The Circumlocution Office is Alive and Well

The Circumlocution Office is Alive and Well

Duncan Steel, 2014 May 06.
duncansteel.com

I was intending to put up a post here simply so as to enable a new thread of discussion, due to the huge volume of comments and replies that have made my preceding post unwieldy. I had failed to put up a new post for while not so much for a lack of anything to say, but rather the lack of time to say and write it whilst travelling and attending to a range of other matters; my apologies for this.

So, I was going to put up a post with a title saying simply “Here’s a new post you can file comments under” but I wanted to convey the spirit of the investigation, and therefore came up with The Circumlocution Office. This wonder (and all-too-common feature) of government had its name invented many years ago by Charles Dickens, in his book Little Dorrit, although it was by no means a new phenomenon in the middle of the nineteenth century. Dickens introduces it with this paragraph:

The Circumlocution Office was (as everybody knows without being told) the most important Department under Government. No public business of any kind could possibly be done at any time without the acquiescence of the Circumlocution Office. Its finger was in the largest public pie, and in the smallest public tart. It was equally impossible to do the plainest right and to undo the plainest wrong without the express authority of the Circumlocution Office. If another Gunpowder Plot had been discovered half an hour before the lighting of the match, nobody would have been justified in saving the parliament until there had been half a score of boards, half a bushel of minutes, several sacks of official memoranda, and a family-vault full of ungrammatical correspondence, on the part of the Circumlocution Office.

In the century-and-a-half since Dickens introduced the world to its existence, in a formal sense, The Circumlocution Office has grow’d like Topsy so as to have sub-branches and sub-sub-branches in every department of every level of government.

On Monday I sent the following email message to the Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACCmedia@infrastructure.gov.au) in Canberra, Australia (a nation of which I am a citizen):

Dear Sir or Madam,

In the mass media today there have been various reports regarding a meeting of those investigating the loss of Malaysia Airlines flight 370, to occur on Wednesday in Canberra. For example, the following appeared in The Guardian (London):

Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, said: “We’ve got to this stage of the process where it’s very sensible to go back and have a look at all of the data that’s been gathered, all of the analysis that’s been done, and make sure that there are no flaws in that.”

Might I ensure that you are aware of the analysis by a variety of people with knowledge of both the space/satellite sector and also the avionics and communications systems, all available on my website: duncansteel.com

As an example, on April 2nd I posted an analysis that indicated that the Inmarsat modelling of the satellite-derived information appears to be incorrect in that a northern path for MH370 cannot be excluded: http://www.duncansteel.com/archives/507

I have already discussed and critically reviewed this analysis with a wide range of colleagues, including aeronautics/aviation staff at NASA-Ames Research Center, where I work part of the year.

Regards,
Duncan Steel

The following is the complete (obviously pro forma) reply that I received:

The ATSB’s MH370 search group has been established since Australia’s involvement in the search for MH370. The group initially based at AMSA is now at the ATSB.

This group has been working closely with the MH370 joint investigation team of experts and in particular, the satellite communication subgroup, who will be visiting the ATSB this week to continue the review of information that will assist in progressing future underwater search planning. The work of the groups will be ongoing in the coming weeks as the underwater search planning progresses.

The satellite communication subgroup comprises experts from the ATSB, UK Air Accident Investigation Branch, the US National Transportation Safety Board, Inmarsat and their respective technical advisers.

Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC)

Apart from telling us that The Circumlocution Office is alive and well and has been transported to the Antipodes, the above reply is not entirely devoid of information: it mentions only “underwater search”, apparently confirming that the view remains that the MH370 flew south, regardless of any review of the satellite data. Perhaps such a review will indeed demonstrate beyond doubt that the aircraft flew south.

Almost precisely a century after Dickens named The Circumlocution Office, in 1955 Cyril Northcote Parkinson introduced his eponymous law. It has various forms, and corollaries, but the commonest is perhaps that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” Unfortunately its application in the sorry case of MH370 is that there is no known time limit for the search for the last resting place of MH370, and so myriad public servants [sic] will continue to be paid to do worthless, obscurantist pseudo-work until such time as the aircraft is found, and then they will find something else to do that is both time-filling and self-serving, so as to continue to waste the public’s money.

 

483 thoughts on “The Circumlocution Office is Alive and Well”

  1. Hi Bill,

    Thank you for your detailed analysis: http://www.duncansteel.com/archives/751#comment-4374

    You conclude “With all of the measurement error inherent in this reverse engineering, the ground speed looks to be a little over 500knots.”

    In my earlier comment (the first comment on this post): http://www.duncansteel.com/archives/751#comment-3549

    I stated “the last known speed of MH370 which I calculated at 500.36 knots” based on a similar analysis of the flight path from Perak Island to the end point of the Malaysian Military Radar.

    So we are in complete agreement.

    Richard

    1. Richard,
      Yea, it sure is nice to see multiple approaches coming up with answers in such good agreement.

      But, I must confess, I selected my words in that post very carefully. “a little over 500knots” allows for agreement with the range of speeds that I have seen between 500 knots and 509 knots. I almost said ‘around ‘500 knots’, to pull in the 490knot numbers… But, that might have been too obvious. :)
      Given the precision that the available “data” provides, I view all of these numbers as close enough.
      -Bill

      1. Hi Bill,

        Returning to our discussion on precision and accuracy from the previous post, I would like to use the following analogy.

        If I am sailing a boat and want to know my position (without GPS) I can take a compass bearing from a lighthouse and know I am somewhere on a line with that bearing to the lighthouse. If I take second fix and get another bearing from a church spire then I can draw two lines and find where they intersect. This is still quite inaccurate however. But if I take a third fix from an aerial mast then with a third line my accuracy is increasing. I could carry on with a fourth and fifth fix if I wanted.

        What you have done in developing a consistent timeline for MH370 is similar. Assuming a constant air speed and constant winds and therefore constant ground speed over this short section of the flight from 17:59 UTC and 18:22 UTC with your 9 points along this timeline your accuracy will increase with the more points you have. With increasing accuracy, you can then allow yourself to be more precise.

        It is interesting in examining your 9 points that there was one point at 18:04:36 UTC that was not on the constant flight path where it appears that MH370 started to turn further to the north and then corrected to the original track. Unfortunately one point is not conclusive, it could have been an anomaly in the radar trace.

        Richard

  2. Circumlocution Exhibit 558:

    “The raw data is not in the hands of Malaysia, Australia or MAS. What needs to be confirmed or released can only be done by Inmarsat themselves,” Hishammuddin told reporters at a media briefing this evening on the still missing Boeing 777-200ER aircraft.

    http://english.astroawani.com/news/show/raw-data-with-inmarsat-not-us-says-hishammuddin-35887

    Depending on who you ask, nobody has the raw data, nobody owns the raw data, nobody may see the raw data and now apparently nobody is auditing the raw data.

  3. This will sound a bit crazy, but is it possible to plot the latest N/S route candidates on the western side of the ping rings? It seems to me that if there is a southern route that fits the BFO graph closely, there is also a second solution, symmetrical along the 64.5E meridian, running roughly along the east coast of Africa. Symmetry between north and south may not exist because the satellite is moving north or south, but what about symmetry east-west?

