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Malaysia Airlines plane crashes: 239 people gone

 
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Derri View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Derri Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Mar 20 2014 at 12:58pm

A Startlingly Simple Theory About the Missing Malaysia Airlines Jet
BY CHRIS GOODFELLOW

There has been a lot of speculation about Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Terrorism, hijacking, meteors. I cannot believe the analysis on CNN; it’s almost disturbing. I tend to look for a simpler explanation, and I find it with the 13,000-foot runway at Pulau Langkawi.

We know the story of MH370: A loaded Boeing 777 departs at midnight from Kuala Lampur, headed to Beijing. A hot night. A heavy aircraft. About an hour out, across the gulf toward Vietnam, the plane goes dark, meaning the transponder and secondary radar tracking go off. Two days later we hear reports that Malaysian military radar (which is a primary radar, meaning the plane is tracked by reflection rather than by transponder interrogation response) has tracked the plane on a southwesterly course back across the Malay Peninsula into the Strait of Malacca.

The left turn is the key here. Zaharie Ahmad Shah1 was a very experienced senior captain with 18,000 hours of flight time. We old pilots were drilled to know what is the closest airport of safe harbor while in cruise. Airports behind us, airports abeam us, and airports ahead of us. They’re always in our head. Always. If something happens, you don’t want to be thinking about what are you going to do–you already know what you are going to do. When I saw that left turn with a direct heading, I instinctively knew he was heading for an airport. He was taking a direct route to Palau Langkawi, a 13,000-foot airstrip with an approach over water and no obstacles. The captain did not turn back to Kuala Lampur because he knew he had 8,000-foot ridges to cross. He knew the terrain was friendlier toward Langkawi, which also was closer.

Take a look at this airport on Google Earth. The pilot did all the right things. He was confronted by some major event onboard that made him make an immediate turn to the closest, safest airport.

When I heard this I immediately brought up Google Earth and searched for airports in proximity to the track toward the southwest.

Also on WIRED: GDC Day 3: Too Many Games, Not Enough Show
For me, the loss of transponders and communications makes perfect sense in a fire. And there most likely was an electrical fire. In the case of a fire, the first response is to pull the main busses and restore circuits one by one until you have isolated the bad one. If they pulled the busses, the plane would go silent. It probably was a serious event and the flight crew was occupied with controlling the plane and trying to fight the fire. Aviate, navigate, and lastly, communicate is the mantra in such situations.

There are two types of fires. An electrical fire might not be as fast and furious, and there may or may not be incapacitating smoke. However there is the possibility, given the timeline, that there was an overheat on one of the front landing gear tires, it blew on takeoff and started slowly burning. Yes, this happens with underinflated tires. Remember: Heavy plane, hot night, sea level, long-run takeoff. There was a well known accident in Nigeria of a DC8 that had a landing gear fire on takeoff. Once going, a tire fire would produce horrific, incapacitating smoke. Yes, pilots have access to oxygen masks, but this is a no-no with fire. Most have access to a smoke hood with a filter, but this will last only a few minutes depending on the smoke level. (I used to carry one in my flight bag, and I still carry one in my briefcase when I fly.)

What I think happened is the flight crew was overcome by smoke and the plane continued on the heading, probably on George (autopilot), until it ran out of fuel or the fire destroyed the control surfaces and it crashed. You will find it along that route–looking elsewhere is pointless.



Ongoing speculation of a hijacking and/or murder-suicide and that there was a flight engineer on board does not sway me in favor of foul play until I am presented with evidence of foul play.

We know there was a last voice transmission that, from a pilot’s point of view, was entirely normal. “Good night” is customary on a hand-off to a new air traffic control. The “good night” also strongly indicates to me that all was OK on the flight deck. Remember, there are many ways a pilot can communicate distress. A hijack code or even transponder code off by one digit would alert ATC that something was wrong. Every good pilot knows keying an SOS over the mike always is an option. Even three short clicks would raise an alert. So I conclude that at the point of voice transmission all was perceived as well on the flight deck by the pilots.

But things could have been in the process of going wrong, unknown to the pilots.

Evidently the ACARS went inoperative some time before. Disabling the ACARS is not easy, as pointed out. This leads me to believe more in an electrical problem or an electrical fire than a manual shutdown. I suggest the pilots probably were not aware ACARS was not transmitting.

