MH370

I dare someone to make sense of even those things about the missing Malaysian airliner that seem written in stone at this point.

(1) Someone turned off the transponder a long time before the plane stopped flying.
(2) Someone reprogrammed the autopilot to follow a new course.
(3) Several countries’ military radar tracked the plane west until it disappeared over the Andaman sea.
(4) The plane temporarily climbed to 45,000 feet after it changed course.
(5) Its engines sent automatic updates by satellite every once in a while. The last ‘ping’ indicated that MH370 was still flying seven hours after it disappeared. Further,
(6) The ‘ping’ indicated the last known location of the plane, somewhere on the circle in orange (the satellite is in the center of the circle):

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(7) The circle in white indicates roughly how far it could fly before it ran out of fuel.

Now I will add some assumptions that strike me as pretty safe.

(8) The flight probably did not pass over or near any more highly populated landmasses. Not every inch of Earth is covered by military radar, but the seas and borders around Malaysia/Indonesia are busy, not-100%-friendly and have lots of complex borders. Therefore most of that arc of land east of the Indian Ocean is covered. Northwest Australia also has plenty of heads up.
(9) It did not fly over mainland India or China, It did not cross the Himalaya/Karakoram mountain ranges and it certainly did not get anywhere near Kashmir or the India/Pakistan border without being detected.
(10) MH370 did not land on a friendly airstrip and I doubt that it landed in Burma. Provoking China like that would be suicidally dumb even for the junta.
(11) Yes the region has tons of old airstrips from WWII, but to reach them the plane would have to fly back over Malaysia or Indonesia, i.e. tracked airspace.

What possibilities do we have left? A pilot with Egyptair 900 in mind would not cool his heels for seven hours until the plane ran out of fuel. That leaves me with two scenarios. In both cases I guess that whoever was in control used the sudden climb to 45,000 feet to knock out most people on board with low pressure. First you have 9/11, but if so it didn’t work. John Aravosis noted that a plane headed for Diego Garcia would probably be intercepted. That is an awful, horrible thought, but I will leave it up here since at least that fits in the gaps between things that we know not to be true. The other possibility is equally nuts. Someone inspired by the 2002 film Mission: Impossible 2 would have seven hours to find some macguffin in the cabin or the cargo hold (from what I heard the cabin has access to both holds in the 777) and jump out over a preset GPS coordinate. Friends wait at the coordinates to pick you up and the plane runs out of fuel somewhere west of Australia.

Again, I don’t assume that either of those things happened. But I do think we have a striking lack of non-supernatural explanations that cannot be quickly ruled out by things we already know. If anyone has a more sensible idea that (1) fits the current facts and (2) makes some sense on a human level then please share it. I am at a loss.

***Update***

This informed speculation by a professional pilot makes a lot of sense. I would jump at the idea that the crew was overcome by smoke from an electrical fire except that the plane kept changing course after it passed what seems like the best emergency airport, and if it kept going at its last known heading it either would have crashed over land or at least pass close to the India/Pakistan border. Plus the westerly course takes it far from the last satellite ping.

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213 replies
  1. 1
  2. 2
    Linnaeus says:

    Via a link at LG&M, here’s a possible scenario. Shorter version: there was a fire (either electrical or landing gear), the pilot headed for a nearby airport (the sharp left turn), crew was overcome by smoke or somehow incapacitated, plane flew on autopilot until it ran out of fuel and crashed in the Indian Ocean.

  3. 3
    pharniel says:

    Damn your fast hands RR – I was about to post that

  4. 4
    chopper says:

    as a pilot just blogged, likely an electrical fire or maybe a tire fire (causing nasty-ass smoke).

    if electrical fire, they’d pull the circuits, and the pilot turned around to find a landing strip. maybe even tried to increase the altitude to put out part of the fire.

    either way, the fire knocked everyone out, the plane overshot the airport the pilot intended to land at, and kept going on autopilot until it either ran out of fuel or whatever.

    in which case it would have crashed somewhere in the S indian ocean, SW of indonesia.

    this makes a lot more sense than hijacking or space wombats or whatever a lot of others are talking about.

    ETA: i see others got there first.

  5. 5
    rikyrah says:

    The entire possibility scenarios creep me out.

  6. 6
    pharniel says:

    Also http://www.askthepilot.com/mal.....light-370/ got there first 5 days ago:)

  7. 7

    No, no, no. I had this all figured out on Sunday:

    Part of me feels like this is all an elaborate hoax designed by Hollywood to promote the new movie version of “Lost.”

    It is the only reasonable explanation.

  8. 8
    c u n d gulag says:

    I know nothing about flying a plane.

    All I can vouch for, is that if I was on that plane, I doubt if I’d know what the hell happened to me.

    My pre-flight ritual as a passenger, has always consisted of downing three triple bourbons, and washing them down with 3 large beers, and then waddling to the gate, and onto the plane.
    And chain-smoking on the plane, back when that was still allowed.

    Now, add in all of the stupid shit they put passengers through after 9/11.

    There’s one good thing about not having a corporate job anymore (or any job, for the last 4 years), is that I don’t have to fly anymore.

  9. 9
    D58826 says:

    One theory is that flight 370 shadowed another plane so that it’s radar return would merge with the shadowed aircraft. It seems farfetched but the Israeli’s used the technique on the Entebbe mission. There was some speculation that the Russians mixed up Korean 007 with an American recon flight when there radar returns merged.

    Some guy in Canada plotted the assumed northern course of flight 370 with a Singapore airlines flight to Madrid. Flight 370 could have hooked up with the Singapore flight by following the waypoints that the radar track identified. It would explain why the plane followed such an odd course.

    Obviously the first reaction is that’s its more likely that Mr. Scott beamed up the plane than the 370 shadowed another 777 but there is the Isrealii example so it is possible. Takes a lot of planning and a darn good pilot though.

  10. 10
    Schlemizel says:

    I guess I don’t remember MI2 but that makes as much sense as anything else I have heard. If it were suicide why wait? DIve & get it over with. If it were terrorists or kidnapping we would have heard something by now. In fact I am very surprised some clever group has not claimed responsibility simply to gain a reputation.

    I thought of the catastrophic failure scenario at first a la Payne Stewart but the changes to the computer rule that out. Now, if there had been a fire going to 45,000 might make sense as it would certainly stop the fire. But could the fire been so bad & so fast that no emergency warning or distress call could be sent?

  11. 11
    Violet says:

    Posted this in the previous thread:

    13.52 Reports from a Maldives news organisation that islanders saw a “low flying jumbo jet”. The Haveeru news website reports witnesses saw a plane flying low at around 6.15am on March 8. It was apparently flying north to south-east. A witness told the news organisation

    I’ve never seen a jet flying so low over our island before. We’ve seen seaplanes, but I’m sure that this was not one of those. I could even make out the doors on the plane clearly.

    It’s not just me either, several other residents have reported seeing the exact same thing. Some people got out of their houses to see what was causing the tremendous noise too.

    Link to Maldives news organization.

    Edit: Apparently flying low means it uses less fuel? I think I’ve picked this up on some pilot forum I’ve been skimming. That would possibly extend the range, right?

  12. 12
    Betty Cracker says:

    Wouldn’t there be a mayday if there was a fire? I get that it’s a panic situation, but unless it was a fire that completely engulfed the plane in seconds, you’d think someone would attempt contact. (Stipulated: I know nothing about aviation; that just seems logical to me. I am a boater, and the few times I’ve been scared on a boat, I knew exactly where that EPIRB was.)

  13. 13
    the Conster says:

    @Schlemizel:

    Yes, this is the flaw in the fire theory, that it’s hard to imagine taking the time to fly up to 45,000 feet and then back down without communicating an emergency signal somehow.

  14. 14
    Violet says:

    @Schlemizel: One theory I’ve seen for the elaborate path if it’s a suicide is so the family can collect the insurance money. If it’s a suicide they wouldn’t collect. Don’t know if that’s true, but it’s a theory.

  15. 15
    D58826 says:

    @Schlemizel: I remember at least 3 crashes involving fire (the one in the Everglades, the Swissair flight in Nova Scotia and a UPS cargo flight in the middle east) and in three cases the crew had time to radio a mayday and begin to turn back to the airport. Obviously they never made it but the lack of a mayday over the course of 7 hours and the fact that the plane was tracked by primary/military radar for at least an hour seems to make the fire theory less likely. If it was a fire they also passed over a large airport in western Malaysia that they could have landed at. If the crew was disabled who entered all of the new flight data into the computer? If they couldn’t send a mayday I doubt they would have had time to fool with the flight management system.

    All in all more theories than answers

  16. 16
    MomSense says:

    @Violet:

    At this point I have no idea whether any possible scenarios are farfetched or not. The whole thing is so strange–and creepy.

  17. 17
    Bill Arnold says:

    @Schlemizel:

    If it were suicide why wait? Dive & get it over with.

    I don’t consider suicide to be a high probability scenario (FWIW), but there are reasons for disguising a suicide, e.g. insurance, or cultural prohibitions. Also, hypoxia could have made the plane an aeronautical Mary Celeste.

  18. 18
    Trollhattan says:

    @Violet:

    IIUC flying low would mean using more, not less fuel. Plane should be most efficient at its cruising altitude, probably 25-35k feet for this one. Flying low could mean looking to ditch on water, avoiding radar, running out of fuel, dealing with loss of cabin pressure….

  19. 19
    D58826 says:

    @Violet: Low altitude increases fuel consumption – more air resistance

  20. 20
    jonas says:

    @Linnaeus: There would have been some kind of emergency distress call from the cockpit if there were a fire or other onboard emergency that didn’t result in a catastrophic disintegration of the aircraft.

