back to article Search for MH370 called off after new theory about resting place is ruled out

Australia, Malaysia and China have suspended the search for missing Malaysian airlines flight MH370. The Boeing 777, which left Kuala Lumpur bound for Beijing, disappeared on March 8th, 2014. The plane quickly left areas covered by radar and was presumed to have reached an isolated arc of the Indian Ocean to the west of …

  1. wolfetone Silver badge

    That plane was never meant to be found.

    My heart goes out to the families, no one should have to sit there and wonder what happened to their loved one. No explanation as to what happened to them, no body to bury, nothing to grieve.

    If someone brought that plane down, and whether they were on the plane when it happened or they're still alive somewhere and know what happened to it, I hope they rot in hell.

    1. boltar Silver badge

      "No explanation as to what happened to them, no body to bury, nothing to grieve."

      The only logical explanation is that one of the flight crew or a 3rd party hijacked the aircraft and flew it into the sea for whatever mentally disturbed reason. Whoever it was almost certainly died with everyone else. I wouldn't be at all surprised if it wasn't something similar to the germanwings incident.

      1. AndyS

        > The only logical explanation

        Or oxygen deprivation, or decompression, or poisoning of the cabin air, all of which could be caused by mechanical faults, sabotage, terrorism etc.

        I would rule out terrorism as nobody has claimed it (thus defeating the point of terrorism). Pilot suicide (whether or not the captain of the plane was in charge) seems quite likely, but so does failure of the cabin air system - see also Helios Flight 522 for example: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helios_Airways_Flight_522

        Short answer is there is currently not really any really good explanation, which was one good reason to want to find the wreckage.

        1. boltar Silver badge

          "Or oxygen deprivation, or decompression, or poisoning of the cabin air, all of which could be caused by mechanical faults, sabotage, terrorism etc."

          Except pilots have a seperate oxygen supply for just such an eventuallity and besides, none of those would have caused the plane to do an almost 180 degree course reversal in stages over a period of a couple of hours. When the plane diverted from its planned route it was clearly under control and if there had been some sort of mechanical issue or decompression the pilots had more than enough time to issue a mayday.

          1. An0n C0w4rd

            Assuming that the theoretical flight path from primary RADAR sources (after the transponder and ACARS systems were disabled) is correct, it is highly unlikely to have been an equipment malfunction. Equipment malfunctions generally don't route around populated areas and RADAR systems. If the plane was being controlled by someone, then routing around populated areas to crash land makes sense, but they never descended. If you lost radio comms, there are protocols in place for that (circle one way to say lost transmission, circle the other way to say lost both receive & transmit)

            Autopilot could have flown the route, but only after someone told it to.

            What's worse is that even if they find the wreckage they may still NOT figure out what happened. Even if the CVR & FDR survived, the CVR only records the last 30 minutes of cockpit noises. It was never designed for this scenario where something happened hours earlier. There is also no guarantee that the CVR and FDR weren't disabled also, there is (or was) a breaker in the cockpit that could be used to disable them. Not sure about the 777.

          2. AndyS

            > Except pilots have a seperate oxygen supply for just such an eventuallity and besides, none of those would have caused the plane to do an almost 180 degree course reversal in stages over a period of a couple of hours

            Please, read the link about the Helios flight - you'd be amazed at how badly people function with low-level hypoxia. I've been there, and it is extremely strange - despite acknowledging the symptoms, my reaction was a shrug, "oh well," and carry on with what I was doing - no remedial action.

            Oxygen deprivation isn't an on/off switch. Let's say, for example, that cabin pressurisation failed for whatever reason, and the pilots were using their oxygen, but didn't realise they were suffering hypoxia. Maybe the bottles were low, maybe there was a leak, maybe they just weren't using it correctly if at all. Or maybe there was a slow enough depressurisation that they just didn't react correctly, and took a long period to decline to unconsciousness. Re-routing would be a perfectly believable action. Who knows what was going through their heads.

