air crashes

Dec 25, 2016

More of MH370 wing found in South Africa’s Mossel Bay

More to think about for those intrigued by drift analysis

Ben Sandilands — Editor of Plane Talking

Ben Sandilands

Editor of Plane Talking


IG member Mike Exner has tweeted another discovery of MH370 wreckage in Mossel Bay.

Note that Mossel Bay is a long way south of Tanzania, where the largest known fragment of the wing of the missing Malaysia Airlines 777-200ER was found a year ago.


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53 thoughts on “More of MH370 wing found in South Africa’s Mossel Bay

  1. Simon Gunson

    Mike Exner made a valid & interesting observation on Albie Morkel’s facebook page, asking if the Mossel Bay debris fits to the missing trailing edge from the Pemba Island flap. The same question occurred to me.

    If that were true then it raises some questions of its own. Why did they reach such diametrically opposed ends of the east African coastline?

    If they were once part of the same flap what caused such a clean break along a structural frame member inside the flap?

    To me this suggests flutter & in-flight break-up rather than high speed impact with the sea. Had there been a high speed impact, the Flaperon and Pemba Flap would have been crushed & shattered like so many other pieces. They weren’t.

    I also recall Ken Staubin with whom I often disagree pointed out statistical drift analysis suggested the Rolls Royce logo piece could not have reached Mossel Bay from predominantly where other debris came. That poses a difficult question for drift analysis to explain.

    1. Dan Dair

      There was a powerful suggestion from the ATSB that the left ? wing came-off in the decent into the sea.

      As I mentioned previously (in a response to Tango, I think) if the wing came-off, there’s no reason why it wouldn’t have then ‘flapped-about’ (no pun intended) at several hundred miles an hour before the engine came off & the whole wing disintegrated in the air.?

      I made this point to Tango in the context of potentially, how widespread the debris-field might actually be;
      From the first point of mid-air break-up, to the surface of the ocean.
      Then the drop from the surface to the sea-bed. Because of the great depth of the ocean, a certain amount of hydrodynamic ‘drift’ is inevitable. Coupled with the likelihood of different current directions at differing depths, that drift ‘footprint’ for the debris-field becomes huge;
      And in addition to that, we know how far these ‘washed-up’ items have travelled before making any landfall.

      One can only speculate about how much of 9M-MRO is still floating around at sea, or waiting to be discovered on a shoreline somewhere,
      already been discovered
      & tidied-up by a diligent beach-worker in complete ignorance of its provenance, because the joint investigative team STILL haven’t organised any kind of program to see that these shorelines are monitored in at least some kind of minimal, cursory fashion.!
      (I despair of them,
      they can find $millions for a high-tech sea-bed search
      & not dollar-one to do any work in areas where wreckage has already been (& continues to be) found.???????)

      1. TomTom

        Good point. How much can a brief TV & newspaper campaign of “if you find something on the beach, call the authorities” cost, or sending somebody around to appear on all of the evening news programs explaining it to the viewers?

        1. TomTom

          Imagine what publicity and what kind of a search of beaches would ensue from announcement of $100 reward for any aircraft debris found?

          1. Dan Dair

            That’s it mate, you get it in one.!

            I’ve been talking about this for at least a year now……
            If the joint investigation team funded a one-off sweep of all the places where stuff has been found & the adjacent beaches/shorelines around them
            & then funded a programme of education & support for the existing beach & shoreline workers all across the region,
            I can’t imagine it costing more than a million dollars over the course of a year & probably less.

            I’m just an outsider looking-in,
            but you’d have thought that those who’re actually getting paid for thinking about stuff like this could have come up with a similar plan, without my help & before I thought of it…..
            but it seems that they still haven’t.?
            Ho hum.!

          2. comet

            The main responsibility for the land search should not fall on the public.

            IG members seem to have no difficulty locating wreckage before any government finds it.

      2. Tango

        The real question Simon is really So What?
        Is it of any relevance that it broke up mid air or disintegrated in the crash?
        What is relevant is debris continues to come ashore.
        Its not been connect to anything other than the aircraft (yet)
        It also continues to confirm drift theory.
        What has to be kept in mind that drift theory is in reality a statically assessment. It does no say that this piece will wind up there, or that piece will wind up here.

        It simply says that statistically wreckage if any is floating will show up in this range of areas on these dates assuming it went down in this location.

        As each piece has its own profile to wind as well as current, waves, if they diverge by 100 feet a day, that puts each piece in a different location over time by many miles and then each is affected by difference aspects to where it can accelerate.