    While this isn’t a possible route for MH370, we haven’t received any hard confirmation on the ping identities, either.

    Could any of the pings have been mistaken? Would a western route look anything like a real flight route?

    Note that Johannesburg is very near the 00:11 ping ring. Is there a remote possibility that the pings were instead a flight from Dubai to JNB, for example, and unrelated?

    1. JS, my understanding would be that two mirrored flight paths options are roughly symmetrical about an imaginary great circle that passes through two points. One point is the Inmarsat satellite position and the other point is the “start” of the flight paths. This imaginary great circle for the MH370 scenario divides the ping rings into a “north” option and a “south” option. The aircraft’s speed limitations realistically limit it to a relatively steep “north and south” solution due to the distance from the flight path “start” to the innermost ping ring. In other words MH370 would have to fly very fast from the “start” point to a “western” portion of the inner ping ring.

      1. Hi Benaiahu,

        Js did not suggest that MH370 flew to Johannesburg. He suggested, that signals from a different plane, somwhere on the western side were mistaken to be from MH370. Some posters suggested that there is uncertainty about the ID or origin of the released ping and/or BFO data, hence, I presume, js’ question.

        Cheers
        Will

      2. Thanks MuOne, sorry JS, I misunderstood. I think my symmetry comments still apply in helping solve your question, just ignore the aircraft speed comments. A non MH370 “western” (N/S) symmetrical flight would be bisected by great circle running through the flight “start” on west side and Inmarsat satellite position. Hard to believe it’s possible they got the ID wrong, but nothing would really phase me now.

      3. phase you or faze you? (homophone corner) 8-)

        I am often out-of-phase: get up too late, get to bed too late.

  4. Hi Duncan,

    Please correct me, if I am wrong. It has been a long time since I did my PPL.

    If MH370’s track fits the ping rings you have published, then wind is irrelevant because wind has already been taken into account to determine the track of MH370 (as opposed to the heading).

    If MH370’s speed in relation to the satellite is one factor to determine the doppler shift, then wind is relevant because the ground speed of MH370 at a particular point in time is affected by the wind at that time.

    For example, if I flew with a heading of due north at a speed of 500 knots and there was a wind blowing from west to east at 50 knots and at 90 degrees to my heading, then my track would be 5.7 degrees to the east of due north and my ground speed 502.5 knots (as opposed to an air speed of 500 knots).

    My position will be along my track (heading plus effect that the wind has had up until now), which is relevant for the ping ring calculation, but my ground speed at that point will be affected by the wind, which is relevant to the BFO Doppler calculation.

    Richard

    1. Richard,

      The wind is relevant in that , depending on the flight mode at the time, the wind will have an affect on the groundspeed, and the ground track as well. For southern tracks, near the outer ping rings, the winds can be 245 deg/ 50 knots. For northern tracks, winds north of the Bay of Bengal can be 255 deg/100 knots.

      There 3 possible flight modes, and assuming constant aircraft speed:
      (i) Constant [Great Circle] track – – – the groundspeed will vary and the aircraft [instantaneous] heading will vary
      (ii) Constant True heading [the Rhumb line] – – – the groundspeed will vary and the ground track will vary
      (iii)Constant magnetic heading – – – the groundspeed will vary and the ground track will vary with, wind and magnetic declination.

      Only the time for crossing each ping ring is known. The two unknowns are the groundspeed between the ping rings, and the ground track.

      1. Hi Brian,

        I agree with all you say.

        With respect to POSITION we need the sum of all wind effects (speeds and directions) up to that point on the track and the position on the ping ring has already absorbed those effects in calculating the FLIGHT MODEL.

        With respect to GROUND SPEED and TRACK at that POSITION we need the actual wind effect (speed and direction) at that moment as the BFO MODEL requires both the actual GROUND SPEED and TRACK in relation to the satellite motion to work out the satellite/aircraft component of the doppler effect at that POSITION.

        It must be possible with a detailed analysis of ping rings, burst offset frequencies, winds and magnetic variations to reverse engineer which mode the aircraft was in.

        Richard

  5. Just talked with an old friend and retired 747 captain. He said that he and several of his B777-200 pals have been talking about MH370. They believe it is likely that MH370 suffered a fire caused by the O2 system, like Egypt Air in 2011. Here are some links on that fire.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2591402/MH370-flight-deck-fire-similar-one-broke-Boeing-model-2011-downed-missing-jet-claims-London-law-firm.html

    http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/egyptair-777-fire-probe-inconclusive-but-short-circuit-379655/

    I asked if his 777 friends could explain how the aircraft could have continued to operate, and he said they were convinced that it could. They reason that if the O2 system that supplies O2 to the cockpit crew failed to deliver O2 to them, then when the fire burned through the fuselage, they would have had <30 seconds of consciousness. The fire would have caused all kinds of electrical loads to be shed, like in the Egypt Air case. The cockpit crew is comatose in seconds. The door is locked. Everybody in back may have had some O2 for a few minutes, but not long. What would the flight computer do? How long would the Crew have had to start a turn back? I will meet with these 777 pilots and get a better idea of the details they think support this scenario. they are also checking Honeywell sources for me. Meanwhile, I would like to hear from other 777 pilots. Is this a viable scenario?

    1. Thanks Mike.

      As a personal opinion – and readers in the UK will doubtless verify this – I could never cite the Daily Mail as a dependable source of information! In fact I even doubt the football scores published therein, unless I have another good source (or I had actually been at the match).

      1. As an outsider who has never read the Daily Mail before, I was suprised to find that it has generally had the best coverage of MH370, with the possible exception of the NY Times and the WS Journal. Go figure.

      2. This is the official final report of the EgyptAir cockpit fire:

        http://www.civilaviation.gov.eg/accident/Reports/B777_SU-GBP_cockpit_fire_accident%20final%20Report%20responding%20to%20boeing%20comments%2019-09-2012a.pdf

        and here is a forum discussion about it:

        http://avherald.com/h?article=44078aa7

        An interesting theory by a pilot on the connection of this case with MH370 which for some reason didn’t get public attention:

        http://www.happyhourpolitics.com/national/what-happened-to-the-malaysian-mh370-flight/

      3. This is the official final report of the EgyptAir cockpit fire:

        http://www.civilaviation.gov.eg/accident/Reports/B777_SU-GBP_cockpit_fire_accident%20final%20Report%20responding%20to%20boeing%20comments%2019-09-2012a.pdf

        and here is a forum discussion about it:

        http://avherald.com/h?article=44078aa7

        A very interesting theory by a pilot on the connection of this case with MH370 which didn’t get public attention:

        http://www.happyhourpolitics.com/national/what-happened-to-the-malaysian-mh370-flight/

    2. ” . . . according to an Airbus study in 2012, it takes just eight minutes for a fire to go out of control and the airplane has to be on the ground within 15 minutes, with the implication being that the airplane would be lost beyond this time. We know from the satellite pings that MH370 was airborne for up to seven hours after contact was lost. If any fire occurred strong enough to cause the loss of all radios and transponders, it certainly would have resulted in the loss of the airplane well before seven hours.” See http://leehamnews.com/2014/03/23/why-a-fire-on-mh370-is-unlikely

      1. Rodney,
        The critical detail to add to a fire scenario is the effectiveness of the cargo hold fire suppression systems. The fire would build up over a short period of time prior to being detected. fumes, smoke, flame do some amount of damage, then the fire suppression system either extinguishes the fire completely, or subdues it sufficiently to halt further significant damage. The system is designed to continue to suppress the fire, if the initial attempt doesn’t quite get it all out. But, if the fire continues generating heat longer than the suppressant keeps spraying into the hold, they the fire could resume. (I recall reading about the system being designed to continue to apply the fire suppressant for 30 minutes.) If the heat source remained that long (for example, overheated Li-Ion batteries continuing to smolder, but not aggressively burning ), the fire could accelerate again.

