Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Time to Explore Failure of Malaysian Radar to Note Missing Jet


Writing from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia -- Lost in the conversation about what could have caused Malaysia Flight 370 to go missing on March 8th during a routine flight to Beijing, is any discussion over the calamity that could have occurred, a mid air collision over one of Malaysia's populous urban centers. 

When the transponder stopped working on the Boeing 777 jetliner, it was flying in the dark of night and headed Lord knows where. 

In the same air space at the time were at least two Malaysia Airlines wide body jets and several other airliners. A medical charter jet, piloted by Richard Fulton out of Singapore was also flying in the vicinity. I'll assume Fulton and all the other pilots fully expected all the other planes to be where they belonged. They have a right to think that. 

Air traffic control has one very important job; keep airliners separated. It can't do that when it doesn't know where everyone is. Yet from 1:21 am, for reasons unknown, Flight 370 was nordo, providing only skin paint returns to radar transmitters. That it did not collide with any one of the other planes in the sky that night is a miracle. 

A this point, it appears that the plane ended up in the South Indian Ocean with the probable loss of all 239 people on board. But consider this, had it flown into another plane on this busy route, the casualties could have doubled and that's not taking into account the possible loss of life of those on the ground. 

Perhaps Malaysia's civilian radar facilities are incapable of providing good returns from primary targets. If that's the case, that's a problem. On the other hand, The New York Times recently reported radar in the region was too robust for the plane to have gone unnoticed by some countries, China and India among them.

 Whether Malaysia military radar picked up the plane and disregarded the blip as unimportant, or failed to see it at all, is still not clear, even after more than two weeks of press conferences dominated by questions of whether the Malaysians are going to apologize to the Chinese families who lost loved ones on the flight. 

That is the sort of inane questioning that takes up limited valuable time reporters are given to get the facts from officials.  And that kind of question results in equally inane answers from Minister of Transport and Defense Hishammuddin Hussein. Today for example, he decided to get offensive, saying the Chinese need to understand that the Malaysians lost loved ones on the flight too, as did the Australians. They've been "very rational" he said. 

Forgive my digression. Like Alice in Wonderland, I've wandered into a strange place.  

My point is that the transponder on Flight 370 stopped operating at 1:21 am. From that point until 2:11 (or 2:15 am both times have been given) this plane was either not detected by civilian and military radar  or it was detected and no one did anything about trying to identify it or warn planes in the vicinity that it was there. Either way, its creepy, raising all sorts of concerns about the integrity of the airspace through which the world's airliners pass to and from Asia. 

Hishammuddin Hussein at one of the daily briefings
Air travelers should be horrified, airlines should be cautious. Minister Hishammuddin ought to be mortified. Instead of picking fights over whether grieving Australians and Malaysians are comporting themselves better than grieving Chinese, some energy ought to be spent making sure the folks assigned to knowing where airplanes are flying are doing their jobs. 

Every day, Hishammuddin spends a portion of his time telling reporters that he is thankful for the efforts of all the countries who are spending millions by sending their ships, planes and personnel to search for the missing airliner. He ought to be. Had his own agencies; defense and transport been doing their jobs, the plane might not have gotten lost in the first place. And he ought to be thanking his lucky stars that the catastrophe wasn't worse.

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

one of the reasons for the secretiveness may have been precisely this. Nobody wants to advertise the fact their radar doesn't catch everything. It could be v useful to enemy countries and criminals. Any rational person, however, who did not work for an authoritarian state like Malaysia, would make an exception in this case. Ass-covering, whatever the cost, is the norm in repressive state bureaucracies.

Anonymous said...



Look at the reality of defense rather than the glossy ads.

The reality is the radar posts are manned by a handful (think 4) recruits that may be 18-20 years old at best, officered by a Lieutenant. (Background on them is speculation.)

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/16/world/asia/series-of-errors-by-malaysia-mounts-complicating-the-task-of-finding-flight-370.html?_r=0

It is 2am, in the dead of night, at a post that generally nothing happens.

An unidentified blip appears, do they call it in higher up?

That would have, in theory, triggered fighters scrambling (if they have any plane and pilots ready).

