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Scammers are asking truth-seeking conspiracy theorists to ignore the inherent irony and give up some of their private data in order to find out the "truth" about the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370. Scams circulating on Facebook and Twitter purport to offer video reports of the plane being found, some of which …

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Anonymous Coward

Fell for it!

doh!

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Re: Fell for it!

It was clearly taken by aliens. Obviously it will take a while to anal probe 227 of them....

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Facepalm

It's obvious!

John Travolta got fed up waiting to meet his chosen deity, used his skills as a trained pilot to hijack the plane and flew off to meet Xenon or whatever the flip Hubbard's make-believe god was called!

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Re: It's obvious!

Xenon, the god of car light bulbs?

I thought Hubbards mythical sky jockey was some volcanic lizard, or was that David Icke?

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Trollface

Re: It's obvious!

I disagree.

It's obviously the first episode of Lost - from the outside!

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Re: It's obvious!

Xenu. The nuke-happy volcano-boy's name was Xenu.

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Unhappy

Re: It's obvious!

"It's obviously the first episode of Lost - from the outside!"

Hopefully this tale will have a less ambiguous ending than Lost, although I doubt it's going to be a happy one, one way or the other.

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Re: It's obvious!

Almost what I thought - someone is creating a new series

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Re: It's obvious!

"Xenon, the god of car light bulbs?"

That's 'Lucas'.

"I thought Hubbards mythical sky jockey was some volcanic lizard, or was that David Icke?"

There's a difference?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's obvious!

Lucas AKA The Prince of Darkness.

He was also the inventor of the three position switch - Dim / Flicker / Off.

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Re: It's obvious!

While John Travolta may have been involved, the truth will be revealed when the Malaysian government requests that everybody checks behind their couches and at the back of cupboards and the 777 turns up covered in dust....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's obvious!

Actually, Joseph Lucas was the Prince Of Darkness...

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Re: It's obvious!

Surely that's Peter Mandelson

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's obvious!

The Prince Of Darkness???????

No, that's Mike Jackson, no not that one, the other one.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Jackson

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TRT
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Re: It's obvious!

Xoanon was the evil computer god in Doctor Who's "Face of Evil"...

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JLV
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Re: It's obvious!

Cthulhu vs. Xenu @ 5:45

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njcB7xN0Pec

Re. the jet, I wonder if it's better to have it missing, presumed hijacked, rather than just lost. I figure that still gives the families hope, as opposed to say the Brazil-Paris flight from a years back. But it must be horrible to be so uncertain.

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Holmes

Re: It's obvious!

"Xenon, the god of car light bulbs?"

That's 'Lucas'.

No, Lucas is Xenon's nemesis. And also the reason Brits drink warm beer, as he also manufactures fridge thermostats.

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Re: It's obvious!

I thought Xenu flew DC10s?

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Re: It's obvious!

> No, Lucas is Xenon's nemesis. And also the reason Brits drink warm beer

Don't forget ... according to mythology Lucas is often accompanied by minor deity who acts as his assistant - an anonymous goddess associated with a health-giving elixir that counters the after-effects of warm beer. In many cultures this Lucoz-ade is more renowned than Lucas himself ...

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Re: It's obvious!

Yes, everything is eventually found behind the sideboard or the stove.

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At least...

Facebook et al are removing them from their sites. Hope not too many more people are fooled.

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Facepalm

The Most Bonkers Explanation award goes to...

...this person. It was the Freescale 20 wot dun it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The Most Bonkers Explanation award goes to...

Far Canal!

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Joke

Re: The Most Bonkers Explanation award goes to...

Or was it really a Boeing 666

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Re: The Most Bonkers Explanation award goes to...

Or Obama

Or Russkies

Or Iran

or bloody hell - it's amost as if it's a primer for commentards

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WTF?

Re: The Most Bonkers Explanation award goes to...

That twitter feed is bizarre, there's 7 posts within the same hour, all start with the same main sentance, then a tiny follow up sentance that changes. Is that a bot twitting?

And another thing:

"Freescale Malaysia Airlines 777 stealth technologies can misinform the Russian Crimea invasion forces."

What the hell does this mean?

And this:

"Freescale has stealth simulator to train pilots to turn engines off and on to make Malaysia Airlines 777 invincible and invisible"

Invincible?

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Vic
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Re: The Most Bonkers Explanation award goes to...

> That twitter feed is bizarre

I'd say it goes deeper than that; she appears to have a rahter tenuous grip on reality...

