dml2135 10 months ago

Fascinating article. I had a chuckle at this excerpt:

>The Malaysian investigators did look into whether the cargo could have started a fire, noting that it consisted mainly of ripe mangosteen fruits along with a small number of lithium batteries. Extensive attempts by the investigators to get mangosteen juice to react with the batteries and trigger a fire were unsuccessful.

I'm sure plenty of people here have spent time wracking their brain on a hard problem and the image of a bunch of transportation investigators dousing batteries with juice in a late-night fit of desperation really gets me.

  • interestica 10 months ago

    Investigations have some weird bits. I've always wondered if there's a certain title for the person who prepares the chickens for the 'chicken gun' in airplane testing.

    • thriftwy 10 months ago

      This story has been going around the world for 50 years, and in different variations. According to some sources, the first time it appeared in a publication in USA in 1958, in the professional magazine "Meat and Game" of the California Associations of Game Producers (proven fact). The authenticity of the story, however, is questionable.

      The FAA has at its disposal a unique device for measuring the strength of aircraft windshields, in case of a collision with birds at high speed (which happens not so rarely). This device is a powerful pneumatic cannon that shoots a chicken carcass into the windshield of an airplane at a speed approaching the cruising speed of a civilian aircraft (for jet aircraft, this is approx. 800 km/h, for piston engines in the 1950s this figure was probably smaller, maybe 400-500 km/h). According to the theory, if the glass can withstand a collision with a chicken at such a speed, then it should all the more withstand a real collision with a bird in flight.

      A certain British engineering company developing high-speed trains borrowed this gun from the FAA to test the strength of the windshield of its a new high-speed train. The cannon was brought to England, installed at the landfill, loaded with a chicken carcass and fired at the prototype train.

      The result exceeded all expectations: the chicken broke through the glass, broke the back of the driver's seat and got stuck in the back wall of the car. The British sent test results to FAA and asked them if they had done everything correctly and if the gun was hitting too hard. After studying the description and consequences of the test, the answer was sent by telegram immediately: "Next time, defrost the chicken."

      • KiwiJohnno 10 months ago

        I read a story, "Maybe" true, probably not that once one of the testing organizations that did exactly these sorts of tests used to use frozen chickens from the supermarket. They would load the air-cannon the night before the test, then in the morning the chicken would be defrosted and they were ready to go.

        However one morning the test results were rather more "messy" than they were expecting. They had no clue what had gone wrong, so they reviewed the high-speed footage to see the chicken leave the barrel along with a stray cat that had been chewing on it when the cannon fired...

      • Symbiote 10 months ago

        I realise it's a joke, but I think a high speed train can probably withstand a frozen chicken at speed. They would need some defence against vandals throwing rocks, and weight isn't a problem.

        This paper shows test impacts of a 1kg steel hemisphere, which damage the windscreen but don't shatter it.

        • wlonkly 10 months ago

          Assume a hemispherical chicken...

    • _0w8t 10 months ago

      Those guns are not cheap. I once worked in a startup that wanted to put thermal cameras on commercial planes to measure volcanic ash concentrations. The cameras had to be behind a special glass that is transparent for thermal radiation. But as the glass size exceeded certain size, it required to certify against bird strikes. It turned out the cost of the certification was like 500K euros.

      • easytiger 10 months ago

        For engines presumably the major cost is dismantling and inspecting the engine under test

      • hasmanean 10 months ago

        If that special glass is quartz, it should be stronger than regular glass.

        • _0w8t 10 months ago

          It was germanium glass if I remember correctly. It was very essential that all thermal radiation passed through it.

    • RobRivera 10 months ago

      Operational Testing Lead Quality Assurance Tester El Pollo Hermano

      • TylerE 10 months ago

        Less fun than Operational Testing Lead Quality Assurance Tester Los Pollo Hermanos

      • duxup 10 months ago

        Excuse me sir, it is:


        • vidanay 10 months ago

          Sounds like a Mayan diety.

          • selimthegrim 10 months ago

            Chac Mool was out on other business along with Benedict Arnold.

      • chanandler_bong 10 months ago

        Mr. Fring would like to see you in his office. Now.

    • wyager 10 months ago

      I got to take a tour of SWRI when I was younger, and they have one of these chicken guns in one of their testing facilities. They also have a locker full of machine guns for testing bullet resistance of vehicles etc.

    • jvm___ 10 months ago

      An employee on the Canadian satire show This hour has 22 minutes

      • jdougan 10 months ago

        I thought it was Royal Canadian Air Farce that did the chicken cannon?

    • reacweb 10 months ago

      The person who bought the chickens told me that battery chickens were not suitable because the bones were too soft. Farm chickens were needed. The farmer never knew what the chickens were for.