        As long as it shows up in the area predicted, the theory holds up.

        It has not and never will predict where any single piece will land or when.

  2. Giant Bird

    Is it possible that the land search would be the responsibility of Malaysia to organise and fund and they are as interested now doing that as they were in follow up and trying to contact the aircraft on the night it went dark. With the sea search perhaps most of the work and cost is being borne by Australia so that is why it is happening and the much cheaper and simpler land search is not happening.

    1. comet

      The international conventions and protocols need to change.

      Allowing the country of origin to lead an air investigation is like allowing a criminal to control how the police collect evidence against him. From Day #1 Malaysia has demonstrated an interest in leading the investigation astray.

    2. Mick Gilbert

      Yes, it is a division of responsibilities issue. The International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO’s) Convention on International Civil Aviation deals with a raft of topics including the assignment of responsibilities for Search and Rescue and Aircraft Accident and Incident Investigation.
      Annex 12 deals with Search and Rescue, although in the case of MH370 only the search element is now relevant. That responsibility falls to Australia by virtue of the SAR areas assigned under the UN International Convention on maritime search and rescue, 1979.
      Annex 13 deals with Aircraft Accident and Incident Investigation. That responsibility falls to Malaysia.
      The analysis of washed up debris is not particularly helpful for identifying the crash site and aiding the search effort. There is no doubt that it has been useful in confirming a crash site in the Southern Indian Ocean but beyond that it is not possible to get a specific starting location (crash site) from the locations where debris washes up. If you follow the Global Drifter Program you’ll see that buoys that start out in close proximity to one another regularly end up thousands of kilometres apart over 18-24 months.
      I agree with Dan, that a simple awareness programme could have been instituted but it would have needed to cover ten different countries and thousands of kilometres of coastline. Such a programme would have been inexpensive when compared to the costs for the underwater search but probably would have been more expensive than some have suggested. We can argue till the cows come home about the cost-benefit of such a programme in helping detetmine either a crash site or the cause of the event.
      Just to correct a common misconception, while Australia is coordinating the search, Malaysia has borne the bulk of the costs.

      1. Dan Dair

        IMO someone answering the phone & a small bunch of locals who can go to collect or disavow the debris should be sufficient staff for each country.
        They’d need to bright-enough to do the job but wouldn’t need to be rocket scientists, so paid in local wages, I don’t think they’d be expensive.?
        Equally, a programme of education & awareness would need quite a few people on the ground initially, to meet-up with existing beach & shoreline workers & give them the information they need to make them assets to the search.
        Again, I’d have thought that locals, suitably trained could form a substantial part of this team. Probably, in fact, some of the ones who would go on to be the local co-ordinators of the programme.?

        Maybe I’m underestimating & it’ll be as much as $5 million dollars for all that.?
        Which is a drop-in-the-ocean (pun intended) by comparison with what has been already spent on the deep-sea search.! (apparently by Malaysia, thanks for that nugget of info, Mick.!!)

      2. Tango


        Good information. Do you have a link on the costs?

        My understanding is Australia picked up the initial tab and then China and Malaysia pitched in but no where near matching Australia.

        At this point I think the land search is not longer needed.

        I do think it should have been done initially as it was a key to confirming rough location.

        Malaysia seems to have done as little as possible and been as big a hindrance as they could be.

        Their PM alone could have funded the whole search and still had 600 million left over from his bribes (not related to the MH370 disaster but well in keeping with the corrupt nature and lies of the current regime)

        1. Mick Gilbert

          G’day Tango, Yes, I do; the details on funding the underwater search can be found at
          Here are the relevant extracts from that page:
          “It is expected that the underwater search may cost around $200 million.
          … The People’s Republic of China has committed more than $20 million in the form of funding and equipment.
          … In addition to the earlier commitment to match Australia’s contribution of $60 million, Malaysia has agreed to fund the balance of the costs associated with searching the entire 120,000 square kilometre search area.”
          So, the divvy up of costs is China – $20 million, Australia – $60 million and Malaysia – $120+ million (they will pick up the cost overruns associated with the delays in completing the search).

          1. Giant Bird

            That is a surprise to me. Malaysia seems to be much more interested in finding out what happened than I ever expected.

          2. JW (aka James Wilson)

            “Malaysia seems to be much more interested in finding out what happened than I ever expected.”

