Malaysia Airline Flight MH370

The Crewroom for non-FS related stuff, fun and general chat.

Moderators: The Ministry, Guru's

nigelb
Battle of Britain
Battle of Britain
Posts: 4176
Joined: 11 Apr 2005, 17:19
Location: Herndon, Virginia, USA

Malaysia Airline Flight MH370

Post by nigelb » 24 Jun 2019, 16:01

A very harrowing Atlantic magazine article about MH370. "What Really Happened to Malaysia's Missing Airplane"
https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/ar ... es/590653/

Nigel²

TobyV
Vintage Pair
Vintage Pair
Posts: 2808
Joined: 26 Jun 2004, 20:41
Location: Chocolate, cheese, banks and watches
Contact:

Re: Malaysia Airline Flight MH370

Post by TobyV » 26 Jun 2019, 08:19

A very long read! Various groups have now seemingly decided to pin it on the captain. In light of the Germanwings flight that was intentionally flown into the Alps, that perhaps has more credibility than it would otherwise have and of course perhaps the police or other security agencies have [non-public] information that more or less confirms this conclusion.

My own personal theory was the idea of a fire in the hold or in the electronics bay - perhaps triggered by the quantity of lithium batteries being carried as freight - progressively knocking out systems and finally causing a depressurisation when the stress in the skin exceeded the material properties at high temperature. This I believed would not only cause a loss of cabin pressure but also a extinguish the fire due to lack of oxygen. I reasoned that the initial tight turn was thus a turn back, perhaps towards Penang or Langkawi and the rest as a result of whatever remaining autopilot functions were working and the incapacitation of all on board.

It's clear that the initial "confusion" after the disappearance, which in hindsight looks unnecessary, lost precious time and diverted resources from searching in the correct area. I reasoned that had the Digital Globe satellite been tasked to photograph the "correct" area soon enough, it might even have been possible to catch it still in flight, given how many hours it continued to fly for.

I hope it will one day be found and this can finally be solved. Seemingly since then, there have been no similar incidents, so perhaps whatever the cause was, is not a high risk. Even so, it would be good for all if the true causal chain could be unravelled.

nigelb
Battle of Britain
Battle of Britain
Posts: 4176
Joined: 11 Apr 2005, 17:19
Location: Herndon, Virginia, USA

Re: Malaysia Airline Flight MH370

Post by nigelb » 26 Jun 2019, 20:18

A plausible theory, Toby. Except that, if memory serves, some of the systems provided by satellite for in-flight entertainment and other information disappeared then came back to life later in the flight. Not a likely occurrence if a fire had initially killed the system. Another clue is the final very tight turn to the Southwest was far more drastic than an autopilot would have performed, indicating the aircraft was under manual control.

For me the most interesting clue was the Captain had used his Microsoft Flight Simulator to fly a very similar route a month earlier. The forensic experts who examined his computer determined the flight path and that the captain had allowed his simulator aircraft to run out of fuel heading southwest towards Antarctica. Rather strange as if the simulator was used to fly a "normal" flight to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur, you wouldn't plan on turning back towards the Malaysian peninsula and then fly over Penang , turn northwest over the Strait of Malacca then execute a sharp turn to the southwest over the Indian Ocean and towards Antarctica. If he was planing a simulator emergency flight, I believe there is an airport at Penang and bar that, plenty of airports in Indonesia or Thailand. Just a little fishy to me!

I should have mentioned it is rather a long article, around 35 pages, but I found it riveting reading.

Nigel²
Last edited by nigelb on 27 Jun 2019, 16:39, edited 1 time in total.

TobyV
Vintage Pair
Vintage Pair
Posts: 2808
Joined: 26 Jun 2004, 20:41
Location: Chocolate, cheese, banks and watches
Contact:

Re: Malaysia Airline Flight MH370

Post by TobyV » 26 Jun 2019, 22:26

I probably skipped over that bit - just re-read that part. I skim read it after I should have gone to bed! I had heard such assertions about a simulated flight before, but I wasn't sure how much history MSFS actually kept, if any at all. I'd also seen the bit about the tight turn not being possible on the autopilot, but I imagined, if faced with an emergency, taking manual control would be about the first thing one would do? Thus, that the military radar traces suggested that the aircraft was being been flown manually wasn't a surprise to me.

I've now read the linked "New Yorker" article where they claim to have information obtained from the Malaysian Police that he had indeed flown such a route on a simulator. I can imagine kids flying crazy scenarios on a simulator, but for a professional pilot, that does seem a little odd. There is also an explanation of how he might have come to be alone in the cockpit. Previously I had reasoned that he either would have had to incapacitate the other pilot or he would have had to have been complicit, on the basis that I thought it unlikely that the PF would leave the cockpit voluntarily during such a crucial and early flight phase.

The other thing - and maybe this is also explained in the article - it talks about the plane being intentionally depressurised, but the cockpit having oxygen that can last for hours - but surely if depressurised, wouldn't the cabin and cockpit temperature sink to substantially below zero for which a white shirt and even a pilot's jacket would not be enough to keep you from hypothermia?

I have tended to look for "accidental" explanations because without clear and concrete evidence, I don't like to point the finger at specific individuals.