        The continued operation of the satellite subsystem is reasonable evidence that at least some power was unaffected. (I recall that the left power bus supplies the Satcom)

        If the location of such a fire damaged cables, the impact would be hard to predict. Loss of the cables from the main electronics bay (under the cockpit and forward of the forward cargo bay) to the transponder antennae and the VHF antennae and the HF antennae would be possible but unlikely. The location and size of the fire would have to be able to affect multiple sets of cable bundles heading to different locations on the top and bottom of the airplane to affect all communications.
        Damaging the data links between the main electronics bay and the satcom system would involve fewer distributed cables. (Still an unlikely event.)
        If a fire was in the electronics bay itself, then we go back to imagining scenarios that cause enough damage to take out the radios, while leaving the plane flying.
        -Bill

  6. In trying to reconcile how my projected path models differ from Yap FF’s excellent spreadsheet (Yap V8 with scaled D3) and other team member’s posted outputs it might be related to my mean satellite position for Inmarsat-3F1.
    A. My assumption is to use the mean position of the satellite only for the duration of the available data. In other words 0 ≤ (t) ≤ 461 minutes after March 7, 2014 UTC 16:30:00.
    B. My resultant mean satellite positions are:
    R_x, km =18146.14730 R_y, km =38065.55612 R_z, km =992.183767
    I was able to refine the mean positions once I used the polynomial curve fits, but in general my assumption and or mean satellite position math might be wrong. Lack of rest isn’t helping, any critical feedback would be appreciated.

      1. Great question. “Used” for example in (Yap V8 with scaled D3.xls) AD62:AL73 to generate “Estimated aircraft Doppler along line of sight, Hz”. Which feeds calculated D1 “Aircraft Doppler residual, Hz” then ultimately generates calculated BFO (D1+D2+D3, Hz).

  7. Hi Duncan,

    Mike Exner, in his comment: http://www.duncansteel.com/archives/743#comment-3260 suggested it would be good if the BFO Model and the Path Model would align.

    I have taken Yap’s most recent Excel Spreadsheet describing the BFO Model (Yap V8 with scaled D3) and compared it with my most recent Path Model based on input from yourself, Eugene, Warren and Dr. Kuang, which I have discussed in various previous comments.

    I chose a speed of 500.36 knots for MH370 which I have shown in previous comments fits the initial flight path of MH370, ADS-B data, ping rings at 18:25:24, 18:26:54 and 18:27:48 as well as the Malaysian Military Radar trace. Yap chose your start point of 6.70N 95.30E, whereas I chose two slightly different start points for the Northern and Southern routes as I believe MH370 stated to turn earlier (as I have discussed in yet another comment) based on the input from yourself, Warren, Eugene and Dr. Kuang.

    The results are a good fit for both the northern and southern route as follows:

    NORTH Yap Richard
    UTC Lat. Long. Lat. Long.
    18:27:48 6.70 95.30 6.85 95.76
    19:40:30 15.33 90.47 15.56 90.57
    20:40:24 22.70 86.37 22.87 86.36
    21:40:42 29.61 81.21 29.76 81.04
    22:40:18 36.28 75.27 36.57 75.38
    00:10:48 44.51 62.67 43.81 61.89

    SOUTH
    UTC
    18:27:48 6.70 95.30 6.18 95.85
    19:40:30 -2.92 93.20 -3.60 93.32
    20:40:24 -11.12 91.79 -11.65 91.21
    21:40:42 -19.24 89.91 -19.74 88.95
    22:40:18 -27.41 88.20 -27.70 86.47
    00:10:48 -39.55 84.05 -39.69 81.90

    The northern route end point agrees +/- 1 degree of latitude and longitude and is near the Aral Sea on the border between Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.

    The southern route end point agrees +/- 0.2 degree of latitude and +/- 2.2 degrees of longitude and is within the AMSA search area at the start of the Indian Ocean search on 18th March 2014.

    The relatively small discrepancies between Yap’s calculations and mine maybe as a result of the different starting points or other reasons which I will continue to investigate. I can make my spreadsheets available to anyone who wishes.

    Richard

    1. Thanks Richard.
      Your submitted comment apparently was based on an assumption that various people investigating the BFO values are in agreement, and I know that not to be the case, and so I have edited out the clause that implied that to be true!

  8. Richard wrote:
    The next questions are:
    1. Can we agree on the position at 18:27:48 UTC for the Northern Flight Path of 6.8511N 95.7619E or for a Southern Flight Path of 6.1797N 95.8528E?
    2. Can we agree on the position at 00:10:48 UTC for the Northern Flight Path of 43.8100N 61.8900E or for a Southern Flight Path of 39.6853S 81.8992E?

    1. On your northern path, I would have it crossing the ping ring right where you do. Tailwinds at that point would have died down to 0.6 kts, so for a GS of 490.6, it would place it a couple of miles beyond the ping ring, which is not a bad error IMO.

    I have the turn taking place at NILAM, which is a major airway crossroad, and it would be at NILAM right when the 18:25-18:27 Doppler event was taking place.

    http://i.imgur.com/MExhkgO.png

    Probably, there was a 2nd turn somewhere, most likely POVUS. I don’t think the turn to pretty much due south happened at NILAM as that would have required crossing the norther tip of Indonesia. Looking at 9M-MRO purely behavioristically a la B.F. Skinner, she clearly demonstrated avoidance behavior of Indonesia by the turn up the Strait, so she would continue that behavioral pattern and gone out through the Great Channel rather than overflying Sumatra IMHO.

    After the 2nd turn, the run consisting of POVUS ISBIX MUTMI RUNUT is basically a straight rhumb line with a course of 189T.

    2. I have not worked out a waypoint path for northern scenarios, although I’m guessing there probably is a solution that works. Your ending point is quite close to mine about 48 nm to the SW of mine.

    http://i.imgur.com/li0lv7R.png

    I am curious how you arrived at that course? Does it take into account crosswinds?

    @ Tony Mach: I see on your blog that you now believe the waypoint way to be untenable because of the fuel situation. However, if Richard and I’s calculations are correct, she was flying at normal cruising speeds during the initial phase of the voyage. Cruising speeds are what they are because they are fuel efficient. She supposedly had 49.1 tonnes still onboard after the takeoff. Why wouldn’t this be enough?

    Harm wrote:
    As to your analysis of probable ground speed: your result seems to be very consistent also with the average ground speed that would be required to reach the 18:01:49 location in time starting from a bit beyond IGARI and acommodating a 2 minute, almost 180 degree turn from a bearing of 40 degrees to the Penang (or close-by) waypoint.

