MH370

March 10th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

It must be anguishing for families and friends of those on MH370 to not only have to deal with the almost certain death of their loved ones, but to have no idea how the flight went down, or even where it has crashed.

Most crashes are at take off and/or landing. It is rare for a flight to crash with no communication from the cockpit. The speculationseems to fall into three categories:

  1. A catastrophic structural failure that tore the plane apart instantly, or at least the cockpit
  2. A terrorist event of some sort, or external attack
  3. For some reason the plane had diverted from its normal flight path and hit something

No 1 seems unlikely. The 777s have a good safety record.

No 3 can not be ruled out, but seems unlikely.

So the speculation is mainly focused on the second category. The fact that at least two people on board were travelling on stolen passports (maybe up to four people were) makes you wonder if it was a freaky coincidence, or it has some significance.

A fourth possibility is an extreme weather event, but it seems there were none in the area.

A sad and puzzling mystery. Let’s hope that eventually the plane is located and the black box holds some answers.

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52 Responses to “MH370”

  1. Judith (8,463 comments) says:

    One can but hope that by some miracle the plane and its passengers will be found unharmed – as unlikely as it seems. No harm in wishing for the best but expecting the worst.

    It seems almost unfathomable that in this day and age a plane can simply ‘disappear’ without at least some notification that something is wrong.

    Thoughts to the families and friends – especially those little children who may never see their father again.

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  2. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    Authorities have said there are 8 possible scenarios.

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  3. Elaycee (4,333 comments) says:

    Whilst speculation is rife, the fact remains: we won’t know what happened until they find wreckage / black box / CVR and can piece it all together.

    But in the meantime, 239 families are feeling the loss of loved ones.

    Terrible.

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  4. Sb (59 comments) says:

    4. Control system failure resulting in pilot disorientation. They flew it into the sea.

    This would explain the lack of a radio call. They were to busy trying to save themselves.

    5. Fire on board. Again to busy to make a radio call.

    What Elaycee just said.

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  5. Ed Snack (1,801 comments) says:

    A fourth David, the pilot and crew performed so badly that they flew the aircraft into the ground in ignorance; that’s more or less what happened to that Air France aircraft that crashed into the Atlantic several years ago. They managed to stall the aircraft, admittedly because some critical instruments weren’t working (they should have been replaced), but the trainee third pilot held the control stick hard back for the entire descent with the aircraft on full power but stalled. In that stalled condition it simply flew straight down into the ocean, yet if at any time that trainee had released the stick the aircraft might well have recovered; and the pilot who was on a break when the incident started took too long to take control.

    And yes, I’d at first be looking for signs of some sort of explosion in this case.

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  6. eszett (2,374 comments) says:

    There is, unfortunately, another possibility, pilot suicide.
    Has happened before, Egypt Air out of NYC, a Silkair in Indonesia, Royal Air Maroc in Morocco.

    The biggest argument against a terror attack is that no one has claimed responsibility. What good is a terror attack if nobody knows it’s one or why it was done?

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  7. Nigel Kearney (922 comments) says:

    Were they supposed to be over the sea at the time? If not, that would limit the likely scenarios.

    Also, the news said that Interpol has a register of stolen passport numbers including the ones used here. But airlines and customs/immigration do not routinely look up this register for every passenger. That seems odd to me but maybe there is a reason.

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  8. SGA (961 comments) says:

    eszett at 9:35 am

    The biggest argument against a terror attack is that no one has claimed responsibility. What good is a terror attack if nobody knows it’s one or why it was done?

    Agreed – the silence seems odd.

    Just out of curiosity – is there a big market in stolen/false passports in SE Asia? What do people typically use them for (I think I read that this flight’s ultimate destination was Europe, or am I misremembering)? For example, do fugitives use them to visit family or somesuch?

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  9. dime (9,682 comments) says:

    Pilot suicide
    Shot Down
    Bomb

    One of those 3 me thinks.

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  10. JMS (314 comments) says:

    Since we’re speculating wildly, how about a meteorite?

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  11. KiwiGreg (3,226 comments) says:

    I got to experience some of this vicariously as I flew Malaysian out of KL the same day. I’m thinking the crew heard in transit as one of the hosties was crying.

    Speculation pointless until data is found but it’s pretty clearly an alien abduction. Or the rapture.

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  12. peterwn (3,215 comments) says:

    SGA – a terrorist organisation may not ‘claim’ an ‘attack’ which went wrong eg an unsuccessful hijack or a failed type 9/11 ‘mission’.

