Not many of us understand the intricacies of the aviation industry and flight. We know pilots fly planes: how they fly them is a mystery to most of us.
Then one disappears. Into what seems like thin air. MH370 disappeared on the morning of March 8, 2014. I admit, like many others I became fascinated with the mystery. I was concerned for the people on board and for their many family, friends and co-workers. I was also fascinated with the seeming lack of management of the situation. Seems I wasn’t alone, although I note that the best critics are always the ones in the stands, not the ones down on the field playing the game.
Editor of website airlineratings.com, Geoffrey Thomas, says the search for the missing Malaysian Airlines plane is “one of the most botched aircraft investigations in modern history”.
That gave way to fascination at the behaviour of the media. I would see something reported in one place as “possibly” and reported in another article as fact. One analyst claimed the flight flew south, others claimed north. Was it ditched in the sea or had it landed somewhere safely?
One of the theories I saw today I actually thought quite interesting. Deborah Gough suggested in The Age maybe the plane had become the world’s first cyber-hijack.
Dr Leivesley, who runs her own company training businesses and governments to counter terrorist attacks, told the Sunday Express she believed malicious codes, triggered by a mobile phone, would have been able to override the aircraft’s security.
Unless the industry takes preemptive precautions to mitigate such an eventuality, the day will indeed arrive, if it hasn’t already. I don’t know how this fits with the requirement to turn off the transponder physically, as described in The Guardian.
That’s not a straightforward thing to do. Someone in the cockpit would have to turn a knob with multiple selections to the off position while pressing down at the same time, said John Goglia, a former member of the US National Transportation Safety Board.
Could the transponder be turned off by malicious code? The ACARS system is reported as only needing a few switches to be flicked in a specific sequence, followed by keystrokes on the console: conceivably that could be turned off remotely. Interesting questions – how much is mechanical and cannot be overridden remotely?
Another interesting theory I saw today was the MH370 flew “dark” behind another Boeing 777. I have not tried to validate the author’s claims as I don’t have the technical background.
It is my belief that MH370 likely flew in the shadow of SIA68 through India and Afghanistan airspace. As MH370 was flying “dark” without transponder / ADS-B output, SIA68 would have had no knowledge that MH370 was anywhere around and as it entered Indian airspace, it would have shown up as one single blip on the radar with only the transponder information of SIA68 lighting up ATC and military radar screens.
To the average man on the street, this sounds plausible. I think. EDIT: Since publication, Keith Ledgerwood has published an update, Questions/Answers followup #1.
The problem with MH370 is more and more and more theories populate the interwebz in a seemingly ever increasing waterfall.
- The plane made Australia
- The plane made Pakistan/Kazakhstan/somewhere else
- The plane flew “terrain masking” to avoid radar detection
- There are 634 places it could have landed, not counting highways or other long areas of packed earth
- Pilot suicide
- Pilot political activism
- The plane is beneath the Indian Ocean.
You name it, the theory has been postulated. It is no wonder the waiting relatives are angry, frustrated and no doubt suffering great distress.
Malaysia has asked several countries for data which could conceivably disclose to some degree the military capabilities of those countries, Australia included. This must be a quandary for the countries involved. Disclose the information and perhaps hand secrets over as well, or not disclose and have the international community look a little askance, if not more. After all, if another event should happen in the future with their citizens on board, countries may be reluctant to help.
So much attention is being paid to the pilots, yet is this simply a diversion? Surely the effort at this point would be better spent on finding the plane. Who did it is a secondary consideration unless the information helps locate the plane. So far, that hasn’t seemed likely.
Was the plane already out of the pilots’ hands at the point of leaving Malaysian airspace? I have read the final words of “All right, good night” did not follow protocol and from what I have read of the captain, he would have been a stickler for following aviation protocol, even if his political views were with the opposition. Yet one would think if a hijacker was in control by then and had done enough research to know how to turn the transponder off, that person would also know the correct handover protocol. Yet again, I recall the pilot of another plane in the area who relayed a message to MH370 could not be sure which of the pilots was speaking and there was a lot of static. Deliberate static? This an example of the snippets of information that have been released.
The Wall Street Journal leaked some of the earliest “new” information. Why? How?
The overall impression is one of lack of control, lack of an investigative management plan. In the meantime, where are the 239 people? If the plane landed, how did/will it refuel if it was, as some suggest, to be used in a later terrorist attack?
Since publication items have been located in the Indian Ocean that it is considered MAY possibly be debris from the flight, but locating the items may be difficult and they could have sunk since the satellite images were taken.
- Missing Malaysia plane: Captain says navy searching for survivors the old-fashioned way
- Australian Maritime Safety Authority updates on search
- MH370 search: what happens when a plane runs out of fuel?