air crashes

Mar 7, 2017

A new slant on when control of MH370 was first, and probably finally, lost

That controversial Lido Hotel slide shown to MH370's next -of-kin may resolve a critical part of the mystery

Ben Sandilands — Editor of Plane Talking

Ben Sandilands

Editor of Plane Talking

Was this a failed attempt by MH370 to make an emergency landing at Penang?

One of the many unanswered questions during the three year long saga of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is ‘when did it go so wrong that the situation became unrecoverable.’

Which is really two questions, since the starting point that has defied a proven explanation is ‘what went wrong’, followed by the event that prevented the pilots from saving the plane.

Australian MH370 researcher Mick Gilbert, who has rejected the ‘pilot did it’ explanation and proposed that there was a severe and sudden control crisis in the cockpit, says there appear to be very significant clues in the Lido Hotel graphic that was shown by Malaysian authorities to the next of kin on March 21, 2014, 13 days after it vanished over the Gulf of Thailand en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people onboard.

Which is exactly three years ago tomorrow morning.

In this paper he says that when that data is run back to Penang it lines up with the end of the Standard Terminal Arrivals (STARS) approach to Penang called BIDMO 1A .

This is the route that MH370 would have taken if the crew used the Flight Management System’s Alternate Airport function to manage a diversion from near IGARI which is the choice they would have been most likely to have made in a crisis.

Mr Gilbert says there is evidence that they were flying parallel to and about 5 nm off the route – which that is called a strategic lateral offset and its what you do when flying a diversion when you can’t contact ATC.

It’s an interesting analysis the stitches up a number of questions arising from the controversial Lido Hotel slide, and from both ends, the approach to Penang and departure up the Strait.   As MH370 flew across the northern approaches to the Straits of Malacca there is a hint in the data that something was causing the airplane to drift to port. Mr Gilbert says it might have been a small hull burn through on the Captain’s side of the flight deck but also says he can’t prove that.

Critically in terms of recovering from the crisis that caused MH370 to diverge from its intended flight path to Beijing this analysis infers that the pilots became completely incapacitated or unable to take control of the airplane as it passed through waypoint KENDI and went past Penang, which may have their intended emergency landing field at the outset.

A review of the first three years of the MH370 mystery

In the Crikey Insider today the sad and embarrassing state of media coverage of MH370 is reviewed, several popular myths about its disappearance are punctured, and the unsound decision of Australian and Malaysia to abandon the search just when it might have been close to success is highlighted.

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41 thoughts on “A new slant on when control of MH370 was first, and probably finally, lost

  1. comet

    Nobody seems to have the incentive to find MH370.

    The traditional news media has resorted to low-brow celebrity news, gossip and clickbait headlines as a way of saving itself from the monster known as the internet, and has no interest in investigating the truth around the missing 777.

    Australia gave up. China doesn’t want to take it up. And Boeing is too busy saving its pennies, and doesn’t want to incriminate itself by paying for an extension of the search.

    It doesn’t matter how good Mick’s theory is if nobody is going to pay for the search.

    1. Simon Gunson

      I agree there seems no longer any will to search for MH370. On 25 April a Paper will be delivered to a scientific symposium in Vienna spelling out that there was an acoustic detection of what could reasonably be inferred to be MH370’s impact at 00:23 UTC on a heading of 234 degrees from CTBTO Cape Leeuwin and at 137 degrees from the HA04 detector at Ile Amsterdam. This data has already been presented to Peter Foley at the ATSB and in typical Peter Foley fashion he has turned his nose up at it and found yet another excuse not to search for MH370.

  2. Simon Gunson

    It is pure assumption that MH370 was at low altitude south of Penang. Malaysian authorities attempted to re-enact cellular connection from BBFARLIM2 cell tower with a CN.235 and could not get a connection at 8,000ft AGL, however when they tried it at the CN.235’s ceiling of 26,000ft they did get connection with an identical cell phone.

    Far from ruling out hypoxia, the actions of Malaysian authorities to re-create the Fariq’s cell contact actually corroborated hypoxia.

