual legs as defined by ping arc crossing times and crossing locations. It illustrates how the aircraft maintained a constant M0.82 airspeed on the route south, despite encountering varying headwinds and upper air temperatures along the way; which could only have be achieved if the pilot had commanded the autopilot to fly a constant M0.82 at FL400.

    2nd to 3rd arc: 485.73nm, 485.73Kts ave GS, 1.6Kts ave TW, TAS484.13Kts = M0.82 (Mach1 ave 590Kts, ) 3rd arc crossing S09.105, E92.71

    3rd to 4th arc: 492.13nm, 489.11Kts ave GS, 4.6Kts ave TW, TAS484.51Kts = M0.821 (M1 ave 590Kts) 4th arc crossing S17.28, E91.71.

    4th arc to 5th arc: 483.43nm, 484.08Kts ave GS, Zero ave wind, TAS484.08Kts= M0.82 (Mach1 ave 590Kts) 5th arc crossing S25.29, E90.64.

    5th arc to 6th arc: 697.18nm, 466.70Kts ave GS, 13.5Kts ave HW, TAS480.20Kts= M0.82. (Mach1 ave 586Kts) 6th arc crossing S36.82, E88.803.

    6th arc to 7th arc: 61.5nm, 434Kts ave GS, 33Kts ave HW, TAS467Kts = M0.81. (Mach1 ave 577Kts). 7th arc crossing nominal S37.84, E88.62.

    The flight path parameters were determined using the “Movable Type Scripts” online Vincenty WGS84 calculator.

    The BTO values recorded by Inmarsat have been demonstrated to be sufficiently accurate for flight-path reconstruction purposes. The DSTG carried out a comprehensive analysis of BTO data recorded on 6 previous flights of aircraft 9M-MRO. The results are documented in their report Bayesian Methods, dated 3rd December 2015. For these 6 so-called validation flights, the DSTG reconstructed the flight paths from the BTO data, using Bayesian analysis, and compared these paths to the paths reconstructed from the ACARS data transmitted during the flights. The Bayesian paths were found to be within the 85% zone of the peak of the Posterior Density Functions (PDF’s) on each occasion.

  6. @Rob
    Seasons Greetings to you. What is your explanation for the final BFO’s showing a apparent steep descent at the end? Why didn’t the IFE logon during the glide as per the 1825 logon? About what time does the aircraft strike the water surface?

  7. @Gysbreght

    Agreed – what has been presented here doesn’t seem to provide an adequate motive . Also no evidence he was able to reboot an SDU. Unless he was part of a team. But then Captain Zaharie is no longer the prime suspect.

    The biggest problem with the Captain Zaharie hypothesis is that a lot of the ‘evidence’ points in that direction.


    Merry Christmas to you. Thanks for your contributions.

  8. @TBill

    BFO descent rates – The $64,000 question. Either they show the plane in a piloted, unpowered descent exchanging height for speed:~70% chance (most probably intentionally), or they are spurious:~30% chance, or they show the plane in an uncontrolled, unpiloted descent:No Chance.

    These two things at least are certain, imho: 1) The plane flew south under pilot control toward a custom waypoint, and crossed the 7th arc near latitude S38. 2)The plane ended up beyond the southern boundary of the ATSB search area, ie.it did not come down inside the search area, and avoided detection.

    No IFE logon – Not such a showstopper. Several possibilities. Could possibly be an SDU software thing – the first logon followed a 1 hour power interrupt, and the IFA switch was probably selected on at the time to let the pilot to see if anything was going on the other side of the cockpit door (The video camera is powered through the IFA switch as well). The second logon followed a much shorter interrupt – no more than 2 minutes, and the IFE was most likely selected off at the time. Or possibly the preoccupied, stressed out pilot noticed the SDU had come back up, and he isolated the AC bus to kill it.

    Glide time not recorded, but most probably between 18 and 25 minutes. Indications are plane ran out of fuel at 0017.50.

  9. @Rob
    OK thank you.
    But why would the pilot want to exchange height for speed (per my list below):

    Is your pin the same as Capt. Hardy’s pin? Obviously we have a lot of 38 South supporters, but I am unlcear about exactly where all their pins are.

    I feel like there could be merit, assuming we every see another MH370 sea bottom search, to a phase where they jump around to various hot spots rather than tunnel vision approach, but I can support starting out with 20-25 South +-22 nm even though I am becoming more receptive to a “gliding” end away from Arc7.

