March 14th, 2014

Nothing about Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 makes sense

At least, not yet.

I hope that someday we’ll learn enough to make sense of it. But I’m beginning to wonder if that day will ever happen. Or if we’ll ever get a straight story on it from the authorities.

In the meantime, we weave speculative tales about it in an effort, probably vain, to make as much sense of it as we possibly can with the limited amount of information we have so far.

I’ve been writing about this story on a daily basis because it’s unusually gripping, with all the elements of a Tom Clancy novel except the author’s explication, or the pleasure of knowing it’s just a story. This is a story, but not just a story; it’s reality, unfortunately for the passengers, their families, and the rest of us. Just as 9/11 was a revelation about what was possible with a bunch of determined and planful terrorists, so Flight 370 is a revelation about how a flight can go missing in real time without a whole lot known about it, if certain human agents (which it appears were responsible) want it to disappear.

Here’s my best theory of the moment. It goes almost without saying that this is pure speculation, but it’s speculation based on the “facts” as best we know them:

I don’t think the cockpit was breached by a stranger, although that is certainly possible. It would help to know whether the 777 had a locked cockpit door; I haven’t seen that information offered anywhere. I think that one of the pilots (most likely the younger one, who was only 27) caught the other completely off-guard and disabled or killed him. But whether it was one of the actual pilots or an outsider, it would have to have been someone who was very familiar with this type of plane and how to turn off its feedback systems.

Once alone, the pilot was able to act as he wished without being observed. He proceeded to turn off the transponder and other systems and fly the plane according to a preconceived plan, which probably did not involve crashing it. The passengers would have been, quite literally, in the dark. Especially with a locked door, they would have noticed nothing. It was night, after all, and most were probably sleeping. They were flying over a relatively unsettled area with few lights, so why would anyone have noticed a diversion, even if it went on for many hours? When they looked out the windows, they would have seen darkness either way.

Whether the perpetrator succeeded in his plan I do not know, nor do I know what the ultimate goal was, although you can be fairly sure it was a bad one, and probably involved other people on the ground. Was his destination a country, or a remote landing strip? Did it involve further weaponizing the plane, holding the passengers hostage, or something else?

If he succeeded, we will probably learn in time, although what we learn will be even more disturbing than what we already know. Possibly even catastrophic. Alternatively, he crashed (most likely by accident) and we may or may not ever recover the plane’s wreckage, the finding of which could give us many more clues as to what happened.

A week ago I would have considered the above a wild fantasy, and I probably would not have entertained it. Things have changed, and truth may have become even stranger than fiction.

[ADDENDUM: Newer information here. The gist of it is that the plane's new flight path was " a commonly used navigational route." That indicates a non-rogue pilot to me. Of course, the actual pilot might have been placed under duress by a highjacker.]

29 Responses to “Nothing about Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 makes sense”

  1. Sgt. Mom Says:

    To paraphrase Sherlock Holmes, once you have eliminated every one of the credible solutions, all you are left with are the incredible ones.

  2. T Says:

    “A week ago I would have considered the above a wild fantasy, and I probably would not have entertained it.”

    We should put Malaysian Air on the list right alongside the politicization and weaponization of the IRS, the EPA, Executive Orders re-writing law without challenge, TSA Kabuki theater and a whole host of other issues.

    In 1999, whoda thunk we’d be this deep in the rabbit hole in fifteen years?

  3. Mac Says:

    My own conjecture right now is that it was willfully and knowledgeably diverted, whether for some eccentric personal reason or for political/warmaking reasons, but the perpetrator(s) didn’t make it to their destination and crashed in the ocean somewhere. Hope I’m wrong about the crash, at least, though the thought of what might happen to the passengers if the flight was successful and the plot needed to be kept secret is not a happy one either.

  4. kaba Says:

    I have read elsewhere that these two pilots have a history of unlocking the cockpit door. At least long enough to give access to a female passenger. That makes me wonder if some group hasn’t possibly recruited an attractive female for just this purpose.

