back to article We're not looking for MH370 in the wrong place say investigators

Dutch geosciences company Fugro has denied that the search for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 has been conducted in the wrong place. Reuters yesterday quoted Fugro figures as saying that the chosen search area assumes the plane met a sudden end, but that if the crew were awake the plane could have glided well beyond …

  1. Sampler
    Joke

    Given that they haven't found it...

    ..by very definition, they're looking in the wrong place?

    1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Given that they haven't found it...

      ...or they're not done yet.

      Your 'Joke Alert' icon noted, but this clarification still useful.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge

        Re: Given that they haven't found it...

        "..or they're not done yet."

        how long did it take to find the Titanic with modern equipment? I'd figure something smaller than Titanic might be harder to find, and it may be deeper there.

        I suspect classified military information might have already pinpointed its location, right after the crash, even [which is why they keep searching "those areas"]. But revealing classified information can lead to "oh, you have THOSE capabilities!" revelations to people who shouldn't know such things...

        So the only help they could give is a circle drawn on a map, and a "we think it's within this area someplace". And if there wasn't a submarine on station within a few days of the crash, listening to the underwater beacon in order to get a proper fix on it, I'd be VERY surprised. But underwater, sound does NOT travel in a straight line, the detailed knowledge of oceanographic and other factors that affect sound propagation is probably STILL classified, and even the locations of a submarine is classified as SECRET and above (for the U.S. Navy), and probably similar for Australia, Russia, and China, and any OTHER country that might have a sub in the area. So there you go.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Mark 85 Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Given that they haven't found it...

      But..but... you always find what you're looking for in the last place you look. Now if we just learn to look there first.

    4. mi1400

      Re: Given that they haven't found it...

      This is also very similar as U.S/U.K spent all the fortunes to dig the culprits of lockerbie from thin air while still criminally ignoring the cause of malaysian mh370. i.e. Primary Radar data both U.S and U.K not interested in letting to reach victims or their lawyers ...

      http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/MH17_relatives_demand_release_of_radar_images_999.html

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Mushroom

        Re: Given that they haven't found it...

        Just out of curiosity, can you point where the UK or the US are mentioned in the article you have cited? As far as I can see it is the Netherlands and Russia are mentioned, no-one else. Also UK/US do not have any primary radar assets in the region, so I don't know why your rant is being directed at them unless it is just trying to get up-votes from those who believe that the US/UK axis is behind every bad event in the world.

        1. Triggerfish

          Re: Given that they haven't found it... @ mi1400

          Your confusing MH17 shot down over the Ukraine with MH370 lost somewhere near Asia.

        2. mi1400

          Re: Given that they haven't found it...

          lick this... from same article

          They are also demanding that the United States hand over its evidence. ... saying they had images showing the missile's trajectory. .... Kiev has backed Washington's version of events

          may the clown donald trump become ur president.

          1. Alfred

            Re: Given that they haven't found it...

            @mi1400:

            As someone said above, wrong aeroplane. We're talking about mh370; the one that vanished into the sea west of Australia. You're thinking of the one shot down over Ukraine.

            1. mi1400

              Re: Given that they haven't found it...

              @Alfred ... dear Alfred i know and understand what ppl are correcting me on ... my first post and opening line was "This is also very similar as..." . I know article is about different plane. I was raising point on side note about similar case.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Given that they haven't found it...

                "@Alfred ... dear Alfred i know and understand what ppl are correcting me on ... my first post and opening line was "This is also very similar as..." . I know article is about different plane. I was raising point on side note about similar case."

                well, allow me to correct you on something else 'very similar as...', this is not a standard English construct, try 'very similar to...'

    5. TechnicalBen Silver badge

      Re: Given that they haven't found it...

      An upvote for the joke. But technically the search space could cover the right place. It could just be far too large, or the right part is the last part they will search...

      ... wait, by definition the right place is the last place they search.

  2. mark 177

    Comms?

    You think that with no power and many, many miles from land, they could communicate with someone? Unlikely, I think. Way beyond the range of air traffic control, and unlikely to be many planes in that region.

    1. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

      Re: Comms?

      Think up. Way up. What SIGINT did we see in that time period?

    2. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: Comms?

      Every aircraft has several Emergency Locator Beacon units, which have independent batteries.

      - You might remember a fire in a parked 787-Dreamliner at Heathrow on 12th July 2013.

      The ones built into the structure of the aircraft are all relatively simple for the crew manually trigger, precisely for this type of situation.

      They work by satellite and are automatically activated in the event of a crash, so the fact no signals were received implies an impact that either destroyed them, or sank them very quickly.

    3. Vic

      Re: Comms?

      You think that with no power and many, many miles from land, they could communicate with someone?

      But they would have power.

      A 777 has two engines, each with a generator. It also has an APU, with a generator. And if all those have failed, it has a RAT - which turns a generator. Power can be bussed from any source to any device.

      The aircraft would have been powered until it hit the water. There would have been plenty of time to get out a distress call, had someone been minded so to do.

