back to article New MH370 analysis again says we looked in the wrong places

Australian scientists have released a new analysis of debris from missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 and again asserted that the search for the Boeing 777 was conducted in the wrong place. Scientists from Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) penned the new report, The search for …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Easy, once we drain the ocean

    Here in WA people are keen on eliminating nasty teeth-wielding things (AKA: Sharks) from the Indian Ocean.

    Once we kill everything and drain the ocean (drowning risk), finding wrecks should be much easier...

    NB: A dig at the "kill-them-all" brigade, not the victims of MH370

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: Easy, once we drain the ocean

      Simples - just send the water to Mars the New Netherlands.

      1. Korev Silver badge
        Pirate

        Re: Easy, once we drain the ocean

        Even simpler would be to attach frickin' lasers to their heads and let them fight to the death. The surviors could be dealt with by using mutant Sea Bass.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Here we go again

    A cynical part of me (well, as that implies that there are non-cynical components present, lets rephrase that, One of the more cynical parts of me) keeps wondering what the hell the Aussies are up to by changing the probable location of the wreckage of this craft yet again.

    Talk about an exercise in muddying the water, maybe they should MTFU and ask whoever where the bogey literally splashed..

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: Here we go again

      It's called science.

      New experimental evidence changes the model.

      MH370 isn't a unique tragedy unfortunately. Aircraft used to vanish without a trace quite often in the early days of commercial flight.

      1. Faux Science Slayer

        Non interuptable autopilot landed at Diego Garcia

        Visit > AbelDanger.net > complete analysis by expert pilot

    2. anothercynic Silver badge

      Re: Here we go again

      When aircraft parts start washing ashore and give indications of what they were set to when they became detached from what they were attached to, it helps the analysis (given that you'll have a general idea of the ocean current flows). Also given that several parts had part and serial numbers visible, which in turn were confirmed by the manufacturer as having been fitted to the aircraft in question, science recalculates things and thus, things change.

      It's not like the Aussies just held up their finger in the air and went "alright, we're going to search here, here and here" based on the way the wind felt on said finger. They went with the best info they had. That the recommendation was ignored is... unfortunate, especially given the subsequent scientific proof corroborates the recommendation.

    3. soulrideruk Bronze badge

      Re: Here we go again

      If you read the article, you would understand they actually state the plane went down in same location they previously advised it did, but were ignored. This research adds more likelihood that their original assesment was correct.

  3. DougS Silver badge

    It is a waste of time

    The batteries on the black box have run down, so they could have a ship right on top of it and never find it. The odds of recognizing it via sonar at such depths are quite small.

    We had a FAR better idea of where the Titanic went down and it still took nearly a century to find - and the Titanic is a lot bigger than a plane and went down in only two pieces instead of thousands that would be spread across a very wide area.

    1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: It is a waste of time

      Yeah, because they couldn't possibly find something without a beacon on it. I mean, they couldn't run a metal detector over the area or anything like that, could they??

      </sarc>

      1. DropBear Silver badge

        Re: It is a waste of time

        AFAIK, metal detectors typically work using electromagnetic fields, which have the inconvenient property of not working underwater much at all. And stuff like sonar et. al. that do work might not be all that great at discerning metal from anything else down there. So no, I don't think there's any straightforward way other than trying to detect a wreckage-shaped bump on the ocean floor, and that might take essentially forever (have you got any idea how hard it is to lower and drag a giant comb down there?!?)...

        1. Louis Schreurs BEng

          Re: It is a waste of time

          http://www.metaldetector.com/learn/buying-guide-articles/beach-water-hunting/reviewing-the-best-underwater-metal-detectors

    2. rh587

      Re: It is a waste of time

      We had a FAR better idea of where the Titanic went down and it still took nearly a century to find - and the Titanic is a lot bigger than a plane and went down in only two pieces instead of thousands that would be spread across a very wide area.

      Yes, but we have better tech now. For instance, an Autosub 6000 can run off autonomously for 3 days at a time and run a multi-beam sonar survey to 1m resolution or better (depending on how fast you want to survey - resolution-vs-coverage).

