MH370, Day 7: Malaysian authorities’ latest statement

We’ve been provided the latest statement from the Malaysian authorities, from which news reports have been written. We find the information in the statement to be more than a little interesting, so we’re reprinting it verbatim.

Official statement:

Early this morning, I was briefed by the investigation team, which includes and FAA, NTSB, the AAIB, the Malaysian authorities and the acting minister for transport on new information that sheds further light on what happened to MH347.

Based on new satellite communication, we can say with a high degree of certainty that the aircraft communications addressing and reporting system (ACARS) was disabled just before the aircraft reached the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Shortly afterwards, near the border between Malaysia and Vietnamese air traffic control, the aircraft’s transponder was switched off. From this point onwards, the Royal Malaysian Air Force primary radar data showed that an aircraft which was believed but not confirmed to be MH370 did indeed turn back. It then flew into a westerly direction back over Peninsular Malaysia before turning northwest. Up until the point at which it left military primary radar coverage, these movements are consistent with deliberate action by someone on the plane.

Today, based on raw satellite data which was obtained from the satellite data service provider we can confirm that the aircraft shown in the primary radar data was flight MH370. After much forensic work and deliberation, the FAA, NTSB, AAIB and the Malaysian authorities working separately on the same data … according to the new data the last confirmed communication between the plane and the satellite was at 8:11am Malaysian time Saturday 8 March. The investigation team is making further calculations which will indicate how far the aircraft may have flown after the last point of contact. This will help us to refine the search.

Due to the type of satellite data, we are unable to confirm the precise location of the plane when it last made contact with the satellite. however, based on this new data, the aviation authorities of Malaysia and their international counterparts, had determined that the plane’s last communication with the satellite was in one of two possible corridors — a northern corridor stretching approximately from the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to Northern Thailand, or a Southern corridor stretching approximately from Indonesia to Southern Indian Ocean.

The investigation team is working to further refine the information.

In view of this latest development, the Malaysian authorities have refocused their investigation into the crew and passengers on board. Despite media reports that the plane was hijacked, I wish to be very clear we are still investigating all possibilities as to what caused MH370 to deviate from its original flight path. This new satellite information has significant impact on the nature and scope of the search operation. We are ending our operations in the South China Sea and reassessing the redeployment of our assets. We are working with the relevant countries to request all information relevant to the search including radar data. As the two new corridors involve many counties, the relevant foreign embassies have been invited to a briefing on the new information today by the Malaysian foreign ministry and the technical experts.   Clearly the search for MH370 has entered a new phase.

*******

The Wall Street Journal created this graphic to illustrate the positions referenced in th above statement.

122 comments on “MH370, Day 7: Malaysian authorities’ latest statement

  1. As the #MH370 returned back, passed over Malaysian Peninsula with transponder off, why Malaysian Air Force did not scrambled jets considering it as unidentified aircraft? If they could have done this then the result could have been different than the one we are seeing after seven days passed!!!

  2. “In view of this latest development, the Malaysian authorities have refocused their investigation into the crew and passengers on board,”

    “Airline officials have said the plane had enough fuel to fly for up to about eight hours, while investigators believe the aircraft flew for nearly seven hours after it vanished from civilian radar.”

    “There are reports the search area itself has been expanded to cover 9,000 square kilometres and that it now extends farther west to the southern portion of the Bay of Bengal and the northern portion of the Indian Ocean.”

    Dramatic conclusions. Controlled flight after disabling identification systems. And a new search area spanning a world region. And the Indian Ocean is rather large and deep..

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Biv7L9JIcAA8U5r.jpg

    • On a German forum someone fittet this into a James Bond Timeline.
      10.000′ floating submersible runway with attached “dry storage”.

      could even make better sense than what has been floated until now.

  3. There are reports MH-370 climbed to FL-450, which is higher than the B-77E is certified to fly at. The only reason I can think of to fly this high is to incapacity the passengers in a depressurized cabin, although that still could have been done by depressurizing at FL-350. Who ever was flying would have been pressure breathing 100% oxygen.
    I now think the Government of Malaysia has something to hide. This aircraft, unidentified at the time overflew RMAF Butterworth Air Force base, WMKB, which has F-5s and F/A-18s assigned to it and could easily intercept the unidentified target. The unidentified had erratic altitude changes, from FL-350 to FL-450, to FL-295, and was not squawking. Yet the RMAF classified the target as “non-threatening”? MH has something to hide, too. They have yet to release the cargo manifest. That could be something of immense value, at least to someone, some group, or some country.
    The airplane, if it recovered at some covert airfield, is next to worthless as a whole. But its parts would be of value. The airfield does not have to be capable of the airplane taking off, just a field long enough to land. about 5,000 to 6,000 feet. Even though the B-77E has a higher max landing weight than the A-332, its weight foot print is actually lighter do to it having four additional landing gear wheels. .

    • How much endurance does cockpit oxygen provide on a 777?

      Then, not every country is as assertive over airspace violations as the US.
      Most don’t really fear their neighbors small and large.

      As I wrote earlier this developes into a James Bond Villain scenario.

      Also Ukraine’s gold seems to have been rescued to New York earlier already.

      • Generally, the aircraft oxygen supply lasts for about 10-15 minutes, I believe, to give time to get to safe altitude. Maybe, someone else who knows about the 777 can weigh in on this.

    • I think we felt the same concern about FL450, but my view was a bit darker … the principle reason to make this climb would be to kill all pax locked behind the flight deck door. I sure hope I am wrong, but it also sure looks like a cold-blooded terrorist can be rid of the problem of live yakking passengers and crew by simply subjecting them to a period of time at altitude without supplemental O2.

      Also, regarding range, most speculation has assumed fuel quantity to destination plus legal reserves; this does not factor in that, due to different fuel prices, MAS may routinely top off at Kuala Lumpur to minimize fuel purchases at certain destinations. I.e., the cost of hauling full fuel may be less than buying elsewhere. In which case, the last satellite hit at 8:11 local Malaysian time (7.5 hrs after takeoff) appears well in excess of planned flight time plus reserves.

      My gut sense is the silence from US officials relates to an awareness of an ugly (and likely terrorist) event that they have not figured out how to share, for fear of how us plain folk may react. In the final analysis, we all need to move past all this opacity and spin, and let the whole world know the real data. We need full transparency. As noted by R.Jones, they need to release the cargo manifest; also the fueling records, etc.

      • That was someone else’s comment I was quoting, but didn’t do it quite right with a “Reply” button. I’m too acclimated to disqus I guess :)

  4. “They have yet to release the cargo manifest. That could be something of immense value, at least to someone, some group, or some country.” The “Airport ’77 Scenario” I presume?

  5. I think the stealing cargo scenario has some issues. Let’s say it is true, how long would it take to steal the cargo, half an hour? Quick get-away and you are done, 200+ passengers are left stranded and start wondering around. How long does it take one of them to reach out? The idea that all witnesses should be eliminated would not make sense, it takes valuable escape time and would label the culprits mass murderers.
    Holding the passagers for ransom would be more likely, but in my view unlikely, as nothing has been heard in a week. Unless authorities keep it under the lid, to buy time to coordinate a rescue mission. But I would expect to be also unlikely.
    But it is a tempting tought that this airplane has landed somewhere safely and all passengers are shaken but in good health. Who would not hope so?