      • ChuckNorris89 10 months ago

        Damn, we throw chickens in engines that are healthier than the ones most people eat.

        • interestica 10 months ago

          Maybe they can like...catch the exit material and fry it up.

    • ajsnigrutin 10 months ago

      After the joke fiasco, and since it's a government job, i'm sure there is someone employed there to thaw them first :D

    • themodelplumber 10 months ago


      • mwint 10 months ago

        I love how this reads completely differently after the final sentence implies the birds are still alive.

        • lucozade 10 months ago

          Well...a long time ago in a less PC age, I worked for a company that made fuel systems for jet engines. They had an outdoor test firing facility that was enclosed in a wall, maybe 6 feet high, intended to protect passersby.

          The chap who ran the facility had a party piece. He'd put bird seed on top of the blast wall in front of the inlet. He waited for enough pigeons to start eating the seed. Then switched on the engine. There were a lot of feathers...

        • cm2187 10 months ago

          To be honest being swallowed into a jet engine is as quick of a death as you can get

          • krisoft 10 months ago

            Sometimes. Probably most of the time. But not always.

            Petty Officer JD Bridges on a US Navy aircraft carrier got sucked into the intake of a fighter jet. Somehow his body got wedged in such a way that he did not go through the engine and managed to climb out a few seconds later.

            Video of the incident in question, also an interview with him the next day:

            • TheSpiceIsLife 10 months ago

              As I recall, along with getting somewhat wedged, his helmet come off and was digested by the engine.

              Which is one rapid method of equalising pressure at the intake and exhaust.

            • 8n4vidtmkvmk 10 months ago

              Years ago I saw a picture on reddit of a similar event that did not end as well. I'm still scarred.

        • themodelplumber 10 months ago

          Yep. There is a lot of opportunity for chatGPT in the humor space, I think.

      • yellowapple 10 months ago


        • listenallyall 10 months ago

          > I created an OpenAI account solely so I could ask

          was it worth it? no.

          Feel free to ask OpenAi whatever happens to amuse you. Please don't waste the rest of our time or attention or bandwidth on it. Nobody cares.

          • yellowapple 10 months ago

            Thank you for your contribution to this discussion.

            • listenallyall 10 months ago

              My contribution was generated by an actual human, I guess that small detail is irrelevant at this point

              • yellowapple 10 months ago

                I bet you're real fun at parties :)

          • rishav_sharan 10 months ago

            I at least got a chuckle out of it. So it's good enough for me

            • listenallyall 10 months ago

              We're all glad you got an AI-induced "chuckle" in a thread that ponders the tragic death of 200 or so people. Cool stuff. Reddit is just over there to the left...

              • yellowapple 10 months ago

                The HN guidelines are silent on the topic of AI-induced chuckles, yet are pretty explicit about comparisons to Reddit.

          • userbinator 10 months ago

            There is a great demand for a site full of AI-generated (unintentional) humour.

            • listenallyall 10 months ago

              Great... start that site, get it off of HN, and get rich in the process

          • pmarreck 10 months ago

            I care, because I think OpenAI is still endlessly fascinating.

            • listenallyall 10 months ago

              Make your own account and go to town! No need to report back here though.

              • balex 10 months ago

                Thank you for posting your opinion. I, too, felt a need to let you know I'd rather you didn't.

          • nicky0 10 months ago

            I also appreciated the post, however, I did not appreciate yours.

            • listenallyall 10 months ago

              When AI submits content you don't appreciate, who will you complain to?

              • nicky0 10 months ago

                Meh. The poister cleary stated their post had come from an AI chat. It wasn't "AI generated content".

  • themitigating 10 months ago

    I have no flying experience but if there was a fire in the cargo hold wouldn't the crew at least send a message? I thought this flight veered off the flight path before disappearing

    • kaelinl 10 months ago

      Yes, my understanding (as purely a bystander) is that even the most aggressive fires in the past have allowed time for a mayday. See for example UPS flight 6, with a huge uncontrolled lithium battery fire:

      In general, onboard fires are one of the most dangerous scenarios in-flight, as I understand it. Crews are trained extensively for it.

      I think this is, in part, what the analysis in the article concludes — even a fire would have to cause a very specific, never-before-seen combination of failures to lead to the outcomes observed from the outside.

    • Merad 10 months ago

      They should, but there have certainly been aircraft disasters where the pilots didn't exactly do what they were supposed to do.

  • IgorPartola 10 months ago

    It’s not that weird. Lithium (ion) batteries can catch on fire if submerged in water. Can juice do it is a legitimate question.

