air safety

Dec 31, 2016

Will Boeing, or maybe China, take over the MH370 search in 2017?

The struggle between those who want to know the truth about MH370, and those who are prepared to let go and forget, is already underway

Ben Sandilands — Editor of Plane Talking

Ben Sandilands

Editor of Plane Talking

The long forgotten shipwreck MH370 searchers found in 2015
Long forgotten shipwreck MH370 searchers found in 2015

Updated*  January 3, 2017

This article in Popular Mechanics raises the possibility that Boeing might fund a renewed search for the missing Malaysia Airlines 777-200ER that was operating MH370  when it vanished on the way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in 2014.

The suggestion is made by John Goglia, a safety consultant and former member of the National Transportation Safety Board (the equivalent of Australia’s ATSB), which is what makes it newsworthy.

Mr Goglia is a respected, and eminently well connected voice in matters of air safety, although it is not known if Boeing is considering such a step at this moment, or is inclined to do so in the near future, if it has one should a trade war between the US and the rest of the world wipe out most of its commercial airplane business after President elect Donald Trump is inaugurated on January 20.

There are so many variables at play in attempting to predict the exact path taken by MH370 before it crashed into the south Indian Ocean that the jet might only be stumbled upon so far into the future that no-one who knew any of the 239 people who were onboard the flight will be alive.

The world’s greatest aviation mystery may have long been consigned to footnote status by more recent incidents involving spaceliners plying the routes to orbital factories, or bases on the moon and elsewhere in the solar system.

Such a fate befell the approximately 1820 shipwreck (top of page) that was located during the course of the search for MH370 in 2015. All of the wooden structure of that shipwreck, about which almost nothing is known today, has long vanished, leaving only partly corroded metal objects, such as a trunk, a ship’s wheel, and the nails which held the decking, masts and keel together, scattered on the ocean floor.

Those processes of decay will also obliterate MH370 in the centuries to come, should the wreckage not be found when it is recogniseable, useful, and yet important to those the 239 souls on board left behind on March 8, 2014.

Updated*  Boeing says that Mr Goglia has clarified that his reference to “work” to find MH370 should not have been interpreted as the “search” should continue under private funding.

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32 thoughts on “Will Boeing, or maybe China, take over the MH370 search in 2017?

  1. Dan Dair

    I concur.
    The wreckage is out there somewhere & at some point in the future (assuming we don’t bugger-up the planet for ourselves in the meantime), the technology will be created which will be capable of mapping all the oceanic depths without all the current fuss & paraphernalia.?
    When that time finally arrives, 9M-MRO & anything else which has been lost at sea, will be revealed to us.

    I continue to hope that the discovery of this particular missing aircraft will be much sooner than that.!

  2. Jacob HSR

    Why are you writing dates the American way?

    The BBC and Guardian still use the Commonwealth format: Day, Month, Year.

    Or is it a decision by Crikey rather than Ben?

    1. Giant Bird

      The American way would 1/1/17 which is confusing to the rest of the world. January 1, 2017 is not the American way it is the natural way we say dates “January First” which is used as frequently in Australia as saying “First of January”.

      1. freddagg

        The Americans officially use 2 systems.
        Recently I had to apply for a visa and complete their form DS-160 and guess what?…. you enter your birthdate as day, month, year whilst all other dates in the form (for previous dates of travel) are month, day, year.
        Strange and confusing.
        Just wait until you see engineering drawings in inches and fractions of inches – that is fun (not)

  3. Dan Dair

    May God bless her and all who sail (travel) in her.

    May their God rest the souls of those who perished & those who remain to grieve for them.

    May we all hope & trust that those in authority, whoever they may be,
    will exercise that role to ensure that the remnants of 9M-MRO are found & that the truth of how it came to be in the ocean depths are honestly revealed to all.

    My thoughts are with the victims & their bereaved.

    My new years wishes are for an early and honest conclusion to this saga.

    For the rest of you characters;
    I wish you all the best for the coming year.
    May it much more happy, satisfying & prosperous than any of us anticipated.!!!
    Cheers friends……..!!!

  4. chris turnbull

    If Boeing gives some credit to the material you have directed us to about the windshield heaters, and a similar hypothesis by your colleague Ms Negroni in her book, then they should be tipping some cash in . I’m not ruling anything in or out, but I raise a question – doesn’t the rogue pilot theory rest on the pilot having knowledge of the military systems of Taiwan Malaysia and Thailand and their lack of capacity to intercept?

