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air safety

Jan 11, 2016


A commons media photo of the doomed jet 9M-MRO in service
A commons media photo of the doomed jet 9M-MRO in service

The Australian today has become the last newspaper to discover that the ATSB thinks MH370’s pilots were incapacitated for the final hours of its flight to a crash site in the south Indian Ocean.

It has been saying that since late 2014, and on 3 December last year published a review of the data by the Australian Defence Science and Technology (DST) Group which presented a set of factual reasons supported by reasonable logic for coming to that conclusion.

That detailed analysis is completely ignored by Australian veteran fighter pilot and airline captain Byron Bailey in his nevertheless interesting rehashing last Saturday of the position long championed by British pilot Simon Hardy.

Instead Mr Bailey falls for the frankly ridiculous fabrication by the media of a climb to 45,000 feet by MH370 in order to kill the passengers and the rest of the crew by a deliberate depressurisation of the cabin.

There is no evidence such a climb occurred, and plenty of technical reasons well known to 777 pilots as to why such a climb would have been implausible at that stage of a flight which was already at 35,000 feet, where the same process would have produced the same result without risking the rest of the intended evil plot.

Mr Bailey also talks in vague generalities about the political affiliations of the captain of the lost jet, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, and says in the words of the paywalled report that many in the aviation community believed Australian authorities were under pressure from Malaysia to stick with the “pilot hypoxia” theory because the alternative “rogue pilot” theory would be awkward for the Malaysian government since it could mean Zaharie took the plane and the lives of 239 ­people including his own in an act of political protest.

That is not just disrespectful of the dead captain, but most definitely not universally believed by the piloting community. Mr Bailey doesn’t speak for the piloting community. Many experienced airline pilots say that too little is known with precision about the loss of MH370 to start taking sides as to who did what to the 777-200ER which was on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on 8 March 2014 when it vanished.

Bailey’s views are despite this reasonable. He ought to take full responsibility for them without vague attribution to others.

He ought to retract the nonsense about 45,000 feet unless he can produce conclusive evidence to support that media rumour, that ran concurrently in March 2014 after the disappearance with one claiming the 777 flew close to the ground across the Malaysia peninsula. He ought to deal with the sequence of events up to the loss of signals from the jet in detail, without running away from them. Mr Bailey needs the guts to do more than make assertions, however reasonable some of them may be.

One of the problems with the MH370 saga is the quite obscene taking of sides as to whether the jet was under control, or not under control, until the last minute, in the all but complete absence of any factual resolution of the details of the final hours.

All that we do know is that the Malaysian authorities seriously compromised their credibility in their variable and misleading narratives about the crash, even up to and past the recovery of a flaperon from the wing of MH370 at the end of July last year.

We can also conclude that Boeing which has been advising the search, knows a thing or two about 777s, and has given excellent assistance to it in its modelling and analysis of the various paths, subject to a range of conditions, that the jet could have flown on its way to an elusive location on the floor of the south Indian Ocean.


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29 thoughts on “Good story about MH370 gets a bit hysterical

  1. Simon Gunson

    Whilst the debate may be obscene I do not think it is obscene to defend a pilot who can no longer speak to defend himself. For too long now those who asserted pilot suicide have held the floor without challenge by an uncritical media.

    Angus Houston gave an interview to the Malaysian Chronicle on 24 June 2014 (which sadly since has been removed). In that interview Air Marshal Houston revealed that the JACC had employed two Thales Raytheon engineers to go through all the radar data (tapes being old fashioned now?) both civil & military to find any basis for the claim MH370 ever climbed to 45,000ft

    Angus Houston declared unequivocally that there was no radar evidence in Malaysian hands that MH370 was ever seen climbing to 45,000ft turning and then diving west.

    This claim arose 11 March 2014, along with a skillfully forged video clip, purported from Flight Radar 24 falsely claiming to show transponder readouts for 45,000ft. People need to wake up to the degree of skillfully faked evidence in circulation. The Malaysian government called in a Public relations company in March 2014 to disseminate false disinformation about MH370.

