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Pluto's dairy on this subject is getting huge, and I think some very good comments with new information are getting lost. So I'm copying comments from people I (in my completely unschooled opinion) thought sounded like they knew what they were talking about.

So, to catch you up quickly:

-Still no trace of the plane.

-Some official in Malaysia's air force said, BTW, we didn't tell you this earlier and let you search in what may have been the wrong place for days, but we tracked that plane for another hour after civilian radar lost it, and the plane made a wide turn around and headed back over Malaysia, and we lost it over the Strait of Malacca. (The body of water on the opposite side of the country.

-Soon after that, the prime minister of Malaysia denied that statement.

-But they did start searching the Strait of Malacca.

-Fake passport guys turned out to be nothing. Apparently, flying on fake passports is not that unusual. Creepy, huh?

Comment source for above info:

We don't 'know' any of this, yet. Just rumors. (57+ / 0-)

1) The CNN and Malaysian newspaper story about military radar tracking it into Malacca Straits is sourced to one "high level Malaysian officer" (apparently air force chief Gen. Rodzali Daud). But the Prime Minister's office denies it. Many of the other sources refer back to this one story, or similar versions of it. We just don't know, at this point -- but I'm sure we will, soon.

http://www.nytimes.com/....

    Adding to the confusion, Tengku Sariffuddin Tengku Ahmad, spokesman for the prime minister’s office, said in a telephone interview that he had checked with senior military officials, who told him there was no evidence that the plane had recrossed the Malaysian peninsula, only that it may have attempted to turn back. “As far as they know, except for the air turn-back, there is no new development,” Mr. Tengku Sariffuddin, adding that the reported remarks by the air force chief were “not true.” ...

by Sharon Wraight on Tue Mar 11, 2014 at 09:33:57 PM EDT

Or maybe the military wasn't withholding info. Here's one idea:
Once again, until they find the wreckage, one can not even begin to understand what happened. I am not sure what the Malaysian military was tracking.

The reason that Malaysian military has not been forthcoming may not be a cover up at all, but the delay caused by a careful review of the radar tapes. Not everything on the scope is what the radar has seen. The returns are filtered to eliminate clutter.

by Dancing Frog on Tue Mar 11, 2014 at 09:53:00 PM EDT

So, back to what we know for sure:

The plane took off from Malaysia at 12:41 a.m. local time for a six-hour flight to China.

Civilian air traffic controllers reported losing contact with it around 1:30 a.m. and had no further contact with the plane on radar or by various ways the pilots had to communicate with the tower.

How can that happen? Losing all communications, including the transponder?

Here's a Kossack who sounds like he knows a lot about transponders:

I do (16+ / 0-)

First off, everyone has to quit thinking transponder singular. Virtually all air carrier type aircraft have two, just in case. How it works is an interrogator, collocated with the regular radar antenna, sends out a signal (interrogates). When a transponder receives that signal, it replies with a digital stream which would include four 8 bit bytes of data (the transponder code unique to that particular flight) plus altitude information from the onboard encoding altimeter. The SECRA (SECondary RAdar) receiver (the other half which includes the interrogator) passes that data on to the ARTS (TRACON's computer system) or ARTCC (air traffic control center) computers for display of the data block associated with that aircraft.

A typical exchange if we happened to lose the transponder signal for a flight was, "XXXddd, I've lost your transponder, recycle code 1234 (or whatever his assigned code was)." What the pilot does at that point is basically reset each of the four digit selectors. They might also recycle the On/Off/Mode switch to Off, Standby, Mode A, Mode C. The hope is that wiping the contacts will clear up the gremlins that have been accumulating on the contacts and that all will then be right in the world. Sometimes it isn't enough and the pilot will say something to the effect of, "we'll try #2…how's that?" 99% of the time that would solve the problem.

The On/Off/Mode switch is at a convenient spot on the panel and each of the positions has a legitimate function. Turning it off might be part of the shutdown sequence when parking the jet. It might also be tied to turning on #2. Standby means the electrons are bouncing around inside but they haven't been let out yet. This is generally done while at the gate, awaiting pushback, awaiting taxi clearance, and at some airports, while taxing to the runway. It keeps from overloading the ASR (airport surveillance radar).

One of the last steps the non-flying pilot does before taxiing into position is to turn the transponder to either Mode A or Mode C. Mode A is simply plain old secondary radar (the electronics that produces the blip on the controller's screen). Mode C adds altitude readout to the controller's data block. The reason there's a choice is occasionally the encoding altimeter would start spewing garbage and we'd have to ask the pilot to "stop altitude squawk".

All the foregoing is accurate insofar as the general equipment in the airplane and what it does, but the physical presentation is 1980s based, and modern, all glass transports may have keypads instead of rotary switches. The physical transponder box may not even be on the panel but would be controlled by a touch pad somewhere on the panel. I don't know—I haven't flown in the cockpit since probably 1995. The pro pilots here can refine that data.

However the basices of of the secondary radar (transponder) process hasn't changed since the '60s, and the whole technology is based in the IFF (identify, friend or foe) function developed during WWII. By the way, when air traffic control "update" packages are being "sold" to the government by denigrating the "WWII technology" used today, they're talking about radar. Even if we bought the idea of NextGen and satellite monitoring, do you think radar is going to disappear from AWACS or F-22s?

I don't know the systems of the various transport aircraft, but I have a feeling a transponder is connected to an electrical bus with a fairly high priority—almost certainly below flight instruments, but probably equal to comms, and above cabin lighting. Consequently, a loss of power serious enough to disable the transponder is going to involve extraordinary flight operations, so don't look to that as a reason in the case of MH370.

Oh, and ACARS (the plane to mother data exchange system—yeah, that's not what the acronym means) probably doesn't have a visible switch (but might a circuit breaker) and your average aviation familiar miscreant who might know enough to turn off the transponder to mask his perfidy, probably doesn't even know about ACARS, much less how to disable it.

I hope this helps.

LRod—UID 238035
ZJX, ORD, ZAU retired
My ATC site
My Norm's Tools site

by exatc on Tue Mar 11, 2014 at 09:54:14 PM EDT

Some of that's over my head, but I get that there's more than one transponder on the plane, which I'd think makes it harder to lose both of them, unless the plane was seriously messed up by .... who knows? But messed up.

Could the plane have lost power to both transponders, making them useless? Here's another Kossack whose comment is backed up by a Forbes article I found. (Not that I didn't believe this person. I was just already looking for info. when he or she posted.)

Two systems can supply power. (8+ / 0-)

I may not be the good Major Kong, but I do know something about aircraft.

There is the standard Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) which is a small gas turbine that generates power when needed. It can run on the ground or in the air, and it is more than enough to supply all major control and communications systems for the aircraft.

Second, there is at least one emergency ram-air turbine that can be deployed in the air. This is a small, high performance wind turbine that pops out when needed. All it needs is air flow and it will generate power to the cockpit.

With those two systems in place, the aircraft has enough power for control and communications. There are also batteries, and although they don't hold huge amounts of power, they can run the radios (and transponder).

And yeah, I know tarantulas don't really act like that at all, so no snarking, this is the internet damnit!

by itzadryheat on Tue Mar 11, 2014 at 10:01:30 PM EDT

So, sounds like it would be nearly impossible to lose all power to the 2 transponders, because if all else failed, the plane could make its own electricity, unless the plane was seriously messed up, by mechanical failures, electrical failures, structural failures? Who knows?

Could the pilot have turned the transponder off for some reason? Yes. Multiple Kossaks said so. Here are two of them:

The Primary Transponder Malfunctions (11+ / 0-)

    In case of electrical failure, shedding unnecessary electronics might preserve some system functions.
    If the primary transponder starts spitting out junk, the pilot might turn it off in order to try the backup.

by Doctor RJ on Tue Mar 11, 2014 at 08:56:20 PM EDT

*****

 It emits RF radiation. Pilots turn it off on the (9+ / 0-)

ground, to a) avoid radiating ground personnel  b) stop transmitting a signal to air traffic control when parked at the gate, next to dozens of other parked aircraft, unnecessarily clogging up radar scopes  c) stop RF emissions during fueling  d) change the code for the next flight.

"Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana." --Townes Van Zandt

by Bisbonian on Tue Mar 11, 2014 at 09:05:09 PM EDT

Okay, so the pilot has the power to turn off the transponders, if he wants to. Why would he do that? One possibility: If the transponder wasn't working properly and sending out bad info.