            Why wouldn’t they be interested, GB? After all, it was their aircraft that disappeared and international conventions dictate that the State of Registry undertakes the investigation in cases where an accident occurs outside the territory of any other State. Australia was initially responsible for the Search & Rescue effort, because the aircraft was believed to have come down within Australia’s Search & Rescue Region. However, the burden of responsibility became less clear once the operation moved from ‘rescue’ to ‘recovery’. Hence the negotiations between Australia, Malaysia and China over the division of costs, and Australia’s agreement with Malaysia to continue coordinating the search operation.

            Malaysia’s initial response to the aircraft’s disappearance was a total shambles, which is yet to be explained. Nevertheless, much of the conspiracy nonsense that has been written about Malaysia’s subsequent action is nothing more than xenophobic rubbish.

  3. Ben Sandilands

    It was nevertheless acting transport minister Hishamuddin Hussein who on May 1, 2014, said that on the morning of the disappearance cabinet knew that MH370 had diverted across the Malaysia Peninsula. That meant that the statement made by the PM Najib Razak urging the early search partners to search further into the south China Sea, and even as far as western southern Asia beyond the Karakorums etc had the effect of diluting the resources deployed. HH said the authorities had been briefed by the NTSB as to the military radar tapes they had shown them in requesting their opinion before the deputation from Inmarsat informed the PM that the jet had ultimately flown south. The behavior of the PM was that of a deliberate liar. The question is Why is this so? Immediately before the May 1, 2014, release of the interim accident report HH said in passing that the report had in places been redacted.
    When subsequently questioned by the media including the PRC state media that flanked the PRC Ambassador to Malaysia who attended each briefing in the early stages of the saga about inconsistencies in dates and times and versions of events HH said he didn’t intend to go into detailed discussion about such matters. And to the best of my knowledge no member of the government of authorities directly involved in communication with the public over the disappearance of MH370 ever have set out to reconcile line by line what are some pretty disturbing or passingly strange inconsistencies and apparent evasions in the accounts given of the early months of this mystery.

    It is abundantly true that a lot of xenophobic nonsense has been spoken about the conduct of the Malaysia Government and authorities. However I am of the opinion that questioning the consistency of the official reporting and probing the quite astonishing evasions that appeared to have been built into some of the reporting isn’t xenophobia at all, but reporters doing their job, and asking, without obtaining answers, the same questions over and over again.
    As long as those questions are unanswered they raise very serious doubts as to what was really behind the positions taken by key Malaysian government and administrative figures in the early stages of the disappearance.

    1. JW (aka James Wilson)

      I totally agree; there are many questions that remain unanswered. Nevertheless, I am not convinced that Malaysia has ‘no interest’ in proceeding with the recovery effort, or in finding out what happened.

      1. comet

        JW, you have to accept that
        ‘unanswered questions’ = lies.

        Deliberate lies. It’s indefensible.

        Malaysia has a vested interest in covering up what really happened, and that outweighs their interest in finding answers for the sake of world aviation safety.

        1. JW (aka James Wilson)

          Well that’s your opinion Comet. It’s not mine.

          1. comet

            It’s not an opinion, JW.

            It’s simply a fact, as Ben stated in the post above, that the Malaysian cabinet knew that MH370 had diverted across the Malaysia Peninsula, while after that point in time the Malaysian PM was directing searchers to the wrong place.

            It’s a fact that Malaysia has a vested interest. At the very least, they have a national airline to protect, a tourism industry to shield, and a very large and empty international airport to fill.

            And it’s possible, even likely (considering Malaysia’s behaviour) that its vested interests extend further.

          2. JW (aka James Wilson)

            The following is a partial transcript of Hishammuddin’s press statement on 1 May 2014, as published in the Straits Times that day:
            “As stated previously, Malaysian military radar did track an aircraft making a turn-back, in a westerly direction, across peninsular Malaysia on the morning of 8 March. The aircraft was categorised as friendly by the radar operator and therefore no further action was taken at the time.The radar data was reviewed in a playback at approximately 08:30 on 8 March. This information was sent to the Air Force operations room at approximately 09:00. Following further discussion up the chain of command, the military informed the Acting Transport and Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein at approximately 10:30 of the possible turn-back of the aircraft. The Minister then informed the Prime Minister, who immediately ordered that search and rescue operations be initiated in the Straits of Malacca, along with the South China Sea operations which started earlier in the day.