If not, it is a moot point.

Many air forces do not keep planes on "hot standby" including the US who did not do so until post 9/11.

The pair of planes sent up finally to intercept UA 93 had no cannon ammunition, no missiles, and was planning to ram the plane to bring it down -- killing the USAF pilot(s) in the process.


In any case, if the case of the issue is hypoxia and a dead crew, it would not have mattered even if MH 370 was intercepted.

Jim Blaszczak said...

Christine

Thanks for highlighting the ATC component of this story. The intended route of MH370 was through a very heavily traveled area of southeast asian airspace. As a previous comment mentioned, either the primary return was not seen or not responded to. Same for the ADS connection. Either is equally possible and problematic.

Remember Northwest 188, the flight that overflew MSP. The part of the story that was not widely discussed was that the flight was unresponsive to air traffic control for over 90 minutes. No action was taken by ATC until the crew noticed they had overflown their destination and re-established radio contact. Only then did ATC take measures to verify that the Northwest pilots were in command of the aircraft.

Although they will never really be asked, the Malaysian civilian and military chains of command would have a lot of trouble answering those three dreaded questions; What did you know? When did you know it? and What did you do about it?

IJR said...

Strong second to Jim B's comment. The court of time will demand answers to those, and other, questions around which the Malays have tap-danced for a month; e.g., what's on the cargo manifest. Attempted CYA is one of the main reasons that litigation is initiated. Best to be open from the get-go, and avoid speculation.
MAL may have a hard time attracting pax after their behavior.

Suzanne Hoffman said...

Christine, thanks for the great posts from KL. I've shared them with aviation buffs who are tired of hearing about supernatural events and the like. You've raised excellent points that need to be addressed as urgently as finding the plane.

Anonymous said...



One of the most difficult pieces of facts to explain away is why the plane flew on for so many hours after the initial diversion if the cause is intentional action like pilot suicide, commandeering of the plane by a hijacker, etc.

A pilot or crew intending on suicide would have done it much sooner without waiting 6-7 hours.

Hijacker that wants the plane to disappear and not be found? Speculative.

Yet the Malaysians seem totally focused on "someone deliberately did this" at the expense of investigating other theories.

Anonymous said...


MH 370 exposed many issues in aviation safety.

Why not require all flights operating in international airspace to broadcast ACARs like data (or a subset) that gives details sufficient to track and find the aircraft in real time.

Why do black boxes only have 30 day pinger batteries when advances in battery chemistry can readily extend that to 60 or 90 days?

Cockpit voice recorders that only record 2 hours? Come on, that spec was done a long time ago when flash memory chips were far more expensive.

It would be no problem at all to capture data for the longest possible flight plus 2 hours (to account for cell wear).

Even better, how about cockpit videos?

And.. an emergency data eject feature where upon automated detection of a potential emergency, data from both black box and CVRs are automatically transmitted by satellite --- so we don't have to wait for the recovery to know what happened.

Let's update these avionics to the late 20th Century.

IJR said...

Not to belabor the point, Mr. Anonymous; YOU might have committed suicide much sooner, but you cannot impose your proclivity on others. Maybe there was a desire that the wreckage not be found in depths that would likely crush it.
Maybe not.

Oussama Salah said...

In a perfect word, ATC/ATM should have reported the aircraft missing after it disappeared from their radar and failed to contact the aircraft. If that was done, maybe the outcome would have been different or at least the search made easier. With all the technology available I find it hard that no satellite imagery could provide a hint of where the aircraft was heading. If we can locate debris I am sure a B777 can be located. Conspiracy or otherwise, this raises a major safety and probably security issues and the role ATC plays.

Anonymous said...

@Oussama

Not so simple. ATC did notice MH 370 missing, and asked nearby planes to try to contact them. One of them did get through and got a buzz sound back.

The matter was then dropped until much later when the plane did not show up in Vietnamese controlled airspace.

Satellite imagery do not show where planes are heading, they are in LEO, fly overhead only for a brief moment, and unless their sensors are just pointed at where the aircraft is at that moment, may not see anything.