    1. Mick Gilbert

      The rogue pilot theory relies on an extraordinarily well researched plan together with a lot of luck. To the extent that it was the product of a well researched and executed plan then there are a number of internal inconsistencies that the rogue pilot theorists have never gotten around to addressing.
      I don’t know about Taiwan but a pretty good knowledge of Thailand’s and more particularly Malaysia’s air defence system would have been required. The turn back took MH370 back across the east coast of Malaysia about 50 kilometres north west of the Royal Malaysian Air Force base at Gong Kedak, home to the eighteen Su-30MKM Flanker-Gs of No 11 Squadron and No 321 Squadron radar station. It then continued south west across the Malay Peninsula while making no attempt to evade radar to cross the west coast within 25 kilometres of RMAF Butterworth, home to three fast jet squadrons including No 18 Squadron with its eight Boeing F/A-18D Hornets. So to the extent that this was planned it’s like planning to steal an expensive car and then drive it straight past police headquarters and the headquarters for the highway patrol as part of the getaway.
      Much has been made in some circles of the timing of the turnback, right on the cusp of the handover from Kuala Lumpur’s Area Control Centre to Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City ACC. That point is actually one of the worst times to pull a disappearing act because you’ve got HCM ACC expecting you. It was a case of terrible follow up from HCM ACC that it took 19 minutes to chase up why MH370 hadn’t reported in – that couldn’t possibly have been planned for. A well thought out plan would have seen MH370 call up HCM ACC before turning back; had they have done that their next radio contact with HCM ACC would not have been until about 30 minutes later.
      Then, of course, there’s the SATCOM rebooting as MH370 flew up the Malacca Strait. How could turning a communications device back on be part of a plan to disappear?!
      While they are reluctant to admit it, the rogue pilot theorists rely on just as many holes in the swiss cheese lining up as other theories.

    2. Tango

      Chris T: I don’t know where Taiwan comes into this the flight went no where near their territory.

      There was no radar evading that went on, the aircraft flew up the middle of the Straights of Malacca which is covered heavily by Malaysia and Thailand (who I am sure saw it, probably tapes have been looked at but behind the scenes)

      What Indonesia did or did not see is open question as it did fly past areas that could have possibly seen it.

      You do have to wonder why Malaysia and Thailand have air forces if they aren’t going to check out unknown bogeys.

      1. chris turnbull

        Apologies tango – Taiwan mentioned in error .

    3. Tango


      I dont’ disagree that there are oddities involed.

      But then again if rogue pilot, its an act of an irrational mind (assumeg we acdpet that mass murder and suicide are not rational acts, it does seem to have been shown lately that is far more common in th human condtion than many thought though my dad faced the Kamkizae onalsigy in WWII)

      That said, Power Interuipon and a resend is an oddity but I don’t know that anyone can say if that was a brief one or had been off for some time. That gets pretty deep into power, what bus is active, what happens if parts are turned off etc, cross power feeds I don’t begin to make claims to know any of that.

      The evidence indicates that the entire system was shutdown then turned back on and left of though ACARS was no turned back on.

      None of it excludes a rogue pilot, all could have been done by a rogue pilot. None of it absolutely says it was a rogue pilot.

      I don’t agree that the plan had to be extremely well researched, pretty simple and straight forward. If you wanted to create the biggest enduring sensational aviation mystery of all time it would have been it. Anyone can crash an aircraft.

      Agreed the oddity of flying up the Malacca Starights. Consdiering the promity to the PIC home town and the plotting found on his flight simlaor there would seem to be an asscation for that chosen route.

      You would alos have to believe he would have been well aware of what radards would be trakcing him.

      Interception? Apparently they do not fly at night. It would not happen in the US now. It did on 9/11 with multiple aircraft off course in one of the densest Air Base areas in the US (probably no fewer than 8 significant airbases in that operational area not to mention one of the aircraft heading to the US capital and succeeding in crashing into the Pentagon with NO action what so ever. )

      Freezing at the wheel when unexpected occurs and totally out of routine is far too common (see Pearl Harbor, radar site and aircraft combing in from an impossible direction for any friendly aircraft and being dismissed)

      Regardless, an interception would have not accomplished anything as there would have to been a determined effort with aerial refueling operation going to follow the aircraft on out past the SIO turn point (non of the player in that area have that, Singapore does)

      It would not have been shot down unless it exhibited odd behavior which other than off track it was and did not.

      While the equipment looks impressive on paper, the operation capability of it and the entire Malaysian air system in particularly looks to be as badly managed as the country is.

      Was a rogue pilot counting on that or did not care, even wreck recovery would very unlikely to tell us that.

      What we can say is that none of the oddity is beyond the capability of a rogue pilot and the knowledge gaps while indeed odd for the actions are not show stoppers from them happening.

      As I have stated before, this is a different form of suicide in that it also is a mass murder, possibly more akin to Suicide Bombing types. If we understood it, we would be just as off the rails (and hopefully locked up)

      I don’t purport to have any idea why someone could go off those rails.

      I do believer there is nothing showstopper wise as an explanation of a rogue pilot even though there is no knowing what the reasons for the actions were.

      The wandering period after the turn to SIA would be another one (point to point too slow for any aircraft)

      Obviously its not 100%, but it is extremely high.

      And none of this has anything to do with what Malaysian authorities have said, it was and is purely my own reasoning and said reasoning was expressed on day 2 as the ACARs and Transponder signal loss came in.

      Having been involved (knowingly or not with Aviation since age 3, the kind of technical failures do not track and get so complex to get that kind of results as to be beyond any possibility of them occurring.

  5. Tango

    I would say that the 239 souls no longer feel anything.

