Indeed, soon after MH370 disappeared, reports emerged that recordings of Malaysian military radar returns showed an unidentified track that could correspond to the flight turning left onto a westward course and descending. At the time it was difficult to assess the validity of that claim. It’s been bolstered, however, by a Reuters report earlier Friday stating that Malaysian military radar showed the flight following a course westward over the Malay peninsula and then heading out over the Indian Ocean, passing specific navigational waypoints as it went.
According to the report, this latter portion of the flight followed an unusual zigzag trajectory as it worked its way toward the north and west. This is a very inefficient way to get from one place to another, but it had some consequences that may have been useful for whoever was in control of the airplane. For one thing, by navigating between well-traveled waypoints, the plane would have seemed to military radar operators to look just like all the other well-behaved commercial traffic traveling over that stretch of ocean. “That’s going to seem like unsuspicious traffic,” says Maarten Uijt de Haag, a professor of electrical engineering at Ohio University. Had the plane left the well-traveled routes and struck out on its own, it would have been far more conspicuous.
Another consequence of the zigzagging trajectory is that, like a fox crossing back and forth over a stream to eluding a pack of hounds, it obscured where exactly it might be heading.
Two minutes later, at 1.21 a.m. local time, the transponder - a device identifying jets to ground controllers - was turned off in a move that experts say could reveal a careful sequence."
Turning off the transponder two minutes after communication and turning IMO rules out fire. It would have had to take place in a 2 minute window.
I know, I know, I'm reaching. But it'd explain the "mumbling."
That is part of the problem with any analysis of what could have happened.
We don't know for sure if all the input is correct as reported. The old garbage in garbage out.
We don't know if the background checks (some of which are complete some which various countries haven't even released yet) have issues. Everything is speculation based on fuzzy information.
All we know is what is reported and we don't know how much of it is actually correct. Which is what your comment illustrates ""turn off time" is inaccurately quoted".
If there was an electrical fire maybe it disabled the telemetry system before the last radio comm without them knowing? I don't know all the systems on the plane and what the possibility is of an electrical fire going unnoticed for ~12 minutes. That's my only guess for why the transponder was turned off before last radio comm IF we assume this article/post's point of view is correct.
In this case, however, there was a communication at 1:30, ten min. after the transponder was turned off. Once you are on the radio, it makes sense to say "we have a fire" I would think.
"Aviate, Navigate, Communicate"
I have yet to hear of a single midair aircraft fire that was not reported over comms.
You misunderstood which time interval I was talking about entirely. I am also not espousing a theory that this is what happened to the MH flight. I just wanted to point out to people what timescale these things operate within.
I've never been involved in an air crash investigation, but I have done many system outage investigations. The majority of them involve a failure of a hardware/software system, followed by manual intervention done without complete information. The number of times I've seen small problems escalate dramatically by the combination of automatic systems and manual intervention is enough to make me assume accident when something like this happens.
 Ok, the majority that don't involve the deployment of new software.
Now, I don't miss-underestimate how failures happen, how they combine, but I know my procedures. If I'm pulling fuses for things, I'm going to first SQUARK 7700, have the co-pilot screaming on 121.5, whilst he is charged with flying the plane (following a heading, not dropping out of the sky, like AF447!) whilst I then follow the procedures for the kind of electrical fire. Even if it's only for 10 seconds, the 7700 will be picked up, the ATC will see it light up like an angry chirstmas tree. It will not be 'cancelled' by the transponder then being switched off, the operative would have to cancel it, which they wouldn't do until after contact had been reached. In the case of say 7500, they wouldn't take radio as reason to cancel it.
The point is, the transponder just happened to turn off at the perfect moment (between two ATC services) after the ACARS had been switched off long before.
If you had a fire, that had endangered physically separated, redundant systems in that manner, I doubt the plane would be able to fly for 7 hours. The 777 is a fly by wire plane.
However, if you wanted to drop off, un-noticed, it is the perfect time.
Occam's razor n all that. If I thought such failures were possible, as I've said before, I'd shred my pilots license tomorrow.
You are assuming the pilot was in command, but keep in mind a different B777 operated by Qantas had an uncommanded climb caused by twin air data unit failures. The pilots in that case recovered and returned to the airport for an emergency landing. However, I wonder how different it would be over the ocean and at night.
> The point is, the transponder just happened to turn off at the perfect moment (between two ATC services) after the ACARS had been switched off long before.
Yeah. Recovery over the water at night is one thing. Flying for hours after is a very, very different scenario, and that's what makes the difference for me.
I imagine that most air accident investigations begin like this; confused, competing information from numerous sources of varying reliability. Just with the internet and 24h news, everyone is following along with each revelation (see also the Pistorius trial).
