Sixty Minutes Australia Story on MH370 is a Sensation

On Sunday night, Sixty Minutes Australia aired an episode on the disappearance of MH370. Included was a panel of five experts, consisting of Canadian crash investigator Larry Vance, US air safety expert John Cox, British airline captain Simon Hardy, former ATSB commissioner Martin Dolan, and Australian oceanographer Charitha Pattiaratchi. Before airing, the episode was heavily promoted with teasers claiming there would be “groundbreaking revelations”, the “passengers’ final seconds”, and a “forensic twist”.

Unfortunately, after watching the episode twice, I found nothing in the way of new evidence or insights. What I did see were some of the experts confusing speculation with facts, and cherry-picking evidence to support their pet theories while carefully omitting contradicting evidence.

Despite the obvious shortcomings of the episode, the mainstream media is covering it extensively with headlines like “Experts Have Finally Solved the Mystery Behind the MH370 Disappearance”. The sensational nature of the story makes it attention-grabbing, and hiding behind the Sixty Minutes brand name, there is little or no attempt to fact-check.

A large part of the episode was devoted to Larry Vance’s theory that the captain hijacked the plane and flew it to the SIO to hide it. That plan included a successful ditching with the engines running and the flaps extended, leading to the sinking of the aircraft with the fuselage intact. (This “new” theory was already presented by Mr Vance in a Sixty Minutes story that aired in July 2016.) This ditching would produce only a small amount of floating debris. Mr Vance also refers to the damage to the trailing edges of the right flaperon and right outboard flap and the lack of damage to the leading edges of those parts. He believes this pattern of damage conclusively shows that there were hydrodynamic forces as those parts were dragged across the water surface during the ditching.

What was omitted is that we do have pieces of evidence that refute some of Mr Vance’s claims, and should at least cast a shadow of doubt on many of his conclusions. Briefly,

  • Crash investigators at the ATSB have examined the right flaperon and the right outboard flap that were recovered and determined that some damage on both parts was caused by mutual contact, and the location of that contact could only occur with the flaps retracted.
  • Recovered parts from the passenger cabin show deformation from a high energy impact and not a successful ditching.
  • The final log-on of the SATCOM at 00:19 suggests there was a disruption of electrical power to the SATCOM, which is consistent with fuel exhaustion of both engines, and not a ditching with the engines running. It’s not clear in his scenario what caused the log-on.
  • The damage to the trailing edges of the flaperon and flap could have been caused by aerodynamic forces occurring during a high speed descent. The lack of damage to the leading edges can be explained by separation of these parts from the aircraft prior to impact with the ocean.

Strangely, in the episode, Martin Dolan does not challenge Mr Vance’s scenario with the contradictory evidence published by the ATSB. Perhaps those challenges were made, and they were not included in the episode. Or, perhaps Mr Dolan is not sufficiently familiar with the technical analyses of the ATSB where he could confidently refute some of Mr Vance’s claims.

The theories of Simon Hardy also were featured in the episode. Mr Hardy, like Mr Vance, believes that the captain hijacked the plane, but he believes the plane glided a long distance after fuel exhaustion rather than a ditching with the engines running. The possibility of a glide suggests a crash location at a distance from the 7th arc that is well beyond what was searched. His claim that military data shows that MH370 was flown along the borders of Malaysia and Thailand is presented as shocking new evidence, when in fact the turnback flight path across the Malay peninsula has been known to the public within weeks of the disappearance, and the implications have been widely discussed. (The precise flight path flown as captured by civilian radar has only been recently published, and was the subject of the preceding blog post.) Mr Hardy also demonstrated on a flight simulator that it is possible for a skilled pilot to recover from a high speed descent that matches the satellite data, which was not in dispute, although he does downplay the importance of gently working the controls and applying speedbrakes to help arrest the descent and prevent overloading of the lift and control surfaces. (Why a pilot would first enter into a steep descent, then recover and maximize the gliding distance, was not explained.) At another point, he claims to know exactly where MH370 crashed, although he neglects to state that all drift models suggest a crash point much further north.

In the episode, Mr Hardy once again promotes his theory that MH370’s flight path as it flew south of Penang Island shows indication that the captain turned to the right, lowering the right wing, and allowing the captain to have a final, sentimental view of Penang before leaving Malaysia forever. In fact, using the recent radar data, we can deduce that at the point of closest approach to Penang, MH370’s wings were either level or only slightly banked. After passing Penang, there was a turn to the right followed by a turn to the left, but to conclude that this was an emotional farewell is pure speculation, and weakens his theories.

Although I disagree with some of Mr Vance’s and Mr Hardy’s conclusions, I am in general agreement that the disappearance was likely an intentional diversion and not likely the result of a series of mechanical failures. After reviewing many accident scenarios proposed by some very bright minds, I have yet to see an accident scenario that did not require a sequence of very unlikely events. On the other hand, a deliberate diversion requires no unlikely events, even if we might not understand the motivation for many of the intentional actions.

If the diversion was intentional, the captain becomes the likely suspect, as he had the skill and the best opportunity to divert the aircraft. In addition, as discussed and analyzed in a previous blog post, the incriminating evidence found on his home computer of a simulated flight to the Southern Indian Ocean would be an extraordinary coincidence if the captain was not somehow involved in the disappearance.  There is certainly not enough evidence for a legal determination of guilt. However, I believe there is sufficient evidence to make him the prime suspect.

Perhaps the Sixty Minutes episode did have value in that it did not shy away from presenting what many believe is the most likely scenario, even if some of the conclusions from the experts were either unfounded or premature.

The episode comes at a time when Ocean Infinity is in the final weeks of the seabed search for MH370. If not found, and if there is a willingness to conduct additional searches next year, a decision has to be made whether to prioritize areas along the 7th arc that are further north, or to revisit previous latitudes but search further away from the arc, or to revisit areas that might have been insufficiently scanned previously.  A strong case for the possibility of a glide after fuel exhaustion would support searching wider (+/- 100 NM) from the 7th arc.  Unfortunately, the size of the search becomes unreasonably large unless there is rationale to support a narrow range of latitudes along the 7th arc.

On a final note, I have been asked whether the defeat of the incumbent party in the recent Malaysian elections could lead to a more thorough investigation of the events surrounding MH370. Although it is possible, the winning candidate and former Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamad, has previously supported the unlikely theory that MH370 was diverted remotely using secret Boeing technology embedded in the flight controls. While this might indicate his willingness to challenge the official narrative, it also might demonstrate his willingness to use the MH370 for political gain rather than seek the truth. Meanwhile, his heir-apparent, former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, had family and political ties to MH370’s captain, and those ties might taint future investigations. On a positive note, it is possible that any whistleblowers that were previously reluctant to come forward might now feel less threatened.

219 Responses to “Sixty Minutes Australia Story on MH370 is a Sensation”

  1. Richard Godfrey says:

    @Gerald, you asked about my tracking of SC in the previous post.

    I download data from a subscription web site from a company called Big Ocean Data, which tracks all ships, including Seabed Constructor, via satellite data they transmit to Inmarsat, giving their latitude, longitude, speed, course, etc. on average 360 times per day.

    Here is an example Excel file for the current tour:

    I then create a .kmz file to import the track into Google Earth.

    I then look for the points where SC is stationary at a location for a while and work out whether an AUV launch, AUV check or AUV pick up is taking place. To remain in the same position, SC is usually at a speed below 1 knot, depending on the weather. If SC is stationary for longer than around 6 hours, then a ROV deployment could be underway. The ROV winch runs at a speed of 0.5 m/s, so a depth of 4,000m would take 2h 13m just to lower an ROV to the sea floor and another 2h 13m back to the surface.

    An AUV launch is usually followed by a period of 2 to 3 hours, depending on operating depth, where SC follows the AUV until it reaches the assigned operating depth. The normal operating speed of an AUV is around 3.6 knots, so it is easy to see, when SC keeps to a speed around 3.6 knots for a period of 2 to 3 hours.

    The AUV battery lasts around 60 hours, so an AUV is usually picked up after 55 hours. This can be shorter depending on the search pattern. For a search width of 22 NM, you can expect that the AUV goes out and back for 44 NM and repeats the cycle for 88 NM, 132 NM or 176 NM. After 176 NM at 3.6 knots, you can expect the AUV to be picked up after 49 hours at operating depth, plus 2 to 3 hours down and another 2 to 3 hours up, totalling up to 55 hours. It then usually takes at least 12 hours before the AUV is ready for the next launch. Depending on the sea floor terrain, the AUV speed can vary from 3.2 to 3.8 knots, so the deployment cycle shortens or lengthens.

    Ocean Infinity normally leave a few hours between successive AUV launches and may delay further launches if the weather is bad. Ocean Infinity also usually check on an AUV once or twice during the nominal 55 hour cycle. It is interesting to see where SC stops to check and then try to work out which AUV is at that point after say 24 or 36 hours. From this information, you can then work out the search pattern currently adopted.

    Recently we have seen the search pattern change a few times, depending on the sea floor terrain. Sometimes AUVs are launched at the 7th Arc, sometimes at the 22 NM outer bound S.E. or inner bound N.W.

    My apologies for a long answer to a simple question.

  2. Jerry M says:

    I have followed this mystery from the beginning because it is so compelling and hopefully will be solved one day. However, I only follow it via this blog anymore because it is so well moderated and the technical discussions interest me even if I don’t understand it many times. In this day and age of media sensationalizing everything, your measured, careful and fact based wording is remarkable and appreciated (and yes, I know you are not media). Thank you for the good work.

  3. DennisW says:

    @Ge Rijn

    Some of you are starting to look like frustrated bad losers.

    Being a bad loser is a normal human personality trait. Kahneman and Tversky were able to show that the joy of winning is not symmetrical with the pain of losing (which is greater). I have applied this principle to my investment decisions and personal relationships with great success.

    As far as MH370 is concerned I have no emotional involvement with the disappearance itself or the search strategy. No one has asked me for any advice on where to search. If I was asked, I would advise not to search at all as I have stated here many times. Of course, that is based on hard and cold decision theory as applied by a coin-operated person like me.

  4. Gysbreght says:

    Victor Iannello said: “Strangely, in the episode, Martin Dolan does not challenge Mr Vance’s scenario with the contradictory evidence published by the ATSB.”

    Martin Doland was ‘sidelined’ by the program producers. Found this analysis interesting (Suzie Crowe on the ‘other’ blog):

  5. TBill says:

    The 60 Minutes Aussie episode probably stands the test of time, not for the questionable opinionated details, but for finally giving the public the message that MH370 was an apparent intentional diversion by the pilot. It would have been nice to embrace this apparent accident cause before a suicidal Germanwings pilot took down another load of innocent passengers, but we as a society seem to demand 100.0% proof before changes are made.

    Yes if we ever get more information, we can reassess if the preliminary likely cause finding holds up. But that should not be an excuse for letting more cases happen.

    Safety does not require waiting for an accident to happen. In this case, a HAZOP review before the flight could have shown the vulnerability to rouge pilot. Now we can do a HAZOP review after the MH370 accident, we can clearly see the evidence (not final proof) but we can clearly see many pilot actions were taken consistent with a rouge pilot hijacking the aircraft. Why the heck do we need more proof at this point to take corrective actions?

    Unfortunately there is a reason we need more proof, and I cannot quite put my finger on it, but basically the aviation industry gets a lot of support from the public and other professionals. If this was a petrochemical plant that exploded and unintentionally killed 239 people, that plant manager would be in jail and the company would probably be put out of business. Here we have an apparent *intentional* act, and the public is ambivalent.

    I think it probably has to do with human risk perception, basically we are outraged about risks we do not agree with, but happy to accept certain risks. At the moment the airline industry enjoys support, in part because of comparison with with the awful death toll of auto accidents. But that is probably not the correct way to look at it.

    It will probably not be possible to refute the 60 Min Aussie story with an alternate cause theory, because there is no apparent alternate cause explanation that fits the facts very well. Yes we can argue some facts given were inaccurate.

  6. Victor Iannello says:

    @Jerry M: Thank you for your comments.

  7. Victor Iannello says:

    @TBill: Even if we were 100% certain that the captain diverted and hid the plane, what can be done to prevent a future incident?

  8. Ge Rijn says:


    Thanks. I’ll look those names up. Sounds interesting.
    Sometimes I regret I did not take your position. But this is impossible for me to do I know.

  9. formula says:

    I fully echo Jerry M’s remarks second above. I value this blog for its incisive commentary and quality information. My thanks @ Victor and also to the many regular contributors.

  10. TBill says:

    After Germanwings of course, more global airlines went to two-in-cockpit rule to help prevent the lock-out scenario. That is an example of a “procedure” solution.

    Many feel the radar transponder should not be designed allow turn off during flight, or as I would say, at least not allow a secretive turn off of the transponder. That would be an example of a “design” change.

    Presumably there could be a long list of proposed procedure or design changes. Controversial of course since industry is not receptive. Some things are already in progress like 24-hr voice recorder, and tracking technology.

  11. Victor Iannello says:

    @TBill: As you know, there are safety ramifications if the crew cannot disable the transponder. I don’t think the aviation industry would allow it.

  12. Don Thompson says:


    Would it be possible that you retrain your device’s spelling auto-correct to prioritise ‘rogue’ over ‘rouge’?

  13. TBill says:

    …sorry I try to fix in the future

    I don’t want to give a long list right now, but the way I look at it, we probably cannot make it impossible to intentionally do the bad things: dive into the ground, depressurize the aircraft, etc.

    But we do not have to ignore the possibility either. Remove some of the window of opportunity and temptation. Next time, make it be that we knew what was being done intentionally, not a temptation to allow secretly carrying out such a plan. Something in the human spirit takes satisfaction in “hacking” the system to show the obvious weaknesses we let happen due to laziness, so at least make it be more difficult.

  14. Sabine Lechtenfeld says:

    @TBill, even if the transponder couldn’t be turned off – how could that prevent pilots from going rogue (I turned autocorrection off btw, so all mistakes are mine alone)? It would only prevent pilots from hiding the plane. And I don’t think that this specific scenario deserves a lot of preventive measures.
    The case of Andreas Lubitz bothers me personally much more than ZS’s case. There were tons of red flags that Lubitz was losing his mind. He had visited a string of doctors who had attested that he was unfit for flying for various reasons. But no one intervened, since the confidentiality between doctor and patient is taken very seriously in Germany. Lubitz tore the reports up and had maneuvered himself into a corner. Sooner or later this would’ve been noticed, and he would’ve lost his job as a pilot for good. And being a pilot was all he ever wanted from life since he was a kid. He had no Plan B for his life.
    The almost unsolvable conundrum is of course this: if doctors start to report pilots who are their patients, the pilots won’t go to a doctor anymore. Or they will go as privat patients and never tell about their job. We have probably to accept that the rogue-pilot problem cannot be totally eliminated. The best preventive measures are probably thorough and regular psychological evaluations conducted by the airlines, which wasn’t done by Germanwings. But even that isn’t foolproof because it’s no problem at all to hide psychological or psychiatric problems. Fortunately pilot suicides are very rare.

  15. Sabine Lechtenfeld says:

    @TBill, I agree that the aviation industry shouldn’t just ignore the problem, even if it is very rare. Reckognizing psychological problems or conditions amongst their employees is one aspect. And technically it should be as hard as possible to take over an aircraft. But it’s tricky, Some rules which have been put into place – like the rule that there should be at least two persons in the cockpit at all times – have serious drawbacks. Many airlines have abolished this rule already because the constant necessity to open the cockpit door makes it easier for outside hijackers to take over the plane. And there are more potential hijackers than suicidal pilots.

  16. airlandseaman says:


    I agree with your comments in the new blog. I would add the following:

    1. There were fewer factual errors in this 60 minutes show compared to the one in 2016. That said, the first show was so full of factual errors, it was a low bar to overcome.

    2. The claim that Malaysia first discovered the Inmarsat data (on days 1) was totally false, and nearly everyone else on earth knows that. And everyone on the set surely knew that too. So why was it allowed to end up in the final cut?

    3. They repeated the false claims that the handshakes were data transmitted from the engines. Geeezzz! When will they ever get that right!

