Saturday, March 29, 2014

Data Shifts MH370 Search Zone But Man at the Top Remains the Same

Writing from Kuala Lumpur -- The case of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has taken another unexpected turn now that searchers in the South Indian Ocean have moved from the last-best guess of where the airplane might be to an area 1100 kilometers north east. 

Ten airplanes and six vessels headed to the new location, off the coast of Perth, as the 30 day clock on the black box locator pingers ticks down. 

You may be asking, what new information prompted the moving of all this expensive hardware? I'm here to tell you. 

According to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau the new area of focus comes after further analysis of radar data of the plane's "movement between the Straits of Malacca and Indian Ocean," in the early morning of March 8th.

The movement of the plane from 1:21 am when the transponder stopped functioning has been something of a mystery. At first, officials said the plane turned on a reciprocal heading back to Kuala Lumpur airport. Silly me, I believed they knew what they were talking about so I disputed a Reuters report that the plane headed west on a zig-zag course to the Straits of Malacca. On March 15th, however a new course was confirmed in one of the nightly briefings for the press. 
Here or here? This way or that? 

The Reuters story suggested whoever was in command of the flight may have been trying to evade radar detection. I could not understand why Flight 370 would turn back over land and cross the peninsula when it was already over water nearly out of radar range already and could have quickly gone into the South China Sea with a slight turn to the east.

Well my bad, because Reuters seems not only to have been right, it was first with that news. This week the government has been working double time to get the story out through back channels, while refusing to confirm it to reporters.

Presentation to families in Beijing 

For example, in a briefing with families in China, this slide (thanks @TMFAssociates for the photo) was shown, depicting primary radar hits made by the plane moving west then north west, practically to the Thai border at Puket. The plane had 70 minutes to get to this position in Malaysian airspace from the hand-off at IGARI waypoint.

Australian Maritime Safety Authority Photo
It is the amount of time it would have taken the plane to fly that distance that sent the number crunchers back to their calculators. Still refusing to confirm the route flown by the Boeing 777, acting minister of transportation Hishammuddin Hussein explained the AAIB, Boeing, Rolls-Royce, NTSB and Inmarsat discovered something new.

"They took the point the aircraft was last sighted by a radar in the Straits of Malacca," he said and started from there with the fancy math. "We have taken through so many considerations the aircraft, the range of the aircraft, the fuel and the speed. That’s how they calculated with the performance."

That's how they determined the twin engine plane consumed so much fuel booking westward, it probably went to fumes and hit the ocean farther north than previously thought.

The Australians who are coordinating the air and sea search from Perth, may be delighted. The new zone is easier to get to and outside of the tumultuous section of the ocean known as the Roaring 40s. But there are those who are scratching their heads wondering why it took 20 days to figure out where the plane likely went down. Just as I am wondering why the authorities here won't just explain on what the new search data is based.

"Why is it taking this long to figure that out? How many radar hits do we have? How hard is it to figure that out?" one seasoned investigator told me, to which I can only answer, it is apparently, pretty darn hard. 

But it is entirely in keeping with the way things are develop here in Kuala Lumpur, a place where the man overseeing two of the departments exhibiting significant incompetence for losing the plane in the first place, is also calling the shots in the investigation and controlling the release of information to the press.

Hishammuddin Hussein "honored" faces the cameras
Hishammuddin "don't eat his cabbage twice," is the way my old friend Ike would describe the minister's reluctance to repeat himself. But that reticence is selective. When it comes to platitudes and inanities he's happy to repeat how he is "hoping against hope" and "leaving no stone unturned." He "wouldn't have done anything differently" though there are "lessons to be learned."  

So before I leave to you ponder this latest twist in the still developing saga, let me share with you how the minister concluded his most recent briefing to the press.

"I am honored to be part and parcel in what is going on here," he said. Illuminating in one perfect sentence the distorted view of the investigation from the man who is trying to controlling it.


Anonymous said...

Sounding like an 8 track tape again...

Put the data (whatever one feel like, different versions too) in a simulator.

Run the thing over days, weeks, etc.

Do Monte Carlo simulations.

See what comes up.

Electronic data processing was invented for this so 1.3 billion fingers and 1.3 billion toes need not be engaged to do the job.