  6. If not already underway there, it’s time to start looking at remote places like the small Islands where the hijackers may have crashlanded the 777, perhaps intending to recover and steal a precious cargo. Unless’s the hijackers had a suicide wish they would not have crashlanded in an area where the sea is deep, and if they were suicidal, why wouldn’t they have done it before changing course and flying onward for several hours?

    The hijackers expected the world to think the 777 lies at the bottom of the sea and eventually give up when it cannot be found in those vast areas there. The US should do an intensive search of all tiny islands along the projections of the 777′s presumed southwesterly route using a high-definition satellite camera or photographic spy aircraft – maybe even a long-distance spy drone.

    The sea bottom is difficult or impossible to search by optics but tiny islands and their shoals are visible, cloud cover permitting. A calm lagoon would make it easy to crashland safely and escape with stolen goods using a small powerboat.

    The presumed northwesterly route could also be searched by spy optics, but why would a hijacker want to crashland the 777 on Mt. Everest or thereabouts? The U.S. and China should put their spy satellites and aircraft to work, perhaps thereby resolving the mystery.

  7. Here is what I think might have happened based on the informations that are available to us:

    It all looks like a deliberate act from the pilot(s). Everything started to unfold at the precise time of the handover from Malaysian ATC to Vietnam ATC. In this transition period the pilot(s) switched off first the ACARS and then put the transponder(s) in stand-by. It also looks like the pilot(s) tried to avoid radar tracking by changing altitude.

    But the airplane was still tracked by satellite and its altitude and position were available at some intervals during the entire duration of the flight, which lasted almost eight hours altogether. The aircraft probably plunged into the Indian ocean when it ran out of fuel.

    DId the pilot(s) act alone or was he/were they assisted by pirates or terrorists, we cannot possibly know at this stage.

    • Normand, — spot-on! I have been wondering if Malasia Airlines has a SOP with an item on the preflight checklist to assure that the cockpit door from the cabin is locked before takeoff. If so, only those inside the cockpit area could have been involved in a hijacking. Surely there are others in there that could have killed or incapacited the pilot and copilot — e.g., wouldn’t the engineer also be familiar with all those switches that were systematically turned off? (I used a lower-case e because I am a licensed P.E. (retired many years ago, and not as a professional engine-operator).

      • As I recall the Boeing 777 does not require a flight engineer, so only two people in the cockpit. Unless, of course, someone’s in the jump seat (or does it have more than one jump seat?).

  8. Scott: Are those two arms of an arch and the plane can be anywhere in between?

    THe South one while its most likely (no further spotting and not over land leaving a wreck) would have taken a flight right back down through Malaysian air space to achieve or a un-tracked arch around the Indonisain Archipelago to get on that South track.

    The Rest:

    Pilots can turn off the FDR and CVR so you may get nothing from those (probably not the way this guy pulled it off with the rest, ACARS apparently takes a lot of shutting down while the transponder only one switch)

    You don’t have to worry about long term oxygen, just enough to badly hurt or kill the passengers while you use cockpit oxygen (30 minute supply>?)

    As this certainly is pilot done, the other has been taken care of (killed or locked out) you have two supplies.

    No one is going to steal an aircraft for anything on board short of nuclear devices so you can stop speculation on that.

    You can’t understand the mind set of someone who is delusional, you just accept it and connect the dots and learn what you can.

    1. Long term something needs to be done about suicidal pilots
    2. We need tracking that CANNOT be turned off
    3. FDR AND CVR need to be self supported and CVR needs to be capable of the lenght of the flight, not two hours.
    4. Work at full data stream transmission of the FDR and ultimately CVR.
    5. Cameras in the cockpit, non erasable.
    6. Major transmitted alarms if nay of it is de-powered (all should have their own battery backup)

    • The arc segments seem to be derived from the round trip delay determined from the contacts ( a sphere intetsecting the earth sphere : a line of a certain radius on the surface ) and the segments are derived from the areas that have no possible contact to the next eastward sat.

    • Actually, stealing the plane foe the cargo seems like one of the few motives that fit with the facts. If the pilot was suicidal he would have crashed immediately. If it was political there would have been demands. They have not released the cargo manifest yet. We know that routine shipments of hundreds of millions of dollars are flown between countries either in cash, bonds or diamonds. We know that a plane can be safely set down in water a la ‘miracle on the Hudson’. I would bet that the passengers were asphyxiated at altitude, the plane dived below radar and flew to a remote location where the plane was off loaded and sunk to avoid detection.

      • Agreed. One point though, on your statement: “If it was political there would have been demands.”

        Doesn’t it just ‘feel’ like, maybe, something is shifting in how the world works, where terrorism is becoming more psychological than physical? Where, the most powerful terrorist acts keep people in the dark about what is really going on and what may happen next? If my gut is right on this (and I grant I may be and hope I am way wrong!), humanity may be evolving to a point where individuals and states do horrific things just to show they can, firing for effect only.

        And, some might argue, this condition is not that far from where we have been as a species at many times in recent centuries. Technology races ahead; then, years later, a dark/evil human instinct catches up…

      • The aircraft was not fully occupied by passengers. Some 50 seats were flown empty, apparently not due to lack of people wanting to board the flight. This could suggest a heavy cargo on board. Some have speculated that this could have been due to a valuable cargo such as several tons of gold and that robbery could have been the motive.

        Last night on CBC news it was mentioned that the only cargo was 3 or 4 tons of fruit and that there was no other valuable cargo. That would seem to put the robbery motive to rest. It is still interesting why they would fly with 50 empty seats if they are normally a full flight.

        • Anybody talked to the actual refueling service agent, the very same one who tankered MH-370 that late evening, for this ‘red-eye’ flight ? Can the read-out on his kerosene volumeter be checked against this man’s words for the quantity he says to have loaded ?

        • Frequent Traveller is right… where is the fuel data? It seems reasonable that an airline would not be watching too closely to override a pilot ordering whatever level of fueling he/she wants. And, if extra fuel was needed, some seats may need to go empty. Then again, Malaysia likely has much better fuel prices than Beijing, so it may be routine to fuel to capacity.

          Bottom line, though, is these records exist and for whatever reason authorities are not being forthcoming. Every pilot is required to manage fuel and weight for the safety of his/her flight. Papers are generated, too, to prove these safety details were properly assessed, and especially to protect the airline and insurance companies from liability that can stretch into the $billions. Yet, this basic piece of MAS370 data is still not viewable….

          A short list of some of the key records the world needs to see: cargo manifest, fuel loading records, and ATC records (showing times and interactions with Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam control facilities).

  9. I don’t understand why it would take so long to release some of the details on the airplane (e.g., altitude and trajectory). It would seem like authorities would know most of this real-time. Why did it take six days? Is there a viable technical explanation.

  10. Would a Helios like cabin pressurization fault explain all we know up to now?
    Pilots loosing it slowly and fumbling the autopilot and miswitching other stuff?

  11. Uwe, An Aircraft in autopilot if not managed for any reason will end in an Holding Pattern on top of the last waypoint programmed in the FMC until the fuel exhaustion. only after the second engine flame out the FMC will release the plane from the Hoilding Pattern to its final glide path to the Earth.
    electric/ hydraulic power would not be an issue since after a double flame out the RAT is extended automatically to power the primary flight control hydraulics.

