March 15th, 2014

Flight 370 update

Well, this certainly narrows it down, doesn’t it? What an “interesting” neighborhood:

[Malaysian Prime Minister] Razak said countries located in the flight corridors that are now the focus of the search have been contacted so they can share radar data and “all relevant information” with the investigative teams, which include the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board.

That northern corridor runs through Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Burma.

There is a southern corridor too, but it goes mainly to the west of Australia over the Indian Ocean.

The Prime Minister added that “the flight was still communicating with satellites until 8:11 a.m. — seven and a half hours after takeoff, and more than 90 minutes after it was due in Beijing,” at which point it would have been close to running out of fuel.

Here is all that’s known (or at least, reported to be known) of the earlier path of the plane:


This is a strong statement:

[An unnamed Malaysian] official said a deliberate takeover of the plane was no longer a theory. “It is conclusive,” he said, indicating that investigators were ruling out mechanical failure or pilot error in the disappearance…

The Malaysian official said only a skilled aviator could navigate the plane the way it was flown after its last confirmed location over the South China Sea.

The possibilities are almost endless, and some of this will be pieced together through military radar from a host of countries. I would imagine most people (and here I’d include myself) would have assumed that a rogue plane would have been detected by radar whether it had its transponder on or not, and would be considered at least potentially hostile in this post-9/11 world. And yet this one was hardly noticed, and if it was it seems to have elicited a yawn—even though a Malaysian plane was already reported to be missing! The implications are staggering.

The sad and mind-boggling truth is that we don’t know what human agent was responsible for this, where the plane was taken, if it crashed or landed safely, and if the passengers and crew are alive or dead. That’s a lot of unknowns, although I believe we are not being told everything the authorities know.

[NOTE: I've also noticed many people in the comments sections of various articles keep asking why none of the passengers managed to call on their cellphones. But at very high altitudes and far from any cellphone towers, no calls could be made successfully. Some of the 9/11 passengers managed to do it because those planes were flying relatively low at times, and what is especially important is that they were always over land that tended to be generously equipped with cellphone towers (here's a very lengthy discussion; even at fairly high altitude cellphones can sometimes work if over towers). In addition, many of the 9/11 calls were on special airphones, installed in planes and designed to be used while flying.]

23 Responses to “Flight 370 update”

  1. kaba Says:

    If, as has been reported, the plane went to 44,000+ feet after takeover it has been reported that the cabin pressurization system wouldn’t function and even the drop down mask wouldn’t provide sufficient breathable air. The pilots would even require a special apparatus to breath at that attitude. If true then the best case scenario would have the passengers unconscious. And if that altitude were maintained for any length of time them we can assume far worse.

  2. Steve57 Says:

    The Malaysian radar data was able to track MH370 and note sharp changes to course and altitude. Pakistan and India have been on hair trigger alert during their decades long confrontation. How was an airliner supposed to slip through their airspace unnoticed? Also, somebody, ahem, has a significant military presence in Afghanistan.

    It seems to me that the western route to East Africa and Yemen would be more promising. I haven’t checked to see where the carriers, with their E-2 equipped airwings and attendant SPY! equipped cruisers and destroyers, were on the date in question. But if it were just an anti-piracy task force between the Malaysian airliner and the coast it would have an easier time slipping by. They wouldn’t have been expecting an air threat, let alone one coming from seaward.

  3. Don Carlos Says:

    I do not find this affair mindboggling. I have way too little knowledge of the highly technical matters involved for my mind to boggle. I see no value in speculating as to causes, events and future outcomes, because, as Hillary so sagely observed, “What difference will it make?” I will sit back and let the information come to me. I do not need to reach a verdict anytime soon. I know the eventual news will be bad, but I am not called to action in the interval.

  4. neo-neocon Says:


    I am not at all sure you’re right about the pressurization. Do you have a source? I researched that last night, and found this:

    Q: If a commercial passenger jet were to climb continually, what would happen at and beyond its ceiling? Engines run out of oxygen? Massive decompression? A bit morbid, but I have always wondered.
    – William; Palatine Ill.
    A: Beyond the certified ceiling, the engines would eventually lose the ability to produce enough thrust to continue the climb. There would not be a decompression.