  21. 21
    Tim F. says:

    @Violet: The Maldives would make perfect sense as far as everything we know, except for that last satellite ping. The location is all wrong for that.

    @Schlemizel: re terrorists, various groups claim credit every time something blows up. Intelligence agencies have learned to roll their eyes unless they have something more than an after-the-fact phone call to go on.

  22. 22
    The Dangerman says:

    @Linnaeus:

    …there was a fire … the pilot headed for a nearby airport (the sharp left turn), crew was overcome by smoke or somehow incapacitated, plane flew on autopilot until it ran out of fuel and crashed in the Indian Ocean.

    That’s my read, too; that would also explain the rise to 45K and the stall to drop like a rock until it recovered.

  23. 23
    MikeJ says:

    @jonas: Yes, they would call the fire department who would come out to them and put the fire out.

    Or they could realise that there is nothing that anybody who wasn’t already on the plane could do and spend their time flying the plane and putting out the fire.

  24. 24
    charluckles says:

    How does a plane with a severe enough problem (fire?) to cause the incapacitation of the pilots, crew, and passengers and cause significant damage to some systems, go on flying for 6 hours?

  25. 25
    D58826 says:

    @The Dangerman: The latest version of events has the turn controlled by the flight computer. The last ACARS transmission reported the update to the flight plan so that all happened around 1am or so. I would think if they were responding to an inflight emergency the pilots would take it out of autopilot since they can respond faster than having to enter something in the computer first

  26. 26
    Seth Owen says:

    Reports that the left hand turn were pre-set into the flight computer seems to rule out any in-flight emergency such as a fire.

  27. 27
    Seth Owen says:

    Reports that the left hand turn were pre-set into the flight computer seems to rule out any in-flight emergency such as a fire.

  28. 28
    beltane says:

    @jonas: The Air France plane that crashed off the coast of Brazil also did not issue a distress call. In life or death situations it is not inconceivable that all efforts are focused on immediate survival, not on contacting air traffic control who, after all, are not going to be able to do much. Smoke inhalation may have disabled the crew before they had an opportunity to contact the ground.

  29. 29
    Birthmarker says:

    @Linnaeus: This has been my theory. Something catastrophic happened, there was just enough time for the pilot to do a thing or two, then autopilot til crashing. I don’t know why no one sent a text or call unless things happened unbelievably fast.

  30. 30
    dmsilev says:

    @charluckles: Hypothetically, if smoke filled the cabin and choked/knocked out everyone, the plane could happily fly for a while on autopilot.

  31. 31
    Suffern ACE says:

    I’ve never been knocked out at 45,000 feet. I’m assuming it isn’t fatal. Would it incapacitate someone for 6 hours?

  32. 32
    David says:

    It probably wasn’t a fire for the following reasons:

    1. Timing – this event started right at the absolute possible best time for a hijacker to take the plane, namely during the handoff between Malaysian ATC and Vietnamese ATC. They had said goodnight to Malaysia and were in “no man’s land”, due to report in to Vietnam. That is when the transponder was turned off and the plane turned around. Taken together with all the other data, the timing is just too extraordinary to ignore.

    2. The posited malfunction shut of both systems, two transponders and the ACAR. Though this is theoretically possible it is very unlikely and is not at all likely to happen in an emergency scenario where the pilots still have time to enter a new flight plan into their still-functioning computer yet no time yet no time to radio in a mayday… and again, especially out of the question considering that this all happened at the perfect time to make the plane go missing without arousing immediate suspicion.

    3. The plane flew back across the Malay peninsula, possibly very low. This fits a March 11 report of fisherman at Khota Barhu who said they saw a plane flying “so low the lights were as big as coconuts about 1:30 AM” – this report came out BEFORE any news of the plane having turned around was reported, at the time people still thought it was out in the Gulf of Thailand somewhere or blew up, so now that it came out later that indeed the plane turned around and overflew Kota Bahru, possibly low, their previous witness report seems to have confirmed that before the fact). So the plane was probably low enough for somebody to at least be able to send a text message and get it through if they were in distress, but there is absolutely no indication of this happening. No cell phone calls or text messages despite the altitude. The plane then ascended and hit three known navigational waypoints that would take it to an air corridor that goes to the Middle East. The plane was heading NORTHWEST along this air corridor when it exceeded Malaysian radar capability. If this route had been programmed in by overcome pilots, then the plane would have simply continued on that way – it would not have then inexplicably turned around and headed south to the southern Indian ocean. So the plane would have continued on and crashed somewhere on this known route over land and we’d know about it by now.

    Because of the facts about an auto-pilot / overcome pilot scenario makes no sense.

  33. 33
    patrick II says:

    @raging red:

    That makes more sense to me than any other thing I have read about the disappearance of the plane, plus for me it fits the Occam’s razor test.

  34. 34
    beltane says:

    @Suffern ACE: Smoke inhalation can disable someone forever.

  35. 35
    blueskies says:

    @D58826: Unless they got low for unavoidable reasons. Then the plan would be to fly within a wingspan of the ocean, in ‘ground effect’. In essence, it’s like surfing along in a lower drag/higher lift zone (depending on how you look at it). Several WWII bombers did this to get back from missions after being damaged. Some commercial airliners have done it, too, I believe.

  36. 36
    Tim F. says:

    @charluckles: A tire fire would at least explain that. The tire would produce enough smoke to incapacitate everyone, but the fire itself probably would not spread throughout the plane.

  37. 37
    Mark B. says:

    @Tim F.: The Maldives sighting was of a jet headed southeasterly. MH370 would have been headed west, unless the crew was still alive and directing the plane.

    About the only thing south of the Maldives is the U.S./British naval and air base Diego Garcia. Maybe they saw a military craft being sent there from Asia?

  38. 38
    dmsilev says:

    @Birthmarker:

    I don’t know why no one sent a text or call unless things happened unbelievably fast.

    Ordinary cell phones aren’t going to be of much help; you’re a long long way away from the nearest tower. Maybe if the plane had a WiFi system that used a satellite relay (though if such a system were installed, you’d think that logs from the satellite would be available by now).

  39. 39
    D58826 says:

    @Suffern ACE: I saw an article this morning and you have 30 seconds to get on oxygen before you begin to lose consciousness. Much longer than that and you don’t wake up. And yes it is fatal.

  40. 40
    Emerald says:

    @the Conster: @Betty Cracker:
    Emergency communications would be the last on the list, according to the article:

    For me, the loss of transponders and communications makes perfect sense in a fire. And there most likely was an electrical fire. In the case of a fire, the first response is to pull the main busses and restore circuits one by one until you have isolated the bad one. If they pulled the busses, the plane would go silent. It probably was a serious event and the flight crew was occupied with controlling the plane and trying to fight the fire. Aviate, navigate, and lastly, communicate is the mantra in such situations.

  41. 41
    AdamK says:

    My theory:

    (a) a crazy person or persons fucked with the plane, (b) it crashed in the ocean (c) and sank.

    (d) they didn’t know where to look for it, hence didn’t find it.

    May not ever find it, but let me know if you do.

  42. 42
    Tim F. says:

    @Suffern ACE: Have you been in an unpressurized cabin at 45k feet? In what context?

  43. 43
    Belafon says:

    @charluckles: How do you know it caused significant damage to some systems? As others have noted, the pilots could have killed the power to things like the transponder and radio to try to stop the fire.

  44. 44
    Tim F. says:

    @Mark B.: Maybe. But ech, that gives some credence to the Aravosis theory.

  45. 45
    Trollhattan says:

    @charluckles: Has not been adequately addressed IMHO. Something that catastrophic, which isn’t completely out of the question, would likewise have been serious enough to have crashed the plane as well. I don’t think it became the Mary Deare because I don’t think that one extremely rare event would be followed by another extremely rare event.

  46. 46
    Violet says:

    (8) The flight probably did not pass over or near any more highly populated landmasses. Not every inch of Earth is covered by military radar, but the seas and borders around Malaysia/Indonesia are busy, not-100%-friendly and have lots of complex borders. Therefore most of that arc of land east of the Indian Ocean is covered. Northwest Australia also has plenty of heads up.

    Reports coming from various radar installations from various countries seem to indicate that coverage is a lot spottier than we would have thought. Some seem to take weekends off. Some take nights off. Some aren’t reporting everything or are being vague, maybe for security concerns.

    @Trollhattan: @D58826: Thanks for the correction. I guess I mixed up what I was reading. Low altitude flying would be to evade radar or something.

  47. 47
    Seanly says:

    @charluckles:

    Autopilot. The 1999 death of Stewart Payne & 5 others.

    Reading the wiki about that crash, if the pilots lost pressurization & didn’t immediately don their masks they could’ve lost cognitive ability.

  48. 48
  49. 49
    Mark B. says:

    @Tim F.: The timeframe is also wrong for the Maldives sighting. The plane would have been in the air for 9 hours before the sighting according to the local time reported, and it could not have stayed up that long.

  50. 50
    Violet says:

    @Birthmarker:

    I don’t know why no one sent a text or call unless things happened unbelievably fast.

    No mobile phone coverage at altitude. Onboard phone or wifi can be turned off in cockpit. If there was a fire, it would be turned off for sure.

  51. 51
    Trollhattan says:

    @Tim F.:

    Depressurization at cruising altitude would kill, so there’s no need to go to 45k for anything to do with incapacitating the passengers. It’s another detail that remains completely unexplained as far as I know.

    ETA, wait, were any Sherpas aboard? Hmmmm.

  52. 52
    The Dangerman says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    I’m assuming it isn’t fatal.

    45K means unconsciousness in several seconds; how long until death isn’t known.

    Also, the computer change of direction might make sense if the pilots were busy trying to determine the fire/failure source and that leads to the closest airport.

