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posted by LaminatorX on Monday March 10 2014, @07:10PM   Printer-friendly
from the The-Presses-Keep-Rolling dept.

Papas Fritas writes:

"Bill Palmer, an Airbus A330 captain for a major airline, and author of the book 'Understanding Air France 447.' has an interesting read at CNN on why there have been so few clues about the fate of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, beginning with the lack of a distress call. According to Palmer the lack of a distress call is not particularly perplexing. 'An aviator's priorities are to maintain control of the airplane above all else. An emergency could easily consume 100% of a crew's efforts. To an airline pilot, the absence of radio calls to personnel on the ground that could do little to help the immediate situation is no surprise.'

Reports of a possible course reversal observed on radar could be the result of intentional crew actions but not necessarily says Palmer. During Air France 447's 3-1/2 minute descent to the Atlantic Ocean, it too changed its heading by more than 180 degrees, but it was an unintentional side effect as the crew struggled to gain control of the airplane. The Malaysian flight's last telemetry data, as reported by flightaware.com, shows the airplane at 35,000 feet. Even with a dual engine failure, a Boeing 777 is capable of gliding about 120 miles from that altitude yielding a search area roughly the size of Pennsylvania, with few clues within that area where remains of the aircraft might be. "This investigation may face many parallels to Air France 447, an Airbus A330 that crashed in an area beyond radar coverage in the ocean north of Brazil in June 2009. Like the Air France plane, the Malaysia Airlines aircraft was a state-of-the-art, fly-by-wire airplane (a Boeing 777) with an excellent safety record," says Palmer. 'We will know the truth of what happened when the aircraft is found and the recorders and wreckage are analyzed. In the meantime, speculation is often inaccurate and unproductive.'"

 
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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by mmcmonster on Monday March 10 2014, @07:28PM

    by mmcmonster (401) on Monday March 10 2014, @07:28PM (#14192)

    A missing flight in an age of constant surveillance. I don't know what to make of things like this.

    We always hear about all the spy satellites pointed down at the Earth instead of up at the heavens. Are there governments that know the truth but can't reveal it without giving up too much classified knowledge? Or do they know less about the going ons of flights in the air than we suspect?

    Even with the daunting task of searching a piece of the ocean the size of Pennsylvania, it humbles me that we have so little clues to go on as to what really happened.

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  • (Score: 3, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 10 2014, @07:34PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 10 2014, @07:34PM (#14195)

    >>>>A missing flight in an age of constant surveillance. I don't know what to make of things like this.

    Obviously we need to double the surveillance budget to ensure something like this never happens again.

    • (Score: 3, Funny) by Pslytely Psycho on Tuesday March 11 2014, @03:25AM

      by Pslytely Psycho (1218) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @03:25AM (#14454)

      "Obviously we need to double the surveillance budget to ensure something like this never happens again."

      If there is a god, this is his chance to prove himself...so here's my prayer:
      O' Benevolent One...
      We Soylentils beseech thee,
      Allow no politician EVER to read this quote..
      Amen.

      --
      Trump succeeds in making Nixon look respectable, Mission Accomplished!
  • (Score: 2, Informative) by Ken_g6 on Monday March 10 2014, @07:52PM

    by Ken_g6 (3706) on Monday March 10 2014, @07:52PM (#14207)

    Surveillance may tell you less than you expect. For instance, GPS tracking requires both a GPS receiver and some kind of transmitter to report those coordinates - unlike what they show in the movies and on TV.

    This makes me wonder, however: With airplanes having in-flight Internet, why don't commercial airliners send a short message (anything from Internet packets to Iridium SMS would do) reporting a plane's call sign, GPS coordinates, and GPS direction and speed, once every minute? At Iridium prepaid rates [sattransusa.com] that would cost only $324 for a 12-hour flight. And the airlines could surely negotiate better deals.

    If you ask, "send it where?", given the complexities of surveillance and international flights, I'd suggest sending it to the airline's headquarters. From there, nations could file requests for the data in case of accidents like this one.

    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by emg on Monday March 10 2014, @08:16PM

      by emg (3464) on Monday March 10 2014, @08:16PM (#14236)

      "With airplanes having in-flight Internet, why don't commercial airliners send a short message (anything from Internet packets to Iridium SMS would do) reporting a plane's call sign, GPS coordinates, and GPS direction and speed, once every minute"

      Most already do:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automatic_dependent_s urveillance-broadcast [wikipedia.org]

      However, that requires working radio transmitters. I believe this airliner was sending ADS broadcasts before it disappeared from radar, and ATC stopped receiving them afterwards... so, if it didn't crash, it either wasn't able to tell anyone where it was, or was out of range of any station that could receive it.

    • (Score: 5, Informative) by VLM on Monday March 10 2014, @08:19PM

      by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 10 2014, @08:19PM (#14243)

      google for ACARS and to a lesser extent, or maybe a cousin of your idea, ADS-B. Also see how EPIRB are supposed to work, assuming you don't hit the water going supersonic.

      Might also want to look into modern radar transponders, and just plain old radio. Pick up a mic and say WTF.

      The coast guard equivalent is something called AIS, which also does about what you think it should.

      Works real well if you have a "five minute long" problem over an area with good RX coverage. Not so well for utter catastrophe (like the wing or tail literally falls off in flight or something)

      All those services are broadcast rather than SPOF. If you're already in trouble, the last thing you need is a SPOF.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 11 2014, @11:56AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 11 2014, @11:56AM (#14587)

        The right wing came off in flight. This aircraft had a collision with a Airbus from China eastern airlines a few years ago while taxiing and it took off the last 3 feet of the right wing. This damage was repaired however the maintenance people.may not have checked the wing root for cracks. Over the course of the last two years the small crack developed into a large crack that structurally compromised the aircraft. The proof of this is that the flightradar 24 telemetry shows the aircraft track veered to the right just before losing contact. This would be expected since the left wing is still generating lift and makes the aircraft tumble to the right slightly as it goes down. The high g acceleration may explain the loss of the altitude information in the ADS_B telemetery on the flightradar 24 website (high g and loss of wing damaged avionics).

        • (Score: 2) by gottabeme on Wednesday March 12 2014, @11:51AM

          by gottabeme (1531) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @11:51AM (#15197)

          Maybe, but complete loss of the right wing would cause the aircraft to roll continuously to the right, not simply turn right. It also wouldn't cause loss of electrical power, nor "wing-damaged avionics"). If the wing fell off it would immediately fall behind the aircraft. It might strike the tail or the fuselage on its way back, but it wouldn't take out anything forward of the wing.