    Long ignored and forgotten ATC audio tapes also appear to confirm there was a bizarre exchange of radio communications with MH370:

    12:50:06 ATC Lumpur Control ~ Malaysian Three Seven Zero climb flight level three five zero

    12:50:09 MAS370 ~ [acknowleged] Flight level three five zero Malaysian Three Seven Zero

    01:01:14 MAS370 ~ Malaysian Three Seven Zero… [No additional comment]

    01:01:17 MAS370 ~ Malaysian Three Seven Zero, ah… maintaining three five zero

    01:07:55 MAS370 ~ ah Seven… Three Seven Zero, … maintaining level three five zero

    01:08:00 ATC Lumpur Control ~ Malaysian Three Seven Zero? [No Response by MH370]

    01:19:24 ATC Lumpur Control ~ Malaysian Three Seven Zero contact Ho Chi Minh 120 decimal 9 Good Night…

    01:19:29 MAS370 ~ Good Night Malaysian Three Seven Zero [MH370 failed to give standard protocol read back of ATC instructions]

    This exchange with ATC was a clear indication of pilot hypoxia.

  3. Simon Gunson

    It is equally pure assumption that radar tracked MH370 flying through the Straits of Malacca.

    At the very same time Emirates EK343 was also flying the same route.

    If MH370 had truly been there then the radar trace would have shown two aircraft and if Malaysia somehow claims they edited out a radar trace then what use or credibility is tampered evidence?

    If there was only one aircraft on the LIDO radar image then that was the Emirates plane, not MH370.

    1. Mick Gilbert

      Simon, EK343 was below and 40 nautical miles to the south east of MH370’s track and it most assuredly was not flying the same route; EK343 was tracking along R467 to GUNIP and did not join N571 until MEKAR. The Lido slide data is almost certainly from the Royal Thai Air Force radar station at Khok Muang – EK343 would not have risen above its radar horizon until about 02:25 MYT, a few minutes after the last radar contact with MH370 just past MEKAR.
      Regarding your radio transcripts, there is no recorded utterance from MH370 at 01:01:14 and Lumpur Radar’s transmission at 01:08(:02) was acknowledging MH370’s 01:07:56 call, it didn’t require a response from MH370.

      1. Simon Gunson

        “EK343 was below and 40 nautical miles to the south east of MH370’s track”

        Do you seriously believe that Mick?
        Because if you do then that is so easily disproven?
        The only source for EK343’s flight path now available to us is from Flightaware -FAW (because FR24 erased their records).

        FAW’s record for Emirates is self evidently edited, doctored and falsified

        (your times will either read according to your time zone or mine NZST)

        FAW claims EK343’s ADS-B data reported it flew an average 503kts from 18:00 to 18:07 UTC then at 18:09 UTC it claims EK343 randomly turned to 300 degrees to intercept MEKAR (bypassing VAMPI) and flew 147nm for 21 minutes. Why would it turn at 18:09 UTC where there is no reporting point or recognised waypoint?

        FAW gave no speed from 18:09 onwards, but the distance and time give a computed speed of 420kts @ 300 dgerees.

        However the FAW data also states that EK343 reached VAMPI (6.182222N, 97.585556E) just before 18:23 UTC.

        This means if you plot it to a chart, from the last (allegedly) ADS-B confirmed position (5.3060 N, 98.5997 E) at 18:07 UTC EK343 did not fly 300 deg @ 420kts, but rather it flew 300 knots @ 311 degrees.

        Also the LIDO radar flight path infers the target aircraft flew from Pelau Perak at 18:03 to reach VAMPI at 18:13 UTC. That implies the target flew 86nm at a speed of 516kts and people here on Crikey are insisting MH370 flew low over Penang.

        So perhaps you (or Ben Sandilands) could tell me how a Boeing 777 with a VMO of 330kts at sea level manages to traverse 86nm flying uphill at a speed of 516kts?

        If FAW is to be believed then the LIDO target reached VAMPI at 18:13 UTC and EK343 reached VAMPI at 18:23 UTC.

        However if MH370 was flying a heading of 300 degrees then by inference EK343 never flew through VAMPI at all, yet there it is in black and white, they gave EK343’s co-ordinates for VAMPI. Now why would Flight aware lie about EK343’s heading and speed?

        I could go on shredding your claim all night because the FAW record from Emirates EK343 is so obviously fake and doctored.