    Their family and all the connections to them do indeed.

    Is it worth the kind of resources’ spent on it when those resources could have saved and or helped thousands if not 10s of thousand I think is a good question.

    The world has gone on, no 777 has disappeared before nor since.

    1. Dan Dair

      “Is it worth the kind of resources’ spent on it when those resources could have saved and or helped thousands if not 10’s of thousand I think is a good question.
      The world has gone on, no 777 has disappeared before nor since”

      All true,
      but I refer you back to our previous debates about those Boeing incidents regarding the 737 independent rudder actuation or the 777 fuel filter icing.
      Until the ‘black-boxes’ are found and analysed, how are we actually to know what caused the loss of 9M-MRO.?

      You have strenuously championed ‘the-pilot-did-it’. I have no facts to counter your arguments, but equally, can find absolutely no evidence to factually support your claim. It doesn’t mean that you’re wrong, but there is no proof that you’re correct either.

      In that same vein,
      if there is a previously unknown mechanical issue,
      or actual truth in the scenario which Mick Gilbert has postulated,
      how will we know about it, to prevent any future repeat of whatever may have caused it, if the aircraft-wreckage remains undiscovered & allowed to decay & degrade for decades.?

      1. Tango

        Good points, but we did have solid evidence with not only two losses of the 737, but multiple and reliable reports of erratic operation from non crashed (read Fate is the Hunter, its kind of my long time grounding)

        The 777 heat exchanger icing would only manifest itself on landing, so it got investigated and resolved but it is a good point on a one off possible loss cause (though it would have to be for other reasons).

        MH370 is a completely different animal. If it had come apart in mid air, did some weird things and crashed in a far more localize area close to the flight, then darned right, find it, find out what happened.

        But when ACARS goes off, Transponder goes off, all radio coms cease and the aircraft flies what looks to be a perfectly normal flight to someplace without a runway, then the logic factor kicks into high gear.

        I grew up around Avaition, I won’t say I have Bens broad journialit expeireicne with it, but I have followed it as its been a very integral part of my life. Alaska is a lot like Auistrial in that regard.

        My dad was a mechanic, I am a mechanic/technician /engineer.

        So I look at it from what equipment, machinery, electronic can do and what they can’t do.

        From that standpoint its like not just 40 + years of working expieren is beating me over the head with a 4.x4 saying no, its an extn3ede hisotyr of mechais and system and elcciel/elcontrrid in eveyring I have read that is doing the same.

        What I do not have is more than the basic overview of a modern aircraft and its two busses and the various electrical systems interconnections in regards to Mick (and he has done a lot of in depth in that regard) .

        So, for not only my experience, people I have worked with and their experience and all he experience I have from reading history, there is nothing failure wise that comes remotely close to all the requirements needed for that to occur in so far as a fault or series of faults could create.

        Its not something I think lightly on or just jump up and down.

        I do believe that there is one explanation that is 99.999% likely and removing all the other aspects each aspect of the disappearance is well within the norm of what would have happened if that is the cause.

        I don’t know if I can explain it from a techcnains standpoint.

        As best I can, it would be like a Bulldzoer starging up by itself, make a turn, doze a perfectly alighned path, level a hill to the right specs and stgarardads without an operaor at the helm.

        Its not that machinery does not do stragne thinhs (and eleconrics) its that its never in the history of mankind as best I can think of, doen amnyutojg remotely like that, that there was not a huma being doing it.

        Mick has come up with a theory, but the first step in a theory is to test it, each test has to pass and that is a plethora of items that failed but not others in close proximity as well as human being doing things that are virtually impossible.

        He has brought up very good points that I had overlooked (or dismissed) in both the Satcom time line (coming back on) as well as the “loitering” point of flight.

        Neither one has a valid explanation to this point. Its not that a pilot could not have done it, it looks to me very much like it was done, but even with a broken mind, what was the technical aspect of it that was drove it to the goal?

        Particularly the Satcom coming back on and the power bus situation would be a very good one to simply look at and see from a pilot operating an aircraft what was hindered or not by it being off and why turn it back on ?

        And lastly, the possibity of this being a bizzare mechail issue is non existant. To many 777s flying and too many hours when nothing remotelyh related to it has evern occurred.

        Staitsly it reaches a point of being so small as to be non eixstat.

        And we are talking about not just one but a series of failures to get it and even then it fails the test of time on what happens with those kind of failures occur (aircraft crashes in close proximity to where they happened.

        1. Dan Dair

          With respect,
          the B737 rudder self-actuation wasn’t something for which there was “solid evidence with not only two losses of the 737, but multiple and reliable reports of erratic operation from non crashed”.

          What we actually had was two losses, both initially blamed on pilot error after NTSB investigation (with Boeings full ‘cooperation’) & quite a large number of incidents which were also blamed on pilot error, right up to the point that a B737 did ‘it’ on the ground where it could be seen by independent observers.