    What’s more, I’ve seen a lot of discussion with supposed aviation experts on TV, and although they’ve mentioned the plane going up as high as 46,000 feet, no one I’ve heard has said that would kill the passengers or make them unconsicious.

  5. blert Says:


    What REALLY happens is that all jumbo jets have a tiny turbine that compresses exterior air, humidifies it (it’s as dry as Mars) and then pours it into the cabin.

    It’s designed in every case to have a design margin — certainly enough to keep the cabin A okay even beyond the jet’s official listed capacity.

    (ALL American machines are de-rated for marketing purposes. This has been a marketing tick that goes back over a century. This conservative claims-making has caused American manufactures to be the single most esteemed ‘mark’ in the world.)

    (Intel’s chips are de-rated all the time. Consequently, nerds ‘over-clock’ them.)

    You get the picture.

    The worst that could happen is that passengers temporarily passed out and came to when the jet descended.

    At that hour, the single most probable event was that everyone was sleeping. Even apparently rapid descents do NOT provide any significant signals to a passenger. It’s like an elevator ride: most of the time you’re at 1 G.

    A simple low key announcement that there’s a little bit of turbulence ahead would be more than enough to satisfy everyone.


    The odds are that Muslims hijacked the plane and intended to hold the high-value passengers as hostages pending the release of fellow jihadis locked up in Chinese prisons.

    They’ve been down this road before.

    If you’ll recall, AQ and its minions have been engaged in a “Breaking-the-Walls” campaign for quite some time.

    (That’s its official English title, BTW.)

    They’ve had great success in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    Getting the 777 back up in the sky is not part of their plan.

    BTW, didn’t Muslim air hijacking get started by landing jets in the desert?

    I hope that link works.^^^^

    (My Firefox keeps adding a back-link apostrophe to my query:%27)

    And, wasn’t the motive centered around freeing convicted terrorists and murderers from prison?

    It sure rhymes.

  6. kaba Says:

    No I’m not sure and should have checked more before posting. I read it as a comment on what I thought was Richard Fernandez’s spot but can’t find it now.

    I should probably ignore this entire story until more is known. I can’t help but feel some connection to the families of the passengers.

  7. Charles Says:

    I’m sort of hoping that a lot of the “mystery” isn’t a mystery to those who should know and that in reality they know a lot more than they are letting the public know so that they can rescue or do whatever they need to do to “clean up” this situation.

    Far too often the press is an unwitting partner to terrorists; or they DO know, but, just don’t care.

    Just think of the idiot journalists who were reporting, as breaking news, the whereabouts of folks still hiding in the Taj Hotel when terrorists took over in Mumbai – the terrorists were listening to TV and radio broadcasts so they would know where to hunt down their prey.

    So, I’m hoping, against all odds for sure, that there is a lot that the authorities know that we don’t and they are keeping secrets for a better outcome.

    Perhaps, this is just wishful thinking on my part; especially given the clowns we have in the white house now – really, Obama has time to go on some stupid TV show with all that is going on in the world?

  8. Cornhead Says:

    Think Religion of Peace.

  9. Ymarsakar Says:

    They run out of suicide bombers or did they run out of towers to fly into? Because this is an old tactic.

    What happened to the new methods?

  10. neo-neocon Says:


    It’s not so old if it was one of the pilots who hijacked the plane, which is what I think most likely. Also new is that in previous hijackings the whereabouts of the plane was always known, because the hijackers and the pilots under their control were always in communication with authorities.

    And perhaps the “flying into the tower” part comes later, in this case. I certainly hope not.

  11. FOAF Says:

    Steve57 – I agree the “southern corridor” (westward over the Indian Ocean to Africa) seems more likely. Less chance of detection, and it terminates near Somalia which somehow seems appropriate for this bizarre incident.