    The path from IGARI to the 18:02 position is fairly well constrained by time and the requirement to go around Penang. I calculated a turn based on a 25 degree bank angle (the highest notch on the bank indicator knob on the dashboard), with a turn radius of about 7 nm. With that I made it come out with a total path length of 338, that is for 500 kts. That’s probably about the most parsimonious solution that can be constructed IMO.

    http://i.imgur.com/baKB6u2.png

    Team members of the unofficial investigation should also note that I have uncovered a minor and a major discrepancy between the “Slide 2″ ping rings and the “Hussein Chart #1″.

    Slide 2 18:27 ping ring = 1897 nm
    Hussein Chart ping ring = 1898 nm

    The difference for the 19:40 ping ring is more drastic.

    Slide 2 19:40 ping ring = 1762 nm
    Hussein Chart ping ring = 1744 nm

    Probably the Hussein Chart should be considered authoritative, as it is the most recent and comes straight from the Ministry of Defense. I must confess that I like it a lot better: my 19:40 position between the ISBIX MUTMI leg was always the biggest error (19 nm). With the new ping ring the error is reduced to 1 nm–a nice, surprising confirmation of the model.

    1. Just to note that there are many comments with which I do not agree, but am putting them up anyway, such as the above.

      However, there are many submitted comments that are simply ignoring available evidence, and so they are not posted.

      1. Hey Duncan, lay it on me man! I gotta thick skin–if there’s a fatal flaw somewhere I want to know about it!

        Briefly, here is the theory behind the theory:

        I believe a careful examination of the initial phase of the flight up until about 18:29 UTC proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the post-IGARI flight was intentional. Yes, all sorts of contradictory logical possibilities spring to mind. However, in order to move forward, we need to form a working hypothesis. From my own experience oil drilling, when you’re paying $20,000/hour and you’re not exactly sure where the formation is going, you still have to do [i]something[/i]: so you pick a likely idea, try to avoid the worst case scenario, and drill ahead, because that’s the only option.

        Here we are in a similar situation. It’s a crisis because money and will power for the search effort is going to run out, probably sooner rather than later.

        So we got to go with what our gut interpretation of the evidence is: here it is that the initial phase of the flight was intentional. Therefore, in order to predict the location of the 9M-MRO, we must take this into account. We DO NOT need to worry about who–or what–took over the a/c. All we need to understand is the modus operandi that was demonstrated. That modus operandi was that it was navigitating via waypoints most likely with the LNAV navigational subsystem engaged, and that it was at standard cruising speed and altitude. The modus operandi also exhibits avoidance behavior of Indonesian air space.

        With that in hand, the simplest model of the future path will assume that this demonstrated behavioral pattern will continue: that he will navigate via waypoints at standard cruising speed and altitude, and that he will avoid Indonesian airspace. With this heuristic in hand, there is about only one or a few very waypoint paths that are consistent with the “ping ring” LOPs. Because the 19:40 and 20:40 ping rings are so close, you are pretty much forced into that ISBIX MUTMI RUNUT corridor.

        After RUNUT, what happens is anybody’s guess; but if he maintains the standard cruising speed and alititude until he runs out of fuel, then where he crosses the final ping ring is pretty tightly constrained, assuming he continues to run a more or less straight path.

      2. What you are suggesting there is broadly in line with my working hypothesis from quite early on: that some event left the aircraft flying by autopilot and moving from one waypoint to another and onwards in accord with decisions made by the software in line with defaults based on the array of waypoints in the relevant autopilot data file. This might well be wrong, but it seems to me to be as simple an explanation as one can arrive at in order to fit the Inmarsat-derived information.

        However, your suggestion that this must have involved a deliberate avoidance of Indonesian airspace so as not to be detected (if that is what you are actually suggesting), or indeed any other route choice based on avoiding radar or other detection methods, is flawed, I think. Here is why…

        If the aircraft had NOT taken a route which avoided (apparently) detection by radars etc in any airspace which is approached or crossed then we would have known for sure whether it had taken a northern route, or a southern route, in accord with the Inmarsat-derived information. And then we would not be discussing it. That is, our discussion and debate and mystification has a prior condition of the aircraft not having been detected after 18:22 UTC except by the satellite pings.

        In fact I was thinking about doing a post on this very matter, in which I would invoke what is known as the Anthropic Principle. For the time being let me use this analogy. Something often used by people in discussing probabilities is the story – I do not know whether it is true – that the first bomb dropped by the Allies on Berlin in WW2 killed the only elephant in Berlin Zoo. People invoke that as being a hugely unlikely event. And it was, a priori. But no-one talked about it, a priori. After the event occurred (if indeed it did) the a posteriori probability was one. That is, that first bomb did kill the only elephant in Berlin Zoo.

        The point is that no-one would talk about the elephant if it had not met its fate that way, whilst ignoring the lions, tigers, giraffes, apes, monkeys and who knows what else in the zoo. Similarly we are talking about (and worrying about) MH370 only because something happened to it which may have had an a priori probability that was very small, but nevertheless it did happen. Something like following a series of waypoints after an onboard calamity that left everyone incapacitated, the route automatically chosen leading it to avoid any detection perhaps by looping around Indonesia and then flying deep into the Indian Ocean before crashing into the sea far from land; or perhaps flying north and over eastern India and the Himalayas and western China and all the while escaping identification for reasons that we don’t know; or… Whatever the reason, arguing that it is an unlikely event is invalid, because it DID happen.

        A final note on probabilities. One might believe that an unbiased coin when tossed has a 50/50 chance precisely of landing on heads, and the same for tails. But I *know* this is not true. And here is why. One Friday evening about a dozen years ago I was at London’s Euston station awaiting a train to Manchester. Two Asian male students were playing around, spinning one-pound coins in the air. One dropped a coin onto the flat, smooth marble floor where it went kerplonk, kerplonk, and then ended up stationary balanced on its rim. They were amazed, and so was I. But that one highly-unlikely event means that there is NOT a precisely 50/50 chance of a tossed coin producing either heads or tails, no matter how many people spin how many coins for the rest of all time.

  9. Duncan,
    Terrific effort going here! I still believe we all can be of great service to the families of MH370 passengers as well as the authorities, if we also really focus on the first two hours of flight – in addition to the final five leading to the final location. I believe that if we could put together detailed time histories of location (including accurate estimates of all turn radii), altitude, vertical velocity, speed, heading, thrust settings, we could help determine if the cause was system failure with some piloting hopefully leading to an emergency landing, or untoward human intervention. There is considerable data (Inmarsat pings, ADS-B, primary and secondary radar, eyewitnesses, not-in-my-back-yard from Indonesia and the like), much of it untrustworthy without scientific sanity checking. Many of the contributors to this site have flight path test programs running for the last five hours and I would urge them to tackle this first portion of the flight. My background is from the engineering airline simulators at Boeing Seattle, but since I am retired from that position, I am using the high fidelity PMDG 777-200LR simulation at home to help check these possible flight paths in an attempt to diagnose the possible scenarios. You have assembled quite a team!

    Dave

    1. Dave: Guarded Don is on it. He composing a very detailed time line combining ADS-B, Radar, BFO data, ATC transcripts, Official reports, etc.