  12. If it was a terrorist, why go to all the effort of flying for 8hrs?! You are either heading somewhere to destroy the plane 9/11 sequence, or just to get it lost!? (More mischief than anything)
    Personal opinion is these Chinese sepearatists, North West china based.
    Could the conspiracy be they wanted to hit something in China but got taken out?,

  13. If the airplane flew for eight hours it means that initially when the plane went missing and people were looking for the wreckage in the sea area under the last contact point the aircraft was actually sill in the air at that time and was heading in the opposite direction and apparently no one had detected it in real time. After the transition point I described earlier the airplane became silent and invisible for a prolong period of time.

  14. I know this may be far fetched, but could it be the Russians took the airplane just to take the Ukraine out of the headlines? It true, Putin has a plan to “find and rescue” the hostages at some future moment.

  15. Like everyone else, I’m baffled at the disappearance of flight MH370. All one can say with certainty is that this event will have profound effects on how flying aircraft are tracked and monitored in the future.
    Perhaps by installing an independently powered/self-contained tracking device (located somewhere on the aeroplane, inaccessible to pilots, crew, passengers) that sends basic flight parameters data (altitude, airspeed, vertical speed, heading, position) in real-time via satellite (say every 10 seconds) and that data is stored somewhere (Inmarsat? then destroyed after a period of time if uneventful, 15 days?). There’s no use in storing data in the device itself, as it can be destroyed, lost or take years to locate.
    There will be changes, no matter what it takes, what the cost is, we can count on that.
    The other thing I wanted to say is that I sincerely hope, somehow, somewhere the passengers are alive and well.

    • We may baptize this new Airworthiness requirement as follows :
      FAR121,9M-MRO

      Evidently, its shall be made unhackable, undisconnectable, and the availability of the corresponding intermittent streaming function of (a set of data TBD, whereof geolocalization …) shall be made a NO-GO item in the pre-flight check-list, the unserviceability thereof automatically INHIBITING engine start-up, or to immediately (if the aircraft is on ground) cause engine shut-down, plus a dedicated squawk for the attention of the relevant state security agencies, copy (here), copy (there) …

  16. There can be no criminal in this world who thinks that over 200 people is an acceptable cost to get hold of any supposed loot on board the Malaysian flight. Also who’d plan a heist that involves flying undetected for 7 to 8 hours? Criminal act, I don’t buy.
    Suicidal pilot would not fly for 8 hours in the opposite direction just to kill himself. Don’t buy it.
    Terrorist flying around for eight hours hoping to be chased by the Air Force in the middle of the night? Come on!
    The Malaysian government would have us believe that that they tracked an unidentified plane turning back then did nothing about it, only to then have confirmation from other organisations that it did in fact fly over Malaysian airspace. What were they doing? Apparently all neighbouring country military radar picked up nothing as well?
    But then where is the Boeing plane? Whatever happened to this plane was sudden or uniform (hypoxia theory), because someone would have switched on their phone to try and text or call

    • At this stage no one really knows what happened exactly. Of course the authorities probably know more than what has been revealed so far.

      That being said we have to keep in mind that whatever plan the pilots/pirates/terrorists had in mind, this plan could have gone awry. Considering there were more that two hundred people involved in one way or another, many things could have played out differently that the perpetrators had planned for.

      But one thing is almost certain right now: this airplane has been tempered with deliberately. Even if the airplane has not been found yet the evidences are already there for us to build a plausible scenario involving either the pilots, pirates or terrorists. Or any combination of these.

      The ACARS and transponders were deactivated at a time when the Air Traffic Control was in a sort of no man’s land. This is obviously a preplanned deliberate act to go unnoticed for as long as possible. Evidence of successful radar tracking avoidance is also available. The reason for flying at an extremely high altitude might also have been an attempt to add more range to the aircraft.

      But the most important thing that remains for us to resolve at this stage is why is it that we have not yet detected a signal from either ELTs (like the transponders there are two on board). There are only two plausible explanations: the airplane is deep into the ocean and the signals the ELTs are sending are not yet heard. Or more far fetch, but still not impossible, the airplane has landed somewhere. But I have serious reservations about the latter possibility for it should have been detected on land somewhere by now. Whereas deep into the ocean it would not be as obvious.

      But the big question remains: what did they have in mind? Here we enter into speculation territory armed with no evidence whatsoever.

      • Let’s find the plane then more certainty can be attained. I am baffled that a plane can go stealth by simply pulling a switch and a series thereof. What do civilian aircraft designers know that military ones don’t?

        Also if the plane flew into another country’s airspace surely it’d have to shadow another plane to avoid detection? A suicidal pilot would be lucid enough to do that? A criminal hijacker would orchestrate something that elaborate, or maybe a terrorist group that skilled and organised to pull off such a hijack? Perhaps we will never know.

        • They are saying on CNN that the point the transponders were turned off was the perfect place to disappear. Not much radar coverage. I still think it was a heist. I am reminded of the line in Die Hard where Hans Gruber says: “Well, when you steal $600, you can just disappear. When you steal $600 million, they will find you, unless they think you’re already dead. “

    • I do not agree that no criminal would think twice about killing 200 people if there was a chance of stealing $100m. There is however an off chance that they landed and the passengers are held at a remote location. There are 634 airports with 777-compatible 5,000ft runway in range of #MH370.

      photo/1

      Reports that there were pings 7 hours after the diversion suggests the plane landed, off loaded and then took off again. It could even have refueled.

      I think the movie will be called The Great Plane Robbery

    • You may be right about the hesitations/scruples of the average “criminal” but (viewed as a deliberate act) the MH-370 obfuscation was perpetrated with brilliance, whence it has the fingerprints of some first-rate state agency of influence … and if correct, we are factually observing action commanded by some (ill interpreted) “Raison d’État” ?

      Then there is no ethical limit to what the perpetrators would be capable of doing !

  17. A bloomberg article discussing the problems with today’s aircraft communications.
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-03-15/losing-jet-exposes-communications-gap-at-35-000-feet.html

    “The entire industry is going in the direction of fitting planes with broadband satellite connections for passenger uses and yet for operational purposes they’re kind of stuck in the 1950s,” – a very good point, imo.

    It’s disconcerting to note that even if the plane is found, there will still be unexplained gaps if the plane really flew for hours on, overwriting the voice recorder.

  18. I will reiterate my comments a few days ago that the aircraft parted out is worth millions. Put it down somewhere, throw a camo netting over it and cut it up.
    Not very hard to produce paperwork to authenticate the parts, and lots of willing buyers for “cheap” parts.
    Very easy to get invited into a cockpit, so its unlikely to be the crew who have done the deed.
    The fate of them and the passengers I leave to the imagination, but switching off the cabin air systems would at least be humane if murder could be described thus.

  19. A hypothetical rather interesting foul-play scenario of ‘flight-in-closetail-formation’ has been ventured @PPRuNe involving some second acolyte aircraft (eg a private jet ?) flying out of Malaysian airspace after an in-flight rendez-vous, with 9M-MRO “hiding” shadowed closely behind the transponder squawk of its companion ? The question now is whether the private Flight Simulator belonging to the MAS captain was used for special training in formation flight ?

    What would you make out of this idea, Scott ? Does it withstand closer scrutiny ?