      Vic.

  3. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Phil Kingston Silver badge

      Re: MH370 and MH17 were organised by the same people

      "The fact that a Ukrainian or Polish pilot may have pulled the trigger is immaterial"

      And wrong. Everyone knows Elvis did it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: MH370 and MH17 were organised by the same people

      @A_Melbourne

      Hey, didn't I just see a picture of you playing with a toy truck in a Miami road?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: MH370 and MH17 were organised by the same people

      9/11 conspiracy theories come from Americans not being able to accept that they are the bad guys.

      Then overly complex theories aren't needed, and it was simple payback for meddling in foreign affairs.

      1. kain preacher Silver badge

        Re: MH370 and MH17 were organised by the same people

        There is good amount put out by the saudis to. i wounder why ?

    4. VulcanV5

      Re: MH370 and MH17 were organised by the same people

      "Not a single body on board had any schrapnel."

      Agreed. Whereas your body is showing every sign of too much schnapps.

      1. wolfetone Silver badge

        Re: MH370 and MH17 were organised by the same people

        MH17 from the underside looked a lot like the Russian jet Putin flies in. So if I fought for the Ukraine and I had access to a BUK missile launcher and I saw that, well you know what would happen.

      2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

        Re: MH370 and MH17 were organised by the same people

        Too much schnapps, too little dried frog pills.

    5. Bitbeisser

      Re: MH370 and MH17 were organised by the same people

      Bullcarp!

      The DSB report states clearly that the front of the plane was hit by the fragments of an SA-11 warhead, and such "butterfly" fragments were found embedded in the recovered cockpit crew's bodies.

      And the pictures of the reconstructed front of the plane doesn't look anything like "peppered by cannon fire" (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/mh17-report-buk-warhead-exploded-a-metre-away-from-planes-cockpit-and-started-fatal-break-up-a6692346.html)

      On top of that, shortly after the shot-down, the supposedly rebel leader, Igor Gorkin (in fact outed as a FSB agent), posted a social media post bragging that they shot down another high flying Ukrainian AN-26 (they claimed on 3 days earlier, confirmed by the Ukrainian Airforce) only to remove that post as soon as it became clear that the plane they had shot down was in fact a 3rd party civilian airliner. And that despite they claimed later not to have any missiles that can reach a plane flying that high...

      Looks like you need to replace your tinfoil head and white-blue-red shades, they seem to be a bit worn out...

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: MH370 and MH17 were organised by the same people

        "Bullcarp!"

        Sexist pig! (or sexist sow, if you prefer) What's wrong with hencarp? Or fishcarp if we want to be gender neutral.

        You know what's really funny? Crap was the semi-polite word to replace the very vulgar shit. Now crap has exactly the same vulgar connotations as shit, some people can't even bring themselves to say crap. Next thing you know people will be mis-spelling Golly Gosh and Good Gravy because everyone knows they are polite terms for blasphemous phrases :-)

  4. Brian Miller

    They're almost done..

    Let's see, 110,000 out of 120,000 square miles, so it's almost done. Will they find it? Well, since by definition it's in the last place they look, then it must be behind the couch, or maybe even under the cushions.

    Really, the reliance on technology like it's some sort of oracle is just ridiculous. Plane crashes in the ocean, and everybody thinks it should be bobbing around like a cork. Steve Fossett crashed in the Sierra Nevada mountains, and was discovered purely by accident about a year later. Every day the search was active, they discovered a new wreck.

    It's been two years. All of the relatives know their loved ones are dead. Time to move on.

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Re: They're almost done..

      Difficult to move on without some closure, no matter what you know on the rational level. Thing is, humans aren't rational beings. (And if you doubt this, just look at some of the discussions in the forums here.) Funerals are for the living. If they were done simply because of the hygienic issues a dead body will rise, there would be no need for all the rituals involved. This goes way, way back in our history as a species; even the Neanderthals buried their dead in some sort of ceremony.

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: They're almost done..

      It's been two years. All of the relatives know their loved ones are dead. Time to move on.

      They may "know" it (for some value of "know") but many don't believe it. Just look at some of the comments here on El Reg with all sorts of explanations for Apollo, plane crashes, 9/11,etc. People are conditioned in many places to needing to see the body. By now, I'm sure there's little that remains of the people on board that plane... but there are those that will insist.

    3. Sampler

      Re: They're almost done..

      @Brian Miller - yeah, after two years the smoke monster's bound to have got them by now...

  5. Syntax Error

    It was a very professional job by whoever who did it. It was done by someone with pilot knowledge.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      You REALLY need to use the joke icon in this place. There seems to be a lot of people here who miss the most obvious cues. Subtle ones are simply beyond those people.

  6. Faux Science Slayer

    Non Interuptable Autopilot....

    "How to Steal an Airplane, from 9/11 to MH-370" a Corbett Report on YouTube....

  7. wolfetone Silver badge

    No One Wants The Flight Found

    This is something that will never be solved, because no one really wants to find it.