  12. Don Carlos Says:

    I think it will be useful to consider the use(s) to which this plane may be put. Take it as given this plane did not crash. This is an area where thinking outside the box may be instructive (as opposed to debating hypoxia, depressurization, pings and other emanations). Consider the past cleverness of the enemy: boxcutters as weapons; planes as missiles; shoes as bombs; children as suicide bombers.

    So: to what nefarious, evil use can this Boeing 777 be put? To carry a NORK nuclear bomb? Well, that’s thinking inside the box. To broadcast anthrax over an enomous swath, where it will come down as rain days later? Now we’re getting somewhere.

    To transport people? To what purpose? Or to convert it to a cargo freighter? It is very tough to come up with unconventional evil!

  13. neo-neocon Says:

    Don Carlos:

    A lot of people have speculated about a nuclear cargo.

    I’m not so sure you need such a big plane for that. Enola Gay was rather small, after all. But a plane like this can go far without refueling, which might be the more important part.

  14. Ymarsakar Says:

    The fact that it is actually maintained well would be something the Islamos couldn’t get, even with funding.

  15. RTsquard Says:

    The published service ceiling of a Boeing 777-200ER (flight MH-370) is 43,100 ft. The extreme altitude decompression scenario isn’t plausible.

    However the reported changes in altitude (from 45,000 to 29,000 ft.) may suggest that whoever was piloting the aircraft may have been in search of another jumbo to tail possibly climbing out from Kuala Lampur. At some close following distance, the two aircraft may have appeared as a single radar return since only one had an operating transponder. It would take a very alert controller to discern the sleight.

  16. Steve57 Says:

    FOAF says:

    “…and it terminates near Somalia which somehow seems appropriate for this bizarre incident.”

    Yes, that’s what I was thinking, too. There are three airstrips there that might handle a 777 but they’re in government hands, not al Shabaab.

    But if Somalia is within reach, so is Sudan. A state sponsor of terror. And I’d rather risk flying over Somalia and Ethiopia than take the northern route. That’s just me.

    I found this on the USCENTCOM website. The Harry S. Truman strike group and the French task force centered on the carrier Charles De Gaulle recently concluded combined operations in the Gulf of Oman/North Arabian Sea.

    So an airliner on an established commercial corridor passing east to west well to their south wouldn’t have attracted any attention. They could have slipped the 777 right by.

  17. blert Says:

    ^^^^ MUCH more information available from Asian Week.

    Now everything is pointing to the PILOT, not the co-pilot.

    In what is proving to be amazing timing, his wife and three kids bailed on their McMansion immediately prior to his Long Trip.

    His political radar is tuned into anti-Americanism, anti-Semitism, and all around kook-ville.

    You’ll get the details at the link above.

    Our MSM is w a a a a a a y behind the curve.

    The Iranian travellers also don’t ‘add up’ any more.

    And, of course, our boy is a Uyghur Muslim supporter of the first magnitude.

  18. Beverly Says:

    All of you folks who are fascinated by this hijack mystery would find this book riveting: “TOUCHING HISTORY” by Lynn Spencer, about the September 11th attacks. But I warn you, once the events start to unfold, you won’t be able to put it down. I stayed up all night to finish it.

    [Available at Amazon, through Neo's link. ;-)] Here’s the blurb.

    Touching History is told through the eyes of commercial airline pilots, FAA and military controllers, jet fighters and key military personnel at the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and its subunit Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS), and the national FAA Command Center, whose personnel had to grapple with the bizarre and unprecedented unfolding drama of the attacks.

    In a round-robin narrative in the style of Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn’s “102 Minutes,” Lynn Spencer takes readers right to the front lines of the unfolding drama as the realization hits that multiple hijackings are underway and then that the country is under attack.

    From the computer screen of the comptroller who first noticed that American flight 11 was flying off course, to the phone call from a stewardess onboard alerting American Airlines emergency personnel that hijackers had killed two flight attendants and entered the cockpit, to the battle cab of the military commander who ordered fighter jets in the air and the NASA-like operations floor of the FAA Command Center, to the cockpits of a number of the 4,500 commercial airliners flying over the United States that morning, Spencer follows the story all the way through the end of the day, when the fog of war had finally lifted and the country could assess exactly what had happened.