    And it would seem if they were holding the passengers as hostages there would be some claim of that by now with demands for whatever the hijackers desired.

    My prayers go to the families. My brother was missing for 3 days over the Mediterranean in the crash of an F-4 before the Air Force declared him dead. The body was never recovered. It very nearly killed my mom.

  5. kit Says:

    Dear Kaba,
    I am so sorry, so very sorry. I thank and honor your brother for his sacrifice and your family for yours.
    I am so sorry
    Sincerely,
    kit

  6. parker Says:

    “Or if we’ll ever get a straight story on it from the authorities.”

    It would seem likely that one of the nations in the area, or even an agency of our government, has evidence of what happened to fight 370, and for reasons unknown are not being forthright. However, the idea of someone landing the plane on a suitable runway and then later turning the plane into a flying cruise missile sounds like a good movie script to me.

    There are mysteries: http://tinyurl.com/nullgcy

  7. ritchieemmons Says:

    “Was his destination a country, or a remote landing strip?”

    neo, a remote landing strip seems very unlikely to me. This isn’t a stray Cessna. There are only a finite amount of runways in the world that can accommodate the Boeing 777 – all of them surely major airports or military bases. There’s virtually no way 370 could have snuck into one without being noticed.

  8. Beverly Says:

    These guys have been discussing this at some length — the Professional Pilots’ Rumor Network.

    http://www.pprune.org/

  9. Sgt. Mom Says:

    The consensus at Rantburg and a couple of other websites where it’s being discussed is that a Boing 777 might be able to land at an out-of-the-way or deserted runway someplace … but being able to take off again – that’s the critical part.

  10. Oldflyer Says:

    I have given up on speculating. It is clear that we do not have enough indisputable facts from the media to develop a credible theory.

    One source reported today that Rolls Royce claimed that there were no “pings” from the engine. Is that true? Who knows?

    Other sources continue to report the “fact” that the airplane continued to fly after air traffic control lost contact, and that it was somehow tracked along an established route in the direction of Pakistan.

    Today, CNN was all agog over lithium batteries in the cargo hold. Say what? Why would we concern ourselves with what was in the cargo hold if the airplane flew 4 or 5 hours after it diverted from course, and the transponder was disabled? Just an example.

    Between conflicting “facts”, typically from unidentified sources and rampant speculation, liberally spiced with gross ignorance of all things aviation from the media, it has become farcial.

  11. Steve57 Says:

    kaba says:

    “I have read elsewhere that these two pilots have a history of unlocking the cockpit door. At least long enough to give access to a female passenger. That makes me wonder if some group hasn’t possibly recruited an attractive female for just this purpose.”

    What the hey, why not? Maybe in addition to the two Iranians flying on stolen passports, Al Quds force no doubt, and the two Uighurs there’s a Chechen black widow or two also using stolen passports thrown in for good measure.

    That is not meant as a criticism, BTW, kaba. At this point anything is apparently possible.

  12. mythx Says:

    All we really have is speculation at this point. Assuming it was hijacked and landed I have a theory that I really hope is not true.

    This plane could be packed with explosives and with the hostages and flown to either Russia the US or Japan. Not with the actual intent of success. But with the idea that these country would be forced to shoot it down with mostly Chinese on board. Causing a major incident.

    The goal being more to destabilize major nations than to cause actual harm. And with large groups of people around the world willing to believe the worst of western nations it could succeed.

    It would explain exactly why no one is claiming credit. The point being blame could be assigned to whomever is politically convenient

  13. kaba Says:

    We’ll probably hear the truth sometime in early April. Right now Obama and the intelligence agencies are way too busy picking his March Madness brackets.

  14. Cornhead Says:

    Still thinking the Religion of Peace is at the core of this.