Please have a heart and do the simulation runs.

Before anon go out and buy a $50 copy of Microsoft Flight and try to run it here.

But if anon did that and later a search of anon computer revealed deleted Microsoft Flight files, complete with simulations of MH 370 routes, that might make anon a suspect!

And that is before accusing anon of sodomy!

Anonymous said...

Should I even comment on the amount of wasted resources searching up till now in the wrong places?

The initial satellite data was available within the first week of the disaster, and the Malaysians had to be prodded to use it.

FOFOA said...

This comment was posted for comment email subscription purposes, because I like anon's comments. ;D

Feel free to delete this comment, Christine.

Anonymous said...


Glad you like the posts.

Perhaps it is time for me to rant a bit rather than do technical analysis.

The tragedy continue as next-of-kin have no closure given how the governments and officials concerned chose to handle the situation.

The Malaysians (MAS) should have been handed a check to the next-of-kin for say, 1/2 the ICAO stipulated liability within a week of the incident, no questions asked, when it is clear that no survivors will likely be found.

Yet the bozos of Malaysia are still calling this a Search and Rescue operation that presumes there are survivors when it is a search and recovery operation.

Miracles may happen:

But why drag the next-of-kin through their pipe dreams?

Had the next-of-kin received the check, they can then be sent home after a service in Beijing and KL rather than to wait for weeks at a hotel being fed one useless bit of hyperbole after another. No doubt they will want to organize their own funeral services. Being able to do so promptly allow them to begin healing.

They could be reassembled at MAS cost as verified information and news happen, or if they needed to go to the crash site once it is found for services on site.

The drip, drip of useless information, every time a piece of flotsam is seen, hypothesis, speculation, etc., most of which turned out to be unfounded or purely speculation, such as accusations against the pilots, etc. should never have been made public by official sources.

Let bloggers who are anon do that -- but that should never be done by official spokesman of any nation or organization.

Utterly disgusting is the jockeying among the PR conscious organizations all touting how their magic snake oil solution like deploying 20 satellites, seismic search, etc. will be the silver bullet when the only know technique to do it well is with low flying aircraft and Mark 1 eyeballs.

Satellites had to be used as a last resort because of the vastness of the areas in question.

The behavior of officials from many of the governments concerned, Malaysia in particular, but almost all others with few exceptions, are likewise disgusting.

A certain government was so anxious to make themselves look good that they had picture perfect photos of soldiers doing search on boats and in aircraft, miraculously being able to work without working up a sweat in what must be 30C temperature at sea level. Sickening. They might as well just photoshopped alleged wreckage on the photo.

Anonymous said...

Part II

Anyone who actually did air search (not anon) know that is mentally and physically incredibly demanding, to peer out a plexiglas aircraft window for hours at a time, trying to spot something, quickly making a judgment as to whether that is flotsam or worth a detailed look, and meanwhile, fighting the bumpy and not nice ride of being in a low flying aircraft at low altitudes with a lot of air currents buffeting.

I know certain aircrews worked pretty hard --- and most of them did not look that good in photos that are really ones of them working. One can tell the strain on the lads.

Ask anyone who had to serve as lookouts on a naval vessel in a war zone what the job is like.

Have to say I am disappointed in the Australian government, including the PM, to have joined the fray by announcing discovery of wreckage by satellite, which lowered my perception of Australian competence down to the notch of their peers in Asia.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott lowered himself to the level of the Premier and President who decided that maximum diplomatic pressure is just the thing to make the Malaysians produce results, and yet, not offer a pence in financial assistance to any party conducting the Search and Rescue operation at considerable expense, or to even call off the territorial disputes in SE Asia for the duration.

For heavens sake. There are real living people who have to deal with this news as it drips out.

I particularly feel sick and sorry for Captain Shah and First Officer Fariq Ab Hamid's families, colleagues and associates who have their names dragged in the, so far, groundless allegations.

Meanwhile, all the technical data mentioned by anon that might have given a bit of help in finding the lost 777 sooner is kept closer to the vest of the Malaysians.

This is no way to handle a tragedy.

Anonymous said...

On the subject of carpetbaggers, scum, and disgusting low life that is taking advantage of this tragedy, no matter how much harm they are doing to the victims next-of-kin:

Well, PRC didn't do well with 20 satellites, sending searchers on false leads after false leads.