At this point, even if debris is found and verified, it is not going to be easy to find the wreck as the plane and debris field is likely over 1,000 miles apart or more.

That is a lot of ocean to search.

AF 447 was found because they knew within a 40 mile radius of where it is --- not like in this case where the radius is likely over 1,500 miles now, possibly larger depending on how long and where the drifting wreckage is found and verified.

AF 447 then had to meticulously do a grid search, and when sonar ping something, send down a sub with a camera to inspect it to see if it is.

Considering the expense of doing this, be prepared for the worse case --- the wreck may never be found.

Anonymous said...



" Maybe there was a desire that the wreckage not be found in depths that would likely crush it. "

Before the airframe sink too deep, most air pockets will be filled with water.

There are very few airtight spaces in a modern aircraft once the hull is breached. That is before considerations that the plane probably broke up on landing.

Try harder to come up with excuses, to suggest that an experienced aircrew will need to ditch in deep ocean to crush the hull is one step away from blaming it on UFOs.

Anonymous said...


OK, no maintenance records released.

We don't know if the Egyptair fire is in any way related to this incident, but we know that the investigation did not identify a definite cause, so the AD issued to fix that is speculative based on best guess.

Need to ask:

what if the AD addressed the issue properly?

Did it apply to MH 370?

If so, then was MH 370 fixed?

Properly fixed?

If the AD did not apply, is there another like fault lurking in there?

Was any maintenance on the O2 system done in that area?

MAS can hold back the records, but once the lawsuits start flying, they have no choice but to release it.

FOFOA said...

Christine,

I very much appreciate your perspective on this compelling mystery. I also appreciate your comments, Anonymous. Thank you, and please keep it up!

Anonymous wrote: "A pilot or crew intending on suicide would have done it much sooner without waiting 6-7 hours."

IJR replied: "YOU might have committed suicide much sooner, but you cannot impose your proclivity on others."

Since this is starting to look like a mystery that may never be solved definitively, I think it is important to properly weigh the probabilities of various scenarios against each other. This means not only properly weighting simplicity over complexity (Occam's razor), but also giving proper consideration to precedent.

Pilot suicide and a plane flying 7.5+ hrs. until it runs out of fuel in the middle of the ocean are plausibly consistent with each other, but it would be unprecedented. If we consider precedents, then pilot suicides have always been deliberate crashes, and the average time into the flight, given a sample of five, was 56 minutes. Here are the precedents for pilot suicide that I could find on Wikipedia:

Egyptair 990 in 1999 – deliberately crashed by pilot 28 min. into flight
SilkAir 185 in 1997 – deliberately crashed by pilot (also) 28 min. into the flight
Royal Air Maroc 630 in 1994 – deliberately crashed by pilot 10 min. into the flight
LAM Mozambique 470 in 2013 – deliberately crashed by pilot 2 hrs. 4 min. into what should have been a 3 hr. 44 min. flight
JAL 350 in 1982 – deliberately crashed by pilot on final approach 980 ft. short of the runway – approx.. 90 min. flight – pilot survived, declared insane

Likewise, we have at least five precedents since 1980 for an aircraft flying in basically a straight line until it runs out of fuel and crashes. Those were all caused by accidental decompression resulting in pilot incapacitation due to hypoxia.

These two scenarios, "pilot suicide" and "ghost flight", are equally rare. About five each in the last 30+ years. Yet so far they appear to be the two simplest explanations given the available evidence. Trying to combine them, however, complicates the explanation making it less probable overall, IMO.

Sincerely,
FOFOA

Christine Negroni said...

Thank you FOFOA, This is a fascinating addition to the conversation. Christine

Anonymous said...



FOFOA

Thankyou.

Never ever rule anything out at this stage of the investigation.

Not even aliens!

But considering precedents and history of like incidents is a time honored way to do investigation.

If it happened before, the probability that it can happen again is higher than an event with no known precedent. Or the combined probability of two unlikely events.

Anonymous said...


We are at the stage of the investigation where even at the best places, CYA behavior have to have been triggered and are strongly active.

One of the reasons why insurance investigators like to do investigations on site as fast as possible is before people start changing their stories, that means within 24 hrs of an incident.