      Don: How’s it coming?

      1. I’ll make time for it Thu morning, the ATC transcript is the last input & then edit checks.

        Dave: were you based at Customer Training & Flt Ops Support off 14th Ave S/Trenton St?

    2. Dave,
      Can you look at my hypothetical paths and comment on the feasibility of flying them. The simulator may enable you to fly a more realistic path.
      Sid

  10. This is a cross post. I had not realized that Duncan had opened up another thread.

    “Some time ago I posted a proposed route computed using the spread sheet model of aqqa and input data based on Mike Exner’s work and others. I have continued to work with aqqa on improving the details in the model and have now done two paths to the North. They appear to be the only basic solutions in that direction (although the end point details are not completely understood). So as to be economical of space here, the end point coordinates are : 42.01 N and 71.56E for a path to the Northwest 30.10N and 94.00E for a path to the North.
    Graphs, tables etc may be found at https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/15200211/Links%20to%20posted%20documents%20-%20.docx

    Comments and suggestions would be appreciated.

    1. Sid & Duncan ~ The northwest path at 42.01 N and 71.56 E approximates Dr. Kuang’s Beshtash Valley crash site (30 km south of Talas, Kyrgyzstan). ~LGH~

      1. Thanks LGH: As per usual, you are a star.

        When is someone going to go and look in the Beshtash Valley? Are there any readers out there who could supplement Dr Kiang’s search for satellite imagery, in the hope that there might be some freely available (stranger things gave happened) with adequate resolution to show something suspicious?

      2. LGH, thank you for the comment and for looking at the data.

        I was aware of Dr. Kuang’s hypothesis and the satellite pictures he has posted and had made mention of it in an earlier post on this site. But, without a careful look at my results but others, and perhaps some refinement of the model, the end point that I found remains just suggestive.

        There is no reason not to consider the other Northern hemisphere flight path equally probable. One might suggest that each of the two flight paths could be considered representative of a different type of initiating event on board the aircraft.

  11. Dear Duncan,
    Some really great informed comments above as to who should be approached to ask for the original, unprocessed data on MH370. Would anyone be willing to craft a precisely worded 1 or 2 sentence request for information which provides less legal and semantic wiggle room than the currently popular “Inmarsat must release the raw data” ? Because this request has to be spot on, and focused on the right agencies to have any effect. For example, the MH370family committees would benefit greatly from a precisely worded (and targeted) model. I believe the MH370 families are the Malaysian authorities’ Achilles heels, and their precisely worded questions and pressure on the Malaysian investigators are the only route to squeezing out any further data or radar information.

    1. Hi roseny6,

      Good suggestion. Here, the Chinese families committee has just released an English version of their petition:
      http://weibo.com/p/1001603710238699172355

      The families still believe that it’s Inmarsat who should be approached for raw data. But as Inmarsat senior vice president Chris McLaughlin has told CNN that the company is limited by what they can share because Malaysia is at the center of the investigation so the data belongs to that country. “It’s a matter for the authorities to decide what they’re going to do with their data. It’s not something Inmarsat can release.”

      http://newday.blogs.cnn.com/2014/05/12/search-company-to-provide-black-boxes-in-the-clouds/

      Precisely worded questions and presure on the Malaysian authorities are desperately needed.

      1. Below are the questions a few of us assembled off line today for background information for the CNN OutFront with Erin Burnett Show, scheduled for 7PM EDT today. Chris McLaughlin and Miles O’Brian were scheduled to talk about the Inmarsat data, but McLaughlin bailed about an hour ago. Said he missed a plane. Hmmm…

        Note that the “assumptions” we ask to be confirmed or corrected do not imply that any of us necessarily believe all these assumptions are true. Clearly, there is still disagreement on various facts. If these questions ever do get answered, then we will have a better understanding, regardless of whether everything is confirmed, or some things are corrected.

        Data and Information Desired from Investigation team

        Confirmation of, or correction to these assumptions:
        • MH370 used the Inmarsat Aero-H service via the global beam on I3-F1 and Perth LES for all “handshakes” and “pings”
        • There were at least 17 handshakes/pings recorded between 16:00 and 00:19 UTC
        • There were no AES responses to any attempts to make voice calls
        • All inbound communications were on frequencies near 1643.5 MHz up and 3614.5 down
        • Positive BFO values correspond to negative Doppler (i.e., moving apart)

        For every Handshake (Ping) time between 16:00 and 00:19 UTC, provide:
        • Time to full resolution available
        • Net Propagation Delay Times (AES Antenna to Spacecraft L band Antenna)
        • BFO values and description of observation methods, error sources and magnitude
        • LES or AES initiated?
        • Reason for, or source algorithm causing Handshake/ping
        • Data, if any, returned from transaction (including ACARS data where available)
        • Detailed explanation of D1, D2 and D3 definitions, errors and correct signs
        • Detailed explanation of AES Transmitter Doppler Offset algorithm
        o Under normal conditions (prior to 17:07 UTC)
        o If AIRINC 429 link to AIMS/IRS data was lost (no Nav data to SATCOM)

    2. Inmarsat could for sure be kindly asked to share the methodologies they had used for deriving their conclusions and/or some of the algorithms you guys tried to re-engineer.
      Still they could deny to disclose even that. But they wouldn’t be able doing so by referring to infringement of third party (Malaysian Airline) rights !
      They are the owners of their own applied methods and algorithms.
      Could that be of use to those of you experienced with the math work here ?
      I’d also sign this letter / email with the names and job titles (including email addresses) of those here, who are scientists or researchers, thus clearly indicating that it is not a request out of pure curiosity, but a request on expert level and a serious offer for assistance.
      Ignoring such a qualified request, I’d even say offer for collaboration, or rejecting the request would be very hard for Inmarsat’s public image and even contradict some of their PR (stating on the one hand they have consulted external auditors while on the other hand rejecting the request of experts with same or similar competence of their auditors).
      I’d send this email to Inmarsat’s CEO and the VP, Mr McLaughlin, but at the same time also to The Guardian, explaining to them the importance of this request.
      Anyway, I’m sure that at least Inmarsat’s technicians and technical consultants are following this blog. And that sooner or later these infos will leak anyway, as there are good people everywhere and such a request for getting these data is absolutely justified.
      Regarding the data Malaysian Airlines is owner of, I am not so confident they will be disclosed, nor do I have a good recommendation to whom ( within the Malaysian govt) such a request should be sent.

      1. Source : https://www.facebook.com/MH370Families

        During a press conference in KL on Monday ? / Thuesday ? a question was asked to Hishammuddin Hussein ( MMoT ) by journalist Sumisha Naidu. Here is what she says on the MH370Families facebook account :
        ” I did ask about your request for satellite data, here’s what he said: “There’s been so many requests for so much information. The beginning it was transcripts of the conversation, then it was the cargo manifest,” said Mr Hishammuddin.

        “I’m trying to put forth the argument that if you do want the information, then you go through the panel of experts that we’ve established and if it doesn’t affect their investigations, by all means release it. But the point is this: any information released will not stop speculation.”

        So, if a letter or email is sent over to the “panel of experts” and to prevent right away a negative answer of the type “we can’t release as this would affect the investigation”, wouldn’t it be wise to start the email or letter by explaining why or how the release would not affect the investigation ?