    Rebuttal of the claim by Angus Houston rules out any sighting by military radar at Kota Bharu, yet in the subsequent Malaysian report of March 2015 euphemistically entitled “factual information”

    Malaysia now insists this very same radar spotted MH370 streaking across Malaysia towards Penang at ground speed up to 594kts. All this just 90 odd miles from Thailand’s radar system at Hat Yai which only reported seeing MH370 departing Kuala Lumpur, not returning. These airspeeds could not be performed by a low flying Boeing 777 which needs altitude and less dense air to reach such speeds.

    The one question which nobody thinks to ask is whether these radar sightings were in fact just false claims?

    Byron Bailey certainly has not thought it through. Malaysian officials do not support the hypoxic pilot theory because that would cast huge doubt on the integrity of Malaysia’s claimed radar sightings.

    From very early on the JIT committee in Malaysia composed of DCA, MAS, Boeing & INMARSAT have dictated to Australia where to search for MH370. Sadly the ATSB’s leadership lacked the backbone to question Malaysia’s facts.

  2. Simon Gunson

    The original Malaysian Chronicle report whilst removed by that publication was preserved online here for those who wish to read it:


  3. James O'Neill

    Two questions I would like answers to.
    (1) Have you given any thought at all to the fact that this Boeing 777 was capable of being taken over by outside control, the so-called uninterruptible system introduced on all Boeing aircraft post 9/11.
    (2) Why is there no recognition of the fact that the Americans (and probably others) have complete coverage of the planet by satellite and therefore must have a record of the plane’s route.
    We know that the Americans had two satellites in geostationary orbit over Eastern Ukraine when MH17 was shot down and they refused to release that data to the DSB Inquiry. Why would we believe they are likely to be more forthcoming over MH370.

  4. Trevor Turner

    (1)The Uninterruptible Autopilot was NOT introduced on all Boeing aircraft. It was designed & developed post 911. It has not been fitted to any commercial aircraft.

    (2) Much of the earth’s vast oceans are not covered by satellites, including parts of the SIO.

  5. discus

    There’s a patent for the “uninterruptible system” but in the decades I have been working on Boeings, which includes regular in depth testing I have seen zero evidence of it.

    The Southern Indian Ocean is hardly a political hot spot and may have had no satellites tasked for that area.

    Even if they did, I see no reason why any info would not be shared with Australia even if in secret.

    The USA were one of the first to say the flight may have ended in the SIO so they may have something, or, just had inside info from Inmarsat.

  6. George Glass

    “uninterruptible system”???? Doesnt exist on any Boeing I’ve flown.But I guess that must mean I’m party to the conspiracy,right?

  7. Woofpassad

    ” Even if they did, I see no reason why any info would not be shared with Australia even if in secret.”

    I never knew pigs could fly.

  8. Clayton Sanderson

    If the pilots were incapacitated early in the flight, why didn’t the autopilot fly the plane to Beijing?

  9. Fred


    I believe the assumption is the aircraft was turned around before one or both pilots became incapacitated. The reason why the aircraft was turned around is open to much speculation!

  10. David Hand

    Debate about whether MH370 was under control or not under control is not obscene. Each view directs the searchers to widely different parts of the Indian ocean so the debate is about finding the plane, not apportioning culpability.

  11. Simon Gunson

    Clayton, Fred is correct.

    Crew would have known, trying to establish contact with Vietnam that their comms had failed. The transponder has a self test function which can distinguish whether the fault is internal or external.

    Proceeding without comms, or Transponder was not an option thus Zaharie was obliged to turn back, but also Kuala Lumpur had engineering support. It was logical they turned back.

    It seems logical to suppose electrical failure did not translate immediately to fire and decompression, however when fire did break out decompression struck almost instantly within less than a minute.

    An understanding of how fast a blaze acts can be gleaned from the report of a fire in a United Airlines B777 at Heathrow in 2007/


    The specific point of difference with Swissair Flight 111 is that blaze broke out quite low, between 15,000ft to 8,000ft. Much too low to suffer hypoxia, or for decompression to snuff out a fire.

    There is however one point of similarity. When smoke is detected in the MEC of a Boeing 777, a vent opens to dump smoke overboard. This immediately creates a draft which on MH370 would have caused a smoldering short circuit to leap into flames.