The longer time pass, the more stories change.

Let's look at potential CYAs and the precedents, and the Oxes that will be gored if they didn't CYA:


MAS --- the airline is the biggest CYA here.

They do their own maintenance, rather than contract out to Boeing.

Elected not to buy the upgraded data package.

Own and operate the plane.

Min of Defense (Malaysia, Vietnam, PRC, Indonesia, India, etc.) all should be on the ball for unidentified intruders.

Boeing - is there a flaw with the craft? Remember to this day they deny the 737 rudder fault.

FAA / Malaysian regulators / NTSB all have their own interests and turfs.

PRC and agencies: all have a lot to answer for why they can't even send large numbers of assets out quickly to do a search. Why assets contesting territory with the Philippines was not usable and they had to send in assets from afar.


I can go on listing every agency with their own axes to grind, but that would be intruding on Christine's paid job!

Anonymous said...


Just to show what cannot be ruled out....

Suppose a meteorite struck the cockpit and damaged the Oxygen system by striking near where the Egyptair fire started.

Very low probability event.

But it is technically possible.

It will be impossible to determine this without examining the wreckage.

Never say impossible!

(I do not believe this is likely, but there is always a first.)

Christine Negroni said...

Christine loves blogging at Flying Lessons, but let's be clear. This is NOT a paid job, it is a labor of love. If any of my readers want to help me figure out a way to make money here, please share those ideas with me. ; - )

Anonymous said...

@Christine

Write another book.

Translate it into Chinese.

See if you can make money that way.


Meanwhile, more recalibration of search areas....

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/more-objects-spotted-by-satellite-but-still-no-confirmed-connection-to-missing-plane/2014/03/27/f3043a6a-b5a0-11e3-8cb6-284052554d74_story.html


When will everyone run out of money to do search?

I think the Aussie's limit is within 2 weeks to the end.

For face reasons, they will not quit before PRC and Japan does.

I give all of them to April 15.

Anonymous said...


Scientific deduction worthy of Lysenko:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/malaysia/10728261/Scientists-believe-they-know-where-MH370-crashed.html

Professor Charitha Pattiaratchi, the scientist who oversaw the research, said that a failure to spot buoyant objects that originated inside the plane indicated that the cabin probably remained intact as it sank into the sea. This would improve the chances that the black box survived without significant damage in the depths below the crash site.
“I think the way the plane crashed, a lot of the debris has been kept intact inside the plane,” said Professor Charitha Pattiaratchi, from the university’s oceans institute. “If the plane broke up, we should see a lot more debris floating around. We should have seen smaller bits of lifejacket and seats, things which are going to float.”


Looks like this fella never checked with satellite experts who could have told him things like the resolution of the satellites, what size debris they can and cannot see.

Anonymous said...


Professor Charitha Pattiaratchi claim that no wreckage is spotted by satellite is sufficient to postulate the aircraft did not break up is not justified by the facts.


Here is an example of the amount of floating wreckage recovered from AF 447, where they pretty much knew where to look because they found a composite tail floating on the surface.

http://blog.flightstory.net/1250/more-new-photos-of-af447-wreckage/


http://blog.flightstory.net/1219/photos-af447-wreckage/

As one can see, take out the parts like flaps that are composite, and there are very few pieces that floated that could be found on the surface like oxygen masks, fiberglass panels (with insulation that made them float).

Very little of AF 447 that we knew broke up as it slammed onto the surface of the water remains.

Here are photos of two of the largest pieces recovered:

http://blog.flightstory.net/1242/new-photos-of-af447-wreckage/

The biggest piece: Composite Tail

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-ec_T9LYV_2E/TjWbW2NemwI/AAAAAAAAAV0/R7xtBEIjM4g/s320/af447.jpg


Now, AF 447 stalled out and landed flat on the ocean from a vertical fall, almost the perfect airframe break up method next to a straight nose first dive in the ocean.

Normally, if a plane just run out of fuel, we expect the aircraft to keep flying, and the automatic controls to keep it in trim, and when it hits, it normally break up into sections: tail comes off, fuselage snaps into several pieces along areas of maximum stress like where the wing leading edge / trailing edge is. Wings come off.