  15. RTsquard Says:

    Aviation Week’s podcast today was devoted to the disappearance of this flight featuring three experts discussing the aircraft’s automatic data transmission systems (and their deactivation) and the search activity.

    http://www.aviationweek.com/Blogs.aspx?plckBlogId=Blog:7a78f54e-b3dd-4fa6-ae6e-dff2ffd7bdbb&plckPostId=Blog%3a7a78f54e-b3dd-4fa6-ae6e-dff2ffd7bdbbPost%3a18f1bb58-d763-4a91-adff-df42d4f0689e

  16. neo-neocon Says:

    Oldflyer:

    The report that the plane was tracked by feedback from the Rolls Royce engines was an error. It was tracked by pings to a satellite. So there’s no contradiction there; all sources appear to agree on that.

  17. RTsquard Says:

    “It was tracked by pings to a satellite.”

    According to the Aviation Week expert in their podcast today, the satellite pings the aircraft, but the aircraft did not respond with any data. I don’t believe tracking is possible without the data transmission from the aircraft.

  18. neo-neocon Says:

    RTsquard:

    See this:

    With many modern jets, if a satellite has not heard from an aircraft for some time, it sends out periodic interrogations. The Independent understands that the aircraft sent out an automated response, which is possible only when the plane is flying.

    Also this:

    The satellites also received speed and altitude information about the plane from its intermittent “pings,” the people said. The final ping was sent from over water, at what one of these people called a normal cruising altitude. They added that it was unclear why the pings stopped. One of the people, an industry official, said it was possible that the system sending them had been disabled by someone on board.

  19. blert Says:

    My understanding is that — buried down inside the coding — there are provisions that allow the authorities to over-ride the software that’s running the latest digital aircraft.

    Because of economics, the older (pre-digital) stuff is being phased out.

    One aspect of the digital scheme is the option of making it IMPOSSIBLE to crash dive a jumbo jet. Further, it’s also impossible to fly jumbos low enough to hit buildings — particularly the known major ones — because the system has ROM that blocks out any such settings.

    Obviously, over the open ocean there would be nothing to hit in the horizontal.

    I further suspect that the co-pilot — THE most likely perp — found that there were systems (software) that he was not informed about. This coding ruined Plan A.

    I would surmise that our boy tried to get the jumbo to do tricks and found that the computer was rebelling. This rebellion may well have taken the form of finking to the global satellite system. Well, so much for Plan A.

    Getting totally away from land… permitted the co-pilot the ability to NOT be over-ridden by ground controllers.

    (The digital system permits the jumbo to be treated like a super-scale drone. In this mode it can be directed to an emergency landing by ground control.)

    It’s entirely likely that our boy’s Plane A consisted of ramming the Petronas Towers. Only too late he discovers that even attempting to get back towards Kuala Lumpur would deprive him of aircraft command.

    Drat!

    Plan C evolves out of frustration: no towers, no crash dive, … one must depend upon running out of kerosene.

    As for the flight crew: it’s a pretty good bet that they didn’t even understand that anything was wrong. No-one is looking out the windows. When crossing Thailand, the ground is as dark as the ocean. In all cases, everyone has given up on their cell phones. Only a tiny number of flight attendants would even be stirring.

    As for overcoming the pilot: try drugged coffee.

    Now it might be the case that the pilot came to — hours into the jihad. In which case, you may have had a knife attack at that point. IIRC pilots and co-pilots are just about never required to pass through metal detectors.

    I don’t know if it’s true, but somewhere I read that the co-pilot had been so dutiful that he’d installed a simulator back at his own residence.

    Doing so would only make sense if he was on jihad. His employer has a simulator that is far more sophisticated — and free — right at Kuala Lumpur.

  20. neo-neocon Says:

    blert:

    It was the pilot, the older man, who had the home flight simulator. He was reportedly a big flying and safety and gadgetry buff. My gut feeling is he is not guilty; that he was overpowered or incapacitated.

    As for the rest, your scenario pretty well matches the scenario I sketched out earlier today. However, with all this quick up and down maneuvering, I get the sense that the passengers and the cabin crew would be forcibly woken up and would know something was very, very wrong. If that’s true, it makes it even more awful. However, if that was true, would the cabin crew not have tried to gain access to the locked cockpit (keys)? And if so, could there have been a struggle that led to the jet crashing?