  20. Maybe COMAC got frustrated and decided they needed a 777 to dismantle, destructively analyze, and reverse-engineer.

  21. IIf the plane was still flying, it could be likely that the plane headed in the direction of the Antarctic passing Western Australia hundreds of miles to the west. That part of the Indian ocean is rather quiet. However, Australia has an extensive military radar network. and the long-range station in Laverton, W.A. appears to have a range of 3000 km. And the U.S. base at Diego Garcia also has a radar station. Does anyone know whether such military radar data is archived ?

  22. How much fuel was aboard at T/O? 8 hours of flight time would indicate the B-77E was loaded with about half of its maximum capacity of about 300,000 lbs. So was extra fuel added at the request of the PIC? 8 hours of fuel would give you about 3,600 nm at 450 KTAS. Another 20,000 lbs. of fuel would give you about 1 additional hour of flying time, more than enough to make up for the extra maneuvers the B-77E is claimed to have been doing, rapid climb to FL-450, decent to FL-230, climb back to FL-295, etc. Also, uploading an extra 20K of fuel would not raise to many alarm bells with dispatch.

  23. If an airliner crashes into the sea, doesn’t this set off the Crash Position Locator (or whatever it’s called today)?

    • It is called the ELT. There are two in the 777 and they are activated by the force of the impact. In addition to that one of them can be activated just by being submerged in salt water. But if the aircraft sits deep into a big ocean the signal would be hard to detect quickly and would die out after about thirty days. In the case of Flight 447 it took five days to locate aircraft parts and about two years to retrieve the black boxes.

        • They turned off all other forms of communications that could be turned off. Obviously they did not want to be found, and if the intention was to crash into the ocean, and not be found they would turn off the ELTs too.

        • The Underwater Locator Beacon is fart of the Flight Recorder and cannot be disabled. It will start to emit when in contact with water and, to answer thelpag, it can be detected at a depth of more than 4,000 meters. At such a depth you need special equipment to detect it, but above the surface it can be detected by satellite.

        • On second thought, this is an interesting idea that can be entertained along with many others However, as an Electrical Engineer involved with design and production of several large military radars for over 30 years, I offer some historical facts:

          Radar operates today mostly with either or both “skin tracking” or “beacon-transponder” tracking. Air traffic control uses a very secret form of transponder tracking developed by the U.S. military during WW2, known then as IFF — to identify “friend from foe.” “Friends” were allowed to fly onward, “Foes” who couldn’t “respond” were attacked to be shot down. Whlle we were BOQ-apartment fellow-Engineer roommates at the submarine base on Midway Island in 1945, my buddy and I could discuss my superb new passive and undetectable sonic listening equipment for submarines, but not his IFF — I wasn’t sufficiently cleared for that!

          Search radars utilized “bedspread antennas” that emitted basically a horizontal beam where it was concentrated to detect oncoming unidentified threats. But Instrumentation Radars, like the AN/FPS 16 and its many successors (on which I worked for their design and development) were radars capable of tracking targets automatically in three coordinates — AZ, EL, and “range” because their parabolic dish antennas were articulated in elevation as well as horizontally in azimuth. But these old tracking radars were incapable of “search and detection” because of their pinpoint-beam type of RF microwave radiation

          But in later years and long before I retired, I worked on design, development and production of a phased-array radar to be utilized by the U.S. Navy. These radars, now operating on numerous Aegis ships, are capable of detecting and tracking in three coordinates. Unless Malaysia has access to the data from such a modern phased-array radar, I cannot understand how it could state accurately that the 777 went up to a 45,000 ft. altitude when its transponder (that can also provide altitude date) was allegedly already shut off.

          The Malaysian military radar that surely was also capable of “skin-reflection tracking” may have correctly associated the “skin” response with the “transponder” response on a radar’s PPI screen before the airliner’s transponder was turned off,, but unless it utilized a very modern phased-array radar to do so, or unless it got the altitude from the transponder data before it was switched off, I have a problem understanding the huge altitude-variation data being reported.

      • Thanks, Normand. RF electromagnetic radiation doesn’t travel any distance under water, particularly under conductive salt water that can act as a Faraday shield, even at a shallow depth, and particularly at any great depth. There ultrasonic transducers can function, even if not for long distances. I assume the ELT designed for salt-water activation is designed for buoyancy so its antenna can radiate a RF signal if it floats free after a watery crash.

        There has not been a media report of radio reception from any ELT, so this adds to my concern that the search should be refocused on islands or shoals near islands, even areas nearby Australia’s coast, the Australian desert, or the Andaman sea. Using GOOGLE satellite imagery, I noticed that Christmas Island is located along the assumed southwest projected track, but it is populated and would not be suitable for a clandestine belly-landing. However, there are other remote islands where a 777 can be carefully ditched perhaps to steal some possible precious cargo like diamonds or precious metals. It could be helpful if the cargo manifest, if any, would be disclosed

        • No cargo manifests please. Then all sorts of bounty hunters will rush into the water to find and claim anything of value.

          This conversation about landing or ditching a plane on a remote island in the dark is about as far fetched as they come. Because then we are talking about a sizeable crew to handle a 777 and no longer just a lone suicidal pilot.

  24. After reading this page and every possible reason for this apparent disaster, I think the one probable cause was an Explosive Decompression.
    The FAA had recently issued an A.D. which requested all operators to check for possible corrosion near lower antenna installations.
    I would submit that following the aircraft leveling off at its cruise altitude following the climb out from Kuala Lumpur, an explosive decompression occurred in the lower fuselage skin possibly along a mating surface.
    This would cause an immediate dumping of the pressurization and physical damage to the surrounding area, this might explain why the crew and passengers became incapacitated almost at once and unable to carry out any recovery actions?
    With the aircraft having been trimmed for level flight, and the 777 being in a stable flight condition, only a possible input from something or someone would have caused the aircraft to climb, at the peak of the climb the aircraft nosed over possibly in a mild stall condition, and it then gradually descended until such time that normal lift occurred, the auto-pilot still being engaged kept the aircraft in a level flight condition except now the direction of flight had changed.
    I would suggest this is what happened, the aircraft trimmed for level flight would now simply fly until the fuel ran out, damage from the area of decompression might well have caused any wiring or components in the area to be damaged or broken, leaving power to some components and none to others!

    • If so, when the fuel ran out and the airliner eventually7 crashed somewhere, why wasn’t there a report from the ELT?

      • Let us not forget the ELT and its mounting hardware might well have been damaged before or when the 777 finally landed in the sea, and the depth of water in the area or subsurface terrain might well have masked any signals, assuming of course anyone was actively looking for signals at the time of its flight?

    • There are three pieces of evidence that aviation safety experts say make it clear the missing Malaysia Airlines jet was taken over by someone who was knowledgeable about how the plane worked.

      TRANSPONDER

      One clue is that the plane’s transponder — a signal system that identifies the plane to radar — was shut off about an hour into the flight.

      In order to do that, 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 National Transportation Safety Board. That’s something a pilot would know how to do, but it could also be learned by someone who researched the plane on the Internet, he said.

      ACARS

      Another clue is that part of the Boeing 777′s Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) was shut off.

      The system, which has two parts, is used to send short messages via a satellite or VHF radio to the airline’s home base. The information part of the system was shut down, but not the transmission part. In most planes, the information part of the system can be shut down by hitting cockpit switches in sequence in order to get to a computer screen where an option must be selected using a keypad, said Goglia, an expert on aircraft maintenance.