            So yes, according to that transcript, the Malaysian Government was aware that an aircraft had been tracked heading in a westerly direction across peninsular Malaysia on the morning of 8 March. The transcript also states the PM ordered SAR operations to commence in the Straits of Malacca that same day, while search efforts continued in the South China Sea. That doesn’t seem unreasonable, given the radar data was not confirmed as MH370 until several days later, at which point the South China Sea search was abandoned. So how, exactly, did the PM deliberately lie and ‘direct searchers to the wrong place’?

          3. Tango

            As a note of record, I am somewhat in alignment with JW.

            There is not doubt that Malaysian authorities deliberately misled, obfuscated the disappearance.

            I don’t know their motive. Ranges from complete bumbling incompetence a corrupt regime that lower levels will lie rather than risk the wrath to unknown.

            For at least public image sake Malaysian government is on board. Do they care? No, getting bribes and living the life is really the reality.

            Do some care? Maybe and hopefully.

            Maybe they just want it to go away and finding it would do that.

            Ben is 100% correct that the reports should follow up and hound.

            So should all countries.

          4. JW (aka James Wilson)


            Further to my previous comments, although the Malaysian Government knew about the radar data the same day MH370 disappeared, the data was not confirmed as MH370 until after it was analysed and compared to Inmarsat’s analysis later that week. Nevertheless, several Malaysian naval vessels and an aircraft were tasked to commence search operations in the Straits of Malacca the morning of 8 March 2014, the same day MH370 disappeared. The following day, they were joined by a vessel from the Thai navy, which began searching in the lower part of the Andaman Sea. Meanwhile, the main focus of the search remained in the South China Sea, because that was the aircraft’s last known location.

            Confirmation of the radar data was announced by PM Najib Razak at a press conference on 15 March 2014, at which time it was also announced the aircraft’s last satellite communication occurred in one of two possible corridors; a northern corridor extending through northern Thailand towards Kazakhstan, and a southern corridor extending into the southern Indian Ocean. Najib stated that, as a result of the new information, search operations in the South China Sea would end and that redeployment of the search assets was being reassessed.

            Australia commenced searching the southern corridor on 18 March 2014, while China and Kazakhstan commenced searching the northern corridor. Inmarsat and the UK AAIB subsequently refined the flight path to the southern part of the southern corridor and briefed Najib about those conclusions on 24 March. He released a press statement announcing the findings the same day and thereafter the sole focus of the search moved south.

            The Malaysian Government did a very poor job of controlling media communications in the days after MH370 disappeared, as Najib himself admitted in a commentary piece in the Wall Street Journal on 13 May 2014. The confused messaging certainly created an atmosphere of suspicion, but I am yet to find evidence that Najib or anyone else misdirected the initial phase of the search. If you have information to the contrary, then I’d be glad to hear it.

      2. Dave M

        I think that James’ point that the Malaysian authorities did not know for sure of the identity of the plane that flew west, in the early stages, is an important one. Until that airplane was known for sure to have been MH370, would it have made sense to completely call off the search in the South China Sea?

    2. Mick Gilbert

      Ben, there’s no doubt that the early work on the search for MH370 was somewhere between appalling and abysmal, and that includes our (Australia’s) efforts in running the surface search; it bounced around like a fart in a mitten.

      1. Dan Dair

        “like a fart in a mitten”
        Never heard that one before,!!!!!!
        It begs so many questions;
        not the least of which is;
        why would one fart into a mitten in the first place.????

        1. JW (aka James Wilson)

          Nothing like a bit of warm air to keep one’s hands warm…

          1. Dan Dair

            “Nothing like a bit of warm air to keep one’s hands warm….”

            …..but you’d need to wash your hands everytime you took your mittens OFF.!!!

        2. Mick Gilbert

          The whys and wherefores of that expression are beyond me, Dan. A boss of mine had a very colourful vocabulary and some wonderful turns of phrase, that being one of them. Apparently it’s an old Hebridean seafaring expression.

        3. JW (aka James Wilson)

          fart in a mitten
          n.— «To run around like a “fart in a mitten” is descriptive of the sort of frenzied rushing of a puppy or small child. It has to be the ultimate mismatch of words, the origin of which is absolutely shrouded in the mists of total obscurity. But mother, nonetheless, accused me of it.» —by George B. Higgins, Greg O’Brien How to Speak Like a Cape Codder: An Old Salt’s Dictionary Dec., 2003. (source: Double-Tongued Dictionary)

          1. Tango

            I think in a degree of fairness, the Australian government never had the facts early enough to make a difference.

            There is that key aspect that gets overlooked.

            Inmarsat had the ping aspect noted almost from the start (they obviously reviewed their records). That does not mean it was assessed, but they did have the data.