          Only at that point did the NTSB & Boeing go back to their files & re-investigate.
          It was rumoured that Boeing were fully aware of i as a problem but genuinely didn’t know what it was & couldn’t understand how it could happen.?
          I was only when the NTSB threatened them with grounding the entire US (& consequently worldwide) fleet, that Boeing put enormous amounts of their own money into testing to destruction, examples of the entire rudder operating system;
          and only after exhaustive testing did they finally get one system to do the uncommanded ‘hard-over’.

          As always, I want you to accept that I am not trying to tell you that you’re wrong & I’m right. I have no evidence to dispute your beliefs, nor anything better to support an alternative one.
          I am, as I do, continuing to marvel at you certainty of mind with so very little fact to go on.

          1. Tango

            While I somewhat misstated the 737s rudder issue, you miss the point.

            Keeping the focus on MH370 and 777s. Are there any outstanding issues that have not been explained that anyone is aware of? None that I know of.

            Yes there are faults all the time, that is common with aircraft in general as I will make clear a bit latter.

            There is nothing in the record of the 777 ever doing bizarre things that the pilots are report or any unexplained crashes associated with those reports ? Simply none.

            Then take it to the level of the amazing odd events of MH370 and no, I don not believe for a second that its something inherent to the 777 that occurred.

            You comment on my certainty. I grew up in a place and locations in that place where the consequences of your actions were stark and very likely final if not severely damaging. If there was something we saw that my parent (or any other adult) did not, we were expected to present it.

            I do not know where I get it from, but I do know that every time in my life I had a feeling, even based on less nebulous information that this, I was right. Call that arrogant if you want but to me its a fact of existence.

            There was only one time that I was going to act on that and was wrong. Not because I was not right, but because there were aspects involved that changed how soon. It did not change where it had to go.

            In the case of MH370, that is what over 50 years working (I was a paid deck hand on a fishing boat at age 10) and taking fishing boats out to the fishing grounds with older supervision (all under 15) at the same time.

            So, let me tell you a story from my early construction full time working days. I was both new to the crew and not very welcome as I was foisted on the foreman by the division manager. The division manager was a family friend (he had known my folks since I was age two, he had gotten my mom on a career track after my dad was killed). He knew the family and its work ethic and I was exactly what they needed and wanted. The foreman did not know me and only wanted to hire people he did (and he had a mixed track record on that, most were very good, two were really bad) so there was friction.

            That said, I had made a mistake and bent the front jack on a trailer because I did not jack it up before I moved the truck and trailer. There were some other things the Forman was not happy about though I was doing my work above and beyond so I was someplace on the edge of his approval.

            We were just staring in on building our campground and they delivered our band new crawler dozer unit (JD350B) with a great 4 in one bucket, backhoe, drill setup. Exactly what they had needed for several years. Think of it as the most robust Swiss army knife. Impossible to do the job right without it and they had for years. It allowed us to do far more in shorter time frame and our work season was and still is limited by freeze up.

            So up rolls the Trailer and dozer, my Forman says, go get 5 gallons of gasoline, they ship them empty and it will need fuel to get off that trailer with the odd angle.

            ME: Uhh boss, its not a gasoline engine.
            Boss: Excuse me, I told you to get 5 gallons of gasoline.
            Me: Frank, its a diesel!
            Boss: No its not, we ordered a gasoline engine, that’s what we got, get the gas.
            Me: I don’t know what you ordered, but that is not a gasoline engine, its a diesel, you put gas in there and you will destroy the engine and the injection system.

            There are 3 other men that are backing Frank, all over 50, hardened long time tough Alaska construction veteran including the operator who you would think would know a gasoline engine from a diesel (he was a very good operator )

            I am standing my ground, guys, it does not have spark plugs, those steel lines are injector lines. No distributer . Its a diesel.

            Finally the operator says, Frank, he may be right, it sure does not have spark plugs, that looks like a diesel system to me as well. Sniff the tank, not sure but its definitely not gasoline.

            If I had not done that, the engine would have been destroyed , the fuel system trashed (gas has no lubrication which is what they needed and got from diesel) all the uppers would have been severely ticked off, we would never have gotten that job done let alone the next one we had to do that summer. It would have taken all summer to repair it. Not sure we would have even got the money to do it.

            Is MH370 as hard and fast as no spark plugs or distributer? Not quite, but awfully close in my opinion.

            737 Rudder and FAA/Boeing
            The point is that regardless of what Boeing was denying , there were reports of issues that pointed directly at the rudder, two crashes one of which solidly pointed to the rudder the other listed as a very unusual co probable cause.

            You may not have really understood or understand the NTSB in the US system. NTSB cannot ground anything.

            While it is (fortunately ) a fully independent agency for any transportation crash investigation (air among them) it has no power or enforcement.
            That is extremely important , NO power. They can be as suspicious as they want to be, the FAA and or the manufacture are the ones who have to respond and issue the grounding or fix orders.
            NTSB issues findings (probable cause) and recommendations, but it can’t make the FAA implement them.
            The obvious ones are, some are fought tooth and nail (737 Rudder, DC10 problems) the FAA does a trade off study for the rest as to how critical they feel it is. A great many are just given more inspections, change before date and often a ridiculously long time.
            You would be shocked at how many aircraft are flying with faults that they have years to correct.

