Additional thoughts on MH370 as mystery deepens

Latest: The debris spotted in the ocean near the oil slick is not from MH370, officials say.

The mystery deepens on the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370–there still is no sign of debris or the airplane, some 36 hours after it disappeared.

We have some additional thoughts, none of which should be considered as suggesting this is what happened, but only as possibilities to probe.

  • The absence of any debris along the intended flight path seems to suggest the airplane deviated from the flight path. If the plane was destroyed at altitude, as if from a bomb or catastrophic structural failure, debris, such as seat cushions, blankets, insulation, and even bodies, would be been found quickly. See TWA Flight 800 for an example of this (though it came apart while still climbing to cruise altitude). If the plane was intact on impact, debris would have been found. See Air France 447 or Alaska Airlines 261 as examples.
  • If the plane deviated from the flight path, then this suggests it obviously was under command of either the pilots or hijackers. But then what? Even after turning off the transponder, one would expect that at some point, primary radar contact would have been made, even if not immediately recognized as such. Investigation will certainly follow this path to determine any primary radar contact was established.
  • If the plane was under command, what happened to it? In theory, it could have been flown to an airport but then what? If the airport is in use, a Boeing 777 is rather obvious. If flown to a disused airport, to what end? To hold the plane and passengers for ransom? If so, it’s hard to collect ransom when you don’t tell anyone.
  • On the other hand, if the plane was being hijacked and flown somewhere, were the hijackers incompetent fliers, crashing the airplane into some remote mountains?
  • After 9/11 it is unlikely that any hijackers could have cowed the passengers into doing nothing while taking control of the airplane. Certainly this being a red-eye flight means most passengers probably immediately tried to sleep but somebody would have observed an attempt to take over the airplane and raised the alarm. The fact that four passengers now appear under scrutiny is also intriguing: four or five passengers were involved in the 9/11 hijackings.
  • But if hijacked, why hasn’t anyone claimed responsibility? The point of terrorists is to terrorize, not shroud an event in puzzlement and mystery.

How can a plane simply vanish? An ex-American Airlines Boeing 727-200 did so, and it seems to have been a criminal act. Air and Space Magazine recently had an update on this story.

22 Comments on “Additional thoughts on MH370 as mystery deepens

  1. Thank you for your update. Good points.
    Yes I believe/hope the plane is somewhere not under water and possibly safe. It sounds like a conspiracy triller this disappearance at night of a super tech airliner.
    Like the Fossett world wide search over google earth please promote the same suggesting the government to release satellite photography or access to us to launch a global Internet search.

    • Yes. I Agree in this case it could be a hijacking. People on an aircraft who had stolen passports is very suspicious. Just what if hijackers were able to shut down all tracking systems on board and have figured out a way to hide from current tracking technology ,it has been said the pilots have to check in with a air traffic controller because they lose radar contact. So in that being said how do we know the plane didn’t fly low and fast to a remote location somewhere. The aircraft had 1 hour to go in any direction it chose and could have landed anywhere or could have kept on flying low within the fuels capacity to reach farther away from where everyone thinks. A steep decent after the last communication to that 1 hour check in that never came would be plenty of time for evading being detected. In my opinion I would be searching every hen house,doghouse, and outhouse till that plane is found. Cant even feel safe in this world its a sham. A plane that size also could become a big weapon used against any country. Look at 9/11 what was done. What if a plane was loaded up with chemical or biological or even nukes.

  2. I note that on the PPrune forum- the 4 false passports announcement was corrected by officials and revised back to two false. That forum has a lot of good info by professionals ( and also a few flakes. )

  3. As I understand it, the search area has been expanded to 1000 sq. miles (approx. 50 X 20) of Gulf of Thailand ocean. I do not know if this is the same area where the Vietnamese Air Force spotted oil slicks. There is also the rumor the airplane turned off course, possibly turn back, but no ATC clearance was requested or given, nor was any contact made with the airline HQ.

    But, so far everything regarding where the airplane is or what happened to it is just speculation..

  4. It looks less and less likely that it crashed within the expected area. There is simply too much debris that would float just as it did in AF447.
    High-jacking seems unlikely but obviously not the normal perception,
    From the realms of thriller novels could it have been stolen?
    About 2,500 miles of range at a low altitude could put it in all sorts of unlikely places.
    I guess the cargo manifest would have been an early check, but they have been known to lie, and Malaysia has a very active gold market.