    Seems too that the Chinese visa checking systems do not include checking the Interpol database for dud passports. Wonder if the passports were the older type with no ‘chips’ (unlike media illustrations of an Italian and an Austrian chipped passport).

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  13. gazzmaniac (2,319 comments) says:

    I am sure the explanation will come put in time.
    Ed Snack is quite right about the Air France flight, although with 2000 hours on the clock the third pilot wasn’t exactly a trainee. And the pitot tubes that caused the confusion had caused other incidents in the leadup to the Air France crash.
    We may well find some previously unheard of or covered up fault with the 777.

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  14. tas (596 comments) says:

    Commercial aircraft are constantly transmitting data. And the various radars in the area will have recorded the plane’s movements even after it stopped transmitting. Almost none of this information has been released. It will shed light onto whether there was an inflight breakup and how suddenly the aircraft departed from normal flight.

    It’s somewhat strange that no wreckage has been found yet. It took a week to find Air France 447 in the middle of the atlantic, despite not knowing where it went down. Surely they can find a plane in the gulf of Thailand (where there is good radar coverage) in two days.

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  15. tvb (4,261 comments) says:

    There are 3 main possibilities. Pilot error mechanical failure or foul play. There is a suggestion the plane was turning back but then why when it was close to Vietnam air space. Lots of questions but no answers. Hopefully the black box can be found but that is a long shot.

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  16. SGA (961 comments) says:

    tas at 10:36 am

    It’s somewhat strange that no wreckage has been found yet. It took a week to find Air France 447 in the middle of the atlantic, despite not knowing where it went down. Surely they can find a plane in the gulf of Thailand (where there is good radar coverage) in two days.

    Air France 447 stalled, and eventually crashed into the water, I think. If an airliner travelling at 800+ km/h at 8000 metres up suddenly started to come apart (for whatever reason), I’m not sure what sort of wreckage would be left, or how widely it would be dispersed.

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  17. RRM (9,668 comments) says:

    ETOPS (Extended range Twin Operations) is aviation-speak for the business of maintaining aircraft with only two engines, to a standard sufficient that you can get approval to fly them far out of sight of land over the ocean.

    But apparently the pilots mostly call it “Engines Turn Or Passengers Swim”… :neutral:

    Curious that whenever an Airbus has a mishap, you get all manner of speculation it was a design or manufacturing defect from the press, and a whole lot of “if it ain’t Boeing, we ain’t going” rhetoric from the loyal readers…

    When a high-tech new Boeing disappears, there’s none of that, it’s a mystery, the search is still continuing, it could it have been a terrorist attack, etc etc etc.

    Makes you appreciate how much American propaganda we read…

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  18. rouppe (945 comments) says:

    From what I’ve read pilot suicide seems unlikely. They say if it was flown into the sea there would have been a concentrated debris field. There isn’t any. Even if the pilot pointed it straight down at full throttle the worst that would have happened is the wings ripped off. They would have been easily found and the fuselage would have left the debris field spoken of.

    I’m of the opinion bomb is also unlikely. Any bomb smuggled on board big enough to completely disintegrate the aircraft would have been easily found. A smaller bomb would not have caused disintegration. Remember UA811 where a cargo door ripped open and tore half of the business class fuselage with it. That plane still managed to fly and land.

    The fact that the aircraft appears to have changed course (slightly) without any pilot communications is odd. This perhaps leads one to a hijack situation but I would have expected to have heard from it by now. Unless the hijacker had the electronic transponders turned off, then it descended and went into the sea in such a manner that it didn’t break up but no-one was able to escape. A similar situation could have occurred with electrical failure but then I don’t think you can fly (or glide) one of these with no electrical power so there should have been a mayday.

    Very sad, and a mystery

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  19. Lance (2,568 comments) says:

    @dime
    It could be anything.

    737′s were flying for decades before all of a sudden 2 of them dropped out of the sky with hard over rudder problems. Another almost crashed but came right just in time.
    Turned out to be a flawed actuator design and yet the same design had been used on the worlds most popular airliner for decades.

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  20. kowtow (7,968 comments) says:

    RRM; any chance to damn a Yank.

    eggshells; Gypo Air and RAM ,pilot suicide ;Speaks for itself.

    SilkAir? Evidence please.

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  21. straya (67 comments) says:

    RRM, nice to see you can turn even a mass tragedy into an excuse to attack America. You are a vile piece of work.