Then it sinks.

Only in rare cases like the Hudson glider that the plane stay intact, even in that case, one engine sheared off.


Few seat cushions float because passengers are strapped into them, unless they are unbelted. Only a few cushions can escape from the broken fuselage.

No life vests unless they inflated by surviving passengers.

There might be some plastic panels with foam that help them float --- most of the ones show for AF 447, but the pieces are very small ---- 1 to 2 meters.

Now, what is the resolution of the satellite images?

Professor Charitha Pattiaratchi might have realized that the best high resolution images that are commercially available will have trouble spotting the pieces the size of the AF 447 debris.

Digitalglobe's Worldview 2 bird has resolution: "panchromatic sensor with a 46 cm (18 in) maximum resolution and a multispectral sensor of 184 cm (72 in)".

18" is not much. And if the latest calibration information is right, so far, the satellites have been looking in the wrong place by 700 miles.

Many of the satellite images used to date are not at that resolution.


http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/new-speed-data-shifts-search-for-missing-malaysian-jetliner-nearly-700-miles/2014/03/28/a574b58a-b641-11e3-8cb6-284052554d74_story.html


Therefore, can this information be authoritatively interpreted to say anything as to whether the hull is intact or not based on the evidence?

Probably not.

Most definitely, we probably would not have seen lots of seats (too small to be resolved) or life jackets (even smaller, especially if not inflated).

Another example of scientific and technical malpractice.

The Professor has expertise in Coastal Oceanography and his resume is here:

https://www.socrates.uwa.edu.au/Staff/StaffProfile.aspx?Person=CharithaPattiaratchi

Not a single item would suggest he is knowledgeable about what he talked about: the failure mode of a modern Boeing 777 airframe with different scenarios as to how it landed in water.




Layman said...

Christine, I could be wrong but I read somewhere that the jet flew at 5000 ft for an extended time after it left it's route. So it would not necessarily have endangered other commercial flights. But your point is valid.

One point I picked up but have not seen other comments on is the point that when the Vietnamese ATC and another jet tried to contact the jet, they did not get a no response, but rather a incomprehensible response. This means that someone in the cockpit tried to respond. Did anyone else get that?

Anonymous said...


Layman:

Yes, got the point re incomprehensible response.

I suggested debriefing the pilot(s) who heard the incomprehensible response including pulling the ATC tapes of conversations.

Then lets run experiments to see what could have produced that response.

Hypothesis:

Was the transmission from MH 370?

Was the transmit button pushed down by someone? e.g. intentional transmit?

Could MH 370 that tried to transmit not speak?

Was there a strong wind in the cockpit that drowned out the noise?

A failed mic / radio? (from heat?)

That is one of those little factoids that lead to very interesting ideas that need to be investigated... so far... on on did.

Another factoid is the eyewitness to a bright flash / flame from plane in the sky.

Anonymous said...


One of the most damaging part of the incident is the apparent disregard for the feelings of the next of kin by every major government involved.

Malaysian, PRC, Vietnamese, Australian, French, etc.

The drip, drip of information, much of it ridiculously speculative and unproven or verified, such as sightings of debris by satellites, is devastating to the next of kin waiting for verified news.

While poor handling of such information is to be expected by inexperienced and overwhelmed parties like the Malaysians, what is the excuse for the ineptness of Australia in making a big deal of satellite observations of debris?

Anonymous said...


A theory advanced here is getting some attention:


http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/could-a-cockpit-fire-explain-mh370s-disappearance-british-lawyer-asks

Anonymous said...

Drip, drip, drip of useless news that do not help except aggravate next of kin.

http://www.latimes.com/world/worldnow/la-fg-wn-debris-spotted-missing-malaysia-plane-20140328,0,4616021.story#axzz2xHKJaKYp


Why announce this before a ship can go there, pick it up and see if it is just sea trash?

FOFOA said...

Hello Anonymous,

I'm glad the cockpit fire scenario is getting some attention, even though it was marginalized by saying it came from a "tabloid" that has already reported "several fanciful theories."