            That said, I continue to see nothing 777 wise that makes it even a remote possibility that it was a rouge pilot.

            The NTSB issued a finding that the Colorado crash was either a severe wind overturn or a rudder issue.

            Ok, solid evidence? Overstated maybe. Extremely suspicious yes.

    2. Ben Sandilands

      To borrow a turn of phrase from a US fictional writer (I think it was Tom Wolf) Australia’s share of spending on the search is roughly equivalent to what the Masters of the Universe in downtown Sydney spend on guacamole and recreational drugs in their lunch hours.
      It’s stuff all compared to government spending overall, and at best would buy new middle income homes for a tiny fraction of an unfashionable outer suburb of the great harbour city.
      If we are going to run away from finding out the truth, a better excuse is needed than spending on starving children in Biafra, or Brisbane.
      One thing I will say about Australia, and as an Australian who is eligible to be a US citizen because of the US war duty of my Mum from Iowa, we like to be blunt down here.
      It is perfectly all right to say “Let’s discontinue the search because we don’t really give a flying f*ck.”

      1. Tango


        I find it a bit odd that someone says Boeing is going to pursue the search (now being reported as fact) when Boeing all along has not indicated the least interesting in doing so, costs are huge.
        As you have pointed out, they have a history of just the reverse including a callous disregard of the people they have killed. I don’t see that changing.

        I know its really an Australian monetary issue and perhaps I should not have my nose into the costs aspect though I would like to think we can cross border (ocean) discuss things like that.

        Probably as you point out an unfair comparison, but its sort of my way of putting things into perspective at least for myself.

        I see it played out day in day out, we spent untold millions here in the US providing emergency services when we could stop those same emergencies by having an inclusive health system.

        We have had drunks and drug addicts that have been saved from ODs and then put right back into the cold and die. I struggle with that.

        And its not like I don’t give a flying *0&%, to me its a question of what is gained?

        If I am correct, virtually nothing other than confirmation. I would indeed like to know, just as I would like to know what happen to Amelia. I don’t think its worth searching an areas the size of Australia to find her aircraft though.

        777s continue to fly, people are not boycotting them, the world is going on as normal or abnormal.

        If 777s were disappearing an doing odd things while doing so, then it would justify a finding and recovery. They never have and aren’t . Not even a hint of anything inexplicable.

        AF447 did not need to be recovered to have a good idea of what happened. There was a need there as what they were seeing made no sense from a pilots standpoint. What they found is it did not make sense but that’s exactly what happened, 3 pilots stalled or watched stall a perfectly good working aircraft into the ocean over the course of 5 minutes when the entire instrument system was screaming at them they were stilled.

        We knew that, it just had not been driven home and had been shrugged off, it no longer is. Fully normal, well rated pilots with lot of fling time can do that.

        And while I don’t equate it as anywhere near the same, if perfectly sane pilots can do that what could an insane pilot do?

        We have seen what they can and have done. If we confirm it are we going to change anything?

        Rock and a hard place, we don’t want the aircraft hi jacked, but we also have seen the results of a suicide/large murder by pilots as well multiple times.

        We know it can happen, we don’t have a way to detect it and stop it. Yes we can see if we can get the warning signs incorporated into the system.

        How many terrorists have they been tracking, had in their custody and let them go because they could not push it over for a case ?

        Maybe some day but I don’t see it anything less than 30 years.

        Technology makes fast advances, dealing with human being and understanding them and soring them out has been under study for a long time.

        Our Current President Elect is a case in point. Unhinged and still elected. Its not his being unhinged, what does it say for the human condition they would vote for someone like that?

        When I was 10, a family we were very close to lost their father, Never found. It happens often up here, the nature of a huge area and people dyeing. No they never got closure, but they knew he was dead and their lives went on.

        10s of thousands in the wars the same. Just gone.

        Is there a magic point that it has to be a group of 10, or 20 or 100 that we have to get closure and comfort?

        Or is it at times (and often a way of life) a nasty uncaring world and we deal with it the best we can?

        Do we ask society to spend huge amounts of money for our physiological desires or do we realize that society can’t do that?

        Somone reprotted that thje could map the world ocran for maybe 8 billion.

        Would it be money better spent to map as much of the Ocean in the that area (not finding wreck, just the bottom topography) and present it as “in memory of the ones lost on MH37)” ?

        US had a sub run into an uncharted mountain , 2 billion or so of sub out of commission for a long time to fix it and lucky not sunk.

        So that is where my mind wanders.

        Maybe I am just to much of a technician and not a deeply emotional human being.

        1. Mick Gilbert

          Tango, nobody “knew” anything at all about the crew’s actions on AF447 until the CVR was recovered and analysed. And when the tape was played I think it’s fair to say that most people were surprised, if not shocked, by what they heard.
          It was for the very reason that nobody knew (or could possibly have known) what happened to AF447 without access to the FDR and CVR that Airbus involved themselves financially in the search effort.