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  22. Aye Aye (4 comments) says:

    I am suprised that no one is referencing The Comet from 1954.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/october/19/newsid_3112000/3112466.stm

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  23. Lance (2,568 comments) says:

    @RRM if it were engine failure the pilots would have been talking to controllers for quite a while after the event. This didn’t happen, which you well know, therefore you are muck raking to suit your twisted agenda.

    Sick

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  24. Longknives (4,686 comments) says:

    “Makes you appreciate how much American propaganda we read…”

    Yep- Because we all know Terrorist attacks never really happen, they are all orchestrated by those evil Americans.
    Those lovely peaceful Muslims could never do anything wrong..

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  25. dirtbag (22 comments) says:

    Could be as simple as an engine failure. Loss of one engine at that altitude needs be well managed. The aircraft cannot stay at that altitude on one engine and the pilot needs to initiate a descent to a lower altitude almost immediately. Also being a twin engine airplane it will yaw to side of the failed engine and if not handled correctly things can happen very quickly.
    In all, a simple procedure if well rehearsed and the correct actions taken. Captain in the toilet and a very inexperienced
    First Officer and who knows………….. Just sayin

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  26. Crusader (295 comments) says:

    The biggest argument against a terror attack is that no one has claimed responsibility. What good is a terror attack if nobody knows it’s one or why it was done?

    If planes randomly occasionally “disappeared” it would be a very effective terror tactic, in so far as it would deter air travel, and cause confusion and fear in the people of the free world, and disrupt the economy.

    Evil regimes would “disappear” their political enemies without warning in order to generate just that fear.

    The absence of a group claiming responsibility would actually compound the public anxiety. Very effective if you are an anti-capitalist anarchist group.

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  27. Lance (2,568 comments) says:

    @dirtbag

    It’s called a radio. They didn’t call it in, which is unlikely especially since they would be changing altitude

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  28. RRM (9,668 comments) says:

    Kowtow/Straya/Longknives –
    :lol: LOL yeah, because I’m so often “attacking America” right?

    I can see you know I’m right, because all you can do is pretend I’m some Anti-America nut.

    Grow up. There is no evidence of a terrorist attack. As soon as any evidence of a terrorist attack emerges, you know where to find me to point it out, and I’ll eat shit.

    Until then, feel free to keep talking about “agendas” but please be aware of your utter hypocrisy if you do that.

    There are about half a million things that can go wrong with a jet airliner. Rag head hijackers/terrorists are ONE of those things.

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  29. peterwn (3,215 comments) says:

    With respect to my earlier comment – the two on forged passports were transiting via China and did not need Chinese visas. They were flying onwards to Europe where the passports of inbound travelers may not be rigorously checked.
    See:
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11217078

    It is obviously important that passports presented at check-in are immediately checked against the Interpol database, and not rely on the destination nation receiving the passport number who might check it.

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  30. kowtow (7,968 comments) says:

    rrm

    I didn’t say it was terror (though that is of course a possibility) I just said you’ll take any op to damn the yanks.

    eggs

    evidence of pilot suicide from the Silkair crash?

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  31. KiwiGreg (3,226 comments) says:

    I doubt you’ll have to RRM. This was a flight from Malaysia to China, the only likely terrorists for that would be Uighars and their organisational ability is limited to showing up with knives to a train station. But it’s all idle speculation, the true facts will emerge over time.

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  32. RRM (9,668 comments) says:

    I just said you’ll take any op to damn the yanks.

    Which only goes to show how easily lying comes to you.

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  33. Lance (2,568 comments) says:

    @RRM
    You just changed the specific’s of what you were insinuating then label those who pointed out what shit you were talking as overacting or lying.
    I call bullshit on your debating style.

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  34. eszett (2,374 comments) says:

    SilkAir? Evidence please.

    Too lazy to google, kowtow?

    http://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=19971219-0

    Although not concluded by the Indonesian authorities, it has been suggested by a.o. the US NTSB that the captain may have committed suicide by switching off both flight recorders and intentionally putting the Boeing 737 in a dive, possibly when the first officer had left the flight deck.

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  35. kowtow (7,968 comments) says:

    Not sure that the High Court in Singapore agreed it was pilot suicide. But if google says so then google must be right.

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  36. eszett (2,374 comments) says:

    Not google. Kowtow, the US NTSB

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  37. kowtow (7,968 comments) says:

    “Suggestions” are now evidence?

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  38. UglyTruth (4,551 comments) says:

    http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/missing-malaysia-airlines-flight-ten-3223447

    Why are missing passenger’s mobile phones still ringing?

    At least one relative of a Chinese passenger on board the missing flight has successfully been able to ring his mobile phone – but nobody answers.