            There is a large gap in them not publically releasing that.

            To this day we do not know of they contacts the Malaysian Authorities and they failed to bring it to light of day or what they did with it (MA who then did not pass it on ? – we just do not know)

            Getting that data to Australia early on would have allowed them to concentrate the search along the 7th arch and not a zone.

            Early enough search and you can spot wreckage, 2 weeks latter is dispersed.

            If there is a case that needs to be taken to the Hague this is it. It won’t change things but we will know details.

            Inmarsat information alone would tell us a lot as to where the ball was dropped deliberately or otherwise.

          2. Dan Dair

            From memory, I think that the Inmarsat company didn’t initially release the data because that data was the property of Rolls-Royce.
            The impression I got was that Rolls-Royce said they had no objections to putting the data out-there, but it required Malaysian Airlines to agree to that.

            Some time later either MAS formally agreed to the release,
            or the Inmarsat company unilaterally decided that their ‘privileged’ information was deliberately being kept from the search authorities, to the detriment of the search process.?

          3. JW (aka James Wilson)

            We do know what happened with the Inmarsat data. Inmarsat began analysing the data on 9 March and determined the aircraft was located somewhere along one of two arcs, the so-called northern and southern corridors. That information was shared with the Malaysian investigation team on 11 March. The Malaysians subsequently passed the data on to the NTSB for verification of Inmarsat’s analysis. The analysis was verified and announced at PM Najib’s press conference on 15 March. Australia accepted responsibility for search operations in the southern corridor on 17 March and commenced searching the following day. I really don’t see how it could have been done any more quickly, given the need to verify Inmarsat’s initial analysis.

  4. comet

    Children get to play with wreckage of the doomed airliner, hitting it with sticks on the beach, while IG members are all over it long before any government agency has inspected it.

    IG should smuggle the pieces off to France, where the BEA would give it a more impartial analysis than some other national agencies would.

    1. Mick Gilbert

      Don’t bank on the BEA being an apolitical honest broker; they have been sitting on the flaperon for a long, long time now. The reason most commonly cited for their failure to release it to the Malaysians; a diplomatic tiff relating to Malaysia’s treatment of some French tourists. It’s pathetic.

      1. Tango

        Excellent point, but also criminal evidence.

        Give a bureaucracy power and they will use it. We saw that in the Concorde disaster.

        Comet: anyone smuggling parts put themselves at legal risks from any country it passes through, some very corrupt.

        I once too work related tools into a country that could seize them on any pretext. My boss said if anyhone give syou any grief just give htem some money.

        No sir, if they want those tools they can have them. If you are going to bribe someone you better be able to prove it (know the system and I sure don’t) , they shake you down until you have no more money, take your tools and throw you in jail.

  5. Ben Sandilands

    Your superbly polished and image compliant summaries as to how the Malaysia government behaved on the morning and days after MH370 disappeared would strike a chord with any media, including myself, who have covered various major royal commissions or similar inquiries into the Voyager disaster, the West Gate Bridge Collapse, and the rampant kiddie fiddling by corrupt clergy who dare to posture about morality and decency.

    It just doesn’t stack up against the actual events and statements of those times and leaves out all the imperfections to use a neutral term in the official narratives, with sometimes more than one going off in different directions at the same time. It’s not credible to glibly accept that the statements of government figures or Inmarsat or indeed anyone else just in order to provide a neat and tidy justification of the finally agreed official line that overlooks all of the earlier deceptions, outright lies and imperfections. It’s also grossly indifferent to the next of kin, who I notice have even cut through to our Foreign Minister when she suggested the Malaysians get real about compensation. Given her performance over MH17, it takes a great deal to focus Ms Bishop’s mind on underlying issues of importance, but I digress.
    Tidy, post event restructuring of simplified blame free histories of events didn’t work with Voyager or West Gate, and they won’t work with MH370 either. While it is outside the scope of our discussion, one might wonder how you would polish up the 1MDB scandal involving Najib Razak, or the no longer suppressed evidence in matters related to the payment of alleged bribes by interests associated with Note Printing Australia to prominent figures in Malaysia?

    At the very outset, I don’t think the serious ‘old school’ media is nearly as trusting of official, and often inconsistent narratives, as those who re-interpret events for those involved in them.

    1. Dave M

      Ben – to get down to specifics, are you saying that you would have called off the search in the South China Sea before the westward-flying plane (observed on 8 March by military radar) was confirmed to be MH370 by the Inmarsat data? Or are you suggesting that the Inmarsat data (or some other conclusive information) had already confirmed the identity of the flight by that point (contradicting the JW posts above)?