So what next? Let's demand PRC-Beijing do better with 50 more satellites.

"China mulls global satellite surveillance after flight 370 riddle

Beijing mulls launching network of dozens of satellites, giving it the ability to monitor the whole world, in wake of lost flight 370

China is considering massively increasing its network of surveillance and observation satellites so it can monitor the entire planet, scientists working on the project said.

The government is mulling building more than 50 orbiting probes, which Chinese researchers said would make the nation's satellite surveillance network on par with, or even larger than, that of the United States.

Frustration with the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines aircraft over the past three weeks had led the project to win strong backing from decision makers in Beijing, the researchers said.

"If we had a global monitoring network today, we wouldn't be searching in the dark. We would have a much greater chance to find the plane and trace it to its final position," said Professor Chi Tianhe, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth."


Decision makers in Beijing that buy this logic will love this one:


doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

Albert Einstein

Anonymous said...

Time to post an honor roll of the slime buckets that are taking advantage of the MH370 tragedy to push their own interests:

"After the Malaysia Airlines flight went missing, the Chinese Academy of Engineering submitted a letter from senior scientists to state leaders urging them to start construction of a global satellite-surveillance network as soon as possible, according to sources close to the academy.

Professor Liu Yu, a remote-sensing expert at Peking University's school of earth and space sciences, said the project had "almost incredible ambition" and if approved would be a game changer for China's ability to carry out observation from space."

Anonymous said...

Why are the Australians doing this to the next-of-kin?

I was under the impression that Australians have good Public Relations and Crisis Management expertise.

"A new search area failed to yield an immediate breakthrough in the hunt for ill-fated Flight MH370 on Sunday, as Australia appointed its former military chief to help co-ordinate the operation in the Indian Ocean.

Debris spotted by aircraft and then picked up by ships combing the new search zone proved not to be from the Malaysian Airlines’ Boeing 777, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said.

“It appeared to be fishing equipment and just rubbish on the [ocean’s] surface,” an AMSA spokesman told reporters."

Anonymous said...

This is what happens when the Malaysians mishandle an incident and let it get out of hand.

Will there be more answers in KL?

Wouldn't it make sense to be in Perth where the news is being made?

Are they there because that is where the free flight from MAS took them?

Chinese relatives flock to Malaysia for answers on MH370
March 30, 2014 - 3:31PM

Philip Wen

"Rather than descending on Perth to be closer to the search for the missing Flight MH370, dozens of Chinese relatives of those on board the plane have flown to Kuala Lumpur to remonstrate with the Malaysian government.

"We have demanded that we meet with the prime minister and the transportation minister," Wang Chunjiang, whose younger brother was on Flight 370, told the BBC.

"We have questions that we would like to ask them in person."
One representative of the families’ organising committee, who only wanted to be identified by his surname Jiang, told Fairfax Media that 35 family members arrived in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday morning, with more from Beijing to follow."

Anonymous said...

Obvious questions.

Who is paying for all these PRC next-of-kin to go to Malaysia and complain?

Who is paying their salaries for all this time?

Who picks up the tab for their hotels? Meals?

Anonymous said...


I'm a huge fan, but I want to call you on making fun of H. Hussein's English, which I assume is at least as good as your Bahasa Malaysian.

IJR said...

My reaction to the Malay govt's handling of the MH370 business has been similar to Anon's, up until his last post.
CN has not been "making fun of H. Hussein's English," she has been quoting him for accuracy, to demonstrate his descent into platitudes and media-babble, rather than substantive facts, for which you yourself have been critical.

Anonymous said...


There is more than one Anon here.

Anonymous said...

Malaysia plane: Confronting searchers is an ocean full of garbage,0,3542330.story#ixzz2xTH4jTLo

Anonymous said...

The hunt for the bogeyman:

MI6, CIA involvement in flight MH370 probe sparks terrorism speculation

MARCH 30, 2014

Meanwhile, the real bogeymen who are stonewalling the search, let alone the investigation of causes are the officials responsible for the maintenance, repair, and safety of the aircraft.

At a certain point, generous governments are going to have to pull up their funding and let Malaysia learn that grown up countries pay their bills.