Prior to MH370, there have only been three 777 "hull losses," incidents after which the entire aircraft was written off and scrapped. In the first hours after MH370 went missing, we heard a lot about two of the three, the BA38 crash landing at Heathrow in 2008 and the Asiana 214 crash landing at SFO last July, neither of which is relevant to MH370. But I have yet to hear the EgyptAir fire in 2011, which could, in fact, potentially be relevant to MH370, even mentioned by investigators or the mainstream media.

In considering plausible catastrophic events that could potentially disable communications but not bring down the plane, allow for the pilots to turn the plane around but do little else before decompression overcomes everyone onboard, a hole like this seems like a pretty good candidate. The fire could damage the control panel, then once the hull is ruptured, the fire could eventually be extinguished without spreading and bringing down the plane. It seems to fit better than other scenarios, like a fire in the cargo area.

I first read about the EgyptAir fire on Mar. 9 when David Kaminski-Morrow tweeted about it. He wrote the Flightglobal article linked in the first tweet:

"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… "The cause of the fire could not be conclusively determined," admits the Egyptian civil aviation ministry's central aircraft accident investigation directorate. "It is not yet known whether the oxygen system breach occurred first, providing a flammable environment, or whether the oxygen system breach occurred as a result of the fire…"

There was no way to know what started the fire, but an Airworthiness Directive (AD) was issued for the replacement of one type of oxygen hose with a different type of hose. Maybe this would prevent it from happening again, maybe not, but at least it was something they could do that would only cost about $2,600 per plane. And then if it happened again, at least they could say they did something.

Here's the AD from the FAA and from EASA. It requires the hose replacement on the following models: 777-200, 777-200LR, 777-300, 777-300ER, 777F. That list appears to cover all types of 777 in service at that time except the 777-200ER, which is the type MH370 was flying. I can't figure out why the 200ER was excluded from the AD.

Cont…

FOFOA said...

2/2

Would the 200ER have used different oxygen hoses in the cockpit than the other models? That doesn't seem likely since the main differences between the 200 and the 200ER, according to Boeing, appear to be more powerful engines and more fuel capacity, extending range and increasing maximum takeoff weight. Everything else appears to be exactly the same except for four fewer seats in one of the three configurations.

The 200 was introduced in '95 and the 200ER in '97, but the other models listed on the AD were introduced much later. So it seems very strange to me that the 200ER was not included in the AD. Could it have been a mistake that it was not listed? Or was there a prior AD which already covered the 200ERs but none of the others? That seems unlikely. I can't find the answer as to why all 777s except the 200ERs had to be fixed, but maybe someone here can.

I think it might have been a mistake, because the AD cites "169 airplanes of U.S. registry" that will be affected. And from this list, I count 168 among US airlines including FedEx, which includes the 777-200ER. Excluding the 200ER, I only count 58 777s. So what am I missing?

If it was a mistake to not include the 200ER on the AD, would that fit into your CYA list, Anonymous? And if so, who would look worse? MAS for not doing the work, or the FAA for not requiring it? Not that the recommended fix even solves the problem—there's no way to know if it does—but even just bringing the possibility of an EgyptAir-like fire into the discussion inevitably leads to the question of why the AD doesn't list the 200ER. Maybe they'll say the 200 covers the ER, but then why also list both the 300 and the 300ER?

I don't know. This is probably a dead-end and I'm just missing something, but I'd like to find the answer. So any help would be appreciated!

Sincerely,
FOFOA

Anonymous said...

"Believing is seeing. We see what we are prepared to see. The problem was not an absence of evidence. There was a glut of evidence. The problem was how to interpret it, how to see it."

Thomas Schelling

Anonymous said...

@FOFOA

You may have run across posts on FG that look familiar. :)

Your logic is rather familiar.

Specific clarification was requested as to whether the AD applied to MH 370.

Problem is, FAA issues AD and only has jurisdiction for US registered fleet. In theory, other jurisdictions just follow suit, but there is always some leeway, and some latitude esp. for compliance time.

Hence the silence out of Malaysia on the issue is deafening.

Insofar as research....

