back to article MH370 final report: Aussies still don’t know where it crashed or why

Australian air authorities have published their final report into the MH370 mystery, concluding that they’re no wiser about what happened or why than when the Malaysian Airlines flight vanished three years ago. Australia’s Transportation Safety Board (ATSB) took a leading role in the investigation at the invitation of …

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Re: If you found the plane it wouldn't bring the people back.

"So, what doubt are you trying to resolve?"

The doubt as to the cause and, not knowing that, we thus don't know if it was something which could be corrected on other aircraft to make them a little safer.

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Re: If you found the plane it wouldn't bring the people back.

I return to my second point: the wreckage would have disintegrated on impact and isn't going to be substantially recoverable even if the approximate point of impact is isolated. There also isn't the slightest chance of flight recorder beacons still being operational.

Finding ships is difficult enough and those are designed to maintain structural integrity in water and create significant magnetometer readings. A strewn field of shattered fragments, much of which which has some degree of buoyancy is a completely different proposition. You are essentially looking for the engines rather than the fuselage which are both much smaller and unlikely to tell you anything useful even if found.

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Re: If you found the plane it wouldn't bring the people back.

We've spent £11m on a search for a single missing girl so far. $300m for a plane load of missing passengers seems good value by comparison.

Note I don't agree on either amount being spent...

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Re: If you found the plane it wouldn't bring the people back.

Oh there are 8 t w a t s here to downvote you!

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Re: If you found the plane it wouldn't bring the people back.

Cynic 999

"There is perhaps a case to be made for fitting a very tough buoyant locator transmitter to the exterior of aircraft in such a way that it will break away in the event of a crash."

No, there is no viable case for an external breakaway ELT and the currents would move it off site very quickly. The maintenance costs and reliability issues would eliminate that.

Only active satellite tracking like Spidertracks and its competitors can be made foolproof. It has been working for over ten years and, unlike ELTs has a zero false negative failure rate due to its design.

The ELT works by being activated by an inertia switch then transmitting a signal on two frequencies. It will not work under water, if the inertia switch fails or if the antenna or cabling is damaged. Search aircraft then need to home in on the signal, if there is one, or search a massive area if there is no signal.

Spidertracks sends a signal to a satellite every two minutes (it can be set shorter). The signal includes location, altitude, speed and heading. It can be set so it can only be turned off by shutting down all the engines.

If a signal fails to reach the satellite the system automatically generates emails and text messages that contain all the relevant data so search aircraft can be sent to the very small search area as soon as crewed and fueled.

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Re: If you found the plane it wouldn't bring the people back.

Well, if you find areas in the Indian ocean blacked out in satelite images, or reduced in resolution compared to others.

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This is what Lost looks like to the rest of the world. They've simply gotten stuck in a TV series.

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Flat earth, obviously

The earth is flat. It flew off the edge.Did nobody think of that?

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Meh

Man up

"...societally unacceptable...for a large commercial aircraft to be missing and for the world not to know with certainty what became of..."

As a kid, I would wander from home, maybe climb a tree or two. I recall once for a thrill making my way across a railway bridge (on the outside). If I'd never made it home I doubt that the world would be much different now. I quite like the notion that there are still places you could disappear and never be found, somewhere still neglected by Amber Rudd, GCHQ and the CIA. If you step outside your home or fly across an ocean, there's a risk. It would be useful to know what happened, but that's a long way from insisting that we monitor every inch of the planet (unless you're a company looking to sell numerous radar and other systems to satisfy those who can't handle uncertainty).

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If we can't find a single body in a rubbish dump (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disappearance_of_Corrie_McKeague for non-UK readers) why is anyone surprised that we can't find a plane of wreckage in the ocean?

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ALIENS!!! Or perhaps we could train some dolphins? hahahahaha

Ok Seriously now, we will find it eventually. There will be someone looking for something else or on some other task and will stumble across it. My question is, how much time can pass with pressure and sea water before the data recorders are totally useless if not already?

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The data recorders batteries have already run out. We will never find it, unless a ship sinks or a cable breaks right next to it, in the next couple decades before it gets covered up and becomes unrecognizable on the ocean floor.

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The batteries that ran out were for the locator beacon.

If the actual data storage for the recorders is in Flash memory then it should last a few years, at least assuming no damage to the IC packages letting in water or from mechanical stress. The AF447 recorder was recovered after nearly 2 years, for example, and cold water would tend to slow down leakage of data from the flash cells.

I do agree about the remote chance of finding it though. Someone may stumble onto the wreckage later, but as you say it's also possible it will be covered by a layer of silt and therefore eventually invisible. And it's suspected that the voice recorder wouldn't tell us the original cause anyway since it would not include the start of the flight when the unexplained maneuvers started. Similarly the data recorder may also just include running out of fuel at the end followed by descent :(

Hence the decision not to spend another $100M on an uncertain search seems understandable.

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Unhappy

"Societally unacceptable"

The authors of the report are correct: it is societally unacceptable that an a/c and all those aboard can vanish without trace. But unacceptability has always been intrinsic to human life. Earlier generations of my family had to contend with the unacceptable reality of polio and diptheria; still earlier, the unacceptable reality of cholera and contaminated water. And before that: etc, etc, etc. Yet that very unacceptability was the stimulus for change, whether over decades or centuries.

What change, one wonders, is going to arise from the societally unacceptable MH370?

