Monday, March 24, 2014
Today's 777 Update: Malaysia "Case Closed"
What if the pilot was active in opposition politics? (He was.) What if he got a mysterious phone call from a throw-away phone, the kind terrorists use, right before takeoff? (He did.) What if the airplane turned and dropped off tracking in the gap between Malaysian controllers and Vietnamese controllers? (It did.) What if Malaysian military radar saw this? (It did.)
The Petronas Towers are twin towers, the tallest in the world before 2010. They dominate Kuala Lumpur, the origin of the airplane and capital of Malaysia. This is the big what if. What if Malaysia sent up fighter jets to investigate the suspicious activities of the 777?
What if the Malaysian government ordered a shootdown?
Might they try to pretend they didn't track the airplane at first? (They did.) Might they divert attention from a backtrack course by encouraging searches in Vietnamese waters when they knew otherwise? (They did.) Might they try to avoid taking responsibility for shooting down a 777 for, oh, a million reasons?
Now, they say the 777 splashed down in the Indian Ocean and are trying to wrap up the story with no wreckage found. Watch for a wooden pallet or some small items to be "found." Of course, this depends on all the different pings, etc. to be spurious.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has announced the satellite data confirms Flight 370 crashed into the Indian Ocean southwest of Australia. The announcement seems odd, given that no wreckage has been recovered. Almost like Malaysia is desperate to bring this story to an end. More about that in a moment.
For this to be true, the only scenario that makes sense is a decompression (or other catastrophe) that left the airplane intact and flying on autopilot with all the people on board dead.
In 2005, a Helios 737 lost pressure due to wrong configuration of the pressurization controls. A warning went off, but the crew thought it was a different kind of warning and ignored it. As the plane continued to climb, everyone aboard lost consciousness due to lack of oxygen. With one exception.
The bursar managed to hook himself up to portable oxygen and entered the flight deck. Greek Air Force F-16s saw him active up front, but he lacked the knowledge to fly the airplane. The 737 exhausted its fuel, the engines flamed out, and it crashed in Greece.
The problem with this scenario is that any time there has been a fire, or, in the Helios Flight 522 crash, pilots have alerted controllers. Here, the unscheduled turn occurred 12 minutes before a routine "good night" from the copilot. The transponder was disabled. And -- most importantly -- the so-called "ghost plane" decompression theory doesn't work below 10,000 feet. That's the first thing pilots do in a decompression is rapidly descend to 10,000 feet. Actually, Flight 370 was reportedly at 5000 feet, where it's even easier to breathe.
Nothing about this says "accident." Airline crashes are almost always an unusual sequence of events that overwhelm a pilot's ability to cope or the structural integrity of the airplane. Here, all we see is human intervention, either that or an incredible collection of coincidences.
We know next to nothing about this satellite data. It only makes sense in the "ghost plane" scenario, with which the Bear is not impressed. I can understand why the Malaysian government might want "closure," (and to clear its civil aviation) but the Bear must be doubting Thomas on this one, until he sees the recovered wreckage of a 777.
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