      2. @airlandseaman

        “…Chris McLaughlin and Miles O’Brian were scheduled to talk about the Inmarsat data, but McLaughlin bailed about an hour ago. Said he missed a plane. Hmmm… ”
        I fully agree with the Hmmm …
        I guess he can’t miss the plane several times following several invitations from CNN and the overall pressure that is going up. I believe that, at least on this part, medias can somehow help to break parts of the circomlocution loop.

        And by the way, Mike, you did really fine on your 1st interview !

    3. Roseny6, the below is obviously a lot longer that what you have in mind, but it represents an attempt to translate Mike’s wish list below into legalese that maybe is a bit more precise than some of the Freedom of Information Act and other information requests I have seen:

      Please produce any and all non-identical documents and electronically stored information—including writings, models, drawings, graphs, charts, photographs, sound recordings, images, and other data or data compilations—stored in any medium from which information can be obtained either directly or, if necessary, after translation by you into a reasonably usable form (“document”) which comprise, refer to or relate to any or all pings, handshakes, partial handshakes, keep-alive messages, voice calls, attempted voice calls or other actual, attempted or partial contacts or communications between the aircraft operating as Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 on March 7 and/or 8, 2014 (“Flight 370″) and any satellite, including without limitation, Inmarsat I3-F1 (“pings”).

      A document shall be deemed by you to “comprise, refer to or relate to” any pings if, without limitation, it discusses, shows or reflects:

      (a) whether Flight 370 used the Inmarsat Aero-H service via the global beam on I3-F1 and Perth LES for any or all pings; or
      (b) how many pings were recorded or occurred; or
      (c) any voice calls or attempted voice calls and any AES responses thereto; or
      (d) the up and down frequencies of any or all inbound pings: or
      (e) whether positive BFO values as reflected in the chart entitled “MH 370 measured data against predicted tracks” found at http://www.inmarsat.com/news/malaysian-government-publishes-mh370-details-uk-aaib/ indicate negative or positive Doppler (i.e., whether the satellite and aircraft were moving farther apart or close together); or
      (f) the specific definitions, errors and/or correct signs associated with the terms “D1″, “D2″ and/or “D3″ in the illustration entitled “Doppler correction contributions” found at http://www.inmarsat.com/news/malaysian-government-publishes-mh370-details-uk-aaib/
      (g) any available time to full resolution of any pings; or
      (h) the propagation delay times (AES Antenna to Satellite L band Antenna) for any pings; or
      (i) BFO values, observation methods, error sources and magnitude for any pings; or
      (j) how, what or why any pings were initiated (e.g., LES or AES initiated); or
      (k) the source algorithm or other reason or mechanism associated with the initiation of any pings; or
      (l) any and all data or information, including without limitation ACARS data, included or referenced in any pings; or
      (m) the AES Transmitter Doppler Offset algorithm applied to or applicable to any pings, including without limitation (1) under normal conditions such as Flight 370 prior to 17:07 UTC on March 7, 2014 or (2) when the ping contains no navigation data, such as when the AIRINC 429 link to AIMS/IRS data for Flight 370 was lost.

      1. I’d phrase it a bit more succinctly:
        (1) Please make public the ping/handshake propagation time delays from which the aircraft-satellite elevation angles were derived; and
        (2) Please make public the original Burst Frequency Offset values along with a summary of the components that contribute to them.

      2. Amazing info everybody! So important to have a solid set of carefully crafted requests which prevent passing the buck due to semantic loopholes. Should a request for clarification of radar/comm data be added and addressed differently— this info is crucial too, if they would throw any more crumbs.
        Any thoughts on which agencies it should be addressed to and watertight wording? At present MAS is saying only the investigation can release data. Inmarsat is saying that MAS can. Does MAS has ‘ownership ‘ of the unprocessed Inmarsat data, and does it have to officially okay the investigation and Inmarsat to release any or all of the unprocessed and processed data?
        Perhaps the letter can take the form of 1.addressees 2.1 sentence explaining why or how the release would not affect the investigation, (and a nod to the fact that it is understood that no military secrets can be released) ? 3. Duncan’s succinct précis, with a link to the indepth tech details of the request as collated and written by Bruce ?
        Please correct me, and suggest tight wiggle-free wording of which agency/official should be approached. Perhaps Haxi, when it is finalized, you might be willing to help translate and communicate it the the Families, to augment their letter? That would be great!

      3. Thanks Lucy.

        It is just a shame – and an indictment of many involved – that a human tragedy like this, which also has implications for global travel and communications, should have descended into such a state of buck-passing, and acrimony, and obscuration of the truth, and displays of outright incompetence. As always, I tend towards the cock-up rather than conspiracy theories.

      4. Hi Bruce ~ I apologize, I misunderstood your reference to the aircraft 9M-MRO dispatched as Flight 370. Yes, the livery is “Malaysia” but I now see that you were referring to the airline “Malaysian Airline System Bhd (MAS)” so please disregard the first half of my previous comment of this airline versus aircraft distinction.

        ~ LGH~

      5. With LGH’s corrections I have submitted the above as a FOIA request to the NTSB.

        Fat chance.

      6. Bruce: I have every confidence you will be successful. And that the NTSB should also be in charge of all flying pigs (refer: Carroll, L.)

    4. Roseny6,

      Of course I’m more than willing to volunteer as a translator. And I’m sure there are people among the families who speak really good English.

      But for now, the biggest question is: who should be asked for the raw data. Please see my comment here: http://www.duncansteel.com/archives/763#comment-4476

      Inmarsat is saying that there is this “Convention on International Civil Aviation” which prevents the release of findings from an investigation without the consent from the state conducting the investigation.

  12. I would distill Duncan’s most recent replies and the hypotheticals regarding what level of data is possessed by whom and not being adequately shared to one simple statement that reaches back to the inception of this discussion:

    The data set as it has been presented does not conclusively indicate a flight trajectory to the southern Indian Ocean and the present location of search operations, and the analysis that produced such a conclusion yet remains in question and should be further tested by way of an open peer review process.

    Alex,

    Given that the sole source for the SOS transmission appears to be the China Times and it has not been corroborated officially or elsewhere in the press, it could very well be apocryphal. If the US Embassy in Bangkok had indeed disseminated this information to the China Times, it most likely would have disseminated it to other outlets; the Embassy would likewise most likewise have substantiated such information. The dissemination has not been corroborated in either case as far as I can discern, and thus I would suggest that there is a significant probability that the SOS transmission did not occur.

    Rand

    1. Thanks Rand.

      As of now: no more comments will be put up here regarding a crash into the South China Sea, because there is no evidence to support the notion. Period.

      Similarly on the purported sonic ping detections in the Indian Ocean: no evidence available of their reality.

      Any other ideas that people want to promulgate must be consistent with the available evidence, which is very sparse. And that has to be positive evidence: a lack of detections in any area is NOT evidence.

