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I'm not sure which is worse: the hype and disinformation on mass media about the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, the irresponsible lack of candor, clarity, and timely information and responses from the Malaysian authorities, the flood of conspiracy theories, or the frustration and mystery of not knowing. Any number of hypotheses explaining the disappearance could potentially be true, but for now we just don't know. It is difficult for us to withhold judgment amid uncertainty.

A cockpit fire, as happened on EgyptAir flight MS667 in 2011, is one such possibility. There is no evidence of this for MH370; this diary is offered purely as information about a previous event, in case this sheds light on the current situation.

A severe cockpit fire occurred in July 2011 on the same make and model airplane (Boeing 777-200, a.k.a. B772) as MH370, while it was sitting at the gate, destroying most of the cockpit within minutes, destroying nearly all instruments, and burning a 2' hole through the fuselage. (See pictures.) The pilots were not able to extinguish the rapid, hot, oxygen-fueled fire using their cabin fire-extinguisher. Fortunately, Egypt Air MS667 was on the ground, and firefighters arrived within three minutes (although it took 90 minutes to extinguish the fire).


Investigators' 'conclusions' about the cockpit fire, some first-hand observations by the co-pilot, and some of my conjecture on MH370, are below the fold.

Egyptian investigators were (disappointingly) not able to reach any firm conclusions about the cause of the fire, after more than a year of study. Here is what a November 2012 aviation article said about it:

Egyptian investigators have failed to pinpoint the cause of the fire which destroyed an EgyptAir Boeing 777-200 at Cairo.

But the inquiry suggests a possible short-circuit or other fault resulted in electrical heating of the first officer's oxygen system hose, stored beneath the right-hand cockpit window.

This oxygen-rich environment contributed to the intensity and speed of the blaze...

Routine checks by the crew, in preparation for the 29 July 2011 flight, revealed the oxygen system pressure was normal. But while the pilots waited for the last few passengers to board, the first officer said there was a "bang" from the right side of his seat and he saw a 10cm "crack" appear in the side-wall adjacent to the oxygen mask.

The cockpit-voice recorder captured a "pop" followed by a hissing noise, similar to the escape of pressurised gas, says the inquiry.

"I unfastened the seat-belt immediately and stood up very quickly," the first officer told investigators. "At the same time the captain left his seat quickly. The smoke and fire were spreading very quickly. After that, the captain ordered me to get out of the cockpit."

The captain attempted to extinguish the fire but said: "The fire bottle was completely depleted without any influence on the fire intensity."

Investigators say ... fire-fighting personnel arrived after 3min. The fire was extinguished and aircraft cooling was completed around 90min after the blaze broke out. ...

In the wake of the EgyptAir fire the FAA has ordered the replacement of hoses on 777s with non-conductive versions to reduce the risk of combustion.

Update (from Lib Dem FoP):
The more worrying part of the report on the Egypt Air fire ... was that the investigation discovered the suspect wiring and it's brackets did not comply with the Boeing blueprints and a very large batch of 777s had been delivered with the same fault.
Update (from EdyS): see this comment by a B777 captain (pilot) who supports the theory of a cockpit fire and offers more details, and also the link he provides with further info on the EgyptAir cockpit fire:

OK, now for a little conjecture:

If such a fire occurred at 35,000', on an airplane going 524 mph (471 knots), it is plausible to assume it would be catastrophic. (For context, the strongest Category 5 hurricanes ever recorded had sustained winds of 'only' 215 mph, strong enough to destroy many buildings that are not made of steel-reinforced concrete.)