What if the plane was hijacked? And the pilot was forced to turn off the transponders? Still, the pilot has those discreet ways of sending a distress signal. He didn't.

So, other than catastrophic failure of multiple systems of the plane, the transponder going off is a mystery. Anybody have other ideas about the transponder? I'd love to hear them. I find this plane thing fascinating.

What about communication equipment? From me from Forbes:

Found this from Forbest about communication (2+ / 0-)

equipment and transponders on this plane:

    For all communication to suddenly cease without a distress signal usually indicates a catastrophic failure  of the aircraft , not allowing time for the crew to communicate either by radio or through the aircraft transponder.  Modern airliners have multiple radios for voice communication and the transponder can be used to send signals that indicate different problems with the aircraft (for example a discrete code for hijacking).  
       A complete electrical failure is extremely unlikely because of redundancies in the system....

        But even if the aircraft had a complete electrical failure, the aircraft could have continued to fly.  If the aircraft was out of radar range when a failure occurred – but able to fly – it would eventually fly to an area with radar coverage and be picked up by air traffic control radar.

Forbes Magazine

by teresahill on Tue Mar 11, 2014 at 10:10:49 PM EDT

So, we're back to catastrophic failure to account for no communication from the plane's crew.

What else could lead to no communication? How about this?

Terrible situation (10+ / 0-)

One link I saw online had some speculation that depressurization caused by an electrical failure or fire could have caused pilot unconsciousness and also transponder failure....

by pat of butter in a sea of grits on Tue Mar 11, 2014 at 08:14:38 PM EDT

But don't they have oxygen masks that would have deployed automatically? Yes, but...
There have been past cases where pilots did not use their masks soon enough, and went unconscious not long after depressurization.

.... (So in this case, something) causing the loss of pressure and knocking out the transponder, but not knocking (the plane) down: would autopilot still be able to keep the plane level .... until fuel ran out?  That is, what is the chance that autopilot systems could be enabled and continue to operate, but transponder would be disabled, after the same, plane-crippling event?

"So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

by wader on Tue Mar 11, 2014 at 08:53:00 PM EDT

That does seem like a lot to happen, catastrophic event takes out transponder and depressurizes the plane, pilots don't put on oxygen quickly enough and pass out, but plane is in good enough shape that autopilot engages and keeps flying the plane for a while? (If the plane really turned around and kept flying after it was lost by civilian air traffic controllers.)

Not sure I wanted to know this:

Oxygen masks are only to sustain life, they are not meant to keep you awake...

As a reflex, your body will keep breathing, even if you are unconscious, the oxygen flowing through the "Dixie cups" (as they are called) will allow you to get oxygen to your body, but you don't have to be conscious for that to happen.  That is why the flight attendants admonish you to put your mask on before helping others... you might lose consciousness before you can get your mask on if you are helping someone else first.

You can get animals addicted to a harmful substance, you can dissect their brains, but you throw their own feces back at them, and suddenly you're unprofessional. -Amy Farrah Fowler/The Big Bang Theory -7.50, -5.03

by dawgflyer13 on Tue Mar 11, 2014 at 09:40:34 PM EDT

So, everyone unconscious due to depressurization and lack of oxygen? Plane keeps flying on auto pilot? It's happened before. One Kossack reminds us of the death of Pro golfer Payne Stewart. His plane depressurized, the people on board didn't get oxygen for some reason, and the plane flew on autopilot for several hours over the US. Our radar saw it. Military planes tracked it, and I think a military pilot got close enough to see the pilot and co-pilot were unconscious. Plane crashed. Everyone on board was already dead.

Here's another idea including everyone unconscious due to lack of oxygen:

I was thinking of a simple strafing causing the (2+ / 0-)

loss of pressure in both pilot and rest of the plane, while also taking out some electronics.  Keeping the autopilot on would seem odd in a situation where other electronics (i.e., such as the transponders) were disabled, though.

 ....And, that's still sticking with me: the transponders (i.e. there are two in 777 models, apparently) can be turned off manually, but frying their circuit and not others in a depressurizing situation would seem lower in probability than other ideas (e.g., a hijacking where someone got into the cabin before pilots could trigger a 7500 code, etc.).

"So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

by wader on Tue Mar 11, 2014 at 09:31:27 PM EDT

So, that could happen, but it would be really unusual.

And another idea about losing oxygen:

Some more possibilities (4+ / 0-)

Oxygen fire in the cockpit:

Due to a 777 manufacturing defect, the oxygen supply hoses are improperly routed in the cockpit and dangle among electronics.  This caused a cockpit fire in one 777.  Of course, since this is a known defect, all 777s should have been modified to correct the defect.

Communications antenna adapter defect:

The fuselage may crack at the point where the antenna adapter passes through, resulting in a gradual loss of cabin pressure.  This would explain the lack of communications and the failed attempt to turn back to the origin airport.  Under this theory, the occupants of the plane were dead for the westward journey towards Pulau Perak.  The plane could have remained flying as far as the Indian Ocean until it finally ran out of fuel.  

As addressed above in the comments, the Malaysian military may have shot the plane down and are misleading the world until the evidence has had time to sink or disperse.  In that case, everything we know about the plane is suspect, and it's pointless to speculate based on such misinformation.  If it turns out the plane was shot down, China's response will be something to behold.

"When I was an alien, cultures weren't opinions" ~ Kurt Cobain, Territorial Pissings

by Subterranean on Tue Mar 11, 2014 at 10:18:17 PM EDT

Here's something I never knew. The plane transmits a lot of data to people other than air traffic controllers:
Boeing has the Engine Data (4+ / 0-)

the Engines report real time data to Boeing
and Rolls-Royce, it's part of the ETOPS system.

I'm sort of surprised how cagey people are being.

Usually by this point of time, we have lots of fragmentary data.

by patbahn on Tue Mar 11, 2014 at 09:16:56 PM EDT

     Yep. (6+ / 0-)

    It's pissing China off. They have airplanes, too. They're currently building the most technologically advanced space station and space-launch platform in existence. They have the world's most advanced satellite GPS system. They deployed 10 satellites in stationary orbit to search for this plane.

    And they know when they are being jerked around.

    by Pluto on Tue Mar 11, 2014 at 09:42:21 PM EDT

So, why hasn't Boeing said anything? Or what did the engine's data tell Boeing? Is that one of the reasons they expanded the search area into the Strait of Malacca? Don't know.

UPDATE:Commenter below says this about engine data:

New Scientist reports that most airlines receive transmissions at only 4 points -- takeoff, climbout, once while cruising, and landing. For the missing flight, only the first two of these were received.

    As the engine data is filtered from a larger ACARS report covering all the plane's critical flight systems and avionics, it could mean the airline has some useful clues about the condition of the aircraft prior to its disappearance. The plane does not appear to have been cruising long enough to issue any more ACARS reports. It disappeared from radar at 1.30 AM local time, halfway between Malaysia and Vietnam over the Gulf of Thailand.

    Under International Civil Aviation Organisation rules, such reports are normally kept secret until air investigators need them.

There may be better aviation-specific sources, but I'll leave that to our resident experts.

by Villanova Rhodes on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 02:31:44 AM EDT

Now, why hasn't anyone found anything? Kossacks say it's a big ocean. A really big ocean. The LA Timessays the search area is 10,500 square miles.

How big of an area is that? The size of Massachusetts. (You can find anything on the web. A helpful site that lists states in order of their square footage.)

Is that a truly huge area? I don't know. LA Times also says 10 countries are participating in the search and current in the area could carry debris 50 miles a day.

Is there anything else going on to do with airplanes and China and missiles that could shoot one down? Oddly, yes:

This should keep the blog nannies busy. (4+ / 0-)

Coincidence or CT?

The day before the night that the Malaysian Air flight vanished:

    China voices 'deep concern' to North Korea over plane near-miss

    BEIJING Fri Mar 7, 2014 5:08am EST

    (Reuters) - China has expressed its "deep concern" to North Korea after a Chinese airplane crossed the path of a rocket launched by the isolated state, China's foreign ministry said on Friday.

    On Thursday, South Korea's defense ministry said a Chinese civilian plane had "passed as the ballistic missile (from North Korea) was in the course of descending".

    The plane was flying from Tokyo's Narita airport to the northeastern Chinese city of Shenyang on Tuesday, the ministry said.