  10. @TBill

    No, my area is a number of miles east of Simon’s. I never was much impressed by his theory. As I remember, his is a reverse-engineered path, a constant 186° track after passing ANOKO, and had to be at a constant groundspeed equivalent to M0.84 (which raised my eyebrows). I couldn’t (and still can’t) see how it could possibly work. Incidentally,he would have nowhere near enough fuel at that speed, and more importantly, it doesn’t fit the BTO at arcs 2,3 & 4. And why choose constant track, when you can have great circle?

    I can’t see the pilot wanting to aim for any particular seabed trough or hole. Honestly, what would be the practical gain? Once you’re under the waves, you’re under the waves in the Southern Indian Ocean. There’s a lot of ocean out there. If nobody saw where you went down, ending up in a trench isn’t going to make it any harder to find you. Unless you are unlucky enough to leave a large debris patch that by chance gets spotted from the air, you’re going to remain hidden whether you finished up 1,000ft down or 20,000ft down. And it would be very difficult to synchronize fuel exhaustion with arrival over any pre-chosen dip in the seabed, without wasting fuel in the process. This guy flew until all the fuel had been burned. He wasn’t aiming for any particular seabed feature.

    Possible reasons for exchanging height for speed? One reason might be to get below the Jetstream? If you’re drifting down sedately engineless from 40,000ft and you find yourself nosing into an appreciable headwind, you might say to yourself, “gosh, this is going too slow!,my groundspeed is being eroded, perhaps better to take the reins and dive down and come back up where conditions are a little more favourable, and then get myself established in a minimum drag glide at a lower altitude, but a lot further downrange.

    I think that the pilot’s main goal was to get as far south as possible, which meant 1)choosing a fuel
    efficient speed/altitude combination, 2)after fuel exhaustion,gliding as far as possible downrange on the same heading. He was working on the simple view that the further south he finished up, the less likely any debris would wash up on a beach somewhere. He was an expert aviator, but you couldn’t expect him to be an expert oceanographer too. He wasn’t in the same league as David Griffin or Richard Godfrey. Above all else, he wanted to disappear totally without trace.

  11. @Rob
    Yes I agree managing the stiff winds at the higher altitudes is a possible reason to descend.

    As far as overall strategy for the rogue flight, assuming active piloting, that’s the $64000 question. We just do not know. I wonder if someone like FBI that could help us prioritize possible rogue strategies.

    My argument is that there is only one flight path we *might* know something about, and that is the pilot’s computer path on the flight simulator. My interpretation is more literal than past studies- what I am saying is the “exact” same flight path of the computer (after about BEBIM), so crossing Arc7 at about 30S.

    I also feel deep sea Broken Ridge was the possible strategy (in contrast to your hypothesis). But who knows? of course is the proviso.

  12. @Rob, Your research seems remarkably thorough, but I’m wondering if you happened to overlay it with known drift analysis. Four years of back and forth fuzzes the memory, but I seem to recall that the farther south and east one puts the crash, the less likely it is for debris to move west to the south of Africa, Mozambique, Reunion, etc., and the more likely it is to move east toward Australia or to slip into a gyre. If that’s true, how would you reconcile the discrepancy?

  13. @Jeff, regarding your article:

    I don’t see any connection between
    -finding young women attractive
    -and killing 230 people.

    If I may venture a guess, I’m sure more than half of middle-aged men like attractive young women.

  14. @Dravello, I agree with you. Some will read sinister intent into anything that Zaharie has done, on the assumption that he must have done it, but there’s nothing here (with the arguable exception of the flight simulator) that would give one pause if any other commercial pilot did it.

    Someone once quipped that an airliner is a million parts flying in close formation, and I think that something similar can be said of MH370: it’s a number of mysteries flying in close formation. One of them is the character of the captain.

  15. @all

    Reading through the comments on the last article, “French MH370 Investigators Eye “Spoof” Scenario, another thought crossed my mind…

    What if the whole value of the disappearance lay in the very disappearance itself…?

    This has been touched on in the past especially by those suggesting the Russians sending a message to the West.

    But what, if… in actual fact… the answer lay within in a nation’s security services, or a faction thereof, or even a non-state even non-aligned ‘renegade’ outfit?