    Take the idea one (or both) of the pilots did it, it isn't too hard for the black box and flight recorders to be turned off. It's been done before on different suicide flights. So even if they find the plane and the black boxes, there's a high chance nothing will be on them.

    If it's a genuine flight issue that didn't have input from pilots (like a fire for example), the longer it's down there the more likely the data will be damaged beyond repair. So it'll be harder to get any sort of information from the black boxes.

    If it was part of a conspiracy by a Government body, then I suppose you can roll it back to the first scenario where the data recording is turned off. Dump the plane somewhere that would make it super difficult to find, and even if it was found make it super hard to find out what happened to it. Add to this the high possibility that there is a nation in the world who has a satellite who spotted the plane and probably knows where it is, but if they ever said so other countries would start asking questions like "Why were you spying there?"

    Like it's already been said, it's more or less certain now the people on this plane are dead. We're going through this process of finding a plane that is most likely in bits in a part of the world that's difficult to recover things from, let alone find it. What happens if they find the plane but it's useless because they can't extrapolate any data from it? The families will suffer more, because surely it's worse to think you will never know what happened to your loved one compared to not knowing where they are?

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: No One Wants The Flight Found

      You'd need the entire crew to be involved in such a conspiracy, or one of the cabin crew would pop to the "toilet" and hit the button on the emergency locator beacon.

      There is no large conspiracy here. The plane suffered an event that incapacitated everyone on board, and it's computers kept it flying until they couldn't.

      There are things to learn from this, and one of the big reasons for keeping looking is to find out what that initial event was, and why the pilots and crew did not communicate during or after it.

      The aircraft itself did keep squawking, it just had nothing to say - so that's one obvious change to onboard systems.

      1. Chris Miller

        Re: No One Wants The Flight Found

        The incapacitation theory needs to account for the known facts that all the active location systems were disabled and the aircraft then flew a course that appears carefully chosen to avoid passive radar detection followed by a final course change to take it to the middle of the Indian ocean.

      2. wolfetone Silver badge

        Re: No One Wants The Flight Found

        "You'd need the entire crew to be involved in such a conspiracy, or one of the cabin crew would pop to the "toilet" and hit the button on the emergency locator beacon."

        Not really, you only need one pilot to leave the cockpit for any of this to take place. It's very possible that one of the pilots left the cockpit, the door closed behind them, and the remaining pilot turned the pressurisation mode to manual. This would mean the cabin would start to depressurise, lose oxygen etc.

        Doing this would trigger alarms etc, as well as automatically dropping the overhead masks to the passengers due to the plane knowing it has an issue. The oxygen though would only last 12 minutes with these masks. If there's a panic on board in this event (Which there would be), through that panic more oxygen would be used. Especially if the now outside pilot is banging against the door. The pilot flying the plane has a different oxygen system which (as far as I know) doesn't run out or lasts a lot longer than 12 minutes. The plane loses oxygen, everyone without oxygen passes out. This happened on Helios 522 when the ground crew didn't reset the pressurisation switch from manual. In that instance it took around 20 minutes for the plane to get to an altitude where there was no oxygen and for the pilots to succumb to it.

        In this case the plane had already passed 18,000 feet with no issues (altitude warnings on Helios occured at 12,000 ft) after it took off at 12:40am. The last radio message with the flight was at 1:20am. So it had been flying for 40 minutes without an issue. The plane was last seen on secondary radar at 1:20am, then last seen by primary radar at 2:20am at an entirely different position. So the plane had made that sharp turn and deviated from it's course. But if you're the only soul on the plane then you have all the time in the world to go and turn all of the bits and pieces off.

        "There are things to learn from this, and one of the big reasons for keeping looking is to find out what that initial event was, and why the pilots and crew did not communicate during or after it."

        I know and understand, but by now there will be no physical evidence (in terms of autopsy) that could be performed on any of the passengers or crew. So you won't know whether or not what I said happened and whether the pilot topped himself with drink and drugs while the plane was on autopilot. Physical damage to the plane might be visible if you find enough parts, but even then you could be left with the scenario that the plane itself was fine.

        "The aircraft itself did keep squawking, it just had nothing to say - so that's one obvious change to onboard systems."

        You have to apply Arkhams Razor to this. The plane crashed through physical interaction as the flight moved in between radar corridors so it couldn't be tracked. The likelyhood this happened without manual input or was pure coincidence is so unlikely it couldn't be considered.

        You're then left with trying to find a motive, and sometimes that goes with people to the grave.

        1. myhandler

          Re: No One Wants The Flight Found

          >>> You have to apply Arkhams Razor to this.

          It's Occam, William of Occam, my good chap.

          1. dajames Silver badge

            Re: No One Wants The Flight Found

            >>> You have to apply Arkhams Razor to this.

            It's Occam, William of Occam, my good chap.

            Yes, but I quite liked the idea of Arkham's Razor ...

            What would that be? Make no more assumptions than are necessary, and then ascribe everything to betentacled monsters from another dimension anyway?