    4. To me, the greatest flaw in the whole show was the decision to let Larry Vance on stage. At the very least, they should have invited someone else on to present the alternative end of flight scenario. Larry’s analysis of the flaperon was 100% wrong from the start. I had a lot of correspondence with Ross C right after the first 60 minutes and explained why Larry’s theory was wrong. So 60 minutes was well aware of the holes in Larry’s theory, but chose to ignore them (again). I also had a lot of correspondence with John Cox, who is advising Larry on his new book soon to come out. He also failed to acknowledge the alternative explanation for the flapern damage. It went mostly unchallenged, even though Dolan knew that ATSB found very strong evidence the flaps were retracted, the 0019 logon was due to MEFE and the small debris from inside the plane indicated a high energy crash, not a “water landing”. And Dolan said as much, but did not challenge Vance as strongly as he should have. (Note that Simaon Hardy said that the plane went supersonic in his simulated “uncontrolled EOF scenario”, consistent with flap and flaperon separation in flight.)

    Fortunately, this 60 minutes episode will have little if any influence on future search decisions. OI will probably continue the search next year, if 370 is not found in the remaining days this season. Hopefully, by next season, there will be new evidence to consider. Maybe the election will result in some of the people coming forward with new details.

  17. Mick Gilbert says:

    @Sabine Lechtenfeld

    Sabine, thank you for the follow up on the Indonesian airspace issue. It should be noted that the incident involving USAF Special Operations Command Dornier Do-328 11-3075 was not an intercept. The aircraft was detected on radar, quite probably SSR via its transponder, asked for its clearance details and then asked to land at Banda Aceh.

  18. Mick Gilbert says:

    @Victor Iannello

    I have been in contact with someone involved in the production of the 60 Minutes episode. The ‘situation room’ round-table discussion was filmed on Friday, 4 May. There was well over six hours of technical discussions and interviews that were then cut substantially. Apparently the producers had their view, mostly aligned with Larry Vance’s theory. That alignment may have had something to do with Vance’s previous involvement with 60 Minutes. There was certainly no general consensus among the panel on Vance’s theory but the dissenting discussion was left on the cutting room floor.

    While the conclusion of the panel was that the event was a deliberate act, highly likely by the captain, there was no agreement on the final few minutes of the flight … controlled ditching (powered according to Vance, unpowered according to Captain Hardy) vs. high speed uncontrolled descent.

    As was explained to me the challenge for the producers was trying to distil a lot of very technical content down to just 40 minutes and then present it in a fashion such that the average television viewer could understand it. Such an endeavour was always going to fall short of the standard of technical discussion that we expect.

  19. Mick Gilbert says:


    Mike, as alluded to above, there were plenty of dissenting views regarding Vance’s theory, including his misinterpretation of the flaperon damage and his failure to account for the final log-on, but it was all cut by the producers in the interest of presenting a coherent story to the viewers. Sadly, they chose the wrong story to tell.

  20. airlandseaman says:

    Mick Gilbert:

    Thanks for the report. That’s as I expected. The producers knew the story they wanted to tell, and cherry picked clips from the interviews to tell that story, while all but hiding the true level of disagreement about the EOF scenarios. Dolan probably did push back more, but that was left on the floor. Cox probably was more balanced, built that also did not make the cut. I know Chari was gritting his teeth.

  21. Andrew says:


    Thanks for posting Mark Young’s thoughts on the 60 Minutes program. I think it’s an excellent description of the way these so-called ‘current affairs’ programs manipulate facts to present a pre-determined conclusion.

  22. Brian Anderson says:

    I have commented back to 60 Minutes previously, but of course I realise that it is a waste of time. They are not interested in any facts that get in the way of the story they want to tell.

    If you look at some of the comments on the 60 minutes facebook page or twitter feed it seems that people are so uninformed that they will believe almost anything. Hence the 60 minutes propaganda is quite effective in swaying peoples’ opinions.

    Trouble is, this is no different from the daily barrage of so called “news” stories we get from mainstream media. The stories are all constructed to present a predetermined viewpoint. We are totally swamped with this form of propaganda on virtually any subject you like to name. It is hard to know what to believe any more. My solution [well, I think it works for me], is to search out alternative views and alternative news sources in order to construct some sort of balanced viewpoint. It takes time to figure out which sources have any credibility.

  23. TBill says:

    “…like the rule that there should be at least two persons in the cockpit at all times – have serious drawbacks. Many airlines have abolished this rule”

    Wow, really? Can you name names? Do USA airlines require 2 in cockpit? Who had discontinued the practice?

  24. Andrew says:

    @Sabine Lechtenfeld

    RE: “Some rules which have been put into place – like the rule that there should be at least two persons in the cockpit at all times – have serious drawbacks. Many airlines have abolished this rule already because the constant necessity to open the cockpit door makes it easier for outside hijackers to take over the plane.”

    I think it’s worth bearing in mind that much of the opposition to the ‘two persons in the cockpit’ rule came from various pilot associations that objected to having their ‘territory’ invaded, particularly in Europe. Many airlines can’t choose to follow the rule or not, because it has been mandated by their government regulator.

    At the airline where I work, the rule was mandated when reinforced cockpit doors were introduced shortly after the events of 9/11. I have not encountered any problems with the rule while flying wide-bodied aircraft and it works well provided the airline has established procedures for entering and leaving the cockpit, and crews follow the procedures. However, I understand it is a little more difficult for narrow-bodied aircraft, simply because there is less room for people to manoeuvre in and out of the cockpit.

    I think many of the criticisms that have been put forward can easily be mitigated. Those who object to the rule also tend to overlook its biggest safety benefit, ie there is someone in the cockpit who can open the door if the remaining pilot goes ‘rogue’ or becomes incapacitated.

  25. ST says:

    Agree with Jerry M. Though the discussions are at times highly technical, it is still presented in a very concise and clear manner and thanks to Victor for the wonderful work in the analysis and the moderation. Thanks to all the other experts and common folks as well for a thought provoking discussion on this and other blogs.

  26. Andrew says:


    RE: “Wow, really? Can you name names? Do USA airlines require 2 in cockpit? Who had discontinued the practice?”

    The 2-persons-in-the-cockpit rule was mandated by the FAA for all US airlines when reinforced cockpit doors were introduced following 9/11. It was also mandated in some other jurisdictions, but it wasn’t widely adopted until the GermanWings accident in 2015. Some jurisdictions have more recently relaxed the requirements, allowing a pilot to remain in the cockpit alone when the other pilot leaves. The rule is still mandated in the US, Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong (and probably others). The notable exception is Europe, where the requirements were relaxed by EASA in 2016. All Lufthansa Group airlines, including Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian, Eurowings and Brussels Airlines scrapped the rule in 2017.

  27. David says:

    @ALSM. ‘Simon Hardy said that the plane went supersonic in his simulated “uncontrolled EOF scenario”……’

    This may be beyond the simulator’s fidelity boundaries I think. With the Silk Air 737 Boeing had to resort to tunnel tests and calcs for analysis. The accident report states that in its engineering simulator, “the nonlinear mathematical software has been validated up to Mach 0.87, and extrapolated using computational data up to Mach 0.99.”

    In the Garuda full motion training simulator, also utilised for part of the Silk Air investigation and I imagine akin to Simon Hardy’s, the software was just validated, “up to the flight operations envelope”.

    From my reading of the report, initially in the dive it needed full manual nose down trim. Without that a control force of 50 lb would have been needed. (When transonic it would have tended to pitch down, the centre of lift shifting aft. When air speed became supersonic locally at control surfaces the aircraft would have been difficult to control.)

    For Simon Hardy to observe so casually that the 777 went supersonic in unmanned simulation suggests either that two aircraft are very different and his simulator extends its services beyond the 737 training simulator, or he is unaware of its limitations.

    If the aircraft are similar, MH370 would have tended to pitch up and if not in a spiral, recover, maybe to a phugoid and its subsequent climbs and dives. Quite possibly it would not reach the same Mach or even the flutter boundary though it might exceed its structural strength including if in a spiral.

    The 737 had engine thrust yet flutter occurred at a few thousand feet, the dive having started at 35,000. No flaps or parts thereof detached in flight, just empennage components.

  28. Sabine Lechtenfeld says:

    @Andrew, you answered TBill’s question already quite precisely. It’s indeed the case that Lufthansa and Germanwings have scrapped the rule. It has been widely reported in Germany. The given reasons were that because of the rule the cockpit door had to be opened constantly for one or another reason, and that it turned out to be rather unpractical and potentially unsafe. Also, flight attendants aren’t pilots and therefore not qualified to stop anything initiated by the pilot. They would be powerless to stop immediate suicidal actions like a nose-down dive. There are many sides to that conundrum. Andrew is of course right when he points out, it might be important that someone can open the door if the remaining pilot passes out or becomes otherwise incapacitated.

  29. Andrew says:

    @Sabine Lechtenfeld

    RE: “Also, flight attendants aren’t pilots and therefore not qualified to stop anything initiated by the pilot. They would be powerless to stop immediate suicidal actions like a nose-down dive.”

    Frankly, I think that argument is one of the biggest fallacies promoted by the nay-sayers. The flight attendant is absolutely NOT expected to occupy a control seat, or to stop the actions of a rogue pilot. He or she is only there to make sure the door can be opened to allow the other pilot to re-enter the cockpit and take action. Some have also argued that simply having another human being in the cockpit might be enough to stop a pilot taking suicidal action.

  30. Sabine Lechtenfeld says:

    @Mick Gilbert
    Mick, yes, you are right, the American transport machine wasn’t actually intercepted, but if I remember correctly, the Indonesians told the pilots that they would intercept them if they wouldn’t comply and land in Banda Aceh. I’ve read several accounts of that story and need to check them again for all the details.
    The upshot is that the Indonesians actually monitor their airspace and react if they detect unauthorized and unaccounted for planes. But the big question is, if that happens at night, too, and of course how well informed a rogue pilot may have been.

    I always wondered why a pilot who ultimately wanted to head towards the final destination SIO, took the trouble to ride up the Strait and then head towards the Andamans into a northwestern direction. That’s a big detour and I doubt somehow that the Indonesians, even if they had detected the plane, would’ve had sufficient time to scramble jets. The plane would’ve crossed Sumatra quickly and been out of Indonesian airspace in no time. And the narrative of a runaway plane in trouble would’ve been far more credible if the plane had continued to fly a straight route after crossing the peninsula. The pilot could then have turned southward unobserved after he was out of Indonesian radar range. So, what’s up with the detour towards the Andamans? Did the pilot just want to avoid Indonesian airspace or could there have been other reasons?

  31. Sabine Lechtenfeld says:

    @Andrew, I have been repeating the reasons which have been given to the public for discontinuing the two-person rule. I agree with you that the mere presense of another person might well inhibit spontanoeus actions. Even just talking to a suicidal person can change the course of events. But a pilot who is hell bent on destroying himself and everybody else onboard probably can’t be stopped easily.
    The subject seems to be very dividing even amongst experts. Here in Europe we have been presented with many arguments pro and con.

  32. Ge Rijn says:

    [Ge Rijn is banned.]

  33. Richard Godfrey says:

    SC is continuing to make good progress up the Broken Ridge plateau area and has reached 27.9499°S. 3 AUVs were collected and 1 AUV launched in the last 24 hours.

    The weather is holding, there is good visibility, with a 11 knot wind, a combined swell and wave height of 2.0 m. There are no tropical storms in the region.

  34. Sabine Lechtenfeld says:

    To continue my musings re: invading Indonesian airspace:
    If the pilot had followed a straight route after crossing the Malaysian peninsula in order to simply cross Sumatra instead of flying a detour around the Northern tip, he would’ve been heading towards Medan – a 2-million city with the military airbase Soewondo. If the Indonesians had been monitoring their air space at night, they might’ve been worried about a big unidentifiable and unresponsive jet heading towards a large city…
    Then there was an incident on February 7, 2014 – just one month before MH370 vanished – where Singaporean fighter jets had apparently crossed into Indonesian airspace and were detected over Batam. There have been apparently tensions between Singapore and Indonesia, and the Indonesians have been monitoring the eastcoast of Sumatra well.

  35. Tanmay S says:

    @60 minutes….
    1) First of all its very cruel on part of the experts to put the blame on the pilot without locating the wreckage, FDR, CVR etc. There is not enough substantial evidence to blame the pilot beyond reasonable doubt that Captain is the culprit. He may have done it, but as of now, there is not enough evidence that nails it on him.

    2) Even if pilot is considered to be the culprit, then what was the co-pilot doing all that time? Even if we assume the pilot locked himself in the cockpit, then there are 238 other people on the other side of the locked door and they had around 7 hours to do something. Couldn’t they do anything?

    3) What is the motive behind suicide? Captain ZS life has been through intense microscope all these 4 years by different investigative agencies and there is nothing abnormal found. His personal life, professional life, health, finances everything is found normal. Just one thing though is the simulated flight on his home simulator. Can that be just a mere co-incidence. Also not much details are revealed about it.

    4) Why would a person plan his suicide so meticulously? Anyway if he wants to commit suicide, then switching off the autopilot and putting the plane in a nosedive would be the most simple way. Everything would be over in 2 to 3 minutes. What seen here is, pilot plans a region along SIO, hijacks his own plane, disengages all communications with outside world, takes a long detour to SIO, waits for fuel exhaustion, then probably even glide the plane further before finally ditching towards his destiny (all the time risking being intercepted or even chased by fighter jets). Sounds so crazy and abnormal. Its almost like he is a suicide artist and takes pleasure in the way he has committed his suicide.

    5) I even doubt the timing of this 60 minutes episode. ATSB gave a 85% chance of finding the plane in the priority search area. On this recommendation, SC was hired and now when it has been revealed that there is no plane there and SC is nearing its end of the contract in June, just piece together an episode with global experts, put the blame on pilot and close the case. This seems to be the inside agenda.

    One expert (cant recollect his name), even said that the pilot lowered the plane, banked it a bit, so that he can take one last look at Penang and bid an emotional farewell. I think aviation analysis just died at that moment. It so absurd to even assume such things without any evidence and to say it on a TV show that would be watched the entire world really needs guts. Hats off to that guy.

    At the end, it would have been much better if these experts would have just put their hands up and admitted that as of now, we dont know what really happened. There is a bit here part there evidence pointing towards a human intervention involved (I dont say the pilot), but not enough to say it was suicide by ZS.

  36. Mick Gilbert says:

    @Sabine Lechtenfeld

    Sabine, you raise a very good point about the efficacy of simply flying straight across the Indonesian island of Sumatra rather than dog-legging it up the Malacca Strait and then around the north-western tip before proceeding down into the SIO. Had the airplane simply continued heading south-west after transiting the Malaya Peninsula then crossing Sumatra would have relatively straight forward. At a ground speed of 500 knots it would have taken less than 8 minutes to get from the Kuala Lumpur – Jakarta FIR boundary to the north coast and then a further 12 minutes to transit the island (at that point it is not as wide as the Malay Peninsula is from Kota Bharu to Butterworth). Back in March 2014 I don’t think that there was even a TNI-AU fighter or fast jet on the island of Sumatra, certainly none that were based there permanently although I’m happy to be corrected on this point. Soewondo Air Force Base at Medan is home to a handful of CASA/IPTN CN-235 twin turbi-prop surveillance aircraft and Roesmin Nurjadin Air Force Base at Pekanbaru didn’t become active until late 2014. The other active fighter/fast jet bases were Supadio Air Force Base, West Kalimantan (over 700 nm away), Iswahyudi Air Force Base, East Java (over 1,000 nm away) and Sultan Hasanuddin Air Force Base, South Sulawesi (nearly 1,400 nm away). For a bloke who had ostensibly thought nothing of flying straight past two RMAF fighter bases and their accompanying air defence radars, getting across Indonesia should have been a doddle.

    I think that it was ventus45 who noted that a direct crossing of Sumatra allows the airplane to hit the 1825 ping ring without any issues but the BFOs are all wrong.

  37. Victor Iannello says:

    @Tanmay S: Some of your statements suggest to me that you did not read the article before submitting your comments and have not been following this blog. As for nothing incriminating in the captain’s personal life, we only know as much as is in the leaked report from the RMP, which has been used in the past to whitewash embarrassing deeds, such as the 1MDB scandal. (The former head of the RMP is now under investigation for his involvement.) The RMP report is also missing important information, such as the recently fractured relationship with a family the captain had grown close to. As for the simulator data, there were not a lot of details in the 60 Minutes story, but it has been analyzed in great detail by me and others.

    As I said in the article, there is not enough evidence for a legal determination of guilt. However, many of us do believe there is enough evidence to make the captain the prime suspect.

  38. Victor Iannello says:

    @Mick Gilbert: I’ll say that as they were planning the episode, the producers of 60 Minutes contacted me and asked for my participation. I declined, with the explanation that I had little hope that the format of the show would allow proper treatment of the subject matter. That was not a hard judgment call to make.

