What’s all this mean?

This morning, both news.com.au and ABC News (Australia) are reporting that the Malaysian Government has announced that revised data has the last known position of MH370 in the hypothesised ‘southern flight corridor’ – pretty much the middle of the Indian Ocean, west of Perth.

According to ABC News Radio this morning (Australian time) the reviewed data came from Inmarsat who have been auditing their own records.

Inmarsat is a satellite telecommunications company that host data for transmissions aircraft tracking as well as satellite voice communications. according to GMA News, investigators relied on tracking hourly ‘pings’ received from the aircraft along with when the satellite started receiving these ‘pings’, to find a position. This is how they determined the two flight corridors for the aircraft, and ultimately, it seems, the southern flight corridor.

All this indicates that the search under way in the southern Indian Ocean is the likely crash site.

Image

Image credit AMSA.

What theory are we up to?

The more I think about it now, given that the aircraft continued on so far without a change in heading it is my belief that Scenario 2 occurred from my post on March 17, that is:

  • Aircraft flies toward destination for an hour
  • Flight crew make standard report at IGARI reporting point
  • A rapid, intense fire breaks out, affecting multiple electrical systems (transponders go offline)
  • Whilst one flight crew member is fighting the fire, the other programs the autopilot to turn back toward Malaysia
  • The fire continues until the flight crew are overwhelmed but then the fire goes out
  • Aircraft continues on the current heading until running out of fuel, probably over the Indian Ocean

What Next?

The search is going to continue. Various items that cannot yet be linked to the missing aircraft are beginning to turn up which may indicate that either the ocean is full of floating, large scale rubbish or that the aircraft (or things the aircraft was carrying) are beginning to surface. 2.5 weeks is a long time though. The pieces being found may be well separated from the bulk of any wreckage and the all important ‘black boxes’ or flight data recorders (FDR).

Assuming the recorders are functioning normally, they are required by regulation to transmit for 30 days, though some recorders will transmit for longer.

There is a history of flight data recorders being recovered despite heavy odds. These articles on Air France 447 and South African Airways 295 accidents have good information on search areas and techniques used to locate wreckage and FDRs. Both had large search areas and deep ocean floors.

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