    "On this issue, we have already contacted the North Korean side to convey our deep concern," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a daily news briefing.

    On Thursday, Qin had said the Chinese airplane was unaffected and urged Pyongyang to ensure the safety of civilian aircraft.

    Media reports had identified the Chinese airplane as a China Southern Airlines flight.

    Company chairman Si Xianmin confirmed to Reuters that one of his firm's planes intersected the trajectory of the North Korean missile.

http://www.reuters.com/....

----------------------

Actually, I'm just reporting the Telegraph, USA Today, CNN, etc.

This is a cut and paste Diary of a conversation going on throughout the world because it is MORNING in Malaysia and the lines are buzzing.

I report.

You decide.

by Pluto on Tue Mar 11, 2014 at 09:28:06 PM EDT

Okay, that gives me the creeps. My theory (completely without fact to back it up -- I freely admit that) is that the plane was accidentally shot down by someone. I posted that before I saw the above comment. And now we hear that China was pissed and claims a North Korean rocket shot through the air close to a Chinese plane? Hear the creepy Twilight Zone music now?

Anyone want to talk new theories? Given all the information above?

Oh, and forget the cell phone thing. It's nothing, was discussed at length in the previous diary. Just because is sounds to you like the phone rings when you dial the number,  doesn't mean the other person's phone is somewhere in the world intact and ringing. If you want a ton of info to debunk the cell-phone thing, go to Pluto's diary.

Thanks for listening and talking through this. I was a newspaper reporter a long, long time ago, and sometimes a story comes up that makes me want to ask a ton of questions until I understand what really happened. This one's doing that to me.

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Comment Preferences

  •  two words (5+ / 0-)

    battery fire

    three words

    massive electrical failure

  •  all i can think (6+ / 0-)

    is they were having a windscreen problem,
    and they started a turn,  and were resetting the transponder to squawk an emergency when it blew out.

    that big of a drag would cause a sudden dip before the
    autopilot grabs it back up.

    with that sort of hurricane rolling through the cabin, the pilots could be heavily injured, they may not be able to get
    the oxygen masks on, maybe they start a slow descent,
    but are badly injured and can't get the bird
    back under control.

    ...

    •  A couple of people in the other diary mentioned (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sharon Wraight, Shockwave

      the windscreen failing.  Very rare, but possible, they said.

      Confession time: When I'm not ranting about politics, I write romance novels

      by teresahill on Tue Mar 11, 2014 at 11:27:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  i've been on planes with a failed windscreen. (0+ / 0-)

        it delaminated.

        i've heard of one 747 where all 4 delaminated.

        the pilot landed looking out the little side window....

        but a delam is just a visibility problem,
        never heard of structural failure of a
        main windscreen.

        •  Oh, okay. Thanks for that. (0+ / 0-)

          Confession time: When I'm not ranting about politics, I write romance novels

          by teresahill on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 12:17:44 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Amazing story of half-ejected pilot who (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          grover, NancyK, jan4insight, greengemini

          hung on and lived after windscreen panel popped: BA Flight 5390 -- I saw one of the TV programs about it. Complete maintenance screwup.

        •  How About a Bird Strike? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          patbahn

          I know only a few fly at those altitudes, but they tend to be large. What would nailing a goose or large vulture at cruising speed look like?

          Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government.

          by The Baculum King on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 12:29:29 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  They were flying at 35,000 feet when air (0+ / 0-)

            traffic control lost contact with them and they may have turned around.

            Sounds like whatever happened, happened then. Nothing living up that high, right?

            Confession time: When I'm not ranting about politics, I write romance novels

            by teresahill on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 07:31:37 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  A Few Fly That High (0+ / 0-)

              Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government.

              by The Baculum King on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 07:48:30 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  a vulture was hit at 37,000 and gees do 30K (0+ / 0-)

              is it possible a bar headed goose was catching an updraft?

              i'd suspect structural failure first.  

              failed window, first...

              •  I Was Thinking Bird Into Window (0+ / 0-)

                If the bird blew through the screen it could easily, if goose-size, take out one or both (if both happened to be at the controls) pilots, and maybe leave enough time for a surviving flight deck officer to complete part of a turn before he ran out of oxygen?

                With the flight deck depressurized and the cockpit door secured everybody else would be helpless.

                Sheerest speculation.

                Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government.

                by The Baculum King on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 11:31:54 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Okay, you win for the freakiest, scariest (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  churchylafemme

                  possibility for the passengers.

                  Confession time: When I'm not ranting about politics, I write romance novels

                  by teresahill on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 11:43:28 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I WIN!! I WIN!! (0+ / 0-)

                    What's my prize?

                    Incidentally, if I had to guess I'd go with hijacking gone wrong, a dipshit with a small bomb gains access to the cockpit, forces the pilot to divert then accidentally detonates his little Walmart device, killing or disabling the flight crew and crippling the controls.

                    Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government.

                    by The Baculum King on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 01:18:27 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  in a blowout, i'd imagine the first thing (0+ / 0-)

                  a surviving pilot would do is start an emergency descent.

                  You can't really pressure breathe at 35K even on Pure O2,
                  all you are really doing is slowing it down without a suit,
                  but you have some time, so you push the stick forward, to
                  maximum descent, rate dial in the autopilot to hold for 10,000 feet and do your level best to breathe.

                  get below 20, and the oxygen mask will really help a lot.

                  but let's try and see if they find the CVR and FDR first
                  before we guess.

          •  Or meteor strike (0+ / 0-)

            My husband suggested that there seems to be increased meteor activity recently. He wondered if the plane might have been struck by one. I have no idea haw large it would have to be or where it might have to strike in order to disable transponders and/or cause a deflection of the flight path, but I hadn't heard it suggested so I thought I'd throw it out there.

            The past 50 years we: -Ended Jim Crow. -Enacted the Voting Rights Act. -Attained reproductive rights (contraceptive & abortion). -Moved toward pay equity. Republicans want to take our country back. I WON'T GO BACK!

            by petesmom on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 07:51:25 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  i thought of a meteor too but (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              petesmom

              1) it's a trillion to one, because a hit on the main body
              would not take out the pilots, you need a small hit in the
              cockpit

              2) SpaceCommand monitors inbound meteors.
              they leave a big trail.

              http://www.ssec.wisc.edu/...

              Space Command tracks them because they
              look a lot like inbound warheads.

              and a small one burns up and a big one would
              demolish the plane.

              maybe sequester has the space fence turned off, but,
              i don't know if they tell me that.

    •  Pretty rare for that to happen (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Debby, side pocket, greengemini

      The windscreen has two, maybe three distinct layers. It's not unheard of for one layer to crack but I've never heard of the whole thing letting go.

      A large bird could do it, but they don't fly at airliner cruising altitudes.

      Large hail (associated with thunderstorms) could do it (Southern Airways 242) which is one reason we stay clear of thunderstorms. I don't believe there was any significant weather on their flight path.

      If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

      by Major Kong on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 05:04:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That British Airways thing? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jan4insight

        Window popped out, pilot was half-ejected through it, copilot landed while a flight attendant held on to the pilot's legs to keep from flying off entirely.  Something like that.  The man survived.

        There's also been failures of other parts of a plane.

        No idea if that's what happened here.

  •  Here's the clearest map I've seen (13+ / 0-)

    of the plane's turn and where it went missing. Although I  suppose some of it's still speculative:

    I don't love writing, but I love having written ~ Dorothy Parker // Visit my Handmade Gallery on Zibbet

    by jan4insight on Tue Mar 11, 2014 at 11:24:50 PM PDT

    •  Oh, thank you. Great map. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jan4insight, Shockwave

      I keep thinking if the plane had some kind of mechanical/electrical problem, the pilot would have made a U-turn and headed back to the airport, right? Or to the nearest airport capable of handling a plane of that size. People said there aren't many in the area where it could land.

      But he didn't. Unless there's an airport in that area no one mentioned.

      So where was he going?

      Of course, that makes the pilot-unconscious argument make more sense. Seems like the auto-pilot had to be on, unless the plane was hijacked.