If such a quick and devastating cockpit fire occurred aboard MH370, it could be consistent with some of the known facts:
* communications being cut abruptly (pilots struggling to extinguish it, speed of fire, electronics destroyed)
* no mayday signals sent (no time before cockpit uninhabitable due to smoke and fire, and/or instruments destroyed),
* the transponder going down,
* no calls from passengers (too high for cell-phone contact, no time, panic)
* perhaps the "mumbling" when another pilot radioed (e.g. if static or 500 mph wind sounded like mumbling),
* the report from an oil-rig worker of seeing a burning object high in the sky, that burned for 10-15 seconds,
* perhaps a change of course and/or altitude (if the plane continued to fly for some time, even with the cockpit electronics destroyed due to a growing fire),
* perhaps the plane suddenly disappearing once the fire reached some critical point (e.g. perhaps igniting fuel tanks or cabin oxygen tanks, or the nose-cone/windshield being breached and a catastrophic rush of air ripping through the plane, etc.), and
* possibly (though less likely) the fire even reaching temperatures above 2000F, thereby damaging the flight data recorder ("black box").

It could just be coincidence that it occurred shortly after it crossed the Malaysia-Vietnam air-boundary. If so, this could explain some of the confusion, with the Malaysian air-traffic controllers assuming it was now safely in the hands of Vietnamese air controllers, and the Vietnamese assuming it had turned back to KL so was still in the hands of Malaysian controllers. That's just conjecture.

Again, there's no evidence for any of this, it's just one of many possibilities.

Btw, another possible accident scenario comes from an FAA warning. The FAA warned in November of cracking and corrosion on the fuselage of the B777-200, near its SATCOM antenna adapter. The FAA warned:

"We received a report of cracking and corrosion in the fuselage skin underneath the SATCOM antenna adapter. [...] During a maintenance planning data inspection, one operator reported a 16-inch crack under the 3-bay SATCOM antenna adapter plate in the crown skin of the fuselage on an aeroplane that was 14 years old with approximately 14,000 total flight cycles. Subsequent to this crack finding, the same operator inspected 42 other aeroplanes that are between 6 and 16 years old and found some local corrosion, but no other cracking. Cracking and corrosion in the fuselage skin, if not corrected, could lead to rapid decompression and loss of structural integrity of the aeroplane."
Where's the debris?

If either scenario (cockpit fire or fuselage corrosion) occurred at 35,000', resulting in fuselage breach and (near-)disintegration, how much debris would be visible, over what area? I don't know. Lessons from KAL007 (from which little debris were recovered) are murky, because it seems plausible that the USSR picked up debris from the area and did not reveal it all. It's hard to imagine that if searchers were looking in the right area, they would not find something, even if the plane had essentially disintegrated at 30,000'. Continuing to broaden the search area makes sense to me, despite the tradeoffs. (An increase from a search circle of radius 100 miles, to one of 110 miles, increases the square miles covered by about 6,600 sq m or 20%, if I'm doing the math right.)

Not knowing is frustrating. It's only a little bit better than "knowing" things that are not true.

One of the challenges of any theory involving intentional human behavior is the number of people who need to be involved and keep their mouths shut during planning, execution, and aftermath (to colleagues, family, friends, journalists, leaks, phone calls, emails, etc). It doesn't rule out such theories. But the fewer assumptions one can make, the better.

Aristotle (3rd c. BC): "We may assume the superiority, ceteris paribus, of the demonstration which derives from fewer postulates or hypotheses."
Ptolemy (2nd c. AD)): "We consider it a good principle to explain the phenomena by the simplest hypothesis possible."
Duns Scotus (13th c. AD) "Pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate", i.e., "Plurality is not to be posited without necessity."
William of Ockham (attributed): "Entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity."
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Comment Preferences

  •  The more worrying (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sharon Wraight, MsGrin, mrblifil, Bear

    The part of the report on th Egypt Air fire you did not include was that the investigation discovered the suspect wiring and it's brackets did not  comply with the Boeing blueprints and a very large batch of 777s had been delivered with the same fault.

    "Come to Sochi, visit the gay clubs and play with the bears" - NOT a Russian advertising slogan.

    by Lib Dem FoP on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 06:18:10 AM PDT

  •  your diary points up (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sharon Wraight

    just how much we do not know about aircraft construction flaws.  After this I'm not sure I'd set foot on a 777!

