March 14, 2014

Malaysian flight MH370: Mystery deepens [Darleen Click]

Possible hijacking?

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.

Analysis of the Malaysia data suggests the plane, with 239 people on board, diverted from its intended northeast route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing and flew west instead, using airline flight corridors normally employed for routes to the Middle East and Europe, said sources familiar with investigations into the Boeing 777’s disappearance.

Two sources said an unidentified aircraft that investigators believe was Flight MH370 was following a route between navigational waypoints when it was last plotted on military radar off the country’s northwest coast.

This indicates that it was either being flown by the pilots or someone with knowledge of those waypoints, the sources said. […]

“What we can say is we are looking at sabotage, with hijack still on the cards,” said that source, a senior Malaysian police official.

All three sources declined to be identified because they were not authorized to speak to the media and due to the sensitivity of the investigation.

Officials at Malaysia’s Ministry of Transport, the official point of contact for information on the investigation, did not return calls seeking comment. […]

As a result of the new evidence, the sources said, multinational search efforts were being stepped up in the Andaman Sea and also the Indian Ocean.

Curiouser and curiouser.

Posted by Darleen @ 11:58am

Comments (32)

  1. Missing a certain UAV MQ-5B? Somebody says they found it! Huzzah.

  2. Not that drone technology is all that arcane to the Russians, anyway, but I’ve heard that some electronic components are physically protected in such a way that any breach of their containers causes them to self-destruct.

  3. Wherever it vanished, look for an ’80s aircraft carrier commanded by Kirk Douglas.

  4. I’m holding fast to my theory about alien abduction.

  5. New York Times:

    Investigators have also examined data transmitted from the plane’s Rolls-Royce engines that shows it descending 40,000 feet in the space of a minute, according to a senior American official briefed on the investigation. But investigators do not believe the readings are accurate because the aircraft would most likely have taken longer to fall such a distance.

    Of course, nose-down and under power I imagine it could exceed terminal velocity, but if it didn’t break up in mid-air doing so, it would when someone tried to pull out of the dive.

  6. US officials believe that two communications systems aboard Malaysian Airlines flight 370 were shut down separately, 14 minutes apart – which indicates the plane did not come down because of a sudden catastrophic failure.

    The data reporting system was shut down at 1.07 am and the transponder was turned off at 1.21 am just after the the pilot signed off to Malaysian air traffic controllers with ‘All right, good night,’ and before the Boeing 777 apparently changed course and turned west.

    According to investigators this indicated that the switch-off could have been a deliberate act and officials told ABC News that the two communications devices were ‘systematically shut down’.
    Despite these two crucial tracking devices being inoperative, the plane still sent signals to a satellite after the aircraft went missing in the form of ‘pings’ – rather like a cellphone does, even if it is not switched on.

    The Wall Street Journal reported that the ‘pings’ sent from missing flight 370 provided the plane’s location, speed and altitude for at least five hours after it vanished from radar.

  7. Where Is the Plane? 17 Possible Scenarios

  8. – Malaysian officials are sure plane was hijacked.

  9. Richard Fernandez, in keeping with his nom de cyber, dreams darkly.

    If we’re lucky, Somali pirates are branching out.

    God save us all if we’re not.

  10. Wherever it vanished, look for an ’80s aircraft carrier commanded by Kirk Douglas.

    That was a good movie.

  11. The carrier was the U.S.S. Nimitz, by the way.

    Really pissed of the Senator Charles During played, naming a carrier after a serving officer.

  12. More today.

    At a press conference today in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak confirmed what many, including Slate, had already inferred about the fate of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: that it had not succumbed to an accident but instead been diverted as a result of “deliberate action by someone on the plane.” Further information release by the Malaysian government indicated that the plane ended its flight in a restive area of Central Asia.

  13. Of course this is assuming that the fuel load aboard was really known. If this was a well planned operation then it could have had more fuel loaded than what was reported as on-board. This class of plane, and a Malaysian one at that, holds a record for distance.

    On April 2, 1997, a Malaysia Airlines -200ER named “Super Ranger” broke the great circle “distance without landing” record for an airliner by flying eastward from Boeing Field, Seattle to Kuala Lumpur, a distance of 10,823 nautical miles (20,044 km), in 21 hours and 23 minutes

    The normal rated range for this type is 7,700 nautical miles.

  14. One variant of a scenario geoffb linked above might explain the lack of passenger participation (using cell phones or other devices to attempt to establish post-takeover communications).

    If induced gradual oxygen deprivation was employed by one or more hijackers who had oxygen masks, then all the passengers would be conveniently dead soonest. Re-establishing pressurization would allow the hijacker(s) to collect and destroy communication-capable devices.

    That variant would also explain the rambling flight patterns between the checkpoints: the pilot furiously searching passengers and their carry-ons for devices.

  15. Meantime, V. Putin carries his war plans into action, devouring Ukraine one scrumptious snacky chunk at a time. and his nominal American global adversary, ClownDisaster, while running away as fast as his little midget legs will carry him, shouts back over his shoulder at his friend Vladimir, “Hey, good on you chum! Well done! We Americans will turn your adventures into a blockbuster movie, but rest assured, we’ll substitute a nasty Israeli imperialism for you Russians, so that no offense can be taken should we happen to depict any necessarily troublesome injustices, or, y’know, murders.”