Vic.

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Re: The Most Bonkers Explanation award goes to...

""Freescale has stealth simulator to train pilots to turn engines off and on to make Malaysia Airlines 777 invincible and invisible"

Invincible?"

Yes. Also inflexible, indefatigable, indomitable, illustrious and, I'd say, glorious and furious.

She's a nut gone flake...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The Most Bonkers Explanation award goes to...

Although at least one American government official claims the plane was hijacked so it could be converted into a cruise missile.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/mar/16/jetliner-piloted-off-course-but-no-one-knows-why/

I reckon the Pakistani, Chinese, Indian or American military shot it down, take your pick.

It may take a while to find and sanitize all the wreckage.

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Re: The Most Bonkers Explanation award goes to...

"Invincible?"

Yes. Also inflexible, indefatigable, indomitable, illustrious and, I'd say, glorious and furious."

And formidable, victorious, courageous, and majestic.

"She's a nut gone flake..."

There's very little doubt of this.

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Re: The Most Bonkers Explanation award goes to...

'And formidable, victorious, courageous, and majestic.'

Not to mention Implacable and Audacious...

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Re: The Most Bonkers Explanation award goes to...

"What the hell does this mean?

And this:"

It means that she speaks American rather than English.

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Re: The Most Bonkers Explanation award goes to...

That's not a person. What "person" tweets 20 times a day about the same subject with nothing new to say?

That's a bot if ever I saw one.

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So what is going on?

A vanished plane is the kind of story I look to The Register for to inform me about the arcane details of air traffic control transponders, black boxes, space & submarine monitoring capabilities etc.

How does one infer from the transmission that the satellite picked up that the search corridor is an arc stretching both north and south (geometry pedants you know what I mean) from the last known position?

Why is there a need to have the functionality to allow an identification beacon on a civil aircraft be switched off in flight?

Given that there is one known received transmission, can its timestamp be used to identify likely blips in backround static that other radio-frequency sensitive systems on the planet might have recorded, to enable even approximate triangulation?

Would a 777 crashing into the sea make a noise that could be recorded by submarine listening arrays like SOSUS? If so would the owner of the array consider it to be revealing too much information about their capabilities to mention it?

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Re: So what is going on?

"Why is there a need to have the functionality to allow an identification beacon on a civil aircraft be switched off in flight?"

All the electrics are protected by circuit breakers on the flight deck. Sadly it's equally possible to use these to deactivate a functioning transponder as well as kick one back into life after a power spike.

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M7S
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Re: So what is going on?

I have no idea about most of your questions, but for the bit about the arc, I understand that the satellite really functions like a basic radar/sonar without any direction capability, so you've only got the distance it was from the satellite at that time with any certainty.

After that, it's just really a more complex version of "an artillery shell explodes in flight" questions that used to form part of the maths syllabus when I was at school. Plenty of variables such as the rate(s) of fuel consumption for the (uncertain) altitude(s) flown to that point and the possible glide distance from when it runs out but that's what computers are for....

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Re: So what is going on?

"How does one infer from the transmission that the satellite picked up that the search corridor is an arc stretching both north and south (geometry pedants you know what I mean) from the last known position?"

Given that those arcs look like part of a North-South great circle, I believe they delineate the horizon visible to the satellite in question at the time of the last received transmission. In order for the sat to pick up the signal the plane should have been somewhere within (Westward of) that line.

"Would a 777 crashing into the sea make a noise that could be recorded by submarine listening arrays like SOSUS?"

I find it difficult to believe that someone managed to pull off a hijack as sophisticated as this only to then smash the plane with himself on it into the ocean.

I believe the real search is now focused on any place that has a runway capable of receiving a B777. I would think that runways capable of being used for take off of a fully bombed and fueled B-29 would be just as suitable for a B777 and I think there was a number of such runways built in that region during the WWII.

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Vic
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Re: So what is going on?

How does one infer from the transmission that the satellite picked up that the search corridor is an arc stretching both north and south (geometry pedants you know what I mean) from the last known position?

The report on the telly says that the satellite can determine the angle to the transmitter, but has no range information, and there's only a single satellite involved - leading to an equi-angle arc on the surface.

Why is there a need to have the functionality to allow an identification beacon on a civil aircraft be switched off in flight?

The transponder must be controllable while the engines are running - to do otherwise is likely to make the SSR display unreadable in the vicinity of a busy airport.

