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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: 4, Insightful) by bucc5062 on Monday March 10 2014, @07:53PM

    by bucc5062 (699) on Monday March 10 2014, @07:53PM (#14211)

    I feel this statement is confusing to the other comments about communication:

    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 a 120 mile glide range, figuring 1000-1500 fpm decent there would be plenty of time for at least one crew member to get off a quick message. "Hey got a problem engines flamed out, gliding...". Granted the adage is Aviate, Navigate, Communicate with communication being the last thing to do. However, a commercial airliner flying over an ocean at night is not navigating by eye sight to find a preferred landing zone. They would be navigating by communicating to ATC with best known position and vectors to anything (even a ship) that could be used to assist in the landing.

    No communication and no airplane would be more like something knocked out their ability to push a button and speak. It could have been electronic, a fire that burned comm wires before becoming known (doubtful thought since SwissAir had a fire and talked all the way till it crashed), catastrophic events like an explosion et al. These days a pilot will use that radio very quickly to report "something".

    I am thinking more along the lines of Flight 800 out of JFK. Not so much the theories behind why, but the similar case where the pilots never could get out a radio signal because the "explosion" occurred right behind them, cutting everything out in one shot.

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  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by zocalo on Monday March 10 2014, @08:19PM

    by zocalo (302) on Monday March 10 2014, @08:19PM (#14242)
    I'm leaning strongly towards a catastrophic failure at altitude at this point too; either breaking up at cruising height or a nose dive into the sea as a result of a major system fault would almost certainly prevent the pilots from getting off a mayday. I'm also keeping an open mind on the stolen passports issue, even with the supposed Iranian connection. Maybe it was terrorism, maybe not, but without some other data there is absolutely nothing specific linking those two passengers with terrorism. They could simply have been heading to Europe as illegal immigrants and just had the ill fortune to get on a doomed flight.

    The one thing that does occur on that though is why isn't there an automatic mayday system in place for passenger airliners and so on yet, since many of the talking heads are saying the "aviate, navigate, communicate" mantra? A system whereby if something happens to the aircraft outside of a given performance envelope, then assume the worst and auto-transmit critical data independantly of anything the crew might send to enable early responders to get on to the scene as soon as possible. Location data, obviously, but also stuff like selected telemetry data and some of the most recent contents of the blackbox data.
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    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by VLM on Monday March 10 2014, @08:25PM

      by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 10 2014, @08:25PM (#14252)

      "nothing specific linking those two passengers with terrorism."

      They almost certainly have nothing to do with it other than maybe false flag.

      So you're planning something fishy but first you've got to gather some paperwork. Only a total idiot would not have the paperwork all in order and legit. The 9/11 guys were totally legit (mostly) saudi's till they started behaving badly. Real bad idea to risk screwing up a major multi-person op because you couldn't be bothered to get a simple legit passport. Even if "they" had 3 people on board, or 30 people, they'd be total idiots not to make sure they all have perfect paperwork.

    • (Score: 2, Funny) by Rivenaleem on Monday March 10 2014, @08:32PM

      by Rivenaleem (3400) on Monday March 10 2014, @08:32PM (#14258)

      I'm still going with my theory that they were swallowed up by a bigger plane (http://soylentnews.org/comments.pl?sid=576&cid=13 974)

      • (Score: 1) by Yog-Yogguth on Tuesday March 11 2014, @03:39AM

        by Yog-Yogguth (1862) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 11 2014, @03:39AM (#14463) Journal

        Wow that's some huge banana-shaped plane and I don't mean in the usual direction.

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    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by bucc5062 on Monday March 10 2014, @08:35PM

      by bucc5062 (699) on Monday March 10 2014, @08:35PM (#14262)

      I'm going to see if I can find this back it up, but I think I remember a show where either Boeing or GE had monitoring sensors on the engines that reported in almost real time. If that was the case I would think it would have been already accessed, but it does add to the thought that modern airliners have lots of communication streams coming and going from it. Did the plane have WiFi on board (could be used to better locate last known position).

      I figure they have experts that know this stuff so either (1) it does not exist or (2) they wont release that type of information gathering to the public or (3) they don't want us to know for other reasons.

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