  5. In the nightof the 9th march vietnam serch/rescue releace a photo of a part floating in the gulf of Thailand dispite darkness was discover by a twin otter of the Vietham coast guard at position N8.792E103.374 31KM S/SW of THO CHO.R.I.P

  6. The lack of debris field or crash site is astonishing or beyond belief . This is going into the third day and its 10:48 am (6:pm AK) and zip other than a few tidbits.

    Suicide would have been a possibility but I researched the Egyptian Air crash and if I am interpreting the report right, there were two significant debris fields. That seems to rule that out (the Trans Air crash is the only larger aircraft I found that made a zero debris on impact and that had rear engines and short wing though it was amazing to see how small a crater there was). I don’t see a large aircraft doing the same and all the evidence says they don’t. AK airlines not a good one simply because it wobbled in. AF is a good one as it would be the one scenario where a plane can disappear quickly off radar but again lots of debris.

    How could someone overwhelm a crew fast enough and turn the transponder off so it disappeared and then do what? Blown up debris would have been spotted (bomb, suicide on bomb timed, fuel tank explosion).

    This is just more and more strange.

    The hi-jack idea seems to be the only scenarios to get it out of area (other than a nutso pilot dong the same) but its been down for 2.5 days and nada.

    Vietnam report kept harping on spotting a composite door (yesterday at end of day). That’s absurd as the picture is a white thing with a hole which could be anything to start with and also absurd to ID it as composite. I expect that is the same as the fuel slick no one seems to have taken a sample of to ID.

    One wild speculator had it stuck in the mud (generally 60-100 meters depth at the loss of signal location though it obvious is shallower towards any shoreline).

    • “The lack of debris field or crash site is astonishing or beyond belief”.

      It’s frustrating but we should give them some time. It took several days before the first parts of AF447 were found:

      > June 1: the A330 jet went missing
      > June 3: first debris was spotted
      > June 6: first bodies were found
      > June 7: first major piece (vertical stabilizer) was found


      • Yes, most of the Navy and Coast Guard ships in the search can detect to pingers from the DFDR and DCVR.
        No, I don’t think there was a slow decompression. The cockpit has a warning light and cabin altitude gauge, and deployment of the cabin oxygen masks for the pax is automatic, based on cabin altitude.
        Until the piece of debris spotted by the Vietnamese Coast Guard is recovered, there is no way to confirm it came from MH-370. Even if this debris is from the B-77E, it does not indicate it is anywhere near the actual debris field. Ocean currents and winds can easily move light weight debris tens or hundreds of miles. For example a 3-4 knot current can move it anywhere between about 70-100 nm in a 24 hour period. This piece was discovered some 48 hours after whatever it was happened to MH-370.
        This search is much different than the search for AF-447 in that the Gulf of Thailand is a smaller area than the mid Atlantic, and more SAR resources have gotten to the area faster than the SAR afford for AF-447.
        All of this leads me to believe the wreckage is much further to the east, if it is in the water, or it crashed on land in Thailand to the west or northwest, or Cambodia to the north.
        My theory is the political unrest in Thailand has something to do with this tragedy. I point to the fact the two stolen passports were stolen in Thailand, and two tickets were sold by CZ in Pattaya, Thailand just two days before the flight. Both tickets were sold at the same time, indicating that whoever purchased them knew each other. Interestingly their are no Thai citizens on the manifest, nor are any pax listed as Italian or Austrian.

        This is just a theory, and I have nothing to prove my theory.

  7. In July 2011, an Egypt Air 777 had a serious oxygen system fire in the cockpit while on the ground and readying for departure in Cairo, Egypt.
    Interesting to note, the flight deck experience is almost exactly the same in both instances, but that is more a coincidence than anything else.
    As a long time 777 driver, this is one of the few scenario’s that seems to fit (and I am only offering another possible explanation) of what could’ve gone wrong. The lack of ATC comms, and sudden loss of transponder and other electrical devices would surely fit this scenario, plus a failed attempt to make a quick turn back towards land or a known airfield before having to abandon the cockpit. As for debris field, we all can only speculate what a debris field would look like if an airliner went into the water in a flat trajectory, or simply nose first at a high rate of speed. Additionally, without anyone in the cockpit, and the airplane on autopilot.. with severe electrical problems… it would only be a matter of time before the autopilot failed also, and “glided” if you will, for any number of miles, putting the current search area and debris area difficult to calculate.
    I have flown this area of the world many times… and the ATC comms, and radar are “spotty” at best. Just my two cents.

  8. Explosion in the air appears unlikely as debris would have been plenty and close to the point of last contact.

    I still think that the explanation requiring the least amount of assumptions is the most likely one. A hijacking and flight to a remote airport appears very unlikely in my eyes. Large aircraft, many passengers, little reason to do so.