    The similarity is that the blaze on Swissair 111 did not develop until that crew turned on fans to clear the smoke. I believe in both cases the creation of a draft to clear smoke caused a blaze.

    If this happened as MH370 was pointed back at Kuala Lumpur from Vietnam, decompression could have taken the crew by surprise and left MH370 on autopilot point on a magnetic heading south. My view is the crew silenced the alarm as they worked to isolate power to the fire, so they never heard a second decompression alert. I think they did not don oxygen masks because they perceived a risk of fire, not a risk of decompression.

    Personally Ive always dismissed Malaysia’s radar claims as fake, but one has to say electrical fire & decompression is incompatible with complex turns through the Straits of Malacca.

    In the case of a massive electrical failure the autopilot would continue to operate, but only following a basic magnetic heading.

  12. Simon Gunson

    David Hand, for 20 months now the search has been directed by a false assumption that MH370 was flown deliberately on a course through the Straits of Malacca.

    That theory had the benefit of a futile $180 million seabed search lasting 20 months which has succeeded in disproving that theory.

    The alternative theory of electrical fire has never had a look in. If the ATSB was ever serious about finding MH370 then it is time they reappraised the FULL implications of hypoxic flight from at least 18:03 UTC.

    If you were genuine David Hand, you would have objected to the lack of objectivity and squandering of resources on one theory to the exclusion of the other. That is what is truly obscene.

    Electrical fire and decompression rules out a detour west and infers MH370 flew much further south.

    Funny, as it happens 425nm further south in March 2014 satellites spotted a huge cluster of floating debris including two as big as B777 wings. The Malaysian Government demanded on 27 March 2014 that AMSA ignore & abandon all efforts to locate those floating debris.

    I find that obscene.

  13. blackbandit

    I wonder if the plane was carrying a Hoverboard prototype by a passenger or cargo? (i.e. they are now banned for unstable batteries)

  14. James O'Neill

    @Trevor Turner You and I must look at different sources. The system has been operational since 2006. I do not know if it was fitted to this particular plane. It is certainly a question that needs an answer. Blanket deals do not cut it in today’s world.

    @Discus Lack of satellite coverage is nonsense. The Skywave Global D+ system for example covers everything from 70 north to 70 south which covers the areas of interest. It is also well known that the US has comprehensive coverage of the planet and to suggest otherwise is simply disinformation.

  15. discus

    James please read my post again.


    “MAY have had no satellites tasked for that area.
    Even if they did, I see no reason why any info would not be shared with Australia even if in secret.
    The USA were one of the first to say the flight may have ended in the SIO SO THEY MAY HAVE SOMETHING, or, just had inside info from Inmarsat.”

    Skywave is a comms constellation as far as I know. I’m not sure what it would have ‘seen’.

    The US has a relatively new infra red sensing satellite system that was only being commissioned back then.


    The jury is out if that may have seen something. It is mainly to see the flare of missile launches not the relatively cool exhaust of jet engines but I suspect it will if suitably tuned.

    If you are going to talk up an uninterruptible system it is incumbent on you to prove it was fitted, not for us to prove it was not.

    I have worked on all of the Boeings flown in Australia since the 727, including some models manufactured recently. I have never seen it, hence never seen it tested, it’s not in the maintenance manuals, system schematics , wiring diagrams or trouble shooting manuals that I have seen.

    It is not something you can just sneak in. It goes across several ATA chapters and would require a lot of extra interfacing.

  16. Fred


    Boeing & Honeywell are reported to have developed an uninterruptible autopilot and Boeing even has a patent for such a system. However, the suggestion that the system has been ‘operational’ and installed in Boeing aircraft since 2006 is a figment of someone’s fertile imagination. Today’s autopilots are very capable, but human input is still required, not least to extend the flaps and put the gear down!

    Even with global satellite coverage, I’d suggest there’s a world of difference between using such systems to examine areas of interest on the ground or detect missile launches and using them to track an individual airliner.