        For example: the final ADS-B confirmed portion of EK343’s flight was was claimed to be 503kts @ 311 degrees from 18:00 to 18:07 UTC covering 56nm in 7 minutes.

        WAIT UP a minute because that translates to 460 knots, not 503kts, so again… Why is Flightaware lying?
        Please do tell?

        You can’t tell me where Emirates 343 was. You can’t tell me it was 40nm to the south because the data has been edited and doctored.

        1. Mick Gilbert

          So let me get this straight, Simon, you believe that you can “shred” my research by contending that a publicly available factual record, more correctly yet another publicly available factual record, is “doctored and fake”? Really? That’s what you’re going with?
          Okey doke, then, let’s have at it.
          You might have something vaguely approaching an argument if any of what you said was anywhere near half correct; sadly, but predictably in your case, what you’ve written is a glad bag of hysterical hearsay, misinterpreted and/or misinterpreted data and just plain old poor maths.
          Let’s start with the hearsay; I really have no stake in “people here on Crikey are insisting MH370 flew low over Penang” because I have never stated or implied that, ever! I have always contended that MH370 passed south of Penang at FL340-FL350 at around M0.84. So, allow me (and I think that I also speak on Ben’s behalf here) to tell you how MH370 flew the 86.1nm from Pulau Perak to VAMPI in 10 minutes and 9 seconds; in a canter – with 20 kt easterlies it would have managed the 509 kt (not 516 kts) ground speed quite comfortably, thank you very much!
          Now to the misinterpreted/misrepresented data; for starters the “doctored” data most assuredly does not show that EK343 “reached VAMPI (6.182222N, 97.585556E) just before 18:23 UTC”. At 02:23 MYT shows EK343 was at 6.2424N 96.9923 E, that’s 36 nm from VAMPI (just as importantly, it’s around 40 nm from where MH370 was at that time). The closet recorded position to VAMPI was at 02:17 MYT at 5.8835N, 97.6098 E and that was 18 nm away to the south of VAMPI.
          So as for “yet there it is in black and white, they gave EK343’s co-ordinates for VAMPI”; no, there it isn’t, not in black, not in white, nkt even in brindle. You need to learn to read the data, shows a track well to the south of VAMPI, as would be expected.
          So, given that most assuredly does not show EK343 flying to VAMPI the rest of your argument about headings and speeds devolves into, or further into, dribble.
          As to your “Why would it turn at 18:09 UTC where there is no reporting point or recognised waypoint?”, well that’s quite simple. EK343 had just passed through GUNIP, that is a reporting point along airway R467 and that is where EK343 would have requested to join N571 by tracking direct to MEKAR (and it tracks to MEKAR because that is more direct than tracking via VAMPI). And that is not only exactly what it did that night, it is what EK343 does pretty much every night. No surprises there or did you not think to compare EK343’s track on 8 March 2014 to other nights? Or wait a minute, do you think have “doctored” all the records for EK343?!
          As for your babble about “Why is Flightaware lying? Please do tell?” Sure, I’ll tell. They’re not lying, you are. Or you need a course in remedial maths. At 02:00:04 MYT has EK343 at 4.6576N 99.3469E, 6 minutes 40 seconds later at 02:06:44 MYT it has it at 5.2712N 98.6399E; that’s a distance of 55.99 nm which gives a ground speed of, let’s see … by five … carry the two … mmm, fancy that? 503.9 kts, surprisingly close to the 503.1 kt average ground speed shown in the ADS-B data. And just by the bye, 56nm in 7 minutes is not 460 kts, it’s 480 kts.
          So, Simon, I most certainly can (have and will continue to) tell you that EK343 was 40nm away from MH370 at its closest approach and I do so with confidence. And if this is your idea of “shredding” I strongly suggest you get an independent review of the manner in which you dispose of sensitive and confidential hard copy documents, I suspect that they are emerging in pristine condition.
          Meanwhile, we all wait for you to tell us what path you contend MH370 took from near IGARI down to the Southern Indian Ocean.