Give it some time, let the investigators work and report their findings. I'd be very surprised if it's not a combination of system failure and human error in reacting to the failure.
Not to mention that but when things happen on the plane, pilots are given confused, competing from numerous sources. This is why I assumed it was an accident (like Air France 447) at first.
> Give it some time, let the investigators work and report their findings. I'd be very surprised if it's not a combination of system failure and human error in reacting to the failure.
That was my first impulse too. Google "IEEE Automation Paradox Air France 447." However, this is really hard to square with the engine information. So you have three possibilities: the plane flew an uncommanded course on autopilot for 5 hours following an accident, the flight data is wrong, or it is a hijacking.
In this case an investigation is hard because there is so little information. It took until the black boxes were recovered from AF447 to determine what happened there. Here? We don't even know where the plane is, much less the relevant recorders.
I think that the lack of clear & sufficient information makes Occam's Razer hard to apply.
I am not a pilot, but I would expect both would provide opportunities to refresh memory.
s/sleeping at the time/had just retired to the crew cabin, taking a rest/
he was only out of the cockpit for 18 minutes.
If the last effect on the page were in effect, you might get a return, know it's relative bearing well, it's range a little less well, and it's altitude not very well at all.
a stall, a recovery, and a randomly meandering flight followed.
adjectives used of the radar data: "inaccurate", "undisclosed".
adjectives used of the flight path: "erratic", "uneven", "zigzagging".
waypoints are thick as thieves, the odds of a flock of birds not hitting three of them are small.
...plus hitting exactly those waypoints makes no sense: the middle zig should have been skipped as superfluous.
Really? On a plane? On my boat they're typically within a few meters.
Also, for a fire to destroy the multiple electronic systems so as to render the transponder and comms useless, the smell of smoke would've almost certainly been recognizable long before the damage was complete. In this case, the pilots would have alerted the ground.
It was the pilot and/or co-pilot acting deliberately. I would bet my life on it.
How many documented cabin fires have there been?
> In the late 1990s the rate of diversion in the United States on average was more than one aeroplane each day diverted due to smoke (Shaw, 1999). Fortunately, it is rare for a smoke event to become an uncontrolled in-flight fire. Later data collected by IATA estimates that more than 1,000 in-flight smoke events occur annually, resulting in more than 350 unscheduled or precautionary landings (International Air Trasport Association, 2005). In-flight smoke events are estimated at a rate of one in 5,000 flights while in-flight smoke diversions are estimated to occur on one in 15,000 flights(Halfpenny, 2002)
Presuming they lost the battle, instrumentation/ap would drop out. Eventually, the fire would burn through the cockpit (see pictures above) and depressurize the a/c. Fire would then go out. Engines would keep going.
Eventually, someone will correlate wind directions with any required in-flight cg changes (fuel tanking) not being completed and I won't be surprised if a pattern emerges.
I dunno. Who am I kidding, it's all circumstantial at this point.
EDIT: I'm not sure if the Cairo incident is a good example of how quickly a fire can overcome a crew. They were on the ground with the jetway still connected, so it's quite a different situation.
Cockpit window heater fires:
However as someone pointed out, could it really continue to fly at this point, let alone where did the debris go?
That means you've been able to read the exact same posts as I have been reading in this comment section. Comments from experienced pilots, one of whom explicitly states it's impossible for everything we know to have happened to just "happen by accident".
It's reasonable to downvote your crusade, you're hogging a whole page with it.
http://i.imgur.com/lswNgAI.png (@125% zoom)
1. Electrical fire starts, takes out ADS-B transponder, pilots unaware and continue the flight as normal
2. They radio a goodbye as they leave ATC, still unaware of anything which means that a fire has taken out a transponder and they are unaware of that fact
3. The fire is discovered. The crew put on full-face oxygen masks and the pilot makes for that airport either by dialling in a bearing into the autopilot or disengaging it and flying for it.
4. They attempt communication but fail because the systems are out due to the fire
At that point, we then have a lot of things to consider: was it pilot input or autopilot that took them to FL450? When did the pilots lose the ability to land, either because of control surface damage or because they were incapacitated? In the event of being alive but unable to fly the aircraft because control surfaces were no longer responsive to cockpit or autopilot input, is there anything else they could/would do other than do some maths and work out when the inevitable crash was coming? If they could control some surfaces but not others would they use that to buy themselves more time, e.g. climbing to ceiling (FL450), or would they get low quick?
This theory raises quite a few questions then, but it's a perfectly valid hypothesis: the issue for me around it is understanding why the pilots didn't go on to make the landing suggesting loss of control or their own lives by that point. The only way we'll get to understand that is by finding the black box which of course would explain the whole thing anyway.