  53. 53
    Linnaeus says:

    The fire theory may be flawed, as some folks here have pointed out, but since I’m no pilot, it sounded like the most reasonable one based on what we know.

  54. 54
    Elie says:

    @Schlemizel:

    My understanding is yes, the fire could be so bad so fast…

    Also — from what I read and it makes sense, the only thing to be done in the case of a fire is to get the plane down asap, but you usually have to make sure the plane stays in flight and redirect it towards an appropriate airfield. In this case it had to be one with a long enough runway and lights for the middle of the night. If they had open flames and smoke, oxygen is a no no and so the pilots may have only had minutes to act before losing consciousness themselves. It makes perfect sense to me that one of them would have been able to quickly key in the new heading but not have time to communicate with the tower. As for the other course changes, I dunno. This scenario just somehow feels right. BTW it was announced yesterday that the southwestern Indian oceans was where the US as focusing its search…which would make sense if you were thinking that this might be the likely outcome…

  55. 55
    IowaOldLady says:

    I blame Obama. Or possibly Obamacare. Same diff.

  56. 56
    charluckles says:

    Any plane people on here? Would a tire fire on a 777 be contained or would it continue to spread? Six hours just seems like a long time for a plane to keep on flying with a fire on board.

  57. 57
    Tim F. says:

    @Trollhattan: True, but Everest is almost 30k feet, around the cruising altitude of a 777, and some people can make it up there for a little while. Not many, and even they would have a hard time with sudden depressurization, but a little more altitude would make sure.

  58. 58
    Robert Sneddon says:

    @Violet: The US is unusual in being highly militarised and on a permanent war footing.

  59. 59
    Mandalay says:

    I don’t understand why you are all seeking elaborate theories. CNN’s Don Lemon has already nailed this issue….

    “Especially today, on a day when we deal with the supernatural, we go to church, the supernatural power of God,” Mr. Lemon said. “People are saying to me, why aren’t you talking about the possibility — and I’m just putting it out there — that something odd happened to this plane, something beyond our understanding?”

    Thanks Don.

    And as another Don is fond of saying: only in America.

  60. 60
    Roger Moore says:

    @Trollhattan:

    Plane should be most efficient at its cruising altitude, probably 25-35k feet for this one.

    Which is precisely why they cruise at that altitude. Airlines care a lot about saving fuel, since it’s one of their biggest expenses.

  61. 61
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Violet: Yeah. I had to chuckle a little when both India and Pakistan made statements like “It did not fly over our countries. We would have spotted it.” Of course, they have to say that. The alternative is “Well, we were supposed to be watching out for sneak attacks from India/Pakistan, but we decided to take off early that night. One of the vacuum tubes on the monitor blew last year and we haven’t been able to find a suitable replacement on replacementradarparts.com.

  62. 62
    Robert Sneddon says:

    @charluckles: The problem with a fire on board an aircraft at altitude is that if whatever is burning is exposed to the outside air it’s being fed by a 500-knot draught even at altitude. One solution to try and knock out a fire fed by air is to climb to maximum altitude to reduce the amount of oxygen feeding the fire. Doesn’t always work.

  63. 63
    Schlemizel says:

    @D58826:

    That seems logical but WWII fighters returning from sorties in the Pacific came in low, they had a manual choke and would thin out the mixture to just below the point it would burn up the engine (maybe beyond, nobody wants to ditch). I never read why low was better but it may have given them the ability to run even leaner.

    I am not saying you are wrong only that there is so much we don’t really know & can’t be sure of. Maybe that lean thing can’t be done by a modern jetliner

  64. 64
    D58826 says:

    @Tim F.: After the Everglades crash the airlines were required to install fire suppression equipment in the cargo hold so it would seem unlikely that a fire could get that much out of control. On the other hand the fire that caused the Swissair crash started in the area just aft of the cockpit. Lots of stuff that can burn and near important flight systems but they still were able to keep the plane in the air for about 20 minutes and declare an emergency. Unfortunately they did not make the runway. I seem to remember an incident (not sure if they were able to make it back to a landing) where a fire started inn the lavatory. Of course now there are smoke detectors and the flight attendant warning about smoking or disabling the smoke detector.

    As to no mayday from the Air France jet, I think they were in the gap between south America and Africa where there is no radio or radar coverage due to the curvature of the earth. The ACARS data that was received was sent up to a satellite.

    All of which makes for a case to convert the black boxes to a satellite uplink. The airlines don’t want to do it because it will cost money (take it out of the CEO’s bonus) but if they can uplink ACARS and have WIFI then I don’t see why it is such a big problem to uplink the black box data as well. Start with the long range over the ocean fleet and work your way down to the little puddle jumpers/a

  65. 65
  66. 66
    Librarian says:

    “The automatic pilot, it’s deflating!”

  67. 67
    Mandalay says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    I had to chuckle a little when both India and Pakistan made statements like “It did not fly over our countries. We would have spotted it

    Both countries have very good reason to be paranoid about any unidentified flying object in their airspace. You may have a point, but I don’t find their claims entirely absurd.

  68. 68
    Roger Moore says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    I’m assuming it isn’t fatal.

    Poor assumption. There’s a reason they call the region close to the top of Everest (elevation ~29Kft) “the death zone”. There isn’t enough oxygen to sustain human life at 30Kft, and there’s substantially less at 45Kft. Being up their for a fairly short time would kill you.

  69. 69
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Tim F.: LOL. No. I’m guessing I’ve never been 45,000 feet. I’ve actually never been knocked out at sea level, below sea level, or any distance above the earth. I watch the videos on the plane about putting on the oxygen mask. That’s as close as I’ve ever been to needing an oxygen mask to remain conscious.

    What I was thinking was, if the plane went to 45,000 feet to put out a fire. Everyone was knocked unconscious. But the plane didn’t stay at 45,000 feet for six hours. Once it went down to, say, 35,000 feet, would everyone stay knocked out? Or would they start to wake up feeling very groggy. I’m guessing now that the answer is 35,000 is way too high to support any amount of human activity for any amount of time.

  70. 70
    skyweaver says:

    This is a pretty Occam’s razor approach and therefore I liked it b/c frankly I was getting overwhelmed with so many details that may or may not be true and have contexts I often don’t fully understand. http://www.wired.com/autopia/2.....ical-fire/

  71. 71
    Robert Sneddon says:

    @Tim F.: The superbly-conditioned athletes who have climbed Everest without oxygen support spend a lot of time getting used to altitude at camps lower than the summit before making a dash for the top and then get back down to thicker air as fast as they can before they keel over. Sometimes they succeed.

    When weather and other traffic permits most long-haul jets cruise at 33,000 feet or higher, more than half a mile above the summit of Everest or roughly the difference between Kansas and Denver.

  72. 72
    Mandalay says:

    @D58826:

    The airlines don’t want to do it because it will cost money (take it out of the CEO’s bonus)

    That’s a great idea, but I’m not understanding why cost is an issue. Where is the big expense in doing what you suggest?

  73. 73
    D58826 says:

    @Schlemizel: Not an aircraft engineer but the commercial jets are optimized for flight at cruising altitude since that is where they spend most of their time. I would suspect that the flight crew can adjust the engines to squeeze that last drop out of the fuel but still would use more fuel at lower altitudes. And all of that gets us back to a knowledgeable and wide awake pilot flying an intact airplane.

  74. 74
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    What? An informed theory that doesn’t damn the pilots because they’re Mooslim and therefore terrerists? GET OUT!

    The Village is not interested in fact, they’re interested in ratings/pageviews/money/career advancement/tiger shrimp and/or cocktail weenies.

  75. 75
    🍀 Martin says:

    A few constraints overlooked:

    The last ‘ping’ indicated that MH370 was still flying seven hours after it disappeared.

    That’s not true. It means the plan was still powered 7 hours later. As in, not crashed. But it could have been sitting on a runway somewhere. Might be a distinction without difference, or not.

    The complete lack of cell contacts after the flight diverted is noteworthy. While over sea, that’s to be expected, but if the plane approached any kind of landmass, then someone on the plane would have gotten a message out. Either the plane was lost at sea, or the passengers were incapacitated and unable to send a message. There’s no way the devices could have been confiscated without someone hiding one.

    My likely theory:

    The pilots hijacked the plane, intending to take it to some planned place. The passengers figured out they were off course. There should be some proper GPS devices among the passengers, most phones have compasses. They were about to move over land and some passengers would have noted that they were headed the wrong way and remaining over the ocean. They would have investigated. Post 9/11, passengers know the likely fate of hijacked airliners and like the passengers on flight 93, and they tried to take control of the plane back. If the pilots had conspirators, that should have been hinted by now in the investigation, so they likely didn’t have control of the passengers. As a result of this, the plane went down in the ocean.

    My unlikely theory:

    Same as above but the pilots depressurize the cabin. They can do this from the cockpit. I believe the passenger emergency air can be disabled from the cockpit as well. PIlot puts on emergency air for himself (and copilot if in on the plan). You wouldn’t survive more than a few minutes at 45K feet without oxygen. Everyone else is now incapacitated, then descend, repressurize cabin, fly to your destination. That doesn’t fully answer the question of no messages, though. If you send a text from most phones, and it can’t send it, it doesn’t ask you later when it gets a connection if you want to send it – it just goes out automatically. So there should have been messages queued up on some phones. Doesn’t seem like there were any. That suggests the plane NEVER made it near land again, even with an incapacitated crew.

    I don’t have a ‘why’ for either one. Pilot suicide is much more easily accomplished. If they were stealing the plane, I could think of easier ways of doing it. Cargo planes are less well protected. Dunno, it’s fucking bizarre.

  76. 76
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Mandalay: Any expense that takes so much as a farthing out of the pocket of a CEO is unnecessary. Surely you realize this.