    "Kossacks are held to a higher standard. Like Hebrew National hot dogs." - blueaardvark

    by louisev on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 06:46:34 AM PDT

  •  My worst nightmare (6+ / 0-)

    I really don't know if there's anything I could do if this happened in flight.

    Terrifying actually.

    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 06:52:00 AM PDT

    •  Utterly terrifying, even to contemplate. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      i saw an old tree today

      In such a scenario of fire quickly destroying the cockpit, but the plane continuing for some minutes, imagine the horror of the pilots: responsible for everyone's safety, but knowing more than anyone that they were all doomed. And the horror of the passengers, terrified but clinging to hope at first, then... Ugh, I don't want to think about it.

      Makes me hope all the more for some other scenario. (Touched down on a deserted island and bumped into Amelia Earhart's plane, yeah, that's it!)

  •  Value Jet 592 on board fire and crash (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sharon Wraight, sajiocity

    I'm surprised more people are not mentioning this disaster.

    from Wiki:

    As power had been lost to the cockpit voice recorder nearly a minute prior to impact, it was impossible to determine with certainty. [...] Recovery of the aircraft and victims was made extremely difficult by the location of the crash. The nearest road of any kind was more than a quarter mile (400 m) away from the crash scene, and the location of the crash itself was a deep-water swamp with a floor made out of solid limestone. The DC-9 was utterly destroyed on impact, with no large pieces of the fuselage remaining. [...] A group of fishermen witnessed the crash and reported that "The plane was flying in a steep right bank, after which it turned so that the nose was facing downward in a nearly vertical angle. It plummeted into the swamp followed by an explosion, shock wave, and a massive geyser of water." They reported seeing no external damage to the DC-9 or any sign of fire or smoke other than the engine exhaust. A group of sightseers in a small private plane also witnessed the crash and provided a nearly identical account, stating that Flight 592 seemed to "disappear" after impacting the swamp and they could see nothing but scattered small debris and part of an engine near the crash site.
    If the plane flew after the habitants had expired and then went nose down, would radar have been able to detect the rapid loss of altitude? Or would the signal simply vanish suddenly? Anyway, I think it sounds very much like a sudden and uncontrolled fire aboard the plane, and the lack of debris suggest to me the entire structure hit the water (or the earth) at a concentrated point at top speed. An explosion at high altitude would certainly have sent large pieces falling to the ground, as in the Lockerbie disaster.
    •  Good example. I flew ValuJet soon after, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bear, mrblifil, sajiocity

      with my fingers crossed. Everyone (crew and pax) was quite sombre.

      That accident led to the decline of ValuJet and its buy-out by AirTran (which later joined SouthWest).

    •  At a distance (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mrblifil, Sharon Wraight

      that may have been close to the limits of radars in either Malaysia or Vietnam, I'd consider it at least possible that not much of a descent would have been seen.  (Due to horizon effects.  Line of sight to a plane flying at 35000 feet is much longer than line of sight to the same plane once it has descended a few thousand feet.)  I was thinking something like that would be the most likely explanation early on, Vietnamese (I think) radar having been reported to note a descent, and all.  Not to mention the lack of communications and loss of transponder; it all suggests something rapid and catastrophic.

      And with the latest press conference seeming to clarify that the whole Malacca Straits search may be based on no more than a brief signal northwest of Penang -- as opposed to a record of a complete peninsula overflight as many including myself had been assuming -- I'm right back to rapid and catastrophic again.

      But then where's the plane?  It shouldn't be that far from its last point of contact in such a scenario, and that area's been searched with no luck -- out to a hundred miles I believe, which would seem to be enough.  Who knows.

      Forgive me, I'm home with a sick kid the last couple of days and have somehow gotten way too much into reading about this.

  •  Apparently that AD did not apply to this aircraft (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sharon Wraight, NancyK

    source: link, folks. they're doing a fairly decent job keeping the CT down and the group focused, on the other hand, they are pilots and aviation industry folks and other enthusiasts and know what they're talking about.