      3. Vic

        Re: No One Wants The Flight Found

        You'd need the entire crew to be involved in such a conspiracy, or one of the cabin crew would pop to the "toilet" and hit the button on the emergency locator beacon.

        Nope. The ELT is triggered from the cockpit. A single bad actor in the cockpit could take full control of the aircraft - as we saw in the Germanwings crash in the Alps.

        The plane suffered an event that incapacitated everyone on board, and it's computers kept it flying until they couldn't.

        If true, that is not the whole story. We know there was at least one bad actor in the cockpit from the fact that the aircraft flew a number of legs through standard waypoints that were not part of the flight planb. That means that either someone was hand-flying the plane - quite precisely, from the look of the radar track - or (more likely, IMHO) someone programmed in a new set of waypoints into the FD. This isn't something you do by accident...

        The aircraft itself did keep squawking, it just had nothing to say - so that's one obvious change to onboard systems.

        Errr - nope. The squawk was initially downgraded from Mode S (presumably to Mode C), and then eventually turned off completely. But while it was turned on, it was transmitting everything you would expect it to; were you thinking of ACARS?

        Vic.

    2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: No One Wants The Flight Found

      Really? Other than a handful of nut-jobs, everyone in the area of science and technology wants to know what happened so there is a better chance of it not happening again.

      This is not some shitty OS that crashes and people just shrug their shoulders, reboot, and try to redo the last hour or twos lost work. Here it really matters!

      Even if it turns out to be a human fault, or even a deliberate action, we can learn and make it less likely in the future. As already pointed out, the lack of a squawk that said something useful about location and status is something that is trivial to remedy, but some other failure scenario may be present but no one has seen it yet (other than the poor souls on board MH370) so knowing that would allow something to be done.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Re: everyone [..] wants [..] a better chance of it not happening again

        Spot on. I am certainly very curious to know what could happen on a plane that could incapacitate hundreds of people before anyone could hit an emergency button of any sort, and do that without blowing the plane out of the sky immediately.

        Explosive decompression is out of the question, because even if it happened in the pilot area, someone would have been able to get in and radio a mayday.

        Fire on board would take too long to avoid a mayday.

        No structural damage would have killed everyone without also making the plane fall from the sky.

        The only practical possibility I see is a gas of some sort, or gradual lack of oxygen, that made everyone fall asleep without noticing. How to explain its presence is beyond me, but there has been a prior case of an airplane that crashed because the pilots hadn't seen that the oxygen system was not activated so they did not have any oxygen renewal at 15000 feet and all fell asleep, then into a coma. They were dead before the plane crashed. So there is a precedent of sorts to this kind of situation, but outside of terrorist attack, which would have been claimed, I can't see how something like it could have happened.

        1. patrickstar

          Re: everyone [..] wants [..] a better chance of it not happening again

          For good reasons (Think about it...), pilots often don't prioritize radio communication when desperately trying to save the aircraft in a sudden emergency. Look at the recent Egypt Air crash. Probable on-board fire - no radio comms.

          1. david 64

            Re: everyone [..] wants [..] a better chance of it not happening again

            Aviate, Navigate, Communicate.

          2. Vic

            Re: everyone [..] wants [..] a better chance of it not happening again

            For good reasons (Think about it...), pilots often don't prioritize radio communication when desperately trying to save the aircraft in a sudden emergency

            Yes we do.

            If you don't get a mayday call out, you don't get any[1] assistance...

            Vic.

            [1] Not strictly true; an overdue aircraft will triger Searach and Rescue - but as we see here, if there's no communication from the aircraft, it's very difficult to find the wreck.

        2. Vic

          Re: everyone [..] wants [..] a better chance of it not happening again

          I am certainly very curious to know what could happen on a plane that could incapacitate hundreds of people before anyone could hit an emergency button of any sort, and do that without blowing the plane out of the sky immediately.

          But you don't need to incapacitate everyone - there is an armoured door between the cockpit and the cabin. All you need do is to have a bad actor alone in front of that door - as we say in the Germanwings crash.

          Explosive decompression is out of the question, because even if it happened in the pilot area, someone would have been able to get in and radio a mayday.

          No. Explosive decompression kills everyone instantly. There's video around of reconstructions of the Comet explosions; no-one would be around long enough to do anything.

          Vic.

    3. skebenga

      Re: No One Wants The Flight Found

      In 1987, SAA lost a B747 Combi aircraft, the Helderberg, in deep water. Much of the conspiracy discussion around the loss of MH370 mirrors that around the Helderberg at the time and since. Recovery of the wreck took 2 years.

      So why do it?

      Because something caused the plan to crash, and finding out what will prevent further occurrences. In the case of the Helderberg, the cause was clearly a fire, and the commission of enquiry determined that the firefighting regulations for that class of aeroplane were hugely inadequate, having not been updated since the 1940s. We will probably never know the cause of the fire, but who knows how many other 747 Combis have been saved from a similar fate by the resultant change in regulations.

