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.'"
> How much of a structural or electronic failure does that take, in a triple-redundant system?
This is the real question. Even if the wings fell off, there'd be electrical power, and there are multiple antennas. Total loss of communication is extremely unlikely. Even if the pilots were unconscious, there should be ACARS or other automatic transmissions.