As for the reports of altitude fluctuations, given that this was not transponder-generated data but primary radar at maybe 200 miles, the azimuth readings can be affected by a lot of atmospherics and I would not have high confidence in this being totally reliable. But let’s accept for a minute that the pilot may have ascended to 45,000 feet in a last-ditch effort to quell a fire by seeking the lowest level of oxygen. That is an acceptable scenario. At 45,000 feet, it would be tough to keep this aircraft stable, as the flight envelope is very narrow and loss of control in a stall is entirely possible. The aircraft is at the top of its operational ceiling. The reported rapid rates of descent could have been generated by a stall, followed by a recovery at 25,000 feet. The pilot may even have been diving to extinguish flames.

But going to 45,000 feet in a hijack scenario doesn’t make any good sense to me.

Regarding the additional flying time: On departing Kuala Lampur, Flight 370 would have had fuel for Beijing and an alternate destination, probably Shanghai, plus 45 minutes–say, 8 hours. Maybe more. He burned 20-25 percent in the first hour with takeoff and the climb to cruise. So when the turn was made toward Langkawi, he would have had six hours or more hours worth of fuel. This correlates nicely with the Inmarsat data pings being received until fuel exhaustion.

The now known continued flight until time to fuel exhaustion only confirms to me that the crew was incapacitated and the flight continued on deep into the south Indian ocean.

There is no point speculating further until more evidence surfaces, but in the meantime it serves no purpose to malign pilots who well may have been in a struggle to save this aircraft from a fire or other serious mechanical issue. Capt. Zaharie Ahmad Shah was a hero struggling with an impossible situation trying to get that plane to Langkawi. There is no doubt in my mind. That’s the reason for the turn and direct route. A hijacking would not have made that deliberate left turn with a direct heading for Langkawi. It probably would have weaved around a bit until the hijackers decided where they were taking it.

Surprisingly, none of the reporters, officials, or other pilots interviewed have looked at this from the pilot’s viewpoint: If something went wrong, where would he go? Thanks to Google Earth I spotted Langkawi in about 30 seconds, zoomed in and saw how long the runway was and I just instinctively knew this pilot knew this airport. He had probably flown there many times.

Fire in an aircraft demands one thing: Get the machine on the ground as soon as possible. There are two well-remembered experiences in my memory. The AirCanada DC9 which landed, I believe, in Columbus, Ohio in the 1980s. That pilot delayed descent and bypassed several airports. He didn’t instinctively know the closest airports. He got it on the ground eventually, but lost 30-odd souls. The 1998 crash of Swissair DC-10 off Nova Scotia was another example of heroic pilots. They were 15 minutes out of Halifax but the fire overcame them and they had to ditch in the ocean. They simply ran out of time. That fire incidentally started when the aircraft was about an hour out of Kennedy. Guess what? The transponders and communications were shut off as they pulled the busses.

Get on Google Earth and type in Pulau Langkawi and then look at it in relation to the radar track heading. Two plus two equals four. For me, that is the simple explanation why it turned and headed in that direction. Smart pilot. He just didn’t have the time.

Chris Goodfellow has 20 years experience as a Canadian Class-1 instrumented-rated pilot for multi-engine planes. His theory on what happened to MH370 first appeared on Google+. We’ve copyedited it with his permission.



Taken from http://www.wired.com/autopia/2014/03/mh370-electrical-fire/

Edited by Derri - Mar 20 2014 at 1:02pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Merin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Mar 20 2014 at 2:20pm
^^^^^^^^^
Out of the three airport that pilot would have had as options Langkawi is the worst one. Landing there is challenging with the mountain, low clouds, and high winds.  Slate also disputed this theory as well.

http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2014/03/18/mh370_disappearance_chris_goodfellow_s_theory_about_a_fire_and_langkawi.html
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Derri Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Mar 20 2014 at 2:42pm
This post is interesting...


In The Absence Of Answers, We Return Repeatedly To The Questions
by ERIC DE NS
March 19, 2014 3:55 PM
i
Lai Seng Sin/AP
The view from inside a media circus is an odd one, indeed.

But I got a glimpse of the scenery a few days ago, when CNN asked me to weigh in on the similarities between the real-life missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 and the myriad of fictional TV shows or movies where similar events have unfolded.

Why are we so drawn to these stories? anchor Suzanne Malveaux asked me in a few different ways, perhaps wanting an emotional take on how the plane crash scene in the TV series Lost or the film Alive could have ended Flight 370's mysterious voyage.

Instead, I tried to talk about an odd feedback loop we're experiencing in media, where those fictional scenes were created precisely because they reflect our worst fears about air travel. Then an actual event occurs that seems to mirror the fiction, and we can't look away — which only makes media want to feature it more, regardless of the information available.

But the problems with runaway media speculation go beyond a lack of basic information on the missing plane. Information given publicly by Malaysian officials and leaked to journalists is also sometimes seriously unreliable, leading to more untrustworthy reporting.