      That’s also something a pilot would know how to do, but that could also be discovered through research, he said.

      But to turn off the other part of the ACARS, it would be necessary to go to an electronics bay beneath the cockpit. That’s something a pilot wouldn’t normally know how to do, Goglia said, and it wasn’t done in the case of the Malaysia plane. Thus, the ACARS transmitter continued to send out blips that were recorded by the Inmarsat satellite once an hour for four to five hours after the transponder was turned off. The blips don’t contain any messages or data, but the satellite can tell in a very broad way what region the blips are coming from and adjusts the angle of its antenna to be ready to receive message in case the ACARS sends them. Investigators are now trying to use data from the satellite to identify the region where the plane was when its last blip was sent.

      GUIDED FLIGHT

      The third indication is that that after the transponder was turned off and civilian radar lost track of the plane, Malaysian military radar was able to continue to track the plane as it turned west.

      The plane was then tracked along a known flight route across the peninsula until it was several hundred miles (kilometers) offshore and beyond the range of military radar. Airliners normally fly from waypoint to waypoint where they can be seen by air traffic controllers who space them out so they don’t collide. These lanes in the sky aren’t straight lines. In order to follow that course, someone had to be guiding the plane, Goglia said.

      Goglia said he is very skeptical of reports the plane was flying erratically while it was being tracked by military radar, including steep ascents to very high altitudes and then sudden, rapid descents. Without a transponder signal, the ability to track planes isn’t reliable at very high altitudes or with sudden shifts in altitude, he said.
      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/16/malaysia-airlines-takeover_n_4972889.html

    • Possible but incorrect I think. The authorities stated ACARS and transponders were deactivated seperately during stable flight with intervals and a and a while before the aircraft turned.

      IMO a UA93 scenario is a possibility. The crew or others taking over the aircraft disabling the locators, changing course, the passengers noticing on their smart phones / probably turned off Airshow screen/Satcom inseatphone something was wrong, asking the crew, discussing and after some time (hours)/ panic taking action, finally breaking into the reinforced cockpit leading to a crash.. I hope I’m wrong.

  25. There is an old but accurate statement often made during and in this case after an accident, it is “Keep it Simple Stupid” I think all our imaginations are running away with us, when a simple but deadly event like an explosive decompression makes more sense than anything else?

    • Dennis, how do you explain the unwarranted deactivation of both the ACARS and transponders around the time of the ATC handover from Malaysia to Vietnam? It sure sounds like a premeditated act to me. If these guys were still alive and captured they would have a hard time to explain and justify their actions in court. On the other hand those well documented actions can easily be explained within a highjack scenario of some sort by the pilots, either of their own will or under duress.

        • A Dutch newspaper reported earlier this day that a message has been received from a Greek ship located in the Straits of Malacca, it was reported by the Greek vessel that they have picked up two suitcases and debris as yet unidentified was also seen.
          I would hate to say “I told you so”, especially in such trying circumstances and until we have more information everything is simply hearsay, but I believe we may well learn soon just where the a/c is thought to be.

  26. All the factors can be explained including the shutdown of the nav. and emergency systems in the few seconds following an incident, I mentioned in an earlier msg that the 777 a/c had been the subject of an AD, which concerned the possible presence of corrosion on the aircraft skin, while it is usually only a maintenance issue, remember what happened to the DH Comet in years gone by!
    again, KISS rules always apply!

    • The 777 is no Comet. And besides, MH370 was not concerned by this routine AD. Dennis, you need to review the sequence of events: it sure looks like it’s all part of a well executed master plan.

    • The UK Mirror has this story about Capt. Zaharie Ahmad Shah’s wife and kids moved out of their home the day before his final flight. It also talks about him being a political dissident, in a country known for corrupt politicians and suppressing political opposition.

      http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/missing-malaysian-airlines-flight-mh370-3248001

      I don’t know how reliable the Mirror is.

      But if Shah is a member of the opposition party, I can see this as a smear campaign against him and his political party by the political party in power in Malaysia. If this is true, then it is the government that has something to do with the B-77E’s disappearance and Shah is being blamed.

      If the Malaysian Government is involved with the disappearance of MH-370, that would explain why the RMAF allowed an unidentified aircraft to cross over the country unchallenged, overflying RMAF Butterworth AFB, in spite of its reported unusual maneuvers and erratic altitude changes. Malaysia is a muslim country, and it would probably not be difficult to find wanna be terrorists willing to be trained on B-777 systems and to die for the cause.

      • If it is true that the wife and kids moved out of the house the day before, this would fit well with previous scenarios of pilot suicidal actions like we have seen with Flight 185 and Flight 990. But it’s definitely too early to blame this action on religious extremists.

  27. Actually, in aviation circles, doesn’t ‘KISS’ mean ‘keep it silent, stupid!’, as everyone did for the first week after this huge aviation incident?

    And, as for the veracity and timeliness of FAA’s AD’s… uh, just a week ago FAA issued a final AD ordering Cessna light twins to post a placard to not fly in known icing conditions. Some of the impacted light twins are OLDER than FAA (pre 1958), and nearly all of these light twins are more than thirty years old. The icing fatalities began in the 1950′s. So, In the context of that weak and miserable AD performance, I would not get too excited about FAA’s issuance of the SATCOM cracking AD recently issued on B777′s. [As an aside, it looks like a pattern is emerging that the aircraft manufacturing processes may have evolved a bit too far, making many of an entire generation of commercial airliner models far too prone to skin cracking.]

  28. CNN said hours ago that they had reason to believe the final pings, one hour apart, were from approximately the same location.

    • They can locate the aircraft approximately by using the ACARS residual ping along with radar information. The combination of both will give an indication of where the aircraft might approximately be located an any given time. But I don’y know how accurate this operation was under the present circumstances. So far the radar tracking in that area does not seem to be very reliable. As to the ACARS residual ping it provides vital information that indicates the airplane is flying, or its engines are running. Again I don’t know how accurately the satellites can position the signal they are receiving from the ACARS in conjunction or not with radar data.

      Anyway, I can hardly imagine a Boeing 777 bearing the colours of Malaysian Airlines going unnoticed on the ground for more than a week. This is almost impossible. We have to keep in mind that the ACARS was deactivated shortly before the change of air space and the transponders were put on stand-by shortly after entering the new air space. If you reverse this sequence you will quickly be detected. But the way it was done it is obvious that it was deliberate. The crew wanted to use this transition period to disappear. Their plan was so well executed that in effect the airplane has totally disappeared for more than a week now!

      Personally I believe the truth will be uncovered at the bottom of the Indian ocean in the coming days or weeks.

  29. Please see my comment above regarding the reported discovery of suitcases and debris early on March 16th, this report was from a Dutch news outlet and is considered to be reliable.

    • Yes apparently some people on Reddit have spotted what appears to be aircraft debris in the same area where a Greek tanker spotted luggages floating on the surface. This coheres well with the scenario of an airplane ditching after running out of fuel. If this information is confirmed they will be able to concentrate their efforts in that specific area, taking into account the evolution of winds and currents. This would considerably reduce the range of the search and possibly help them locate the ELT more quickly.

        • These coordinates are just west of Pulau Perak Island, which is where the RMAF said a week ago they lost radar contact. This area was searched by the Indonesian and Malaysian Navy and Coast Guard, which turned up nothing.
          Just put 5°39’08.0″N 98°50’38.0″E into google Earth and you can see this is in the middle of the Malacca Strait.