      2. Simon Gunson

        There was no radar contact with MH370 in the Straits of Malacca. I stand by my claim and the Flightaware data for Emirates 343 is doctored data. when you plot positions and a timeline to a chart the positions, speeds and even the headings do not match Flightaware’s claims. Neither was MH370 tracked on radar flying from Kota Bharu to SW of Penang. This was merely inferred from cell phone contact. Malaysian authorities have lied black & blue about radar.

        There claied plot is based solely on a connection with Fariq’s 5.0 i-Phone (+60) 19229-2042 on the Celcom 3G network at 17:52 UTC. Police explicitly claimed it could not be replicated at lower altitudes by their test flight with an identical phone. They said the plane struggled to get a connection at 26,000ft because the plane flew too slowly.

        The Police report went even further and suggested the connection had to be made by a plane flying faster at >500kts and an altitude between 35,000ft-45,000ft. This was what the police said, not my speculation.

        Part of the reason is that from Farlim Market the only gap to the south through the hills where contact could be made was on a heading of 196 degrees from the cell tower and at a gradient of more than 1-in-9.

        This means that at 35 kilometres distance the cell phone had to be at no less than 13,000ft altitude and Police were confident it had to be much higher – therefore also much more distant than 35km

        1. Mick Gilbert

          So, Simon, just to be clear, you’re saying that;
          1. The four primary radar traces showing MH370 track back across the Malay Peninsula as detailed in the Factual Information Report are wrong or have been fabricated;
          2. The Lido hotel radar slide is wrong or has been fabricated;
          3. The Celcom report showing that the First Officer’s mobile phone logged on to a Penang cell phone tower at a time coincidental with the primary radar trace south of Penang is wrong or has been fabricated;
          4. That have “doctored” their data to change the flight path for EK343 (that despite the fact that EK343 never tracks as far north as Pulau Perak); and
          5. The Inmarsat data has been misinterpreted by the experts who designed the system.
          In short, you’re contending that there has been some sort of collusion amongst the Malaysian authorities, Celcom, Inmarsat and to mislead the public. All very interesting and, if true, leads to where did the airplane fly if not as described in the FIR?
          Perhaps you could share with us your thoughts on what track MH370 took from when it first deviated from its planned flight path near IGARI?

  4. Raven Usher

    This set of slides is fascinating, and very compelling. It is further reinforcement of the idea that the crew was trying to save the plane, starting from the initial turn back, directly towards the nearest operational airport.
    Perhaps someone can explain the following note at the bottom of page 6: “It appears that MH370 was flying a lateral offset (a parallel flight path) of about 5 nm to the left of the route; this is a common procedure when radio contact with ATC is lost.”
    Why is this a common procedure?

  5. Ben Sandilands

    Raven Usher,
    We need to keep in mind that from the moment the identifying transponder on MH370 went off air the plane wasn’t visible to air traffic controllers, who rely on that transponder to identify the flight and show its location. By allowing a large separation from the standard approach path they were greatly reducing the risk of a collision.

    1. Raven Usher

      Thanks Ben … Is this not, in itself, a highly persuasive refutation to those people who believe either that a ‘rogue’ pilot was in charge, or that the crew were incapacitated? Surely the adoption of a 5nm offset suggests a very considered, cautious attempt to minimise risk to human lives, up until the final turn away from Penang?

      1. Dan Dair

        FWIW, I think that if this suggestion of an offset / parallel approach pattern is validated, it rather kills the idea of a rogue-pilot.

        It then throws the ball somewhat into Mick Gilberts court,
        to try to see if there’s actually any evidence to be found out there to support his theory,
        which satisfactorily ticks so many boxes in relation to the reported flight path & seems to explain why 9M-MRO didn’t just fly South when the ‘rogue-pilot’ took control of the aircraft.?

        1. Karen

          @DD The rogue pilot theory suggests the pilot sought to go back past Penang (his home city) for a final adieu before flying south, being his true destination. This being the case the pilot may have chosen the 5nm offset himself to avoid a collision on the way back to Penang, given that he had turned the the transponder off. The exchange with ATC referred to above is not inconsistent with the rogue pilot theory. There may well have been some damage to the plane en route to Penang, perhaps during an altercation between the two pilots, the suggestion being that pilot had already incapacitated his younger subordinate probably just after the final exchange with ATC. Finally, some media reports have carried a story about a friend of the pilot having said the pilot had a number of issues including marital issues and, in his view, was not mentally fit to fly at the time.