  16. Over the South China Sea there wouldn’t be cell coverage; unless someone had a sat phone any other means of communication would be controlled by the crew. And of course all communications controlled by the crew were shut down before the course change.

    Would a planeload of ChiCom citizens stage a counter-hijacking like the Americans on Flight 93?

  17. Would a planeload of ChiCom citizens stage a counter-hijacking like the Americans on Flight 93?

    Suppose for a moment that this happens to be a carefully planned event (which is not over yet, so not known to us in its full extent) by al Qaeda central, so-called. Under that hypothesis, they have had years to put into the effort, with all the previous lessons learned to account for. If, again hypothetically, there is a hidden collusion within the aircraft itself (pilot or co-pilot or both together), what’s to prevent further collusion within the cabin attendant staff? The whole thing can grow to be very logical series of events, once we think about it as other than an ad hoc one off.

  18. And of course all communications controlled by the crew were shut down before the course change.

    But they missed disabling the data pings from the engines. Perhaps they weren’t aware they even pinged.

    My best guess is that the hijacker(s) learned much from the Lockerbie failure (that explosion was intended to take place over ocean, making identification of the responsible party impossible; but instead, it happened over Scotland) was taken to heart, and wasn’t to be repeated.

    If the scenario I postulated above happened, after all devices were rendered inoperable, the fuel near-exhausted, the plane was pointed straight down and accelerated to eleven. That would account for the the 40,000-foot drop in less than a minute, as was reported by the engines.

    Is there a deep trench in the Indian Ocean? That’s where they needs search.

  19. Oh. Sunda Trench. located in the northeastern Indian Ocean, with a length of 2,600 kilometres (8,500,000 ft). The maximum depth of 7,725 metres (25,344 ft) (at 10°19’S, 109°58’E, about 320 km south of Yogyakarta), is the deepest point in the Indian Ocean. The trench stretches from the Lesser Sunda Islands past Java, around the southern coast of Sumatra on to the Andaman islands

  20. My take is that the pings from the [engine, aircraft?] systems, which are/were not singed up/paid for, but active like your cell phone when not in use, have a timing component that tells the distance from the satellite but not a direction. Thus the arc of possible positions. Now they must have the data for all earlier pings which would form a series of arcs of possibility from the last known position. These arcs should together show the only path that could satisfy all the pings that happened up until they were shut off.

    There is speculation that we do know, at least up until all radio pings shut off, the location but must, to protect methods and means, try to get the info out in a way that does not point to the actual source. Like the NSA/CIA telling the DEA and local law enforcement to make up a reason to stop a certain car or raid a certain place at a certain time to find drugs when the real source was intercepted phone calls or emails that they don’t want revealed.

    That would be a hopeful best case. If we don’t really know then all this is just static, noise in the system.

  21. “Dastardly pings! Curses, foiled again!”

  22. *** America is our first target, followed by United Kingdom, France and other crusader countries. [. . .]

    Washington DC and New York:

    Washington is the capital, and New York is the former capital. Both have symbolic importance to the American people and government. Moreover, White House is in Washington, and DC has about 347,000 federal govern ment employees and many important figures in the government live there. As for New York, it is known for its status as a financial, cultural, transportation, and manufacturing center, it is the leading center of banking, finance and communication in the United States. ***

    This goes doubly well for weaponized airliners as for carbombs.

  23. A John Varley short story which was made into a fair movie turns out to be pretty true and all the passengers are now in the far future where the AGW and human poisoned planet has finally recovered and needs settlers who can reproduce the race. But this time do it right!

  24. If this was a terror plot, it’s advanced enough and audacious enough that it will never work again.

    The evolution of our defenses against them was manageable when they innovated incrementally. Quantum leaps in offense lead to quantum leaps in defense.

  25. Hubs read a story back when the plane first vanished that related that 20 engineers from Houston (NASA?) were aboard this flight. They are Chinese nationals working in the USA on some kind of EMP technology. It sounds like nonsense to me, but I figured I’d toss it out there for you all.

    Apparently, the device(s) are about the size of a cellphone and account for the transponders lack of signal and loss of tracking from the ground.

  26. 20 engineers from Houston

    A non-conspiracy story. The conspiracy one was in the Daily Mail, “Before It’s News” and

  27. Ah, thanks. I can’t keep up with all the stories even when you aggregate them here, Geoff.

  28. Looks like the pilot was a nutcase. If he worked alone, then this plane’s fate was his snap reaction to his favorite politician’s sodomy conviction, and it’s likely in the trench. If he was employed, then this gets huge, and we’d better watch the skies.

    But, the KISS principle.

    Also, the last direction that plane was pointed? Directly towards Mecca.

  29. “and needs settlers who can reproduce the race”

    I’ve heard better pick up lines.

  30. Lebanon is about to go to war with Lebanon, but then Lebanon has already always been at war with Lebanon, so there’s little news in that. But crusader countries, if they must still be known as crusader countries, might take a higher regard of themselves and consider whether they ought not join with Bernard de Clairvaux in his recommendation to spernere se sperni, and thereafter put the vengeful Muslim’s Allah to the test.