  17. Simon Gunson

    No uninterruptible autopilot has ever been through certification for installation in a civil airliner. It is illegal to fly an airliner with uncertified avionics PERIOD

  18. westral

    I would have thought that, if the pilots were incapacitated, then the plane would have flown on autopilot to (or at least towards) Beijing. Instead it went West, then South (roughly) which to me as a layman indicates some form of human control or re-programming of the autopilot.

  19. Fred


    It really depends on when the pilots became incapacitated. The incapacitation theory suggests the aircraft was turned around before the crew became incapacitated. The evidence certainly suggests the aircraft was turned around, but there is not enough data to determine why that occurred.

    The ‘popular’ theory suggests a pilot with suicidal intentions who subsequently depressurised the aircraft to incapacitate all on board. Another theory suggests a fire followed by decompression, in which case the crew might have turned the aircraft around before becoming incapacitated.

    The ATSB is following the incapacitation theory due to the sequence of the final SATCOM transmissions between the aircraft and the ground station. Those transmissions suggest that electrical power was lost, then regained for a short time before being lost again. That sequence would occur if both engines flamed-out due to fuel exhaustion and the best theory that fits that scenario is one of pilot incapacitation.

  20. Ben Sandilands

    In the first month of the disappearance a popular and reasonable speculation among airline people was that control of the flight had been seized unexpectedly, after which some sort of struggle or resistance was mounted, and that this was followed by an unintended consequence that saw the jet finally head into the SIO.

    As with all reasonable guesses, there are problems with that scenario, but I think it remains a possibility.

    My position is that critical factual information is missing, and that efforts that depend on a set of assumptions being made to fill in that missing knowledge are unlikely to solve the riddles.

    There are always ‘gotchas’, totally left field factors, that make early theories as to what caused crashes unreliable.

  21. nightflyer

    Ted Smith of Upstate New York – If the 25th Dimension isn’t run by psychopathic maniacs and they have good beer then pencil me in for ‘collection’

  22. Fred

    Absolutely. There is a long list of ‘theories’, some more credible than others.

    The definition of the current search area hinges on a number of different assumptions due to the lack of data or other information. If any of those assumptions are incorrect, as has been suggested, then the current search is unlikely to be successful.

  23. Simon Gunson


    What is being debated here is Occam’s Razor. Only one theory explains all the facts. Pilot suicide and fire decompression are mutually exclusive. If one is right, then the other is wrong.

    Until recent analysis highlighted electrical failure before 18:03 UTC, ATSB were indecisive about their hypoxia theory. The ATSB determined end of flight was hypoxic way back in June 2014, yet until the suggestion of electrical failure there was no clarity when hypoxic flight began. Now analysis suggests an incident causing decompression happened before 18:03 UTC. That would rule out any pilot whether conscious or unconscious being able to navigate MH370 west through the Straits of Malacca.

    It is no longer possible to sit on the fence. Either one is true or the other is true.

  24. Grizzly

    The ATSB report dated 3 December 2015 does not say “electrical failure”. It says (page 9) “power loss to the SDU”. We do not know how or why that “power loss” occurred.

    According to the report “To experience a power interruption long enough to generate a log-on request, a loss of both AC buses (page 8), or a disabling of the automatic switching would be required.” The report later expands on this (page 9):

    “An interruption to the SDU may be caused by:
    • loss of AC power requiring an APU auto-start or
    • the cycling of the left generator and backup generator switches with the bus tie isolated (all
    switches are located on the overhead panel in the cockpit), or
    • the circuit breakers in the electronic and equipment bay being pulled and then later reset or
    • intermittent technical failures.”

    In other words, either a failure, or a switch off by someone. And in the absence of clear evidence about which of those two possibilities occurred, it is possible that a pilot or hijacker (not necessarily Zaharie) switched off the power to the SDU.

    We also do not know why or how the power to the SDU was later restored.

  25. Fred

    Some other points to ponder:

    If the power interruption to the SDU was caused by the loss of both Main AC buses, then the APU should have started automatically to restore AC power. However, the ATSB (& presumably Boeing) believes the APU didn’t auto-start until both engines flamed-out much later in the flight, as evidenced by the SATCOM system’s final log-on attempt. That leaves three possibilities for the power interruption to the SDU that occurred earlier in the flight:

    1. The left main generator, left backup generator and left bus tie switches would need to be selected off and then subsequently selected on again to restore power.