      But it's still a major undertaking - back of a napkin maths suggests you'd need ~200 such missions to cover 25,000sq.km. That's 600 survey days, which probably accounts for ~800 days at sea including turnaround, battery replacement and returning to port for provisioning/crew change. Of course if you were able to deploy 3 such subs from a single ship with minimal overlap (and tow a fish behind the mothership as a 4th instrument), then you could get the total mission time down to about a year. So that's quite quick by comparison, but tying up an entire vessel for 12 months is costly, though you'd hopefully be able to pad it out with some unrelated science whilst cruising between RV points.

      Or you could do the inverse which is to dedicate 2-3 autosubs to the job and place them on vessels of opportunity - doing a cruise into the target area? Could you take this, throw it in the water near sector #137 and pick it up three days later? Ta.

      It's certainly possible to continue the search fairly cheaply by piggy-backing off existing cruises and research. The deep ocean is fairly poorly mapped (to less than 1km resolution anyway), so hi-res sonar surveys have a scientific value in and of themselves.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: It is a waste of time

        And that most optimistic one year scenario for 25K km^2 assumes that THIS time they finally got the search area correct. How many different search areas have there been? And what are the odds it was in an area previously searched and they missed it?

        It is too bad for the families who lost someone, and it is a mystery some want to see solved in case it indicates a previously unknown issue with that model of airplane, but that doesn't justify sending more money down a black hole with no better odds of finding it than they did last time. Because based on previous experience, if they search this area and don't find it, before long they'll have a new theory pointing to yet another search area...

        Now I'm not paying for it (I don't think the US government is kicking in) but someone is, and there are surely better ways to spend the money than this.

    3. Ben 44

      Re: It is a waste of time

      You probably haven't seen the sonar imagery that came from the search (the actual search sonar not the pre-mapping work that was done to reconnoiter the area). Have a look at the Mh370 ATSB page, they have some samples on there. If they had searched the right area, the plane (or its debris field) would be quite clearly visible on sonar. They weren't using fish finders for the search, they wouldn't have even bothered if "the odds of recognising it via sonar at such depths are quite small".

    4. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

      Re: It is a waste of time

      ...The batteries on the black box have run down, so they could have a ship right on top of it and never find it. The odds of recognizing it via sonar at such depths are quite small...

      I wonder how they found the Air France 447 crash using sonar after two years then?

      I know! Perhaps they use autonomous vehicles to go down to the ocean floor and conduct a search only a few hundred feet up...?

  4. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    Why the cynicism?

    It's easy I know to have your perspective of the Earth founded only through the TV, or Google services or the WWW - and then moan as to why they haven't found this plane yet.

    However, having sailed across the Indian Ocean from Cape Town to Perth, and across the Atlantic (twice) I can assure you that the sheer scale and volume of the open Oceans, combined with the massive changeable weather systems, and the sheer depths of the abyssal plains far beneath your keel are truly mind boggling things to consider when you are sailing over it and can be hard to conceptualise when your standard window on the world is a web browser. Once you get off of your sofa, away from propaganda and fake news; and get out into the world proper I think many web warriors would be surprised just how much of our beautiful planet is still actually empty, wild and totally desolate.

    I'd be surprised if they don't take another few years to get anywhere near finding this plane, and even longer to get any realistic understanding of why it went down.

  5. wolfetone Silver badge

    They'll never find that plane, because it was never meant to be found.

    1. Timmay

      Aliens! Lizards!

      1. wolfetone Silver badge

        "Aliens! Lizards!"

        Don't be a dick.

        The plane turned off transponders, flew on the edge of radar coverage in to the great unknown. Are you and those down voting trying to tell me that identifies with anything other than someone trying to conceal the location or the route the plane took?

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      They'll never find that plane, because it was never meant to be found they've given up looking.

      OK, they've "suspended" the search but given they way they seem to have reacted to studies that say they were wrong all along it looks like it's suspended sine die.