      Confession time: When I'm not ranting about politics, I write romance novels

      by teresahill on Tue Mar 11, 2014 at 11:31:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Another possible twist, from Associated Press (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoasis, Lepanto

      relaying Vietnamese press:

      Report: Vietnam detects signals from missing plane
      Updated 8:13 pm, Friday, March 7, 2014

      BEIJING (AP) — Vietnamese media reported that authorities have detected signals from a missing Malaysia Airlines flight off the southwestern coast of Vietnam on Saturday, hours after the flight went missing during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

      Website VN Express said a Vietnamese search and rescue official reported that the signals were detected from about 120 nautical miles (140 miles; 225 kilometers) southwest of Vietnam's southernmost Ca Mau province.

      Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

      by Simplify on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 12:26:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Just for context, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ScienceMom, jan4insight

      I saw a similar map this morning that showed the contact lost time was 1:30 and the last military radar time was 2:40. I had been wondering what that distance represented.

      You're gonna need a bigger boat.

      by Debby on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 08:12:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Flight crew don't have the same O2 system as (13+ / 0-)

    Passengers.

    Passenger oxygen is actually created via chemical reaction. F

    Flight crews have their own systems. There is no "Dixie cup" system for the flight crew:

    The flight crew system is supplied by a separate cylinder usually located in the forward cargo compartment.

    ....This is one of the items the pilots will check on their "walk-around". It uses quick-donning masks at each pilots' position. There is also one at the observer's station (jumpseat). When pulled out of their respective boxes at each pilot position, the masks can be fitted and formed around your face by air that enters a harness comprised of small diameter and flexible tubes. A microphone is installed so that the pilots can talk to each other and on the radio while wearing the oxygen mask.

    The portable system is comprised of the passenger portable system and the flight crew portable system. The passenger system has several (depending on the size of your aircraft) bottles and connected masks located throughout the cabin, mainly used for first aid. The flight crew system usually has a full face mask and bottle in the cockpit.

    http://www.myairlineflight.com/...

    This is a commercial airliner. It's not a private aircraft. If cabin pressure falls, the pilots are aware of that.  They're trained to take specific steps to ensure they protect their passengers as well as lives on the ground.

    The info listed above seemed a little off. I thought it was best to clarify.

    © grover


    So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

    by grover on Tue Mar 11, 2014 at 11:27:35 PM PDT

    •  Okay. Are you saying the crew would get enough (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Shockwave, grover

      oxygen to be conscious? :) Which sounds like a really good idea.

      But what about the crew just not being able to get to their oxygen fast enough? Say the windshield failed? They were hit by debris or knocked out or something?

      Confession time: When I'm not ranting about politics, I write romance novels

      by teresahill on Tue Mar 11, 2014 at 11:34:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, it's right there, at the ready. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Simplify, Villanova Rhodes, DuzT

        I suppose if the windshield got hit by a meteor, there might not be enough time. Hard to say. Major Kong would have to answer that. But the flight deck is designed for efficiency even in emergencies.

        Alli can tell you is that I feel safer flying in a commercial airliner than driving a car or even stepping in the shower. Pilots and flight attendants are trained to make sure I'm safe (handing me a diet coke is really an insignificant part of what a flight attendant is there to do).  There are redundant systems. ATC is virtually always watching.

        My 370 is the funkiest thing I've ever seen. I just wonder what else we don't know.

        /shrugs.

        I just feel like there's a lot we don't know. But I know the people on the freeway around here drive while texting and some drive too slow while most are in a rush.

         So I still feel safer flying in a commercial airliner when I can.

        © grover


        So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

        by grover on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 12:10:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Also if the plane was flying at 1000 feet on the.. (0+ / 0-)

        western leg, they would not have needed oxygen at that altitude.

      •  The crew should be fine. (0+ / 0-)

        The masks are very quick & easy to put on (at least the ones I've seen in other aircraft), and they'll keep one conscious indefinitely, probably up to near 40,000'.

        A small leak somewhere wouldn't cause a problem; the aircraft is pressurized from an engine, and is adjustable from the cockpit.

        Debris? From what? Even the upper limits of geese are around 30,000', except for things sucked into thunderstorms (which have been known to suck things up to 60k-70k') and hail. I haven't heard of bad weather in the area that would cause either of these.

        Had the depressurization happened slowly, the aircraft would probably have continued on in a straight line from the point of the problem.

        At this point, though, all the possibilities are in the one-in-a-billion range. "The pilots were bribed to steal the aircraft by an evil industrialist for his volcano hideout" is starting to look fairly plausible.

  •  Re: Boeing & data transmissions (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    WakeUpNeo, Shockwave, Debby, Pluto

    Rolls Royce received the info from the engines at takeoff and climbout. Boeing might also have received info, but its system is optional and modular -- I've seen no confirmation that this airplane had any part of it.

    In addition to standard ACARS messages, airlines can install a system sold by Boeing called Airplane Health Management which provides real-time troubleshooting and allows Boeing to monitor the flight as well as the airline, according to its brochure.

    This optional system was not installed on the missing Malaysia Airlines jet, people familiar with the matter said.

    U.S. planemaker Boeing declined to comment.

    Link

    Re: ACARS data -- the frequency of data transmissions depends on the contract between the airline and the ACARS service provider.

    Use of ACARS among carriers varies widely.

    Users of the service can have data transmitted at widely varying intervals, such as every minute to every thirty minutes.

    When an aircraft is flying over land, ACARS data is transmitted via VHF to ground stations, but over water the data is transmitted to satellites.

    Typically ACARS data has a narrow focus, with engine performance being the most widely monitored aspect of aircraft health. The flight crew can also deactivate ACARS transmissions if they elect to do so.

    New Scientist reports that most airlines receive transmissions at only 4 points -- takeoff, climbout, once while cruising, and landing. For the missing flight, only the first two of these were received.
    As the engine data is filtered from a larger ACARS report covering all the plane's critical flight systems and avionics, it could mean the airline has some useful clues about the condition of the aircraft prior to its disappearance. The plane does not appear to have been cruising long enough to issue any more ACARS reports. It disappeared from radar at 1.30 AM local time, halfway between Malaysia and Vietnam over the Gulf of Thailand.

    Under International Civil Aviation Organisation rules, such reports are normally kept secret until air investigators need them.

    There may be better aviation-specific sources, but I'll leave that to our resident experts.
  •  i can't talk to the 777 Electrical bus, but (7+ / 0-)

    most twins like the 777 have lots of depth of redundancy
    for operational reasons.

    a Twin jet will usually have dual generators/alternators
    on the engines, and then another generator on the APU.

    so you typically see 5 generators.  

    2 generators are enough to Run the A/B bus

    Your MEL (Minimum Equipment list) is usually
    3 generators.

    Then there will likely be some small Emergency batteries
    and the ships main batteries and there can be a RAT
    (Ram Air Turbine) more on that later.

    Why 5? then?  Because that way if a engine goes bad,
    the other engine still has 2 generators to run the A/B bus.
    or
    if a generator dies, the plane can continue on to the Hub
    or a major maintenance base and get repaired that night.

    I've been on Airplanes that took off with MEL 3 generators,
    1 Left, 1 Right, 1 on the APU.  They took off, and the Left Generator died.  The APU start procedure was initiated but the APU wouldn't sync ( Some sort of problem in the controller, not noted on the ground), the CPT initiated
    a power down procedure, and returned to seattle.

    A power down procedure means we dumped the cabin lights,
    the A/C, the Entertainment system( bummer) and the toilets and galley. So it got dark and hot.

    The CPT made an announcement, and then turned right into a storm and started taking us back,

    The skipper was saving all his power for the front end.
    People were stressing out, so I just stood up and asked them to look out the window at the anito-collision lights.
    I explained that while we were obviously having some electrical problems, the CPT was a very veteran man and
    as long as he had enough power to keep the beacon lights on it wouldn't be too bad, and that John Travolta once flew a G4 into DC National with all power down using a handheld flashlight to read the instruments, single handed with his wife and kid in the back.

    (Meanwhile i was hoping the skipper didn't turn off the AntiCollision lights)

    So lets talk about the Emergency batteries, again, I don't know the 777, but, most aircraft while they have the A/B bus, actually have an A/B/C bus, with the C bus designated as the Emergency bus.

    Key systems, Computers, comms, firegighting, life support,
    and start up are on the C bus.  

    So you can lose everything, unplug almost everything but still have some battery for the radios, and instrument panel.

    you also use the C Bus with the main batteries to boot up the APU, that produces enough power to start the engines.

    The main battery is sized to help you start APU's or engines,
    the Emergency battery is meant to get activated and run for 90 minutes. (Most pilots don't trust it to run more then 15).