    • joecool1029 10 months ago

      No, not ion. Lithium *metal* batteries can catch fire when submerged in water. Lithium ion batteries have very little lithium and lots of water is usually the best method to extinguish larger fires. More on safety including information on aircraft fire suppression systems on the more common lithium ion cells:

      • IgorPartola 10 months ago

        Ah that’s the one. Thanks for the correction.

  • EricE 10 months ago

    Strikes me as a desperate attempt to save face and explain away the most plausible explanation - that one of their pilots committed an atrocity.

    • jjeaff 10 months ago

      Considering lithium batteries have been known to combust in an impressive firestorm, it definitely seems worth trying to rule out. But the fruit being involved does seem implausible.

      • eternalban 10 months ago

        > it definitely seems worth trying to rule out. But the fruit being involved does seem implausible.

        The other day learned about farmers drying hay before stacking it, because (who would even imagine this?) it turns out stacks of hay can catch fire if there is too much moister in them, due to a biological chemical reaction.

  • joshspankit 10 months ago

    I also imagine that the first attempt was behind some sort of explosion-proof wall because It Just Might(tm).

hiidrew 10 months ago

Just noticing the medium author, this guy posts fantastic breakdowns of plane crashes on r/catastrophicfailure

Have to say the simulator part makes me lean heavily towards the pilot crashing it purposefully, from the article -

"The most widely reported piece of evidence tying Zaharie to the disappearance was a course he had charted on his home flight simulator about a month before the crash. Zaharie had a number of hobbies, including paragliding and flying model airplanes, but he also spent a lot of time at home on his computer playing flight simulator games. He sometimes uploaded videos of himself playing on his YouTube channel, where he comes off as affable and knowledgeable, if a bit socially awkward.

In 2014, a leaked Malaysian police report revealed that among Zaharie’s saved flight simulator sessions was a very odd route which ran up the Strait of Malacca, turned south after passing Sumatra, and then flew straight down into the Southern Indian Ocean before terminating in the vicinity of the seventh arc. Not only did the track resemble MH370’s actual flight path, it also contained a number of other intriguing details. For example, the track wasn’t really a track — rather, it was a series of brief clips lasting no more than a few seconds each, indicating that Zaharie had programmed it in advance then skipped along it to various points without actually playing through the entire hours-long flight. Furthermore, although initial reports indicated that the track had been intentionally saved by the user, later analysis showed that it was kept only in the system files, and certainly was not meant to be found. Was this a dry run? It seems too odd to be a coincidence."

Also discovering that black box is a misnomer is mildly humorous, these are apparently orange! -

  • canjobear 10 months ago

    For reference, Zaharie's Youtube channel:

    • ak_111 10 months ago

      Imagine one day all of a sudden a low-quality few seconds long video is uploaded to the channel showing only someone filming their feet as they stroll on on a beach.

      • mertd 10 months ago

        That would be on the same level as Satoshi's wallet address turning up in a transaction.

        • ak_111 10 months ago

          For me personally I would put it a few orders of magnitude of a surprise above satoshi being alive.

      • moffkalast 10 months ago

        Well the found wreckage pieces apparently point to a controlled ditching, so it's not entirely impossible for the guy to be alive somehow.

        • agnos 10 months ago

          Unlikely that he's still alive, but the evidence of a controlled landing makes the whole thing more puzzling from a psychological perspective. Why slowly and consciously drag it out until the very bitter end when you've already completed your suicide mission?

          • scirpaceus 10 months ago

            I find the controlled ditching hypothesis less psychologically puzzling, not more, for at least three reasons: ego, agency, and practicality.

            First, successfully ditching an aircraft at sea is the ultimate test of piloting skills, and possibly one difficult to resist for the ego of a seasoned captain on his final flight.

            Second, it seems out of character for a meticulous pilot to just let the aircraft slip out of his control and crash haphazardly at the very end of a carefully-plotted sequence of murderous steps.

            Third, a ditching would better obfuscate the final resting place of the aircraft compared to an uncontrolled dive, as it would result in fewer scattered debris floating away.

            • heleninboodler 10 months ago

              Fourth, if he had any last minute regrets about offing himself (which he had hours to contemplate), it would probably be practically reflexive to keep the plane aloft as long as possible and ditch it as smoothly as possible.

            • mayormcmatt 10 months ago

              Man, these are each really good reasons for the controlled ditch theory. Food for thought.

          • DonaldFisk 10 months ago

            MH370 was out of control when it hit the water, according to the ATSB:

            • moffkalast 10 months ago

              > Several leading air crash investigators, along with the French team that initially examined the flaperon, reported that the damage to the trailing edge would be consistent with the plane impacting the water in a level attitude with the flaps extended to the landing position. The fact that the flaperon (as well as several other pieces) were relatively intact also suggested that the energy of the impact couldn’t have been especially great.