    I went back and looked; when the Indonesians lost an Adam Air flight for 9 days there was quite a bit of criticism too, but they seem to have handled the situation a little bit better.

    at any rate, if EgyptAir 667 is the clue, it might fit with a possible eyewitness report off of Vietnam, and might explain why after saying they were suspending their search operations, the Vietnamese are picking them back up.

    (also that the Russians gave the FDR and CDRs back from KAL007 tells me they picked up a lot more than just fragments, and shoes. but I think the only people who ever pressed the issue was Jessie Helms in the 90s and Seymour Hersh in the 80s.)

    Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility. uid 52583 lol

    by terrypinder on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 07:11:55 AM PDT

    •  good link, thanks! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      terrypinder, Bear

      It includes a pic of the email sent by the New Zealand guy on an oil rig, who reported seeing a burning object high in the sky, which burned for 10-15 seconds, then the fire went out while still at high altitude,

      •  treat as suspect for now (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sharon Wraight

        but the area it was reported was near Vung Tau where a series of reports of debris fields were filed early on (and I think discounted.)

        one thing i've observed, reading the forum for the last 3 days, is that it's an international forum. And the most glaring thing that sticks out at me (and this is an admittedly small sample in the grand scheme of things) is how easily and how prone the American posters will jump on a conspiracy theory. The Asian and European posters? not so much. The Brits too, but quite a few of the Brits seem to have have dialed it back there.

        Just an interesting anecdote and observation about cultural differences that might not really mean anything.

        Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility. uid 52583 lol

        by terrypinder on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 07:36:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  depressing about the American's CT tendency (2+ / 0-)

          I haven't looked, but if true that's not a good sign. Conspiracy Theories (CT) are often a sign of:
          * an untrustworthy press (censored, unreliable)
          * low education levels
          * people who have undergone personal traumas

          One of the most harmful things that happened during 2001-2004 was the undermining of faith in our government and our press (with good reasons, alas!). Bush's lies about WMDs, the 'free' press regurgitating them and drumming for war, etc.

          Agreed about treating it as suspect until proven otherwise!!! For sure. Just something to consider, not even a piece of the puzzle, yet.

          •  i'd put a positive spin on it: (2+ / 0-)

            it shows we Americans still have great imaginations, even though it doesn't seem evident with Hollywood's constant remakes. heh.

            my honest thinking is it is somewhere in the south china sea and debris will start to wash up somewhere in the next few days. there won't be any answers for years though. i really feel for the families; they're getting jerked around by the Malaysians inability to manage a crisis.

            Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility. uid 52583 lol

            by terrypinder on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 07:51:05 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  one of the news networks has confirmed that (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Sharon Wraight

            the email is real. just swirled down my twitter timeline. I believe it was ABC's Bob Woodruff.

            make of that what you will. Despite its very observant detail it's still suspect for me.

            Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility. uid 52583 lol

            by terrypinder on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 12:56:45 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Russians picking up fragments and shoes? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sharon Wraight

      Sounds like a CT to me man.

      In case it isn't clear, I loathe conservatives.

      by alysheba on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 09:17:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  does it? (2+ / 0-)

        The Soviets turned over 213 shoes, which coupled with what washed up in Japan, were identified by a number of the families. that is not CT, that is fact.

        That said, I'll let have the dig about the fragments as "CT", even though we know KAL007 flew for another 12 minutes after it was struck, descending slowly in Soviet airspace toward the ocean's surface near Moneron Island (confirmed by the radars of Japan and the USSR. All of this is in the 1993 ICAO report. Which I've read.) The shoes are evidence that everyone on board was preparing for a water landing that likely was not successful.