    Then there is the RAT, it's a little windmill thing that drops out to provide Hydraulics and Electricity if the engines fail on you. Not all aircraft have them, but, it's handy.

    it's way early to speculate what happened here, but a friend of mine flies the south asian routes, and says there is plenty of radar coverage that way.

    •  Would not have been wanted to be on that flight (0+ / 0-)

      back to San Francisco.

      So, what do you think happened to the plane? If we twisted  your arm and made you speculate?

      If your friend says there's plenty of radar coverage, what does that tell you that no one picked it up close to where the plane ended up?

      Confession time: When I'm not ranting about politics, I write romance novels

      by teresahill on Tue Mar 11, 2014 at 11:41:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  on that flight, it wasn't the worst iv'e been on (0+ / 0-)

        Imagine being stuck in a subway car for say an hour or so,
        well, that's about what it was like.  The emergency
        lights were on, the air was getting humid, and well,
        with the toilets off, well, it was getting a little
        Mexico City there.

        On our flight, the problem was we lost a generator
        in flight, and the APU wouldn't start so we had
        one generator and that's when the pilot said
        "I don't want to push through the rockies with
        one generator and i don't want to stay stuck in
        Boise for a day until mechanics can come out and fix the plane".

        As for the one in Malaysia, well, let's just wait for data.

        everything else is far too obscure or too CT.

        •  Never been on a flight that bad. Stuck on a (0+ / 0-)

          runway once for about 45 minutes with my son, when he was maybe a year old. We weren't moving, but the flight attendant kept telling me to keep him still. (This was long before little kids flew in car seats. All they had was a regular seat belt.)

          And I get that, not letting him stand up on the seat or the floor in front of me, but you try keeping a one-year-old in still for 45 minutes with nothing but an airline seatbelt on him. They're so squirmy.

          Confession time: When I'm not ranting about politics, I write romance novels

          by teresahill on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 12:07:14 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  worst flights (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            DuzT

            1) Flying out of LA, on Virgin, we put down in columbus
            to wait out ad weather at Dulles.  The pilots touched down, shut down, and we sat and baked for 90 minutes.

            I finally convinced the FA's to open the doors so we could get some cross ventilation.  It was a repeat of our flight without the excitement of bumping along in a heavy storm wondering if the pilot would screw up with a goat, instead it was just Mexico City, the whole time.

            2) Stuck on a taxiway for 2 hours awaiting a slot. Powered off baking, I can't even remember.

            3) Flying AeroFlot to Moscow on an old IL-86, this thing
            was almost as old as I was, the FE was half crocked and i doubt the rest of the Flight Crew was much better.
            The Hatch right in front of my seat wouldn't seal, so the FE took some of the vodka from his drink to clean a sensor.
            i rode the whole way, strapped in so tight, i still have nerve damage. I was wondering if that hatch was going to blow out.

            4)  flying out of Barcelona, on a hop from madrid to
            Heathrow, the Pilot did a High Speed Rejected Takeoff, we
            kissed our knees and stuff was falling out of the baggage overheads.  we were stuck for 2 hours waiting for the brakes to cool. Bonus was the pilot opened the drinks cart for us.
            So we got ruined sitting there.  Okay that wasn't a bad flight.
            Any flight with lots of alcohol isn't bad.

      •  as for the radar coverage. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pluto, leevank

        if the XPDR is off, the radar may Filter to eliminate
        Primary returns, and they were just leaving
        Malaysian Control to pick up Vietnam
        when they made the turn, so they may have
        been right on the edge of Malaysia air defense.

        and if it's not headed in, and it's just a primary skirting the boundary, people may not care a lot.

        it's odd, but, if you are running down an
        international airway down the straits of malaca
        late at night, on a sunday at midnight, people
        may have been exhausted and not on top of their game.

        and if the returns are filtered it may take a while to figure out what's in the data.

        •  Do countries have their own air traffic control? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          grover

          Or is it one, coordinated world-wide system?

          What I'm asking is if different countries there might have air traffic control towers of their own picking up the plane?

          Confession time: When I'm not ranting about politics, I write romance novels

          by teresahill on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 12:15:15 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  it's stacked layers and depends upon the country (0+ / 0-)

            most low down, it's usually national airspace,

            in crowded areas, they will use regional controls,
            Europe uses Euro-Control prior to handoff to
            sector or area.

            over the oceans, it's Oceanic Control.

            US  FAA uses the NAS (National Airspace System)
            Ramp Control, Ground Control, Tower, Sector,
            Regional.

            Think of it as a inverted wedding cake.

            Ramp gets you out to the taxi way.

            Ground gets you into a slot for the runway.
            Tower gets you off the ground,
            Departure sends you down the way.
            Sector manages you in busy areas.
            Regional puts you on a air highway.

            Major Kong can write it all up.

          •  It's shared. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Pluto

            If  Air Canada flies to Mexico City and has problems over Omaha, it would request emergency landing at Omaha. And Omaha would provide first responders appropriate to the situation like fire fighters, ambulance, etc.

            American Air Traffic Control handles all that, even if Air Cansda never flies into Omaha.

            If Air Canada doesn't have any issues, it flies into Mexico City. Mexican ATC (not Canadian) handles the flight coming iin. The folks on the ramp (tarmac) with the orange vests that directs  the aircraft in to the terminal either are Air Canada employees or are employees of another airline  (or vendor service) that Air Canada subcontracts for its flights.

            But ATC belongs to the host government.

            It's kind of like your cell phone. As you drive, you get handed off from tower to tower to tower as you drive. Commercial aircraft sort of experience the same thing.

            And all communication with towers  is supposed to he in English.

            © grover


            So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

            by grover on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 01:10:45 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Did that answer your question? (0+ / 0-)

              If you go to LAX, JFK, Cancun Airport, or other airports, there is one ATC tower. The host government provides Air Traffic Control.

              So if you fly to Hong Kong, your pilots will be talking to Hong Kong ATC when you land.

              © grover


              So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

              by grover on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 01:22:11 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Erm... (0+ / 0-)

              I think all towers and all pilots are supposed to be able to communicate in English.

              Individual pilot/controller pairs may elect to communicate in the local language.

    •  I was on a flight back from Scotland (0+ / 0-)

      on a 777, back in '95, and MAN, when we got close to landing, that thing was fluttering up and down 20 or 30 feet, causing all of our bellies to climb to our necks.

      I swore I'd never get on one again.


      "Legalizing pot won't make more pot-smokers. It will just make fewer criminals. - Me

      by AlyoshaKaramazov on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 04:49:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I looked up the 777 electrical system (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NYFM, Debby, grover, side pocket, BlackSheep1

      It has:

      2 IDGs (Integrated Drive Generator) one on each engine.
      1 APU Generator.
      2 Backup Generators, one on each engine.
      RAT (Ram Air Turbine) Generator.
      Battery

      That is a lot of redundancy in the electrical system and what I would expect in an aircraft designed for long over water flights.

      If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

      by Major Kong on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 05:18:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The fact they haven't found any debris floating... (6+ / 0-)

    ...and that the locator beacons of the black boxes have not been heard is really really baffling.

    There are so many redundant electronic systems sending signals to all sorts of people that my Overton window now includes an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) as a possible cause.  But still no debris anywhere.

    Every day that goes by makes it more bizarre.

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Tue Mar 11, 2014 at 11:52:47 PM PDT

    •  I think so, too. It's just weird. Someone (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Shockwave, Matt Z, DuzT, petesmom, side pocket

      in Pluto's diary said it took five days to pick up the black box signals in the plane that took off from South America on its way to France and crashed in the ocean.

      But I read the debris was found 13,000-15,000 feet down, which had to make it harder.

      The South China Sea is supposed to be very shallow in comparison, and the Strait of Malacca, I read, is shallow in parts and as deep as 3,000 feet in others.

      Although the LA Times article I quoted in the diary said shallow water can make it tougher, too:

      The first step involves sending crews to a likely impact point, where they lower listening devices into the ocean and attempt to pick up the signals from a device called a "pinger" attached to the plane's two black boxes. Battery life of the devices is about 30 days.

      Gallo, director of special operations at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, said the device was not likely to work as well in shallow water where noise from ships could drown it out.

      Search crews are probably "plowing" the ocean floor with sonar, he said, and having that many people involved in the hunt could lead to confusion.

      http://www.latimes.com/...