    3. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Boffin

      Correction

      They'll never find that plane, because it was never meant to be found.

      They may, perhaps, one day find that plane, because it was meant to be extremely hard to find.

  6. SkippyBing Silver badge

    'Australian scientists have released a new analysis of debris from missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 and again asserted that the search for the Boeing 777 was conducted in the wrong place. '

    I mean I could have saved them the trouble of the analysis and told them they were searching in the wrong place on the grounds they haven't found it.

    Slightly less glibly, I wonder if it would have been possible to seed the ocean in the suspected crash zone with markers. Find one of those markers near a recovered piece of wreckage and you've got a smaller datum for where it came from. I'm guessing sonobouys dropped by the search aircraft might work if they logged where which serial number was dropped.

    1. JimC Silver badge

      > searching in the wrong place on the grounds they haven't found it.

      Well yes, that's how they know it was the wrong place. With careful reading it does seem as if new "most likely places" indeed have the subtext "bearing in mind it wasn't where we looked. The drift analysis is very interesting, but I don't know that I'd want to devote many hundreds of thousands of my taxpayers dollars to a search based solely on that evidence. There are just too many variables.

      The marker idea works OK over short distances and short timescales, but this involves neither. Markers that are almost completely submerged or floating flat on the surface drift in one direction driven by currents, markers that have a significant part of the structure in the air are blown by the wind in quite different directions, those that are betwixt and between do something between, its all horrendously complicated.

      Most probably what will be needed for a new search is evidence that is really compelling as to location. Drift studies and the like add data, but aren't that compelling. A whole load of quite different studies all pointing towards the same small area might be. It hasn't been abandoned, after all the Aus government was prepared to pay for this new experiment using a genuine flaperon not a model as in earlier experiments.

    2. phuzz Silver badge

      "I wonder if it would have been possible to seed the ocean in the suspected crash zone with markers."

      Well, you'd need to make sure the markers behaved like bits of plane, and the best way to do that, would be to use actual planes.

      There's plenty of old passenger haulers around the world, rig them up with an autopilot and crash them into the sea in a grid formation, then sit back and track where the left-overs end up.

      Simples!

    3. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
      Boffin

      Here's a little experiment for you...

      Go upstairs and drop a paper airplane out of a window. Mark the position that it lands. Now take the same paper airplane to the same window and drop it in the same way.

      What do you think the chances are that it lands in the same place? Even within a smallish margin.

      Now scale that up to ocean size.

      Winds change in seconds, let alone the days/weeks/longer it would take to arrange this mass-marker deployment. This is not an exact science and they're doing a damn good job with bugger all data to start from.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Go upstairs and drop a paper airplane out of a window. Mark the position that it lands. Now take the same paper airplane to the same window and drop it in the same way.

        What do you think the chances are that it lands in the same place? Even within a smallish margin.

        I repeated 92 times, and it always ended up in the same place.

        1. Martin Budden

          The same place 92 times? That's incredible! Do you live on the moon?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I want it found

    just to stop all the conspiracy theories.

    And as for the poster above suggesting looking for a tiny box may be a bit tricky - there is a reasonable assumption that there are some big bits of aircraft still attached or close by which may be a tad easier to identify.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: I want it found

      "just to stop all the conspiracy theories."

      I agree with this pots! Lets start with something simple though. Find Flight 19 first to gain some experience in shallower, calmer waters. How hard can it be?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I want it found ... just to stop all the conspiracy theories

      Someone knew where the plane came down within hours to days of the incident . The whole pretence of searching for the plane is just to keep the public / dumb adversaries ignorant. These seaborne searches illustrate how much money they are willing to spend to keep us ignorant.

      If you have satellites constantly scanning the Earth's surface down to sub-meter detail, you will have computers which retain imagery of all non-cloudy areas. They will also continually compare old frames with new frames looking for differences. The differences will be further categorised and anything unexpected will be highlighted to human operators. Any large nation operating spy satellites will have this ability but they all choose to remain silent. Control over citizenry (by a wealthy global elite exploiting illusory misplaced loyalties) is the name of the game.