              Just some fun speculation on what's written in the original article, not like we'll ever know for sure.

            • return_to_monke 10 months ago

              this is mentioned in the article. there are things pointing to the contrary, mostly that the plane didn't shatter onto a million different pieces upon impact

        • Cthulhu_ 10 months ago

          While not impossible, it's unlikely - he'd have to survive the crash first (and given it's likely the plane ran out of fuel and power it would be more difficult), and even then, given he went all the way out to the middle of nowhere, it would not have been his intent. Even if he did survive the crash and get out before the plane sunk and got on a life raft with a planeload of supplies like food and water, he'd still have a very low chance of being found or washing up somewhere. And it took a while before they even started to look in the general direction of where the plane would have crashed, so it's not likely he'd be found that way either. It took nearly a year for debris to start washing ashore in Africa.

        • loeg 10 months ago

          In the middle of the Indian ocean, thousands of miles from land. It's unlikely.

          • moffkalast 10 months ago

            Yeah he almost certainly drowned or died on impact, but imagine if he brought a parachute and jumped out a bit before, then got picked up by a friend in a boat. That would be some serious DB Cooper shit. Wouldn't really make sense for a guy committing suicide though I guess.

            • jki275 10 months ago

              I'm relatively sure that's not possible.

        • euroderf 10 months ago

          Maybe a rendezvous with a recovery vessel ? Any evidence that he had access to piles of cash ?

        • jahewson 10 months ago

          This is not true.

  • duxup 10 months ago

    It is very strange. At the same time I imagine a lot of actions in flight simulators are odd choices you might not make in real life.

    I know I did a lot of poor flying….

    • wiredone 10 months ago

      As a trained pilot, flight planning is a huge part of your job.

      Navigation is also a big part of the job. if you assumed you had to turn off parts of your nav equipment to avoid detection, then visual reference (ie flying the path to visually memorise/familirise yourself with wayppoints) would be something you'd certainly do - and a flightsim would be perfect for this.

      • monkeywork 10 months ago

        was the terrain modeling good enough at that time to really train you for that? Current MSFS sure but the version he was running?

        • gymbeaux 10 months ago

          Sure. Flight Simulator X came out around 2006 and at max settings looked great. Current FS is obviously better, but FSX was adequate.

    • Cthulhu_ 10 months ago

      I couldn't fly seriously in a flight sim, I'd get bored quickly and do a loop or dramatic crashes, lol.

      I mean I'd still like to try out the new MS Flight Simulator because it's impressive technology.

    • SteveNuts 10 months ago

      Miegs field. Cessna 172. Enable slew mode.

      • gymbeaux 10 months ago

        Flight Sim 95? Outstanding.

  • generalizations 10 months ago

    > it was a series of brief clips lasting no more than a few seconds each, indicating that Zaharie had programmed it in advance then skipped along it to various points without actually playing through the entire hours-long flight

    I'd be curious which parts of the flight path those clips represented. Were they at important navigational landmarks? Were they nice vistas, places he wanted to see before a suicidal plunge? If they were only a few seconds each, that might indicate that he was checking those points for intentional reasons, rather than for fun.

    • _s 10 months ago

      I could be remembering wrong - but he skipped the "straight" bits, and only flew the parts where his interaction was needed.

  • Railsify 10 months ago

    'Black box' is referring to the lack of visibility inside the box and to the fact that you can't tamper with it, what goes in stays in.

    • LarryMullins 10 months ago

      Flight recorders are called black boxes because they originally were black-colored boxes.

      "Black box" in the sense that you are describing is an unrelated term.

      • travisjungroth 10 months ago
        • ignoramous 10 months ago

          nb: Wikipedia favours verifiability over truth:

          > Wikipedia values accuracy, but it requires verifiability. Wikipedia does not try to impose "the truth" on its readers, and does not ask that they trust something just because they read it in Wikipedia. We empower our readers. We don't ask for their blind trust.

          • wpietri 10 months ago

            You sound like you have a problem with that, but I can't fathom what alternative course you'd rather them pursue.

            • ignoramous 10 months ago

              It is just a note. I don't mean it to sound anything other than what Wikipedia itself states. I see a tonne of "Wikipedia agrees" but none of "Wikipedia is a living document" and it isn't its place to be a gospel of truth...