  13. A useful tool.

    I have just come across this useful tool to assist with visualising and mapping the ping rings, or indeed anything else you might want to map.
    http://www.gpsvisualizer.com – – – and a variety of useful calculators too – – – http://www.gpsvisualizer.com/calculators
    This is a very versatile system for inputting almost anything you like and mapping the output on a whole variety of mapping applications. For example, it will map circles of a given radius about any point on the earth, and it does so – – -“a very high degree of precision (using the thoroughly nasty Vincenty Formula, which accounts for the flattened shape of the earth”.
    Which then got me thinking – – it ought to be possible to display the most recent ping rings, taking into account the satellite movement, and the flattened earth.

    I used Duncan’s latest ping ring times and radii – – http://www.duncansteel.com/archives/743, and extracted the satellite positions at the corresponding times from the chart here – – http://www.duncansteel.com/archives/362. Then I constructed a very simple table in Excel to upload to gpsvisualizer. The output is available as a .kmz file which can be dragged into Google Earth directly.

    The result is a set of ping rings for all the 10 radii that Duncan lists. As a check on the accuracy, of course the 16:30 ping ring ought to go right through Kuala Lumpur international airport. Well, it doesn’t quite, but it is only about 15nM too far east. Similarly the ping ring at time 17:07 is displaced by about the same amount. Unfortunately I can’t determine where the offset error might be. On the other hand, if the ping ring at 00:11 was accurate to within the same 15nM that would be a major achievement.

  14. LGHamiltonUSA,

    The part about the US military base at Utapao having picked up an SOS call from MH370 at 2.43am had always been problematic for 2 reasons, firstly this military base would have been out of normal range of any emergency frequency radiowaves from MH370 if the plane was not that far from BITOD at that time and secondly the reported time does not fit the timeline for a forced ditching at the South China Sea.

    However, there could be an explanation. I had earlier in the TMF blog wondered whether the SOS call was actually picked by some other US listening post but attributed to the known base at Utapao simply to avoid disclosing the whereabouts or existence of this other listening post.

    The USS Pinckney was actually at the South China Sea at the time the plane went missing. Set forth below are relevant parts of the reports from the 7th Fleet on March 8th and 9th:

    [March 8, 9.13am] “……….USS Pinkcney is en route to the southern coast of Vietnam…..Pinckney was conducting training and maritime security operations in international waters of the South China Sea. The ship could be in the vicinity of the missing jet within 24 hours….. A P-3C Orion aircraft will also depart shortly from Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan….”

    [March9, 9.32am] “……Pinckney was diverted from a training mission in the South China Sea to search for signs of the missing aircraft……..”

    The 7th Fleet is based in japan. Japan is one hour ahead of Malaysia in time. That would explain the reported time of the SOS call of 2.43am given by the US Embassy to China Times. In short, it would appear the SOS call was picked up by USS Pinckney at the South China Sea at 1.43am Malaysian time, and the ship reported the call in Japan time as it would, being part of the 7th Fleet.

    1. Alex,

      Any distress call on the emergency VHF frequency 121.5 would have been heard by all aircraft and ATC in the vicinity. This report you’re referring to is likely chaff.

      R/
      Scott

      1. Thanks Scott.
        I know (I think) what you mean, but “chaff” may not be the best word to use here, given its meaning in the radio/radar domain… 8-)

      2. Scott, not necessarily so, for 2 reasons.

        Firstly, this SOS call was likely to have been garbled if the theory of the plane having been hit by positive lightning is correct. Lightning causes electromagnetization of radio equipment. Dont forget a pilot from another plane (MH88) made emergency radio contact with Mh370 at about 1.30am and reported hearing lots of static, interference and mumbling.

        Secondly, the plane disappeared from primary radar after BITOD meaning the plane had dropped substantially from 35,000 ft at IGARI to a level low enough after BITOD to lose primary radar coverage. At 1.43am the plane would have been just a few thousand feet above mean sea level (around 3000ft) and therefore the chances of a garbled SOS call being picked by other aircraft and ATC would have been slim. However, a ship in the vicinity is another matter altogether, especially a military ship with specialised equipment to pick up and decipher radio signals.

      3. A simple formula that includes the effect of the atmosphere gives the range of such a VHF distress transmission:

        Distance to radio horizon [miles] ~ sqrt(2 X height [feet])

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radio_horizon

        If the plane was at 1800 feet then the range would be about 60 miles, less than the distance to Hua Hin Airport, possibly the nearest listening post.
        Such a low altitude may be reasonable for a plane in distress asking to land at U-Tapao.

        By the way, here is the source to all this:

        The U.S. military said the driver had received a call SOS signal, said cabin facing disintegration
        2014-03-08 20:13:42
        http://news.china.com/focus/mhkjsl/11152538/20140308/18382609.html

        Wang reported immediate WU Gui Feng
        The U.S. military said the debris found more oil received SOS signals
        20:25 on March 8, 2014
        http://www.chinatimes.com/realtimenews/20140308003502-260401

        and several machine translations:

        http://www.reddit.com/r/worldnews/comments/1zx8m5/china_times_reports_that_the_us_embassy_said_the/

      4. Alex, as Scott says no need for secret US listening posts or US Navy ships to pick up a distress call when there were lots of aircraft in the vicinity plus ATC listening to 121.5.

        In fact here is a posting on pprune by a pilot flying in the vicinity at the time listening to 121.5. Now I can’t vouch for his authenticity.

        http://www.pprune.org/rumours-news/535538-malaysian-airlines-mh370-contact-lost-522.html#post8458660

        “I was also flying in the area at the time of the disappearance, I heard the SGN controllers and the MH088 trying to contact MH370 on 121.5 and I certainly didn’t hear anything that resembled a coherent reply.

        There’s something in the SGN area which periodically causes 5-10 seconds bursts of buzzing static on all VHF frequencies. It’s well known to all of us based out here, I’m pretty familiar with what it sounds like, and that’s all I heard that night. Wish I had something more dramatic to report but I personally don’t believe any transmissions were made on 121.5 from MH370 at that time. ”

        And how far away was the USS Pinkcney? The report says that it could be in the vicinity within 24hrs. If we assume say a speed of 15knots for 24hrs = 360nm away at the time.

  15. Don,

    The evidence indicates the disabling event occurred at IGARI, not BITOD so the distance the plane could have covered from gliding would be calculated from IGARI. If the plane had suffered a catastrophic electrical failure from one of the things mentioned by Bill (fire, explosion, lightning), the pilots might not have been able to steer the plane as they wished. Also we do not know whether they managed to deploy the RAM turbine. Finally, there is the wind factor. The pilot who saw lightning said it was a NE monsoon night and the Kiwi on the oil rig described the wind as ‘NE – ENE averaging 15 – 20 knots”.

    1. Alex,
      With respect, I don’t see any evidence for your statement “the disabling event occurred at IGARI”. We don’t even know for sure that there WAS a “disabling event”.

      What we DO know is that the last ACARS communication from the aircraft was at 17:07 UTC, although we don’t know what prompted it or what its contents were.

      It seems to me, by analysis of publicly-available data from FlightRadar24, which gives Lat and Long at certain points, that MH370 actually passed IGARI at 17:17. That’s four minutes earlier than the time given in the preliminary report. By then, the aircraft had been flying at 35,000 feet for 10 minutes or so. At about 17:20 it seems to have changed heading from 25 to 40 (possibly consistent with a turn towards BITOD?) and was apparently on the same heading when the FR24 (ADS-B) data ended at 17:21.