        • We endured a full week on ‘non-information’. Now, we have to acquire a new concern — possible ‘mis-information’. Indeed, it would not be without precedent for some entities (or even just some odd individuals) to construct stories and details that support a needed or wanted final explanation.

          I looked at the two links (see Anfromme at 12:29am, and see Hamel at 4:54am above; times U.S. West Coast). The more interesting link shoed an apparent vertical image of water and a possible debris field at the specified coordinates. Allegedly, a closer inspection on site is happening, though the dearth of news coverage is puzzling. And, one has to wonder, if this aerial image is so compelling, why are the world powers not seeing it and swiftly acting on it? We now need to obtain another critical piece of data: when was that particular satellite/aerial photo taken?

          With Twitter and the evolved internet, it would be very easy for someone to produce and disseminate convincing evidence of an anthropological missing link, the Amelia Earhart crash debris, or MAS370. Or, evidence of an alien President, for that matter. We can (and some will) create a lot of noise and distraction. Respectfully, for the families and those apparently lost with the disappearance of MAS370, we should insist on full transparency and immediate production of all facts.

    • I just watched the latest press conference(0530 17 Mar est) and there was no mention of any found suitcases. I guess CNN or the BBC do not read dutch newspapers.

      • See my link above – that’s an English language source from Malaysia. So it’s not just Dutch language publications that carry the story.

        I do remain sceptical about these sightings until they are confirmed, though.
        Given the last week of often contradictory articles being published every other day I don’t particularly mind that this one isn’t immediately given worldwide media coverage. Although I do hope that it’s being checked out by the authorities.

    • I agree with you. This might become extremely significant information when this unprecedented mystery is finally resolved. Did the pilots act alone or under duress? Were the two pilots acting in consort or were they fighting each other? This identification would inform a highjacking scenario because at the time of this communication action had already taken place in order to reduce the aircraft’s signature in the sky. And immediately after the call more efforts were deployed to further reduce this signature.

      • Actually, not likely that there is any significance to the ‘good night’ VHF exchange; this is standard operating procedure between ATC and flight crews, when transitioning from radar control to non-radar control, as would likely happen on this flight while crossing the Gulf. And, all of this is recorded so, if the authorities wanted to, they could have released a copy of this for all of us to hear on the news and online, as early as nine nights ago.

        Another area where authorities are failing to produce releasable records is to clarify which ATC service provider had control of the flight, from what precise time and position to what next precise time and position. Especially for the portion of flight when it transitioned from ‘normal’ to ‘disappeared’. Charts show the flight would have been worked by Malaysia radar ATC, then worked by Singapore ATC (possibly non-radar, but also possibly with radar coverage for the first ten minutes or more), and eventually worked by Vietnam ATC. The transition of control would have occurred at fixes IKUKO (from Malaysia ATC to Singapore ATC) and just past IGARI (from Singapore ATC to Vietnam ATC). Whether radar or non-radar controlled, the flight would generate data and records that could easily fill many of the gaps in this now ten-day-old story. Here are links to the charts for that area…
        http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=malaysia+370+chart&qpvt=malaysia+370+chart&FORM=IGRE#view=detail&id=8EEFF194B1F100B23FE9A398F6BD255FCD72EEAB&selectedIndex=13
        or, with some limited analysis at:
        http://aireform.com/faa-history-records/reference-materials/news-archive/malaysia-flight-370-charts-the-filed-flightplan-and-a-few-notes/

        • What I had in mind, and I assume it is the same for Myo Thant, is which one of the two was handling the communications at this vital juncture. Was he the perpetrator or was he acting oblivious to what was unfolding? This kind of information could be linked to what we already know about those two individuals or to what we will eventually discover. As we are constructing a scenario, what appears as insignificant information early on could become a vital clue further on.

        • I appreciate your sense of humour. But just like your vegan meal example what might appear as insignificant information today could turn out to be a determinant. I believe that it is important to identify who was doing what at any given time. That is the only way to coalesce a scenario.

          Anyway this is a minor contention between you and me. Where I would like to offer a stronger opposition is in your appreciation of the way the authorities are handling this crisis. It is very easy to blame them for the chaotic diffusion of information, especially early on when nobody had a clue of what was going on. This is a much more complex situation than what we have seen with Flight 447. And the latter had already set a new standard for complexity.

          I have not noticed any degree of arrogance so far on the part of the authorities. On the contrary, they have consistently displayed humility and dignity. Could they have done better? Of course! But like the rest of us they were unprepared for this. Are they hiding vital informations? Possibly, even probably I would say. But they might have good reasons for doing so. But I remain open to the possibility that they are motivated by illegitimate concerns.

          The present situation reminds me of the Apollo 13 mission when the whole world was riveted to the daily broadcasts. I just hope MH370 will find a similar conclusion.

      • …Normand, it would be nice to be able to identify, was it the captain, the FO or someone else who said ‘good night’, but it is not likely relevant. We could also learn the gender of the flight’s purser, and how many vegan meals were provided by the caterer, but again it would not matter … unless, of course, the info on one of those vegan meals included a customized insertion of an item used to take over the flight (now THAT would be relevant — and never trust a vegan, for that matter!)(just kidding!).
        We need to understand that our questions today were asked nearly ten days ago, by authorities with access to real information on this flight. The data was collected and recorded. It could have been released to the world. There is absolutely no valid reason (in this day and age, where the internet can enable extraordinary, worldwide transparency) for authorities to be so opaque about this information. Their doing so only worsens the situation, breeding distrust and enabling the launching of rumor and mis-information. And, it is frankly cruel to the families.

        • Sorry, I have pressed the wrong reply button. Please check your previous post for a reply to this one.

  30. If the aircraft was commandeered to get lost, there would be two lines of thought, High impact to spread the wreckage as far as possible (making location of the parts more difficult), or, if you are going to leave it in the middle of no-where, as gentle a landing as possible (doubt there are many calm parts of the Indian Ocean mind), minimising flotsam which could indicate where the hull of the aircraft is.

  31. Sufficient info is now available on the internet including photographs which supposedly show parts of the 777 fuselage floating on or just below the surface, assuming and this is just an assumption, that sufficient wreckage can be seen then possibly the Flight Recorders are not too far away?
    The supposed photographs I have seen indicate to me that the 777 gradually ran out of fuel and landed, perhaps not too gently on the surface but slow enough that some hull wreckage can be reached and hopefully salvaged.

  32. New information is revealing that the ACARS last transmitted at 01:07 and was expected again at 01:37. But the last communication ended at 01:19 and the aircraft disappeared from radar at 01:21. This could possibly mean ACARS was turned off after the last call. We will only find out for sure if and when the Flight Data Recorder is retrieved.

    • Hi Normand/
      I firmly believe that Alice in Wonderland is now in charge of the all military and civil search units, your last sentence in your last posting is the only logical answer to this mystery!
      All the news outlets in the US are spending hours of TV time interviewing anyone from Mediums and Spiritualists to any stray pilot walking past the studio, to discover the TRUTH!