Christine Negroni said...

I am not making fun of the minister's English, which is very good. (Verbatium transcripts sometimes read a little odd.) But the minister will not answer serious informed questions. He only replies with nonsense and platitudes. He is not informing, he is disassembling. I have no doubt when he goes into Malay, he is just as evasive. It is not his words I'm quibbling with, it is his message.

Anonymous said...


You are there and you see him in real life.

I take your word for it.

Kind of amazed that not much of the gossip floating around the blogsphere is working its way to the people doing the work.

Especially with so many ostensibly doing work in China.

When are you heading stateside?

Anonymous said...

Memo from alternate universe:

This is a place where airline operators are penny pinchers because most of them are not making much money or losing money hand over fist.

“If a capitalist had been present at Kitty Hawk back in the early 1900s, he should have shot Orville Wright.

He would have saved his progeny money. But seriously, the airline business has been extraordinary. It has eaten up capital over the past century like almost no other business because people seem to keep coming back to it and putting fresh money in."

Warren Buffett

What does it cost to get any new innovation in an industry that can't see an obvious marketing or cost advantage to it?

An act of God.

Acts of FAA.

A saint.

As we can see, all three of these are in short supply, and MH 370 could not count on God planning his day around them.

The cost to install streaming data to satellite for each flight (AF 447 had it) is something like $10 per flight wholesale.

Assuming a whopping mark up, that works out to $100 a flight.

That is equivalent to the total cost of peanuts for 300 passengers!

The problem is, no one notice the data missing until an incident.

If we added up the cost of search (not rescue), not Recovery, to date, the bill is likely to now be well in excess of $50 million that is graciously provided from the tax dollars of the donor countries.

Do the math.

How many hours of flying time, broken down by type of craft, X known hourly costs.

What are costs to divert a vessel?

Billing time of officials diverted from other jobs.

Now, take the total number of commercial flights in the world, and ask what is the impact on the airlines if the price per flight is increased say, $50?

Back it out on a per seat cost?

Seat mile?

And the number disappears.

The data being sent do not assure recovery, but it enabled AF 447 to be narrowed to a 40 mile area, saving years and tens of millions.

Whats more, the data would enable a much shorter cycle time for investigation and corrective action --- PREVENTING accidents to begin with.

What is there not to like in this alternate universe?

Anonymous said...

Engineers and Scientists declining to meet with the next-of-kin.

Any sensible individual would make that choice.

So far, none of the next-of-kin have shown any evidence or sign that they have the professional and technical competence, let alone respect for the scientific, technical and engineering community when they speak as recognized authorities.

Let the politicians and administrators from their respective countries deal with them and their antics.

Also noted: politicans and administrators who should know better are also not handling this matter with the appropriate deference, respect, and integrity necessary to gain the trust and cooperation of the scientific, technical and engineering community.

Anonymous said...

Vultures Gather:

Anonymous said...

Malaysians put feet in mouth and wiggle toes.

Nice to have anonymous sources in Malaysia who are officials say this:

"Two official sources, who are close to the investigation but not authorised to comment publicly, said there were three main reasons that investigators believe the plane’s manoeuvres before it vanished on March 8 were intentional.
First, the communications were disabled during the handover between Malaysian and Vietnamese air traffic controllers - the moment at which its disappearance from radars was least likely to be noticed.
“That is the precise moment to disappear an aircraft - that was what was exploited,” a source told The Telegraph."

Second, the plane’s unusual flight path - though little is known about speed and altitude - appears to have been programmed deliberately.
Finally, according to the source: “All the investigators are saying the same thing - there is no precedent in the history of commercial aviation where the sat-com [satellite communications] and the transponder have been knocked out and the plane continued to fly.”
A second source cited the same reasoning, adding that the “working notion is it was deliberate” but that further explanation was unlikely until the plane’s black box is found."

It is plain wrong to rule any cause out, even intervention by aliens or god.

But to keep hammering on the bogeyman theory without proof.

Time and time again, anon asked for simulations to explain the data.

Time and time again, Malaysians refuse to say if they even tried.

Likewise, no maintenance logs.

No AD repair info.

And no evidence that anyone was involved.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

A lot of questions for the Aussies who are cooordinating this search.

