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air safety

Jan 11, 2016

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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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