            Maybe these scenarios seem unlikely, but something very unlikely has happened - so the explanation is also bound to be pretty unlikely.

            I still agree that a deliberate act seems likely, perhaps more so than the scenario above, but unfounded statements of one explanation being the "only" logical one are simply wrong. As above, it is a tragedy the plane won't be found, primarily for the families of those involved but also for the lack of ability to learn from the accident and, potentially, to prevent a repeat.

            1. boltar Silver badge

              "Please, read the link about the Helios flight "

              The helios flight didn't change course in a controlled manner a number of times after it failed to respond to radio calls.

              "Or maybe there was a slow enough depressurisation that they just didn't react correctly"

              You realise that there are depressurisation alarms in airliners? Or are you going to suggest they failed too in your highly unlikely scenario? As soon as depressurisation occurs pilots should immediately descend to safe level. Not turn left. You're essentially saying that somehow depressurisation occured - the alarms didn't go off and/or the pilots o2 supply failed and yet one of them was still concious enough to take the plane on a joyright for a few hours but couldn't manage to work the radio? What a crock of ....

            2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
              Thumb Down

              still concious enough to take the plane on a joyright for a few hours but couldn't manage to work the radio? What a crock of ....

              People who are 100% convinced of their unprovable pet theory are generally in error.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Oxygen Masks

            "Except pilots have a seperate oxygen supply for just such an eventuallity"

            That did not help the pilots of Payne Stuart's flight, which lost cabin pressure - leading the death of all oboard shortly after and leaving the pilotless plane to continue on its way half way across the US where it eventually ran out of fuel and crashed.

            http://edition.cnn.com/US/9911/23/stewart.crash.03/

            The accident investigator's verdict concluded that the emergency procedure in the pilot manual was actually to blame ... unbelievably the first step in responding the the cabin pressure alarm was NOT 'don your oxygen mask' ... causing just enough delay in response to the emergency to allow the pilots to quickly become too confused and disoriented to be capable of dealing with it.

    2. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
      FAIL

      Commercial Aircraft Locations

      The bottom line is that International Flight Rules for Commercial Aircraft need to require constant location telemetry (via satellite if need be) that cannot be turned off by the crew. It's ridiculous that in this day & age, that a commercial aircraft's location be unknown.

      1. Mike Richards Silver badge

        Re: Commercial Aircraft Locations

        Excellent point - this and AF447 make the case for continuous data. It needn't even be huge amounts of bandwidth - just a 'I'm here' would be a huge improvement on the current situation where a plane largely goes silent for long stretches of its flight.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Commercial Aircraft Locations

          "Excellent point - this and AF447 make the case for continuous data."

          It was available on MH370 - but malaysian airlines had disabled it as it cost too much.

          The airline was financially strapped, had a number of safety incidents in the weeks leading up to the loss and even managed to have a major fire in a maintenance area caused by a cigarette in a wastepaper bin - in a no-smoking area. The most likely culprit is still an oxygen-fed cockpit fire which disabled the crew after they plugged in a turnaround but before they could make a distress call (The runway the aeroplane flew over before it started meandering was the longest one in the area, perfect for an emergency landing)

      2. An0n C0w4rd

        Re: Commercial Aircraft Locations

        @ The Man Who Fell To Earth

        Hopefully accurate telemetry. I watched a 767 land at GLA airport a few years ago on a online plane tracker. Something in the ADS-B data path for the plane drifted as it held east of Glasgow while the runway was cleared of snow. Each loop around the hold patten the plane "drifted" a few miles north. In the end, when the landed at GLA the tracker showed in landing in the Trossachs! Probably badly calibrated inertial guidance system feeding the transponder. Since they landed safely, the cockpit crew must have been using a different navigation source, maybe relying on beacons instead of inertial navigation.

        However, I agree. The Inmarsat data would have been much more useful had it included the ADS-B transponder data in a way that the cockpit could not disable. Doesn't have to be every few seconds like ADS-B, but every 15 minutes would suffice to narrow down the search area.