    (And don’t call me Shirley)

  77. 77
    Trollhattan says:

    @Tim F.: They all spend weeks at base and upper camps acclimatizing first and most still need oxygen to summit. Average Joe would simply die.

  78. 78
    Schlemizel says:

    @Seanly:

    BTW – as a firefighter I got to experience how quickly you can go black without oxygen, I was on an attack crew & my officer had a malfunction of his air tank. Instead of following training he took him mask off, he was out like a light before I could grab him & start for the exit. It was not hard to bring him around but it did take O2.

    I have no idea how long someone could hold on at 45,000 ft or how long you would have to stay there to prevent any recovery. FOr that matter I have not read how long they thing 370 was that high. It seems logical (to someone speaking mostly from his anal orifice at this time) That one way to control a fire would be to provide everyone on board with oxygen, clime to 45,000 (assuming that is high enough) hang out there for a few minutes then descend & get the hell to an airport ASAP. Could the fire have hit the comm gear & that is why they never called? I would expect communication a mayday would be secondary to trying to prevent one so maybe they didn’t call right away & by the time they had a moment it was too late? But then why didn’t thy get to ground?

  79. 79
    D58826 says:

    @Mandalay: According to the article cost was the big issue. Cost is always the big issue. They resisted putting smoke detectors/fire suppression equipment in the cargo hold until 111 people died over the Everglades. If I remember correctly the insurance settlement exceeded what it would have cost to equip the domestic fleet with at least smoke detectors.

    The American way seems to be a pound of cure (esp. if there is a lot of blood) is better than an ounce of prevention.

  80. 80
    Amir Khalid says:

    For what it’s worth, Patrick Smith (the one Salon shouldn’t have let go) has taken a look at Ledgerwood’s theory, which Smith reckons is a bit too clever, and Goodfellows, which more or less agrees with what Smith himself wrote a few days ago.

    I am particularly sceptical of the theories that accuse either pilot, or both. I don’t see a motive for either man, given what is now known about them.

  81. 81
    MikeJ says:

    @D58826: Safety regulations are written in blood. None are ever put into place until after the lack has already killed people.

  82. 82
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @MikeJ: “It could be bunnies!”

  83. 83
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @MikeJ: No they’re not. They’re written by anti-free-market pointy headed liebrals. Everyone knows this.

  84. 84
    Chaplain Weasle says:

    There have been reported vulnerabilities in avionics & flight kontrol systems previously… there was a lot about this put out by white hats in 2012 & 2013… it wouldn’t have taken much to alter the flight path or other details (from what I understand about those previously highlighted flaws).

    Not much has been said about this being a form of computerized hacking/terrorism…

    Thoughts?

  85. 85
    Violet says:

    @🍀 Martin: As for your second theory, the hijacking pilot could have announced that he was diverting the plane due to air traffic control request. Something like, “Folks, just an update from the cockpit. Air traffic control has requested we take a westerly path due to heavy air traffic in the area. We still anticipate an on time arrival into Beijing.” People hear that, think nothing of it, and then the plane turns and no one bothers to text anything. By the time they figure out something is wrong, they’re well away from land.

  86. 86
    Schlemizel says:

    @Librarian:

    THATS IT! And nobody on board wanted to be caught in the position required to re-inflate the poor fella!

  87. 87
    jonas says:

    @Elie: How would they know what emergency flight plan to key in to the computer w/o instructions from ATC?

  88. 88
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: The US would want it to terrorists anyway. It would give us an excuse to lecture Malaysia, give our usual suspects a reason to remind everyone that Obama doesn’t take terrorism seriously enough, and it would definitely help Boeing, who is the leader in one of our major export industries. Having a mysterious fire and a failure of the emergency support systems is fairly serious for the 777.

  89. 89
    David says:

    Here is my guess based on the facts at hand:

    The pilots turned off the transponder and ACARS system right during the perfect time to redirect the plane – during the handoff between two countries’ ATC. This fact alone is extraordinarily unlikely to be coupled with an equally extraordinary disappearance due to accident where the plane is still missing (no emergency transmission and no plane found by normal means). That kind of accident is incredibly rare in aviation and it beggars belief that it would happen to start occurring right at this opportune time. Clearly, this was a planned, intentional act. The communications equipment was turned off to disappear off civilian radar but not arouse immediate suspicion as it was between ATC control at that point. The plane is then programmed to turn around and go back over the Malay peninsula. This all but rules out pilot suicide. If suicide was the goal, one would simply ditch in the ocean as past passenger jet pilot suicides have done in the past – anything else makes one risk getting overcome by a passenger or crew member and thwarted, ending up in prison rather than dead. If, extraordinarily, the pilot for some reason wanted to “run out the fuel” and risk getting overpowered somehow, all in order to “disappear without a trace”, then the logical way to do that would have been to wait longer and turn RIGHT rather than LEFT, which gives a plane much easier routes to the Pacific without having to worry about anybody’s radar. Just fly the plane out to the Pacific and disappear forever. Instead, they went back over Malaysia, taking a big risk that they would be spotted by radar (they were) and that planes would be scrambled to escort them or shoot them down. This is not the action of somebody wanting to disappear, it is the action of somebody taking a calculated gamble because he wanted to GO SOMEWHERE SPECIFIC.

    So pilot suicide and accident make no sense given the facts. That leaves us with hijacking, but to where?

    First off, the pilots take the plane at the opportune time, turning off tracking equipment and programming the plane to fly left. They then take the plane higher a bit, perhaps not all the way to 45,000 but maybe so, don masks or a mask if it is one person, depressurize the plane, which they can do, and kill everybody on board within a few minutes (passing them out in fifteen seconds). They could have pulled the circuit for the oxygen masks first so they would not drop or merely let them drop and let the air run out (the air only last 12 to 15 minutes, enough time for a depressurized plane to descend if necessary). This eliminates the hostage scenario and explains why no cell phones or even texts of emergency got through if the plane did indeed fly so low as seems possible by reports and witness statements from Kota Bharu well before we even knew the plane turned at all over a week ago. Why fly low, if they did? Perhaps to avoid radar across the peninsula as long as possible using terrain masking and not give Malaysia time to scramble any planes before they were almost out of their airspace.

    They then ascended to hit three known navigational waypoints which put them on a known commercial airline route to the Middle East. Again, all very intentional and with obviously lots of planning involved all around.

    I don’t buy the southern route for two reasons – first off, that is essentially pilot suicide considering the plane flew for perhaps 8 total hours, and pilot suicide doesn’t make sense – there are easier ways to do that as we have noted, even if one wanted to run the plane out of fuel and not be seen. The second reason is that the last track of the plane showed it GOING NORTHWEST along a known air corridor that takes flights to the Middle East. If North was the last way it was known to be flying, along a known air corridor where it had already hit (and turned) at three known points along it, we are in our rights to assume that’s the way it kept going after last radar contact. We have no reason at all to think it turned south and ever reason to assume it continued north.

    The ONLY objection to it continuing to go north is the idea that it would have certainly been picked up on radar and identified over myriad countries there. Yes, I’m taking exception to your premise #9. The radar objection seems like a good one until you realize that it had just overflown Malaysia – the whole peninsula and even a large city at what radar reported was lower than cruising altitude, and though it was seen on their radar NOTHING HAPPENED. No planes scrambled, no alarms raised, and not even positively identified as being MH370 for over a week. The Indian Navy also later reported that their radars were used on an “as needed basis” and often even turned off at night! So obviously radar coverage in these countries is just not all it’s cracked up to be, and certainly not what we would have imagined before this incident. If Malay and Indian radar is so pathetic you can guarantee Bangladesh, Bhutan and Burma are probably even worse. So the idea that a plane could get into one of those countries is no longer that extraordinary considering what WE SAW IT DO the night it disappeared in its overflight of Malaysia. I’d bet this plane knew what the response would be – they knew how to get through those radars, which screams state involvement of some kind.

    It could have landed in many places, such as Burma, without detection. The Myanmar government wouldn’t be ticking off China if they had nothing to do with it – they don’t have iron-clad control over their whole third world country, after all. Perhaps there is a place there to land a plane without them knowing. Or it could have simply followed the known commercial corridor it was following and entered Indian airspace without much problem, given their Navy’s recent admission. Even if seen on radar it would be a large, slow plane in a commercial lane and just like Malaysia they probably would do nothing. It could then break off NORTH over New Dheli, taking another established air corridor before it got to the contentious border region with Pakistan, avoiding that border altogether and ending up in Kazakstan without much problem.

    Again, south is pilot suicide, which makes no sense, and the plane was last seen flying north on a known air corridor to the Middle East. The radar objection is not a good one as we saw what happened that same night in Malaysia itself and have heard India’s admission. The plane could be anywhere in the region or even up, as I described, in Kazakstan. Then there is the possibility that it turned before Andaman and skirted around southern India and all the way up to southern Iran – this would avoid the radar issue altogether, and that would be about the right flight time and they had enough fuel to get there. The only downside here is this location is not on the reported “arc” – but then again that “arc” could be wrong, it was deduced as a kind of jerry rig project through systems not designed to give that kind of information. Could be, but the northern track is the most obvious solution.

    Now “why”? Who knows? But this was a spectacularly planned and risky operation. Had it failed and they been shot down, they could just claim it was a run of the mill terror attack and lose nothing – a suicide mission to down a plane – so they didn’t have much of a downside once they got the plane. But the absence of demands shows that they either need the plane for a weapon of some kind (not likely, but possible), or really wanted some of that still-unlisted cargo on the plane, or perhaps a passenger or multiple passengers on the plane (that they could have put masks on when they killed the others). Either way, the operation was spectacular, so we can assume the intent behind was, too. And that is the scariest thing of all.