    2. Various circuit breakers in the Main Equipment Centre beneath the flight deck/cabin floor would need to be pulled and then subsequently reset.

    3. An intermittent technical fault that initially tripped the left main and backup generators off-line and prevented the bus-tie breaker from closing, removing power from the left Main AC bus. The fault would need to clear itself to allow the bus-tie breaker to close and restore power to the left Main AC bus.

    The first and second possibilities obviously require some kind of human intervention. I tend to think that the second possibility, while not impossible, is probably the least likely. I also question why a suicidal pilot or hijacker would go to the trouble of disabling the left Main AC bus only to restore power later in the flight.

    That leaves the third possibility, some kind of intermittent technical fault such as a short circuit somewhere on the left Main AC bus. However, that does not explain how the fault was subsequently removed and power restored.

    So many questions and so few answers!

  26. Tango

    Time to change the title to “Convoluted Talking (Sorry Ben)

    Lets come up with the most implausible idea possible.

    I think several people need to read Crash go the Chariots.

  27. PAIN_P2

    More today with the revisited rogue pilot (Byron Bailey – The Australian) theory vs ghost ship theory (ATSB):

    “..Last Saturday, in an article published in Inquirer, I added my voice to others in the aviation community to assert that the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 on March 8, 2014, with the loss of all 239 people aboard, was most likely due to a pilot hijacking. I concluded that the most likely culprit was the flight’s captain, Zaharie Ahmad Shah.

    The fact that MH370, an ultra-modern Boeing 777, ended radio contact and radar transponder transmission early in the flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing and flew a course right along the airspace boundary between Thailand and Malaysia before turning south, points to an intentional act by a pilot to try to avoid detection. In my article I pointed out that this shows the aircraft was under pilot control well after communications were lost because without an intentional act by the pilot the auto­pilot would have continued the track to Beijing.

    I also relied on an unconfirmed report that Malaysian military radar revealed MH370 had climbed to 45,000 feet as it tracked across northern Malaysia, and that the only reason for doing this would be to incapacitate passengers and crew by hypoxia (lack of oxygen). Pilots, on the other hand, have masks with selectable pressure breathing capacity.
    This week, Air Transport Safety Bureau spokesman Dan O’Malley maintained that the authority was standing by its preferred unconscious aircrew theory.

    “The final stages of the ‘unresponsive crew/hypoxia’ event-type appeared to best fit the available evidence for the final ­period of MH370’s flight when it was heading in a generally southerly direction,” O’Malley said in a statement to The Australian.

    There are two types of decompression events. The first is explosive decompression, which would have to be caused by some extraneous event such as a small bomb that causes a hole in the aircraft fuselage.

    In cruise at 37,000 feet, the difference in pressure from having the cabin altitude at 6000 feet to outside pressure is 8.8 pounds per square inch (psi). Loss of all pressure would be very ­noticeable to the crew: ears pop, fog forms, there is noise.

    Sitting alongside a pilot’s elbow is a quick-donning “octopus” mask that can be placed over one’s head with one hand to breathe immediately 100 per cent oxygen. This only takes seconds and is practised frequently in simulator recurrent training by airline pilots.
    It is inconceivable that pilots from a world-class airline such as Malaysia Airlines would not, as their first immediate action, don their oxygen masks.

    The time of useful consciousness at 37,000 feet is 20 to 40 seconds. This is plenty of time for the crew to react. The pilots’ next action is to initiate an emergency ­descent while selecting emergency on their transponder to alert air traffic control.

    The second decompression event is creeping decompression and this would probably occur as the result of a technical fault in the aircraft’s pressurisation system. Bear in mind that cabin altitude and differential pressure are continuously displayed in green font on the pilots’ flight display.

    Even if the pilots did not notice a slow rise in cabin altitude, the following would occur, courtesy of the engine-indicating and crew-alerting system. At a cabin altitude of 8500 feet an amber master caution light would flash continuously in front of each pilot (until cancelled by pilot action), plus there would be a loud chime as well as a “cabin altitude” warning.