This theory also suggests a likely ditching or crash into the water, and if that were the case then I would expect sonar operators over a large part of the region to hear the black box locator, pretty much as they did with the Air France crash.
I appreciate that there are technical challenges and costs associated with the following idea, but it would be quite an interesting project to create a system that would transmit Flight Data Recorder (FDR) information to a ground location.
Off the top of my head, it would need to be flexible, perhaps recording more detailed telemetry in cases where cellular networks were available, to being able to provide critical, but perhaps less-detailed telemetry, in cases where only satellite communications were available. In addition, data monitoring systems could be programmed with the intelligence to transmit more detailed telemetry in the event of an anomaly (e.g., the "left turn" with regard to MH370). This would be an attempt to find the right balance of data fidelity, with regard to available transmission capabilities and associated costs.
Sadly, as it is now, we are left with relying on essentially locating the proverbial "needle in a haystack" with regard to locating the FDR. Another example is the case with AF447 . Although the FDR was recovered, it was not until nearly 2 years after the incident.
My heart goes out to those that lost loved ones. Not having closure is an extremely painful and difficult process to endure.
"In an airplane tragedy, however, the information stored in the so-called black box inevitably ends up inside a wreck. This seems like a terrible place to keep the clue you need to find most."
The latter part seems fairly unlikely, but I have no idea what a fire would do if it took out or disrupted the instrumentation, flight computers, etc..
Apparently the pingers are only audible for 2-3 km .
"I took a flight on a 777 where there actually was a cabin fire (or at least the crew thought so). But our pilot never lost contact with the ground and we landed safely -- we certainly didn't disappear for over a week, fly far beyond our emergency landing opportunity, or perform bizarre evasive maneuvers. Just sayin'."
Point is: things don't always go to plan, and successfully avoiding disaster once does not necessarily set a precedent.
They wanted to burn off fuel.
There was a fault with the rudder
There was a fault with the control system
They pilots were dead, and the autopilot was doing something off.
All hypotheses will invalidate the major premise: that the pilots chose that particular heading not randomly, but in a calculated attempt to reach the nearest airport because of an emergency. Basically, no matter where the plane would have turned, if you draw a long enough line you will find an airport. But that does not explain anything.
It was not required for certification because it meets the minimum required climb rate with an engine failure after takeoff at Max Gross Weight.
Look at the top center, at the "Fuel Jettison" switches. (This is a 777-200 non ER, but I doubt the ER model would remove this feature.)
"KERLEY: The prime minister confirming the report by ABC News the communications gear was deliberately shut down. Now we have learned from a source close to the investigation that whoever was controlling the plane preprogrammed that sharp left turn right off of the flight path, convincing investigators that someone was in control of the jetliner, either a rogue pilot or a hijackers."
Damage from an electrical fire on board could possibly explain the first transponder going out, even if the crew wasn't aware of the fire yet
the next ACARS message was scheduled to be sent after the goodbye, but it was never received.
the time when the ACARS was disabled would be within this window.
The above comment is accurate: the last ACARS message was received at 107, and the next one was expected at 137. The voice communication was logged at 119.
The cool thing with watching this story develop in real time is understanding how fucking incompetent conspiracy theorists are. From confusion on how ACARS works, to the limits of radio comms, to the organization of the plane's electrical system to their complete misunderstanding of how accurate primary radar readings are at the edge of range. These people aren't qualified to speculate in the slightest.
If you don't know what you're talking about: shut the fuck up.
By default I disbelieve all conspiracy theories, unless overwhelming evidence is forthcoming, because their proponents don't know shit.
One would think that cabin smoke was one of the first scenarios experts considered.
What's with all this speculation?!?
It's an interesting puzzle. Lots of people like puzzles. Trying to figure it out is good exercise for the brain. It doesn't cause any harm. So what's the problem?
This is an unusual situation, and none of the facts seem to make any sense. Who care's who is trying to make sense of what happened? If I was one of those passengers, I wouldn't be on the other end thinking "You know, I hope no one on the internet tries to figure out where I am".
I was merely commenting that it's funny how there is one story that MH370 may have snuck under radar by shadowing another 777, and this article says there was a fire. Perhaps the fire caused the crew to shadow the 777? Or maybe the 777 caused the cabin fire?
I am, of course, being facetious. But when they do eventually find MH370, it's unlikely it would have been because of speculation on the Internet.
They spent a week searching the wrong ocean for the plane. They had the thing on radar showing definitively that it was nowhere near the initial search area. They had satellite data showing it continued flying for hours after the supposed last contact.