  90. 90
    Eric U. says:

    rehash of payne stewart, probably for different reasons

  91. 91
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Mandalay: CNN’s Don Lemon really needs to be mysteriously disappeared by some supernatural or otherwise force.

  92. 92
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Suffern ACE: You’ve been reading Peter King’s mind, haven’t you? You know that’s not advised, you might catch something.

  93. 93
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Chaplain Weasle:
    Are a Boeing 777’s avionics and flight control systems accessible via Internet and/or phone networks? If so, you might be on to something.

  94. 94
    Roger Moore says:

    @MikeJ:

    Safety regulations are written in blood.

    This. You might occasionally find one that isn’t- some people are actually smart enough to do some testing and impose safety rules without having to find things out the hard way- but getting a new regulation in an existing safety environment is almost always the result of a disaster.

  95. 95
    MikeJ says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Bunnies aren’t just cute like everyone supposes, they got those hoppy legs and twitchy little noses. And what’s with all the carrots? What do they need such good eyesight for anyway?

  96. 96
    Mandalay says:

    @Robert Sneddon:

    The superbly-conditioned athletes who have climbed Everest without oxygen support spend a lot of time getting used to altitude at camps lower than the summit before making a dash for the top and then get back down to thicker air as fast as they can before they keel over. Sometimes they succeed.

    Acclimatization and great conditioning are prerequisites for climbing Everest without oxygen, but are not sufficient. I don’t think it is understood exactly why some people handle the lack of oxygen so much better than others, and it is not possible to predict in advance how any person will cope at high altitudes.

    Plenty of experienced mountaineers in great condition die trying to climb high mountains without oxygen. And plenty of relatively poorly conditioned inexperienced mountaineers successfully climb Everest with oxygen – apparently the climb itself is not that difficult.

  97. 97

    Maybe they flew over R’lyeh?

  98. 98
    Violet says:

    @Chaplain Weasle:

    Not much has been said about this being a form of computerized hacking/terrorism…

    There is this:

    British anti-terror expert Dr Sally Leivesley said last night: “It might well be the world’s first cyber hijack.”

    Dr Leivesley, a former Home Office scientific adviser, said the hackers could change the plane’s speed, altitude and direction by sending radio signals to its flight management system. It could then be landed or made to crash by remote control. Possible culprits include criminal gangs, terrorists or a foreign power.

    “There appears to be an element of planning from someone with a very sophisticated systems engineering understanding,” she said.

    “This is a very early version of what I would call a smart plane, a fly-by-wire aircraft controlled by electronic signals.

    “It is looking more and more likely that the control of some systems was taken over in a deceptive manner, either manually, so someone sitting in a seat overriding the autopilot, or via a remote device turning off or overwhelming the systems.

    “A mobile phone could have been used to do so or a USB stick.

    “When the plane is air-side, you can insert a set of commands and codes that may initiate, on signal, a set of processes.”

  99. 99
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Violet:

    Edit: Apparently flying low means it uses less fuel? I think I’ve picked this up on some pilot forum I’ve been skimming. That would possibly extend the range, right?

    Someone may have already addressed this (haven’t skimmed the entire thread) but actually the opposite is true. More fuel burned at lower altitudes.

  100. 100
    The Red Pen says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Are a Boeing 777′s avionics and flight control systems accessible via Internet and/or phone networks?

    They’re almost certainly accessible via some kind of interface on the plane. I think that if you could reprogram them, you could spoof certain reports of where the plan was. A lot of the telemetry is self-reported (i.e. reported by the plane’s systems, and not independently generated from completely external systems like radar.)

  101. 101
    gdmcilvain says:

    Could this be paid for by Russia to divert from Ukraine

  102. 102
    Roger Moore says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    You’ve been reading Peter King’s mind, haven’t you?

    Is that even possible? Reading messy writing in crayon like that is really difficult.

  103. 103
    Violet says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Yes, previously addressed. But thank you. I mixed it up with radar evasion.

  104. 104
    Amir Khalid says:

    @The Red Pen:
    If you could reprogram them. Why would Boeing let you do that remotely?

  105. 105
    Eric U. says:

    @D58826: the airline companies force the engine companies to spec out the engines at very high fuel efficiencies. There is no way a crew of a plane is going to do better than the engine companies. Sat through too many boring meetings about fuel efficiency, for some reason people care about that. Probably because the airplane crashes when it runs out of fuel. The airlines care because it costs them money, and they hold the engine companies to the spec. So the engine companies are not going to make it a pilot control.

  106. 106
    Schlemizel says:

    @Roger Moore:

    I’ll second this. I used to work for an avionics manufacturer & we got all the flight/airplane (not airline) magazines. They all carried some amount of disaster review information about various things that happened, they who, what where & why of accidents, crashes that sort of thing. It was very common to read about particular planes or particular situations that were well known issues but deemed “too expensive” to fix. For a long time I would not fly in a DC10 (the jumbo jet not the renamed DC9 which was a decent plane) because there were known issues tat had cause crashes & had killed people but were not getting fixed because of money.

  107. 107
    Chaplain Weasle says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    They’re definately available to mechanics and ground crews… and white hats have accessed controls on board (but did nothing except show it IS possible to do so).

    @Violet: Thanks!

  108. 108
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Violet: Yeah, flying low is to evade radar, but of course there is a tradeoff, higher fuel consumption, which needs to be taken into consideration in any hijack/diversion scenario.

  109. 109
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Eric U.:

    Probably because the airplane crashes when it runs out of fuel.

    Did the beancounters actually take this into account? If so, I’m shocked! :P

  110. 110
    blueskies says:

    @Trollhattan: And yet we have the Mary Dearre..

  111. 111
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    The Lannisters had SOMETHING to do with this, I just know it!

  112. 112
    Robert Sneddon says:

    I’m kind of dubious about the reported “45,000 feet altitude” determination by radar that’s been mentioned a lot recently. The plane was not fully loaded but 260-odd passengers and crew weigh in at 20 tonnes, maybe another 4 tonnes of luggage. It had 7 hours or more fuel on board and normal practice for long-haul flights is to pack the corners of the holds with any air freight that’s waiting to be shipped to the destination to increase flight revenue. The only way a 777 loaded like that could achieve 45,000 feet would be in a zoom climb before topping out and descending to a more sustainable altitude after a few seconds. That lower altitude will still be at anoxic oxygen levels though.

    Radar especially at extended range is not that accurate in terms of distances and altitudes of targets. ATC radars rely on the pinged aircraft retransmitting a signal, the famous “transponder” but that gives a very solid return usually with a code to more positively identify the aircraft in a crowded sky in a flight path on near an airport. Military radars have to rely on detecting reflected radio energy from the target’s hull, a much lower signal with more smear and lots of noise and mush even with the best equipment and operators driving it and especially when the target is a long way from the transmitter and receiver as is the case with over-water flights and land-based military radars.

  113. 113
    catclub says:

    @The Dangerman: The autopilot sharp left could also be because that emergency airport was already entered as a waypoint in the system.

  114. 114
    GregB says:

    Whatever happened to this plane, it is apparent that it occurred because President Obama projected weakness.

  115. 115
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Mandalay: Some long distance runners (think Steve Prefontaine, all those Kenyans) are able to process oxygen in ways that the average human cannot, and it gives them an edge when running long distances.

    I’m sure you can find the same anomalous individuals highly adapted to high altitude climbing.

  116. 116
    Schlemizel says:

    It is this sort of international cooperation that give me confidence we may never know what happened:

    Thailand’s military said Tuesday that its radar detected a plane that may have been Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 just minutes after the jetliner’s communications went down, and that it didn’t share the information with Malaysia earlier because it wasn’t specifically asked for it.

    http://news.yahoo.com/thailand.....15659.html

  117. 117
    Roger Moore says:

    @Trollhattan:

    I don’t think that one extremely rare event would be followed by another extremely rare event.

    The problem with that argument is that it inherently takes several extremely rare events to cause a modern airline to crash. They have so many backups and safety systems that several things have to fail to result in a catastrophic crash. That makes crashes extremely rare, but they do happen because with enough flights there will eventually be one where several extremely unlikely failures happen in the order needed to produce a catastrophe.

    ETA: I should be more specific that several things have to go wrong for there to be a crash. Some of those things could be pilot errors rather than problems with the plane itself.

  118. 118
    blueskies says:

    @The Dangerman: Bingo. Hit “nearest” on the GPS-slaved autopilot so that the plane is at least on the way to an airport that the carrier has programmed in as “nearest” AND “that meets several safety criteria.” Then, get back to fixing the emergency.

    Note that “nearest” in the case of a 777 is not necessarily “nearest” for a Piper Cub. Assuming good equipment, the GPS linked to the autopilot is not going to point you to a crop-duster’s 2500 ft dirt strip just because it’s factually the closest airport.

  119. 119
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @GregB: On this everyone that Noisemax talks to can certainly agree. Has Donald Trump and the thing living on his head chimed in on this yet? Perhaps the oppressed by jsckbooted gays dressed in FABULOUS uniforms Ben Carson has an opinion to offer?

  120. 120
    Elie says:

    @charluckles:

    My understanding is that type of fire would not spread inside the cabin but the toxic and chocking smoke would disable the passengers and crew… the tire fire might even blow out after a while, leaving everyone dead and the plane flying itself until it runs out of fuel. At least that is one scenario from the article that I read. Me? I know nothing but can imagine what a horror this would be.

  121. 121
    D58826 says:

    @Eric U.: Wasn’t sure. about how much control the pilots really had. Watching Martin Savage of CNN in the 777 flight simulator and you realize how much of the aircraft performance is monitored by the computer systems. They actually tried to get the simulator to climb to 45k feet in one segment. The simulator allowed it but the computer started screaming bloody murder. According the training pilot a real plane would have been just on the edge of a stall.