        What would be CT is if I decided to post what the actual CT about this is--that most everyone survived the ditching, were rounded up by Russian Search and Rescue, and then distributed throughout Russia's system of gulags, and for the children, orphanages. That's a real CT, actively held by people right now (and apparently, Senator Helms) and it's not what I believe happened to all those poor people at all, and this is the last I'm going to say on this. I am really sorry that guy insulted you in your diary yesterday. I ABSOLUTELY did not, unless you consider pushing back at your theory an insult. And if you do, I most certainly do not apologize for that.

        Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility. uid 52583 lol

        by terrypinder on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 10:11:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  A couple of things . .. . (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sharon Wraight

    1) Just how competent are "Egyptian investigators"?

    I realize that national pride is at stake and all, but really, why didn't they call in international experts to investigate?

    2) Not sure about your hurricane comparison - insofar as the air is much thinner up at 30,000 plus feet, making any "wind" up there of less force than winds of comparable speed found in a sea level hurricane.  I quite frankly don't know the math behind the necessary adjustments but surely some must be made.

  •  A cockpit fire doesn't really fit (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sharon Wraight, ybruti, NancyK

    a rapid descent and then flying on .
    A loss on cabin pressure does .
    If the thing popped open they would go into a rapid descent to get back down to get air to the people in back . Then once down at a lower level they would fly low and look for a landing spot . There is no knowing now what controls they lost at first and along the way .

    If it popped open , things could stop working if some of the wiring and communication gear were lost overboard .

    I'm thinking of Aloha Airlines Flight 243

    I'm thinking that when the black boxes are found , the aircrew will be shown to have been doing their very best with a very damaged aircraft .

    "please love deeply...openly and genuinely." A. M. H.

    by indycam on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 08:17:02 AM PDT

    •  Thanks! I appreciate the reality-check. (0+ / 0-)
      A cockpit fire doesn't really fit a rapid descent and then flying on.
      I wasn't sure about that, either. The descent could have been as pilots struggled to fight the fire and descend at the same time? What I'm really not sure about (I am not a pilot!) is how that plane would react/fly as its instruments were destroyed by fire. Could it fly stably for a few minutes?

      Once it lost stable flight and the cockpit was destroyed, would it be likely to go into a dive, spiral, or stall, or could it come apart fairly quickly (e.g. if flaps had no control)?

      If the fuselage ruptured near the SATCOM antenna adapter (as briefly described in the diary about the FAA's warning), would this disable the transponder and communications abilities? I've no idea!

      Btw, there are now reports of a claim by the "Chinese Martyrs’ Brigade," but some officials are already dismissing this as a hoax, as they offer no new information. Dunno.

      •  The report of it coming out of the (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sharon Wraight

        rapid descent and then flying along I think shows to me that someone was in the cockpit with their hands on some controls . I doubt that the plane got out of control , went into an uncontrolled rapid descent and then recovered by itself without someones help . But it could be that someone was at the controls forcing it into and holding it in a rapid descent and then for some reason , death etc , let lose the controls and the plane recovered flat and level on its own and then flew on until impact .

        "please love deeply...openly and genuinely." A. M. H.

        by indycam on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 09:38:06 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  but communications? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sharon Wraight, terrypinder

      Everythign I read over at suggest that communications are almost the highest priority on an aircraft, next to basic instrumentation meant to keep the plane in the air.  That Aloha Airlines plane did have a lot of trouble landing after the incident, and so such a scenario could explain a rapid descent out of radar range, hypothetically the transponder failure, as well as stability issues leading to a later crash somewhere else.  It doesn't entirely explain the lack of communication.  I know that it can be very difficult to get a correct frequency through at long range; if this is the right scenario maybe they just didn't have the mental space to spare.

      •  Aviation , navigation , comunication . (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sharon Wraight, terrypinder
        communications are almost the highest priority on an aircraft
        Its 3rd on the list if you are talking about communicating with the world outside of the aircraft .
        That Aloha Airlines plane did have a lot of trouble landing after the incident,
        What trouble did they have landing ? I was there on Oahu . The reports I recall was that the pilots and the aircraft worked fine even if the plane had the roof ripped off .
        It doesn't entirely explain the lack of communication.
        Do you recall the engine failure that took out all the communications/controls from the cockpit to the tail ?
        If the aircraft popped open and took out the aerials / wires to the aerials / power to the communication equipment / etc etc etc .