A piece for The Daily Beast notes Malaysian officials have revised their timeline on when the plane's co-pilot last spoke to air traffic control, placing his signoff at a time before the plane's transponder stopped working, not after — making speculation about nefarious intent in the cockpit a little tougher to swallow.


The Two-Way
Confusion Reigns In Search For Missing Airliner

The Two-Way
Officials Seem To Have No Clue About Fate Of Missing Jet

The Two-Way
More Theories But Still No Sign Of Missing Malaysian Jet
And there's also this story for Slate, which tries to debunk a theory first posted by a pilot on his Google Plus account and then republished on Wired magazine's website (that sentence alone sounds like a scary bit of meta-media shenaBrothans).

In the original pieces, pilot Chris Goodfellow suggests a simpler explanation: The pilots faced an emergency like a fire, turned toward the closest airport with a runway that could handle their jet, and were overcome by smoke or fumes before they could land.

The Slate story says accounts that an unidentified plane was spotted on radar making other course corrections indicate Goodfellow's theory is wrong. But if the plane in these radar contacts is unidentified, how can anyone know if it was Flight 370? Or that the radar data are accurate?

Questions about the data used in news reports abound. In a story aired on NBC's Today show on Wednesday, reporter Tom Costello noted that U.S. officials believe data showing the plane may have ascended to 45,000 feet and then dropped down to 5,000 feet are unreliable.

Still, Costello also seemed to stumble when trying to debunk Goodfellow's theory, quoting an expert who didn't believe a fire could disable all the plane's communications systems. But Goodfellow suggested the pilots may have turned off the power themselves, following procedures for diagnosing an electrical fire that involve switching off all systems and re-engaging them piecemeal to see which one is faulty.

As this Associated Press story notes, the missing plane has become an international news sensation, sparking ratings increases for CNN's immersive coverage and filling 17 of the 20 most popular articles on the BBC's website.

Which leads to my only confident conclusion: We've got lots more speculation and shifting facts to come, as a confused investigation meets worldwide media more worried about missing the audience bump on a big story than getting it wrong.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Marcelo22 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Mar 20 2014 at 3:44pm
If it was a fire, then damn I thought this was one of the safest planes they got and has never had an issue.

If it was a planned hijacking, then ok the pilots were crazy, u never know what happens when u put your life in the hands of strangers in an airplane.

Both cases result in the same outcome but I think I would feel less apprehensive on my next internationa l flight if I hear this tragedy was due to one over the other.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote tropical-punch Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Mar 20 2014 at 3:51pm
Originally posted by liesnalibis liesnalibis wrote:

I don't get why they are dumping so much money and resources into this when those people are already dead. I'm not seeing how this makes sense. I mean the US has nothing to do with this. They just have this huge pile of money they use to go toward finding dead people in from other nations??? Who makes these decisions? Not to be insensitive.

President Barack Obama called the search for Flight 370 "a top priority," telling KDFW of Dallas on Wednesday that the United States will keep working on it.

"We have put every resource that we have available at the disposal of the search process," he said.


Well the plane was US manufactured.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote tropical-punch Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Mar 20 2014 at 3:53pm
What if it ascended into the upper atmosphere?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote jonesable Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Mar 20 2014 at 3:53pm
I would rather it be a crazy pilot.

But these things never make me nervous anyway. I have now have to fly a lot but this never crossed my mind.

Technology is not infallible even though that's hard for ppl to hear
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Wildfire Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Mar 20 2014 at 3:56pm
Originally posted by jonesable jonesable wrote:

I would rather it be a crazy pilot.

But these things never make me nervous anyway. I have now have to fly a lot but this never crossed my mind.

Technology is not infallible even though that's hard for ppl to hear


yeah...im starting to get the feeling that people want it to be that the co-pilot did something sinister...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Marcelo22 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Mar 20 2014 at 3:57pm
Originally posted by jonesable jonesable wrote:

I would rather it be a crazy pilot.

But these things never make me nervous anyway. I have now have to fly a lot but this never crossed my mind.

Technology is not infallible even though that's hard for ppl to hear

Fly a cheap foreign airline and come back to me. I think Malaysian is pretty well known and one of the safest. I took some cheap ass Ecuador airline one time and damn near had a heart attack during take-off, a couple times in the air and during the landing. Them Ecuadorians was acting like it was a normal flight.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (2) Thanks(2)   Quote Lilaca Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Mar 21 2014 at 5:44am
If these pilots were white....people wouldn't be accusing them up front, just saying. 
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