I imagine the experts are not to blame here. But whoever is managing them is doing a terrible job of it.
Yeah, this amateur speculation is not useful. But at least it's not actively harmful. How much time and money was wasted searching the Gulf of Thailand before these clowns finally admitted that it was evident the plane wasn't anywhere near there? How much time was lost that could have been used to search places where the plane might actually be?
Decrying amateur speculation on the internet is silly. People are going to waste time regardless. Would you rather they do mental exercises or just look at cat memes? If you want to get upset at somebody related to MH370, there are far better targets.
"MH370 might have entered into a blackhole and come back as a dove.
"What's with all this speculation?!?"
I love the internet tactic of making obvious insults that aren't 100% literal, then turning around and saying "I never said that, prove that I said that." It's hilarious.
Nothing may get solved, but it helps us to try to make some sense for ourselves out of the incongruous facts and help us alleviate our own cognitive discomfort with the situation.
Stop reading into what I said. You're getting it wrong.
Anyway, I answered you as to why there was so much speculation. You're welcome.
"So you're saying the best way to figure out what happened to MH370 is to do nothing, don't think, don't have any ideas, in no way make any effort to interpret the facts as they present themselves or try to fill in the blanks with educated guesses?"
I do share you pessimism a bit though because I believe since we haven't found the plane by now, it's probably at the bottom of the ocean. There might be an accidental discovery in the years ahead though. And with a little luck they can reconstruct a credible scenario from the engine telemetry... it wouldn't be the first time.
One might hypothesize that terrorists managed to take control of the airplane and divert it only to have the passengers counter-attack and then in the chaos that followed either control of the plane was lost and not able to be recovered or it was intentionally crashed. Even with reinforced doors it would not take very long for highly motivated individuals to breach them, whether that's the attackers or the passengers or whomever.
I'm not saying that anything of the sort is likely but similar things have happened before.
An under-inflated tyre caught fire during take-off, the plane took off unaware of the fire, when the landing gear was retracted the fire spread burning through electrical and hydraulic lines.
A fire "outside of the pressurised part of the fuselage" doesn't mean the same didn't happen here.
...but that seems unlikely too, because I imagine the 777 has backup systems that would alert pilots in case a system as critical as the fire detection equipment in the wheel assembly was not responding.
I'm not saying the fire scenario is impossible; I'm still erring on the side of this being a tragic systems failure, and not a malicious act. I just think it might be entirely unlike anything we've seen in the past.
It is at least 200km closer than Langkawi. The flight path was also close to Kota Bharu, so one theory does not exclude the other.
Maybe somebody with more knowledge of an autopilot can offer some insight: what happens is you overshoot your programmed target? With it go in a holding pattern? Would the autopilot disengage? Or will the plane continue on its course?
Whether or not it would, I suppose, would depend on how it was programed.
Obviously, this means the plane had to go down very quickly (because it had so much altitude) and while being a consolidated mass (blown up or shattered planes scatter debris which are easily identified). It's very possible they suffered from an electrical failure from a fire, but it's much more plausible there was some control surface failure. For example in Alaska Airlines 261's case the horizontal stabilizer jack-screw failed unconstraining the entire horizontal stabilizer causing the plane immediately dive 31,000ft and hit the water in under 5 minutes.
The Pitot static systems (which are redundant) on a 777 are very far aware from the transponders. So this fire that magically spread all the way across that, somehow allowed auto pilot to have enough elevator control, change the engine power, but not realise it was hitting the ceiling, then was able to calmly decent from an above service ceiling height?
Incredibly unlikely set of events.
also i heard somewhere the captain used to live around that airport and is familiar with it..thats why he decided to go there.
I wonder if someone on HN has an understanding of what kind of safeguards go in to preventing a fly-by-wire system from being compromised. Presumably systems like communication, cabin pressure, navigation, etc are separated. Perhaps some of them are not software-based, and thus could not be compromised (but maybe their power could?)
It seems really unlikely, but so do most other theories.
I think the other guys theory about a second triple 7 better than this.
Anyone know why?
767s are bigger than A320s and the ocean is a lot rougher than the Hudson.
This is probably not a good crash to use as a baseline for predicting what would be typical for an ocean landing attempt.
The hijackers, who were apparently young, stupid and intoxicated - forced the pilot to try to fly to Australia, even though the pilot said they didn't even have enough fuel to make it 25% of the way.
The plane ran out of fuel off the coast of Africa, and the engines died.
The pilot used a Ram Air Turbine (basically using airspeed to drive a turbine) to provide emergency power so he could land.
However, I assume the hydraulics didn't work at this stage, hence he couldn't use the flaps to slow it down.