          1. Guarded Don

            > “that Airbus involved themselves financially in the search effort”

            That statement is somewhat disingenuous, there is an inference that the aircraft manufacturer somehow coerced to their role in the deep ocean search.

            From BEA’s “Sea Search Operations” report concerning AF447, the authority in the search remained clear:

            > ” All of the undersea search operations were conducted under the control of BEA, either through direct contracts managed by the BEA (phases 1, 2, 3 and 5) or through contracts managed by the industrial partners, Airbus and Air France (phase 4).

            Phase 4 amounted to approximately €4m of a total €31m spend.

            It’s notable that Malaysia Ministry of Transport/DCA immediately jumped for an industry ‘shared’ cost approach with their byzantine arrangement involving Petronas and DRB-HICOM Defence Technologies as funders for the Go Phoenix vessel and Phoenix International’s deep ocean tow gear during the 2014-2015 deep ocean search.

          2. Mick Gilbert

            Don, it is not my practice to make disingenuous statements. I’m struggling to understand how anyone would infer from the statement “… that Airbus involved themselves financially in the search effort.” that Airbus were coerced into contributing towards the cost of the search. However, to the extent that that has apparently happened, for the avoidance of any and all doubt, I am not suggesting that Airbus was coerced into contributing towards the cost of the search for AF447. Nor have I made any comment regarding the management and operational control of the search effort.
            The underwater search for AF447 was divided into four phases with the recovery operation constituting a fifth phase. The first two phases cost the BEA € 10 million. The Phase 3 budget was initially estimated at € 13 million and a special common fund was created by the BEA to which Airbus and Air France contributed equal amounts. At the end of Phase 3, € 1.4 million was returned to Airbus and Air France (the actual cost came in at € 11.6 million). Phase 4, € 7 million, was funded by Industry under the framework of a Memorandum of Understanding between Airbus, Air France, the BEA and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Phase 5, the recovery operation, cost € 6 million and was directly financed by the BEA.
            For those details I have relied upon the technical paper “AF447 Underwater Search and Recovery Operations – A Shared Government-Industry Process” by Olivier Ferrante (BEA), Michael Kutzleb (Phoenix International) and Michael Purcell (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution), as presented to the International Society of Air Safety Investigators Seminar at Salt Lake City, Utah, on 15 September 2011 (that paper and presentation was the winner of the Best of Seminar Award of Excellence for technical papers presented at ISASI 2011). I offer no comment, and nor do Ferrante et al, as to the motivation of Airbus in contributing towards the financial cost of the search.
            Ferrante et al make a salient point;
            “The financial commitment of the BEA, Air France, and Airbus to keep searching for the missing airplane illustrated the strong desire of the aviation sector to explain all accidents as completely as possible in order to prevent their recurrence.”

          3. Tango

            That is factually incorrect and I am surprised that someone of your ability has not looked at the AF447 crash with all its aspect (I have the BAE PDF report as well)

            They did have ACARS transmission that among other things showed that there was an airspeed disagreement, aircraft had shifted to alternate control laws and there was a extremely high rate of decent. Also that the crash area was not strewn with debris over an extended area indication that it was not a mid air breakup. Ie. either it was stalled in or went in nose first.

            It was clear that the crew had mis handled a fairly routine item, exactly how and to what specific actions the recover data records showed clearly, but it was obvious from the start that like MH370, it was pilots involved not something other than a pilot aspect.

            The oddity was how 3 experienced pilots could screw something like that up.

            “Tango, nobody “knew” anything at all about the crew’s actions on AF447 until the CVR was recovered and analysed. “

          4. Tango

            Mick: I don’t know if Airbus has a deeper corporate conscience than Boeing (who seems to have none)

            But AF447 did have the ACARS data that indicated that for inexplicable reasons, the pilots mishandled the aircraft.

            BEA has a different legal aspect (criminal investigation as well as air crash) , NTSB could not get that kind of money (and note how small it was as well compared to the MH37) nor could they leverage Boeing to do so. They had a pretty solid location for AF447, so it was not a matter of if, just a matter of how soon and how far off the crash location estimates were.

            What I do know is there was vastly more to be learned (IMO) from AF447 that MH370 because the hard evidence was saying the pilots mucked it up and rational (that emotion thing) was saying pilots could not do that.

            It is interesting how they did indeed muck up a relatively routine Pitot problem (and short term at that) into killing 228 people.

          5. Mick Gilbert

            Tango, of course I have read (and have a copy of) the BEA’s final report of the loss of Airbus A330-203 F-GZCP operating as AF447. The ACARS data cannot be used to determine crew actions as it provides no information whatsoever on control inputs, control surface movements or engine/thrust settings. You may have guessed (and guessed correctly) that the crew mishandled the airplane but in the absence of the CVR and FDR data being synced up to reveal what the crew were actually doing and saying nobody “knew” what had happened on that airplane.

          6. Tango

            Mick: I thought you would have read it, I don’t understand the lack of conclusion as far as a pretty solid theory goes.

            First you have to understand I do not guess (that is said with some humor) but I am one of those people who does not guess.