      That's why we need to know what happened to MH370. Until it is recovered and the cause of the crash is determined, some residual suspicion is going to linger over the B777. Finding the wreckage may not solve the mystery, but it will certainly rule out some possible causes, which is all good.

    4. Fatman Silver badge

      Re: No One Wants The Flight Found

      <quote>Dump the plane somewhere that would make it super difficult to find, and even if it was found make it super hard to find out what happened to it.</quote>

      In the movie The Hunt for Red October, there is a scene where the US sub commander and the American agent discuss how to make the Russian sub disappear. The agent finds a deep spot on the charts, and sends that location to the Russian sub commander.

      It is part of this clip:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBU6C6lA6vI

      and can be found at about 1:35 - 1:39.

  8. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    The truth is whatever people choose to believe

    Inmarsat may have delivered what those looking for the plane call the best theory as to where it went down but it looks to others that it is rather flimsy and convenient 'evidence', produced after the fact to put MH370 where the official narrative wants it to be put, and placing the investigation firmly under control of five eyes nations.

    Whenever someone suggests the official narrative is wrong, the very fact they seem to immediately retract that and fall in line with the official narrative, should raise eyebrows. It is as if someone had gone and had a quiet word with them, explained what would be best for them.

    When debris washed up other than where the ocean current models predicted it would it seemed the ocean current models were likewise changed to suit the narrative.

    And there is no escaping the glaring reality that MH370 has not been found where they said it would be found, are adamant that it will be found.

    One has to wonder why they are so stubbornly sticking to a narrative which does not seem to be holding up, why they are so opposed to considering other alternatives? One has to wonder if it being something else is just so damaging that it cannot be allowed to be otherwise.

    I do not believe the wilder conspiracy theories but I do not believe we are being told the truth either, nor ever will be. I do not expect they will ever find MH370 because I don't believe they are looking in the right place. And I think that was intended.

    1. Alfred

      Re: The truth is whatever people choose to believe

      "produced after the fact"

      Yeah, exactly. Normally, when something crashes, people know where it's going to crash *before* it happens. Coming up with the idea of where it crashed *after* the crash happens is very suspicious.

      1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

        Re: The truth is whatever people choose to believe

        Normally, when something crashes, people know where it's going to crash *before* it happens. Coming up with the idea of where it crashed *after* the crash happens is very suspicious.

        What I mean is that it was suggested MH370 had gone down off the coast of Australia, and then the Inmarsat analysis conveniently confirmed that narrative when there was no other evidence to support such a claim.

        But you do raise a good point. A plane heading in one direction would be expected to crash in the direction it was heading if it were going to crash. Rather than turn round for no explained reason and then crash in the entirely opposite direction.

        If American police said they believed a criminal was hiding out in Mexico when last seen fleeing north to Canada; would that not seem suspicious, at least raise questions as to how they arrived at their conclusion?

        Does pulling a friendly Fed out the bag who claims they were going south not sound purely convenient when there is no other supporting evidence?

        1. Vic

          Re: The truth is whatever people choose to believe

          What I mean is that it was suggested MH370 had gone down off the coast of Australia

          It wasn't. The initial reports gave both northern and southern possibilities. Then Inmarsat came up with its ACARS ping analysis which pointed to the southern arc.

          Now I've not seen the maths they used, and I can't verify that they've got the right answer. But I can categorically say that my memory of the early reports is entirely different to yours.

          Vic.

  9. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    MH370 ELT details here...

    http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/25/world/asia/malaysia-airlines-flight-370-beacons/

    http://eandt.theiet.org/magazine/2014/03/flight-mh370-emergency.cfm

  10. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    So?

    There are lots of theories about what happened but so far they are all evidence-free, and for that reason alone, finding the wreckage is important. The search area was based on the best guesses - so it's not surprising that we haven't found it yet. Expanding the search area to 3-4 times the size would improve the chances but will take a lot more time and money without any guarantee that we'll be successful.

    Lats time I checked, the jury was still out on the Mary Celeste, some things will always be mysteries ...

  11. David Pearce

    What we do know is that the tiny fragments found show that the plane did not gently land in the water and sink in one piece, as was originally suggested. They are so shredded that it looks like the impact speed was high. This means that the debris would be in scattered over a large area and easily overlooked by the sonar, which has really been looking for complete wings or fuselage sections

    1. druck
      Thumb Up

      At last someone posting sense.

      The underwater terrain in that region is so mountainous and irregular they would have difficulty finding the wreckage above water with radar or optically, never mind at depths of many thousands of feed with far lower resolution sonar. They may have passed very close, but not seen it, if it was shadowed by a gully.

      Remember how long it took to find Steve Fossett's plane in Sierra Nevada (smaller aircraft, but less scattered on impact), in a far smaller and easily reachable search area.

      1. Tikimon Silver badge
        WTF?

        Come on, how long did it take to find the TITANIC?

        The Titanic had plenty of time to send a distress call with her estimated position. It was incorrect by some miles, but nevertheless accurate enough for the Carpathia to easily find her lifeboats the next morning.