I must admit this incident has fascinated me from the start. With all the technology we have these days and even military technology that probably exists that we don't know about, the idea that a 777 can just disappear and no one really know what happened to it seems implausible. As an engineer, I also have a mindset that wants to establish the route cause and learn from any failings to implement changes to prevent a repeat and of course for anyone with a personal connection to those lost in this accident, to know what happened might offer some closure.

airboatr
Red Arrows
Red Arrows
Posts: 6283
Joined: 25 Oct 2007, 07:17

Re: Malaysia Airline Flight MH370

Post by airboatr » 27 Jun 2019, 01:10

Reflecting on my time in sim.
I have never set up my aircraft to fly into the abyss.
It never crossed my mind actually *-)

I have however flown some precarious sorties in sim that would cause the white shirt black tie types to raise a brow but,
stunt flying is allowed.
And of course, the object of stunt flying is; to do the stunt (aloft) and then land the plane safely. Because - there are refreshing refreshments waiting. :agree: ;)
Image

blanston12
Concorde
Concorde
Posts: 1780
Joined: 28 Jun 2004, 20:45
Location: San Francsico, California

Re: Malaysia Airline Flight MH370

Post by blanston12 » 27 Jun 2019, 06:57

A great read and a very plausible theory. Assuming the facts are correct, the turns, depressurization and then re-pressurization. An experienced captain is really the only person capable of doing it, as described in the story. I do remember in the early days testing aircraft by taking off from Meigs field flying around a bit and then getting bored and flying into a tall building. Or later testing the range of an AC by taking off from KSEA and flying east until I ran out of fuel, to compare the range of the AC in sim from the specs. But have never thought about trying a flight like that described in the story. I do find the idea he did that to leave a bread crumb as to what happened a bit implausible, if he wanted to give a message he would have been more explicit, but it is very plausible he was practicing. In any case its very sad if this pilot did this on purpose, taking the lives of all those innocent people as part of his suicide.
Joe Cusick,

Image
I am serious, and don't call me Shirley.

nigelb
Battle of Britain
Battle of Britain
Posts: 4176
Joined: 11 Apr 2005, 17:19
Location: Herndon, Virginia, USA

Re: Malaysia Airline Flight MH370

Post by nigelb » 27 Jun 2019, 17:10

A few points for Toby. " if faced wit an emergency, taking manual control would be about the first thing one would do? Thus, that the military radar traces suggested that the aircraft was being been flown manually wasn't a surprise to me."

True, but you would expect if an emergency had occurred shortly after take-off you would return to Kuala Lumpur or proceed to Penang for an emergency landing. You would not turn northwest and fly up the Strait of Malacca between two land masses then turn sharply southwest heading away from land (and airports) flying over the Indian Ocean.

The article linked to the New York magazine story (The New Yorker is a different mag.) indicates that the FBI, at the request if the Malaysian Polie, did the forensic research on the captain's hard drive containing FSX, They recovered six data points from the simulator flight:
https://pixel.nymag.com/imgs/daily/inte ... 473.2x.jpg
MH370’s presumed flight path is in yellow. Zaharie’s simulated suicide flight is in red.

It is hard to believe that an experienced pilot would commit an act of suicide and mass murder, but this is not the first time this has happened. Hopefully, it will be the last. Unfortunately, I can only conclude that this despicable act on the Captain's part is the only plausible explanation for what happened to MH370

TobyV
Vintage Pair
Vintage Pair
Posts: 2808
Joined: 26 Jun 2004, 20:41
Location: Chocolate, cheese, banks and watches
Contact:

Re: Malaysia Airline Flight MH370

Post by TobyV » 27 Jun 2019, 20:59

Well the way my theory went, you noticed you have a fire and you turn, you then suffer a depressurisation and perhaps you don't make it down to a safe altitude in time before you lose consciousness or become otherwise incapacitated.

I had seen that plot, it's in the New Yorker article. Certainly there is a very compelling case, if what is presented is true, that it was indeed intentionally taken. I don't know their cultures well enough but I could imagine they might not want to be too transparent about this even if it can be more or less proved, in the same way we knew early on what happened in the Germanwings case. But as the latter case shows, this could affect anyone, anywhere.

What concerns me more, if the article is correct and the aircraft was completely shattered on impact, then the wreckage could have dispersed very widely and there might not be [m]any pieces of significant size making the search effort almost impossible, especially given the potential search area, the depth and the terrain of the ocean floor there which I am told is like the Alps :(

nigelb
Battle of Britain
Battle of Britain
Posts: 4176
Joined: 11 Apr 2005, 17:19
Location: Herndon, Virginia, USA

Re: Malaysia Airline Flight MH370

Post by nigelb » 27 Jun 2019, 23:06

TobyV wrote:
27 Jun 2019, 20:59
......... I don't know their cultures well enough but I could imagine they might not want to be too transparent about this even if it can be more or less proved, in the same way we knew early on what happened in the Germanwings case. But as the latter case shows, this could affect anyone, anywhere.

What concerns me more, if the article is correct and the aircraft was completely shattered on impact, then the wreckage could have dispersed very widely and there might not be [m]any pieces of significant size making the search effort almost impossible, especially given the potential search area, the depth and the terrain of the ocean floor there which I am told is like the Alps :(
Toby, your imagination is right on! My daughter interned for part of her Senior year at Uni for the New Straits Times in Kuala Lumpur and she confirms the attitude in Malaysia about embarrassing the country, any nation institution such as the airline or any individual in a position of authority such as a senior pilot She relates that when she suggested a revision to a headline that the editor had made, she was told "Remember, your not in America now." Avoiding embarrassment and saving face is typical in many Asian cultures. The final report issued by the Malaysian Police did not mention the FBI findings on the flight simulator path. A lack of transparency to avoid any embarrassment.

That the plane was shatered on impact is supported by the widespread area in which small pieces of the aircraft have been found. I doubt the crash site will ever be found and even if it is, there won't be much left of the wreckage.

Nigel²

TobyV
Vintage Pair
Vintage Pair
Posts: 2808
Joined: 26 Jun 2004, 20:41
Location: Chocolate, cheese, banks and watches
Contact:

Re: Malaysia Airline Flight MH370

Post by TobyV » 11 Jul 2019, 22:27


Post Reply