            If I don’t think I have a solid trail of evidience (not court type but real world) then I dont’ put out anyting. In the case of my work I continue to investige until I come up with something plausibl or simply say I have not expalitn. Many times its just re-do the problem to where its done right and its not worth the time wated firing out what was wrong. In the end you still are going to do it the right way so……

            Not long aggo I had a lighit ocntactor sytems that had worked fine for 15 years. Then it quit. When I got into it the wiring logic made no snese, it never shoul dhave worked.
            The manager wanted to know what was wrong, I told him I had not a clue, I really didn’t care, it was wired wrong, tyring to track it donw, figure it out and then make it work again with illogic vs doing it right was a waste of time.

            At times they try to force mto to leap to or make conlsison I have no facts for, no data to support and its purelusply suppsoiton. That seem to comformt poeopel. All it really does is lead to obsiriung a sitaiton sometime to the point of speoing a lot of money when you simplyu do not know and its costlyu and time wasting to head down that track and then try to pull it back.

            Both AF447 and MH370 have a fair amount of data/facts, far more really than many in the past (Dan cited the Stardsuter, there have been at least 10-20 of those over the years). You wimply have no facts.

            In the case of AF447, all the data they received tracked and cross checked, it just did not make any sense from a human/p[ilot perpseicive. One or the other had to be screwed up, but the cross data details supporte4d it was the pilots being the fauilie.

            That is why it was worh the serach, there was clarny goin gto be a yes or now. Sadly it was indeed the pilots.

            While the details of MA 370 are not the same, the string of hard data we do have is by someone who lives, eats, breaths logic and assessment very clear .

            The 737 rudder situation was initially obscured by a possible alternate, Denver does indeed have some very sever wind roll evens off the Range. No data was recovered to show different, the rudder mechanism was damaged beyond testing.

            That followed though by other reports of rudder not working correctly and then a second crash that they did recover the rudder mechanism and did get it to fail. By that time the pointers were all to the rudder though the Denver crash could have been a one off with wind roll but that also had never happened before though some serious turbulence incidents.

            There are some things that simply do not change. The sun is going to rise in the East, electrons flow down wires given the chance, gravity holds us onto the planet. If one of those does not occur, the laws of the universe have changed.

            Aircraft that are badly damaged do not make normal and significant turns, nor do they fly for 7 hours. All comms do not cease and an aircraft is still flying. Its not quite the solid reality of gravity, but it is very close.

            When an aircraft disappears while flying perfectly normally, then you have to suspect it was pilot induced. That could be a hi-jack or it could be a rogue pilot. Flight patch could be fully plotted in or latter at some latter point. Pilot could have committed suicide or just sat there and watched it go in when it ran out of fuel.

            Hi-jack is ruled out for many reasons.

            The evidence says there was a function pilot at the controls up the point the SATCOPM came back on line (thank you, that is a key item I had glossed over). It would appear likely the “dead speed” period was also a pilot.

            After that it could be on auto pilot and a live pilot or auto pilot and a dead one.

            I will again note, I don’t agree with any of the floated aspects of the PIC, I have no idea what his mental state was, no idea what might drive him to those actions. It really does not matter, it is so solid that you could make a clear case to convict someone on.

            The first thing the press does is come up with this “what was the motive” My take is, who cares. They killed someone, can we use how they went about it to track actions and possibly stop it in the future.

            Otherwise, you take those people who do things like that (if they are alive) convict them of murder and lock them up for life.

            Its a logical take on the data

        2. Dan Dair

          It is 70 years this year, since British South American Airways, Avro Lancastrian G-AGWH, Stardust,
          was inexplicably lost whilst flying to Santiago in Chile.

          Seventy years ago, things did ‘just disappear’.!
          Seventy years ago there was no comprehensive radar. there was no ground-tracking of aircraft. They flew by visual ground recognition, radio beacons & dead-reckoning. Flying really was flying in those days, the pilots & engineers needed many different skills than the modern pilots, who have almost constant ground-based tracking, satellite-aided navigation & autopilots and voice communication almost anywhere in the world.

          Seventy years ago, it was unfortunate if an aircraft was lost & never recovered, but it was accepted that ‘these things happen’.!
          That is something which is not & should not be considered acceptable, almost two decades into the twenty first century.?

          I have no doubt at all, that without further direct searching, 9M-MRO will be found in the fullness of time.
          Stardust eventually turned-up, so will the MH370 aircraft.?
          However fifty-plus years is an unacceptable wait, in the modern era;
          Indeed, the almost three years we have had to wait for a conclusion to this matter, is already far too long.!

          For the future of aviation safety, the aircraft must be found & recovered if necessary.
          The aviation-industry & travelling public need to know if there is an issue with the B777. They need to know if there was some kind of mechanical/maintenance issue or act of terrorism which caused the aircraft to be lost. We need to know if it was a ‘rogue-pilot’ & what he was attempting to achieve by such actions.?
          Whatever the cause, it is imperative that it is understood & whatever measures are possible are put in place to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

          If 9M-MRO is consigned to the history books before any conclusion can be reached, we will be acting in the same way as those who dealt with the loss of Stardust seventy years ago.
          The difference is;
          we have the opportunity & the capability to still do so much more.?