    After publishing the blog article, I tried to contact the five guests on the show to solicit comments that I offered to append to the article. I’ve received private comments from two of the guests, but nothing I can share. I also know that Larry Vance’s book will be released on May 23, and the ATSB is already in possession of it. I haven’t seen it, but it will be interesting to see how he traverses some of the conflicting evidence that is available.

  39. Mick Gilbert says:

    @Victor Iannello

    Victor, I can understand your situation. While it would have been terrific to have had someone like yourself on the show to reinforce the scientific basis of the basics of the search effort regrettably it would have been a fool’s errand. It is a sad indictment of the appallingly low standards of contemporary media; they believe that the audience is incapable of making their own mind up even if facts are presented clearly and dispassionately. I can remember when 60 Minutes first aired in Australia. It was largely modelled on the American programme and the standards were exemplary; it was must see TV. These days it’s largely big budget drivel.

    You’re probably aware that Larry Vance’s book and theory are being flogged unashamedly by The Australian newspaper down here, ably supported by the usual peanut gallery complete with a new guest supporting artist. Vance himself is promoting his theory as the only one that explains all the evidence. His impression of a just landed bass when he was corralled on the electrical interruption occasioning the final log-on was a bit of a give away that he’s not even aware of what constitutes all the evidence. (Amazing how none of the ensuing discussion on that topic made it to air.) He goes so far as to conclude one article with ‘That is what happened, and that is a fact.‘ Do they have a Nobel for Arrogance?

  40. Victor Iannello says:

    @airlandseaman, @David: I would not put too much weight on the simulations that Simon Hardy created. @Don Thompson has determined that they were performed using FlightCity’s B777-200LR simulator based at Jandakot Airport. This is not a Level D simulator. Rather, it is PC-based using Prepar3D software from Lockheed Martin. Although it is probably more accurate than the PMDG777 FSX model, it certainly wouldn’t have the fidelity to recreate transonic flight. In addition to using a different 777 version, the conditions were also different from the Boeing simulations. For instance, Hardy manually shutdown the engines, one at a time, using the fuel cutoff switches. There was about 40.6 MT of fuel left (about 20.3 MT in each tank). This means there was essentially unlimited fuel for the APU. You can see when he effortlessly pulls out of the dive that there appears to be no backdrive on the column. The large amount of slip after the second (left) engine shutdown, which initiates yaw-induced bank, is also unexplained, as that did not occur in the Level D simulations witnessed by Mike, even with 0.5 units of rudder.

  41. Julia says:

    @TanmayS. The other crew and passengers, all of whom were in the cabin where emergency oxygen is limited unlike in the cockpit, were most likely deprived of oxygen early on in the flight so they did not have 7 hours to take remedial action.
    It is assumed that the captain did not want the plane to be found which is why he planned the suicide mission so meticulously. If it had all been over in few minutes, this appalling mystery would have been concluded within a few weeks. I find it so very cruel if in fact the Captain did plan it all like this as it demonstrates the complete disregard he had for his passengers and their families. The Germanwings suicide was appalling,terrifying and unforgivable but at least the families have closure. I find it very difficult to imagine how callous the Captain was if indeed it was his intention that the plane would never be found.

  42. Don Thompson says:

    It’s clear that Larry Vance is intent on making his opinion the accepted truth about MH370.

    That intent egregiously contradicts the conduct of accident investigations, set out in Annex 13 that states: it is not the purpose of this activity to apportion blame or liability.

    His bio at Amazon states he was investigator-in-charge for the Swissair 111 accident. Another contradiction of reality, the TSB records that Vic Gerden was the IIC for Swissair 111.

  43. airlandseaman says:

    Victor: re: “@airlandseaman, @David: I would not put too much weight on the simulations that Simon Hardy created. ”

    I don’t put ANY weight on Hardy’s simulation. That was not the point I intended. My point was that Hardy made the statement that the plane went supersonic in his simulation, yet no one connected the dots wrt the flaperon and flap evidence. Given that Hardy reported the simulation went supersonic, and Cox knew about the inflight separation theory, he should have said something. But he didn’t. Or, he did, but it was edited out because that might confuse the audience.

  44. Victor Iannello says:

    @airlandseaman: John Cox consistently has said that Larry Vance’s theories have merit, but there is conflicting evidence. He at least tries to reconcile the evidence. But as you say, Larry’s theories for the most part went unchallenged, at least in what remains after editing.

  45. TBill says:

    @Sabine Lechtenfeld
    Thank you very much for the 2-in-cockpit discussion. I was going to ask Andrew that a few months ago but I thought maybe it was too sensitive info.

    I am shocked! But actually I was superficially involved in TWA800 fuel fix, so I know that there is always more than one way to solve a aircraft safety problem. So I must hope those airlines have thought about the problem and done something. But Germanwings, Lufthansa, Austria…holy mackerel.

    I assume there may be some secret things. Like in the USA we have air marshals, who knows what capabilities they have? re: cockpit door, maybe sat phone with window antenna.

    I agree with Andrew strongly that 2-in-cockpit is not fool-proof, but it removes the temptation for many cases. That’s what I am looking for in general.

  46. Victor Iannello says:

    It was recently reported that “Vance said he can’t say for certain if the pilot or co-pilot was the perpetrator, although it’s his belief that it’s more likely Shah was responsible because he had ordered two extra hours of fuel.”

    I’ve provided Larry with the evidence that if he said this, it is false, in that the amount of fuel that was loaded is exactly equal to that required by the flight plan, in consideration of required reserves and the alternate airports. I’ve asked him for any contradictory evidence he may have, as it would be quite damning. I’m interested to see his response.

  47. Victor Iannello says:

    There is a new story from Bernama citing a report from the official Chinese news agency that there will Senate hearings in Canberra on how the ATSB considered the available evidence:

    CANBERRA: The Australian government’s transport safety investigator will be subject to parliamentary scrutiny over its handling of the US$150 million (RM595 million) hunt for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, reports Xinhua news agency.

    MH370 disappeared on March 8, 2014 on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board.

    Radar and satellite tracking indicated it went down in the southern Indian Ocean.

    An Australian Senate estimates hearing next Tuesday will be held as pressure grows for a full investigation into the handling of the two-year search by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB).

    The bureau is accused of ignoring evidence that debunked its theory of how MH370 went down, with some airline pilots demanding a government-appointed Royal Commission.

    Center Alliance Senator Rex Patrick told the Australian newspaper on Wednesday that he would be asking questions of the ATSB about the MH370 search.

    In any circumstances where A$200 million (RM595 million) of taxpayer money has been spent and credible sources raise questions as to the approach or efficacy, some form of inquiry is worthy, Patrick said.

    The probe of the bureau’s investigation follows a forensic analysis of MH370 wreckage by Canadian air-crash investigator Larry Vance.

    Vance claims in his book that damage to the right flap and flaperon of MH370 found on islands off Africa indicated the pilot ditched the aircraft in a controlled manner.

    He dismisses the ATSB’s theory of a high-impact, pilotless steep dive.

    MH370’s location might well depend on which scenario is correct, with Vance and several veteran pilots adamant it was flown outside the 120,000 sq km search zone designed by the ATSB.

    The bureau assumed the pilots were incapacitated at the end of the flight.

    Pilots have called for a fresh search south of the southern border of the ATSB’s original target zone.

    They claim Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah could have flown the Boeing 777 further than would have occurred on autopilot.

    Vance said the ATSB had failed to properly re-evaluate its search strategy after the flaperon was found in July 2015.

    Mike Keane, the former chief pilot of Britain’s largest airline easyJet, said this week that if the ATSB had knowingly ignored evidence, its search strategy was flawed and the bureau would be complicit in covering up the mass murder of people on board.

  48. TBill says:

    About a year ago, I shared with you my personal email to 60 Minutes (USA) requesting an MH370 story. I did not get exactly what I wanted. I would have asked for Greg Feith vs. Larry Vance. But on the other hand, overall I got what I was looking for.

    my email-
    “60 Minutes (USA) Proposal – Lessons of Malaysian Flight MH370

    I would like to propose a 60 Minutes story on the Loss of Malaysian Flight MH370.

    Although we do not yet know the definitive cause of the accident, intentional diversion, probably by the pilot, is the only scenario that currently fits the known facts of the case. From a flying safety perspective, we should not have to wait for actual examples of commercial airliner crashes to conclude that current aircraft design – which gives pilots complete freedom to turn off all aircraft systems and fly off undetected – needs review.

    Possible positive outcomes :
    (1) Improved air travel safety via improved security and improved aircraft design to help prevent rouge pilot and/or hijacker takeover;
    (2) Encourage continued deep ocean search for the MH370 wreckage to define cause(s) of the disaster, which quite possibly included rouge (sp-rogue) actions such as intentional depressuring to control passengers;
    (3) Hopefully free up undisclosed MH370 information or causation opinions from FBI/US Gov’t
    (4) Help to progress US Congress proposed air safety legislation, which has apparently been stalled by the industry

    I see an opportunity for 60 Minutes to cut through the confusion on MH370, and identify the key messages that are being lost in the media coverage to date.

    Regards, (TBill)
    Concerned citizen – follower of MH370”

  49. Sabine Lechtenfeld says:

    @Mick Gilbert
    Mick, thanks for the additional information re:the Indonesian capacities for scrambling some jets. My next question would’ve gone into that direction. I think we can safely conclude that it wouldn’t have happened even if the radar facilities were operating at night and the plane had been detected in real time. The plane would’ve crossed Sumatra and left Indonesian airspace before any serious action could’ve been even contemplated.
    So, I think it’s a legitimate problem which needs to be (and has been) addressed: why would a pilot who wants to head deep into the SIO and who hadn’t hesitated to cross the Malaysian peninsula without performing any radar evasive maneuvers whatsoever, take a huge detour up the Strait and towards the Andamans instead of just crossing Sumatra and then turn southwards as soon as he was out of radar reach?
    I have always believed that ZS went up the Strait and towards the Andamans because it was an integral part of his plan. If he wanted to negotiate about something, it would’ve made sense to circle just out of radar reach near the Andamans but still in strike distance of Kuala Lumpur if he wanted to create additional leverage by establishing a legitimate threat that he could weaponize the plane. But without going into details here, I’ve developed more and more doubts that ZS really wanted to negotiate seriously about something.
    But if he just wanted to vanish with the plane deep into the SIO, why the detour? Did he want to plant a false hint by going northwestwards while still being within radar reach before turning southwards? If so, it has worked to a certain degree because after Malaysia had finally admitted that the plane had turned around and re-crossed the peninsula, the Strait and the Bay of Bengal was searched extensively.
    I know that there is a school of thought which believes that the plane did indeed cross Sumatra and then turned southwards, and that not only the Lido picture but also the last military radar capture at 18:21 doesn’t show MH370. I don’t know if anyone has ever constructed a viable route across Sumatra which satisfies the BTOs as well as the BFOs. But Indonesia has of course denied that the plane ever invaded their airspace.

  50. Victor Iannello says:

    @TBill: It don’t think it is possible for 60 Minutes or any other TV show that has a similar format and audience to properly treat this material. For the most part, those shows thrive on one-sided presentation of facts and embarrassing who they decide are the bad guys.

  51. AC says:

    From the beginning I felt this 60 Minutes show was more about the issue of Australian taxpayers’ money and scrutinising Australian public officials than about MH370 itself.

    My concern now is that if nothing is found in the next couple of weeks, and the Malaysian Authorities go ahead with their final report this year, will there be any more searches? I got the impression from the recent “Inside The Situation Room” documentary/PR exercise that the Malaysian authorities wanted it to know they had taken this investigation as far as it will go. Of course things could change with a new government, but it could be a lot cheaper to simply release a final report than to commit a pot of money for another ‘no find, no fee’ arrangement.

  52. Victor Iannello says:

    In a piece for The Australian, written by Larry Vance, he says:

    “The flaperons are on the trailing edge of the wings and can be moved up and down. They are part of the flight-control system, helping the ailerons and spoilers to control the rolling movements of the aeroplane. On takeoff and landing, the ­flaperons also function as part of the flap system. They deflect down when the pilot selects the flaps to “down”. In normal circumstances, the flaps are partially extended (down) for takeoff, and fully ­extended (down) for landing. They are fully retracted (up) during cruise flight.”

    The problem with his statement is that for a landing with full flaps down (Flaps 30), the flaperons move so that they are parallel to the trailing edge of the wing. They do not droop parallel to either the inboard or outboard flaps, as this image clearly shows.

    I sent an email to Larry asking for clarification, as this point seems central to his thesis.

    [I have updated the image to more accurately depict the position of the flaperon with full flaps. The previous image showed that the droop was removed due to Landing Attitude Modification, which only should occur at higher landing speeds.]

  53. airlandseaman says:

    Victor Iannello: You are right about the flaperon position at the time of a landing. Larry Vance is wrong…as he is with most everything else related to MH370.

    Actually, the flaperon is not parallel to the wing all the time. It moves with the ailerons up and down as needed to maintain level flight. IOW…it acts like an aileron, not flaps (on approach). In a hard left turn, the right flaperon trailing edge moves down. But in level landing approach flight, it remains in line with the wing.

  54. Victor Iannello says:

    For those that prefer photographs, look at these images extracted by Mike from a video link supplied by Ed Baker that shows the position of the flaperon for a B777-300ER during a Flaps 30 (full flaps down) landing.

    Here’s another of 9M-MRO configured for landing:

  55. Victor Iannello says:

    @airlandseaman: Of course. We are talking about a full flaps down (Flaps 30), wings-level landing.

    The position of the flaperon would be different at Flaps 25, as the flaperon droops. You can see in this video at 8:38 the way the flaperon moves parallel to the wing when full flaps are deployed.

  56. Richard Godfrey says:

    @Sabine Lechtenfeld

    You stated “I don’t know if anyone has ever constructed a viable route across Sumatra which satisfies the BTOs as well as the BFOs.”

    I have constructed a long curving flight path from Penang across Sumatra, which satisfies all the BTO and BFO data but only by varying the speed along the way, which is marked in light blue in the link below.

    By comparison Simon Hardy’s flight path is marked in yellow, but ends beyond the maximum fuel range at 38.3°S.

    Also by comparison a flight path to the current Ocean Infinity search area, which requires a loiter over the Andaman’s is marked in orange.

  57. Victor Iannello says:

    @Richard G.: That’s interesting! What was the speed profile and track over Sumatra?

  58. Sabine Lechtenfeld says:

    @Richard Godfrey, thanks a lot. Very interesting.

  59. ErikN says:

    Please see exchange in the video at 3:40-4:12. Link:

    –My transcription with errata–

    Vance: The logic that was used is based on evidence that’s not correct.
    Dolan: So which parts of the evidence are not correct.
    Vance: The fact that the airplane ran out of fuel. It didn’t run out of fuel. The fact that uh…
    Dolan: Oh so your evidence for that is?
    Vance: The fact that the flaps were down and it conducted a controlled…
    Dolan: The fact, the speculation the flaps may have been down.
    Vance: Well, now it’s speculation to you; to me there’s evidence to support it. So…
    Cox: Ok, but, the SDU…so we know that there’s electricity back in the airplane after an interruption.
    Vance: And the…and the cause for that interruption is?
    Cox: That’s my question.

  60. Victor Iannello says:

    @ErikN: That is a great example of what could have been a productive exchange but just confused everybody that saw the program. That’s why I say this kind of format cannot properly treat the subject matter.

  61. Sabine Lechtenfeld says:

    @Erik N
    That’s exactly the part of the dialogue which positively infuriated me. They constantly skated around really interesting points, but it just went nowhere. And the uninitiated viewers were probably marveling what they were talking about.

  62. Richard Godfrey says:


    You asked “What was the speed profile and track over Sumatra?”

    The speed over Sumatra was 494 knots on a track of 218°T.

    This flight path crosses the N.E. coast just west of Lhokseumawe and crosses the S.W. coast near Meulaboh.

    The distance over Sumatra is 85 NM or around 10 minutes flying time.

  63. TBill says:

    How did you get a curved path?
    I believe a very slow slightly curved path (semi-circle segment) fits the rings and ends somewhere around 23-25S. The problem is I cannot see how to fly a path of that shape, except some kind of manual flying mode with a slight curve.

  64. Andrew says:


    RE: ‘It was recently reported that “Vance said he can’t say for certain if the pilot or co-pilot was the perpetrator, although it’s his belief that it’s more likely Shah was responsible because he had ordered two extra hours of fuel.”