    Just for one second, entertain the idea that all this may have been the action of a group of technically-savvy mercenaries with a very practical real-world objective – making shitloads of money from their escapade! Then things start to make a little more sense…

    Delving deeper with this line of reasoning, I came up in my mind with a set of reasons why such a group would decide to hijack an aircraft in this way:

    1. To develop a weapon or technology or hack that could damage the reputation of the United States by targeting its ‘iconic’ aircraft manufacturer – Boeing

    2. To ensure this weapon had the potential to instil fear and doubt into the minds of all international air travellers but especially those travelling on Boeings, the explicit aim being to damage Boeing’s reputation beyond repair

    3. To send a ‘soft’ warning to the American military/Homeland Security as to their capabilities but more importantly ‘a loud advertisement’ for any prospective clients

    4. To demonstrate the potential of this ‘weapon’ by testing it on a real-world live target

    5. To enhance the aura of the weapon and the shadowy mercenary group itself by ensuring the mystery becomes (in Jeff’s words) ‘an international obsession.’

    6. All of the above done with the ultimate aim of creating an expensive bargaining chip to approach interested parties and clients (alphabet agencies, nation-states, non-state actors, or even terrorist outfits) – the pay-off being in the form of lucrative funding, future contracts or even emormous financial rewards

    “The flight happened to have a majority of Chinese passengers aboard, or that some of them worked for a US software company was irrelevant; MH370 was targeted because it could be disappeared in a way that would become a global obsession” (Jeff Wise)

    Based on my ‘mercenary hypothesis,’ I’d surmise that the perpetrators would’ve exhaustively studied different international Boeing flights and air routes and settled on MH370 after careful consideration. In other words it was the most suitable flight for such a ‘demonstration,’ many of the reasons having alraedy been discussed: known dodgy satellite, minimal airport security, lax radar surveillance, Malaysian state corruption, proximity of Thailand (known haven for arms dealers) among others…

    “I believe it IS logical for a heist this complicated, this big to be pulled off, and for the actors still to remain anonymous while simultaneously sending a message. That message may not be for the general public, but nonetheless a message” (Me Ja Yung)

    The ‘hidden’ message may have been to all prospective clients and customers – as already said above, international alphabet agencies, defence agencies, and militaries. As the compromised aircraft was American, the likeliest ones to be interested would’ve had an anti-American slant: Russians, Chinese, North Koreans, certain Islamist groups and so on.

    And the weapon itself? I’m not very knowledgeable in these matters so won’t offer elaborate explanations. But to address this question we need to revisit our current understanding about how such a hijacking would’ve unfolded…

    ‘[It] would have needed to be undertaken quickly, with little margin. The (perp) would have needed to walk up, unfurl, and enter the E/E bay without being noticed… turn, depressurize, climb a loaded aircraft to hypoxic conditions without stalling (a.k.a, slowly), and dispatch the pilots and any flight attendants or passengers in the way… When you add this up, you have a VERY high risk operation for a very low payoff. “ (Ben S)

    But what if this new technology or weapon somehow turned that last sentence totally on its head? It would indeed be a game-changer for all future airplane hijackings if one could take the risk out of an operation that until now has relied heavily upon brute force.

    My (complete layman’s) speculation: this weapon may somehow have unified the BFO spoofing AND the hacking/commandeering of the aircraft so both could’ve been done ‘at the turn of a switch…’

    Imagine the flexibility of such a weapon/technology/hack (whatever you wanna call it). Once you know longer rely on brute force suddenly all those unknown variables fade away…

    Now you find yourself in position to pluck Boeings out of the sky at will, land them wherever you wish, crash them wherever you want, disappear to wherever you want, all the while sending search parties on a wild goose chase.

    Would this have justified a real world demonstration for potential clients? Yes, most certainty, especially for a renegade group who had no other means to attract attention. And if this is really what transpired, the demonstration was clearly successful, but what happened afterwards we just don’t know…

  16. @Gysbreght

    That’s a very good question and indeed it just seems too much of a coincidence for me.

    However in terms of the ‘renegade group hypothesis’ I intentionally left it out to avoid too much unnecessary conjecture.

    I couldn’t figure out why such a group would bother targeting another Malaysian flight if they were really just targeting Boeing 777s…

    Unless of course there’s something about MAS 777s which made them more vulnerable to such hijacks

  17. @Sajid UK: “I couldn’t figure out why such a group would bother targeting another Malaysian flight”

    1MDB ?

