air crashes

Apr 26, 2017

Chances of resumed MH370 search struggle to reach zero

At this moment efforts to revive the MH370 search have been choked by good intentions

Ben Sandilands — Editor of Plane Talking

Ben Sandilands

Editor of Plane Talking

Drift analysis for the MH370 flaperon in one simple diagram

Attempts by the ATSB to encourage a resumption of the search for the wreckage of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 have instead drawn attention to claimed weak points in a revised CSIRO drift analysis that favors searching a comparatively smaller section of south Indian Ocean seafloor off Western Australia.

As a consequence, the abandonment of the search by Australia and Malaysia, with little commentary from China, in January, seems even less likely than before to be reversed, even though some observers had hoped for a provision for this in the Australian federal budget next month.

Things went off the rails for the ATSB after the Australian researcher Mick Gilbert, pointed out some of the untidy aspects of the revised CSIRO study (which can be downloaded at source here) in a comment to this post on Plane Talking.

This was followed by a very detailed post by Independent Group member Victor Iannello that built on more work by his peer in MH370 analysis Richard Godfrey.

What might we make of these developments? The ATSB seems to have taken the politically more realistic view that it should make efforts to resume the search for MH370 (which vanished on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014) as small a target for naysayers as possible, while doubling down on its support for  earlier conclusions as to the likely resting place of the sunk wreckage.

Independent analysts like Victor Iannello, Richard Godfrey and Mick Gilbert have however no alternative to taking a far broader view of the variables and factuals that complicate any attempt to confine the wreckage to high probability zones, even if the latest is in fact one quarter the size of the previous and now terminated search zone.

Politicians value ‘confidence’ over mathematically defined ‘probability’. However the ATSB’s ‘confidence’ comes with criticisms that undermine its credibility. This isn’t good for the case for resuming the search, even though its discontinuation was undoubtedly premature, and the focus should always have been not on a new confined area, but addressing all of the concerns about MH370’s final path that have come to light since the jet went missing.

Finding MH370 may well involve as much cost and effort as has already gone into the search up until it was discontinued. That appears to be politically impossible at this time.

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15 thoughts on “Chances of resumed MH370 search struggle to reach zero

  1. comet

    A Boeing 777 is lost with 237 people, and no one on this planet is willing to find it.

  2. Tango

    Well you have over 100 million in Sunk costs now.
    I would have thought it politely impossible to start with.
    I think its well justified to keep working on what can be and see if at some point the data starts to get consistent.

    10,000s of thousands were never found in the great Indonesian Earthquake. I am not sure a couple hundred people has a better claim to being found that a great many others.

    The only real justification would be if there was something wrong with 777s. As that has been disproven by time and never a remote occurrence then there is no point.

  3. James Nixon

    My book examines the two issues which all investigators have, to date failed to grasp. But are entirely valid and are the most commonly thought scenarios by pilots operating international wide-bodied airliners. Straight lines and timings should be disregarded.
    How it got there is, for the moment, irrelevant. Who cares? The best guess, now, with all the work leading up to it and refinement of their black arts, is the intersection of the 7th arc, 35 South, and the point where fuel would have run out.
    Face facts. They are only looking for two engine cores which will hopefully lead them to the DFDR. That’s the only bit that can help all the poor bunnies flying in the future; not only in airliners, but in projects like missions to mars.
    To stop now, after everyone has learnt their new sciences and refined them, is like slamming the gate to the Olympic stadium as the runners reach the end of the marathon.
    As a race we are better than that. Get the boat out and have a look at the last 25,000 sq kms.

    1. Tango

      I am not remotely understanding this with a trip to Mars!
      Consider Ballard was looking for ships 800+ feet long and had a hard enough time with that, two cores is? And AF447 was not easy with vastly closer plonk in point data.

      And what science have we made that is new? This is all extensions at best if not downright direct use. Calcs were not unheard of either.

      And as the so called science has been invented, why do you have to use it, its been proven if it is.

      There is a lot of emotional spatter here and no logic I can see.