          1. Raven Usher

            Has anyone established precisely what part of Penang Captain Shah came from?
            The state of Penang is in two distinct parts (the island of Pulau Pinang, plus the larger part, Seberang Perai, on the Malay Peninsula).
            Available bios indicate that Shah was a student at Penang Free School, which is on Jalan Masjid Negeri, in George Town, on the northern part of the island.
            If he was ‘bidding adieu’ to his home, surely he would have flown over the north – the part where he was apparently raised?
            Why would he skirt around the southernmost tip of the island… approximately 20km away from his home?
            At this time of night, surely it would be a low risk exercise to simply overfly George Town itself?

          2. Dan Dair

            Your detailed explanation of what might have happened in the cockpit is IMO actually part of the problem with the ‘rogue-pilot’ theory.
            In order for the rogue-pilot theory to work a whole bunch of suppositions and what-if’s have to be put into place.
            This is no different to for example, Mick Gilberts windscreen heater fire scenario (which seems very plausible to me) & I’m not denying the possibility that a pilot might have done it. What I am saying is that the rogue-pilot theory needs at least as big a leap-of-faith/pinch-of-salt to accept as any other theory, other than perhaps the ‘space-aliens-took-it’ ‘theory’.? (which of course needs much more than just a pinch of salt)

            Plus, there is no history of any mental health or contemporary stress issues with either pilot which have come to light, which IMO makes such a radical & catastrophic change of personality from either pilot so very unlikely.?

            Finally, there is a problem with the theory relating to Captain Shah specifically, in that he is supposed to have planned the disappearance by using his quite comprehensive home flight-sim.?
            However, if that were actually so, why would he then have ‘mucked-about’ around the Malacca straights for over an hour, in the dark, before heading South.
            Once he’s stolen the plane, why not just bugger-off South & have done with it.? Or why not just fly into the ocean right then & there & save himself the emotional distress of flying himself, crewmates & passengers a further eight hours to their eventual doom.?

            Just my own thoughts, of course.!!!

          3. Mick Gilbert

            Karen, I think it is a wonderful demonstration of the fantastic (and I use that word literally) plasticity of the “rogue pilot” theory that it contemplates an ostensibly detailed and elaborate scheme to disappear an airplane without trace that was planned over months that includes a track back across the Malay Peninsula past two RMAF fighter bases and four radar stations that then places the airplane within visual range of the third busiest airport in Malaysia just so the Captain can say “I can see my house from here!” to 238 dead pax and crew before dawdling off up the Strait such that he places his now stolen airplane within visual range of the only other air traffic within cooee, EK343.
            For those of us who don’t know what a typical rogue pilot ATC exchange sounds like can you highlight which bits are the give-aways because it looks like the sort of exchanges that occur all the time (sans disappearing airplane).
            As for media reports, there were plenty that were complete and utter pap – climbs to 45,000 feet, low level radar evading runs, FIR boundary hugging twists and turns, complete orbits of Penang. Show me a report of someone saying he shouldn’t have been flying and I’ll show you two or three that say he was fine and I’ll raise you a psych report and comparative video surveillance.

          4. Tango

            He was from the Island

          5. Tango


            Why Muck Around the Malaca Straights:

            Have you ever experience a mental breakdown?

            I certainly have been on the edge and a few times over the edge.

            Rational thought and rational process is no longer involved

            Continuing to say why he had to do something logical per your standards when the act if he did it was insane, and your trying to force fit that into your logic is logic bust unto itself.

            You can go nuts, but you have to follow MY rules.

            So, for one of the US major shootings you should walk up to the person and tell them they are going about it all wrong. I say old boy, you simply are not doing this right, its not cricket, there are rules you know.

          6. Dan Dair

            It’s not in the slightest about rules that govern mental-breakdown.
            (Your ‘English gentleman’ line was very funny, IMO. Very Monty Python.!!)