The subs (and surface ships) are slow, cannot cover a lot of territory, and need to be carefully coordinated.

If they are searching for wreckage that is floating after this long, it is going to be very far from the site of the crash.

On the other hand, if they are searching for the wreck, that is a totally different area that is static -- it does not shift much with currents.


If they are listening (passive sonar) critical to have as much quiet as possible, which is harder for a surface ship to do unless it is using a towed array / boom / sono bouys or the specialized towed sonar that listens for the ping.

Technically the black box pinger is good for another week, then it is much more run down and harder to hear.

Once the active pinger on the box is gone then it is hard work.

Active sonar either on vessel topside or on sub.

Ping the bottom, and if the bottom echo returns something interesting, go down and take a look with a ROV or mini sub.

Here is where it gets tricky, a regular military sub is not any good for bottom search because there are no windows that look out!

There may be external sensors that can peer out --- but will it see much unless bright flood lights are lighting up the area?

Most military subs do not have that --- they are not intended for this.

So if the military sub finds something, they have to call for help, most likely from a vessel with a ROV to go peer down.

Not hopeful that they will find something, as AF 447 which has a tiny search area, took 2 years to find anything.

This one.. can easily spend 10 years.

Searchers will run out of budget long before that.

Anonymous said...

Observations about the search.

The search effort was completely focused on finding wreckage from the first day.

At sea, the search was for floating wreckage which is at the best of times, difficult to pick out from oceans littered with trash.

Any floating wreckage that is seen by satellite had to be quite large to be visible, by aircraft it still have to be big enough to be seen from the air and give at least a hint that it is anything but normal flotsam --- the lower limit for recognition of an item on the sea surface is probably 6" square. That is, any object smaller than 6" square is unlikely to be recognized as being possibly from the downed flight unless it is something so obvious as human remains.

This brings it to an interesting question. Since the Indian Ocean search only commenced a week after the disaster, any reasonable calculation would have put the debris considerable distance from the crash site if the crash site is accurately predicted to begin with.

But in this case, it is clear the crash site was not even known with a great degree of certainty.

Here is a question for future Search missions. Since there is really no hope of survivors, would the effort not been better directed at searching for sonar pings during the brief window of time (30 days from crash) that the sonar pinger is known to be functioning?

If the goal is to hunt for the pinger, the search area can span a far greater distance (e.g. the width of the probable sonar ping audibility range given the receiver used) and should the aircraft be deployed to search for the pinger?

Suppose the sonobouys used can detect the pinger with a high certainty in a 1km wide swath.

Would it have been better to drop sonobouys systematically at 1km intervals along the most probable flight path?

Recognizing that there is a limited supply of sonobouys, and they are not free, there are still cost constraints here.

The question is, would it be a better deployment of resources than the increasingly fruitless search for floating debris and wreckage?

Finding the CVR and black boxes offer the chance to learn from the incident and the possibility of preventing a future incident. Plus closure for the next-of-kin.

Finding floating wreckage at this point leaves the larger and more important task not done.

Understandable emotional needs drive the search for floating wreckage.

Hard science, engineering, and technical issues drive the search for the sunken wreckage.

It is time to think of redeploying resources.

Anonymous said...

Who is paying the bills for all this?

Anonymous said...

"China’s state-run Xinhua news agency, which has a reporter aboard the Haixun 01 ship, reported that a black box locator heard the signal Saturday at around 25 degrees south latitude and 101 degrees east longitude — broadly in the same area where the search effort has been concentrated in recent weeks, in the Indian Ocean around 1,000 miles northwest of the Australian city of Perth.

The signal was measured at a frequency of 37.5 kilohertz and was repeating at one-second intervals, Xinhua reported."

"China Central Television reported that crew members had first heard the signal Friday, but for only 10 minutes, and that they had not been able to record it during that time. The ship searched the same area for five hours Saturday without any luck before hearing the signal again for around 90 seconds, around two nautical miles away from the first location, CCTV reported.

David Gallo of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution said the location where the signal was heard is close to an undersea feature called the East Indiaman Ridge, named after sailing ships of the British East India Company. He added that the average depth of the ocean there was around 4,000 meters, or 13,000 feet."