    I’ve provided Larry with the evidence that if he said this, it is false, in that the amount of fuel that was loaded is exactly equal to that required by the flight plan, in consideration of required reserves and the alternate airports.’

    Vance isn’t the only so-called ‘expert’ who mistakenly believes that Shah ordered truckloads of additional fuel. Byron Bailey, in yesterday’s The Australian said: “Zaharie, who ordered far more fuel than he would need to fly to Beijing with a reasonable safety margin”.

    As you mentioned, the fuel analysis in MH370’s Operational Flight Plan shows the aircraft was only carrying the legally required amount of fuel, plus an additional 30 minutes of holding fuel. That extra 30 minutes of fuel was a company requirement for Beijing flights; it was not discretionary fuel chosen by Shah.

  65. Andrew says:


    RE: “The position of the flaperon would be different at Flaps 25, as the flaperon droops. You can see in this video at 8:38 the way the flaperon moves parallel to the wing when full flaps are deployed.”

    From the AMM:

    “The flaperons droop to 10 degrees TED when the flaps are at the 5 position. They droop to 20 degrees TED when the flaps are at the 15 or 20 position. They droop to 31 degrees TED when the flaps are at the landing position (25 or 30).”

  66. Andrew says:

    Further to my previous comment:

    In a textbook ditching, the flaps would be selected to 30°. In that position the trailing edge of the flaps is much lower than the trailing edge of the drooped flaperon.

  67. ventus45 says:


    Thanks for that.

    Now, go back to EDWARD’s photo of 9M-MRO landing posted by ALSM above.
    Note that although the starboard flaperon is faired, the port flaperon is clearly down (look near the tailcone under the port tailplane).

    My take is there was right control wheel input at the instant the photo was taken, thus the starboard flaperon was ordered up. The port flaperon remained down at 31 degrees TED.

  68. ventus45 says:

    I might also add that in my ditching I used flap 20 – not 25 or 30.
    The issues are two. First, body angle (pitch at ditch) because you don’t want to exacerbate initial tail suck on entering the water (google for many studies of this phenomenon) in the water. Second, ground effect and drag re rate of speed bleed-off in the final seconds, simply put, a ditching (or ALIGHTING” a PBY, requires “flying on”, at absolute minimum ROD. From a glider pilot’s perspective, a hangar landing profile.

    Now watch a real PBY doing a “touch and go” on Lake Illawarra, my playground as a child, half a century ago.

  69. Pilatus says:


    In the Normal Mode; The flaperons droop to 10 degrees TED when the flaps are at the 5 position. They droop to 20 degrees TED when the flaps are at the 15 or 20 position. They droop to 31 degrees TED when the flaps are at the landing position (25 or 30).

    Ed’s photo’s are not what they seem; have a close look at the 9M-MRO photo, left flaperon.

  70. Pilatus says:


    Pays to refresh the browser now and then.

  71. Andrew says:

    Here’s another video, this time of a B777-200ER wing during an approach and landing into SFO.

    Note, the flaperon droop is removed when the speedbrakes extend on landing.

  72. Victor Iannello says:

    @Andrew: I think we are seeing differences in flaperon positioning between the -200ER, -200LR, and -300ER versions. It would be interesting to see the corresponding AMM section for the -200LR and -300ER.

  73. ventus45 says:


    Just curious, did you ever fly a B-4 (glider), or were you a power pilot ?

  74. Don Thompson says:


    Concerning fuel load: subsequent to the initial flight plan submitted to DCA/ATC early on 7th March, the alternate destinations were revised and a final flight plan was agreed at 15:05. The fuel load was based on the revised alternates.

    The original alternates were ZBTJ (Tianjin) and ZBSJ (Shijiazhuang), the revised were ZSJN (Jinan) and ERA:ZSPD. Jinan implied a longer diversion if a landing at ZBAA was denied, say, when holding in descent for approach.

    The revision implied maybe 150nm additional range?

  75. Pilatus says:


    The B4 is a great machine! I used to be an aerobatics nut many moons ago.

  76. Don Thompson says:


    Flaperon views

    This landing is described as a -200LR

    and two more -200ER landings, LHR and SFO

  77. Julian Storey says:

    I am with Jerry M, and as an uneducated arm chair enthusiast I think that until MH 370 is found and its remains analysed we will not know what happened. I feel a little uneasy that most favour the actions of a devious and suicidal pilot.

  78. David says:

    @Andrew. My AMM (-300ER) at 27-11-00 page 67 speaks about a Landing Attitude Modification which with flaps at 25 or 30 will remove flaperon droop progressively in an overspeed approach and entirely at 20 knots above flight manual approach landing speed.

    My TM (-200ER) makes no mention of this but then it has nowhere near the detail of the AMM on this topic.

    Perhaps particular to that model but if not it could be a thought for an engines off flaps-mostly-down ditching, even though not at Ventus 45’s flap 20 (and also Sullenberger’s less than full)?

  79. Andrew says:


    RE: “I think we are seeing differences in flaperon positioning between the -200ER, -200LR, and -300ER versions. It would be interesting to see the corresponding AMM section for the -200LR and -300ER.”

    I don’t have the AMM for the -200LR or -300ER, but I’m not aware of any differences in the flaperon behaviour between the different variants. It can be very difficult to determine what the flaperons are actually doing unless you can see the other control surfaces. A small amount of upward deflection of the aileron on the same side will make the flaperon retract towards the faired position. In the ‘LHR’ video that Don posted, the left flaperon appears to be faired for quite a while after Flap 30 was selected (08:25), but you can see that the left aileron is deflected upwards during that period. The flaperon droops again when the left aileron input is removed, although it’s difficult to tell when the flight controls are in constant motion!

    Yet another video, this time of a B777-200LR landing in Lagos:

  80. Andrew says:

    @Don Thompson

    RE: “Concerning fuel load: subsequent to the initial flight plan submitted to DCA/ATC early on 7th March, the alternate destinations were revised and a final flight plan was agreed at 15:05. The fuel load was based on the revised alternates.

    The original alternates were ZBTJ (Tianjin) and ZBSJ (Shijiazhuang), the revised were ZSJN (Jinan) and ERA:ZSPD. Jinan implied a longer diversion if a landing at ZBAA was denied, say, when holding in descent for approach.

    The revision implied maybe 150nm additional range?”

    Yes, the ATC plan was originally filed with ZBTJ and ZBSJ as the two destination alternates. The alternate selection was revised later in the day, possibly because the later TAF for ZBTJ showed the visibility reducing to 2000m in mist, with a TEMPO period of 1400m in light snow/rain during the likely time of use.

    ZSJN is further away from ZBAA than ZBTJ. The difference is 128 nm as the crow flies, but probably a fair bit more than that when the likely airways routing is taken into account. I don’t see anything unusual in the planned fuel load.

  81. airlandseaman says:

    All the videos confirm that the flaperons are moving up and down like an alieron. They are clearly not fixed like a deployed flap.

  82. Andrew says:


    RE: “All the videos confirm that the flaperons are moving up and down like an alieron. They are clearly not fixed like a deployed flap.”

    Who said they were fixed? The flaperons move in conjunction with the ailerons to assist roll control, even when they are drooped. If there is no aileron input and the flaps are extended, both flaperons will droop to the position associated with the flap position. If there is an aileron input, then the flaperon on the down-going wing will retract either partly or fully to assist roll control.

    Victor previously said “…that for a landing with full flaps down (Flaps 30), the flaperons move so that they are parallel to the trailing edge of the wing. They do not droop parallel to either the inboard or outboard flaps, as this image clearly shows.” In reply, you said “…But in level landing approach flight, it remains in line with the wing”. Those statements are not correct. The image that Victor posted appears to be computer generated, possibly by FSX or something similar. The flaperon position in the image is not correct.

  83. Shadynuk says:

    @Andrew It seems that the flaperon is retracted as soon as the spoilers are deployed at touchdown. Would that be correct? Would the spoilers be used for a ‘water landing’?

  84. Andrew says:

    Yet another one, with an excellent view of the flaperon position in relation to the flaps during approach and landing:

  85. Andrew says:


    RE: “It seems that the flaperon is retracted as soon as the spoilers are deployed at touchdown. Would that be correct? Would the spoilers be used for a ‘water landing’?”

    Yes, as I said in my earlier comment, the flaperon droop is removed when the spoilers extend on landing. They droop again as soon as the spoilers are stowed after landing, as shown at 11:44 in the video above.

    The spoilers would not be used in a ditching.

  86. Bruce Robertson says:

    “How did you get a curved path?”

    One means to achieve a constantly curving flight path is to have an engine shut down. If MH370 had the left engine inop, the B777 will end up in a slightly curving flight path to the left for two reasons. First, the thrust asymmetry compensation is just a model that uses certain system inputs (e.g. – throttle setting) to calculate expected thrust rather than any direct measurement of trust. The unequal thrust between left and right engine is then compensated via rudder trim only. Without also including a slight roll to the right, the aircraft will fly slightly to the left due to force vectors.

    Secondly, an inop left engine will mean additional unburned full in the left main tank as the automated fuel transfer to the right side will only occur sporadically as the fuel levels become unbalanced beyond, I recall, about 3000 pounds.

    And this is how you arrive at Zenith Plateau.

  87. Shadynuk says:

    @Andrew. Thanks. Sorry I had missed that comment.

  88. Andrew says:

    @Bruce Robertson

    Pardon me for butting in, but:

    1. If the autopilot is engaged, the AFDS will follow a ‘straight’ path, either a constant heading, a constant track, or a great circle track between two waypoints, depending on the AFDS mode. The AFDS will command an angle of bank if necessary, to make that happen, regardless of the rudder position. That might mean the aircraft will fly slightly unbalanced, but it will still fly a straight path.

    2. The B777 does not have an ‘automated fuel transfer’ from one side to the other.

  89. Andrew says:

    Carrying on, in HDG mode the path over the ground will obviously depend on the wind. If the wind is changing, the path will curve. The path will also curve as the magnetic variation changes, assuming the heading/track reference is magnetic.

  90. Bruce Robertson says:


    1. My premise is the flight envelope protection effected a recovery from an aircraft upset. As such, there is no heading or track selected — no waypoint either, so no banking to maintain a straight path.

    2. Correct warning only. The pilot(s) will have needed to have manually selected fuel crossfeed.

  91. Don Thompson says:


    Thank you for the weather detail in your reply, above.

    The change to the diversion airports cannot be conflated with “extra two hours fuel” and the fuel loaded on the aircraft, confirmed by ACARS reports and the despatcher’s records, is consistent with the flight plan. All sets the “extra two hours fuel” aside as another myth.

  92. Andrew says:

    @Don Thompson

    Yes, it’s utter bollocks, spread by people who obviously haven’t bothered to do their homework.

  93. Richard Godfrey says:

    SC is continuing to make good progress up the Broken Ridge plateau area and has reached 27.7475°S.

    Ocean Infinity has completed the 4th cycle of AUV deployment, with 7 AUVs in each cycle.

    The weather is holding, there is good visibility, with a 12 knot wind, a combined swell and wave height of 2.1 m. There are no tropical storms in the region.

  94. TBill says:

    @Bruce Robertson
    At least until about 18:25 flying beyond waypoint NILAM, MH370 appears to be at very high speed with 2 engines, based on the known information (radar/cell phone “connect” at Penang/sighting above Pulau Perak). So any engine failure/limp mode would have to be after that, or you have to provide an credible explanation for why the known information is false.

    Probably the “limp” mode would have to start shortly after Penang to curve to Zenith/Batavia area. This is similar to Mike Chillit’s path – a semi-circle curving around to Batavia.

    Instead of a random curved path with a failed engine, it could be thought of as a slow flight going from ISBIX south turning onto or near vector L894. I find the BFO’s are all off by about +10 so it might make some sense if the 18:25 SDU reboot shifted BFO’s by 10 units evenly.

  95. David says:

    @Victor. Whether or not there was an active pilot at the end remains open. I think it likely that if there had been, in planning he would have ensured there was no ELT transmission, most probably intending a high speed impact to obviate one. Yet that could have been at any time consistent with the aircraft reaching the 7th arc, but without awaiting fuel exhaustion.

    Locating the wreckage is independent of this because the final descent rates indicated the aircraft most likely would have crashed within the current search width either way. Still, should the wreckage not be located in this current search I do not think there will be more searches in the near future since there will be insufficient justification, success probabilities being insufficient: the aircraft quite likely will lie in the vast low probability zone. So the focus of any continuing investigation most probably will shift to pilots and who knew what about their doings, if not more scrutiny of potential hijackers. I have mentioned the desirability of a Royal commission previously.

    The pilot-at-the-end question is part of that general topic and in turn I think the below is relevant to that. It questions again whether the final log-on is more likely explained with a pilot though in far more detail than I have put into this subject over the last couple of years.

    The APU fuel flow on which the ATSB based its 2015 assessment that there would be enough fuel for the 2 mins starting and running, needed to power the final log-on at an APU- loaded rate of 2 lb in 55 secs or 131 lb/hr, generator loading unstated.
    If that was based on installed APU fuel flow direct measurement, under typical load and ambient conditions, that would have required a modification since there is no flow meter, cockpit readout or maintenance recording of that fuel flow. I note also it is a singular figure without conditions specified.

    Test bed fuel flows indicate at sea level the fully loaded APU would consume 620 lbs/min and a likely minimum of 300 lb/hr under no load, at idle. These and FCOM fuel flows can be related to MH370, at 30,000 ft as an example, using approximate methodologies. The indicative outcomes are 343 lb/hr and 350 lb/hr (80 kVA generation, 431 with 120kVA), with the FCOM figure 354 lb/hr (possibly plus likewise).

    Beneath 22,000 ft the fuel consumption could rise again by 41 lbs/hr by my estimate. As I have said, the ATSB has just the one figure for all circumstances.
    Part A of the below goes into all that comprehensively.

    Even so, fuel might well be sufficient, potentially, even for such consumptions. How much of that would be accessible though I address in Part B.

    The ATSB assessment of fuel availability was reported on in the Definition of Underwater Search Areas, December 2015. The availability was described thus, “In a standard flight attitude (1° pitch), the difference in location between the left engine fuel inlet and the APU fuel inlet would result in approximately 30 lb of fuel being available to the APU after a left engine fuel exhaustion. From this information, the APU had a maximum operating time of approximately 13 minutes and 45 seconds. The pitch attitude would have an effect on the usable fuel for the APU……” and, “In-flight acceleration forces could also affect the distribution of fuel in the tanks.”

    Over a year and a half later in the Search and Debris Update of August 2017 a steep descent became integral to the end-of-flight though that and subsequent reports made no mention of whether these descents affect the access to the fuel supposed earlier.

    I think they would and that it is quite possible as per Part B that there would be insufficient to power the final log-on. That would make a piloted descent the most likely possibility as to the log-on, he shutting down engines with some fuel remaining, consequent APU auto-start in an induced dive leading to the final BFO’s and log-on.

    Personally I doubt that a recovery from the dive would have been planned, in which case what I raise would not affect the search unless such a recovery was spontaneous (unlike his German Wings, Egypt Air and Silk Air predecessors). However this would be contrary to his plan so I think that is unlikely.

    (An unpiloted pitch up, recovery and series of phugoids unpiloted (I mentioned above, May 17th 1:27 AM) would make for an interesting proposition. I do not think it likely, supposing relight-induced bank caused the descent in the first place, that the aircraft would have continued other than in a spiral. That scenario though would be the only one I know of which is consistent, reasonably, with a rapid descent followed by a pull out. Oddly it might increase the chances of a pilotless aircraft flying further than (I believe) a pilot would.)

    The findings remain preliminary since they include various judgements but I think they offer enough substance to warrant attention. Of course also, I might have it wrong.

    I explain that Honeywell will not provide the requisite information on the APU to me, even once the investigation is concluded. Even so the most important judgements are to do with fuel access, more a subject for Boeing to look into, should a need be raised by investigators.

  96. Victor Iannello says:

    @Andrew said: The image that Victor posted appears to be computer generated, possibly by FSX or something similar.

    Yes, you are correct. The PMDG777 model includes “Landing Attitude Modification” which seems to be a little-talked about feature that Boeing implements on the B777 whereby the flaperon droop is progressively reduced at higher speeds to increase the pitch by reducing lift. Unfortunately, the LAM is not accurately replicated in the PMDG777 model, as the droop is completely removed at Vref+5. I have replaced that image with the configuration at Vref+4, which shows the position of the flaperon at full flaps and the correct droop.