  33. I find this whole affair incredible, though it comes with history. I have nothing to do with the airline-engineering-running of one. I was in the advertising business and worked on the Air Canada account, but I had a wonderful uncle who was a Capt. on PanAm. Personally, I love ships, cars, planes. We had many great conversations; one being the shoot down of Korea B747. Mike, rip, claimed what Russia did was “barbaric”, but reminded me Russia shot a warning through the tail before bringing it down. He also said they drove their other B747 into a mountain a year+ before = don’t know what they’re doing. He was in Berlin airlift, and had nothing but praise for Russian pilots. He too was out of bounds sometimes! His favorite pilots were Israeli, American, British, and German. He clamed Asian airlines’ pilots could be arrogant-and Mike was not a prejudiced person. I live in Europe now, and just last year Singapore Airways was fined at Heathrow for lying about low fuel. Oh did Mike hate Tokyo! Thanks Leeham News! I’m learning something!

    • Interesting idea, and seemingly doable. My sense is the hardest part would be timing to somehow join up with another flight whose position could have scores of miles of uncertainty during the delicate minutes when the go/no-go is decided. That, and dodging radar prior to the hook-up, and while leaving the hook-up near the intended destination.

      If those researching this have solid data to work with, they should compile a plot of SIA068 at known MSA370 ping times, then check the fit-precision to the satellite arc. Also, check SIA068′s progress at those times, for reasonable cruise speed consistency. If that fits, then this theory gets a lot more interesting. Then, work back to the last known time/position of MAS370 (which should be available from Singapore ATC, and may be a fix such as IPURO) and pencil out a route/speed that might enable a hook-up with SIA068.

  34. The captain’s flight simulator was seized and its content was analyzed in order to find some information that could help the inquiry. So far they have discovered that he was training to land specifically at five airports in the region: Male International Airport, three airports in India and Sri Lanka and also one on Diego Garcia Island. All had a 1,000 meter runway.

    - Source: Les Echos.

    http://www.lesechos.fr/entreprises-secteurs/air-defense/actu/0203380158047-boeing-disparu-le-simulateur-de-vol-du-pilote-livre-ses-premiers-secrets-657795.php

  35. Normand, an interesting idea, but couldn’t it be an odd coincidence that he might practice landing on those particular airstrips? Wouldn’t he have known that if he ever tried land on a big conventional airstrip without a flight plan and without squaking an ID, the airliner would have been impounded instantly upon arrival? I suspect he stopped off somewhere like the Andaman Islands. The ACARS information could have been generated for awhile while parked on the surface after a wheels-up landing in a shallow area near a small island’s beach or in a flooded remote rice paddy.

    Notice that the two possible arcs shown on the map are drawn with the same radius from the satellite, and presumably, if that radius is correct, the MA370 could have stopped anywhere near one of those defined arcs that are actually just arcs of a single big circle drawn at a fixed distance from the satellite. In fact, if the MA370 were actually in motion during the hours the ACARS pinged it, it seems odd that it would be flying on a near-perfect circular course and not on some other course than a perfect circle. But why couldn’t it have been stationary on the ground somewhere near the origin of one of those arcs and kept responding until the power died or was shut off?

    On the other hand, Keith Ledgerwood’s concept posted earlier is interesting, if not equally far-fetched. He suggests MA370 (with its transponder shut off) could have shadowed another flight close enough to evade detection by military radars along a long route because it’s skin blip on a PPI could be indistinguishable from the skin blip of the other airliner that was squaking a legitimate ID, thereby assuming the ID of the other airliner without squaking anything itself. But would this course fit one of the arcs derived from the ACRS? Maybe not perfectly enough?

    • The only reason I posted this information is because it fits well with many people’s theories that the aircraft was purposefully diverted rather than crashed. I do not adhere to those theories but I thought it might feed the debate. It is the only new information we have today and I am afraid it will remain this way for some time.

      I think the authorities will probably withhold the information until they have located the aircraft. I hate to say this, but that is what I would do if I was in their position. They need to find the aircraft first and provide the explanations after.

      But in this day and age the information travels extremely fast and the pressure will be very high on the authorities to reveal what they know. They will say as little as possible until the interest fades away. But each rumour spread around the Internet will rekindle the fire. So it will be a difficult situation to manage.

      In the meantime the search will continue and will involve many nations. It will take a concerted effort to find this aircraft and politics will have to get out of the way.

  36. Connect the geopolitical dots, this was the world’s biggest ever robbery:
    SUICIDE: Nope! Just dive the plane right after takeoff
    MALFUNCTION: Nope! Transponder turned off and emergency beacon activated for salt water crash not detected.
    PLANE TO BE WEAPONIZED: Nope! Why go to all this trouble. Any old plane would do.
    HEIST: YES!!! Cargo manifest yet to be released. China is vacuuming up all the gold it can and must be transporting tons of the stuff EVERY MONTH BY AIR. Kuala Lumpur would be a natural origin/transit point for these shipments. This smells to me like a carefully planned gold heist. The plane landed at a remote WWll airfield, gold was unloaded and stored somewhere else. The pilots/highjackers knew about ROUTINE gold shipments and planned this well in advance. The Chinese government has not revealed that it was their gold as they are trying to keep their gold acquisitions/transportation secret. They are buying gold for the Yuan to eventually become the world’s reserve currency. They are also oriental and revealing the loss would be losing face.

    • Interesting theory, Roger. Your theory about Chinese gold aboard could be supported by how much effort the Chinese have put into finding the airplane, even if it is wreckage deep in the Indian Ocean. While it is true about 1/3 of the pax were Chinese, would the Chinese Government send so many assets, aircraft, warships, and satellites to find them?
      Could it be most, if not all of the Chinese passengers are in on this?
      If they did land somewhere, I would expect all of the pax and crew not involved with whatever it is, a heist, or whatever to have all been murdered. No one who would go through all this trouble to get whatever it is of value wants some 230+ witnesses hanging around. What about the plane? That is easy, they burned it at night so the smoke would not attract any attention.
      The mystery continues.

    • It is interesting indeed! This is the most complete and most beautiful summary I have seen so far. Thanks for posting the link thelpag!

      Normand

    • ACARS can be turned off from the cockpit by turning off the radio to which it is linked, a 777 instructor tells us. You don’t have to go into the electronics bay.

      The Emergency Locator Transmitter can also be turned off from the cockpit.

      • A rough valuation of a gold shipment on a Boeing 777ER:

        Payload 141,000 lbs (Boeing web site)
        300 passengers @ say 300lbs each (body + suitcases) = 90,000lbs
        141,000 – 90,000 = ~50,000lbs maximum cargo weight (corroborated at Air
        Canada’s web site)
        Gold at current market rate is trading at 1,300 USD/ounce
        50,000lbs = 800,000 ounces
        800,000 x $1,300 = $1,040,000 = ~ $1Billion

        In 2013 China imported ~ 1,000 tons of gold. This would require approximately 50 trips of this type (1,000 tons = 2.24M lbs. 2.24M÷50,000 = 48)

        So, the whole point is that:
        There would be a minimum of ONE trip a week to import 1,000 tons of gold per year.
        This frequency would draw the unavoidable attention of pilots (load distribution of heavy cargo in the hold) and most importantly baggage handlers (hmm! interesting!! — frequent, small, VERY heavy containers)
        ONE plane could carry up to 1BILLION USD of gold – so it’s worth a lot of thought and planning!!

