Just Updated Again! 3/23! #MH370 The Missing Plane – What I know from reading – Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370

Last Update: 3/25/14 10:00 PST

Newest update 3-24-14

MH370 declared lost in the Southern Ocean – Immersat Satellite data examined by British specialists – good overview by Ars Technica

Older updates

  • Were those photos of the stolen passport holders doctored? No. They were photocopied on top of one another.
  • Malaysia Airlines unwilling to release cargo manifest for MH370 SAR
  • Search area updated and moves 800km north. Awesome site for search areas here (.pdf format).
  • A really good overview of current information by the Telegraph.
  • The Telegraph‘s views on likely scenarios, ruling out a fire on the plane.
  • Last phone call to pilot from from a mystery woman with an pay as you go sim card phone.
  • Debris found so far is a pallet with strapping. It has not been tied to plane wreckage. No images were captured of it and a military PC Orion military plane dispatched to locate the pallet could not find it.
  • France has found satellite photos of debris.
  • The Malaysia Airlines briefing with the families was seven hours long.
  • German and American oceanographers are planning to deploy the world’s three unmanned Abyss type deep sea search submarines

3/22 – China has found an image of debris on satellite images. Slate has it here.

[concern is that images show debris which has a dimension which looks like a plane wing – but the width of the debris may be too wide to be a plane wing. Debris has yet to be seen IRL.]

3/19 – debris (two items) found on satellite (four days before that) were being looked for off the coast of Australia as possible remnants of MH370. The Guardian is doing a great rolling update on the progress of salvage and identification. There has still been no physical visual on this wreckage. The search is based out of Perth, Australia.

This is a good update on the current state of the search.

  • Slate has an interesting update on the Imersat Satellite data which would rule out Southern Route.
  • Indonesia says MH370 did not cross it’s airspace.
  • Cargo included Lithium Batteries (haven’t seen a number/weight) which can be classed as hazardous and have been known to start fires.
  • The final 54 minutes of conversation from the cockpit has been released. The Telegraph has the transcript here.

_______________________

Because I’ve been following the bits and pieces on Twitter for days now, I thought I’d assemble a list of what we’ve been told and what didn’t likely happen. I’m pretty frustrated with the lack of clarity by social network users –  not to mention the media. I should mention I’m not an expert in anything related to aviation or planes. This is merely based on hours of reading online.

Here’s a basic overview of facts, assembled from what I’ve read:

  • Last satellite ping was at 8:11am by my calculations that’s 6hrs and 41m after last contact at 1:30.
  • Plane had enough fuel to fly further. Up to 3000 miles at 30,000ft
  • If the plane crashed the pings would stop and there would be a beacon alert. Pings stop after electrical turned off – not after landing.
  • The transponder was likely turned off before the last contact with the plane (this is murky on timing – sources inconsistent).
  • The plane turned northwest and was near the North Malacca Strait at 2:15a
  • Someone on the plane had significant skill and experience to fly a 777 by gps landmarks and disable the devices.
  • Ascent to 45000 ft would not knock out anyone unless the cabin was depressurized and it would not structurally damage the plane. If the plane actually ever went to 43oooft which is questionable – the data isn’t solid that this actually happened.
  • To land the plane ideally needs a 5000ft long runway – and a runway that would not be at a major or minor commercial airport (or it would have been already found.)
  • One of the flight crew *also* had a flight simulator (as well as the pilot).
  • The ‘fact’ that 4-5 people didn’t show up for the flight and had their baggage removed appears to be an urban myth. 4 people didn’t check in.
  • Cargo manifest I haven’t seen. I have seen there was 3-4 tonnes of mangosteens on board and no hazardous cargo.
  • India sometimes turns off their military radar to save money. Reuters.
  • 4 People were onboard with stolen passports – 2 we know about – 2 we haven’t been given details on. “It appears that four of the passengers on the flight were traveling on false passports, two of which were stolen in Thailand.”
  • The Flight Plan was manually changed – as per the New York Times.
  • China now looking for the plane within their borders.

Some Speculations

  • The most *popular* theory running around is that the plane ran out of fuel and crashed after mechanical/electrical failure and/or fire from Chris Goodfellow
  • This one Punches holes in Goodfellow’s Theory – A Pilot Answers Lingering MH370 Questions
  • Slate has posted an excellent rebuttal to Chris Goodfellow’s theory here.
  • One of the best overviews of all the speculations I’ve seen so far from the BBC News.
  • The plane did not land at a large commercial airport – the means that map of the 630+ airport dots is really another red herring. The airstrip would have to have little traffic/personnel OR be in a militarized area that would not report the landing. That might reduce that number by 90% or more (that’s a number I pulled out of the air – I have no idea how many airstrips fall into that category and I would love to know.
  • Landing on a highway would be possible – but then what would they do with the plane afterwards?
  • The plane shadowed another plane like the flight from Singapore to Amsterdam – KLM836 or Singapore to Spain SIA68?
  • The search is in the southern part of the arc is likely a red herring
  • One of the more viable shadowing speculations.
  • Maldives residents spotted a low flying jet. (this has been discredited as of 3/21)
  • The Thai Military thinks that they spotted the plane passing Butterworth.
  • Fisherman say they spotted the plane on the night it disappeared.
  • Loving the “What If” process of Tim Robinson on Twitter trying to beat the radar.

My Rebuttal to the Most Often Tweeted Scenario by that Chris Goodfellow:

This does not address that the electrical system had to be functioning well enough for the satellite system to ping it at 8:11a. I’m not an expert. Maybe it’s tied to the engine – but that’s not what I’ve read elsewhere. The concept is the plane could be on the ground and the satellite would still ping as long as the electrical system was not turned off.

It also does not address the manually input flight plan change (per NYT).

If the ACARS and transponder were manually shut off – wouldn’t you think the pilot would send out an SOS?  If there was a fire – you would think one of the passengers would have texted/FB/emailed? Look at the timing of the ACARS and transponder turn off and the last voice contact – the timing is wrong if this is a mechanical failure/electrical failure/fire. Why no SOS?

If the plane tried to land at Pulau Langkawi or near by it would likely have already been found.

It does not address the dramatic first change in the flight path or the final arc of possible flight path.

If the plane crashed, hopefully the beacon would have triggered at least on deceleration if it was running out of fuel?

If the #1 thing the pilot is supposed to do is to land, then water would be the next best choice for a runway, wouldn’t it? That’s if the crash theory holds any water at all.#notconvinced

A couple of good links

I’m following the discoveries on Twitter if you want to connect with me there.

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