        I've read stories of airplanes that have had their whole dash go black .

        "please love deeply...openly and genuinely." A. M. H.

        by indycam on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 10:50:03 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Aloha (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          terrypinder, Sharon Wraight

          Here you go.  Lots of damage to control surfaces resulting in some problems especially at low speed, one engine wound up going out.  

          •  We read the same thing (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            terrypinder, Sharon Wraight

            and come to two different understandings .

            Any landing that you can walk away from is a good one!
            They had directional control , they had thrust from a working engine , they had landing gear that worked , they landed on a runway .
            At the time it was amazing that the aircraft worked so well after the roof ripped off . If you had asked beforehand what that sort of damage would result in , very few if anyone would have said , no big deal they will just fly back and land at the airport . If someone had said beforehand just that , people would have been amused .

            "please love deeply...openly and genuinely." A. M. H.

            by indycam on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 12:19:04 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Yes it does (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sharon Wraight

      From Forbes Magazine comment section (ver long but VERY worth it)

      Nautiflyer 2 days ago
      A plausible explanation…

      Like many people, I’ve been following the events surrounding the loss of the Malaysian B777 with great interest.
      I rarely offer any theories, conjecture, or ideas relating to aircraft accidents, mainly because there are simply too many things to consider, and often, too many unknowns. Most often I find it in very poor taste to come up with some short sighted offing before we know anything about what really happened. I very much hate to jump to conclusions.

      The media the past few days has been inundated with “experts”, pundits, and just goofy conspiracy theorist coming up with all kinds of ideas all over the map. In the end, they all say they have absolutely no clue as to what could have gone wrong.
      As much as I hate to speculate… I feel as a professional pilot, and Captain on the B777, I can offer a very plausible explanation based on my experience in the B777 aircraft, and in the aviation industry, to help quell unsubstantiated rumors, and just outright falsehoods being disseminated in the media.

      Seems we need to have a boogeyman to fear… so the terrorism angle gets a lot of play. VERY often on our flights we get passengers with false or incorrect documents… and they are off-loaded before we leave the gate. Occasionally somebody gets by, and they are stopped at immigration at the landing airport, and are summarily sent back to where they came from. It happens.
      In the Southeast Asia area, there is an enormous amount of drug trafficking, (a good portion going to China from Thailand) and the current 2 suspects seem to me to fit the bill as nothing more than “mules” running drugs and taking advantage of the 72 hour free visa option when entering China with follow on tickets to other destinations. (In this case the passengers had tickets to Amsterdam and follow-on to Copenhagen and Frankfurt). By utilizing this visa option, they are able to slip into China and “get lost”… and never utilize their “follow-on flights… it’s just a matter of getting the pay… and making their way back to Thailand (or where ever). Make sense? It happens everyday…

      As for the aircraft. The B777 is a great airplane, but occasionally things go wrong! I would direct you to an event that occurred in July of 2011 in Cairo, Egypt. Again, a B777-200 while boarding the final passengers, an electrical short resulted in the heating of an oxygen hose and burst into an uncontrolled fire in the cockpit. The cockpit was destroyed in a matter of minutes, though thankfully the plane being on the ground… the passengers were evacuated… and only minimal injuries where incurred.

      The following link will direct you to an article on the event, with pictures and explanations…

      A sobering comment can be found at the bottom of the page as a “latest comment”.

      Much has been speculated as to why no radio call was made…. with the noisy environment inside the cockpit, it’s doubtful anyone would hear an initial “pop” as they did in the Egypt Air ground incident…. so it could be assumed that there was a great possibility an intense and uncontrolled fire could have started and consumed the cockpit in a matter of seconds.