              • outworlder 10 months ago

                Wikipedia is not and cannot, as per their own policies, be the primary source. 'Wikipedia agrees' is shorthand for 'the sources mentioned by this particular Wikipedia article agree'

                • loeg 10 months ago

                  I think it's shorthand for "the collective Wikipedia editors agree," which is not exactly the same thing as saying every claim is backed by any particular source.

                  • 93po 10 months ago

                    I think more accurately, "the group of Wikipedia editors that managed to 'win' a debate agree".

              • travisjungroth 10 months ago

                You see none of "Wikipedia is a living document"? I think people are pretty aware.

                You see a lot more cases of people quoting Wikipedia on a topic than talking about Wikipedia's trustworthiness because it adds a second dimension. It's [Wikipedia, Topic] vs. [Wikipedia].

                I might look up 100 different things on Wikipedia. The fact that Wikipedia has all sorts of flaws is something I only needed to learn once.

              • andrewflnr 10 months ago

                The phrase "Wikipedia agrees" succinctly encodes the correct degree of confidence, as opposed to "it's true, see Wikipedia".

                • ignoramous 10 months ago

                  An argument can be made, I guess, if one leaves out the exclamation... "Wikipedia agrees!"

                  • andrewflnr 10 months ago

                    You're really reaching for nitpicks, there.

    • moffkalast 10 months ago

      And Valve would sue them if they called it The Orange Box.

  • hammock 10 months ago


    • mrandish 10 months ago

      That scenario seems wildly improbable. First, the existence of the large U.S. airbase at Diego Garcia isn't remotely secret. As for an accidental shoot-down of an airliner before any visual identification or confirmation, I suppose it could happen but it goes against every policy and procedure the U.S. is known to follow. If an unidentified aircraft approached an airbase, they would scramble an intercept for visual identification - especially in peace-time - in the middle of the Indian Ocean far from any active conflict zone.

      In the insanely improbable event that the intercept accidentally shot down the unidentified aircraft before realizing it was a civilian airliner, then it would have been pilot error for not following rules of engagement or, possibly, a flight controller or flight commander error. There's zero reason for the U.S. government to turn an individual mistake into a huge incident by trying to cover it up. Also, there are many examples of the U.S. military making such mistakes and NOT trying to cover it up.

      • outworlder 10 months ago

        > Also, there are many examples of the U.S. military making such mistakes and NOT trying to cover it up.

        Including shooting down an airliner. No coverup.

      • ianburrell 10 months ago

        Also, there is nothing on Diego Garcia that could shoot down an airliner. There is Air Force base but it is all transports today with bombers in the past. There are no fighters based there and same was true in 2014. I couldn’t find any evidence of SAMs. The Air Force doesn’t believe in air defenses for bases outside of active war zones.

        • hammock 10 months ago

          We had two carrier groups in the west pacific

          • ianburrell 10 months ago

            Diego Garcia is in Indian Ocean, 2200 mi from Malaysia. The radar shows that MH370 went into the Indian Ocean not Pacific. If carrier was in the South China Sea, it would be pretty obvious that it was there and involved.

            Carrier group is even less likely to shoot down airliner. In middle of ocean or crowded area like South China Sea, carrier group probably doesn't have its defenses on alert. It has fighters that can intercept and visually identify aircraft. In the middle of ocean, there is plenty of time to react. There isn't the hair trigger in middle of war zone that led to Iran Air Flight 655.

            • hammock 10 months ago

              How far is the Indian Ocean from the west pacific?

    • rootusrootus 10 months ago

      I'd rate the ability of the US Gov't to successfully keep something like that a secret to be roughly zero, plus or minus zero.

      • jjav 10 months ago

        > I'd rate the ability of the US Gov't to successfully keep something like that a secret to be roughly zero, plus or minus zero.

        You'd be very wrong. There are hundreds (thousands? tens of thousands?) classified missions going on all the time involving large amount of people. And aside for the exceedingly rare whistleblower, all of them are kept secret for decades or more until they get declassified (sometimes never).

        (Not trying to give any credibility to the previous comment, just commenting on how effectively governments keep classified secrets.)

        • rootusrootus 10 months ago

          As I said, 'like that.' It is difficult to imagine a reasonable comparison between all of the mundane secret missions going on every day, and shooting down an airliner. This is on the level of 9/11 conspiracies. It's just not possible for something that huge to stay secret for long.

        • ceejayoz 10 months ago

          > There are hundreds (thousands? tens of thousands?) classified missions going on all the time involving large amount of people.

          Not many of them involve murdering an entire planeload of civilians.

          • jjav 10 months ago

            > Not many of them involve murdering an entire planeload of civilians.

            You of course don't know that, not having access to compartmentalized top secret material.

            If you did, you couldn't post here (or anywhere) about it.