            It is possible that someone can go from nothing to complete breakdown. However it is EXTREMELY unlikely.
            IMO it is even more unlikely for a commercial line-pilot. These are people who are regularly medically examined, including the state of their mental health. Additionally there is a culture within airline operations that involves the rest of the crew & also staff who interact with the crew, especially flight crew, to look for signs that may mean there is some kind of problem with crew members.
            In the ‘old-days’ this was mostly about just about alcohol & later it included drug use. Now it has become more wide-ranging, taking-in suicide & radicalisation. Staff are looking for things like speech & memory problems. Concentration lapses & co-ordination issues.
            No-one who interacted with either of the pilots in the couple of hours immediately before take-off reported anything unusual.
            No-one who interacted with the pilots over the previous few weeks noticed anything out of the ordinary. If they had, the Malaysian authorities would have made sure we knew about it.

            The ‘mucking about around the Malacca straights’ is the killer here IMO.
            If a pilot had planned it all very thoroughly over the preceding months, why do anything other than steal the aircraft & bugger off with it.? If it was thoroughly planned, why plan put yourself at risk of detection & risk of being shot-down or escorted home to face-the-music.?
            If a pilot had a complete breakdown during the flight, where did it suddenly come from & why were there absolutely no signs of it to anyone who worked closely with them in the previous hours or weeks.?

            Anyone with any mental health issues will know that whilst an individual can’t control whether they have issues or not, they can manage that situation with professional help. The GermanWings idiot is a prime example of someone with known & ‘managed’ issues who (mistakenly) remained flying.
            People with mental-health issues are also generally aware of what it is that aggravates their problem.? Domestic or workplace stress is the usual culprit, often both.! If you’re being good to yourself, you take your pills & avoid or work-around the things that make you worse.
            There isn’t any suggestion in all the available comments & documents, that either pilot on 9M-MRO had any mental health issues.
            There isn’t any suggestion that they had ‘flagged-up’ any potential problems in any medical or psychological checks.
            There isn’t any suggestion that anyone who worked with them thought there was anything odd, strange or unusual in any of their behaviour.
            In short, there isn’t any evidence at all.

            So returning to where I started;
            It is possible that someone can go from nothing to complete mental breakdown. However that possibility is EXTREMELY unlikely & still more-so for someone who is monitored regularly & observed constantly.?

          7. Simon Gunson

            Somebody who had lunch with him just a few days before the flight told me he was his usual jovial self. Two days before MH370 disappeared he was chided by Tim Pardi for showering too much attention on her little daughter as she said it was embarrassing to her. This was direct from Tim herself to me. The night before he went out with a group of friends to a bar to enjoy the singer Mila Jirin. he behaved quite normally with those friends. Furthermore the night when the company van turned up to drive him to work their housemaid Nur Hyatti took his flight bag out to the van and as she walked back to the house she saw Zahari hug his wife, then he kissed her on each cheek. Two of his sisters advised me the phone call in the cockpit was from his wife Fazaih to advise him that she was going to stay with a friend for the night. There is no mystery to the phone call. His sisters advised me in December that Zaharie would always give the maid Nur Hyatti a fistful of cash for out of pocket expenses if he was going to be away for more than a day. Nur Hyatti said in her opinion he was meticulous to care for her welfare and she did not believe he would commit suicide without making provision for her. This may sound a rather silly point to others but to those that knew him, this was a big deal that he would not take his own life without making provision for others. This was the generous type of man that Zaharie was.

          8. Dan Dair

            & Karen.
            Apropos my point about how scrutinised flight-crew are,
            A US United Airlines pilot suffers the consequences of his over-indulgence;

        2. Mick Gilbert

          Dan, the “offset” may have come about from an inaccuracy in the primary radar traces, that can’t be dismissed. Also, the offset would normally be to the right of track, however, in this case a right offset would have had to have been discontinued between PUKAR and MEKAT less it made the downwind track too close to the runway.

          1. Dan Dair

            I wasn’t trying to make you personally responsible for solving this puzzle.!!!!
            Merely trying to summarise in response to Raven Ushers points, where I felt the current position of the ‘investigation’ was and I did say “if this suggestion……is validated”, as it is still just (another) theory at this stage.?