    Actually, I seem to recall that on Flight 93, once the passengers gained access to the (unlocked) cockpit and tried to take over from the hijackers, there was a lot of wild maneuvering of the plane in order to throw the passengers off. Isn’t that how it ended up crashing in the field?

  21. parker Says:

    Little verifiable information + widespread speculation = a multitude of theories, all based upon chattering in a confusing cloud of disinformation. Someone/s know/s what happened but they are too busy covering up for as of now for unknown other someones. 370 was hijacked and is now scattered into pieces which are resting on the bottom of the ocean. This looks like something that we will never learn the truth of and will soon fade from the 24/7 news cycle when Crimea votes to join Mother Russia.

  22. blert Says:

    Parker…

    It would appear that the plebiscite has been moved up by Putin.

    Is it now to come tomorrow?

    If so, then Westish Rodina aka Eastern Ukraine could be re-joined to the Rodina in time for the Sunday talk shows.

    JFK’s ‘ultimatum’ is curious: the drop dead date, no?

    It’s almost as if JFK has been given R-Day; perhaps a little bird.

  23. parker Says:

    blert,

    There was a great deal of willful ignorance or nefarious scheming on the part of the EU-NATO-USA to believe Urkaine could be put under their umbrella and Russia would simply go along with this move without taking action to thwart the assimilation. When you can not remember or choose to ignore history you are asking for trouble. Perhaps EU-NATO-USA are asking for trouble…. I don’t know and for now will assume they are bumbling, ignorant fools.

  24. Oldflyer Says:

    Neo,

    I understand about the “pings”. I was referencing the contradictory information that is flowing, and a major news organization reported that RR said there were NO PINGS.

    Probably erroneous, since tonight there seems to be consensus that there were pings.

    The source of this bit of confusion may be because Malaysia Airlines reportedly does not subscribe to the RR’s data recovery program; but the equipment to communicate it via satcom is still on board.

    By the way, the airplane was never ‘tracked” by the pings. There is no positional information, all they conveyed was that the engines were running.

    Even tonight I stand by my intent to take every thing said on the media with a healthy dose of skepticism. Too much contradictory information; and it continues even as they think the picture is becoming more clear.

  25. waitforit Says:

    Kolnai,

    You will do the right thing. Don’t worry about that.

  26. neo-neocon Says:

    parker:

    I think “bumbling, inept fools” is a good description of the EU-NATO-USA vis a vis Putin re Ukraine.

  27. Steve57 Says:

    Olflyer says:

    “The source of this bit of confusion may be because Malaysia Airlines reportedly does not subscribe to the RR’s data recovery program; but the equipment to communicate it via satcom is still on board.”

    Actually Malaysia does subscribe to RR’s ACARS. That’s why the Malaysians disputed the initial WSJ report that erroneously attributed the tracking to that system. The Malaysians knew exactly when the last packet of ACARS data was transmitted; before the transponder was shut off.

    They don’t subscribe to Boeing’s Airplane Health Management system.

    http://www.boeing.com/boeing/Features/2013/07/bca_airplane_health_mgmt_07_30_13.page

    Nor do most 777 operators. Boeing explains the business case for AHM at the link. It reduces downtime since should the AHM detect the aircraft needs service while in flight then diagnostic information can be transmitted to the operator and Boeing ground stations and parts can be waiting at the destination and technical and engineering expertise standing by to support. The 777 is too reliable to make AHM cost effective. As one Malaysian official put it, they subscribe to the “required maintenance package” only. But you’re right, the equipment is still installed on the aircraft whether the operator subscribes to the service or not.

  28. bob Says:

    I sense another Obama scandal. I heard on Rush it was the Chicoms. Obama has been pretty tight with them. Wonder how much he knew?

  29. Lowell Says:

    Re the pings, they stopped approx. 5 hours after last known transmission. So why do we still hear that it was “over water” at that time, when almost anyplace in Pakistan is just over 5 hours away?

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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