  97. Victor Iannello says:

    @Richard G said: The speed over Sumatra was 494 knots on a track of 218°T.

    In the interest of not confusing people, I’ll add that in order to satisfy the BFO criterion at 18:28, a plane on this track and speed would require a concurrent climb. Without the climb, we are left with tracks around 296°T and speeds around 500 knots, which places the plane traveling northwest over the Malacca Strait rather than across Sumatra, consistent with the military radar data.

  98. Victor Iannello says:

    @David: The possibility of a deliberate shutdown of the engines by cutting off the fuel at high altitude and then using the APU for a flaps-down ditching after a long glide cannot be ruled out. In fact, I am surprised that Larry Vance did not propose this as his baseline scenario as it explains the SATCOM log-on at 00:19 and is consistent with what he believes is the cause of the flaperon and flap damage. However, the reason for the steep descent at 00:19 is not explained, and of course, this scenario would run counter to the other evidence suggesting a high speed impact with retracted flaps.

  99. Tim says:

    Perhaps the aircraft IS flying a phugoid, with climbs and descents. And it is this that is confusing everyone’s BFO calculations.
    It seems there may be many possible routes if you assume an autopilot off flight. Is this what is making it so difficult to find a route that we are all in agreement with?

  100. Richard Godfrey says:


    You stated “In the interest of not confusing people, I’ll add that in order to satisfy the BFO criterion at 18:28, a plane on this track and speed would require a concurrent climb.”

    You are correct that the BFO fit at 18:28:15 UTC is only with a climb of around 1,500 fpm. Such a climb however, could have led the Indonesians to believe the aircraft was not a threat.

    There are several other problems with such a flight path:
    1. Discard the Beijing Lido radar trace.
    2. Discard the final Malaysian Military Radar data point at 18:22:12 UTC.
    3. Indonesia’s claim that they never picked up MH370.
    4. What caused the 6 hour curved flight.
    5. Inconsistency of a turn back at the FIR border between Singapore (delegated to Kuala Lumpur) and Ho Chi Minh, flight across Malaysia following the FIR border between Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok, but then flying straight across Indonesian airspace.

    Below is a summary table of the flight path:

    I note that I incorrectly stated the average ground speed across Sumatra as 494 knots, it should be 457 knots. My apologies for the mistake.

    I did not spend a lot of time on this curved path from Penang over Sumatra to the 7th Arc. I was just interested to see, if there is such a path, that does not require a FMT. I need to redo the flight path properly, as I was only averaging the curve, with straight line segments.

  101. Andrew says:


    RE: “The PMDG777 model includes “Landing Attitude Modification” which seems to be a little-talked about feature that Boeing implements on the B777 whereby the flaperon droop is progressively reduced at higher speeds to increase the pitch by reducing lift. “

    Thanks. The B777 LAM feature barely rates a mention in the Boeing manuals. It’s designed to increase the nose gear clearance on landing if the approach speed is high by killing some of the wing’s lift, resulting in a higher pitch attitude. As @David mentioned in an earlier post, it only operates at landing flap settings, ie Flap 25 & 30. I think you can see it operating when landing flap is selected at 08:15 in Don’s LHR video:

    I understand the upward deflection of the outboard ailerons is also a feature of the LAM.

  102. Don Thompson says:


    My information on alternates, above, was incomplete.

    The final Flight Release included a second destination alternate of Hangzhou was declared, requiring 1h45m/7700kg.


    ERA at ZSPD/Shanghai-Pudong, allowed 3% contingency: 1200kg
    1st destination alternate at ZSJN/Jinan, allowed 0h46m/4800kg
    2nd destination alternate at ZSHC/Hangzhou, allowed 1h45/10700kg.

    In the Flight Release, the ZSHC allowance comprised the allowance for 1st dest alt, plus “Comp Fuel” = 0h30m/3000kg, plus “Final Resv” = 0h30m/2900kg.

    The selection of ZSHC as 2nd destination alternate, 620nm south of ZBAA, seems extreme by comparison with the original two destination alternates. However, I am aware that it’s been suggested that re-routing well away from weather diversions in Chinese airspace is a good thing.

  103. Sabine Lechtenfeld says:

    @Richard, thanks for revealing more details about this hypothetical flight route across Sumatra. I guess, you were just curious if there existed a route which would satisfy the known data.It’s also interesting to see a route without a fmt.
    You listed the problems with such a scenario yourself. My main question would be indeed what could’ve caused such a curious flight path. Crossing Sumatra on the ZS’s way into the SIO instead of taking the detour around the northern tip of Sumatra only seems to make sense if ZS would’ve crossed the island fast and on a direct route in order to leave Indonesian airspace behind as fast as possible and before any actions could’ve been taken.
    The question remains nevertheless why ZS most likely didn’t choose this option. It would’ve saved him a lot of fuel. As we have discussed before, even if the Indonesians would’ve spotted the plane in real time – and they do indeed seem to monitor their airspace, at least during the day – there wouldn’t have been enough time or resources for actually scrambling any jets. I think the danger of actual interference by the Indonesian airforce would’ve been minimal. Therefore I believe that going up the Strait and northwestwards towards the Andamans was an integral part of ZS’s overall scheme. Going up the Strait and towards the Andamans wasn’t just about avoiding Indonesian airspace. It would make sense however if ZS stayed out of Indonesian radar range once he reached the location of his fmt and started his final leg southwards. His goal was most likely to turn southwards unobserved after all.

  104. Victor Iannello says:

    @Andrew: Thanks. In that video, not only do we see LAM operating at 8:15, but also we see droop progressively added as the speed during the descent reduces to the landing speed. I think with the LAM explanation, we have now reconciled the videos, the simulation, and the AMM.

  105. Andrew says:

    @Don Thompson

    The Alternate fuel that was specified for ZSHC was 10,700 kg. That figure includes the fuel required for a missed approach at ZBAA; climb, cruise and descent to ZSHC; and an approach and landing at ZSHC. The aircraft was also required to land with the Final Reserve fuel (2,900 kg) intact. If the aircraft were to divert to ZSHC from ZBAA, it would need a minimum of 10,700 + 2,900 = 13,600 kg at the commencement of the missed approach at ZBAA.

    Although two alternates were specified in the flight plan, the aircraft was only carrying sufficient fuel to divert to the first alternate, ZSJN. I can’t explain why two alternates were specified on the plan. A second alternate is normally only required when the destination weather is forecast to be below landing minima, which wasn’t the case for ZBAA that day.

    RE: ”I am aware that it’s been suggested that re-routing well away from weather diversions in Chinese airspace is a good thing.”

    It certainly doesn’t hurt to carry extra fuel when flying through China. The country is notorious for delays and sudden airspace closures, especially if there is any bad weather around. When we operate to Beijing from Hong Kong, we normally nominate ZBTJ as the destination alternate, but we carry sufficient fuel to fly to Beijing and all the way BACK to Hong Kong!

  106. Don Thompson says:

    @Andrew, @Victor

    Following the Vance theory, with power available all the way to contact, would the best option be higher airspeed, pitch up, while approaching that carefully identified crest of a swell?

  107. Victor Iannello says:

    @Don Thompson: I’ll defer to @Andrew. Certainly, having engine thrust and not having a limited runway length provides more options to anticipate the swell.

  108. airlandseaman says:

    And having engine thrust available also means you can land a little slower using a higher angle of attack and offsetting thrust. That said, I don’t believe it happened. Too many independent facts line up to support the theory that MEFE occurred circa 00:17:30 at high altitude. There are no facts that support the theory that the plane was landed under power.

  109. sk999 says:

    R. E. fuel, we can compare MH370 to MH371 from the 1st ACARS progress reports for each.

    MH371 ZFW 175.7 tons, total fuel 47.4 tons
    MH370 ZFW 174.6 tons, total fuel 49.2 tons

    So MH370 carried enough fuel for an extra 20 minutes or so.

  110. TBill says:

    ” There are no facts that support the theory that the plane was landed under power.”

    Correct me, but I am thinking the key evidence is the flaperon trailing edge damage. There are 2 options: (1) water damage vs. (2) air damage. If you say water damage, Vance perhaps has an argument.

    I do not see why flaps have to be down though, could be up and still get the trailing edge damage in the water.

  111. DennisW says:


    There are 2 options: (1) water damage vs. (2) air damage. If you say water damage, Vance perhaps has an argument.

    The French know. I cannot believe that they would not share a water damage scenario with the Malaysians and the ATSB. The fact that search areas close to the arc are being prioritized suggests to me that the flaperon damage was not produced by contact with the water.

  112. Kenyon says:

    The trailing edge of the Flaperon is the most fragile feature of the sub-structure.

    It makes no sense to make simple observation of trailing edge damage the seed of a theory that extrapolates (using imagination as evidence) to a full fledge story of who did it, how, and why.

    If someone wants to propose a controlled, SIO, ditch theory it must focus on a plausible explanation of how the Flaperon’s primary attachments failed.

  113. Gysbreght says:

    Kenyon says: “If someone wants to propose a controlled, SIO, ditch theory it must focus on a plausible explanation of how the Flaperon’s primary attachments failed.”

    When a structural element is subjected to loads that exceed its strength, it fails.

    The strength of a component is defined by the loads it is designed for, so it fails when subjected to loads that exceed the design loads. At the same speed the hydrodynamic loads in water are about eight hundred times greater than the airloads the flaperon was designed for. The direction of the load from impact on water is similar to the direction of the aerodynamic loads the flaperon is designed for. As far as can be seen on the available photographs, the flaperon’s primary attachments failed under overload.

    The trailing edge damage on both aileron and flap strongly suggest an impact on water.

  114. Bruce Robertson says:


    “MH370 appears to be at very high speed with 2 engines” Or, it was flying on one engine and lots of gravity, that is, it was in a descent. Once that descent took it to its pre-selected altitude, say 10k feet, altitude was held and airspeed decayed to near stall speed.

    I originally proposed this curved path on March 31, 2014, on Duncan’s site but it died due to lack of interest. In 2015, I put numbers to it and finalized on 21S 104E.

    Mike Chillit was looking at equatorial waters when I pitched him with the idea of Zenith. He adopted it for awhile but then moved south due to less AIS-identified ship traffic. After I sent him some links to animated drift patterns, he took it further with drifter studies.

  115. airlandseaman says:

    TBill: Re your comment: “Correct me, but I am thinking the key evidence is the flaperon trailing edge damage. There are 2 options: (1) water damage vs. (2) air damage. If you say water damage, Vance perhaps has an argument.”

    You are conflating two independent questions: (A) possible evidence of (1) in-flight separation vs. (2) separation at impact, conflated with (B) possible evidence of a ditching attempt (1) with vs. (2) without engine power at the time of the attempted landing.

    All I said was ” There are no facts that support the theory that the plane was landed under power.” Even if there was an attempt to ditch the plane, there could be damage with or without the engines running at the time. So the flaperon damage tells us nothing about the engines.

  116. Joseph Coleman says:

    @Richard Godfrey

    I’m not suggesting or trying to hint any scenario, but could you if possible with the path over Northern Sumatra shown in one of your earlier today graphics, include if possible any weather data, sat image overlay or information with regards the storm cells west of Sumatra.

    Many Thanks

  117. Andrew says:

    @Don Thompson

    RE: ”…would the best option be higher airspeed, pitch up, while approaching that carefully identified crest of a swell?”

    The Boeing FCTM recommends the following technique for a powered ditching:

    ”Select flaps 30 or landing flaps appropriate for the existing conditions.

    Advise the cabin crew of imminent touchdown. On final approach announce ditching is imminent and advise crew and passengers to brace for impact. Maintain airspeed at VREF. Maintain 200 to 300 fpm rate of descent. Plan to touchdown on the windward side and parallel to the waves or swells, if possible. To accomplish the flare and touchdown, rotate smoothly to touchdown attitude of 10° to 12°. Maintain airspeed and rate of descent with thrust.”

    In other words, the lowest speed possible, using thrust to minimise the rate of descent. The touchdown attitude is obviously important, to prevent the aircraft nosing in. The FCTM doesn’t mention the power-off case, but in that scenario I think a reduced flap setting would be advisable, assuming the flaps were still available. The reduced flap setting would help preserve some of the aircraft’s energy during the flare, make it easier to achieve the desired touchdown attitude.

  118. Andrew says:

    @Don Thompson

    Just to clarify my earlier post regarding fuel, MH370 was planned to arrive at ZBAA with 11,900 kg remaining (49,100 – 37,200 kg). Given that a diversion to ZSHC required 13,600 kg from the missed approach point, the aircraft was not carrying sufficient fuel for such a diversion. That’s no big deal, because the aircraft was carrying enough fuel for the first alternate; the second alternate wasn’t legally required.

  119. ventus45 says:


    “The French know”.
    Interesting comment DennisW.

    People seem to overlook the fact, that the BEA would have all the details from the 2012 taxi accident, since they were party to the investigation, since the other aircraft was an A340.

  120. ST says:

    @Sabine – You said “So, I think it’s a legitimate problem which needs to be (and has been) addressed: why would a pilot who wants to head deep into the SIO and who hadn’t hesitated to cross the Malaysian peninsula without performing any radar evasive maneuvers whatsoever, take a huge detour up the Strait and towards the Andamans instead of just crossing Sumatra and then turn southwards as soon as he was out of radar reach?:

    The reason for the north west direction after crossing Malay Peninsula may be explained by an intent on the part of ZS to pray in the direction of qiblah before the FMT and no return path towards the SIO.

    It is only a theory but your question provoked more reading and it seems to make sense.

    There is a lot of literature on this available with a simple google search. There are even apps used to determine the exact direction based on latitude/longitude co-ordinates.

  121. airlandseaman says:

    ST: 3 years go I noted the course was a great cicle path to mecca.

  122. Mick Gilbert says:


    Interesting perspective on the flight up the Straits of Malacca. However, from what I have read and been told by practising Muslims, they do not pray at night (except for the Taraweeh or Salat Qiyam Allayl, which is only performed during the month of Ramadan and only just after the Isha’a or evening prayer).


    It’s also part of a great circle path to Bangalore; maybe he fancied a chicken curry.

  123. Victor Iannello says:

    @Andrew said: The FCTM doesn’t mention the power-off case, but in that scenario I think a reduced flap setting would be advisable, assuming the flaps were still available. The reduced flap setting would help preserve some of the aircraft’s energy during the flare, make it easier to achieve the desired touchdown attitude.

    I think the high drag at Flaps 30 means the descent angle will be steep (> 6°) with no thrust. Less flap could significantly reduce the vertical speed to deal with at the flare, albeit at higher airspeed.

  124. Andrew says:



  125. airlandseaman says:

    Victor> FWIIW…many glider pilots prefer a steep approach. A steep approach using flaps and spoilers provides better control of the landing point. Of course, landing a 777 without power may be completely different, and there’s plenty of runway in the SIO, but if it was me, I would use full flaps and flare to touch down with nearly zero vertical speed.

  126. ST says:

    @ALSM, Thanks for the input. Good to see you had analyzed this before.
    There seems to be also a 90 degrees angle from quiblah for burial and a requirement that the point of the direction should be the closest point/free from obstruction which could explain the need to go near Pulau Perak and roughly towards VAMPI.

    @Mick – Thanks for the detailed inputs. Yes – it is true that it is not typically done but this being a different scenario with so many passengers that were also impacted, not sure if the possibility of the direction and its significance can completely be ruled out. The correlation to geometric/geographic co-ordinates related to this belief and a flight path seem significant to be ignored considering we are looking at every possible explanation through the entire path that will help come up with an alternate option if the plane is not located on or near the 7th arc.

  127. Andrew says:


    In this case I think judging the correct flare point and rate of flare would be a bigger issue. With full flap, the rate of descent would be well over 1,000 ft/min and the speed would wash off very quickly during the flare.

  128. Bruce Robertson says:


    “full flaps”: There are two cases where flaps wouldn’t be deployed at all. First, there is no automation facility (that I know of) that will drop the flaps for landing. If, after the APU came on line, flight automation was flying the plane again, flaps would not be deployed.

    Second, if a passenger was pressed into service as pilot-du-jour, dropping the flaps would likely be a task not executed.

  129. Andrew says:

    The following piece was published in today’s (Saturday) edition of The West Australian:

    60 Minutes Australia program on MH370 faces criticism

  130. Andrew says:

    @Bruce Robertson

    The discussion was based on a controlled ditching by one of the pilots, as promoted by Larry Vance and others. Nobody implied the flaps would be automatically deployed or that it was done by a passenger.