    This is to prompt the pilots to take action to sort out the problem by checklist action such as selecting manual control to give direct pneumatic control of the outflow valves to the pilots. The pilots may elect to carry out a rapid descent while troubleshooting.

    If this did not fix the problem, then at 10,000 feet cabin altitude, the following occurs: there is a loud voice message — “cabin altitude” — plus three loud chimes, plus a red master warning light flashing in front of each pilot, as well as a red warning message “cabin altitude”.

    This is to get pilots to initiate an emergency descent. If they do not, at 13,500 feet a cabin altitude limiter closes the outflow valves so the climb rate in cabin altitude can only be from fuselage leaking.

    The people from the ATSB should get some practice in an RAAF high-altitude pressure chamber, as I have done. (I once blacked out at 42,000 feet at night in a fighter jet due to a pressurisation problem and regained consciousness at 16,000 feet.) They should then stop basing their pilot incapacitation theories on 40-year-old movies. – Ol’yeah it is getting personal now Big Grin

    A spokesman for the ATSB has confirmed again that the bureau’s investigation is based on the theory of an explosive decompression leading to unconscious pilots due to hypoxia.

    If this theory had been applied to Qantas, as an example, I am sure the Qantas chief pilot and plenty of line pilots would be offended at the suggestion they were not up to the task of handling such an event. This time-critical event is ­practised frequently and tested in simulator training as part of ­immediate action emergency drills, which are performed from memory.

    At 35,000 feet the time of useful consciousness is 30 to 60 seconds but professional airline pilots are trained without hesitation — as their first action on recognising the explosive decompression — to put on their quick-donning masks with emergency 100 per cent oxygen. The managing pilot then initiates an emergency descent while the other pilot selects emergency on the transponder to alert traffic control and verifies that auto passenger masks drop.

    Why would this have been any different with Malaysia Airlines? It beggars belief that its pilots would not react appropriately according to their training. An event that totally and immediately incapacitated the pilots would be so serious that it is very doubtful the aircraft could keep flying towards Beijing, let alone for another seven hours. The explosive decompression theory carries very little weight.

    I have been criticised (rightly so — I am a pilot, not a journalist) for relying on newspaper reports without confirming the source of the information. An example of this is the supposed climb to 45,000 feet as the aircraft tracked across northern Malaysia. The data supposedly came from subsequent analysis of military radar.

    A B777-200, after the 26-minute climb out of Kuala Lumpur for Beijing, would have approximately 40 tons of fuel left and with 239 people on board the optimum cruise altitude would be around 37,000 feet. This altitude would increase as weight decreased with the burning of fuel.

    Virgin B737s generally cruise around Australia at 41,000 feet. The B777 would easily make 4000 feet above optimum (41,000) and at a stretch 43,000, but 45,000 would, with the thin air, not be possible as the wing loading would not permit it, even with the excess thrust of those big engines.

    So why bother with a climb? If, as postulated, the captain, after donning his own mask, depressurised the aircraft, then the passengers would have only 10 minutes of chemically generated oxygen — assuming the captain had not disabled the auto drop function of the passenger oxygen system.

    However, placed around the cabin are walk-around oxygen bottles with a mask that have a duration of more than one hour.

    Were the aircraft to climb higher, this would render the walk-around oxygen bottles — if used by the cabin crew, or the co-pilot if he was locked out of the cockpit — ineffective in terms of preventing unconsciousness.

    Above 35,000 feet, and especially above 40,000 feet, oxygen under pressure is required to prevent loss of consciousness as the pressure differential is insufficient for the lungs to get enough oxygen. Only pilots’ masks have this selectable pressure breathing capability.

    So this may be a reason for the climb.

    After MH370’s 26-minute climb to cruising altitude, the cabin crew would be very busy with the service. A good captain, not wanting to interrupt the service, would request the co-pilot to go back to the galley and fetch a coffee or whatever. Since 9/11, airlines mandate the cockpit door is locked at all times and verification is required for entry to the cockpit.