        1. anothercynic Silver badge

          Re: Commercial Aircraft Locations

          This data will be more accurate now that Aereon's system, which is piggybacking on the new IRIDIUM NEXT satellites, is due to come online. Aereon expects to have pretty much 100% ADS-B coverage on the globe, so things like the ANZ flights 'blipping out' over the South Pacific en route to NZ, or flights over Africa doing the same, will no longer happen, and irregular behaviour like MH370 going off-course and ending up (possibly) in the Southern Indian Ocean will be picked up much sooner!

      3. John Sturdy
        Boffin

        Re: Commercial Aircraft Locations

        The problem with a telemetry system that can't be turned off by anyone on the plane is that it might overheat and catch fire, but switching it off (even if that means pulling a breaker out rather than a normal switch) may prevent a class of accidents.

      4. anothercynic Silver badge

        Re: Commercial Aircraft Locations

        Trying to mandate this through ICAO is tough... especially when it involves having to retrofit equipment onto airframes that may be anything from months to decades old. Don't tell me 'oh well, they'll just have to'... some countries can barely afford to *lease* their planes, nevermind buying them straight-up.

        *HOWEVER* - several airlines have been very pro-active in their approach to this... one of the ME3 airlines has already switched theirs on purely because it makes their problem management even better.

      5. G.Y.

        encrypt Re: Commercial Aircraft Locations

        Data could be encrypted, with the key safe on the ground, sealed up, junked upon safe landing.

    3. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: MH-370 Cargo Manifest Insured for $400 Million

        "The 777 went to 41,000 ft,"

        Which is right up in Coffin Corner for a 777 with a full load - it then stalled at cruise due to the thin atmosphere and lost 20,000 feet before recovering (the certified max altitude for a 777 is 43,500 feet when lighter, but at full load they stay below 38k feet, usually 33k feet - remember that civil transports fly as high as they possibly can for speed and fuel economy, with the height mostly being limited by stall speed in congested airspace.)

        This is not the actions of someone concious at the controls. If there'd been a human in charge, stall recovery would have happened far more quickly. Standard pilot training is to put the nose down and recovery would happen within 5000 feet in an aircraft of this size. Losing 20,000 feet is indicative of the autopilot keeping the nose up (Think Air France 447) and the aircraft only recovering when the wings were able to bite into thicker air. If you've ever practiced stalls (as all pilots are required to do) and stalls at altitude (which is a requirement for civil jets), you'll know this stuff. In any case if there had been someone awake at the controls it would never have climbed so high in the first place. Pilots prefer to stay away from Coffin Corner because stall recovery at cruise speed can rip the wings off.

        When you compare known upper atmosphere wind directions with what should happen when an autopilot has no other directions than "maintain "wings level" flight", the path is pretty much a match. (Autopilots I've used in this mode always creep slightly so the climb isn't a surprise and they weathercock as wind directions change which results in the aircraft's ground heading changing.)

        The thing about conspiracy theories is that 1: someone has to gain and 2: every single party has to be kept quiet. Any conspiracy involving more than 3 people eventually leaks.

        MOST conspiracies happen _after_ an event like this - as parties who stand to lose their jobs (or worse) for incompetence start trying to cover things up.

        Remember: MAS is (was) an airline with a LOT of problems and like titanic this was a disaster waiting to happen. The technical/maintenance side was in chaos and the financials were even worse. There were a number of serious safety incidents with MAS aircraft over the preceeding few months and that's not uncommon as a leadup to something really bad happening when an airline's going down the shitter. The really eye opening incident showing the lax culture was the serious fire in the heavy maintenance hanger caused by a cigarette in a wastepaper bin (no smoking area) which destroyed a large amount of irreplacable documentation (which shouldn't have been stored there). I'm surprised MAS was allowed to fly into Europe. Garuda was guilty of far less when it got banned.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well!

    Basically the Amelia Earhart event of the 21st.

    1. JamesPond

      Re: Well!