      Any moving object > 1m^2 on the surface of any ocean will be tracked, including floating plane wreckage.

      Hell, maybe they even stage accidents to test whether anyone attempts to retrieve the wreckage.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: I want it found ... just to stop all the conspiracy theories

        "If you have satellites constantly scanning the Earth's surface down to sub-meter detail, you will have computers which retain imagery of all non-cloudy areas."

        They only do that in areas of interest - large areas of sparsely inhabited and used ocean aren't them.

        The "looking via a drinking straw" paradigm applies. Unless you knew where to look for Osama Bin Laden he could have been sunbathing naked on the roof of his house waving at passing satellites and they still wouldn't have seen it.

        There are still vast areas of the planet where a plane (or ship) can disappear without a trace. Those who haven't experienced the Roaring Forties or the Furious Fifties have little idea of the mountainous seas you see on a CALM day (I was laughing my tits off the day someone proposed using ekranoplans as patrol craft - not realising that 50 foot seas are routine. RNZN and RAN Leander Class frigates got pounded into early retirement patrolling those waters.

        The search area is slightly north of the Forties but the seas are still ROUGH. Don't underestimate the Southern Oceans.

        1. DiViDeD Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: IThose who haven't experienced the Roaring Forties or the Furious Fifties

          Can agree with you about the Roaring Forties and the Furious Fifties. I'm now a year or two into the Sedentary Sixties and can thoroughly recommend them to anyone in need of a slower pace of life!

  8. DaLo

    Still no changes

    Even though there were a few planes in sea incidents and the highest likelihood that an international flight that crashes mid flight will land in the sea, why not create a simple search solution.

    A mechanically operated pressure release switch* which will release a floating marker/battery operated distress buoy when it detects it is more than 10m underwater.

    Having the marker signal stay hundreds of metres underwater with the plane and a 30 day countdown just make the chances of finding it sooo much harder.

    *one that can't be disabled from the cockpit and doesn't rely on electric to operate.

    1. Steve the Cynic Silver badge

      Re: Still no changes

      The main issue there is the four miles of tether required to stop the buoy drifting away from the aircraft before the world finds it.

      1. DropBear Silver badge

        Re: Still no changes

        Not at all if it immediately chirps up to a rescue satellite. I thought that sort of thing was standard practice with EPIRBs and such anyway. They'd just need to carry one suitably mounted to release on a wet crash. The only difference is you'd be interested in the FIRST received position, not the latest...

        1. DaLo

          Re: Still no changes

          Yes, exactly. You don't need the cable as it would probably snag and pull the buoy under. If it can signal immediately then you know where it crashed. If it needs to be detected by a local observer then you can calculate drift fairly reliably over a short period of time.

          Either way it would be found within hours, not after some flotsam arrives on an island and you have to work out approximate drift patterns over the last x months.

          1. Peter2 Silver badge

            Re: Still no changes

            If the plane ran out of fuel at ~30,000 feet and went into the drink in an uncontrolled manner at a significant fraction of the speed of sound how likely do you think it is that your suggested buoy is going to get deployed?

            You might as well just stick an sealed unit in the aircraft (inaccessible from the interior of the aircraft to prevent tampering) that starts pinging location data via satellite should all of the other electronics go off.

            1. 2Nick3 Bronze badge

              Re: Still no changes

              "You might as well just stick an sealed unit in the aircraft (inaccessible from the interior of the aircraft to prevent tampering) that starts pinging location data via satellite should all of the other electronics go off."

              Or just have a real-time data connection providing basic telemetry information throughout the whole flight. Much easier to tell if it's not working (no takeoff clearance if the plane isn't sending the data), easy to isolate from the other systems on-board the aircraft. And it gives you a historical account of where the plane was and where it was heading.

              For how much a plane costs and all of the other operating costs associated with flying doing this is barely a rounding error - there are <$100 devices I can strap to my wrist that gather this data and <$2000 satellite phones that can transmit the data - so the upfront and operating cost is insignificant over the operational lifetime of an aircraft.