Is it really the case that in the 21st Century we're as much reliant on blind faith as people were in the 11th Century? That we have to go along with a lethal reality today in hope that somehow and in some way it might be neutralised tomorrow? Or is it the case that within today's technology there already exists the potential to deal with this?

As things are, I've no idea what happened to that flight. Have no speculation to voice, and wouldn't for a moment pay the slightest attention to repellent conspiracy theorists and the fantasies they invent.

The only invention in which I'm interested, here in my pax seat aboard a civil a/c cruising at 35000 ft through the midnight hour above a vast ocean, is the invention that will mean that whatever fate befalls this flight and I don't make it home, at least my wife and kids will know what happened, and in their grieving will be able to understand the reason why.

My curiosity then is not about MH370 because, very obviously, there are no answers at this time. What's passed from sight is past. It's today and all the tomorrows that are my concern, and the question as to how near -- or far -- is the day when nothing like the societally unacceptable MH370 can happen again.

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We Know it is now where they Looked

One thing for sure and certain is the plane definitely did not crash where they looked for it, then why did they look there, to draw attention away from some where else, still most popular rumour Diego Garcia and shot down by the US as a threat and then cleaned up.

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Anonymous Coward

I know its a massive over simplification, but could the black box not be ejected from the plane shortly before/after impact, a small CO2 Canister to inflate an some kind of flotation device would see it bobbing about at least CLOSE to the crash site... It doesnt even need to be the black box.. maybe just a load of small botany transponders released on impact with water?

There must be ways that this could be mitigated in future...

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Bronze badge

This is basically how ELTs work, albeit via a different mechanism.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emergency_position-indicating_radiobeacon_station#Automatic_hydrostatic_release_unit

They are widely used at sea - I have no idea whether they are standard for aircrafts but some definitely have them. (Like the 787 whose ELT caught fire on Heathrow - oh, the irony!)

I think I have seen proposals to include a data recorder in them as well.

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Anonymous Coward

Remote Coverage

I think the plane had remote control capability namely the Boeing Honeywell ‘Uninterruptible’ Autopilot System. Does that only work over radar covered areas?

I did hear (wrongly?) that once enabled it kills the flight transponder so a plane that has been remotely taken over no longer appears on (transponder) flight traking systems.

Who was onboard again? Oh no don't bother, it's naive to think we need reasons.

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Not the full story

Pilot had some issue with his employer so then took the plane off course and crashed it into the ocean. His probable thinking is "that will show you, and cost you"

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Anonymous Coward

Let a have a look.

A friend of mine, in circles that would know, after some discussion with somebody else who I don't know, thought that if the plane had been transporting illegal banned radiotive, biological or chemical weapon, and something went wrong, the pilot had military training and would have ditched the plane where it did. That is his theory, but it is important to find it to prove what "actually happened".

Now reality, they claim a position based on some servicing signal sent to satelites. At first they claimed not to know if the path was over the indian ocean or towards Eurasia. Then they claimed to have determined it was to the Indian ocean. How do we know any of this is true, or not in some way mistaken. If the above scenario of something being covered up where true, it could have been turned towards a destination going towards Eurasia, with all aligned nations misreporting it. If terrorist related and a mistake made, it could be sent the same path, with everybody dead from lack of oxygen. In all these cases independent verification, and in this case, verifications that these are actual recordings of the aircraft at the time, can yeild some answers.

Now, let's get towards some much less controversial options, which I'm pretty much hoping might be it. Signals are such little things and anylsis with only so much resolution. So, mistakes can move the zone to where the plane is not. Altitude winds and local winds, can affect the length of flight, making it fall short, left, right or long. The pilot can choose a undesirable altitude or heading, and do so after the last ping, even fly in circles, go straight up or down, turn engines off at anytime, or dump fuel and end up way short. We don't know.

Now, I pretty much have said this all along, that a detailed micro analysis of current, wave and wind movements against the shape of items washed up on African beaches in 3D simulations, can back track to likely point of origin of the crash zone (if we have the data and processing power). But, then again, how do we know that the items are actually from the plane, and also not just dumped in the ocean.

Now, the earth is being photographed by satelites. Some are amazingly detailed, some are not. It is possible to see the effect of a much smaller item than the satelite's pixels, especially over time. Discolorisation, or odd brightness level, of a pixel indicates something might be there. It is possible to track items from crash to where they wash up, and in reverse, over subsequent pictures. The size and shape of items will have an average effect over adjacent pixels depending on its orientation and placement relative to pixel boundaries, wave action, sun angle and weather. But basically a computer program could be made to detect and track the more visible items back to the crash site. Volunteers could scan the Indian ocean for crash debris from shoots on the day or week. If it can't be found, then it probably didn't happen at that location.

The sea floor. The cheapest way to scan existing and new areas are by drone. Using suitable wavelengths of light to penetrate water and pickup reflections, in a photographic or lidar like fashion, you can pickup images. Far, far cheaper than what was done, when you apply cost over future crash scenes. There is a scientific drone that works on little energy that glides up and down the water column, using the pressure differences to reduce energy consumption (plus put a solar cell on it). Combined with a suitable energy source it could glide along the bottom for short stretches come up transmit data recharge (though certain nuclear options available to US and Chinese navies are an option) would eventually get through a search area. The issue is that over a certain period of time things can get covered, moved and/or float down a trench or other feature and be covered. So time is of the essence.

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