Missing plane "deliberately flew way off course"

Yeah, the crew. I think the captain did a Sullenberger. Close to retirement, and he saw an opportunity to do something which from his perspective looked amazing, so he took it.

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So the US spoke up (Inmarsat) to shut up the Malaysian officials who said the plane didn’t transit the country.

And the US (remember, Boeing built the plane) has administered the first face-disgracing message I’ve seen:

Bob Francis, a former National Transportation Safety Board official, is one of several experts who have questioned how Malaysian authorities have handled the situation.

“The Malaysians are not doing a superb job of running this investigation,” he said. “And they apparently give you some information, and then they withhold information. How much are they relying on and listening to the Europeans and the NTSB who are there with more expertise? I don’t know, but I think you know we’ve got a mixture of a very strange situation that happens to be in an environment, a regulatory environment, that really isn’t capable or isn’t running an investigation the way it should be run.”

So there we have it. Everyone with any sense or capability thinks the plane was jinking along those corridors - waypoint to waypoint.

Fun fact: at any given moment in time there are upwards of a million people in the air.


This truck rental guy I knew used to dread the possibility that all his vehicles would come back at the same time…

By the way, the waypoint thing - anybody could pick up how to do that without going near an aircraft. I rather suspect hijack now.

Strange, the other BoingBoing post on this topic disappeared. The comment thread is still there, but the not-so-permanent permalink 404s.

BBC just had a broadcast on MH370, finishing up with a statement that people suspect Malaysia knows a lot more than it’s letting on.

That would fit the whole scenario.

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i think this is another plot for a terrorist attack on the u.s i think the plane was hi- jacked and is going to be used to attack again

That works if they plane is intact, and has the passengers. You’d play chicken with air defence: Let us fly on, or all these (Chinese etc) people die.

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and with everything being said it sounds like they are hideing alot of what they know because they dont want a panic on there hands

The ultimate theme of this evolving story is:

Jane Sixpack doesn’t have any more transparency or vouchesafe of security in air transit than she had 13 years ago.

Despite paying uncountable costs in taxation and civil liberties.


malaysia had its part in this

Military radar data suggests a Malaysia Airlines jetliner missing for nearly a week was deliberately flown hundreds of miles off course, heightening suspicions of foul play among investigators, sources told Reuters on Friday.

Did Reuters fire all of their copy editors?

Edit: Dean Yates, I’m calling you out.

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Investigators conclude missing jet was hijacked, Malaysian official says.

Investigators have concluded that one or more people with significant flying experience hijacked the missing Malaysia Airlines jet, switched off communication devices and steered it off course, a Malaysian government official involved in the investigation said Saturday.

Rather lost faith in that lot. They have every interest in glibly talking up the knife-edge expertise of the hijackers, so that everyone forgets how foolish they’ve been (lax security at the airport, missing a plane flying right over their turf, mis-directing expensive military and civil assets in the search, etc).

Short of psychological distress, I find it highly unlikely an experienced pilot would assist in a hijack. But like anything, not impossible. You’d be identified pretty quickly - modern Boeing experience, black sheep of the bunch etc.

A few things stand out - e.g. from the LA Times link - the transponder stopped 12 minutes before the messaging system - an experienced pilot familiar with a 777 who wished to cloak the aircraft would have shut both down simultaneously. Sounds like a hijacker caused the transponder to switch off, then after 10 minutes noticed the messaging system.

The jinking waypoint to waypoint path - a Cessna 172 has adequately sophisticated autopilot that you can turn the autopilot on, and simply input waypoints, and it will fly them until it runs out of fuel. Passenger jets have very similar gear - more advanced, but the key is simplicity in operation, so they’re not really that different. If that jinking really is the path it took, then anyone could have done it. Really - anyone with a brain.

For example, anybody who can follow verbal instructions could fly a 777 into a perfect and safe landing at London Heathrow from cruise altitude. The key to aviation is simplicity - that’s safety - because when everything goes chaotic, the important things need to happen in the simplest way, or you die.

“Flying to avoid radar” - well, it’s not so hard to identify the positioning of these installations, particularly if you’re bent on a hijacking and can assign a researcher to it. Malaysia is not mountainous so little risk of banging into the ground. So the waypoint path could be pre-prepared prior to hijack, and simply followed. It would be a path to control the craft using the AP that somewhat minimised exposure to radar - although if you consider it - an experienced pilot would follow a more sophisticated route by using the autopilot to control heading alone - it would look more curvy.

So it smells to me like a person / team familiarised themselves with operation, but didn’t have sophisticated knowledge or experience. An experienced pilot would also likely point the jet in a straight line to get to destination - they’d be loathe to use up fuel jinking, particularly if there was a pre-determined destination (like the Andaman Islands) - landing a 777 needs a big strip, there aren’t many around (you could use a highway though …), and you’re likely to be challenged if you enter the wrong airspace, so need the maximum flight time you can manage.

There is an element of sophistication - showing that research was done. The hijack likely occurred either just after or just before the handover from Malaysia air traffic control to Vietnam - and the “good night” to Malaysia isn’t very airliney - which is the perfect moment for confusion to arise. So you’re watching the position of the craft on the inflight TV, and you know just about when to hijack.

So it may well boil down to a catalogue of atrocious amateurism in Malaysia’s handling from A-Z of the incident, deliberate obfuscation to cover up what seem to be not just errors but inaction, and the lost early opportunity to assist 250+ people on that aircraft.

Malaysians are sophisticated people, many highly educated, many highly experienced in business and academia etc, but is riven with divisive politics and Machiavellian battles for domination and wealth. There’s this kind of “will they, won’t they” moment where they could become a properly sorted out country - but this kind of incident is going to do their image a lot of damage that the general people don’t deserve.

The whole incident is a crying shame.


Possibilities, in order of likeliness to have happened:

  1. The plane was hijacked and landed somewhere. If this is the case, we better find it - and quickly - before we have another 9/11.

  2. The plane is in pieces, at the bottom of the ocean. We’ll never find it. That’s right, I said “never”. Remember how long they were looking for the Titanic? That ship is HUGE.

Yep - but on (1) what would the target be? Delhi? To be frank, the US / Western Europe / Russia / China wouldn’t allow the jet to fly unimpeded in their airspace.

PM of Malaysia steps up, pretty much warts 'n all statement, looks like he’s centralising control of the story and canning the chit chat going around. All the data is out now, so the political response is now a by-product rather than an influential factor in the investigation.

I’d look for an island with a dormant volcano. Because it sounds more and more like a Bond-movie villain is involved in this somehow.

It’s a scenario that has to be considered, but before even getting to mulling targets, the scenario requires that the plane was landed where it could be refuelled and probably modified (electronics/communications, markings, perhaps explosives if a full load of fuel is insufficient combustible matter for “their” nefarious aims)… All without detection. Sounds like a pretty tall order to me.

On the other hand, if all you want to do is crash a plane into something, wouldn’t you just commandeer one within range of your target? This case proves it’s still possible to commandeer a plane in this day and age (and I very much doubt Malaysia is the only place it could happen), and to fly it undetected for hours, possibly even violating several countries’ airspace in the process. Why add so many layers of complexity by landing, modding, and then going for a target? Because you want the passengers alive for some reason? Sounds unlikely.

As for Delhi, I doubt India is all that much easier a target than all the other countries you mentioned. It is after all involved in a nasty, long-running cold war/nuclear standoff with Pakistan…