            • woodruffw 10 months ago

              You can be reasonably confident that the US does not regularly disappear entire airplanes filled with foreign nationals. As evidenced by MH 370, it's something that everybody notices.

              The US has vast intelligence and military resources, but resources can't create operational miracles. Disappearing a civilian airplane and keeping it disappeared would be such a miracle.

    • kodah 10 months ago

      There would've been overwhelming chatter about a plane entering controlled airspace and not replying. The sheer size of cleanup needed would've required one of the MEUs to reroute and you'd have to silence thousands of Marines and Sailors from talking about it.

    • snapetom 10 months ago

      What was the plane doing near Diego Garcia in the first place?

amatecha 10 months ago

If you haven't seen it, this Google Map of all found debris is quite interesting:

  • lippihom 10 months ago

    Crash aside - this is very well-done and cool map. I wish Google made maps like this more easily searchable / discoverable.

  • return_to_monke 10 months ago

    what I don't understand is: if the plane could make contact with the satellite, why aren't there automated systems in place to send location info through that channel? can someone explain?

    • zokier 10 months ago

      From tfa

      > In the interest of knowing where every plane is at all times, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) began requiring that all airliners manufactured after the 1st of January 2021 include autonomous tracking devices that broadcast their location once per minute.

      • nly 10 months ago

        It's bat shit insane that we're 50 years in to the industry and ~20-25 years in to GPS and this is still only happening in 2021.

        • lordalch 10 months ago

          There are several redundant tracking systems on an airliner, but the pilot deliberately turned them off. That hadn't been an issue before.

        • Cthulhu_ 10 months ago

          GPS is a one-way system though, using sattelite signals to triangulate your own position; there's no uplink / reverse contact required, and it's up to the GPS receiver to then send the location on through a ground station.

        • hugh-avherald 10 months ago

          It won't save lives and wouldn't have saved lives. It's only to improve the efficiency of recovery operations.

          • epups 10 months ago

            It could save future lives to know what happened, though.

sopooneo 10 months ago

Hearing about all the painstaking analysis of this flight made me wonder something: If you look deeply enough, how frequent are inexplicable situations? That is, if you took all the info from a normal flight, and cut it off at the halfway point and gave it to a group of enthusiastic investigators, would they find aspects that contradicted or truly did not make sense? My guess is they would.

This is not to say MH370 was without incident, only that apparent contradiction may be unavoidable if you look closely enough at anything.

  • TylerE 10 months ago

    It's unlikely, since about 98% of the Earth has transponder coverage, so you at least have position and what the aircraft think's it's altitude is, with pretty good precision and sample rate. It's only in a few spots in the middle the ocean that this doesn't exist.

    This was also relevant in that Airbus crash from maybe 15 years ago between South America and Africa.

    This is not a problem on the main to/from North America routes because there are enough populated islands along the way (Iceland, Greenland, Hawaii, Guam, etc)

    • tjohns 10 months ago

      That number can't be right. 98% of the earth doesn't have primary radar coverage, let alone secondary (transponder) coverage.

      ATC radar is line of sight. At an altitude of 40,000 feet, you're beyond the radio horizon and lose coverage after about 380 miles - and that's the theoretical best case.

      Oceanic air traffic control is primarily a non-radar environment, using procedural separation. Even over land, most of Canada (outside major cities and the airways between them) doesn't have radar coverage. There's a map showing the gaps here:

      (The military does have over-the-horizon radar, but that's mostly used for missile defense. OTH radar isn't used for air traffic control.)

      • TylerE 10 months ago

        The newer systems that have come online over the past decade or so (partially in response to 370) actually use the iridium satelites

        • lxgr 10 months ago

          These systems are using ADS-B and are only designed for operational/informational purposes so far, as far as I know.

          They are not used for air traffic control or other safety-critical purposes.

          • tjohns 10 months ago

            If it's using Iridum or (more likely) Inmarsat, it would technically be ADS-C. (There is also a parallel system that allows satellites to detect existing ADS-B signals, developed by Aireon - but this is relatively new and not used globally.)

            These absolutely can be used for air-traffic control. ADS-B has better temporal resolution than radar, and ADS-C is at least as good as manual position reports over the radio (used for procedural control over oceanic/non-radar airspace).

            However, it's worth noting that these aren't really "transponders" (in aviation, that usually refers to beacon used for Mode-A/C secondary radar). Also, these are all active systems, dependent on the aircraft's electrical bus and easily disabled. In the case of MH370 the transponder _was_ powered down for some reason.

            The only system that the pilot can't turn off is primary radar, but again, coverage for this system is limited once you leave populated areas.