            Have you considered applying to the Chinese government for a research grant to more thoroughly pursue your investigation.?
            ……It’s a long-shot, but it just might work.???
            (I hope that only slightly flippant suggestion doesn’t offend you)

          2. Mick Gilbert

            No problemo, I thought that you were doing a quick precis for RU. I just wanted to be clear on the “offset” – it could have been deliberate, it might have been happenstance, it could be sloppy transposition work on my behalf but hopefully not the latter.
            Rather than funding what we need is data – maintenance records, radar source info, etc. If anything, this just underlines Victor Iannello’s recent call for the radar data to be released, sooner rather than later.
            And I can’t speak for other researchers but for me, I need to go back over everything that I have currently got and see what else I’ve missed. I had previously viewed the Lido Hotel slide as a bit of a curiosity – interesting, surrounded by intrigue but not exactly compelling. How wrong could I have been!! It could be the MH370 equivalent of the Rosetta Stone and it’s been staring me in the face for nearly three years – none so blind. Same same with the primary radar data showing MH370 come back across the Malay Peninsula – four traces each with different headings. Rather than asking “why? what might that mean?” I had initially written it off to the “vagaries of primary radar”. Two of them line up quite nicely with BIDMO 1A and the third could be the turn towards KENDI. While I’m very annoyed that I didn’t look closely enough at it sooner I’m also a bit surprised that someone else hadn’t either.

            PS. I don’t think that I could work at the pace that the Chinese might expect of me.

          3. Tango


            Downwind at 40k?

            Keep in mind, deviation from altitude then require a climb back up to altitude with a pretty heavily loaded aircraft which in turns reduces your normal flight time.

            As it did indeed last out its normal flight time all operations had to have been done at altitudes, not drop down and then back up.

            The aircraft has to have been in the most efficient cruise mode possible to stay in the air to its fuel run out timeline.

          4. Mick Gilbert

            Tango, there was no descent programmed just the LNAV route, the airplane would have flown the STARS approach at FL350, no descent commanded therefore no climb out required, the airplane stayed at cruise altitude and speed.

    2. Simon Gunson

      Why would a suicidal pilot care about traffic avoidance?

  6. Tango

    I doubt anyone here has flown an offset route, I have.

    There is nothing contrary to that and in fact it lends more credence to the situation.

    An auto divert is not going to take into account that an offset is needed.

    Airspace is cleared when the emergency is declared , either via radio or transponder codes.

    If you are unable to communicate then you de-conflict yourself. There is a whole set of procedures for that.

    You do fly an offset route when you are in possible conflict with other aircraft that are under positive control (flight plan and ATC) when you are not. I had occasion to do so and it worked exactly as intended, there was traffic tracking that VOR radial in the opposite direction. I was offset to the right and safely clear.

    Traffic ON the radial is under positive control and there would have been no other aircraft in conflict.

    So once again all it does is points to is deliberate action by a qualified pilot flying a fully functioning aircraft.

    1. Simon Gunson

      If as you claim this flight path was the by-product of a deranged suicidal mind then why go to all that effort at planning and traffic avoidance. Why not end it there and then like Andreas in GermanWings. Your logic has no relation whatsoever to how a deranged mind works.

  7. Mick Gilbert

    Okey doke, you can put a line through the lateral offset. I now have it on excellent authority that an offset could only have been programmed for the first leg of the diversion, IGARI – BIDMO; you can’t program an offset to a STARS. Moreover, if an offset had been programmed for the IGARI – BIDMO joining leg it would have needed to have been manually amended approaching BIDMO for the FMC to join BIDMO 1A; if the offset wasn’t removed prior to BIDMO the FMC would have displayed an END OF OFFSET message and on passing BIDMO the airplane would have maintained its last heading.
    The apparent “offset” is either down to the vagaries of primary radar, a transposition error or a combination of the two. The fact that the two tracks are within a couple of degrees of one another is not in dispute; that alone suggests that the airplane was flying a diversion to Penang using a BIDMO 1A STARS approach.

    1. Raven Usher

      So, back to the (hypothetical) ‘bidding adieu’ scenario:
      Is there any aviation-related reason why he would not divert around the northern part of the island?
      Assuming his childhood was spent reasonably close to Penang Free School, in George Town – would that not have been a more likely diversion (if this was his intent)?