              And make it modular, so in 30 years people don't have to wonder why we are still using this 2010's technology and can just upgrade it.

              1. leexgx

                Re: Still no changes

                almost most modern boeing and all airbus has a sat dish on the top of the plane and it does support telimietnly updating (but at the time you had to pay for it which most airlines did not, i believe that has been changed) i believe airbus is normally monitoring the plane systems but don't think boeing does

                but in this case was the system was turned off but the dish was still powered and was pinging satellites every 60 minutes i believe (the system in the cockpit was intentionally switched off but the dish it self can't be powered off, so telemetry updates are possible and should be done say every 15 minutes)

                in this day and age where the basic features already there to track a plane in real time (more or less) this feature should be baked into the plane and be a mandatory feature and have an automatic emergency broadcast mode when the cabin for example has lost pressure (say on 3 sensors) engine failure or other conditions (that are verifiable) and send that info via the sat every 5-10 seconds

                unfortunately until the plane is ever found we not know what happened

                the issue was that the sat system been turned off was reported by the system as it has a log off which makes it look like it might of been intentional by someone in the cockpit, but as the plane was pinging satellites for what 6-7 hours that means the plane was still flying so it was hijacked or had a sudden decompression and the autopilot or self preservation (hands off sticks with autopilot off it keeps plane at level) just kept on flying until it ran out of fuel as everyone was dead

              2. leexgx

                Re: Still no changes

                2Nick3

                the boeing and airbus sat uplinks can already send telemetry (just at the time there was a cost to it)

                the dish it self it has integrated GPS and sat uplink and independent firmware its then plugged into the computer system on the plane which then links to the cockpit (when active on airbus system status of the plane is transmitted to airbus) and internal phone system and onboard wifi or mobile (if mobile and wifi is fitted)

                all it would take is a tweak to the firmware to make sure that the ping that is sent to the sat network is also sending GPS location as well (at the moment the default is 60 minutes when not connected so that would need to be increased to lower number like 1 minute when its connected or not to the sat network, if it is connected plane systems telemetry should also be sent every as well so monitor the plane and any sudden problems that norm get flagged up as a problem should immediately be sent to boeing or airbus or plane operator)

                1. SkippyBing Silver badge

                  Re: Still no changes

                  Satellite monitored ADS-B is going to make worldwide tracking of airliners a reality within the next 5 years or so. Probably best to Google it, I'm too hungover to give a reasonable explanation on my phone.

              3. Alan Brown Silver badge

                Re: Still no changes

                "Or just have a real-time data connection providing basic telemetry information throughout the whole flight."

                Funnily enough, the 777 HAS this facility.

                MAS disabled it "because it cost too much" - remember this was an airline with major financial problems, a dispirited staff due to cutbacks and which had had a series of safety incidents (including a cigarette-caused fire in a heavy maintenance area nonsmoking area that destroyed a large amount of paperwork that shouldn't have been stored where it was located).

                As in most cases, conditions were constructively building towards a catastrophe. The only variable was how it played out.

                If you want an idea of what is going to be found at the bottom of the ocean, bear in mind that in previous crashes of this nature, most things got shredded by the breakup or impact with the water and what didn't float is going to be scattered over 20-40km^2 of seafloor. The biggest metal signatures are likely to be the APU and turbofan cores. Even the main spar is likely to have been broken.

                1. not.known@this.address Bronze badge
                  Facepalm

                  Re: Still no changes

                  Alan Brown: "MAS [...] had had a series of safety incidents (including a cigarette-caused fire in a heavy maintenance area nonsmoking area that destroyed a large amount of paperwork that shouldn't have been stored where it was located)."

                  "Sorry Mr Inspector, all evidence we weren't doing what we should has mysteriously been misfiled in the filing cabinet with the 'beware of the leopard' sign in the office in the basement and caught fire when an unidentified employee was having a cigarette in place nobody ever smokes as its full of very expensive and very flammable stuff just before you arrived to check it..."