      I know that FR24’s datasets aren’t entirely self-consistent and that they’re not entirely consistent with data from Flightaware, but none of the available ADS-B data suggests a disabling event at IGARI, as far as I can see.

    2. The facts released to date simply indicate that comms from the aircraft (voice, Mode-S transponder, ADS-B broadcasts, downlinked ACARS msgs) ceased in the vicinity of IGARI and BITOD. Your previous comment hypothesized a glide but now it’s loss of control, “the pilots might not have been able to steer the plane as they wished”.

  16. Yap, Henrik, Victorl,

    BFO for the 6 pings seems to be = [fixed offset of around 90] + [satellite velocity]. Both D3 and BFO were quite close to 90 when the plane was stationary at KL at 16.30 UTC ( D3= 83, BFO =88 ). I wonder if there is any significance in that.

    Sean,

    I had taken note of your previous suggestion. However, Inmarsat have not released the RT timings for the first 5 pings, so we do not know where the ping rings for the first 5 pings are situated. These RT timings will show whether the plane had crashed early on, or had flown on for another 6.5 hours. The measured BFO data for the 6 pings can be consistent with an early crash, since those values appear to reflect only the satellite velocity plus a fixed offset, as shown above.

    Bruce,

    Fully agree with your analysis. If Inmarsat really want to, they can release the RT timings data even if the investigation team is against it. There is such a thing called a ‘leak’ and what sort of adverse consequences can there possibly be, if the data were to be leaked.

    1. Alex: The BFO de-composition is apparently far more complicated than you suggest there. What you are suggesting is phenomenology: seeing a pattern and trying to interpret it, which is a first step. However, the reality is often that a full explanation of an observed phenomenon is actually far more complicated. In this case, looking at only one small part of it, there are two contributions to the BFO that depend on the satellite’s motion: (a) Its velocity relative to the (stationary) Perth ground station; and (b) Its velocity relative to the aircraft (which is initially stationary at the gate at KL, but thereafter is moving). On top of that, stating things in quite simple terms, the shift in frequencies (and hence contribution to the BFO) might be the same in a fractional sense for both the uplink and the downlink in each of the links (a) and (b) above, but if the frequencies used for the uplink and downlink in each or either case are different (as they are) then the absolute frequency shifts (i.e. in Hz) which then contribute to the net BFO will differ.
      That verbal description may sound complicated to some, but the reality of the attempts at back-engineering the BFO graph and understanding what it means is far more complex: there has been a lot of debate on this off-line between various commenters you will have met here, and at times it has been quite heated; yet these are smart people doing their best to solve the problem.
      I am just saying: no, it may well not be as simple as “the satellite velocity plus a fixed offfset.”

      1. Duncan, understood. Regarding the formula for BFO, a layman would lean towards BFO= D1 + D2 only for the pings since these transmissions were initiated from the GES which presumably would know how to cancel out the C band doppler, meaning no D3. With no inputs of speed, position etc, the compromised SDU would not have been able to calculate D1 + D2 properly, so it is not suprising to see the BFOs a function of the satellite velocity. That still wont explain the apparent fixed offset, perhaps the SDU was geared to add an offset to get the end result to be within a certain frequency range in line with what has been suggested by @airlandseaman (if i have understood him properly). As always, when a layman puts forward a ‘mathematical comment’, there is a good chance it is a load of rubbish.

    2. Alex if your theory is correct that the plane crashed early on after passing IGARI into the South China sea somewhere on the 00:11UTC 40 degree ping arc with the SATCOM system floating for the next 6 hours or so then the distance measured for the last 5 pings for which the elevation angles (ping ring radii) have been released, see Duncan’s posting for the values, should simply differ by the distance that the satellite has moved between each of the pings.

      It’s really simple to check to see whether this disproves your theory.

      If you want people to take this theory seriously then show how the ping radii data for the last 5 pings matches your theory.

  17. I still did not succeed in reading and making sense of the tagging in the Malaysian Primary radar plot. I have however removed the tagging from the radar plot – nothing spectacular but the edited chart shows more clearly the point that I was trying to make with my previous posting.
    I hope this link will work to edited plot

      1. (re-using some material I have posted elsewhere. )

        The text next to each radar blip is a 24 hour timestamp
        This is the earliest and best resolution version that I have found:

        http://photo.china.com.cn/news/2014-03/21/content_31863360.htm

        – The added text boxes on the chart highlight the time of the last blip (02:22H just off the left edge), and the time the plane was over Parek Island (over the tip of the right arrow at 02:20H. The first blip is farther to the right, a few minutes earlier than the 02:02H time shown.

        – I have uploaded two screen grabs so that you can see what I am reading.
        In this first one, I have zoomed into the timestamp on the left edge of the photo, and the timestamp on the right edge of the circle. For each one, the upper zoomed copy is overlayed with the text that I read. The lower zoomed copy is just scaled up larger than the original. (each is 8x enlarged)
        In the first one (left side), The blip itself is off the edge of the photo. The timestamp is mostly visible in green-ish yellow. The waypoint MEKAR is marked with a larger white ‘+’ sign and labeled in white. the diagonal white line is not labeled on the radar plot. But, it corresponds to the N571 flight track that runs through MEKAR. (The waypoints and flight paths can be referenced in skyvector.com)
        The second enlarged area has two timestamps that I was able to figure out. One is readable (02:07:16 on the right side of the white circle), and the other is partially readable and I have filled in the other digits by estimating what the timestamp should be (02:40:36).

        https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5tU-oinxFY8ejlhM3Rzb09aY2M/edit?usp=sharing

        – The second screen shows how I estimate the likely timestamp times. After reading just a few of the timestamps, I created a time scale that aligns with the blips. The scale started as just a linear timeline from 2:20 at Perak to 2:22 at the last point over the left edge (based on the text on the original photo.) Then, I started speculating on the unreadable digits on some more labels. (yes, this would be me guessing… ) As I filled in more numbers, I was able to adjust my timeline to be accurate to within a few seconds. After iterating back and forth for a while, I settled on a placement and scale for my timeline correlates quite well with the numbers I read and the numbers I guessed at.

        https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5tU-oinxFY8NkxNN0hhZjhJUlU/edit?usp=sharing

        – The assertions about various altitude changes are not supported by what is seen on the radar photo. The claim that the plane went below 4,000 or 5,000 ft comes from the 53nm gap (~61 miles) (in the white circle) where no radar blips are seen. But, just calculating the time and distance, the plane did not slow down, so it must have stayed at a much higher altitude. At the Western end of the radar picture, the plane had to be at a high altitude for the Butterworth radar to track it out at 245 nautical miles (281 miles).
        A long range defense radar would be tuned to see as far out over the ocean as possible. It is not tuned to look straight up (The first, Eastern most blip is not seen until the plane was 57nm (~65 miles) West of the radar).

        – To calculate the plane’s speed across the radar plot, you need to use the actual elapsed time and distance. The visible plane blips cover around 187nm (~215 miles). The timestamps cover from some time before 02:00 until around 02:22. With all of the measurement error inherent in this reverse engineering, the ground speed looks to be a little over 500knots.
        {Note: the distances measured off of the radar picture are probably only accurate within 10%.

        -Bill

Comments are closed.