  18. @TBill

    I don’t think the FBI are going to be of much use to us. This was a unique event with no precident. It is seen as an act of political terrorism or sabotage, intended to destabilise the Malaysian government, which is why the various authorities clammed up and tacitly shredded among themselves to keep the lid on the episode. That’s why the Aussie government refuse to release information to the press. The Australian news asked for internal SSWG memos under the freedom of information act, and the ATSB got their heavy mob lawyers to put on the frighteners. The simulator flight was a dummy obviously (to me at any rate) it wouldn’t make sense to plan a flight in that direction, and let the world know about it accidentally on purpose. It’s going to be years before the truth comes out, if indeed it ever does.
    In the meantime, I’m hoping for a nice quiet Christmas. We live in a dangerous world Bill.

    All best wishes, Rob. Tu

  19. @ Gysbreght

    Yes, I agree, 1MDB/financial corruption is another possible line of enquiry

    Also may I add, there is a Kazakhstan-Malaysia connection (Daniyar Nazarbayev) that you can easily construct an hypothesis on (rogue Kazakh government/military elements) without ever needing to resort to Russians/Putin.

    As an aside, do you know there’s an ex-pilot who claims the Malaysians were actually forewarned about losing another 777 before July 2014?

    Field McConnell, now retired, claims to have met senior Malaysian officials in April 2014 (I think…) to warn them they’d lose another 777 before July 2014…

    Apparently there is a signed affidavit floating around somewhere that attests to this meeting having taken place. From the impression I get of him, yes, he comes up with some crazy theories (9/11 stuff) but that doesn’t mean everything else he claims is false.

    At any rate, if he was lying, the Malaysians would’ve issued a rebuttal – they haven’t as far as I’m aware. I find it strange that his claim has never been discussed on here, not even in passing.

  20. Stepping off topic for a minute… I’m looking for some information that I can’t seem to locate anywhere. When a aircraft tries logging onto the Inmarsat network what information does it transmit?

  21. MJ: See: LOG-ON PROCEDURE in the following document: http://bit.ly/2QVBt1E

    MH370 Logon Request data (19 octets):

    18:25:27.421 1F D0 10 75 00 8F C5 D0 FC 05 82 09 00 00 00 00 00 B4 06

    00:19:29.416 1F D0 10 75 00 8F C5 D0 FC 05 82 09 00 00 00 00 00 B4 06

  22. Regarding Shah’s ‘just showered?’ Comment. I did see that posted a while back, as part of a string of responses. Does that implicate him in any way? Of course not. But it does reveal maybe a creepy side of a 50s year old man making that comment to what appears to me to look like a teenager. Definitely. Yes.

  23. Another curious-yet-almost-certainly-nonsense theory from the internet – this time from a former Fox news executive…


    Ex-Fox Exec Claims MH370 Got Hijacked by Organ Harvesters – Report

    The executive claimed that MH370 passengers became victims of an “organ transplant scheme for rich people,” and that she now intends to make a film about this tragedy, using the alleged evidence in her possession.

    Darlene Lieblich Tipton, a former Fox TV executive, has announced that she has a hard drive containing proof that Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 which went missing four years ago was actually hijacked in order to harvest the organs of the people on board, The Daily Star reports.

    According to Tipton, who reportedly lost her job at Fox for using her company email address to organize a fundraiser for relatives of MH370 passengers, the victims of this organ harvesting were all Falun Gong practitioners who had their body parts removed as “part of an ‘on demand’ organ transplant scheme for rich people.”
    “I hope that China arrests Falun Gong practitioners and stop the heinous act of using these prisoners of conscience to facilitate China’s inexcusable and horrendous practice of live organ harvesting,” Tipton claimed, adding that she now intends to make a film about this tragedy in order to expose this “barbaric practice.”

    She also said that while the hard drive in her possession allegedly contains detailed information and video footage confirming these allegations, this information apparently cannot be made public until the movie is released due to a very nasty non-disclosure agreement:, and because she doesn’t want to endanger the life of the person who “put the info” on the hard drive.

    “I can’t give any details at this time. I can say that it shows why MH370 disappeared,” Tipton explained.