          1. Tango

            Yes we do, but how much do you spend doing so?

            And is there a real return on the information?

            We can and do agree roughly whre it is, but its also obvious that there is some variation that they can’t (to date) analyze any closer. Not for a want of trying or brains, the bread crumbs are gone.

          2. Dan Dair

            We know that you have completely made up your mind that the pilot did it. (which might yet prove to be true.?)
            Consequently, you have no trouble rationalising the financial aspect of the search against your own perception, that since you already ‘know’ the cause, there’s nothing to be gained by spending more money looking.

            For those of us who have yet to decide on a cause (because there hasn’t yet been any kind of investigation, because there hasn’t yet been any substantial evidence recovered), the cost-benefit of further searching seems like a no-brainer.
            How can the rest of the world find out why the aircraft was lost, without finding the ‘black-boxes’ or the bulk of the wreckage & possibly a good number of the flash-cards in the passengers personal effects..?

            If I was a certain as you that the pilot did it, I’m reasonably sure I’d agree with you about wasting more money to find out what we already know.

            Since the rest of us don’t actually know anything with any certainty,
            other than the fact that the aircraft is missing with all hands & that some debris has been recovered,
            I’ll be hoping for further searching & hoping further for a much more positive outcome next time.!

          3. Tango


            Fair place to draw the line. Its not my money of course, but it looks like no one else feels its worth pursuing as well.

            Due to the nature of those search types, probably never will confirm. Regardless o, its not something that is going to happen as its in depth high cost technically to do so and nothing is on the horizon to change that. Cable laying is one of the few that demand it so no one is going to stumble across it.

            I know its fantasy (and I do have my flights of that) would be to take what was done with the bottom topography work done (so they could do the high resolution object check safely for the scanner units) and expand that to mapping all the ocean floor and have it as a Memorial to the MH370 victims.

            AF447 and MH370 are very public but revealing how little we know and have invested in the 75% of our planet we know almost nothing about.

  6. Uwe

    Boeing up to now had ZERO visibility in this “disappearance”.
    Additionally but strangely nobody has asked about any causal involvement of the manufacturer of the airframe.

    Contrast that with the clamor directed on AF447 and the early up front involvement of Airbus in the search for the wreck.

    1. Dan Dair

      I’d suspect that this is because of the huge amount of mis-information, mis-direction & outright lies which emanated from Kuala Lumpur in the immediate aftermath of the loss of flight MH370.?

      It led people, pretty quickly to draw the conclusion that ‘the pilot did it’ & this has taken a lot of the worldwide ‘sting’ out of any suggestions that the airframe itself might in any way have contributed to the loss.

      On the other hand, the AF447 aircraft was immediately suspected of having a mechanical failure, mostly for having disappeared much quicker but with similar drama & circumstance that of 9M-MRO.?
      Since airframe failure was the immediate suspect, Airbus did the decent thing & threw their hat in the ring right away.

      It is ironic then, to realise that in the case of MH370, we still don’t know if the pilot actually did it,
      but for AF447, after thorough investigations,
      we know that the pilots actually did.!!!

      1. Uwe

        How much of that “mis” was directly attributable to Indonesian sources and how much to selective reporting, mistranslations and other morphing activity on the information path?

        On a rising number of occasions I have noticed that alleged quotes are invented from whole cloth if it fits the agenda. .. or just craftily “translated” for some nefarious purpose.
        Then we see “adrenaline heavy” headlines that show no coroborating information in the article body. But what often sticks with the recipient is that headline.

    2. Mick Gilbert

      An interesting observation, Uwe. I wouldn’t say that Boeing have had zero visibility; they have been involved with the ATSB’s Search Strategy Working Group and have made their engineering simulator available.
      I’d suggest that Airbus’s involvement in the search for AF447 was motivated by a confluence of factors. First, AF447 was the first loss of an A330 in commercial use and it was initially an extraordinarily intriguing catastrophic loss that very much captured the media’s attention.
      Second, the early thinking as to cause was focussed on the 24 ACARS messages sent between 02:10:10 and 02:14:26 that pointed to an air data reference disagreement leading to the autopilot and autothrottle disconnecting and reversion to alternate law; a not so small matter that had been increasingly contentious for Airbus. At that time both Airbus and Boeing were trying to ride out the aftermath of the GFC – gross orders for the A330 in 2009 were only a quarter of what they were just two years earlier; 198 orders in 2007 versus just 50 for 2009. The longer it took to find AF447 the more uncertainty there was surrounding the “robustness” of the Airbus design.
      There may well have also been an element of thinking “Hey, how hard could this be?” – the airplane’s last known location was pretty well fixed and they’d found and recovered wreckage fairly promptly. It’s human nature to sign up for what we think will be shorter duration, easier tasks than longer more arduous ones.
      Last (that I can think of) and most certainly not least, there’s nothing like “goal congruence” among the associated parties to keep things focussed; the investigating authority, the operator and the manufacturer were all French.

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