        Given that excellent starting point, it still took decades to find what was one of the world's largest shipwrecks. Furthermore, the ship was in two large sections, and debris from the quite solidly built ship was spread over square miles. This included steam engines two or three stories tall and multiple large iron boilers. Great targets to search for.

        MH370 was a smaller, lightly-built aircraft. It likely shattered into thousands of pieces. I'm not at all surprised that it has not been found in a mere two years. No conspiracy necessary.

    2. GrapeBunch Bronze badge

      Must've made a gawdawful thump when it hit the water, audible to whales and ....? Only a micro blip to a listening device in Chile and another in Singapore, but then one could triangulate.

  12. Johan Bastiaansen

    Who designed this?

    "the lack of a squawk that said something useful about location and status is something that is trivial to remedy" Why is it squawking only gibberish and not something usefull then. Surely a couple of coordinates, heading and speed every 15 minutes doesn't take to much bandwidth?

    Helios 522 "the pilots hadn't seen that the oxygen system was not activated" Gee, and nobody ever considered putting a warning on a vital system?

    "and the remaining pilot turned the pressurisation mode to manual". A "kill all the passengers button" can be very handy indeed. Could I get one installed in my car you think? Or would that raise eyebrows?

    So again, who designed this?

    1. Down not across Silver badge

      Re: Who designed this?

      Some very clever aircraft engineers. Automatic systems aren't foolproof. Air craft accident investigations have also already shown that despite best intentions and precautions, there are always unexpected failure situations.

      Most importantly the basic design ethos of the pilot always being in control. Every automation and assist that modern planes have (and they have a lot) can be turned off because history has shown that in unusual situation human ingenuity still trumps over automation. Mostly.

      1. Johan Bastiaansen

        Re: Who designed this?

        Very clever? I wonder.

        I remember a Turkish airliner where the pilot was effectively overruled by the automatic pilot who decided the plane had already landed so it simply refused to continue flying. So it crashed short of the landing strip in Schiphol. Of course, that was decided human error as well, because hey, the pilot is always in control right. In my opinion: poor design.

        Not squawking useful information like location, heading and speed: poor design.

        No warning when the automatic oxygen system isn't activated: poor design

        The autopilot deciding the plane has already landed because an altimeter shows a reading that's blatantly wrong: poor design.

        Deciding to shut the cabin door with only one pilot at the controls: stupid! Whoever decided this should be put in front of a firing squad. Live ammo for me please.

        Blaming the pilot for this: incompetents covering their ass.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          It's a bit more nuanced than that...

          (1) The engine throttling back on Turkish Airlines 1951 crash was indeed a malfunction but didn't directly override the pilots. Instead they neglected to disengage the commanded autothrottle and let it resume control, not noticing that the thrust levers moved back to idle when they took their hands off. Worryingly the exact same fault had occurred twice in the preceding eight landings without the pilots losing control but also without any apparent corrective action (like taking the plane out for repair). See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turkish_Airlines_Flight_1951#Investigation.

          (2) Not squawking critical data - many airliners do, but it's an ACARS service the airline has to pay for. According to various airliners.net threads Malaysian didn't pay for it, so they only had the engine data (used by Rolls Royce for the power-by-the-hour leasing). There has been much discussion about mandating this service, at least in the big parts of the aviation world (USA, Europe). However that wouldn't have mattered because the radio transmitters were disabled just after the final contact - only the hourly Inmarsat satellite handshakes remained which being a low-level automated function would escape the notice of most attackers (if it was an attack rather than a chain of accidents). Generally pilots want to be able to switch anything and everything off if they need to, e.g. when trying to extinguish fires, so all transmitters have circuit breakers, etc. Pilots will point to the 787 fire at Heathrow caused by an EPIRB battery fault as an example for why this is overall a good thing.

          (3) "No warning when the automatic oxygen system isn't activated" - presuming you're talking about Helios 522 crash, the warnings triggered as designed but because the horn sound used isn't unique it confused the flight crew into debugging the wrong problem; thereafter they suffered conceptual tunnel vision until they blacked out, never donning their oxygen masks. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helios_Airways_Flight_522#Flight_and_crash

          (4) Cockpit door locks - presuming you're talking about German Wings 9525, there is indeed an override for the crew to regain access, but it in turn can be overridden by someone in the cockpit (and it was) This design is a compromise between trying to keep hijackers out and trying to prevent accidental lock-outs (sole pilot collapses, etc). Many airlines require two crew in cockpit at all times, so when a pilot needs the toilet a flight attendant remains in place. This might have prevented Andreas Lubitz from crashing the plane, unless he was prepared to violently attack the attendant. The two crew rules was subsequently made mandatory for German planes.