      All the communication interfaces we have on the B777 are located within arms reach of us… and in an intense fire, would be completely disabled within a matter of minutes…if not seconds. (refer to the pictures in the article) Transponders (the box that sends ATC our position) would be rendered useless, thus… NO ATC could see the aircraft as it diverted or fell from altitude. ACARS (our “text message” system that we communicate to the ground with… and sends vital aircraft information to the company), would be useless and thus no messages about the aircraft system status’s would be available to transmit. And lastly, trying to make a radio call when all of a sudden the cockpit burst into flames???? Remember, it was 3 AM in the morning… probably quiet from a work standpoint… and most of the time we just fight to stay awake on these late night flights! Imagine how startled you’d be if something like this occurred? Another scenario would be that perhaps there was only one pilot in the cockpit at the time, and the other had gone to the restroom, etc.
      The First Officer on the Malaysian flight was a VERY inexperienced cadet pilot….. yes, I fly with them all the time to here at XXXX, and it’s a “less than desirable” situation. But it happens all the time, and in this case, the FO only had 2700 hours…. if he was in the cockpit and something catastrophic happened… who knows the outcome?? (Just a thought)

      IF… and IF… a scenario like this was to play out, it would offer a very plausible explanation as to what could have occurred, and also explain why no radio calls where made… or ACARS messages sent, or ATC radar contact, etc. It would also explain that if both pilots were subdued, or forced to evacuate the cockpit, the aircraft could have flown for any number of minutes or hours for that matter (based on the fuel available) in ANY DIFFERENT DIRECTION, until fuel starvation, or autopilot failure.

      ATC in this part of the world does NOT have the capability to monitor “raw (radar) targets” with any reliability…(nor does ATC in the US for that matter) and furthermore, an aircraft, basically invisible to radar heading out into the wild blue sea would be very difficult, if ever to be found. It all depends on when the autopilot would fail.

      I’m not saying this is what happened to the ill fated Malaysian aircraft, but it is a very plausible explanation, and I’m appalled that the so-called experts are scratching their collective heads and haven’t offered this as a possible explanation.
      There are other possibilities…. but because of a limited history of this type problem in the past with the 777 (and other Boeing aircraft)… there is always the possibility that it could occur again… and perhaps in this case… while inflight.

      The rush to jump on the terrorism band wagon I believe is ill-advised… and though it should be explored, is probably a wild goose chase based on the ever ongoing drug trade that utilizes these routes all to often…..

      There are very few things in the B777 that can get you in a big heap of trouble in a hurry… the explanation and example given above is just one of very few.

      I hope this adds to your insight of potential explanations…

      Now… back to watching the “experts” scratch their heads….

      Capt. Tom

      •  Tks! Very useful view, consistent w cockpit fire (0+ / 0-)

        I especially like his point:

        I’m appalled that the so-called experts are scratching their collective heads and haven’t offered this as a possible explanation.
        I agree! That's one of the reasons I wrote this diary: disgust with the media hyping up the "mystery" aspect of this case, and dismissal of the conspiracy theories on DailyKos comments, when there are a number of perfectly plausible explanations (of which a cockpit fire seemed the most likely, to me, and required the least number of assumptions).
        •  But it fails totally to address (0+ / 0-)

          rapid descent and recovery into controlled flight .
          My point stands , a cockpit fire does not call for a rapid descent .  A loss of cabin pressure does .
          When the black boxes are found , I hope they will tell the tale .

          "please love deeply...openly and genuinely." A. M. H.

          by indycam on Thu Mar 13, 2014 at 11:29:34 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Sorry , you failed to respond to what I said . (0+ / 0-)

        Would you like to try again ?

        A cockpit fire doesn't really fit
        a rapid descent and then flying on .