You *could* make the argument that the transponder should be running when there is no weight on the undercarriage - but that adds a lot of complexity to the aircraft (i.e. makes it more prone to failure), and the only thing it really obviates is the pilot deliberately switching it off (which he could still do by way of pulling the fuse)

Given that there is one known received transmission, can its timestamp be used to identify likely blips in backround static that other radio-frequency sensitive systems on the planet might have recorded, to enable even approximate triangulation?

No. Aircraft radios are AM or SSB. You're not going to gather any information from the noise.

This whole affair is very saddening. There is a specific transponder code to notify ATC (silently) of hijack; the transponder being turned off rather strongly implies that someone on the flight deck knew that. Given the locked door, that itself rather implies pilot collusion :-(

Vic.

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Re: So what is going on?

It's also desirable to be able to disable the transponder in the event that it malfunctions - you don't want it broadcasting false information to ATC, or worse yet, you don't want it setting itself on fire.

There seems to be a lot of people focusing on why transponders can be turned off, but what benefit would keeping them on at all times actually provide? They are a radio transmitter, which would be next to useless over the oceans anyway, so even if it had been left on, we'd still probably be non the wiser as to the planes location until it made landfall somewhere (assuming it managed to do so).

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Re: So what is going on?

I would think that runways capable of being used for take off of a fully bombed and fueled B-29 would be just as suitable for a B777 and I think there was a number of such runways built in that region during the WWII.

While I agree with you that these are the places to look first, I suspect some significant amount of vegetation removal (not to mention repaving) would be necessary before the runways are again suitable for use.

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Coat

Re: So what is going on?

Why is there a need to have the functionality to allow an identification beacon on a civil aircraft be switched off in flight?

Every electronic component contains a compressed volume of smoke added during manufacturing. Sometimes, for reasons not always apparent, one or more components in a device spontaneously decide to release their smoke. So far, no one's ever been able to get the smoke back inside a component once it's escaped. All you can do is remove the power source and hold your breath while the affected components die a slow, smoldering death.

If you hold your ear close to the device you may hear the components scream. Or else get burned. Don't try this at home.

One with the smoke & BS detector in the pocket.

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Re: So what is going on?

"Why is there a need to have the functionality to allow an identification beacon on a civil aircraft be switched off in flight?"

Someone needs to urgently re-do the risk analysis here. Yes, there's a (tiny?) fire risk in having some active electronics on a plane that cannot be disabled by any volitional act in flight. Yes, it might catch fire. Most unlikely, if it's protected by an ordinary fuse inaccessible to the crew, that would shut it down if it drew excessive current.

But I think we can now see that there is a much greater risk to the safety of both passengers and the rest of us on the ground, in allowing it to be disabled. Potentially, there is now a 200-tonne suicide-piloted missile out there somewhere.

Edit @Vic

OK, accepted there are good reasons why the transponder needs to have an off switch. So apply my arguments to the data transmitter that the assumed hijackers failed to totally disable. Instead of meaningless pings, have it return (at minimum) Airframe number and GPS coords.

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Vic
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Re: So what is going on?

But I think we can now see that there is a much greater risk to the safety of both passengers and the rest of us on the ground, in allowing it to be disabled.

No, I can't see that at all.

The power switches are all on the flight deck behind a locked door. Only the flight crew and specific members of the cabin crew can get through that door. All crew know intimately that, whatever the threat they might be facing in the passenger cabin, opening that door to an attacker means they will all die.

So the risk from allowing a transponder to be disabled - and remember, this is only secondary surveillance; it doesn't prevent primary radar contact - is only from members of the aircrew. And if they are prepared to disable aircraft systems, they could just as easily pull the fuses.

Disabling the transponder and the ACARS is extremely suspicious, but it doesn't turn a 777 into a stealth jet. It does prevent the 7500 hijack code from being transmitted - which would cause the aircraft to be highlighted on every radar screen in range. But even in the event of a cockpit battle between the pilots, turning the transponder on again is just as easy as turning it off.

Something odd happened on that flight, and I can't help but think that one or more of the pilots was involved. But we're not going to find out until the CVR is found.

Vic.

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Re: So what is going on?

Would a 777 crashing into the sea make a noise that could be recorded by submarine listening arrays like SOSUS? If so would the owner of the array consider it to be revealing too much information about their capabilities to mention it?

A good question to which you won't get a reliable answer!