  24. @airlandseaman:

    Thank you for posting the link to the AMSS document.

    Regarding the spoofing theory, the assumption has been that someone aboard the airplane modified the satellite orbit parameters in the system table maintained in the AES. I wonder if it is possible that these parameters were modified by the satellite operator in the system table broadcast by the satellite at the time of the 18:25 logon. Would there be a record of such a temporary change, reset to the original version after logon was completed?

  25. @ Dravello

    Hi Dravello

    No I haven’t really researched any of his claims, but I try to remain as ‘non-conspiracy theorist’ as possible. For example, his claims about 9/11 (inside job) are a bit ‘out there’ for me but I respect some people think otherwise.

    While I don’t want to misrepresent any of what he says (its been a while since I read/listened to his content), if I recall correctly, he claims that Boeing Uninterruptible Autopilot (BUAP) was secretly rolled out on all Boeings right after 9/11 by the Americans. It is this BUAP that makes Boeings vulnerable to hacking, as long as the hijacker knows what he’s doing of course.

    Field claims many aircraft have been compromised in this way – and links many crashes to BUAP. I just don’t buy that.

    However, more specific to MH370, as I’ve said already said he claims to have met important Malaysian officials (or senior MAS officials… don’t remember which it was…) and he flew to KL for this meeting in April 2014 (I think). He has proof in a signed affidavit where he alleges to make the claim that “another MAS 777 will be lost before July 2014.”

    I have no idea how he knew this. I haven’t seen the affidavit personally, I was gonna email him for a copy but I never got round to it in the end. But unless someone ‘debunks’ this I have no reason to doubt his claim. You can’t just make shit like this up and get away with it. MAS would’ve said otherwise a long time ago, but as far as I know they haven’t.

  26. @Sajid UK, You wrote, “You can’t just make shit like this up and get away with it.” Yes you absolutely can. MH370 coverage is absolutely awash with outrageous nonsense, and while outlets like Sputnik and The Star are happy to credulously publish this nonsense no one has any appetite to debunk it.

    The time is long past when we as rational adults can treat all claims/beliefs as equally valid. This is the Trump era: if we don’t push back against bullshit, we’ll drown in it. The earth is not flat, 9/11 was not an inside job, there was no BUAP aboard MH370. People who traffic in this sort of thing can and should be ignored.

    @Will, Case in point!

    @Bobc, I feel that it’s way too early to draw any conclusions about the “just showered?” comment, given that it was published out of context. It could be creepy or not creepy, depending on which picture it referenced and what the other commenters were saying. The reason I wrote this post was that I was hoping some readers might dig in and find more of these 90-odd comments so we could get a better sense of Shah’s overall tone.

  27. Regarding the “just shower?” comment by Shah, to the young girl in the bathrobe.I’m going to go out on a limb here and pretty much say, unequivocally that it IS creepy behavior. And there is no other context, for me at least, to see it in. Of course what does this prove in the bigger picture? Probably nothing at all.

  28. @Will
    That organ harvesting story has been out there for while, and resurfaces once in a while. Does not seem to be very convincing.

  29. Cheers Mike. I will have a read through that.

    I suppose the question I am asking is:

    “When the aircraft transmits to the GES does that information contain a time stamp created by the aircraft when sent or is the time stamp added by the GES at time of receival of the transmission”?

  30. All time stamps in the log (inbound and outbound transmissions) are referenced to the station clock at the GES. Inbound transmission time stamps are the time of reception at the GES. AES transmissions are sync’ed to the P channel clock. The AES does not transmit a time stamp per se. It is inferred by the receive time minus the propagation delay.

  31. I have had no issue with the figures produced by ISAT. I’m more intrigued by the method. I’m also intrigued why the IG has never been interested in challenging ISAT over it’s methods. Take this:


    The BFO is effectively the aircraft’s movement. If we reverse engineer the data. In other words read it backwards it seems to mimic the footprint of Mh370. I have added 2 examples. 1 is an early estimate of flight path & 2nd is the flight path as proposed by VI. Both are exact replicas of the data. VIs factors in the errors at reboot which cancel out the larger spikes.

    My theory has always been that this method of working could smooth out the initial flightpath for Mh370 giving a springboard for the latter part.

  32. I would be quick to point out my BFO suggestion makes better sense. Minus 2 at KLA & 82 at reboot. Which is ironic. Because that matches the BTO figures.

