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.