  131. Sabine Lechtenfeld says:

    @ST, thanks for your comment re: the intentions of the pilot for taking the detour around the Northern tip of Sumatra on his way to the SIO instead of just continuing in a strait route and crossing Sumatra. I don’t exclude religious/spiritual motives for some of his movements. This might be also important for some end-of-flight-scenarios.
    I hope that my musings inspire some new ideas. The school of thought that the pilot simply wanted to avoid Indonesian airspace at all costs because the Indonesians do indeed watch their airspace, doesn’t convince me entirely. Besides being possibly detected by Indonesian radar there would’ve been most likely no negative consequences for violating Indonesian airspace, since the Indonesian airforce had no rapid response resources in the relevant area, and the crossing of Sumatra would’ve taken less time than the crossing of the Malaysian peninsula. Even if the plane would’ve been detected in real time, it would’ve been gone before the Indonesian could’ve come up with a viable response strategy. And why would the pilot try to avoid being detected by Indonesian radar – if it was even working at night, which isn’t clear? The plane had been detected by several other radar facilities before after all, and there are no indications at all that the pilot tried to conduct any radar-evasive maneuvers while crossing the Malaysian peninsula. The opposite seems to be true: he wanted to be seen. And that might indeed be one motive for riding up the Strait until the plane was lost to Malaysian military radar. He might’ve tried to stay within the Malaysian vicinity as long as possible. By forgoing a strait route towards Medan and going over Sumatra after having crossed the peninsula, but turning northwestwards instead and riding up the Strait towards the Andamans, the pilot also makes it pretty clear that the plane wasn’t a runaway ghost plane going inexorably westwards after turning around near IGARI : no – the plane was consciously piloted, and maybe the Malaysians were meant to know it.
    I really think it hasn’t been sufficiently thought through why the pilot took the lengthy detour beyond the northern tip of Sumatra before making the fmt towards the SIO. If his sole objective was to go as deeply into the SIO as the plane’s fuel range allowed, it was definitely a very counterproductive move.
    I will put up a “brainstorming list” when I find some time over the weekend. I think the question is very important for making out potential motives of the pilot (most likely Zaharie Shah).

  132. Richard Godfrey says:


    The Boeing 777-200ER has the following flaps stages: up, 1, 5, 15, 20, 25, 30.

    Flaps 20 is apparently used in an engine out condition, not full flaps as Larry Vance claims.

    The Airbus 320-214 has the following flaps stages: up, 1 (10), 2 (15), 3 (20), 4 (35).

    When US Airways 1549 ditched in the Hudson, Scully decided to use Flaps2 according to the official report.

    From the official report for the US Airways 1549 accident:
    “During postaccident interviews, the captain stated that he used flaps 2 because there were “operational advantages to using flaps 2.” He stated that using flaps 3 would not have lowered the stall speed significantly and would have increased the drag. He stated that he was concerned about having enough energy to successfully flare the airplane and reduce the descent rate sufficiently. He stated that, from his experience, using flaps 2 provides a slightly higher nose attitude and that he felt that, in the accident situation, flaps 2 was the optimum setting.”

  133. Sabine Lechtenfeld says:

    I should add that the problem has been addressed now and then over the years, but not lately as far as I know. Most of us have just accepted that ZS apparently never entered Indonesian airspace, althought there is a minority who believes that ZS did cross Sumatra after all and never went up the Strait. But as Richard Godfrey’s calculations have shown, this doesn’t seem to be very likely, even if we are prepared to throw out the last radar capture and the Lido image.

  134. ventus45 says:


    We all know that you are dead against a ditch. You are convinced by the final BFO’s, debris, etc. Fair enough.

    Consequently, (knowing that you are also a glider pilot), I have to assume, that your remark “but if it was me, I would use full flaps and flare to touch down with nearly zero vertical speed”, in a power at idle, or no power at all, glide to ditch, is clearly flippant, and is manifestly reflecting your now obvious frustration with the growing support for serious consideration of any ditch scenario, which, I concede, is perfectly understandable given your convictions.

    But, if it were for real, I can not believe, that you would actually do what you stated. If you were in the left seat, and “set up” for that, and I was in the right seat, I can assure you, and everyone else, that I would not remain a subordinate FO, and regardless of the eventual outcome, those who eventually downloaded the CVR, would certainly know it.

  135. Richard Godfrey says:

    @Victor, @Andrew

    I meant to add that this confirms what you both have stated above, regarding the flap setting in an engine out condition, increased drag of higher flap settings and sufficient energy to flare successfully.

  136. David says:

    Balanced report here by Steve Creedy with more detail as to the Vance view.

    Vance points at the witness marks inside the flap seal pan as indicating the flap was retracting when they occurred. They do indeed indicate movement while the support track was withdrawing. The ATSB did not mention that.

    In a damage assessment I posted some time ago I described one of these dents by the support track rear, which caused a crack in the flap skin, as being made when the flap was 8 inches aft from housed.

    His interpretation as I understand it is that this dent was the first, as the flap retracted, those with it fully retracted following. Mine was that it was the last, with flap or that end of it moving to the rear having separated and this inboard flap piece having broken from the rest. That supported the ATSB interpretation.

    I note that Creedy says of this ATSB assessment that the flap was housed when separated that, “The ATSB analysis was sent to UK investigators at the AAIB and manufacturer Boeing for verification before it was released.”

    Vance is reported to have said, “It would have been impossible for the flaperon to have maintained its normal curved shape at its leading edge and to have maintained its normal curvature along its upper and lower edge.” He overlooks the even better condition of the MH 17 flaperon after that aircraft had hit solid ground.

    “He also argues that damage around the entry hole for the flap support track — the same one mentioned in the ATSB analysis — was caused when the track and the carriage assembly were pulled out of the hole.” That damage was above the support track and I attributed the same cause. I do not see that says anything other than the support track withdrew and probably the carriage assembly with it. To me that is irrelevant to the flap having been deployed when the flap broke and separated, though of course I have not read his book.

    I will post my earlier assessment for those who would like a ready reference to the pertinent photographs.

  137. David says:

    No, my assessments (two) too detailed for these purposes. Instead, Pages 15 to 18.

    Other photos at and towards the bottom of this. They can take time to download. Click on them to expand:

  138. Sabine Lechtenfeld says:

    @ventus45, considering that you believe the flaperon was most likely planted at the beach of Reunion – you have laid out your reasons quite detailed some time ago – you must consider the flaperon useless for constructing any end-of-flight scenarios.Is that correct?

  139. David says:

    Correction. The MH17 ‘flaperon’ I referred to above was in fact a part of an outer flap. Nevertheless its condition is surprising:

  140. Don Thompson says:


    You made reference to a flaperon from MH17. Would you cite a source for that please?

  141. Richard Godfrey says:

    SC is continuing to make good progress up the Broken Ridge plateau area and has reached 27.4747°S.

    Ocean Infinity has started the 5th cycle of AUV deployment, with 7 AUVs in each cycle.

    The weather is holding, there is good visibility, with a 14 knot wind, a combined swell and wave height of 2.2 m. There are no tropical storms in the region.

  142. Don Thompson says:


    Correction noted!


    Regarding the apparent path taken around Sumatra/Indonesia. If the intent was not to be ‘followed’, then doubling back when out of possible view would be a useful tactic. I have some further comments to discuss what might have been generally accepted about the air-ground data comms system before 7th March 2014, need to distil down yet, before returning to discussion of a few days back.

  143. Sabine Lechtenfeld says:

    @Don, that thought would’ve been very prominently on my list, too. Especially since the pilot was last “seen” being on a northwestern route towards the Andamans. Also, this focussed aireal searches after the SCS was abandoned, on the Strait and the Bay of Bengal for a while.

  144. Sabine Lechtenfeld says:

    I should add: it is not surprising that the plane (probably) kept out of Indonesian airspace and (anyone’s) radar range once the pilot decided to perform the fmt and to embark on his trip of no return into the SIO. But he could’ve done that also, if he had just crossed Sumatra and waited with the fmt southwards until he was safely out of Indonesian radar range. So, there must’ve been a specific reason to move within radar range up the Stait and northwestwards at first.

  145. Sabine Lechtenfeld says:

    @Don, and I would indeed appreciate if we could return to our discussion about the air-ground data com system and what ZS could or couldn’t have known about it. Thanks a lot for keeping on the ball 🙂
    I will be monitoring the discussion, but I will be travelling for a few days – family affairs! They don’t always appreciate my continuing interest in a plane, which the majority here has forgotten about…

  146. Don Thompson says:

    @Sabine – I’ll watch out for your next comment & pick up then. Safe travels.

  147. Neville Macaulife says:

    I noticed in the 60 Minutes episode that Larry Vance drew heavily on his experience investigating the appalling Swiss Air 111 crash. I looked it up in the Wiki, and found that a researcher reported that magnesium at ten times normal level had been found among the wiring that generated a fatal arc, suggestive of the possibility that an incendiary device had been present.

    Later a Royal Canadian police official, Thomas Juby, involved in the investigation, wrote a book in which he stated his superiors ordered him to remove all references to magnesium from his notes. CBS’s Fifth Estate series has an episode about all this, Swiss Air 111: The Untold Story,

    The Wiki article led me to a review of Juby’s book, (ref. 35,,), which left me wondering if I’d strayed into the twilight zone. It contained the following two paragraphs.

    Inexplicably, on the third day of the investigation, the Transportation Safety Board announced there would be no criminal investigation of the crash.

    As a result, the ongoing profiling of passengers and airline employees was abandoned even though disturbing leads were developing. Juby reports, “Of the employees who serviced the aircraft just prior to its last departure, one was never found again. He worked the one shift to service this aircraft and left. He had provided fake identification to his employer when hired.”

    Can anyone document that this is pure hokum? Because if it is not, something is pretty wrong somewhere.

  148. DennisW says:


    No one I know has any interest in MH370. My PhD room mate has declared the observables to be non-deterministic (after ten minutes of examination). My colleagues came to the same conclusion in about the same time frame. Basically, we are being very dumb in assuming a search area (my conclusion early on). The IG, the DSTG, … are all very foolish. I would characterize them as “dumbshits’, but I am too polite.

  149. Sfojimbo says:

    @Sabine and the rest

    The reason he wanted to avoid Indonesian airspace is the fact that his intent was to make 9M-MRO disappear without a trace, which would have been much more dramatic that the way things did work out. He would have pulled it off except for the Inmarsat checkin which he obviously didn’t know about.

    Also, everyone please keep in mind that Indonesia never said they hadn’t seen MH-370, what they said was that they hadn’t seen MH-370 over their territory. Indonesia and Thailand are both sitting on their radar information they both have it but neither has released it. Thailand has out and out stated that they saw the flight as it approached Koto Bharu. I assume it is diplomatic courtesy to not tell the world what your radar has seen across somebody else’s border – unless asked. And we can be sure Malaysia never asked for that.

    ZS had been a Malaysian AF pilot early in his flying career, he knew the state of Malaysian radar and he knew that a radar track of his flight would never be reported to the world by Malaysia and he was exactly correct, the Lido image is as phony as a three dollar bill. It is a composite of several images and it was probably edited from there.

    This brings up another point, the 60 minutes program’s assertion that there was a “wing dip” is bogus and can be nothing but bogus – Malaysia has never released the radar tapes from Pulau Penang that night. And in any event, something as slight as a wing dip could not be discerned by primary radar.

    ZS knew what he was doing, he knew that his flight over the Malay / Thai border would never be made public. And he knew better than to enter Indonesian airspace.

  150. Andrew says:

    @Neville Macaulife

    RE: “Can anyone document that this is pure hokum? Because if it is not, something is pretty wrong somewhere.”

    See the following discussion about the SR111 episode of CBC’s The Fifth Estate:
    CBC Fifth Estate owes SR111 families an apology

    Juby’s claims are debunked in the last part of the first post.

  151. Mick Gilbert says:

    Returning to the Kota Bharu primary radar discussion, specifically the accuracy of the contradictory altitude data derived from military radar I have been reading Height Finding and 3D Radar by David J. Murrow. It contains a wealth of information on the history of radar height finding techniques together with a discussion of contemporary 3D radar. Discussing the Martello S731 military 3D radar the author states, ‘A height accuracy of 1,000 ft on a small fighter aircraft at 100 nmi is claimed by the radar manufacturer.‘ The S731 was developed in the late 1970s. It has quite a large array (10.6 m high by 6.1 m wide) for a transportable radar and uses an eight beam stack for height finding. Murrow goes on to discuss the Martello S273 (sic) but I’m sure that he means the S723. The S723 was a mid-80s development of the S713 with a shorter but wider array (7.1 m by 12.2 m) and utilises a six beam stack. The S713 in service with the Royal Air Force was referred to as the Type 91. The quoted height accuracy figure for small fighter aircraft at 100 nm is 1,700 feet. The next development iteration produced the Martello S743, which represented a major update to the S713/723 system. While the S743 uses a different technique for determining target altitude to the S723 it is unlikely that it would be significantly less accurate.

    The Royal Malaysian Air Force acquired two S743s in 1992; one of them was operated by No 321 Radar Squadron located at Gong Kedak (Bukit Puteri, Jertih, Terengannu), some 25 nm south of Kota Bharu.

    The Martello series air defence/surveillance radars were manufactured by Alenia Marconi Systems. Alenia Marconi is now part of Leonardo S.p.A., which is also the parent company of SELEX Sistemi Integrati S.p.A. SELEX are the manufacturers of the RAT-31 series of 3D air defence/surveillance radars. It is worth noting that development of the S7x3 series of radars effectively ceased with the introduction of the RAT-31. The RAT-31 uses a hybrid mix of stacked beams and phase steering known as Multiple Simultaneous Pencil Beams. The manufacturer states that each beam provides monopulse altitude measurements with excellent accuracy.

    The RAT-31 is currently a core component of the NATO Air Defense Ground Environment (NADGE) chain having been purchased by the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom and most recently Poland. The RMAF acquired a RAT-31DL in 2009. It is the radar operated by No 310 Radar Squadron located at Western Hill (Northeast Penang Island District, Penang).

    While I have not been able to find any specific altitude accuracy figures for the RAT-31 it is difficult to envisage that it would be worse than the radar it supercedes. Based on that information and the fact that a B777 (wingspan 61 m) presents as a much larger target than a ‘small fighter aircraft’ (wingspan 10-13 m) I would expect that the military radar data showing the target at between 31,100 and
    33,000 ft approaching Kota Bharu and at 32,800 ft travelling away from KB should be good to at least ±1,700 feet and probably better than that.

  152. Mick Gilbert says:

    One further observation regarding the performance of the Kota Bharu primary radar (Alenia Marconi ATCR-33S); once a target is acquired it seems to be tracked continuously and consistently until loss of contact, high elevation range/azimuth errors notwithstanding. There is no evidence of fade-in on acquisition, there is essentially no evidence of dropped returns during each of the two traces (there may be one dropped return between 17:31:26.00
    – 17:31:38.00
    and another between 17:42:08.00
    – 17:42:14.00) and there is no evidence of fade-out at loss of contact. The traces either side of the cone of silence are clean and solid.

    That might seem to be self-evident but it makes for an interesting comparison with the Lido radar data. The lacuna aside, each of the two segments on the Lido slide show a lot of dropped returns, probably in the order of 50 per cent, perhaps more. If the KB radar data is representative of what a civilian-grade ATC PSR can achieve in terms of acquisition and tracking of an approaching and then receding target from and to the edges of its expected range, it is difficult to reconcile the Lido data with the military-grade air defence/surveillance radar at Western Hill tracking a receding target from around one quarter of out to the edge of its instrumented range.

    I guess one question that needs to be asked (or re-asked) is, could Lido be the product of a sea-based radar and could the lacuna be the CoS? I suspect not but it’s probably worth a thought. If the radar was roughly in the centre of the lacuna the acquisition and loss of contact ranges roughly match that of the Thales Netherlands (Signaal) DA-08 air search radar fitted to the Royal Malaysian Navy’s Lekiu-class frigates and Kasturi-class corvettes. However, if that were the case the CoS seems unrealistically large and the quality of the data unrealistically poor.

  153. Victor Iannello says:

    @Mick Gilbert said: I would expect that the military radar data showing the target at between 31,100 and 33,000 ft approaching Kota Bharu and at 32,800 ft travelling away from KB should be good to at least ±1,700 feet and probably better than that.