      1. Mick Gilbert

        In short, no, none at all. In fact, given that he would have been flying from the left hand seat, a track to the north would have given him his best views, it would have put the island on “his” side of the airplane.
        The old “say goodbye to Hollywood, sorry, Penang” furphy arose when it was thought that the airplane completed at least one full orbit of Penang – I think it was first raised as a probable explanation by Captain Simon Hardy. We now know that the airplane did not fly around the island.
        You can put it in the same bucket as the “he loaded too much fuel”, “it flew along the FIR boundaries”, “it climbed to 45,000 feet” nonsense and cart it to the curb.
        I have updated my paper (new version – 3.03 – accessible using the original link) to remove references to the offset. It includes on p.6 a closer look at how the 13:52:35 MYT radar trace fits with the BIDMO 1A approach – there’s a pretty good alignment to where the airplane would have had to have started its turn to negotiate the ENDOR-MEKAT-KENDI corner.

  8. Tango

    I think lost in this is the Paenang is not a red hearing as scuh but one of those itmes to note. I.e. in and of itself, it could be a condicnacde that is just part of another oddity.

    The fact that you can add into it a flight path that follows that same pattern in the flight simulator and is associated with the PIC, does add another, ok, this has gone too far to be a coincidence.

    I don’t attempt to attribute any motive to the why the flight would have been past there, simply it did, and it more association with the PIC along wit the far more relevant Flight Simulator data.

  9. [email protected]

    Does that flight direction across the northern Malaysian peninsula point straight at the Maldives?
    Where the Prince and Princess were on holiday but abruptly returned to the UK the next day.

    1. Mick Gilbert

      No, it’s not even close. From the flight direction back across the Malay Peninsula you’d need a track change of 25° to come within cooee of the Maldives. If the airplane had held its track from back across the peninsula it would have been heading towards Madagascar but would have ran out of fuel between 200 – 450 nm before it reached its shores.

    2. Simon Gunson

      It bwas the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia who hired three islands next to Dhaluu Atol whose plane(s) were seen flying low that morning. He hired three entire islands from late February to late March and the Maldives authorities to this day still try to maintain secrecy about his stay.

  10. Simon Gunson

    People who rush to blame the pilot have clearly never heard about Kalitta 66. In all other circumstances had the ATC controller not been extremely alert to hypoxia that pilot could well have been accused of suicide too.

    Furthermore overheating avionics emitting smoke could well account for hypoxia because the reaction of the Boeing 777 is to open the MEC override vent. A 10% drop on blood oxygen saturation would lead to pilot indifference whilst a 20% drop would lead to poor judgement & co-ordination. Still nowhere near being unconscious but still impaired enough for a pilot to perform some strange manouveres.

  11. Ben Sandilands

    I think the time has come for you to declare your piloting record, since your understanding of 777s would in most jurisdictions have you fired from such operations as a safety risk, and have your papers examined under suspicion of being fraudulent.
    For a very, very long time, you have persistently refused or ignored requests to correct really basic errors of knowledge of the operations of 777. Anyone would think you were just a ramp vehicle driver or a janitor incapable of even taking accurate notes when things were explained to you.
    You keep filling space here with unsupported assertions, and you seem to be in competition with the wild theories of various fools on social media to say even more outlandish things. Help us. Are you a pilot who has lost the plot and forgotten much of what your learned, or are you just a bloke inventing crap to give yourself a (seriously mistaken) sense of purpose?

  12. Steve Barrett

    You said ‘It was the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia who hired three islands next to Dhaluu Atol whose plane(s) were seen flying low that morning.’

    If true this is very interesting. Reports early in the disappearance of 9M-MRO suggested a aircraft similar to a 777 with MAS livery was in the Maldives vicinity. This generated confusion as to the true whereabouts of 9M-MRO early in the search. Of course BTO/BFO data (if genuine) are not compatible with a Maldives terminus.

    1. Mick Gilbert

      Steve, not only is the BTO/BFO data incompatible with the alleged Maldives (Kudahuvadhoo) sighting but so is the timing. The locals reckon they saw the airplane around 6.15am local time, that’s about an hour after its maximum endurance had passed. Whatever they saw, unless it landed, fuelled and took off again, it wasn’t MH370.

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