      1. Ben Sandilands

        Dave M,
        Those aren’t my specifics, and I’m perturbed given your details that they would be yours either. I can’t think of anything more pointless than retrospectively saying what as a reporter I think the PM of Malaysia ought to have specifically done at some time in the past. But what I do regard as being on point for any reporter working on this story is to note very carefully what was said and by whom and in what context in a live broadcast or confirmed in a subsequent video.
        Within 24 hours the PM denied categorically that the country’s defence radar had tracked an unidentified flight that deviated from the last recorded position of MH370 (as a then transponder identified object) across the Malaysia Peninsula and could thus have been likely to be the Malaysia Airline’s plane. In subsequent days and nights there was a total reversal of the narrative to say that such an object had been tracked by the defence radar, and that tapes of that passage had been referred to the NTSB for an opinion, which at the outset was that it could indeed have been the flight.
        No discussion at press conferences was allowed of this reversal of narrative. In questioning the official speakers at an early nightly press conference also said the last radar contact reported to them by MH370 was off the coast from Phuket and apparently headed deeper into the Andaman Sea. Note that at this point no official recognition of any identification of the object in question as MH370 by Inmarsat had been announced. Malaysian officials were treating the object that crossed the Malaysia Peninsula as MH370 before the Inmarsat identification was officially confirmed to the media. That development was actually reported a day sooner in the Wall Street Journal which had also briefly reported on the analysis of doppler shifts in the signal from an on board server as saying that at some stage after last radar contact MH370 turned south. I don’t know where the two WSJ reporters who were on top of the MH370 story well before the nightly KL media conferences obtained their information.
        On 1 May 2014, on the night the redacted preliminary Malaysian report into the loss of MH370 came out the acting transport minister and defence minister Hishammuddein Hussain, made a number of admission on a Facebook posting that I curated and reproduced. Many times, as I’m sure you might be aware. HH was adamant that cabinet knew at a meeting convened mid morning on March 14, 2014, that MH370 had diverted to the west. That admission sits particularly poorly with the continued calls being made by the PM in the days immediately afterwards for a search deeper into the South China Sea, with references to the desirability in looking closer at some India administered islands and deeper to the north including across India and into central Asia.
        It may be that you didn’t pay close attention to these media presentations and tightly controlled press conferences at the time. They are however archived on multiple data bases including those of the major television networks here, and in some places abroad.
        It may also be that you weren’t following my own coverage at that time, and that is not a criticism but just a reality, as Plane Talking grew its audience by 20 fold in a space of a few months from the start of the MH370 saga.
        While I’m happy to write Plane Talking for nothing, I’m not about to engage in one-on-one voluntary research assistance for those who can readily find a vast amount of curated footage of media conferences and print media reports on their own bat. Besides the Crikey archives are broken. They will be repaired. Quite possibly to a shorter time scale than it will take to find the sunk wreckage of the jet.

        I think if you find and read the detailed, yet often frustrating and inconsistent reports of the times, some very important questions will leap from the pages with the benefit of hindsight (by all of us) if we are interested in the events that occurred after the disappearance of the jet.

        They don’t lend themselves to smooth, short, uncomplicated and tidied up narratives. I don’t have a scenario to defend as the cause of the loss of MH370. I do have a cause in taking issue with some of the scenarios put forward by others where they are wrapped up as solutions to this mystery that are being multiply contradicted by the small number of physical clues available to the investigators. I’m very impressed by the work done by Michael Gilbert, but that work is totally hypothetical without some breakthrough physical corroboration.
        So in answer to your question, I don’t care what Najib Razak might have done on the day. But I do care about what he said on the day, and subsequent days, and even why he might have said certain things that he is on the record, and tape, as having said.

        1. JW (aka James Wilson)

          So bloody what if the PM denied the country’s defence radar had tracked an unidentified flight within the first 24 hours. Is it surprising he would initially deny such a thing, given the national security implications of defence radar data and the fact that it had not, at that stage, been verified as MH370? Why does the media think it has a god-given right to the immediate release of such information?

          What continued calls were made by the PM in the days after the cabinet meeting on 14 March for “a search deeper into the South China Sea”? If you care to check your facts, you’ll find the PM announced in a press conference on 15 March that the search in the South China Sea was being terminated.