    And yet, according the RMP report, the military radar placed the MH370 targets around Penang Island at FL447.

  154. Gysbreght says:

    @Mick Gilbert:
    Thank you for the extensive research regarding accuracy of military radar Height Finding. In the next comment on the Kota Bharu primary radar data on MH370 you say: “there is essentially no evidence of dropped returns during each of the two traces (there may be one dropped return between 17:31:26.00 – 17:31:38.00 and another between 17:42:08.00 – 17:42:14.00) “

    You may wish to consider the following chart. I prepared it because I was interested in whether the timestamps in Mike Exner’s table had been rounded or truncated (I suspect both, at different stages of transcription). The red squares indicate the increment between successive time stamps (time 17:31:32 corrected to 17:31:34). The blue triangles indicate (on the right-hand scale) the difference between those timestamps an a ‘reconstructed’ timescale based on antenna rate of rotation 15.72 rpm and azimuth phase shift assuming the antenna rotates clockwise. On that basis I concluded that there was no dropped return between 17:42:08.00 – 17:42:14.00, but that some values were shifted by 1 second, and at 17:42: 14 by 2 seconds.

    P.S. What is the Height Finding accuracy of the RMP radars?

  155. Gysbreght says:

    I’ve edited the formating of the chart, without changing the substance. I hope it is clearer in the new presentation.

  156. Victor Iannello says:

    @DennisW: It’s time to adjust the levels of your medications. Go visit your mental health professional. Seriously.

  157. TBill says:

    If OI does not find aircraft, seems like 2 things we need to know:
    (1) French analysis of flaperon or some summary
    (2) Radar summary (Indonesia, S’pore) summary…we need to know a summary of areas ruled out or ruled in by radar or lack of radar.

    In industry sometimes if there is a patent dispute they hire a trusted retired-expert to review both sides secret info and inform who is right and wrong, without disclosing the secrets.

  158. Victor Iannello says:

    @TBill: The list is much longer than that.

  159. Don Thompson says:

    @Mick Gilbert,

    Concerning the RAT-31DL and the Martello. Both are stated to have a max range in the order of 250NM, and a max altitude for detection in the order of 100k/ft. The RAT-31DL feature of ‘Multiple Shaped Pencil Beams’ is explained as four simultaneous beams, the Martello is similar. Consider the geometry of those 4 beams to detect a target some altitude at 250NM range: the beam elevations must be low and the beam forming must subtend a very narrow angle. To detect a target at 165nm over a range of altitudes, the beam elevations must be quite different and requires a wider beam to be formed while at, say, 80nm the goemetry must change again.

  160. airlandseaman says:

    @Mick Gilbert: Thanks for the military radar report. I cannot explain why the Western Hill military radar, over 150 nm away, derived altitudes near KB are what they are (way too low). But note the Civil PSR data from KB radar comprise observations at a much closer range (<10nm). In general, the closer the target is to the PSR, the more accurate the observations.

    I will publish details soon, but in the meantime, I want to report that I have refined the January 2018 KB calibration flight analysis. After correcting one assumption in the prior calibration analysis (thanks Victor for your catch), the 2 minute average PSR speeds match the ADS-B track and speeds perfectly. In particular, the COS speeds are within 2 kts of the ADS-B speeds at 06:41. The azimuth bias error is +0.70 deg. The measured range error is <0.2nm over 90% of the flight.

    Having validated the math model and the radar accuracy using the Jan 2018 data, I returned to the MH370 data. After correcting for the calibrated azimuth error, the path is rotated -0.7 degrees about the radar antenna location, but the speeds are virtually identical. This means the original estimated altitude I reported on April 13 (43,500 feet) was essentially correct. I ran a sensitivity analysis to see how sensitive the altitude is to the range error assumption and found that the altitude for the case of 0 range error is about 46,000 feet. For -0.3 nm, it is 43500 feet. For +0.3 nm, it was 49,000 feet. While some judgement is involved in picking the altitude from a family of possible altitudes, that judgement adds at most ±2000 feet uncertainty.

    In summary, MH370 was certainly not at any altitude below 40,000 feet, as reported in the FI. It is very obvious from the data that anything below 40,000 feet was not even a remote possibility. Given the estimated performance limits, I think it is very likely that MH370 passed KB at the highest altitude 9M-MRO was capable of given the conditions at that time. It might have been slightly lower than what the radar indicated, but definitely not 31000-33000 feet.

  161. Neville Macaulife says:


    Andrew, thanks for sending me, which clearly indicates that Thomas Juby’s claims of a Swissair investigation cover-up is baseless. I intend to removed my comment because it seems to be off-topic, but haven’t found a way to do it so far.

    Ciruss’s article was an eye-opener. I’m an electrical engineer who knows nothing about flight systems, but when I read that “2,000 pounds of {entertainment} electronics” prone to overheating, and with no proper shut-off, was placed on the same bus as the aircraft’s instrumentation, all I can think is “Wow!”

  162. Victor Iannello says:

    @Neville Macaulife: Rather than submitting a nonsense URL, please leave this optional field blank.

  163. Mick Gilbert says:

    @Victor Iannello

    Re: ‘And yet, according the RMP report, the military radar placed the MH370 targets around Penang Island at FL447.

    Yes, with a ground speed of 578 knots. Coming around the southern end of Penang Island the target was within 15-18 nm of the radar head, at a high elevation and with a rapidly changing azimuth relative to the radar head. Have we learned anything recently about the accuracy of primary radar when the target is close to the radar head, at a high elevation and with a rapid changes in azimuth?

  164. Victor Iannello says:

    @Mick Gilbert: If the distance is 18 NM from the radar head, and the altitude is 36,000 ft, that’s an elevation angle of 19 deg. So if you believe that elevation angle is too high for an accurate measurement of altitude, you’ll have to explain what elevation angles are better. And rate of change in azimuth should have little effect on altitude measurements.

    I don’t know what “we” have learned, but what I’ve learned is measured speeds over short distances are very inaccurate, and measured altitudes should be viewed with great caution.

  165. Andrew says:

    @Neville Macaulife

    RE: ‘Ciruss’s article was an eye-opener. I’m an electrical engineer who knows nothing about flight systems, but when I read that “2,000 pounds of {entertainment} electronics” prone to overheating, and with no proper shut-off, was placed on the same bus as the aircraft’s instrumentation, all I can think is “Wow!”’

    Section 2.14 (pp.227-230) of the TSB’s accident investigation report into SR111 (available here ) has more information on the integration of the IFE with the accident aircraft’s power supply and the management of that project. ‘Wow’ indeed!

  166. Sfojimbo says:

    Would someone help me out and give the location of the “Kota Bharu” radar antenna?

    All I can find is what looks like a tower (secondary) radar at the Sultan Ismail Petra Airport (6° 9’49.20″N 102°17’36.95″E), this radar probably only has a 20 mile or so range.

    Not far south of Koto Bharu is the Gong Kedak radar which is on a hill and about 560ft high (5°47’8.82″N 102°30’16.66″E) I would like to see the returns from that set, but it’s military, so unavailable I assume.

    I assume everyone knows where the Pulau Penang antenna is (5°25’28.70″N 100°15’2.89″E) here it is apparently called Western Hill.

    I haven’t seen any mention of the Thai radar at Hat Yai (6°50’38.02″N 100°25’11.64″E). That looks like a powerful radar on a high hill, but the Thai’s are withholding data from that radar set.

  167. Mick Gilbert says:


    The radar you’ve identified near 6° 9’49.20″N 102°17’36.95″E is the Kota Bharu air traffic control radar. It’s an Alenia Marconi ATCR-33S with an ALE-9 secondary surveillance radar antenna mounted atop a G-33 primary radar antenna. It is the radar that we’ve been refering to as the Kota Bharu radar.

  168. Sfojimbo says:

    @Mark Gilbert

    That can’t be the radar that is credited with tracking 9M-MRO from the SCS across the peninsula and almost to Pulau Perak:

    That’s a primary radar track. Do you know where that antenna is?

  169. TBill says:

    If you go to the prior blog article, Victor discusses the civil radar data at KB and then Butterworth, and there is a spreadsheet link with the data summary by Victor.

  170. Sfojimbo says:

    That’s what has me puzzled.

    Victor said in his blog “The data begins at 17:30:33 when the civilian radar installation at Kota Bharu Airport (WMKC) detected MH370 traveling back towards the Malay peninsula about 58 NM from shore.”

    Mick Gilbert says that’s a secondary radar and I agree, you can get a glimpse of the antenna at the Wikipedia page for Sultan Ismail Petra Airport, that’s not what tracked 9M-MRO, 9M-MRO had its transponder turned off. The track provided in the KMZ file I linked to had to have been a primary radar.

  171. Sfojimbo says:

    Upon a second read I see where Mick Gilbert said that the ATC radar is mounted above a G-33 primary radar. I can’t find any primary radar antenna at Sultan Ismail Petra Airport. Primary radars are fairly large and they usually have domes.

  172. Andrew says:


    @Mick Gilbert said: “It’s an Alenia Marconi ATCR-33S with an ALE-9 secondary surveillance radar antenna mounted atop a G-33 primary radar antenna.

    The Malaysian AIP also states:

    “In the Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu FIRs, radar services are provided using the following civil/military ATC Radars:

    …g) A 60 NM Terminal Primary Approach Radar co-mounted with a 200 NM monopulse SSR located to the south of Kota Bharu-Sultan Ismail Petra Airport runway.”

  173. Sfojimbo says:

    And the SSR radar at 6° 9’49.20″N 102°17’36.95″E is indeed south of the runway.

    If one were to go to the Wikipedia page for Sultan Ismail Petra Airport and zoom in on the picture with the two 777s you can see that radar. There’s no primary radar on that tower (red & white stripes).

    The airport is almost in the mudflats at sea level. That’s not a good place to locate a Primary radar, and if you did locate a primary radar at sea level you would want a big tower for it.

    I am going through this because I’m so distrustful of any information that comes out of Malaysia.

  174. Mick Gilbert says:


    As TBill has alluded to, the Kota Bharu radar tracked MH370 between 1730 – 1744 UTC (with a gap between 1736:43 – 1738:55). MH370 was subsequently tracked by the PSR at Butterworth air force base between around 1746 – 1801 UTC. The Butterworth PSR is a NEC ASR located at 5° 28′ 19.7″ N, 100° 23′ 40.7″ E.

    As to PSR antennas generally being fairly large and generally having domes, well it depends and not always. ATC PSR antennas aren’t necessarily that large; the G-33 is about 2.5 m by 8 m. The RMAF military air surveillance radars at Gong Kedak and Western Hill are domed as are the Royal Thai Air Force radars at Ko Samui, Khok Muang and Phuket; on the other hand the Indonesian air force air surveillance radars at Sabang, Lhokseumawe and Sibolga are not domed.

  175. Mick Gilbert says:


    This might be useful. Go to page 5. Now go to 6.1626486, 102.2935580 on Google Earth, use Street View, look north and see if there’s anything you recognise.

  176. Sfojimbo says:

    Thanks for all the response, I really appreciate it.

    But there’s nothing on that tower at Sultan Ismail that’s anywhere near 8 meters long.

    At Butterworth the only view I have is from Google Earth, but again there’s nothing 8 meters across.

    I remain skeptical of the radar tracks. The Malaysians tried to pass off the Lido image as being from Butterworth too. I don’t buy that at all.

  177. Sfojimbo says:


    Clever! But trees are in the way, I think the Wikipedia picture is just as good. Nothing close to 8 meters there.

  178. Sfojimbo says:

    OMG I backed up down the road and I can see the antenna rotate as the Google car drove down the road.

    Maybe it is 24 feet across.

  179. Mick Gilbert says:


    And there you have it. That ALE-9 SSR antenna on top is a bit over 8 metres long. That’s a G-33 PSR antenna underneath.

  180. Sfojimbo says:

    Well I beat that one to death.

  181. DennisW says:


    and measured altitudes should be viewed with great caution.

    There was no “measured” altitude in the case of the KB radar. Altitude is inferred from other observables.

  182. Victor Iannello says:

    @DennisW: That comment was in reference to the altitudes measured by military radar and reported in the FI and the RMP report.

  183. ventus45 says:

    On the noble art of – ditching.

    First – a few ditching events.

    Now the analytical stuff – very heavy going – very heavy – some of it.

    In short – it (ditching) is not “clear cut” – one size fits all kind of event.
    It is complicated by many factors, particularly suction – caused by the shape of the rear under surfaces of the aircraft.

    To quote from
    Page 140 section 5.2.3 – Problematic of the impact of an aircraft on water involving a forward velocity.
    “It is shown that in some ditching cases a rapid increase in the attitude of the aircraft at the moment of first impact is observed. It is also noticed that this behavior depends on the shape of the airframe at the point of impact and on the impact velocity. This phenomenon is due to suction forces caused by an acceleration of the water flow around the impacted area followed by a drop of the water pressure according to the Bernouilli’s theorem. If the pressure decreases under the static pressure, cavitation occurs. Based on different test observations, these forces can be high enough to change the attitude of the aircraft and therefore its kinematics. In the following, the importance of the suction forces are evaluated by investigating a test case reported in [108].”
    [108] McBride E.E. and Fisher L.J. ‘Experimental investigation of the effect of rear-fuselage shape on ditching behavior, NACA Technical Note 2929, Washington, April 1953
    Available at:

    Other references dealing with the suction phenomenon.
    (contains extensive list of ditch events)

    3:15am. Time for bed.

  184. TBill says:

    Do you have any idea how/when we get down from FL430?

    I am doing some FS9 checking on the view out the cockpit window (trying to match the bank of the Penang curve). Tentatively I find hard to see Penang from the pilot seat, much easier from co-pilot seat. Pitch down may help.

    Checking Simon Hardy comments on Penang flyover view, which some have said is incorrect.

  185. airlandseaman says:

    TBill: The BU radar data was too sparse to provide a good altitude signal. MH370 passed 5nm south of the Penang southern shore. The GS at that time was about 520 kts. The turn was very gradual starting on a heading of 242 deg and rounding out at about 292 deg. So, a 50 degree turn to the right with a about a 33 nm radius.

  186. David says:

    @TBill. 520 knots, 33nm radius = 6.8 deg of bank.

  187. Mick Gilbert says:


    In other words he needed about an extra 15° of bank to be able to see Penang.

  188. TBill says:

    Thank you. I will do some more work, but basically I’d say if the objective is to see Penang out the window, you are probably sitting in the co-pilot seat.

    FS9 does not give me a co-pilot view, but I can look out that window from the pilot’s seat and see tip of Penang. If I fly the reverse flight path, I can look out the pilot side window to simulate what the co-pilot seat could see, and Penang is right there. Not sure yet how much 6.8% bank helps but it helps (I use 5% as an A/P bank choice).

  189. ventus45 says:


    I think you are aware of my theory – via Medan.

    I have never been happy with the Penang radar story from the earliest days. In fact, I raised some questions about that from the DSTG’s report, on Auntypru, on 17th December 2015, ( which no one responded to, or offered an opinion on, at the time.

    The one thing that struck me about Simon Hardy’s “sentimental” last look at home idea, was that it was a “very British” sentiment. After all, Z would have had a full view of Penang out the front windows as he approached. The man was “on a mission”. Why would he need a lingering last look ? It does not “fit” any “sensible plan”, meticulous or otherwise.

    But if you drop “sentimentality’, from the equation, and if you accept that he was in fact heading for Ache, then there is no reason for him to have flown anywhere near Penang in the first place. He could have, should have, turned off B219 at ITBAR and flown direct VAMPI. That would have been both shorter, and faster, AND would have given him an even better view of Butterworth out his left window (see below).

    Therefore, there had to be a really important reason, a vital reason, for him to fly all those unnecessary “extra track miles” to go via south of Penang.

    Perhaps the real reason, was to be able to observe RMAF Butterworth as long as possible (he must have been worried about the possibility of an attempt to intercept him), to see if it was “lit up”, or worse, suddenly “lit up”, ie became active, or remained dark, ie inactive.

    If either it was lit, or lit-up, he knew that even though he was already at FL400 plus, and 500 knots plus, the Hornets could catch him even before he got to Vampi. Continuing to Vampi and beyond would no longer be possible, no longer a viable option.

    If he thought that an intercept was happening, or was “in the works”, his Escape Plan B, was to get “into” Indonesian Airspace ASAP, ie, he had to head for Gunip and Gotla ASAP, which he could do, he could outrun them to there, and be “safe”, since the Hornets could not enter Indonesian Airspace, and even if they did, they sure as hell could not shoot him down there. If on the other hand, he had passed north abeam Butterworth heading for Vampi, and if an interception was happening, he would have had twice as far to fly to get into Indonesian airspace, and the Hornets might just catch him beforehand.