            • lxgr 10 months ago

              I believe GP was thinking about Aireon and similar systems, which are similar to ADS-C at a surface level, but solve a different problem:

              ADS-C is a two-way communications protocol; ATC can request a certain update interval and I believe also boundary conditions requiring extra location transmissions. If that communication fails, both the ATC and pilot are informed about the fact, and they can reliably switch to other means of communications (e.g. voice position reports over HF).

              > These absolutely can be used for air-traffic control.

              ADS-B is (at least for now) mostly an augmentation of primary and secondary surveillance radar, as well as something to give other aircraft better situational awareness (via ADS-B in), as I understand it. I don't think either ATC nor pilots are currently relying on it for safety-critical decisions.

              The big problem is that it's always possible for some plane's ADS-B transmitter to fail (maliciously or otherwise). On land, you have secondary or primary radar to fall back to.

              This applies doubly so to third-party (i.e. non-ATC/non-AOC) satellite-based relaying services, since not only the ADS-B transmitter can fail in that scenario (and ADS-B was not originally designed to be received by satellites), but the relay service could fail as well, and the failure mode would be much less visible to both parties than in ADS-C.

          • phire 10 months ago

            And for anyone who doesn't know; ADS-B is simply the aircraft voluntarily reporting its own GPS coordinates.

            So it's not going to help at all in a MH370 scenario.

            • lxgr 10 months ago

              > ADS-B is simply the aircraft voluntarily reporting its own GPS coordinates

              True, but that is ultimately the case for all flights outside of primary radar coverage.

    • _s 10 months ago

      I think closer to 80-90% of all landmass has "active" surveillance, with another 40-50% of sea / oceans.

      Most of the South Pacific / South Atlantic / Southern Ocean (Antarctic); a lot of the North Pacific / North Atlantic / Indian / Arctic outside of the major islands and direct routes has nearly no coverage.

      • tjohns 10 months ago

        I think even this number is high. 80-90% sounds about right for the mainland US and Europe, but definitely isn't true elsewhere. Canada probably has ~50% radar coverage, and oceans have essentially 0% once you're beyond line of sight from from the coast.

        (And this is if you're a jet flying at high altitude. If you're down where smaller aircraft fly, I can point to areas on the US west coast that don't have radar or radio coverage. Heck, there's parts of the mainland US that don't even have NEXRAD weather radar coverage.)

        • rootusrootus 10 months ago

          > Heck, there's parts of the mainland US that don't even have NEXRAD weather radar coverage.

          Is that a good comparison, though? It seems like NOAA funding for the NEXRAD sites is perpetually inadequate. The one in Portland occasionally has outages that last a while. I would have guessed that civilian air control radar is better funded than NEXRAD, and military radar probably so well funded that every square inch of CONUS is covered by at least one.

          • tjohns 10 months ago

            Domestic civilian and military radar is the same thing. It's (mostly) all managed by the FAA, and the military just gets a copy of the civilian radar feed as part of the Joint Surveillance System. [1]

            The limiting factor is geography. Radar coverage in the US is excellent, but the mountains out west make universal coverage hard, and there's some areas that just aren't cost effective to cover.

            At 40,000 MSL, yes, everything in the US is covered. Below 10,000 MSL though, there are definite gaps - especially in the mountainous west. It's just physics, the mountains block the signal, and filling in all the gaps is cost prohibitive. Instead, they just tell aircraft to fly higher if they want radar service.

            As for outages... ATC radar goes out all the time. You just never hear about it because they either switch to an adjacent, (slower) en-route radar site as part of CENRAP [2], or fall back to procedural control (voice position reports on the radio). Redundancy is baked into the system at many levels, both technical and human.



            • rootusrootus 10 months ago

              That's fascinating information, thanks for sharing! Off to lose some time diving into wikipedia...

    • lxgr 10 months ago

      Not sure what exactly you mean by "transponder coverage", but if you mean primary or secondary surveillance radar, this is not true for most of the Atlantic or Pacific.

      Radar (both primary and secondary, i.e. transponders) as well as ADS-B require line-of-sight, and oceanic air traffic control has to make due without that, which means operating either via ADS-C (i.e. planes self-reporting their position, autonomously determined via GPS or inertial navigation, via satellite communications) or effectively dead reckoning, augmented by occasional position reports via HF radio, which is called procedural control:

      • hallidave 10 months ago

        Space-based ADS-B is now a thing. It is used for coverage of the north Atlantic.

        • lxgr 10 months ago

          Yes, but note how this press release is mostly explaining what this technology could eventually be used for. I'm not aware of any ACCs actually using it for oceanic control today or having made an announcement of planning to do so in the future.