        2. Dave M

          Ben – I’ve been reading your blog for many years, since long before MH370 I think, and I’ve probably read every one of your posts on the topic, for what it’s worth (not that I would ever claim to remember all of the details or have any special expertise to bring to the topic). Your blog is one of the 10 or so that I go to almost every day online, because the subject of commercial aviation is interesting, because I have a connection to Australia, and because I like your approach here. I was trying to boil down a key point from the JW posts above, one that I think is important (a question that I had arrived at on my own, earlier), because I was surprised that you hadn’t addressed it yet and thought you would either acknowledge something in it or else show me where it was misguided. I’m not particularly interesting in defending the Malaysian government, but it still seems unclear whether they were flatly wrong to encourage continued searching in the South China Sea as of the 8th of March, an action that you have repeatedly and sharply criticized.

          1. Ben Sandilands

            Dave M,
            In my opinion, and supported by the evidence as to timing and content, the Malaysian government and authorities were wrong in continuing to support a search in the SCS when they had been advised that the object that appeared where MH370 disappeared and then continued across the Malaysia Peninsula was the missing airliner at a cabinet meeting on the morning of 8 March and as later confirmed by HH.
            In my opinion there was no reason to wait for confirmation of this from Inmarsat, which at that stage, was a possibility that they wouldn’t have known existed if we were to accept the PM’s account of being advised of it days later in KL, yet four days before calling off the SCS search.
            This is a key weakness in the defence of the authorities for waiting for confirmation of the object’s identity from Inmarsat. They would have been waiting for something they didn’t know was coming, according to the official narrative.
            If we wish to find a mitigating reason for the delay a more plausible answer is that in the days immediately following the disappearance of MH370 as a transponder identified object the expectation of all parties (including the media, and including this reporter) was that the crash site would be quickly identified and a recovery operation immediately launched.
            It isn’t clear (in my readings, but I may have missed something) as to exactly when the government and authorities learned that MH370 had to have flown ‘somewhere’ for seven hours 39 minutes before the final abnormal and incomplete exchange of signals occurred between the aircraft and the Inmarsat system. However it could not have happened later than the deputation from Inmarsat briefed the PM which is said to have occurred on March 11.
            My opinion that a deliberate lie was told and retold by the authorities about the need to continue searching across Asia, the Bay of Bengal, the shores of India controlled islands and the SCS is largely influenced by these anomalies in the delivery of the official narrative.
            Try to imagine Najib Razak being cross examined on these anomalies and inconsistencies at something with the powers and hopefully the independence of a Royal Commission. The positions taken by the government and authorities (which they have refused to discuss in detail) would have been shredded. Perhaps however we might have received a straight answer at to when it occurred to them to have the Inmarsat data examined, or when it occurred to Inmarsat to tell KL about the identification and analysis it has performed on that data. (There is on-going debate and criticism about the quality of the disclosed Inmarsat data at the outset.)
            I’m not alone among the ‘trade’ media, including the serious coverage by the WSJ and Aviation Week in having grave doubts about the full and truthful disclosure of information about MH370 known to the authorities since the night of the disappearance, and I have no doubt that the delay in cancelling all searches but those to the W and SW of Western Australia as promptly as possible diluted the early search effort and may have frustrated crucial early discoveries of floating wreckage before it was dispersed, sunk or eaten.

    2. JW (aka James Wilson)

      A predictable response from you Ben, if nothing else. Frankly, I’m surprised it took you this long to respond. The views I expressed above were formed after considerable research that included footage of the press conferences held in the days after MH370 disappeared, together with the official statements, media reports and opinion pieces, including your own here at Plane Talking.

      The flow of information from the Malaysian government and other organisations was poorly handled. It was chaotic and at times inconsistent, which is hardly surprising given the unprecedented nature of the aircraft’s disappearance and the Malaysian government’s obvious lack of preparedness for such an event. Does that amount to ‘lying’? I think not, although it is obvious some sections of the media will portray any inconsistency in the narrative as such.

      I could extend this argument into aspects of bias and truthfulness in media reporting, but in the spirit of the season I shall refrain.

      Happy New Year.

      1. Ben Sandilands


        You need to sharpen up your wits and stop talking about an identification process your own research tells you that the PM didn’t know was coming until March 11. Relying on paradoxes is dangerous, as Dr Who fans no doubt know.