      Or maybe the 'Star Dust' Avro Lancastrian, found 50 years later

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Well!

      Exactly. But let's just queue up the conspiracy and alien plane grab theories in ... 3....2....1... Hmm nevermind. They're already rampaging.

      Yes.. this will be one of those unsolved mysteries. Some things we'll just never know.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Well!

        There was this black hole idea which seemed so far out that even aliens tractor beam hoover activity sounds pedestrian.

  3. CaptSmegHead

    Anything interesting been found

    Even though the plane hasn't been found, which is unfortunate, has the search turned up anything else of interest at all?

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Anything interesting been found

      "has the search turned up anything else of interest at all?"

      There's a whole section of the Indian ocean seafloor that's been mapped in detail - and it's hellaciously rugged down there.

      The problem is that if the plane went in fast and steep, it's more likely to be scattered over a few square miles of seafloor than in a couple of large pieces. Think Swissair 111 rather than Air France 447

    2. james 68

      Re: Anything interesting been found

      Several previously unknown shipwrecks as it happens, some rather old, also some new underwater volcanos. (Lots of stories to choose from so I'll provide a link to a Google search result) Link

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Whilst I can understand the relatives wanting closure, there reaches a point when you have to accept that we will probably never find the wreckage or what actually happened.

    And that point has already been reached, indeed some might say it was reached a long time back. Any further search without compelling new evidence is pointless.

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Sad, but true.

      "Don't know" means "don't know".

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Plane Flew To Diego Garcia

    The truth is of course that the plane was hijacked by agents of US CIA and flown to Diego Garcia..

    But of course that truth will never be revealed!

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Plane Flew To Diego Garcia

      What does the plane do in Diego Garcia? (Which is actually UK (rankiest rank colonial) territory, so let's hear it from Theresa)

      I heard that the exact same model of a series of 2 had been sitting in a hangar in Tel Aviv, don't know whether true but it sure triggered the pattern matchers.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Plane Flew To Diego Garcia

      I thought it had been spotted on the moon?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    STENDEC!

    The urge to know!

    ...to know something which is, de prime abord, not of particular importance to most.

    And yet!

    It must be hardwired.

    "You know, Moonwatcher went down that path to the left of the bushes and the large tree, then he disappeared without a sound. We better check for cats or other large predators right now and tell the others"

  7. bombastic bob Silver badge
    Devil

    I bet the U.S. Navy knows where it is

    I'd bet the U.S. Navy knows where it is, but can't say because, classified. The location of submarines is at 'secret' level or higher, and (very likely) some of the sonar capabilities as well. Maybe they'll consider dropping more hints?

  8. cyfahead

    Why have none of you 'conspiracists' yet factored in the initial detour to the NE that ended up with the 'random walk' near the place with the 'long runway.... ideal for an emergency landing'?

    That runway was ex-RAF Butterworth in Malaysia, the current site for the main radar defense installation for the whole of SE Asia. Was that initial 'destination' coincidental? If a 'rogue' commercial flight was heading slap bang for your main regional radar defense system how long would you hang around waiting to see what happens next? Remote autopilot 'hijack' capacity built-in to these jets.... ? What other remote control 'kill switches' might be available to a 'techie barn' like Butterworth? Perhaps the early models of the pulse lasar naval weapon were given a 'live fire' workout... focussed on the cockpit?

    Fantasy should be kept close to real life factors... it makes the truth easier to hide!

    On the other hand... not talking about such truths prevents them from being integrated into building likely scenarios. Was it a concidence that the flight path became erratic only when the plane came within range of Butterworth's self-defense systems? The truth might be simply a potentially very embarrassing over-reaction in using a capability, and a military predisposition to under value civilian collateral damage, the exercising of which is supposed to characterise only the 'bad guys'!!! A military secret does not eventually leak out just because 3 or more know of it!!! Now that is really fanciful thinking.......

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      But then you could also posit data injection and the plane actually down somewhere around Butterworth.

      The ride never ends when you assume your enemies are Crazy Prepared.

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