  33. MJ says: “…the IG has never been interested in challenging ISAT over it’s methods”? That statement is 100% wrong, and you know (or should know) it is 100% wrong. Why do you make up stuff like that?

    “The BFO is effectively the aircraft’s movement.” No, it is not “…the aircraft’s movement…”. The BFO is a measure of the AES carrier frequency offset from the nominal assigned FDMA channel frequency, measured at the GES demodulator. It is very sensitive to AES vertical speed. It is much less sensitive (factor of 50 or so) to the horizontal velocity (speed and direction). The observations tell us two things:
    1. MH370 ended up going generally south (and not north) to some end point on the 7th arc.
    2. The rate of descent following MEFE was OTOO 15,000 ft/min at 00:19:37.

    Unfortunately, the BFO observations have proven to have limited value beyond those two conclusions. In particular, they do not provide unambiguous information about the path to the 7th arc. We have learned over time that there are many potential paths to the 7th arc that are consistent with the BFO data, within the range of OCXO drift uncertainty. But importantly, no path to the north is remotely possible. So why re-post route plots that suggest otherwise? Why keep promoting this nonsense?

  34. I know I get trolled for my ideas. But before you dismiss what I say look at this:


    That is based on my reversal proposal. I’ve added the North & South predicted as on Duncan’s chart. As you can see the North path leaves at the place ACARS transmitted last. The South & Actual track leaves where Mh370 was last seen. It crosses direct across Malaysia & gets to a point just off the coast of Sumatra where the aircraft turns North West to circumvent Northern Sumatra. Passing between the Andaman Islands & Indonesia.

  35. Because Mike sometimes the obvious is so close you miss it. I have shown above exactly what ISAT talked about. North & South tracks.

    This is what I read:

    “The Burst Frequency Offset changes depending on the location of the aircraft on a ARC of possible positions, it’s direction of travel & it’s speed”

    I have combined all of these prerequisites to determine my proposal outlined above.

  36. It is all nonsense, Michael. Surely you know that. Those charts are pure made up rubbish that have zero basis in the data or facts. Why do you do that?

  37. Anyway. I’m not getting into a debate about BTO. I’m merely pointing out BFO ends at the top of the Malacca Strait. I see no evidence it goes any further. I’m also arguing that it is presented the wrong way around. Take that up with ISAT because I’m 100% confident I am right & if checks are done they will confirm my theory.

  38. @bobc
    “If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him” — Cardinal Richelieu

  39. It’s all nonsense? It’s validation. I’ve long argued that there is value in the BFO. Not just in the vertical but also in the horizontal. Wouldn’t it make more sense to you that BFO Hz at KLA are -2 instead off 88? & if that is the case then it throws into the question whether they have gotten the ARC backwards too. Those microsecond figures. How do you know that they are from 3F1 to aircraft? ISAT told you they are. Those figures Probably exist. Yes. But have you seen microsecond figures for other flights at KLA that night? Do they corroborate? So how do we know those figures are not the “offset” changes between those received whilst the aircraft was on the Tarmac at KLA & again when it’s at it’s newest position? Thus ARCs originating at KLA. We all assume that ISAT recorded the times in the way you point out they should have done but none of us have actually seen evidence of it. Mh370 might not have lost complete connection to ISAT until 18.30pm. Thus the reboot & erroneous BFO Data. That could be Mh370 breaking apart. Which was noted by witnesses. Meaning Mh370 plunged into the water in pitch blackness 1 hour after it took off. Look again at the sequence Mh370 connected to ISAT from take off until the SCS & then at the periods I propose in the BFO Data. They are consistent & regular. The only irregular pattern comes at the end. Which is where you would expect it. So Mike. Are You seriously as an expert suggesting to me Mh370 took off from KLA flew to the SCS suffered a mysterious black out then flew across to the Malacca Strait then turned North West into the Indian Ocean, performed a FMT that no one can explain & then flew pilotleas until fuel exhaustion into the SIO. OR. Does my story make more sense. Mh370 took off from KLA. Flew into the SCS where it suffered a shutdown of it’s systems. It flew back across to Malacca Strait flew North West then came down in the Indian Ocean an hour later.

  40. MJ: Nothing you say makes sense. None of it. It is all gibberish. Makes me question motive. Why are you doing this?

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