        "please love deeply...openly and genuinely." A. M. H.

        by indycam on Thu Mar 13, 2014 at 11:08:00 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Co-pilot? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sharon Wraight

    Since reading about the oil rig worker who saw what looked like a flaming plane go down the night the plane disappeared,  I've been thinking that a sudden fire in the cockpit must be the answer. Other than someone intentionally turning it off, a fire in the cockpit is the only thing that could instantly nuke the transmitter. And now there are satalitte images from the Chinese military that have spotted potential wreckage exactly where that oil rig worker was Looking. If a fire it is, sadly I think that means there won't be much info. in that black box.
    Any thoughts about the reports of the chain smoking co-pilot who entertained two lady guests in the cockpit during a recent flight? Not sure that flight was with this pilot, but if it was, they were both chain smokers. Chain smoking in the cockpit of this airplane sounds like a particularly dicey move.

    •  Chinese satellite images, and oil-rig location, (0+ / 0-)

      are shown here:  (Ctrl-F "oil rig")

      My off-the-cuff thoughts on the South African "ladies": I don't see it as a likely cause of the plane crashing. It's really hard to start a fire with a cigarette (try it camping sometime). It was a long time ago, and we have no info that they are still smoking in the cockpit. It was probably a breach of protocol. Really tacky of the "ladies," who shoulder as much if not more blame than the pilots for that breach (as a passenger on the flight, I would resent their distracting the pilots). On the other hand, it is typically offensive of the Malaysian authorities to dismiss this as "gutter journalism" and to allege that the pictures and video "have not been authenticated." (If the Malaysian authorities have that cautious an attitude about evidence presented, no wonder it has taken them so long to find the plane.)

  •  Cockpit Fire similar to Egyptair Flt B772 (0+ / 0-)

    I've been posting on Reddit that a cockpit fire similar to flight B772 Egyptair is the most likely cause of the Malasia plane missing since Monday.  

    Glad you wrote this article so that some more people are exposed to what I believe is the cause.  It would explain everything...the inability of the crew to control the plane...the turning off of electrical equipment like the transponders.  The oil rig worker seeing a plane on fire, etc.  

    It would make sense that the plane could also fly for hours on autopilot with the crew unable to contact the ground as well as control the craft if everything was melted and destroyed by the blaze.   Happened on a Boeing 777 too.  

    I hope Boeing/US doesn't cover this up and try and blame something else if this is the real cause.

  •  missing Malaysian plane (0+ / 0-)

    I read a pilot's rendition of handling an emergency in-flight, on-board fire. He reported taking the burning plane to an oxygen-free space to extinguish the fire. News reports say the missing Malaysian plane went to 45000 feet at the time of communication failure near Igari waypoint. That altitude would be oxygen-free and might explain Michael McKay's observation that the flames went out in 12-15 seconds after he first sighted the burning plane, which stayed at high altitude, from his oil rig. With damaged communication systems, and in the dark, possibly the pilot tried to return to the airport. Or fly to the Malaysian military base at Butterworth on the northwest coast where he could expect to scramble jets and to receive guidance on landing the crippled plane. However, news reports say the four watchmen on duty did not report the radar blip of the intruding plane even though the flight path did not match a flight plan on file. In the morning, knowing MH370 did not land in Beijing, Malaysian officers looked at their radar data. Identification of the plane, that was headed right for Butterworth, as being MH370 was stated publicly five days after the flyover.

    •  missing Malaysian plane (0+ / 0-)

      At the Igari waypoint, after the plane was at 45000 feet, the pilot descended to around 23000 feet probably to regain cabin pressurization.

      •  ...unfortunately... (0+ / 0-)

        ...the pilot also could have done that to knock out or kill the passengers. Once the cabin loses pressure, those oxygen masks give you at most 1 hour of air. After that you'd pass out and then go bye-bye.

        There is no way to know yet what happened...

        Ignorance is bliss only for the ignorant. The rest of us must suffer the consequences. -7.38; -3.44

        by paradise50 on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 11:52:55 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  ...thanks for the insights... (0+ / 0-)
        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.

        Ignorance is bliss only for the ignorant. The rest of us must suffer the consequences. -7.38; -3.44

        by paradise50 on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 11:54:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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