    The door unlock switchlight is on a console between the pilots’ seats. When a pilot wishes to leave the cockpit, he stands by the door while the other pilot briefly unlocks it, then re-locks the door after exit. Cockpit entry is therefore impossible for anyone if the pilot inside does not permit it.

    Last week I cited a newspaper report that the flaperon found on Reunion Island was broken in a way that indicated low-speed impact with the water. The report attributed this information to John Cox, a renowned aviation safety consultant. It appears this information was from an unconfirmed source, not from Cox.

    However, it remains the case that when retracted the flaperon is an integral part of the wing and would not be broken off separately unless it were lowered. The only way for that to occur would, in my opinion, be when an engine is torn off backwards when contacting the water, ripping the flaperon, which is immediately behind the engine, from its brackets — on the proviso that it is lowered.

    The ATSB, after initially saying the damage to the flaperon was caused by a high-speed dive prior to crashing, changed its mind to say it supported the flame-out ­theory and an uncontrolled glide to a soft touchdown on water that explained the absence of debris.

    Well, flying a heavy aircraft such as a B777 requires the pilot to start selecting flap so it can reduce speed to less than, say, 210 knots (400km/h). An aircraft without the flap lowered would be at such a speed that a soft impact would be impossible; it would be more like a crash, with broken parts and debris. We know it did not crash because there was no debris…”

    See here: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/inquirer/missing-flight-mh370-can-only-be-explained-by-pilot-control/news-story/df6b2e8e700e9232d0f3e9078c8d5000

    Or on Aunty Pru here: http://auntypru.com/forum/-MH370-time-to-think-of-it-as-a-criminal-act?pid=3251#pid3251

  28. Ben Sandilands

    As I noted at the time, the original BB article may have been edited, and the explainer today restores what I suspected might have been cut out, and concedes the point about the climb to FL450 being rubbish.

    Mr Bailey also retracts the comments he attributed to John Cox. What are we left with? I think it’s a good article, as I said at the outset, and some of the conclusions may well be correct. But it’s not a definitive explanation of the mystery, and Mr Bailey has ignored the technical sequence of events preferred by the defence and science study commissioned by the ATSB, parts of which need to be refuted if his version of events is correct.

    The critical part concerns the two stage flame out, the deployment of the ram air turbine, and the doppler analysis of the final signal from jet to satellite. This isn’t about the data contained, but the actual sending of the data, consistent with a satellite position of about 44 degrees above the horizon at the seventh arc.

    I notice also that the second article today shifts somewhat toward ambiguity as to whether the pilot deliberately flew the jet to its end (deprived of all engine power, which would be odd to say the least) or had been previously incapacitated.

    Nowhere has the ATSB definitely said other than through an apparent second hand conversation between Mr Bailey and its spokesperson, that the pilot was unconscious. It says it favours as an explanation, the pilot being unconscious.

    I would be the last person in the room to go to bat for the ATSB on many, many issues, but it has been verballed, unintentionally I’m sure, into taking a rigid position that suits the premises of the article, but not the facts.

    This is wrong, even if some of Mr Bailey’s suspicions, which are perfectly reasonable ones, are eventually deemed correct.

    Let’s go back to the early stages of the narrative from official sources. It was that the aircraft was intentionally diverted from its filed flight path. That has actually been one of the few things consistently said by the authorities in KL throughout this saga. It remains their position, even though it is unclear when or if that intentional diversion was further diverted to a flight to oblivion in the SIO.

    The authorities in KL have never said the captain did it. They may think he did it, but they haven’t said he did, and it remains possible someone else did it.

    This doesn’t prevent the unconscious pilot scenario coming into effect after whatever the original plot was, came unstuck.

    I hope this very untidy comment helps people understand that popular media efforts to simplify the disappearance of MH370 are fraught with the risks of misrepresentation of contrary evidence and uncertainty as to what the known facts actually mean.

  29. David Hand

    What I think is important is not to take positions regarding pilot hijacking or other possible causes such as electrical failure. The important thing is to take the most credible alternatives as a guide to selecting search locations.

    If the ATSB cannot disprove BB’s analysis, it should go and have a look that the possible search area. After all one thing we do know is that they haven’t found it yet have they.


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