                  Cynical, moi?

              4. not.known@this.address Bronze badge

                Re: Still no changes

                2Nick3: "And make it modular, so in 30 years people don't have to wonder why we are still using this 2010's technology and can just upgrade it."

                If all it takes is something to sense where you are and something to relay the information back to base then why should it need "upgrading"? If it ain't broke, don't "fix" it. The laptop I am typing this on has several orders of magnitude more memory and a processor that is so far beyond the performance of my first PC that there's no comparison, but I can't type much quicker and the vast increase in performance has made no difference to the way the words appear on the screen.

                Unless there are some sort of "magictech" changes in the next 30 years, a tail-mounted GPS and a satphone will still be a tail-mounted GPS and a satphone - both are using technology that has been around for over 100 years (radio for the satellites to tell the GPS where it is and for the satphone to call home) so what sort of changes are you thinking of?

                And for any on-aeronautical types who may be wondering, a flaperon is part of the control surfaces that stick out the back of the wing and the back edge can go up and down; the flaperon on one side of the aircraft goes down and the other up to roll the aircraft or both go down to increase lift; it's a combination flap and aileron.

                1. 2Nick3 Bronze badge

                  Re: Still no changes

                  Do you remember what a cell phone looked like 30 years ago, right? The "mobile" one was the Motorola DynaTAC "Brick phone" - 28 ounces with an in-use battery life measured in minutes.

                  Or a 30 year old "laptop" - the Macintosh Portable. 16 pounds, 16 MHz 68000 CPU, 640x400 Black/White screen, lead-acid battery.

                  Just two examples of technology improvements over the last 30 years. With aircraft having longer lifespans than 30 years an upgrade is pretty inevitable. Modular might not make sense because the nest step on the technology here could easily be a system-on-a-chip with 3 connections - GPS antenna, SatPhone antenna and power. And only one of those attaches to the rest of the plane (power), and should have no data connectivity at all.

    2. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Still no changes

      DaLo suggested "...release a floating marker/battery operated distress buoy..."

      Deployable FDR/CVR/ELT do exist. They're triggered by crash detecting frangible switches, and/or a button. They fly off and hopefully land away from any fire. The ELT module does the usual call for help, on 121.5 & 406.025/.028 MHz. The FDR/CVR data is stored inside. DRS is one manufacturer.

  9. WibbleMe

    It is me or does that chart look like a fish?

  10. Your alien overlord - fear me

    Why don't they ask Derek Acorah or any of the other psychics about reaching out to the dead and asking where they are? After all, it would prove psychics are the real deal and the relatives would get closure.

    Or are psychics not all that they claim to be? (cynical Friday !!!)

  11. soulrideruk Bronze badge

    "Why don't they ask Derek Acorah or any of the other psychics about reaching out to the dead and asking where they are?"

    Good Idea. They have been used quite a bit by UK police over the years, so this would be a good big test to see if anything can actually be gained from this method of investigation.

  12. bjpatin

    Why continue to ignore that the aircraft landed safely?

    Those of you paying attention must have learned that the Rolls Royce engines of the aircraft pinged to the manufacturer that they had a successful flight. I won't bring up the other clues that it landed, because they can't be proven, but this can't be ignored, unless someone has proof that it didn't happen.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Why continue to ignore that the aircraft landed safely?

      It was the rolls royce engines sending telemetry data which was the source of the pings. They happened because Rolls Royce was paying for them, not MAS (who wouldn't pay for the Boeing telemetry)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why continue to ignore that the aircraft landed safely?

      "unless someone has proof that it didn't happen."

      unless someone can prove a mutually exclusive scenario FTFY

      Perhaps the pilot performed a controlled landing on water, simulating closely a real landing, deceiving the RR telemetry.

      Point is, other scenarios are not unthinkble.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Computers programmed by humans

    It's not a computer simulation, it's been designed and coded by humans, the weak link...

  14. Mooseman Bronze badge

    Worrying

    The number of conspiracy nutters that crawl out of the woodwork, I mean

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019