          There is an endless debate about the role of automation in aviation (one which we're beginning to see with self-driving cars too) - it works quite well enough to lull pilots into inattention (so much so that some airlines prevent the pilots from activating the whole flight plan at the start, to keep them periodically busy), and inevitably there are innumerable corner cases. In many modern disasters a critical factor appears to be failing to synthesise the information usefully for the operator, so a chain of alarms are triggered and under stress the operators start debugging minor symptoms - this may have been so in Turkish 1951, was in Air France 447, Helios 522, and notoriously Three Mile Island. It's a real and hard design problem - at what point does the system identify that it has no good automated response and how does it most usefully demand the human's decisions?

        2. Vic

          Re: Who designed this?

          I remember a Turkish airliner where the pilot was effectively overruled by the automatic pilot who decided the plane had already landed so it simply refused to continue flying

          No you don't. You remember an incident where a faulty radio altimeter caused the autothrottle to behave as it should have if the aircraft were at the altitude reported. The pilots were supposed to be monitoring the situation - but did not act appropriately, and failed to respond to the audible warnings generated as a result of the fault.

          Not squawking useful information like location, heading and speed

          Every Mode S transponder transmits all that data. But the transponder can be turned off by the pilot - and that must be the case. MH370's transponder was deliberately degraded to Mode C, and then switched off entirely.

          No warning when the automatic oxygen system isn't activated

          The pilots run through various checklists during the phases of the flight. In a multi-crew aircraft, such as a 777, the pilots check each other's work. The emergency systems are part of that, even if the aircraft does require any action from the flight crew.

          The autopilot deciding the plane has already landed because an altimeter shows a reading that's blatantly wrong

          Aircraft faults have consequences. The aircrew is there to sort them out. In the case of the flight you are belabouring, the aircrew failed in their responsibility to fly the plane. That was the outcome of the enquiry - conducted by people who know what they are talking about - and is the clear and apparent truth; the flight crew are there to fly the aircraft, and in the event of an automation system, they can kill the automation and fly manually. They didn't.

          Deciding to shut the cabin door with only one pilot at the controls: stupid!

          Now in this case, I do agree with you. This was down to political pressure from the US, desperate to be seen as doing something. A significant number of transport pilots dislike the "locked door" policy, but that's not going to change without an objective review of the costs and benefits of that door. And that's very unlikely to happen any time soon.

          Blaming the pilot for this: incompetents covering their ass

          Not at all. The flight crew has ultimate control and ultimate responsibility for the safety of the flight. If an automation system fails, it is the job of the pilots to notice and correct the problem. There are two of them, and whilst the automation is running, monitoring it is substantially all of their job.

          TL;DR: Please read some flight manuals before jumping to conclusions.

          Vic.

  13. Johan Bastiaansen

    the problem with stupid people

    is that they have all very logical and sane explanations on why they have come to such a stupid decision. And they are determined to repeat their mistakes if given the chance. That's why a firing squad is an optimal solution, also because we don't want them to procreate.

    1. It DID override the pilots, it should have automatically disengaged when the pilots throttled up, instead it throttled back down. You admit as much, but you blame the pilots for "neglecting to disengage the commanded autothrottle and let it resume control, not noticing that the thrust levers moved back to idle when they took their hands off." So you're expecting the pilots, in a very stressful situation, to actually FIGHT the system that is supposed to support them. While letting off the hook the people that have designed a basically flawed system, sitting comfortable at their desk. POOR DESIGN.

    2. So sending the correct invoice is more important to these companies than knowing where their plane is. Again, only to crazy people this makes sense. Just because they wear a tie and are able to speak coherent sentences in English, that doesn't make them any less crazy, just more dangerous.

    3. "the warnings triggered as designed but because the horn sound used isn't unique it confused the flight crew into debugging the wrong problem". Confusing error messages eh. Well I guess that makes it alright then. No it doesn't. Are you saying there is no digital screen in this entire cockpit where they could put this vital information on. In big red blinking letters? So they're drowning the pilots in useless information and obscuring the most urgent information available. But somehow that is pilot error, instead of what it obviously is? POOR DESIGN.

    4. What is more likely, a single mad men at the controls or the only sane person at the controls.

    Let's face it, it's designed by a committee. All the good pilots are flying the planes, and all the crappy pilots, and a couple of accountants and MBA types are sitting in the committee. And they are also the ones shouting "pilot error" when everything falls apart.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      To the armchair expert all problems are trivial

      so I try to remember that I'm one of them too. But I have followed the sector ever since a job in commercial flight simulation because it encompasses very complex systems with an admirable safety-oriented culture. Your belief that this is all done by committees of incompents is laughably wide of the mark; in USA and many European countries there's a strong culture of not shooting the messenger when reporting faults (including pilot errors; although many crashes have a component of pilot error the accident/incident reports always consider how to reduce this for the future, with recommendations for improving training, designs, operation, etc. E.g. see the recommendations of the NTSB report on the Asiana 777 crash at San Francisco http://dms.ntsb.gov/public/55000-55499/55433/563979.pdf page 130 onwards.