Possibly, the owner of the array will just happen to discover floating debris and won't let on how they just happedned to know where to discover it. Arranging the cover story will take some days.

It would have been a loud bang compared to, say, a submariner dropping a spanner. So maybe they can inform the world through confidential diplomatic channels that "we are 99% certain it did not crash into the Indian ocean. Search on land. No, I cannot say any more". That, without revealing too much about their actual capabilities.

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Vic
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Re: So what is going on?

I suspect some significant amount of vegetation removal (not to mention repaving) would be necessary before the runways are again suitable for use.

I flew over Greenham Common the other day - it's still a monumental gash in the landscape. I don't imagine you'd need to remove any vegetation.

I've no idea if you can land a 777 on a broken runway without significant damage. But then if someone was planning on stealing this plane, they might have found a runway[1] that wasn't destroyed...

Vic.

[1] They exist, even in this country. The chart shows many "disused airfields", and most of them are still viable.

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Re: So what is going on?

@Vic

See the pilot forums on www.pprune.com. When asked if you could land a B777 on an unpaved runway, the usual answer from B777 pilots was 'once'.

There are also some good explanantions of the arcs from the satellite pings. They are a time of flight for the pings and are measured from a geostationary satellite. So the arcs just show the distance of the last ping received. The gap in the middle is the overlap from the adjacent satellite - the ping was not received by that one - hence the gap.

Phil.

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Re: So what is going on?

Civilian "radar" relies a lot on transponders. What is its actual spatial resolution of genuine radar echoes?

As for the military, they won't say. However, I know that there has been a move from active radar to passive illumination, because anything that transmits continuously ends up blown to pieces by a homing missile soon after hostilities commence.

Scary question: if a civilian jet picked up another civilian jet flying dark a few hundred meters behind it in the middle of an ocean, would anyone notice until it was too late to intercept the suicide-piloted tail?

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Vic
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Re: So what is going on?

Civilian "radar" relies a lot on transponders. What is its actual spatial resolution of genuine radar echoes?

So what do you want from an aviation surveillance system?

The transponder you were getting worked up about a few posts back just puts a number alongside the radar image. If you have Mode C (ATPL aircraft will), you also get an altitude from the aircraft. If you have mode S, you get collision-avoidance toys. None of this functionality makes the aircraft any easier to locate form the ground - it just picks them out amongst the sea of other contacts.

if a civilian jet picked up another civilian jet flying dark a few hundred meters behind it in the middle of an ocean, would anyone notice until it was too late to intercept the suicide-piloted tail?

That rather depends on how homicidal the pilot of the blacked-out aircraft was feeling.

Standard practice is to select your altitude according to your track. If pilots stick to this, closing speeds are very much reduced. Anti-collision kit (various types are available) means you get a warning of another aircraft even if you can't see it.

And you have radar operators in ATC that tell you very rapidly if there's anything that could come close to you.

So for your hypothetical to be a problem, you'd need a suicidal, murderous pilot flying an aircraft with all its lights out (including internal cabin lights) contrary to standard practices and un-noticed by radar control. I don't think it's a big deal, TBH...

Vic.

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Re: So what is going on?

'Someone needs to urgently re-do the risk analysis here. Yes, there's a (tiny?) fire risk in having some active electronics on a plane that cannot be disabled by any volitional act in flight.'

Put it this way, you've heard of one aircraft disappearing which may have been helped by the transponder being turned off. What you don't hear about is the hundreds of times the crew have had to turn it off for whatever reason, e.g. fire, or in the kind of underpowered things I fly load-shedding so the battery will last longer when the generator fails.

I'd say the risk to life from not being able to selectively isolate every bit of electrical equipment is greater than that from someone using that ability for nefarious purposes.

There's an analysis here: http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/analysis-sabotage-most-common-factor-in-en-route-accidents-396830/ of the 46 jet airliner en-route fatal accidents, which I think puts this case into perspective in terms of numbers.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So what is going on?

"I believe the real search is now focused on any place that has a runway capable of receiving a B777."

That is pretty much any paved runway. A B777 can be landed in 6,000 feet and that is a normal runway length for most commercial planes. While the 777 would use all of it, you are also talking about no regard for maintenance costs; full reverse thrusters and full brakes and the airworthiness of the plane afterwards. The weight of the plane makes a huge difference, so chances are, the plane would be run until almost empty. If a hijacker wanted to go even further, they would land at a facility they could take off from as well and throw some fuel in the plane, so they could be well outside of any search area.

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