    There are many reasons why I have never accepted the Ache scenario, and I think he did go via Gunip / Gotla, and I think the DSTG plots have many inconsistencies that support my view that the track post “the Hamid phone gap” was fabricated to hide the fact that he did in fact overfly Sumartra from the Indonesians.

    Perhaps Z really wanted

  190. airlandseaman says:

    Mick/David/TBill: The notion that MH370 headed to and rounded Penang to take a look is baseless. We do not know why the path used was chosen. Only speculation.

    The new radar data does not tell us the altitude at Penang, but the data does tell us several other things. It indicates the altitude at KB was very high, probably 43,000 feet. It tells us there was a climbing left turn after IGARI gaining ~6000 ft and slowing to 430 kts TAS in the process. It tells us the plane accelerated to TAS=500 kts (GS=530 kts) over the next 7 minutes. It tells us the path was not as smooth and straight as the public documents suggest. In fact, the 4 second samples makes it very obvious (to me) that the plane was being flown by hand all the way from 17:30 to 18:01, which means it was probably flown by hand from 17:21 to 18:01. At what point the AP was re-engaged (if ever) is unknown. But it certainly looks like the AP was not used between 17:30 and 18:01.

  191. ventus45 says:

    Perhaps Z also wanted to embarrass the RMAF as a final tribute.

  192. ST says:

    @TBill – The previous blog under Civilian radar analysis was closed before I could respond to say thanks for the inputs on where you were with the simulator testing. I continue to read your posts and updates in this blog.

  193. TBill says:

    I accept your idea to keep Butterworth in sight. In that case I am sitting in co-pilot seat and should have good view out that way. If there was depressurization at IGARI, not sure I care too much about getting shot down by Malaysia, so I am heading straight to VAMPI. Or maybe getting shot down by Malaysia was Plan A. Hish was not about fall for that, I know.

    Are binoculars handy on aircraft?

  194. Sfojimbo says:

    Remember the facts that Malaysia allowed the search in the SCS to continue for up to a week before it was called off – even though it was later revealed that Pulau Penang radar had tracked the flight across the peninsula to the Malacca strait and past MEKAR? It’s obvious to me that the fact that 9M-MRO had crossed the peninsula was revealed only after it became apparent to Hishammuddin and Razak that the the Inmarsat data wasn’t going to be ignored; so they had to fess up about what they had seen that night. I believe the Inmarsat data tripped up Hishammuddin and Razak as much as it did ZS.

    Now four years later, that colossal discrepancy has been forgotten about and and not factored into evolving theories about the flight. Why were Hishammuddin and Razak trying to hide something that was so likely impossible to be kept hidden?

    IMO, ZS was trying to bring down the government; he didn’t think the government could survive something the disappearance of MH-370 would uncover. But somehow Hishammuddin and Razak kept that thing from seeing the light of day in spite of their early stumble (focusing on the SCS). I appreciate all the dogged engineering work that has been done here and elsewhere, but I can’t help but think that this has become a case of not seeing the forest for all the trees.

    How much faith do you guys have that these radar tracks from Sultan Ismail Petra and Butterworth airports are the real thing?

  195. TBill says:

    My personal perception would be that USA and others forced Razak to give the truth as the data showed. I feel like Razak handled it quite well as far as being forthcoming about “apparent intentional diversion”.

  196. David says:

    Having watched the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs Committee concluded an hour and a half ago,some points. Please excuse some randomness:
    • The conclusion was warm with the Committee chairman thanking Peter Foley and Greg Hood for the work done. There were no sour notes,implied criticisms or allegations.
    • The Chairman concluded by addressing the speculation that there would be an inquiry into the ATSB work by indicating that was not in mind but that some committee members might appreciate a more detailed briefing by Foley. The ATSB agreed willingly to do that, presumably informally, as sought.
    • Foley described the final descents as emanating from a small amount of rudder trim left on after TAC removal on left engine fuel exhaustion. He added that Boeing had indicated the final descents were in a less stable phugoid. A descent like that he said is not what a pilot would choose.
    • He described an additional 45 nm search to the east in response to Simon Hardy’s input, to 70nm. About Byron Bailey’s claim that pilots had not been consulted and believed there would have been a controlled ditching, he said that pilots were deeply involved via Boeing’s advice and that the AAIB and NTSB participation included pilots. He said the Bailey claim of a “pilot controlled ditch” was unsubstantiated. He had read the Larry Vance book which V had forwarded to him last week and about the Swiss flight 111 investigation. I do not remember a substantive comment on what V had said.
    • He repeated the ATSB thesis that the flap (and implicitly flaperon) were not deployed when it separated from the aircraft which eliminated the potential the aircraft was controlled or likely to be in a ditching (personally I think that it would be more precise to say that the flap and flaperon collided when not deployed).
    • The descent rates indicated it was uncontrolled and it was not a descent a pilot would choose.
    • Question: should the investigation have been conducted differently? Answer: a lot was disclosed during it, altering it as it went along. F. made clear that such as whether the fuel taken on was appropriate was up to the investigators. The ATSB worked with the quantity that was there.
    • ATSB analyst who went to France for the flaperon investigation was unable to do anything active, being constrained by their judicial system. The counsel assisting the French inquiry was particularly slow. However BEA was particularly helpful re AF 447.
    • He noted that flaperon trailing edge missing could have been from causes such as engine separation.
    • The ATSB had not speculated on the speed of impact. Boeing modelling continued to impact but the initial altitude was unknown, though Boeing did model “a couple” that the ATSB sought. He added later that the recovered parts indicated a “significant impact” and if there was a controlled ending it had not been very successful.
    • He made clear that the lack of simulation of engine restarts placed “lots of caveats” on the Boeing descent simulations.
    • Having a pilot involved at the beginning and not the end was a problem for many he said. At one point my memory is that Geoff Hood intervened to mention that “control inputs were made”, presumably to include the possibility that there might be other than pilots involved.
    • At the end F. offered his/their plausible explanation-with-conjecture, that what might have happened was pilot hypoxia or decompression after flying depressurised including at 40,000 ft, depressurisation continuing for an hour or so. He referred to the March 1998 DC8 incident discussed on this blog in which the aircraft was unable to pressurise, the captain persisting in climbing and passing out, the co-pilot taking over, the aircraft reaching FL330. The captain in that and in MH370 were of similar age he said and both overweight.
    • There was a question about whether the co-pilot leaving his ‘phone on was common. Hood indicate it happened and was discouraged because of the distraction.
    • The Chairman described Foley as an impressive witness after what must have been an arduous 4 years. He continues as JACC technical officer.

  197. David says:

    After, ” ..Regional Affairs” first line please add, “and Transport Committee hearing into the ATSB’s underwater search for MH370, concluded…”

  198. Mick Gilbert says:


    Thank you for the summary, David. You’ve hit all the important points. The Hansard (official) transcript should be available on the Senate website tomorrow with a bit of luck. I’m sure that at least one erstwhile contributor and one current New Corps reporter will have been disappointed with the proceedings.

    Victor and Mike, the good news is that you won’t need to pull out that shoe box of travel receipts.

  199. Sfojimbo says:

    On March 8th at 00:35 MH-370 departed KL, it was tracked by Pulau Penang radar at least by 1:22 when it arrived over IGARI; the radar tapes were viewed by a VIP from Malaysian military later that morning.

    March 12: It is assumed by most, that Malaysia was notified of the Inmarsat data on March 12.

    March 13: Andy Pasztor’s WSJ article told the world that MH-370 kept going for “5 hours after turnaround based on satellite data.” Later that day, Hishammuddin denied the WSJ report.

    March 14: Hishammuddin told journalists the report was “inaccurate”. “I would like to refer to news reports suggesting that the aircraft may have continued flying for some time after the last contact, as Malaysia Airlines will confirm shortly, those reports are inaccurate.”

    On the 15th he threw in the towel.

    March 15, Hishammuddin:
    “based on new satellite communication we can say with a high degree of certainty that the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System was disabled just before the aircraft reached the east coast of peninsular Malaysia. Shortly afterwards, near the border between Malaysian and Vietnamese air traffic control, the aircraft’s transponder was switched off.”

    “The primary radar target, so far believed but not confirmed to be MH-370, could today be identified as MH-370 with the help of new data received from a satellite data provider.”

    “Due to the type of satellite data we are unable to confirm the precise location of the plane…………………….”

    Later on March 15th the SCS search was cancelled. This is eight days after the Pulau Penang radar data had been known.

    It’s true that both Britain and the US knew from day one that MH-370 had rounded the Sumatra peninsula (based on their ship and aircraft movements), I have no reason to think it was anything except Andy Pasztor’s WSJ article that pulled the rug out from under Hishammuddin, although I suppose it could have been somebody from the US government that tipped Pasztor off.

    Neither Hishammuddin nor Razak were forthcoming.

  200. Don Thompson says:


    Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB-UK), is automatically an accredited representative to the Malaysian investigation by virtue of the origin of 9M-MRO’s engines.

    Inmarsat and AAIB-UK were relaying to the responsible authorities in Malaysia, or at least attempting to relay, the information contained in the satcom exchanges on Tuesday 11th March.

    Paul Marks had posted an article at the New Scientist on 13th March (UK Time). Marks’s article was accurate in its description of the purpose and significance of the ‘engine’ data.

    There are quite a few reasons that lead to the realisation that Pasztor’s article was simply a ‘join-the-dots’ effort, scraped from a number of sources such as Mark’s article.

  201. Richard Godfrey says:

    SC is continuing to make good progress up the Broken Ridge plateau area and has reached 26.6541°S.

    Ocean Infinity has completed another cycle of AUV deployment, with 7 AUVs in each cycle.

    The weather is likely to deteriorate, there is currently good visibility, with a 10 knot wind, a combined swell and wave height of 2.6 m. There is a tropical storm S.W. of the search area, moving in their direction, which will bring strong winds up to 30 knots by tomorrow evening.

  202. Victor Iannello says:

    @Mick Gilbert said: Victor and Mike, the good news is that you won’t need to pull out that shoe box of travel receipts.

    In my case, that shoebox of receipts from travel and payments involving Australia and Malaysia is quite empty. I’ve never been to either country, and I’ve had zero financial dealings with either country. Anybody that implies anything else is spreading horse manure, as reasonable people understand.

  203. Mick Gilbert says:

    @Victor Iannello

    Re: ‘Anybody that implies anything else is spreading horse manure …’

    Diplomatic to a fault, Victor. I’m sure that I would have been less restrained under the same circumstances.

  204. TBill says:

    I am not sure I agree with Foley’s logic on all of his interpretation of the evidence, but doesn’t the comment on FL400 hypoxia sound like a “hat tip” to ALSM?

  205. airlandseaman says:

    I don’t know about a hat tip, but I do know Pete found my KB radar analysis interesting and useful. I’m hoping Boeing will confirm.

  206. TBill says:

    Seems like Foley could be suggesting as much as 42000-ft real altitude which would be about FL400 pressure altitude. I am not aware of any prior suggestion of more than FL350 from the ASTB or MY. I know there have been outside observers who have suggested the higher altitude for a long time.

    Of course, Larry Vance has good timing in his book, or maybe a little late release, because his book could be overtaken fairly quickly by the MY final report if it comes out soon.

  207. Sfojimbo says:

    @Don Thompson
    I had taken the conservative approach in my earlier post, I believe that the Malaysian Government probably knew about the Inmarsat data on March 11, but there is nothing to provide proof of that, so I assumed March 12. The point is that Hishammuddin knew about the Inmarsat data several days before he said “with the help of new data received from a satellite data provider” on the 15th. There may have been some noise surfacing before Pasztor’s article, but the WSJ was the first documented time anyone claimed that the flight had continued on for hours: credit where credit is due.

    In my earlier post, I stated that the SCS search continued on for eight days, this was based on the fact that India continued searching until the 16th, which I did not mention in my post.

    Thanks for the response.

  208. ArthurC says:

    Just curious… how much longer will OI be able to search this season, based on weather, and what latitude could they potentially reach?
    Area 3 seems rather large in size, is there a chance to have it covered before the winter weather sets in?

  209. airlandseaman says:

    I sent my KB Radar analysis to Pete over a month ago. They have had time to look at the analysis now, so it is not surprising (to me) that Pete mentioned FL400 (42200 ft) as possible. Since then, the SQ7838 calibration confirmed the basic technique I used to estimate altitude and the accuracy of the KB radar range and azimuth observations.

    Dennis is correct to say that the technique is not a closed form solution providing a definitive numerical altitude, but even a casual observer can recognize the pattern. It is clear that the altitude was very high at KB (possibly 46,000 feet), and definately higher than a text book estimate of the maximum altitude possible for the B777-200ER.

    Recall too, there were at least 8 military radar observations documented in the RMP Folder#4 between 17:50:59 UTC and 17:56:59 UTC (passing Penang). The observation at 17:50:59 gave an estimated altitude and GS of FL447 and 528 kts. All 8 observations were between FL423 and FL447 and 507 to 528 kts. These military radar obs are very close to what I estimated from the KB Cilvil Radar 5-10 minutes earlier.

  210. DennisW says:


    I concur that using the KB radar data as given you are lead to a very high altitude. I get numbers at the high end of your range (46,000′ to 48,000′ geometric). I am not sure that I trust the data, which leads me to believe a range calibration error was present at the time the data was taken.

  211. TBill says:

    Quite fascinating article in the Guardian, summarizing ATSB hypoxia thoughts discussed at the hearing. Sounds like ATSB is giving their reasoning for ghost flight, which we have never heard before. Their reasoning apparently is that no one could survive a depressurzied FL450, even the pilot.

    So the 60 Minutes show has several effects I was hoping for, which is shaking out more hidden info.

    Per ALSM, starting to look like MH370 may have been very high altitude after IGARI as high as 45000-feet. Perhaps it is true that nobody could survive that altitude in a depressurized cabin. This could indicate all were dead, but then we have SDU logon at 18:25, so perhaps the depressure event happened later, would only take a few minutes at FL450, and the descent at 18:40 was to re-pressure…or the other thing is the perp does not need to go to zero pressure, he/she could hold at FL350 cabin and survive that way. Many options.

  212. Gysbreght says:

    @ALSM: FL’s are pressure altitudes. Are the FL’s you mention pressure altitudes or geometric heights?

    What is the average groundspeed in Victor’ Segment D (17:51:23 – 17:51:47 UTC) according to the Butterworth PSR data?

  213. Victor Iannello says:

    @TBill: I don’t follow the hypothetical scenario that Peter Foley is proposing. First, he suggests that it is possible that the captain was incapacitated within minutes of a depressurization. But later, he says that the turns suggest that the captain or somebody else was in control until 18:25, which seems to suggest there was no depressurization. I must be missing something.

  214. airlandseaman says:

    All 8 military observations around Penang were given as Flight Levels (i.e., FL447). There was no distinction made between Flight Levels and altitude in the RMP Folder #4 Report. These values were taken directly from the radar screen shots in Folder #4 at pdf page 25/26. That said, I don’t see how the military radar could directly observe a true flight level. So they may have indicated FL447 on the screen, but for PSR, meaning 44,700 feet (assumed a Pressure of 29.92″). Either way, MH370 was very high and very fast from 17:37 to the end of the BU data at 18:01. And the Lido photo derived speeds are consistent with that.

    Given the high altitude south of Penang, I put more weight on the likelihood that the BFO data at 18:39-18:40 indicated a descent, not a turn. The reason for the high altitude looks more like a way to avoid other traffic (typically below FL410). If the plane was depressurized, it probably happened starting around 17:22, but the climb was not necessarily done to speed hypoxia. I think it was to avaiod traffic while running without lights or TCAS.

  215. Gysbreght says:

    @ALSM: Thanks for answering my first question. How about the second question?

  216. David says:

    @Victor. “(Foley)suggests that it is possible that the captain was incapacitated within minutes of a depressurization. But later, he says that the turns suggest that the captain or somebody else was in control until 18:25, which seems to suggest there was no depressurization. I must be missing something.”

    Me too.

  217. Niels says:

    Proper interpretation of the 18:39-18:40 BFOs is crucial. I remember a discussion on the implications of the limited scatter in these BFOs in the light of typical descent modes / vertical speed variations. It would be a major step if this point could be brought forward towards a conclusion.

Leave a Reply