      (1) The 737 autopilot and related systems are quite dated designs with a lack of overall integration. This is true even of the newest models, and for every pilot that bemoans this (higher workload, more traps) you'll find another praising the commonality across a fleet of aircraft and yet another critiquing Airbus designs as having too many restrictions on the pilot. Take a look at pilots discussing the use of it here: http://www.pprune.org/tech-log/71973-boeing-737-autothrottle-system.html - see how almost every airline has different policies: some use it only for early phases of the flight, some pretty much ban it, some mandate it, etc. An interesting comment from a pilot there "We just have to pay attention at 27 feet RA, that A/T will retard, sometimes we have to guard the throttle so it will not retard to soon/fast." Guarding the throttle means keeping a hand resting on it to override as necessary - give it a little extra then let the autothrottle resume the selected mode. Evidently this is convenient and generally aids safety (or the airline wouldn't have it as standard practice; they really don't want to lose planes). The pilots were certainly placed in a problematic situation but had over 100 seconds to respond with a "go around" - quoting the Dutch Safety Board investigation "the approach was not stabilised at 1000 feet so the crew should have executed a go-around. According to Turkish Airlines procedures, an approach should be stabilised at 1000 feet when flying under instrument conditions. Stabilised means that the aircraft - at 1000 feet – must be completely prepared for landing. If this is not the case, the approach ought to be abandoned and a go-around must be executed." The DSB does note that this was a known problem being treated too lightly and criticizes airlines for not performing more stall avoidance training.

      (2) Companies are free to track their assets as they see fit; regulations are generally concerned with safety. In the case of MH370 there's no reason to suspect that knowing where it crashed would have improved the outcome for the people on board (it could have shortened a very expensive search and might have safety benefits for others of course. But note that AF447 had ACARS reporting location every 10 minutes and it still took 21 months to locate the wreckage. As ever, engineering is all about trade-offs.)

      (3) "Are you saying there is no digital screen in this entire cockpit where they could put this vital information on. In big red blinking letters?" - exactly! It was a 737-300, a design which first flew in 1984 (although this particular plane was much younger), and isn't a modern "glass cockpit". The duplicated warning sound wasn't thought to be a problem since the other use is for "take-off configuration warning" i.e. can only occur on the ground before take-off. The pilots are trained to respond to the warning horn by immediately donning oxygen masks, however in this case they started debugging the perceived problems first, so blacked out. Why they made this mistake is unknown, however in response to this accident specific warning lights were apparently mandated: http://www.b737.org.uk/pressurisation.htm#Cabin_Altitude_Warning_Horn

      (4) "What is more likely, a single mad men at the controls or the only sane person at the controls." - cockpit door locks were mandated after the 9/11 attacks, which featured a number of such "mad men". Pilot suicide-murders will always be possible: people have speculated about remote control features but making these fail-safe is a ludicrous challenge (two-way telemetry that can't be disabled or hacked and has enough bandwidth under all plausible circumstances and introduces no new safety defects and ideally can be retro-fitted to the enormous existing fleet of aircraft. Feel like designing this?)

      1. Vic

        Re: To the armchair expert all problems are trivial

        in USA and many European countries there's a strong culture of not shooting the messenger when reporting faults (including pilot errors

        It's more than a "culture"; all ICAO countries are required to investigate accidents with a view to preventing reoccurrence rather than apportioning blame. Thus all data received by the investigating authority - including testimony, CVR, FDR - is considered privileged information, and must not be disclosed by that authority.

        I was at AAIB a couple of weeks ago. The investigator speaking to us reckoned that he is frequently approached by certain police forces[1] for evidence that would help their investigation. He is obliged to tell them - politely, of course - to bugger off.

        Vic.

        [1] The AAIB doesn't just investigate accidents in the UK; national authorities are involved form the country where the crash happened, from the country where the aircraft is registered, from the country where significant components (e.g. engines) were manufactured, from the country of nationality of the flight crew, from any country with a significant number of people on board, ...

  14. Dom 3

    Evidence for incapacitated crew?

    The known flight path from 01:21 to 02:22 doesn't look like a plane on auto-pilot with an incapacitated crew. Nor does it look like someone trying to get back on the ground. It seems likely to me that it was under control. So why would it not be under control at the time of fuel exhaustion?

    1. David Pearce

      Re: Evidence for incapacitated crew?

      The Westerly leg looks like a possible attempt to reach Langkawi International, the nearest big runway open at that time of night. The plane would have had to turn nearly 180 degrees for approach and something appears to have happened leaving the plane heading on a fixed course to the Indian Ocean

  15. A_Melbourne

    Not in wrong place

    They are deliberately searching where they know that the plane cannot be. In view of this, "wrong place" is not quite correct.

    They will always do whatever it takes to make it seem that Diego Garcia had nothing to do with it.

  16. David Pearce

    Two burnt composite panels found. If these were not burnt on the beach, they must have been either charred in midair or at the crash. as the plane was supposed to be out of fuel how do you get a crash fireball at sea? Fire in midair, sounds like lithium batteries again, as these have been getting into the news constantly in the last year

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