      Confession time: When I'm not ranting about politics, I write romance novels

      by teresahill on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 12:01:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Entire Electrical System Destroyed (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Shockwave

      Only an EMP weapon could do this much damage.
      Yes, we do have EMP weapons.  As do to other state actors in this drama.

      "AMERICA DID NOT INVENT HUMAN RIGHTS, HUMAN RIGHTS INVENTED AMERICA"

      by michealallison on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 09:14:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Nobody shot it down (0+ / 0-)

    There's no evidence and no motive.  

    Cynicism is what passes for insight among the mediocre.

    by Sky Net on Tue Mar 11, 2014 at 11:59:28 PM PDT

    •  I fully admit, no evidence. I think it was a (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Shockwave, petesmom

      mistake. Again, pure speculation. It was flying way off course with no transponder sending out its signal as a civilian aircraft, no communications, and there had just been that plane China said had a North Korean rocket fly right past it.

      But ... you know ... I write books for a living. I might just me making stuff up, because that's what I do.

      Still, I am truly fascinated by the plane, and I want to hear what others here know that I don't about planes and transponders and redundant safety measures.

      Confession time: When I'm not ranting about politics, I write romance novels

      by teresahill on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 12:10:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Motive could simply be accident. (6+ / 0-)

      Evidence could mean they're looking in the wrong place.

      I'm not saying yes or no either way. But I think it's premature to rule anything out.

      © grover


      So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

      by grover on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 12:20:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Accident (0+ / 0-)

        How do you accidentally shoot down a commercial jetliner?  And how could no one notice that?

        Cynicism is what passes for insight among the mediocre.

        by Sky Net on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 03:29:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Ask the crew of USS Vincennes. (0+ / 0-)

          Really unfortunate stuff happens.

          As to how no one noticed, well, maybe someone (or at least " someone's" instruments) did, but we haven't been told. The public often isn't told everything immediately. Nor do I think we should be-- at least not immediately-- especially if there are international security issues on the line.

          As I said above,

          My 370 is the funkiest thing I've ever seen. I just wonder what else we don't know.
          I don't know what happened. But I remain open to numerous reasonable possibilities.  

          © grover


          So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

          by grover on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 09:40:35 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  News has said (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Remediator

      that there have been no credible claims of responsibility. Does that mean we know who's capable of what? OTOH, somebody on Diane Rehm this morning said that if it were terrorist, there'd be chatter and there's been none.

      You're gonna need a bigger boat.

      by Debby on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 12:26:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Crap, I have to go to bed. It took me too long to (9+ / 0-)

    pull this together.

    I'll be back in the morning. Keep talking, people.

    Confession time: When I'm not ranting about politics, I write romance novels

    by teresahill on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 12:19:10 AM PDT

  •  Also, I want to see accountability (0+ / 0-)

    Any official who makes a false public report, there should be professional consequences.

    Any journalist who prints an anonymously-sourced false report, burn the source or let there be some kind of public reprimand for the reporter.

    Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

    by Simplify on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 12:58:47 AM PDT

  •  as for the cell phones (0+ / 0-)

    if they were on and ringing
    they would of pinpointed the location already, on day 1 no less.

  •  there is a nat geographic documentary about (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pluto

    the silk air crash.
    the ntsb kept saying the pilot committed suicide, but a heck of a lot of evidence said no, that it was mechanical problems.  it was like the ntsb thought it was easier to say that  it was pilot suicide.

    as skeptical as i am of govts and corp interests, i dont know that the truth is ever going to be out there for most of us.

    right now the only thing id really bet on is a mechanical failure. no evidence that there was something else.

  •  Here's a pretty good summary of (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jan4insight

    Known information. http://news.yahoo.com/...

    I want to live in a world where George Zimmerman offered Trayvon Martin a ride home to get him out of the rain that night. -Bishop G. Brewer

    by the dogs sockpuppet on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 03:38:48 AM PDT

  •  ideas (8+ / 0-)

    1. If the transponder is off, all the military radar gets is a blip. It is not identified as a 777 or civilian. The better radars can determine altitude. Just one blip among 20-30 other blips until later analysis focuses on it. So in real time the military radar operator would not know that it was an off course 777. Just an unidentified blip that was not identifying IFF. Also if it profile was not pertinent, the radar filters may suppress the blip and the operator never sees it.

    2. A number I was taught at 30k-35k altitude was that the "time of useful consciousness" would be about 15 seconds. So if there was an explosive decompression, the pilots have about 15 secs to get their masks on, or they quickly lose mental focus until they pass out.

    3. I find the fact that the plane turned South west and dropped from 35k to 34k interesting. "easterners are odd". In North America the general rule is if your flying east, you should be at an odd altitude (and flying west at even altitudes). This is to provide vertical separation in addition to the spacing provided by air traffic control. So a real pilot at the controls turning to the west out of communications with ATC would want to fly at an even altitude to not have other planes flying toward him. It is not a strong clue, but still hints that a pilot was at the controls and not just the auto-pilot. (I don't know if the same rule applied world wide.) This would be a low priority factor so if the pilot had
    other emergencies going on, they would take his attention first. But if the pilot lost communication deliberately, this might be a decision he would make.

    •  I didn't know the east/west odd/even (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DRo

      protocol. But it makes sense.

      The Republican motto: "There's been a lot of progress in this country over the last 75 years, and we've been against all of it."

      by Hillbilly Dem on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 05:39:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Why do these planes only have one transponder (0+ / 0-)

      and why should anyone be able to turn it off for ANY reason? Why aren't there multiple, ruggedized, self-powered transponders, none of which can be turned off, and some of which cannot even be gotten to because they're mounted in remote parts of the plane inaccessible during flight?

      "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

      by kovie on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 06:47:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Lots of reasons... (0+ / 0-)

        1) ATC doesn't want to have to sort through all the signals. Transponders do sometimes go wonky, and ATC will typically then ask you to turn yours off.

        2) Weight. It costs money to put things on airliners.

        3) Complexity. Things, particularly things like airliners, are complex, but they should be no more complex than necessary.

        4) Safety. It takes power to run transponders, and in an emergency, the pilot should have full control of his power sources, busses, and destinations.

        5) Cost.

        Airline safety is very complex, and a lot of very smart people look at everything that goes into a plane, and every rule and law about what must -- or must not -- be in airplanes. Anything that doesn't enhance safety will not be mandated.

        6) Self powered?! You want radioactives in transponders? No, thank you. See also (2).

        •  This is all based on obsolete technology (0+ / 0-)

          Don't insult my intelligence by telling me that the same technology that gives up 5oz smart phones that last for days can't be applied to something as basic as a transponder, to make it lighter, longer lasting and more reliable. You gave me a CYA bureaucrat answer, not a technical one.

          Bottom line, who makes money by making planes safer than government wants them to be? NO ONE. That is why these things suck. Period.

          "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

          by kovie on Thu Mar 13, 2014 at 09:25:48 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Tell me about your cell phone. (0+ / 0-)

            Tell me how it connects to cell towers hundreds of miles away.

            How it always automatically recharges itself.

            How it totally handles -60F to +180F temperatures during normal operation.

            How its battery lasts for decades, and no cell phone battery has ever melted down or burst into flames.

            How it does everything you expect it to do, always, in spite of your careful attempts to neglect or destroy it.

            Finally, tell me how a transponder, based on such a device would, in foreseeable cases, measurably improve safety.

            I said it before, because it's true, improving aviation safety is hard. It's all about decreasing the frequency of one-in-a-million events, and ensuring that in doing that, you don't create two new 3/4-in-a-million events.

            Aviation safety is very conservative. Mostly that's for very good reasons -- historically, inappropriate "fixes" have often worsened safety.

            I understand the urge to 'do something'. I also flatter myself that I have a fairly good understanding of why it is often a bad idea to do any 'something' without careful analysis.

            The 777 is an astoundingly safe plane, with all the best knowledge Boeing has accumulated in the last 100 years of aviation. It had never been involved in a fatal accident -- in more than 15 years of service -- until last year, when a pilot flew one into the jetty at SFO. They've done a d*mn good job with it, and their safety people are -- or were -- second to none.

            So don't p*ss on Boeing's engineers and claim that their airliners not safe because they're not paid for it.

            If you claim 777 safety "sucks", that only says something about you.