    If the aircraft deviated from its flight path, it easily covers 100+km in a powerless glide before impacting. That increases the area to 200x200km, kind of tough to search. But there should be some form of evidence within the next 24 hours.

    • I agree with your assessment about a mid-air explosion.. and I cringe when I see so called experts talk in the media about a huge explosion blowing the aircraft to tiny bits and thus no airplane parts to find… rubbish!
      It would seem much more likely that a small (if any) debris field would be formed by an intact aircraft traveling at a high rate in a nose down attitude.
      Though I didn’t describe very articulately in my previous post… if for whatever reason, the pilots (both) became incapacitated or were forced to leave the cockpit due to an uncontrolled fire, the autopilot would continue to guide the aircraft until the autopilot system failure. At that point, the aircraft still has 100’s of miles to glide before a final impact. (The question then becomes… which direction to start looking…based on the “report” of a possible turn around). The lack of ACARS, lack of transponder, lack of communications, could all be attributed to a sudden uncontrolled fire in the cockpit. Thus my association with the Egypt Air oxygen fire scenario.
      All the attention being played towards a terrorists scenario, though possible, I feel is a wild goose chase… this area of the world is rampant in drug trades, and the issue of lost/stolen passports… tickets being purchased together (from Pattaya, Thailand of all places)… Visa free travel through China if follow on travel is purchased (so called suspects had follow on ticket purchases to AMS-CPH and AMS-FRA I believe)… all smells more of the drug trade (Thailand to China) more so than terrorism.
      With regards to ATC radar tracking… With no functional transponder, or ADS-B failure caused by uncontrolled fire in the cockpit, an airplane becomes basically invisible except for a faint “primary radar target”. That target is easily lost, or unreliable…. even under the best of situations.
      I personally am not buying the “scary boogyman” terrorists theory… and feel in the future we will find it was probably a system failure, of some sort in the aircraft, which rendered it incapable of flight and communication with the ground.
      Sorry for not going along with the conspiracy theories, just a more practical explanation I believe is forthcoming..
      Again, just my two cents…

  9. I don’t think anyone has mentioned slow decompression as a possible cause yet. If the crew were unaware of it that might explain the lack of an emergency call but not the course change if the a/c was on autopilot – but then people suffering from hypoxia do start to behave strangely.

  10. Presumably any naval ships in the area should be able to detect the black box locator signal if under the water!?

  11. There are a number of inconsistencies in the reporting of the MH370 disappearance. Firstly reference is made to radar, this is not normal radar as people understand but is Secondary Surveillance Radar (SSR). The ground station sends an encoded signal and the aircraft responds (Transponder). Should the crew turn off SSR then the aircraft becomes invisible. The same is the case for the automated reporting system that connects the aircraft to flight operations – this is called ACARS. This can also be disabled i.e. the aircraft is now totally invisible especially in this area where normal or primary radar is the exception rather than the rule. We then have reports of the aircraft perhaps turning, there is no mayday call, but there is also no wreckage and no signals from the black box. There are however at least 2 if not 4 persons on board with stolen passports. Lets think a little outside the box. Just suppose that the a/c was hijacked. Lets also assume that the hijackers were very familiar with the 777 and knew enough to jettison some fuel in the south china sea before changing course and thus mislead the rescue mission. The a/c then reappears miraculously at a landing strip NW of where the last contact took place., perhaps up to 5 hours away. This gives us a search area of around 2000 km from the presumed point of impact. This story is certainly not yet over and I sincerely hope that all passengers are safe and well. Finally what lies within 2000 km of the last position report and has political or idealogical difficulties – please do your own research! When the probable does not fit, consider the improbable. I honestly expect something like this to have taken place.

  12. Here is an idea from an amateur theoretical inventor:
    In order to mitigate total loss of blackbox data, it seems to me a simple, new system could be designed, produced, and installed with a relatively small investment. In the event of catastrophic flight avionics or emergency indicators (altitude, speed, fire, oxygen, etc), a series of small blackbox units could be deployed from the tail of the aircraft. These units, the size of smart phones, would gather continuous data and then be jettisoned in 30 second intervals in stages, similar to rockets being launched into orbit. One by one, each pod would be released or shot from a tube like a roman candle. Then, each unit would float to the ground or ocean by parachute, and/or bounce on the ground protected by an inflatable cushion – or float on the water. Not only would this provide a failsafe system to retrieve data, but would also show investigators the flight path like tracers leaving bread crumbs. Not only would they provide black box data, they could also serve as GPS transponders. I’ve always wondered why some kind of system like this has never been designed.

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