    Eerie video footage emerged of the family of the missing man ringing his phone live on state television.

    The call connected, but no one picked up.

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  39. ShawnLH (4,447 comments) says:

    It is ridiculously early to be making any speculations about this one way or another.

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  40. kowtow (7,968 comments) says:

    UT

    Do ya think it’s ringing in a secret site in the Texas desert?

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  41. holysheet (300 comments) says:

    In this day and age why is there still so much reliance on finding the “black box” flight recorder. With all the “clouds” recording every bit of data from my cell phone, laptops etc surely they can design a secure recorder that backs up all this flight data instantly to the cloud.

    They can still use the box as a backup if required.
    Just saying, It’s tricky.

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  42. kowtow (7,968 comments) says:

    holysheet

    Boeing will have an idea of what’s happened and where.Apparently their planes “talk” to Boeing all the time ,so something will be in the computers in Seattle or wherever.

    if the police establish there were more stolen passport passengers on board than the 2 already known then it’s starting to look like terrorism.

    The next point then will be ,why haven’t airlines tapped into better security when selling tickets.Surely these things are only a key stroke away.

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  43. cha (3,856 comments) says:

    Sort of contradictory, may have turned back/mid-air disintegration, but the sea where it might have gone down is relatively shallow at 30-116 metres so no real problems with search and recovery.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/09/us-exclusive-probe-plane-idUSBREA280FF20140309

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/09/us-malaysia-airlines-radar-idUSBREA2803X20140309

    http://whyevolutionistrue.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/sunda-shelf-fig19-10-21ka.jpg

    http://www.charts.noaa.gov/NGAViewer/93010.shtml

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  44. holysheet (300 comments) says:

    Yes Kowtow, I forgot about that.
    If John Deere in the states can talk to a tractor in the field in Waikato any time it is in use, then I guess Boeing will have a similar set up with their planes.

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  45. NoCash (256 comments) says:

    @holysheet
    The End of the Black Box: There’s a Better Way to Capture Plane Crash Data
    http://www.wired.com/magazine/2011/06/ff_blackboxes/

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  46. holysheet (300 comments) says:

    Yes NoCash that was a good link.
    The question is if it is so good, why is it not being used on all planes?

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  47. Fentex (909 comments) says:

    The End of the Black Box

    It really bugs me that people call Flight Data Recorders Black Boxes. Black Boxes are things that hide something from observation, Flight Data Recorders aren’t black (the first one called a Black Box was red), and not about hiding things.

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  48. Tookinator (218 comments) says:

    …And black boxes are not black but orange…

    Apparently the black boxes are pretty much indestructible, and they always find them…. So why don’t they make the planes out of the same stuff that they make the black boxes out of…? :-)

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  49. Ross Nixon (612 comments) says:

    If the ‘black/orange box’ contained a coiled line and flotation device that released if high-pressure (deep sea), or high G-forces were detected… would make finding them a little easier.

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  50. rightoverlabour (76 comments) says:

    The thing that puzzles me most is the sudden disappearance at 38000 feet from radar. Even if the pilot nosedived the plane it would still take a few minutes to hit the water and that should be tracked by radar. I may be wrong but its usually when the thing being tracked by radar suddenly becomes too small to return an echo, that it disappears from radar. Catastrophic disintegration either by depressurization because of a bomb (even small) or structural failure (unlikely) seems to be the most likely. That would also explain the lack of distress signal. The mystery though is, where is the debris?

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  51. Reid (16,111 comments) says:

    I may be wrong but its usually when the thing being tracked by radar suddenly becomes too small to return an echo, that it disappears from radar.

    I would assume the radar would have been using the aircraft’s transponder to show the signal not the reflection off the aircraft skin.

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  52. zebbyz (1 comment) says:

    So it appears if you collate news and cross ref, Malaysian military tracked it earlier than domestic radar. They however omitted to let SAR know that they were additionally searching not in the same sea as they rest of the SAR crews, but in the Straight of Malacca.

    Why would you not let the rest of the SAR know thats not where you think it went down ? Because maybe they were negligent and possibly aware that the Malaysian Military has mistakenly shot the plane down ?

    I’m not saying this happened, but the story makes logical sense. 19 phones still ringing – means they are not in the water. Why havn’t the signals been triangulated to the cell tower that has them ?

    This type of disaster has history.
    And the Soviets also – a Korean Airliner 1983
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korean_Air_Lines_Flight_007

    The US Navy – a Iranian Airliner 1988.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran_Air_Flight_655?Vincennes

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