            [And no, I'm not affiliated with Boeing in any way. I am a pilot, however, and followed aviation safety for many years. I still read the NTSB incident reports regularly.]

            •  So tacking on another 5-20lbs of dead weight (0+ / 0-)

              to make the thing robust enough to keep working under adverse conditions and be able to communicate with satellites on a plane designed in the 80's whose electrical system has catastrophically failed or been deliberately shut down, in an era where every other passenger is at least 30lbs overweight, so that it can still be tracked in an era of increasing terrorism, is going to take down a plane? Seriously? This isn't about whether it can be done, safely and properly, or should be done, but whether the bean counters give a damn.

              Period.

              If the only people working in or running a given industry were conservative veteran insiders more concerned about protecting themselves and their interests than in advancing the state of the art or helping people, then we'd all still be driving horseless buggies and using abacuses. Thank god for people like Steve Jobs and Elon Musk, who call BS to all that.

              "It can't be done" = "I'm worried about my turf"

              "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

              by kovie on Fri Mar 14, 2014 at 08:10:34 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  ... (0+ / 0-)

                Seriously.

                "It can't be done" != "It should not be done"

                You've not come even close to making a case. You've not even started touching on the issues that should be considered. I strongly doubt you have any conception of the risks or costs -- I've certainly not seen any suggestion of it. Nor have you made any actual suggestions as to what actual benefits this would provide.

                Nor, without knowing the particulars, which in this case we don't, can we yet make those cases.

                Goodbye.

                •  Being able to know where all aircraft are (0+ / 0-)

                  and what their current trajectory is at all times isn't a good enough reason? With up to hundreds of people on board and thousands more on the ground?

                  Goodbye indeed. You're just hiding behind "That's the way we do things". If I had a dollar for everyone I've worked with who used that tired old saw to justify their fear of change and new ideas...

                  "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

                  by kovie on Fri Mar 14, 2014 at 06:17:17 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

    •  Oh, really interesting. Especially the altitude (0+ / 0-)

      thing. Thank you.

      Confession time: When I'm not ranting about politics, I write romance novels

      by teresahill on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 07:04:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  "Fake passport guys turned out to be nothing" (0+ / 0-)

    well, they paid their price for it.


    "Legalizing pot won't make more pot-smokers. It will just make fewer criminals. - Me

    by AlyoshaKaramazov on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 04:44:17 AM PDT

    •  Not really, per se (0+ / 0-)

      This could have been any other flight and as of now there's no claim that there was any link between the fake passports and the plane's going down. It was just plain old really bad luck.

      "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

      by kovie on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 06:44:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Possible catastrophic failure (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greengemini

    of a vital system, combined with both pilots simultaneously having massive heart attacks, and being hit by stray bullets causing total decompression. Bingo.

    This is a very strange case, and somebody knows something and they aren't talking.

    A true craftsman will meticulously construct the apparatus of his own demise.

    by onionjim on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 04:46:44 AM PDT

  •  The only thing less likely than the least-likely.. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NancyK

    ...scenario mentioned here is that someone will figure out what happened in a Daily Kos comment or diary.  

    It's not the side effects of the cocaine/I'm thinking that it must be love

    by Rich in PA on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 05:48:13 AM PDT

    •  Ahh, come on. We might do it. Have a little faith (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rich in PA, moira977

      Confession time: When I'm not ranting about politics, I write romance novels

      by teresahill on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 07:05:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, that is a permanent issue for me. n/t (0+ / 0-)

        It's not the side effects of the cocaine/I'm thinking that it must be love

        by Rich in PA on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 08:11:29 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not even in your fellow human beings? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jan4insight

          And I have to tell you, British Skye News reported this scenario:

          Sky News have used a flight simulator to recreate what might have happened to the jetliner. A commerical airline pilot of 30 years offers the explanation that there was a sudden depressurisation of air, the pilots then tried to head back for Kuala Lumpur realising there was a problem. They then set the controls to autopilot and at this point pass out unconscious after failing to put on masks. The plane then would have carried on at the same level, and they would have probably run out of fuel over the Indian Ocean.
          Which is exactly what a number of Kossacks said last night. So there. They might have solved it. :)

          Confession time: When I'm not ranting about politics, I write romance novels

          by teresahill on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 11:49:40 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Regarding the transponder (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Debby, petesmom, greengemini

    and also conceivably emergency communications --

    I think people are vastly underestimating the potential of human beings to completely fuck up in a situation of panic, and sometimes even when things are perfectly routine.  (I believe the co-pilot was fairly new to this plane?  That'd increase the odds, if so.)  If you watch a bunch of those air crash investigation shows, you'd probably come out surprised by how often disasters are caused by a chain of tiny mistakes, many of them as seemingly inconceivable and usually consequence-free as -- for example -- flipping a transponder dial to standby while thinking you're doing something else.  I just yesterday read an account of the crash of a 737 in the Amazon in 2009, a plane that was brought down through collision with a smaller business jet (which survived the crash, with all data recovered).  In that case one of the key culprits appears to have been the business jet having unaccountably and unintentionally turned off its transponder for a period of time.  (Lack of communications capability was also an issue in that crash, and that would be no less a potential problem in the middle of the gulf of Thailand than in the middle of the Amazon.)

    I do think that such a scenario is less likely the cause of the complete lack of communication from the plane in the event that it did return all the way over Malaysia, and at the moment it seems likely that it did.  But since one reason for the conflicting reports from the Malaysian military could be that they're not 100% sure that whatever radar signal they're looking at actually was the missing flight, I wouldn't be too shocked if it turns out never to have been there at all.

    •  Why would a location and trajectory transponder (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DRo

      even be able to be turned off? Shouldn't there be several on all planes that no one can turn off no matter what? Why would one EVER need to turn one off?

      "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

      by kovie on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 06:43:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Answered above in the diary. They emit (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Debby

        small amounts of radiation and are usually turned off on the ground. Plus, if they're on, on the ground, they're just a lot of clutter for air traffic control.

        Also, sometimes the transponders are sending out bad information. Turning off and on can reset them, like a computer. If they still were sending bad info., the pilot could turn them off.

        Confession time: When I'm not ranting about politics, I write romance novels

        by teresahill on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 07:08:06 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sorry, I don't buy it (0+ / 0-)

          Every major airport in the world has thousands of GPS-equipped cell phones and their signals going in and out at once on multiple frequencies, so it's sheer nonsense that modern ATC systems can't filter that all out. The amount of data that a GPS transponder would be putting out is miniscule compared to voice, video or browser data and shouldn't interfere with anything. Plus, the plane was in the air, not on the ground, when connections were lost.

          Something stinks here, either with modern aviation electronics, or with the plane itself and what happened on or to it.

          "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

          by kovie on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 08:19:12 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Doesn't matter whether you buy it or not (0+ / 0-)

            According to pilots at an aviation site who've been answering this question for days, absolutely everything electronic on a plane can be turned off, if not by switch or button, then by circuit breaker.  For safety reasons -- fire is a huge threat to a plane.  

            Besides that there is the reduction of noise clutter thing that was mentioned, as well as transponders apparently being prone to malfunction -- including the sending of nonsense data -- that can be fixed by just cycling it (turning it off and on), or by turning one transponder off and switching to the second one.  (I guess most airliners generally have two.)

            •  Nonsense (0+ / 0-)

              Pilots can't turn off every electronic device carried by passengers and in the cargo hold, and no plane has ever been taken down or damaged by an electronic device that I know of. You're telling me that putting a small 10oz battery-powered GPS tracker in a wing or tail is going to endanger the plane?

              Bullshit.

              Inertia, stupidity, apathy and money is why they're not on planes, not fear of a Garmin-like device taking down a widebody. Which cannot happen.

              And if those transponders are unreliable, it's because they're poorly made and based on ancient technology. Modern technology can produce rugged, reliable and robust devices that simply do not fail. EVER.

              IF the will is there.

              "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

              by kovie on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 05:06:14 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  That you know of. -nt (0+ / 0-)
                •  Zzzzzz... (0+ / 0-)

                  The problems you and others have raised are artificial ones meant to protect the interests of airliners from having to spend a dime more than they need to. They will only spend money to make planes safer if they're forced to by government or market forces. Decency never ever ever enters the equation.

                  The 787 proved that aviation execs and not a few engineers have their heads firmly up their asses, so I don't buy it. With this sort of thinking we'd still be relying on vacuum tubes and galvanic cells.

