#MH370 Floating debris found in South Indian Ocean – in aviation, never say ‘never’

Well, it’s starting to look as if the hopes that MH370 had been hijacked somewhere in Central Asia are dashed.  It’s still too early to say but this is the best lead so far and, if proven correct, it ends the hope for the passengers and crew.  My thoughts and best wishes are with their families.  Fikiran saya dan semoga bersama keluarga mereka.  我的思念和最美好的祝愿与家人团聚。

But let’s look at what we know about the unusual sequence of events:

1.  The last ATC message at 01:07 was that everything was OK.

2.  At more or less the same time, the transponder stopped transmitting.

3.  At the same time the aircraft diverted south (following Chris Goodfellows’ clever piece of detective work) possibly trying to divert to Pulau Langkawi: http://www.wired.com/autopia/2014/03/mh370-electrical-fire/ ).

4.  No mayday call was made (suggesting that the radio and communications were disabled).

5.  The aircraft followed an erratic flightpath, climbing at times to 50,00ft and descending to 5000ft.

6.  The ACARS ceased active transmitting some time between 01:07 and 01:37 but still responded passively.

7.  The aircraft continued southwards on automatic pilot until its fuel was exhaused or the flight controls were disabled.

The conclusion must be that there was a catastrophic event that disabled the communications/electrics and the crew.  This was probably an electrical fire as the electrical systems were disabled first and very quickly.  Modern airliners are massively dependent on their electrical systems.  Remember that modern airlines, post-9/11, are fitted with armoured and locked cockpit doors that can only be opened by the flight crew so that even if the passengers or cabin staff knew that there was a problem in the office, they would not be able to do anything about it.  Horrific.

The aircraft may never be found.  When AF447 went down in the Atlantic, the location was known but it still took 2 years to find the wreckage.  This one may be deeper and still has not been located.

The most horrific thing is that the technical failure is a catastrophic one and we people in the aviation safety business thought that they were a thing of the past, at least for public transport aircraft.  We thought it could never happen.

You soon learn in aviation never to say ‘never’.


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