    Spencer conducted hundreds of interviews and spoke to every key player in the airline industry and military who was involved in the major air events of the day—including a number of people the 9/11 Commission did not speak to.

    We hear from Ben Sliney, the man who came to work that morning for his first day on the job as the Operations Chief of the FAA and who made the brilliant, unprecedented decision to ground every commercial plane in the sky and close U.S. airspace; the military commanders who decided to override protocol and send fighter jets to defend Washington without approval; the pilot of Delta Flight 19889, which was mistakenly identified as a fifth hijacking; and the sole FAA controller who stayed at his post in the Boston Center, which was reported to be under attack, and provided the military with almost all of the information it got about the whereabouts of hijacked planes.

    Based on highly detailed accounts from these interviews, as well as on the voluminous records of radio transmissions from the controllers, the hijacked planes, and many of the other planes that were in the air that day, Spencer fills in many holes in the story as it was reported by the 9/11 Commission.

    She also brings to pulse-quickening life the confusion, the horror, and the fierce determination and quick thinking of so many key players as they improvised their responses to a shocking new type of warfare.

    – It was fascinating to read these eyewitness accounts from folks manning the various air commands; to find out how our national airspace is run, and by whom (Giant Killer, e.g., really romanced the canine that day); the growing horror as what seemed at first to be an anachronism (“are they going to Cuba?”) turned into something none of these men ever dreamed they’d face.

    You read the firsthand accounts of pilots coming in from overseas, in the Pacific, radioing each other out in the vast, trackless wastes, trying to piece together what the hell is going on when they start getting bizarre teletype messages from their corporate headquarters saying things like “Don’t allow anyone into the cockpit” and “No go Hawaii” (“Want me to ditch out here? What the hell is going on???”)

    The pilot of the plane that would have been the fifth plane, and what happened to the Al Quada killers who had been onboard.

    What went down in the ATC towers of the various airports (it was wild).

    My favorite quote of the book, though, has to be the Marine pilot at Andrews AFB, who, on seeing the tiny National Guard detachment scrambling, radioed a buddy pilot over there and said, “Dude, get us into the war!”

    (You see, we have tons of fighters standing around, just none who were TASKED with fighting domestic threats…. effin’ red tape.)

    After you finish, you won’t ever wonder about the “slow” response time. (You’ll see, first, how the true information trickled in, and second, how our boys flew SUPERSONIC from Cape Cod as soon ad they were scrambled: one pilot said “Let’s bust all the windows in Massachusetts!” I saw them overhead that day.)

    After I finished the book, I actually felt a hell of a lot better about flying — the men and women in our airlines and our Air Force are consummate pros. God bless ‘em.

  19. Beverly Says:

    Oh, and footnote to the above: You’ll find out a LOT about how airlines work, how the nation’s military meshes with them (or doesn’t), and what goes into making decisions about what to do — a lot more is involved than I even suspected. It also paints a vivid picture of how long it takes for an unprecedented threat to assume clear outlines as it emerges from the fog of war.

  20. Beverly Says:

    Blert: “ALL American machines are de-rated for marketing purposes.”

    Is that the Scotty factor? (Captain, it’ll take at least — Two hours, sir!”)

  21. Don Carlos Says:

    There are lots of water-borne ways to deliver a nuclear cargo without a plane, unless the goal is to explode an inland city (like Moscow, or Dallas).

    To what evil uses can this plane be put? Unlike 9/11/01, the bad boys will need lots of jet fuel and an ability to take off. I think the Muslim captain may be key to how this plays out in future. I would want all Muzzies trained to fly 777s surveilled starting now. But whether the Sauds or the Emirates would cooperate in this ?

  22. Ymarsakar Says:

    Whether the NSA can be retasked for it from Congress and political rallies…

  23. neo-neocon Says:


    Touching History is indeed a wonderful book. I read it all in one fell swoop, too.

    Wrote about it here.

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