      1. AngMoh

        I don’t often agree with Tango but this is one.
        Continue to search is a waste of time and money. There is no clue where the aircraft is and if it is found it is a fluke. Gambling in the casino when you need the money to stay alive has better odds.
        People need too accept that something horrible has happened and we will never know what or why. Assuming the pilot did it (and don’t try to judge why) you can at least think of some measures trying to prevent it.
        With AF447 they had at least a good idea where the aircraft crashed and it took 2 years to find. With MH370, the search area is at least 10,000 times as large. Finding it would be a fluke like winning the jackpot: it happens but never to me.

        1. Dan Dair

          Assuming the human race survives (at least for the next couple of troubling weeks.!!) the technological innovations we are yet to make, will likely make our current tech look like knapped-flint by comparison.?
          I have no doubt that in the future of remote AI controlled submersibles, a time will come when we will be mapping the deep ocean floors to search for rare minerals and similar raw materials.
          At that point it is self-evident that these vehicles will discover pretty-much everything in these zones.? Be that missing Malaysian airliners or the lost city of Atlantis.?

        2. Tango

          As near as I can tell Mr. Nixon thinks a LiAi battery did it.

          It just goes to show you, being a pilot (and I am) is not the key to the kingdom for good assessment.

          As they found in WWII, anyone can be trained to be a pilot (or an awful lot, its just a motor skill not an intellectual one) . Man has been working on his motor skills (sans religion) for about 5 million years.

          Don’t get me wrong, I am happy with a proficient pilot, I don’t expect them to be intellectuals. Having had a career around them I can tell you they are just some and some.

          But I do have to hark back for those pilots who wanted to have a gun in the cockpit to stop 9/11 type incidents. With a solid door and aerial ways to keep people off their feet?

          So, yes, the first thing one of the few who got the approval to do so shot it off in the cockpit (on the ground)

          that seems to have dampened the fervor of the Cowboy Pilot

  4. Mick Gilbert

    For the sake of proper attribution, I had been in touch with Richard Godfrey about the CSIRO paper prior to making my comment on 22 April, so, even though Richard’s paper wasn’t published until the 23rd his research informed my thinking.

    1. Tango

      Good on you.

      For what it is worth, I do not take you for a wacko like Simmon, I just seriously disagree with trying to force a solution that is not there.

      Machinery (and electronics ) has a cold uncaring reality that does not take the human need to make things romantic into account (the noble pilots fighting through insurmountably odds and winning etc)

      The end results is Scott freezing to death on his way back from the pole.

      1. Mick Gilbert

        Thanks Tango. Yes, we disagree but that’s fine, no one’s argument was even improved by agreement.

  5. Jaeger

    The MH370 search may not have been successful (yet), but it wasn’t a waste of money.

    Geological Insights from Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 Search
    “A rich trove of marine geophysical data acquired in the search for missing flight MH370 is yielding knowledge of ocean floor processes at a level of detail rare in the deep ocean.”

    1. Jaeger

      A related article, “Airline Flight Paths over the Unmapped Ocean”, may also be of interest; reference is made to MH370, AF447 and MS804:

      “All of Earth’s ocean floors deeper than 500 meters could be mapped at a total cost of $2–3 billion” sounds optimistic, but is a worthy goal. We have the technology; why haven’t we done this already?

      1. Tango

        While I agree the US should lead a project to map the oceans depts. and its a sadly (read that pathetically neglected aspect when we spend billions to look at plants that have no affect on the Earth, neglecting the Ocean that makes up 3/4 of the place we actually live on! (my English teach would beat me for that run on sentence)

        And I do love the space exploration, but we damned well should be looking even more closely at Earth and not just the flipping surface (all apologies to Flipper) .

        There is also a massive difference between mapping the ocean floor (which they did prior to the scan for debris) and finding the aircraft (which takes the far more intensive scanning for those same debris)

        So yes its wasted other than there is now a small slice of the Worlds ocean they don’t have to a bottom scan again on.

      2. Dan Dair

        Haven’t they already spent more than that on the MH370 ocean survey.?

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