        1. JW (aka James Wilson)

          And you need to stop putting your own spin on my comments. I did not say the Malaysians were waiting for verification by Inmarsat. Clearly they did not know about the details of Inmarsat’s analysis until it arrived. What I said was: “the data was not confirmed as MH370 until after it was analysed and compared to Inmarsat’s analysis later that week”. Analysis by the RMAF and the NTSB indicated the radar data could have been MH370, but it was not confirmed until after it was compared to Inmarsat’s analysis. Would you, in all honesty, have redirected an entire search operation on the basis of information that had not been verified?

  6. Ben Sandilands

    You mightn’t understand the importance of the truth, but on your own research you just have Najib Razak not retreating from a SCS search for four days after he was told by Inmarsat of their analysis on March 11.

    Four days urging search resources continue to be wasted in the SCS! What a disgraceful situation. But apparently one you think acceptable. You have very low standards.

    1. JW (aka James Wilson)

      Really? Seeing as we’re talking about ‘truth’, perhaps you missed the bit where I mentioned the data was sent to the NTSB for independent verification? Given the implications of Inmarsat’s analysis for the search area and the fact that it had not previously been used for the purpose of locating an aircraft, do you not think it was a wise move for the Malaysians to obtain a second opinion? Given the nature of bureaucracy, I am frankly surprised that it only took four days to obtain that opinion and make the decision to abandon the South China Sea.

      What would you media types have said if they’d jumped the gun and subsequently found the information was flawed? If nothing else, I guess it would have given you something else to complain about.

      1. Ben Sandilands

        Your comments today are so out of keeping with your usual carefully crafted contributions that I’m a little concerned for your well being. Please stay calm, drink plenty of water and keep cool, if you are in one of the heat wave affected areas.

        1. JW (aka James Wilson)

          I am quite cool, but thank you for your concern. I note that you haven’t answered any of the points I raised in my previous comments. What does that say?

          1. Ben Sandilands

            As explained above, it tells us you are as confused about the real situation as the government you are making apologies for. You are relying on the PM waiting for confirmation of the identity of the object that flew from MH370’s last known transponder identified position and crossed the Malaysia peninsula for longer than the government did, and then making the mistake that identification required an Inmarsat analysis KL didn’t know was coming, but occurred after the claim that the object seen by military radar was MH370 had been accepted in the official narrative and confirmed by HH in May. Your construct as to the events that occurred is a notably lame attempt to make excuses for deliberately misleading statements made by the government and its aviation authority.

          2. JW (aka James Wilson)

            Utter bullshit. I did no such thing, as I have already explained.

  7. Ben Sandilands

    If you pay attention to the reports of the time and the briefings in KL the Malaysian’s had already put a stronger emphasis on looking to islands controlled by India, and to the northern entrance of the Straits of Malacca, near Pulau Perak, where there was an unconfirmed potential sighting of the jet. To all intents and purposes HH’s responses at the media events underlined his then undisclosed knowledge that MH370 had flown west across the Malaysia Peninsula on the morning of the disappearance. I think it was a missed opportunity that none of the media in the room ever asked for specific details about cabinet meetings that discussed MH370.
    To answer your hypothetical question, of course i would have refocused the search effort. At that stage there was a lingering hope that 239 people might be awaiting rescue in a jungle or in life boats. I find it incredible that you would ever think that searching for survivors on the basis of a flight across the Malaysia Peninsula should be held up for ‘confirmation’. That’s serious indifference to human life in my books, and going by the attention the Malaysia authorities paid to Pulau Perak they realised this and had acted accordingly, regardless of what the PM’s office might have thought. There are news videos of HH in a flight he specifically directed to search the seas and coastal area near that potential sighting of MH370, although it appeared at that stage that the implications of a long flight time, and a location within Malaysia, would have been mutually incompatible.
    These are among the matters that reasonably demand further attention as or when a proper inquiry into the search for MH370 from the moment it vanished is mounted. I’d like to know much more about many things that happened or didn’t happen that night, including the astonishing failure of the airline to contact a single ship that would have been under known and subsequently derived flight paths of MH370. Glib summaries about how KL wanted ‘confirmation’ don’t cut it as far as I’m concerned and they certainly don’t mesh closely with the official narratives of those times.

  8. JW (aka James Wilson)

    “I find it incredible that you would ever think that searching for survivors on the basis of a flight across the Malaysia Peninsula should be held up for ‘confirmation’”

    Rest assured that I think no such thing. Of course they should have commenced searching to the west as soon as there were suspicions the aircraft might have headed that way, as indeed they did. However, I do not believe they should have abandoned the South China Sea without further verification of what were initially only vague suspicions.

    There seems little point in continuing this ‘discussion’. You have your views and I have mine. Let’s leave it at that.

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