  122. 122
    Schlemizel says:

    @D58826:
    “Take us to Bejing 777.”
    “I’m sorry, Zaharie, but I can’t let you do that”

  123. 123
    MomSense says:

    Now Courtney Love is on the case.

    http://www.rollingstone.com/mu.....e-20140317

  124. 124
    gwangung says:

    @Violet: OK. Now I know who NOT to pay any attention to.

    Cutting out the chaff is part of the key in figuring out what happened.

  125. 125
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Oh, great. From Noisemax:

    Oliver North on Newsmax TV, Missing Jet

    Like this disgrace to the USMC has anything useful to say about anything.

  126. 126
    Elie says:

    @jonas:

    the article that I read (cause believe me, I know nothing about this personally), describes the experienced senior pilot as keeping these coordinates in his mind for just such emergencies –and fire is the worst, requiring an immediate alternative to land as quickly as possible. I have not idea if this is correct, but it would seem plausible given that we know that this senior pilot has his own simulator and practiced often. He was 53 years old and had a lot of experience and probably knew every airport in the area around Kuala Lumpur where he might safely set this plane down.

  127. 127
    D58826 says:

    @Violet: ASSUMING (note the caps) this is possible ,it would be the worst possible scenario. Planes on occasion fall out of the sky, pilots come in to low and hit the sea wall, a short circuit starts a fire. All of these things can happen but they are rare due to the redundancy built into todays planes. People can highjack a plane for any number of reasons but stronger cockpit doors, air marshals, etc. make it a risky proposition. Even suicidal pilots are very very rare. But if somebody(s) sitting in a cave in Afghanistan or his mom’s basement can hack into the flight controls and take over a jet, now that is scary. I imagine that the aircraft systems can be hardened but the plane still has to communicate with the ground. No system is hack proof, just ask the NSA.

  128. 128
    The Red Pen says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    If you could reprogram them. Why would Boeing let you do that remotely?

    I seriously doubt there would be any way to do this remotely, or without some kind of privileged access to the cockpit or other location on the plane.

    If someone wanted to steal the plane and leave some misleading electronic clues, they could take it over and reprogram the systems to send misleading signals. These would lead to false conclusions about where the plane actually was. It’s a pretty far-out scenario.

  129. 129
    Roger Moore says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Why would Boeing let you do that remotely?

    The question is not what Boeing intends to allow you to do; it’s what they have failed to prevent you from doing. Computer security is extremely hard, and capable hackers can use hard-to-imagine security problems to access things that ordinary people would never believe are vulnerable. As an example, I remember reading about hackers demonstrating that they could break into a car’s on-board control system through its wireless tire pressure sensors. If there’s any airplane system that communicates wirelessly, a hacker might well be able to use it to break in and pwn the whole system.

  130. 130
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @The Red Pen:

    It’s a pretty far-out scenario.

    Well, when you’re getting desperate to explain things, Scotty beaming the whole kit-and-kaboodle right into the Klingons’ engine room starts looking like a plausible story. Especially when the red light is flashing on the camera and you’re back from commercial.

  131. 131
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Elie:
    Goodfellow specifically mentions they were headed for Langkawi. It’s a resort island just off mainland Kedah state, with an international airport.

  132. 132
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Roger Moore: “Security thru obscurity” is nearly always beaten down by someone whose cleverness has been underestimated by an expert.

  133. 133
    D58826 says:

    What I’ve found so mind-boggling about this entire thing is that each of the reasonable theories (and even some of the somewhat more ‘out-there’ ones) explains a good bit of information that we have. And yet each one has a ‘BUT’ it doesn’t explain this or that.

  134. 134
    Robert Sneddon says:

    @blueskies: As far as I know no civil airliner uses GPS as a primary navigation aid. It is not trusted, in part because the civilian version can be hacked easily by quite simple equipment, either by jamming the receiver or by spoofing the data it receives. Some of the Black Hat cryptosecurity people have demonstrated proof-of-concept GPS spoofing in the last few years with quite simple and horrifyingly cheap equipment. It only works over a very short distance between spoofer and receiver though but the cabin and cockpit of an airliner are quite close together, obviously.

    The new Galileo GPS being built by the Europeans is designed to be used on civil aircraft, being accurate and secure enough to land a plane automatically with no other navigational inputs. Theoretically.

  135. 135
    Violet says:

    @Roger Moore: I have been following a pilot’s forum off and on. I obviously have got things wrong (see above), but I think I remember reading that there is some kind of electronics bay directly under the cockpit in the 777 that has access to the cockpit. There was some speculation about stowaways or messing with the computer system via that bay.

  136. 136
    Elie says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Thanks–you are correct– my memory was unclear

  137. 137
    Roger Moore says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:
    It’s not just security through obscurity that’s the problem. A big problem these days is that network security tends to focus on securing the perimeter of the network rather than all the links within the network. If you make a mistake about where the boundaries of your network are- e.g. using a wireless connection anywhere within your supposedly secure network- then you’ve pretty much given away the keys to the castle.

  138. 138
    Kristin says:

    @Robert Sneddon: I had read that officials/experts were skeptical about the 45,000 feet because the same data showed the plane going from 45,000 feet to 23,000 feet in one minute, which is impossible. So, I agree, the 45,000 foot altitude is not necessarily set in stone.

  139. 139
    beltane says:

    @Kristin: I’ve also seen skepticism regarding that 45,000 ft number, especially since it was early in the flight with the plane carrying a lot of fuel.

  140. 140
    roc says:

    I’m far more willing to believe any data point provided by Malaysian officials is bogus, than any of the more elaborate theories about an intentional diversion. For government officials to have pushed the “ACARS disabled at 1:07” line, so strongly, so consistently, speaks at once to their character (passing conjecture as fact) *and* their competence (they seem to have had no clue that ACARS was an occasional ping and not a constant data stream).

    Their first priority is quite clearly in giving prying eyes *anything else* to look at and talk about, other than how they run their country.

  141. 141
    Scott P. says:

    Well, when you’re getting desperate to explain things, Scotty beaming the whole kit-and-kaboodle right into the Klingons’ engine room starts looking like a plausible story.

    I think you’ve solved it — hyperintelligent Boeing 777s from the 24th century visited Earth, and Kirk and the gang had to go back to the 21st century when Boeing 777s were still found in the wild so they could bring one back to the future and save Earth.

  142. 142
    Mandalay says:

    @Roger Moore:

    As an example, I remember reading about hackers demonstrating that they could break into a car’s on-board control system through its wireless tire pressure sensors.

    Yep. Accessing a computer via a connected printer is Hacking 101.

  143. 143
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    @Trollhattan: Sorry if this has been answered…

    Remember Airport 1975? Supposedly they made an effort to have a reasonable amount of damage and still have the plane flyable. Remember the Aloha Airlines depressurization? Commercial planes can take a lot and stay in the air.

    Others have questioned the plane going to 45,000 feet. As the helpful Payne Stewart wiki link points out, that plane was on autopilot and ended up at that altitude as well. It’s not out of the question that the 777-200 ended up at that altitude without anyone being alive at the controls.

    Seeing the posted link (earlier) about the 777-200 cockpit fire at the gate that was likely in the crew’s oxygen system makes this seem like the most likely reason the MH370 plane was lost.

    My $0.02.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  144. 144
    Amir Khalid says:

    There’s a theory that the 20 Freescale Semiconductor employees aboard MH370 — 12 Malaysians and eight Chinese nationals — were being targeted because of Freescale’s involvement in electronic warfare systems. (Freescale used to be Motorola’s semiconductor division, and when it was split off ten years ago it inherited the big Motorola chip plant along the Federal Highway just outside KL.)

  145. 145
    shelly says:

    I noticed MSNBC had live coverage of Obama awarding the Medal of Honor to WW11, Korean and Vietnam vets who’d been previously denied cause of race or religion.
    CNN? More rehashing and rehashing about the missing plane.

  146. 146
    Amir Khalid says:

    @roc:
    That info came out of Hishammudin Hussein’s mouth. You may have seen me describe him in these threads as the PM’s idiot cousin. He may be acting transport minister, but he’s no genius and he’s certainly not a technical expert on aviation.

  147. 147
    jonas says:

    @Elie: That makes some sense, though he’d still have to radio a mayday and let that airport know he was coming in with a disabled aircraft. You don’t just show up with a 777 on fire “Surprise! I”m landing here!” Maybe he got around to the navigational stuff, but was incapacitated before hailing anyone on the radio to let them know?

  148. 148
    Elie says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Wow–that’s a lot of employees on one plane… were they at a conference? We can hardly get one or two folks to travel anywhere!

  149. 149
    Calouste says:

    @shelly:

    I’m quite glad to realize that I slept though World Wars 3-10. What happened?

  150. 150
    Violet says:

    @Amir Khalid: Saw that as well. Any more info on it?

  151. 151
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Elie:
    Something was said about a company project involving consumer products.

  152. 152
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Violet:
    Not really, it’s just one of many wild conspiracy theories.

  153. 153
    Elie says:

    @jonas:

    But if you don’t have time to get to that before you are personally disabled by smoke, you just don’t get to it. Again, my reading of the article states that in a fire emergency like that, you first keep the plance flying and two, redirect to a setting for a safe landing.. in between you are doing what you can to quell the fire/smoke, maybe even having a hard time seeing what you are doing… I also read that they wouldn’t be able to safely use oxygen masks in that fire scenario, which would just give them minutes to deal with the crisis best they could. …again.. I am just relaying and speculating from what I read and understood from an experienced source — not my knowledge

  154. 154
    WaterGirl says:

    @Calouste: Okay, that was funny.