                  "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

                  by kovie on Thu Mar 13, 2014 at 09:30:59 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

  •  Something doesn't add up (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FishOutofWater, DRo, greengemini

    Lots of things, actually. How can it be that a modern Boeing-made commercial airliner doesn't have several ruggedized self-powered GPS transponders such as is found in every cell phone made today, mounted in parts of the plane that no one can get to in flight, e.g. the wings, tail, engine nacelles, etc., such that if every other redundant system in the plane stops working, at least one of them will continue to work, even if the plane explodes mid-air?

    And don't tell me that this isn't as simple as it might seem. It is. If the NSA can track, record and monitor every digital communication on earth in real time, then it's absolutely possible to monitor the position (including altitude), speed and trajectory of every flying craft on the planet that has such a device on it, which shouldn't have to cost more than $500-$1000, tops.

    I bet this plane had such devices on it, and that because of that someone knows where this plane last was, and perhaps still is, yet is choosing to not make this information public, either to cover up gross incompetence, or worse.

    "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

    by kovie on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 06:39:47 AM PDT

    •  I don't know why they don't have GPS on planes. (0+ / 0-)

      Well, I'm not sure planes don't have GPS.

      But the LA Times article I linked to in the diary said GPS doesn't work in saltwater. So if the plane's in the water, no GPS signal.

      Confession time: When I'm not ranting about politics, I write romance novels

      by teresahill on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 07:12:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Isn't a transponder just a fancy GPS? (0+ / 0-)

        I would assume that all modern plane transponders transmit all telemetry in real time as well as store it locally, in case of catastrophic damage, and do so at regular, rapid intervals (because this is good to know and absolutely doable with today's technology). So even if the plane hit water and went under, data would be available up to impact, and perhaps a bit longer.

        The fact that this is either not so, or is so but we're being kept in the dark about it, tells me that something weird is going on here.

        "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

        by kovie on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 08:15:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  No it is not (0+ / 0-)

          A basic transponder does nothing on its own; it responds to signals sent by the controlling radar site, supplementing the radar site's own detection of the plane's distance and direction with information supplied by the plane itself, namely ID and altitude.  Without the transponder, air traffic control radar will have no idea what the blips on their screen correspond to, and will not be able to determine altitude at all.  (Some military radars can get altitude.  None can tell a 777 from a 737 so far as I know, much less which 777.)

          Apparently some modern jets these days have transponders that add more information than just those two things, but it's still not GPS and so it's still going to be useless outside of or below radar range.  I know I've heard of GPS in planes being considered or being implemented, but it's clearly not been done widely at this point.

          To answer the original question: money.

          •  What I'm hearing here (0+ / 0-)

            is "This is how we've always done things and don't try to tell us any better". Not so much from you, but from industry and government. It makes absolutely no sense to still be relying on vastly outdated technology when there are much better solutions that could either replace or supplement these dinosaurs, at not that much more cost (even taking into account the complexities of getting such products made suitable for commercial aviation and the proper regulations amended to mandate them).

            The NSA can track every cell phone on earth down to a few meters, including their altitude, plus their direction of travel if any, and speed. So can every cell carrier. This is no longer esoteric technology. It's tested and it works, and it doesn't cost that much. That it hasn't been applied to commercial planes is not because of technical issues. As you said it's because of money, in terms of being an extra cost with no apparent added benefit to the bottom line.

            "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

            by kovie on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 05:02:15 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  No. (0+ / 0-)

        GPS receivers are entirely passive -- they receive satellite signals, and from that they compute an exact time and location.

        Modern airliners generally have multiple GPS receivers, and typically have inertial guidance systems as well, that, even w/o GPS or other input, will locate the aircraft to within a mile or two after flying half-way around the world.

        And, just to give a very random hypothetical, why would one want to have an aircraft to emit any signal that the captain could not turn off? Wouldn't that make such an aircraft a sitting duck for anyone with a missile? Or a laser?

    •  . (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      greengemini
      New Scientist understands that the maker of the missing Boeing 777's Trent 800 engines, Rolls Royce, received two data reports from flight MH370 at its global engine health monitoring centre in Derby, UK, where it keeps real-time tabs on its engines in use. One was broadcast as MH370 took off from Kuala Lumpur International Airport, the other during the 777's climb out towards Beijing.

      As the engine data is filtered from a larger ACARS report covering all the plane's critical flight systems and avionics, it could mean the airline has some useful clues about the condition of the aircraft prior to its disappearance. The plane does not appear to have been cruising long enough to issue any more ACARS reports. It disappeared from radar at 1.30 AM local time, halfway between Malaysia and Vietnam over the Gulf of Thailand.

      Under International Civil Aviation Organisation rules, such reports are normally kept secret until air investigators need them.

      http://www.newscientist.com/...

      Be the change you want to see in the world. -Gandhi

      by DRo on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 07:16:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's freaking 2014 (0+ / 0-)

    Nearly everyone on the planet now owns a cell phone that generally costs at most $600, and usually much less (even after you remove carrier subsidies), that has a GPS chip inside it that constantly sends out (or can be told to send out by an outside signal) GPS location data, that can run for days on internal batteries before needing to be recharged.

    How hard and expensive could it possibly be to make a version of such a GPS chip and include it in a small device that had a battery powerful enough to last a week or longer, was rugged enough to survive a crash or explosion, was always on and could not be turned off from within the plane, and was located in a part of the plane that no one inside the plane could get it?

    Why are modern commercial airliners still using obsolete technology that from the 60's-80's when far better, more reliable, more powerful, more energy-efficient, more robust and cheaper versions are now available? If they've been able to replace 8-track audio and VCR-style video passenger entertainment systems with modern digital audio and video-based systems and put WiFi in planes, why is this so hard? Is it because it doesn't increase airlines' profits and there's a lot of regulatory bureaucracy involved? Because from a technology pov, it's absolutely doable, NOW.

    "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

    by kovie on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 09:04:15 AM PDT

  •  But ya all overlook the obvious ... (0+ / 0-)

    Malaysia Airlines search mired in confusion over plane's final path

    Vietnam cuts back efforts to find flight MH370, blaming Malaysia, amid swirl of contradictory statements by officials

    Clearly this article proves that the airliner was hijacked and landed in Ho-chi-minh city.

    He did disclose that the last words heard from the flight were “All right, good night.” That was the crew’s response to Malaysian air traffic controllers who had told them the plane was entering Vietnamese air space and air traffic controllers from Ho Chi Minh city would take over.
    Oh, and ya all know how evil those commies are up there in the North of Korea ... All passengers are now kidnappees and the commies will now ask for terrible things to pay them ... /snark.

    I know one shouldn't joke about something so terrible, but that's the only way for me to handle the tensions...

  •  locating debris (0+ / 0-)

    Everyone seems to be assuming there is debris to locate.
    But isn't it possible that the plane went into the ocean intact? That it didn't break up on impact, but simply slid under the water at enough of an angle to leave it whole?
    Then there would be no debris to find, right? I mean, a plane weighs a lot, it wouldn't float.

    Edna Curry
    www.ednacurry.com
    New paperbacks out.

    •  Exceedingly unlikely. (0+ / 0-)

      I'm no pilot or aviation expert, but I think the odds are astronomically high against such an outcome. The physics of the ocean and of the aircraft are not conducive, or so it seems to me.

      There have been a few, very few, semi-controlled "landings" on water, but most of those that were survivable happened near land/habitation, where rescue was close at hand. That's the kind of approach that would be necessary for a slow entry into the water. Nothing we know so far suggests that as a possibility.

      Time will tell. I hope.

      Welcome from the DK Partners & Mentors Team. If you have any questions about how to participate here, you can learn more at the Knowledge Base or from the New Diarists Resources Diaries. Diaries labeled "Open Thread" are also great places to ask. We look forward to your contributions.

      Support Small Business: Shop Kos Katalogue If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

      by peregrine kate on Thu Mar 13, 2014 at 07:58:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Planes float... (0+ / 0-)

      but not necessarily for very long; they're not watertight, and not very watertight once the hatches are opened.

      What you're suggesting is entirely possible. But it doesn't seem terribly likely -- if it was successfully ditched at sea, then the passengers probably would have had time/ability to get out. Depending on waves, &c, probably many but not all of the passengers. Darkness would make it much harder.

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