In fact, every hull loss you cited was looked at, and one of the first guess was BA 038 fuel starvation (didn't pan out) and Asiania was irrelevant (pilot error).

Once confirmed evidence was received as to likely turn back and then mystery behavior, the next item consulted was prevailing winds.

Turned out no known chart exist showing winds at typical 777 cruising altitudes.

Requested simulation help to see if the prevailing winds can account for the mystery turns... crude guess is yes if there is no live pilot but automatic trim / stabilization built into 777.

Sincerely,

Anon

Anonymous said...



Technical note:

If the identical failure as Egyptair happened in the air (without knowing cause), here is likely difference in outcome:

Fire would ignite in 8,000ft equivalent cabin air pressure. 12.5ish psi vs. outside pressure of 3.5ish psi (differential of 8psi).

The oxygen is the big deal, for it creates a hot flame.

See Apollo fire there for insight.

The hot flame would cause very high temperature, rapid spread of fire until hull failure as the metal softens.

Need a bit of simulation here to see how long a fire can smother behind the wall and fuselage skin.

Think when it fails, oxygen fed flame will blow fuselage out --- and with it rapid decompression that cools the surface possibly leaving a smaller hole than in Egyptair on ground, though the air rush will ensure oxygen is supplied to fire until the pressure is gone.

Then all that is left is 500kt wind but of air at 35,000 ft. Need to model this to see how fire would behave -- it would just as likely put it out.

The big deal is that pilots have no other easily reachable source of oxygen... and they expire.

Fire would have spread inside cabin even with inrush of air to cockpit and out.

I know of places and people who are really good that can model the fire, but that is going to cost $$$ and I am not in the pay of any party to do recreational fire modeling.

But I do know how their models work and I can tell you, if paid to do it, I'd love to help put the model together with that crew.

Rarely do one get to combine aerospace engineering, airflow modeling, fire modeling, behavioral modeling (crew), and so on all in one show.

Too bad I have the Christine problem!



Anonymous said...


FYI, David Kaminski-Morrow's Mar 9 tweet beat anon by at least 4 days.

Anon chased the BA 038 fuel theory, dud, and only when confirmed data came in of the flight toward the peninsular did other theories got looked at, and very quickly, zeroed on the Egyptair theory.

Anonymous said...


BA 038 theory lead to an investigation where fuel samples are immediately impounded at the last few fuel stops, and the fuel tested to see if it is compliant with specs and standards.

Also checking to see if RR 892 engines were fixed on MH 370... maintenance records.

AD out on cracking of fuselage at satellite mount, lead pursued... not really interesting because it is a straight depressurization that should be handled unless it is slow leak crew did not notice (Helios, LearJet, etc.)


There was also an accident with this hull, bent wingtip.. repaired.. also checked.. probably not material.

As you can see, many stones turned before Egyptair jumped out clearly.

Anonymous said...


Oxygen Fire

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2wMRL2bVKc4


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0W9bQ2Jg3A


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gM1REU3TcWU



FOFOA said...

Great sequence of videos, Anon! So Oxygen makes fire burn hotter. It doesn't necessarily make it explode or burn bigger, just hotter, able to burn through something more quickly we could say. And the replacement of O2 with atmospheric air cools it down.

Do I know you? Your hint that I might reminds me of "B".

Anonymous said...

Pure oxygen means going from 21% oxygen in air and the rest almost all nitrogen and inert.

Oxygen is not flammable, but it is the other ingredient that makes it cook..so to speak.

Diluting the pure oxygen with an inert gas slows the combustion.

I hope you don't know me.

I am just anon.

Not B

Anonymous said...


If it is a pure or high oxygen fed fire, many things that are not normally flammable become flammable and dangerous.

Things as simple as dust, etc.

Ignition can even be done by static electricity, without an obvious failure like a short circuit.

FOFOA said...

You aren't "anon" who posted about 6th order polynomials regarding fractals, are you?

Anonymous said...


@FOFOA

Not me at all, but if you look at the posts, it gives a pretty good clue as to anon.'s skill set.

Mind you, the mother lode of posts (esp. MH370) is not on this blog.