  155. 155
    blueskies says:

    @Robert Sneddon: Huh. I did not know that. “Heaviest” I’ve flown recently is a 310. Thanks for the correction. What do they use if not GPS?

  156. 156
    Elie says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Its still odd to have such a large number returning at the same time on the same plane. At least by my cheapo company standards, it would never happen. Who knew cheapness could also mean safety?

  157. 157
    nancydarling says:

    @Amir Khalid: Amir, can you tell me again, do you live in Thailand or Malaysia? I was thinking it was Bangkok, but maybe it was Kuala Lumpur.

  158. 158
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    After reading both the Ask the Pilot and the Wired article, I have to say, it sounds very plausible to me as a layperson, and both of the writers are very knowledgeable about aviation.

    I know people hate to believe that bizarre accidents happen, but they do.

  159. 159
    Amir Khalid says:

    @nancydarling:
    I am Malaysian and I live in KL.

  160. 160
    crash says:

    Not sure if this has been covered–but could the pilot take it up to 45,000 if he thought catastrophic engine failure was imminent–with the intent to glide to the airport, when the engines did fail?

  161. 161
    🍀 Martin says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Why would Boeing let you do that remotely?

    From a conversation I had with a Boeing VP some years ago, you can’t. No way. Other than basic communications and networking the passengers nothing can be uploaded remotely. You have to be physically in connection with the plane. And the comm/passenger systems are physically isolated from each other, and both are physically isolated from the flight control systems (there are 3 redundant systems). Further, the flight control systems runs on a completely different software layer (in addition to being a different physical system) as the other two. Even within the triple redundant control systems, there are intentional dissimilarities to prevent a problem in one system from replicating in the other two.

    That was the result of a testing accident he was telling me about some years prior to the conversation where a remote signal from a ground-based hardware test reached an unmanned aerial test craft and destroyed it. That became a hard and fast policy for all craft the company makes with the exceptions of ones that only operate that way (UAVs, etc).

    Hacking a commercial plane remotely is effectively impossible.

  162. 162
    🍀 Martin says:

    @Robert Sneddon: I thought the IIR-M block was supposed to be used for commercial air travel and wasn’t yet known to be spoofable. Air Force was supposed to turn it on this year.

  163. 163
    Robert Sneddon says:

    @🍀 Martin: Navstar is getting opened up to commercial aircraft, baby steps with nothing critical depending on a single system that might fail or be proved untrustworthy and be suddenly taken offline for some reason. The Galileo constellation will give positioning accuracy down to a few centimetres along with ground station support but it will be a long time if ever before airliners are commonly being landed without pilots being in direct control.

  164. 164
    Booger says:

    @Schlemizel: Turbine engine efficiency is based on the difference between inlet temperature and outlet temperature. Cold incoming air makes them tons more efficient than warm incoming air; that’s part of why they are more efficient at higher altitude.

    Source: Heard it somewhere sometime, don’t recall.

  165. 165
    Elie says:

    I am sure that its not exactly like it, but the movie “Gravity” has a scene about a fire in a space station and its quite clear in that made up scenario we are dealing with seconds not even minutes..Sandra Bullock’s character had an alternative escape vessel — but MH370 did not even if that was a similar situation. They were trapped and the crew tried what they could and may have only had the strength remaining to send the plane back towards a known airport…

    If that was the case, these two pilots are heroes

  166. 166
    Robert Sneddon says:

    @blueskies: The flight management system which encompasses the autopilot function on a big long-range airliner uses a range of location aids including GPS but it doesn’t depend on it. Mostly it will use radio beacons for distance and bearing (DME and VOR) plus multiple inertial navigation instruments cross-checking against each other. One of the little secrets the pilots in the front office of an airliner don’t like the Self-Loading Freight in the seats behind them to think about is that the pilots don’t really know exactly where they are for most of a long flight especially over water, they rely on the controllers to bring them in to the airport runway once they get close enough to talk to ATC and follow their instructions.

  167. 167
    Trollhattan says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Am framing this mystery from my work with industrial and construction health and safety, where most near-misses, accidents, reportable injuries and deaths are from human error, not equipment failure.

    As we narrow in on a very rare fire event cascading into a multi-hour airliner misadventure, we ignore catastrophic pilot error in the mix. I’d like to know why equipment and not humans? Doesn’t happen, or only very rarely, and then only on takeoff and landing?

    Am not willing to close that particular line of inquiry.

  168. 168
    Elie says:

    @Trollhattan:

    What human error are you theorizing that you are unwilling to let go of?

  169. 169
    Kyle says:

    @the Conster: Is it plausible that they increased altitude to 45000 in an attempt to put out the fire (less oxygen up there)?

  170. 170
    Robert Sneddon says:

    @Booger: The big energy saving at altitude is the lower air resistance, it’s part of the reason modern planes climb to altitude as fast as they do after takeoff. Air pressure at 35,000 feet is a quarter that at sea-level and air resistance varies as the square of the air pressure so it takes about sixteen times less energy to fly at a given speed at that height than it does at sea level. That’s a lot of gas savings. Time was piston-engined aircraft wouldn’t work too well in thin air without bulky and heavy superchargers but jet engines come with their own superchargers built in as the first-stage compressors.

    There are other reasons for the usual steep climbout such as noise abatement around the airport and also having some altitude gives the pilots more time to deal with an emergency if it crops up during takeoff. It also stress-tests the engines as takeoff fully-loaded with fuel requires the highest engine power settings of the entire flight and if something does go boink on takeoff they’re close to an airfield to come back to, always a comforting thought.

  171. 171
    Aleta says:

    Not exactly what you asked, but I’ll suggest that :
    -the NSA probably knows where the plane is or went;
    -US/Britain, etc are holding off (as they’ve already suggested) while the Malaysians remain in control or perhaps gather some kind of info;
    -if there’s no other announcement, eventually a US Navy ship may “stumble across” the site.

  172. 172
    Elie says:

    @Trollhattan:

    Also, why is it an either or?

    If one scenario is fire in the landing gear that creates toxic smoke that gets up into the cabin but the fire doesn’t spread there — yes, I guess that would be equipment failure to some degree, In that scenario all the other equipment might work just fine and the pilots make appropriate decisions but just run out of time given toxic smoke…If that scenario would turn out to be true, it would be tragic and not really truly a either or but bad damned luck…

  173. 173
    lou says:

    @beltane: The pilot mentioned above pointed out that “communicate” is the last priority of the pilots if they’re dealing with a fire emergency. Someone on his original Google Plus article also pointed out that if the pilot programmed in the direction toward the closest airport with a 13,500-foot runway, and if the autopilot kept running after the pilots died or became unconscious, it would head directly to Maldives hours later.

    Besides, it is the Occam’s razor explanation.

  174. 174
    Chaplain Weasle says:

    @Elie:

    I agree… sometimes “shit happened” is the only explanation we have for things.

  175. 175
    Joe Buck says:

    This explanation might match all the points mentioned: electrical fire, pilot changed course and set the autopilot to the nearest suitable airport, autopilot kept the plane flying after the pilots were disabled by smoke.

    http://www.wired.com/autopia/2.....ical-fire/

  176. 176
    Trollhattan says:

    @Elie: @Elie:

    True, and am surprised error hasn’t been much discussed in the zeal to find a political/terror/mental illness explanation. Do we trust our professionals as much or more than we trust our machines? Personalities play a big part of what occurs in a cockpit and I know pilots who will go to great lengths to not be in the 2nd chair with certain captains.

  177. 177
    the Conster says:

    @Joe Buck:

    The latest news is that the alternative flight path was programmed 12 minutes before the pilot signed off with “good night” to air traffic control, so there goes that theory.

  178. 178
    Elie says:

    @Trollhattan:

    I think that kind of subtle error that you reference may be a lot harder to identify early on without the hard evidence of the wreckage and data to examine.

    We do know this: the senior pilot was very experienced and took a lot of pride in his profession — enough to have his own simulator. How likely is he to be responsible for some type of cascading failure that would lead to this as a singular causation? More likely, there would be a number of complex and interconnected decisions and breeches — some just due to hypoxia and the effects of mortal danger and time too short to provide any cushion…

    We want to assign blame and causation in a clean way. It may not be that clean though….

  179. 179
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Chaplain Weasle: You know that flight that went down in the Hudson a few years back? That no one died in the process was called “a miracle” by the morans of the media, yet it wasn’t a miracle at all. It was due to the professionalism and training of the pilot, his crew, and the first responders. That sort of professionalism isn’t an accident…it’s created through training and dedication. Nothing “miraculous” about it. To call it a miracle is to denigrate those who performed so well in emergency situations because they trained and prepared for them with diligence and thoughtfulness.

  180. 180
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Trollhattan:

    I don’t think people are completely discounting the possibility of pilot error, but right now that’s getting immediately conflated into, The pilot(s) did it on purpose! so I think that’s why people are steering away from it.

    There could be an equipment failure or fire that was compounded by pilot error. Would that be so hard to believe?

  181. 181
    Trollhattan says:

    @Elie:

    And that seems to bring it to this: which extremely unlikely set of events beset this plane? I don’t find one complex theory web any better than another with what we’ve been told to date. Is a fire more plausable than a commandeering? At this point no, not to me.

    I just hope there’s enough classified data among the many involved nations that some decent information can be stitched together if not to at least locate it, to better define its route.

  182. 182
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    but right now that’s getting immediately conflated into, The pilot(s) did it on purpose!

    Because, you know, well, you can’t trust people with funny names like that not to be terrorists.

  183. 183
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Trollhattan:

    Is a fire more plausable than a commandeering? At this point no, not to me.

    Really? A fire seems much more plausible to me, because fires are much, much more common than hijackings, especially hijackings that leave no trace, have no demands, and have no groups claiming responsibility.