        So this is what happened: Climb to 40,000ft >> depressurize the plane for 20 minutes >> kills all the passengers while the pilots are wearing pressurized oxygen masks >> leave the bodies on the plane while unloading the gold >> burn the plane at night to avoid tell-tale smoke from satellite >> hey presto! Plane has disappeared and they have the gold on a boat to ???.
        The perfect crime and VERY lucrative. They’ll get caught by selling the gold unless it gets laundered at a big discount by some rogue government. Lots of headroom for a big discount with ONE Billion $s in the swing. The principal focus should be on the baggage handlers in Kuala Lumpur and all the boats, not debris, in Indian Ocean!!

        So there. Makes the Great Train Robbery look like kindergarten.
        Roger

        • Gold in any form, including stamped bullion is untraceable. Gold can be melted and remelted an endless number of times and not loose any of its value. It can be cast into different bullion bricks, or just about anything else.
          Perhaps we should be looking at the usual suspects, the PDRK, Pakistan, Somalia, and Iran?

        • Basically, you are postulating a more grizzly version of the “Airplane ’77″ scenario, with heavy gold instead of light art. Burning the plane at night will have a nice, big heat/light signature to be picked-up by satellites. It will also, presumably, leave a roughly plane-shaped burn mark on the ground somewhere, and the plane will not be consumed completely. The robbery “ground” team would then, presumably have to wait around for the fire to burn-out to bury the unburned portions of the plane and shift dirt around to obscure/obliterate the burn marks. It also assumes that the plane will burn for only a few hours because they were racing the sunrise.

          50,000 pounds is perhaps two semis, so your landing strip has to be remote but still reachable by large truck, both to take-out the gold and to bring-in the heavy equipment likely needed to bury the post-burning remains/evidence of the airplane. (We’ll assume the heavy equipment will be left behind in the/a jungle next to the strip. The worse the road to the strip, the less one can probably put onto the trucks. A larger number of smaller vehicles means a larger crew. Same for doing the post-burn work with lighter equipment.

        • No need for a big landing strip — just some calm, reasonably shallow water on the lee side of a small uninhabited island, and a boat perhaps equipped with two cranes standing by awaiting arrival. It could grab the 777 after it belly-ditches gently, wheels up, the crane keeping it from sinking much, then the pirates could offload the gold using the other crane . But if this was the.plan, something must have gone terribly awry if MA 370 –and its cargo and its dead passengers and its pilots– are now RIP a couple miles down on the bottom of the South Indian Ocean.

        • Though I still haven’t cancelled my options on Alcoa stock Roger, your figures are pretty close, though conservative. China’s gross importation of gold in 2013 was 1,369t; net 1,158t. That’s the real stuff, not paper certificates, which zoom the amount to 100x of ‘real’ gold in the world. Zero Hedge shows how the price is also depressed: China buys when banksters depress it, to protect their paper money. Voila! Via paper transactions! Since it’s such a small amount of what the paper says, they must cough up the real stuff. China knows gold is not worth $1,300 an ounce, but more like $5g’s. Meanwhile, I’ve designed a tin hat in the style of a baseball cap. Any takers in my IPO? You can reach me on ‘facebook’-the only lie I’ve said on Leeham!

  37. On 16 Mar I proposed that this was a heist and predicted that the eventual movie will be called “The Great Plane Robbery”. Malaysian Air subsequently said at a press conference that there was nothing of extraordinary value on the flight. If there was gold on flight would they keep it secret and lie to the families? Possibly but it would leave them open to a huge law suit down the road. More importantly if they knew it was a robbery having planes search empty ocean would be a waste of search resources. We do know that it was not a full flight. They could have loaded 50 additional passengers on what is usually a sold out flight. That means they could have carried 15 tons more in cargo. It could be anything but if I had to bet I’d say that the plane landed at a remote air strip, is hidden in the jungle under nets and the cargo transferred to a boat.

  38. I confess that I have no knowledge about ACRS except what I read in newspapers and on the internet, but I know something about radar and data-transmission timing so I’m bothered by this report I found online:

    “A series of “handshakes” — or electronic connections — from the plane’s ACARS was transmitted to satellites for four to five hours after the transponder stopped sending signals, a senior U.S. official told CNN.”
    .
    I can imagine how timing details of a digital handshake can be analyzed to determine elapsed time from origin of a handshake request (if recorded or determinable) to the received completion of the handshake (if recorded and recoverable from the receiving end) can be used to establish the range (distance) between origin of handshake and a reply, knowing that the info is transmitted and received at around 400,000 meters per second (if I remember correctly).

    But apparently only one such determination of “range” was utilized to establish the two arcs still being showed as the possible route of the airliner after the skin-reflection response from radar contact was lost due to Earth’s curvature that limits coverage-distance from land-based radars using microwave frequencies that normally aren’t reflected back to the Earth’s surface (unless unusual atmospheric ducting occurs and bends the electromagnetic radiation back down). Presumably, the airliner had traveled or had landed or crashed along one of those two arcs (just part of a single big circle from the ACRS satellite).

    So I cannot understand why the timing of the several succeeding handshakes with the ACRS satellite (occurring over several additional hours) are not being analyzed to determine the MD 370′s range from the ACRS satellite over the several hours of more ACRS “handshakes” even if no data was being sent from the airliner. Lack of data is unfortunate, but why not find more range-distance points and draw more circles? Would there be a final range-circle that intersects the rough location of debris discovered by satellite optics and is now being searched by a flotilla of ships?

    However, I have noticed the recent addition of two new possible flight paths, closely spaced and pointed south toward the search area. Were these possible paths established from more range circles that I am hoping can be drawn centered on the ACRS satellite? One such circle based on the last “ping” that elicited a “handshake” response could help to limit the search area in trying to establish a crash site.

  39. By determining the elapsed time for each of the hourly handshakes between ACRS and MD 370, a series of concentric circles can be constructed with the ACRS satellite at the center. The radius of, each of those circles can be established according to the handshake’s elapsed time just as was done for the two arcs shown above that are actually two segments of the original circle drawn according to the handshake elapsed time when MD 370′s position was last known.

    The several concentric circles could be useful in several ways. If the radius of each successive circle were decreasing, this could indicate a flight path toward the ACRS satellite, therefor trending toward the west. If the radius of each successive circle were increasing, this could indicate a course trending away from the ACRS satellite, so, toward the east. Better yet, one of two possible courses can be established using the concentric circles.

    Based on an assumed ground speed for the 777, a vector (scaled in length according to the map scale) can be drawn from that last known location on the initial circle and rotated until the tip of that vector touches the second circle. Two vectors would need to be drawn from the origin on the first circle to an intersection with the second circle, one vector rotated clockwise the other counterclockwise,

    One of these vectors could provide a fair approximation of the course angle flown when departing from that last known position, the counterclockwise vector illustrating a possible course into the Bay of Bengal, the clockwise vector illustrating a possible course toward the South Indian Ocean. The angles of the two courses could be reset from circle to circle with diminishing accuracy as the hourly time progressed from one handshake to the next. But this concept could greatly reduce the size of the areas to be searched.

    And if two or more concentric circles were to fall atop each other, this would indicate that the 777 was stationary during those particular handshakes, so it had either landed somewhere or crashed. The area to be searched would be greatly reduced in this case.

    This concept is difficult to put into words and could be better understood with a graphical presentation of the concentric circles drawn on a map and showing the possible course vectors intersecting the successive circles

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