Anonymous said...

Not holding my breath here.

While it is very unlikely that the signal comes from anything but the downed airliner's black boxes, it has a range that is suppose to be 2km, but given that it is a vague signal --- can't tell without detailed data --- depending on acoustic conditions and the quality of the receivers, the boxes can be many miles away.

All that may have happened is the signal have localized it to a 50km radius. A lot of ground to cover.

If it is true that they are getting regular pings at one second intervals, that is good news, because then they can zero on it as fast as possible.

Then there is still the problem of getting down there with a ROV to look.

A lot of hard work ahead.

Good luck...

I had thought all along that finding the pingers was easier than the debris.

Pingers mean a search area of 1km or more wide depending on the range of the ping) can be covered.

Problem is, if the plane ended up in a canyon, it cal have a much smaller "cone" of noise upward.

A very inexact science, almost art.

Anonymous said...

2 pings from different vessels is a good sign.

Now pray for battery holding out until they get to it.,0,5012897.story#axzz2y5Rd6yqh

Anonymous said...

Why we should not raise hopes high yet.

Sound propagation in water is one of the most difficult to predict sciences that border on art.

It is well known that under certain conditions, it is technically possible to hear a ship from one side of the Atlantic to the other, with proper signal processing, tweaking and so on.

The frequency 37.5khz is not that uncommon, and can be used for a wide range of gear including specialized locator / finders that is attached to undersea equipment like ROVs, tools, etc. that help find them if they are lost.

Thus, the pings alone is not unique.

Whats more, so far, only 3 instances have been heard, 2 with a piece of portable gear (Teledyne) that is intended to look for sound at much shallower depths, with a directional mic, and one with the specialized pinger detector lent by the US Navy to the Aussies.

In all these cases, the tone was not continuous, nor was the resolution good enough to begin triangulation.

That speaks to very unusual current conditions, thermal layers, etc. that somehow, cause the sound to be heard.

Now, that is presuming no operator error as well.

Certainly one of the two, and possibly both groups if the USN did not spare their technicians, are not experienced using this equipment.

Too hard to say if it is a hard clue, but let's keep looking....

Anonymous said...

While we are at it....

Who is keeping a running total of the tab?

Anonymous said...

Here is a reason to be cautious about pingers...

As one can see, 37.5khz is a standard frequency for locator pingers.

Anonymous said...

Cmdr. William Marks of U.S. 7th Fleet, who is aboard the Ocean Shield, said the towed pinger locator was only about 985 feet deep when it began detecting the pings at one-second intervals. “We were not overly optimistic,” he told CNN by satellite phone from the ship.
But after lowering the towed pinger locator to nearly 4,600 feet, the crew was able to get hold of the signal for more than two hours.
Marks noted that if the signal was coming from a black box, the signal should get stronger and then fade as the locator passed over the site. “That’s what happened,” Marks said, describing searchers as “cautiously optimistic.”
Crews then did a course change and passed back over the area, lowering the towed pinger locator to about 9,850 feet, which Marks called the “optimal depth.” Crews were able to pick up a signal for about 15 minutes, he said.
According to Houston, the area where the signals were detected has a depth of about 14,800 feet -- the maximum depth the underwater vehicle can operate in. He cautioned that “in very deep oceanic water, nothing happens fast” and that it could take “some days” to establish whether this is connected with Flight 370.,0,4746324.story#ixzz2yCj0kutc

obat kanker darah said...

my first visit to your blog, Greetings

Anonymous said...

there is, unfortunately, in Australia, the election of a man that NONE of us voted for, who is so behind the times in every way shape and form, he (TONY ABBOTT) is using the MH370 hijacking by the goverment, to better his own popularity. Just like the chinese want to run the world with their satellites 5 mins after the plane goes missing, just like the Malay's wont release the cargo list, due to the plane containing microchips/techniques that could have the asians over-run the USA....ABBOTT has jumped on the band wagon thinking that he will gain popularity again, due to the fact that he is searching for the plane. He knows damn well he wont find it, and so does everyone else, and apparently we have the money to do it....but he's cutting our free medical service and giving us a fucked up budget in 2 weeks.
USING THIS FOR POPULARITY - its obvious, so that explains why Australia is on the hunt!