    Fires don’t require a rational explanation — a fire starts and burns. Commandeering or hijacking the flight does require an explanation.

  184. 184
    Elie says:

    @Trollhattan:

    Fires are pretty common. way more common. And generally unsurvivable, where theoretically not so for commandeering and hijacking…

    As time goes on, the likelihood of hijacking starts to fall since it is a political act and political actors talk or else why do it?

    Commandeering is more subtle but again, as time goes on, suicide and madness don’t quite fit… if you are committing suicide you don’t have to fly out into the Indian Ocean.

    Also, lastly, but importantly — the character of the senior pilot… I just don’t see it (of course that is my bias)

    We have only a small amount of data and no wreckage yet. I pray for all those on board — and wish them and their families peace and resolution at some point…

  185. 185
    blueskies says:

    @Robert Sneddon: So, substantially behind friends in a Cirrus? Not doubting, just incredulous. DME/VOR?? Heck, last ride with an examiner, I wasn’t even queried on VOR, at all, and I fly really small stuff. I guess I’ve been making a lot of assumptions.

  186. 186
    Trollhattan says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Yes, really, and the occurrence at the hand-off point is why. If you were around in the ’60’s and ’70s you’d have lived through a time when hijackings were pretty damn common. Anyway, I use the term commandeering because we can’t know whether it might have been the crew, the crew and somebody else, somebody else entirely.

  187. 187
    Elie says:

    People also forget although the jetliner may have flown for several hours, the critical event may have lasted less than 15 minutes from beginning to end when all aboard would have been rendered senseless. It may have been less than 5 minutes with people not yet all dead, but non functional and unconscious.

  188. 188
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Trollhattan:

    Yes, really, and the occurrence at the hand-off point is why.

    Coincidences happen. How likely was it that, after Gavrilo Princip failed to assassinate Archduke Franz Ferdinand that the Archduke would drive right past the place where Princip was having lunch so Princip could make a second (and this time successful) attempt?

    Add in the fact that we’ve already had the Malaysian government reverse themselves on basic facts multiple times, and I wouldn’t hang my hat on any one “fact” being something to hang an entire theory on. In fact, I would double-check that one to see if it’s even still operative, because it took them at least a week to decide which direction the plane was going when it vanished.

    If you were around in the ’60′s and ’70s you’d have lived through a time when hijackings were pretty damn common.

    Yes, hijackings were common … until al-Qaeda decided to kill all of the passengers and destroy the planes they themselves were on. As soon as that happened, the paradigm changed and you will NEVER get passengers and flight crews docilely allowing themselves to be hijacked again, especially not in a large jet.

  189. 189
    Robert Sneddon says:

    @blueskies: Civil aviation tends to be quite conservative in many ways and DME and VOR have several decades of just being there and working reliably to get airliners from A to somewhere near B via waypoints C, D and E especially over water or unremarkable terrain. LORAN used to serve a similar purpose but it’s now going out of service around the world.

    One of my uncles had an occasional job at his place of work after WWII, going up onto the factory roof every Spring and repainting the name of the town there so passing aircraft could figure out where they were. His last job at the same factory when the war started and before he signed up with the Highland Light Infantry was to go up on the roof and paint over the town name so the Luftwaffe wouldn’t be able to find their way around the skies of Scotland.

  190. 190
    Elie says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Yeah– reality is, well, filled with surprises, no?

    Its important to remember that statistical probabilities do not assure certain events never happen.. people misread “rare” to mean therefore “never”

  191. 191
    Trollhattan says:

    @Mnemosyne: @Elie:

    So to summarize: fires>hijackings/commandeerings>commercial jetliners flying for seven hours unpiloted.

    I’m going with somebody(s) at the controls, you will go with what makes you feel most comfortable. The Beeb has a nice list of ten possibilities, because everybody loves things in tens.

    http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-26609687

    Later.

  192. 192
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Trollhattan:

    I’m going with somebody(s) at the controls, you will go with what makes you feel most comfortable.

    I’m going with things that have been known to happen before rather than wild theories. But, hey, whatever floats your boat.

  193. 193
    Elie says:

    @Trollhattan:

    Believe me, I am not comfortable. Just open to it as one Occam’s razor type of outcome.

    Yesterday I was certain that the plane would be found intact somewhere on land and that there would be more to follow..

    At this juncture I would be just relieved to know for the people on that plane and their families…

  194. 194
    Calouste says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    because it took them at least a week to decide which direction the plane was going when it vanished.

    It’s not like the plane was telling them where to go. They had to search through recordings of military radar to look at blips and eventually decide that a blip they saw was the plane. Not the first thing you do when a plane goes missing, the first thing you do is start searching the sea where the plane was last reported to be.

  195. 195
    Dcrefugee says:

    The plane was hijacked. Nothing else explains its behavior.

    Look at a map of the Gulf of Thailand and the Northern Indian Ocean.

    Mr. Bad Guy could easily have motored up to Bangladesh (known world-wide for its military and ATC…not) and begun masquerading as a military or cargo flight. At night, one Boeing looks like another Boeing to ATC. It could have landed and refueled in many locations, also at night. From there, it literally could have flown anywhere.

    It’s in a hangar somewhere, probably getting a new coat of paint.

  196. 196
    mclaren says:

    Will no one state the obvious conclusion that this jet was abducted by a UFO?

    The X Files, people! This was an episode of The X Files!

  197. 197
    windpond says:

    @Dcrefugee: and the passengers and crew?

  198. 198
    EthylEster says:

    @Amir Khalid: OT but I was surprised to learn that it is pretty easy to remotely re-program a pacemaker. No encryption. The communication is in clear text.

  199. 199
    Aaron says:

    One or more of the flight crew disabled the drop down oxygen masks, climbed the plane up to 45000. depressurized it, and everyone on board without an oxygen bottle fell unconscious in 15 seconds and died shortly thereafter.

  200. 200
    Cranky Observer says:

    @Linnaeus: problem is this theory requires a fire or event severe enough to knock out multiple systems in the cockpit and at least one electronics bay (maybe two separate electronics compartments) that leaves the airframe able to fly for 7 hours. Not totally impossible but…

  201. 201
    Cranky Observer says:

    Problem is this theory requires a fire or event severe enough to knock out multiple systems in the cockpit and at least one electronics bay (maybe two separate electronics compartments) that leaves the airframe able to fly for 7 hours. Not totally impossible but…

  202. 202
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Dcrefugee:

    It could have landed and refueled in many locations, also at night.

    The mere fact that you think there are “many locations” to land a 777 is what discredits you right there. Really, there are “many locations” that have a minimum of 10,000 feet of flat, open landing space?

  203. 203
    Robert Sneddon says:

    @Mnemosyne: Depends if there’s a need for it to take off again. The 777 is a big heavy plane and doesn’t do well on dirt, it needs tarmac and concrete to land on or its wheels will dig in deep and then Bad Things happen rather quickly. Civilian airliners operating from regular runways have lighter wheels and undercarriage compared to rough-field aircraft (usually military or military-derived designs) to save on weight and space.

  204. 204
    Jennifer says:

    It was a yeti hijacking.

  205. 205
  206. 206
    LanceThruster says:

    This is most likely evidence of the second coming of Scientology.

  207. 207
    steverinoCT says:

    @Robert Sneddon:
    It also has an accurate inertial reference system (using ring laser gyros) that gives, among other things, positional reference: Air data inertial reference unit. I used a much clunkier version on my subs, and it was quite accurate. It’s not a fix, as in an external positional reference, but with GPS to compare it to, not much of an issue there. Pilots know where they are.

  208. 208
    James E. Powell says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    [Safety regulations are] written by anti-free-market pointy headed liebrals. Everyone knows this.

    You left out “solely to advance a political agenda that is anti-American and anti-God!”

  209. 209
    Elie says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    He was pulling your leg. He’s not serious.. just fooling with your seriousness.

    This wasn’t someone’s ’68 mustang that could be hidden down the street in Joe’s garage to get a new paint job. He knows that..

    Just chuckle at it or ignore

  210. 210
    Violet says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    The mere fact that you think there are “many locations” to land a 777 is what discredits you right there. Really, there are “many locations” that have a minimum of 10,000 feet of flat, open landing space?

    James Fallows along with many aviation professionals are saying that 4,5000 feet is the barest minimum for landing and 7,000 feet is preferred. It would depend on what the landing surface is like.

  211. 211
    Jinx says:

    Two additional ideas with no proof…

    1) the pilots react to a fire appropriately but inadvertently kill the passengers through a cruel convergence of smoke, failing systems and/or their attempts to save the plane. They themselves survive. They discover this and don’t know what to do. The plane shifts course several times as they struggle to come to terms with the situation. Feeling shame and grief, they set the plane out south along the pinged path to hide themselves and all evidence of their fate. Suicide after the fact.

    2) the pilots die from the smoke but set the autopilot. The passengers survive and eventually break into the cockpit. But no one knows where they are or how to fly or land a plane. Communications are out. Perhaps someone manages enough to alter course, first north and then south, the latter because they are looking for Malaysia. But south is the Indian Ocean and they run out of fuel.

    I guess anyone can make this stuff up, and until or if we know, it’s about as good as anything.

  212. 212
    buckyblue says:

    @Suffern ACE: The mountaineers that climb Everest and other 8K meter peeks spend a lot of time acclimating to the altitude. If you took any human and just dropped them on top of Everest with out acclimation, they’d suffocate and die. Even with acclimation, you can’t spend much time above 26K feet.

  213. 213
    Jose Padilla says:

    The engines stopped pinging at about 8:10 a.m. Do the engines keep pinging even after they’re switched off? Is it a coincidence that the pinging stopped at almost exactly the time that the plane would’ve run out of fuel?

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