          It's a very exciting technology, sure, but I think it's many years of testing and flawless operation as a secondary data source away from replacing ADS-C on oceanic routes.

  • travisjungroth 10 months ago

    Even more, I imagine the average flight would look extraordinary. You would always hit some rare event if you looked hard enough. Rare events are so common! What are the odds that this many people on the plane were military / government / communists / CEOs / Jews / elderly? Well, pretty high if you're looking after-the-fact. And if you look into the background of every person and started reaching out a bit it would get weirder. You'd have tons of former whatevers, brother-in-laws of important people, criminals, all sorts. And people would be absolutely certain it meant something.

    In the case of MH370, this is why I always found the simulator history of the pilot the most relevant. It doesn't require this long chain of relationships like some other things. It is the most impactful person recently doing something related to the event that is extremely weird behavior.

  • dinkumthinkum 10 months ago

    I get what you’re saying but I doubt it because air travel now is extraordinarily systematic and well understood.

neilv 10 months ago

> But Sherlock Holmes was right: once we have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.

This matter isn't entertainment fiction, and nobody involved is Sherlock Holmes.

Hundreds of people died. Amateurs publicly casting blame on one of the presumed dead seems unfair to the individual accused, and insensitive to the families.

Especially when it depends on bits like this:

> How these aspects of Zaharie’s life could have led him to commit an unspeakable act of mass murder is difficult to understand. But while he was said to be an affectionate and emotionally sensitive person who loved life, perhaps something dark lurked within him, something which he suppressed so thoroughly that no one else knew it was there. It is said that the people who seem happiest are sometimes also in the deepest agony, struggling against demons that they never reveal even to their closest friends.

Why not leave this real, recent tragedy to the professional investigators.

  • 12345hn6789 10 months ago

    Ignoring the fact the route of the plan is close to the path the pilot flew on his personal computer is more insensitive to the deceased than grandstanding that this was an accidental.

  • Phiwise_ 10 months ago

    Yeah, this article contains a bit too much editorializing for flavor for my taste. Doubly so after seeing attached patreon links. How much better than the news networks that ran literally everything they could get their hands on about the flight (even when that was nothing) are you really when you do something like this? Sure there's much more factual information present here, but if its job is to generate emotional intrigue instead of inform is there truly a difference in kind? If the facts are so compelling, just state them and at least have the plausible deniability that it's just your readers opining after seeing them.

  • nasseri 10 months ago

    I'm sympathetic to your point of view -- I remember the "independent investigators on reddit" wrongly accusing Sunil Tripathi of being the perpetrator of the Boston Bombing and causing his family a great deal of distress. But the author provides a few salient examples of why relying on "professional investigators" has come up short:

    > The official report also did its best to paper over a number of failings that contributed to the plane not being found. In addition to the long delay in informing authorities — caused by missteps at the Kuala Lumpur and Ho Chi Minh City control centers, as well as at Malaysia Airlines — criticism should have been levied at the Malaysian military. Why didn’t they intercept the unidentified aircraft as it was crossing the north of the country? The military claimed it was because the plane wasn’t a threat. But how could they have known that unless they had identified it as MH370, rather than a foreign incursion? And if they had identified it as MH370, why didn’t they tell anyone until days after the crash? The most likely explanation was that the military simply wasn’t monitoring its own radar at the time that the plane flew through Malaysian airspace. But admitting this would expose a massive security vulnerability by revealing Malaysia’s military to be dangerously incompetent. Probably for national security reasons, the official report had nothing to say about this at all.

    Seems like this is a pretty serious omission.


    > Zaharie’s social life was also not as smooth as Malaysian authorities portrayed it to be. A combination of the leaked police report and interviews with people who knew him revealed that he had separated from his wife on an informal basis and was living alone in the family home.

    So in essence Malaysian police were obfuscating the facts around the pilot, for whatever reason they may have. Perhaps they concluded based on further research that the pilot was probably guiltless. But whatever the reason, we do know that what they said in public diverges from what they found in private.

    It seems to me that independent investigation and open source intelligence of this kind can be useful when there may be reasons for the official investigators to cover up certain parts of the story.

    Lastly, I think there is a substantial difference between a crowd of people online with no real investigatory track record accusing someone (a la Sunil Tripathi) in the days/hours/minutes after the incident, and someone with a proven track record of credible investigatory reporting and some subject matter expertise, laying out some mixture of facts/theories/conclusions (that have already been circulating online) ten years after the fact.

  • outworlder 10 months ago

    Because the 'professional investigators' have not published their conclusions?

  • fendy3002 10 months ago

    > This matter isn't entertainment fiction, and nobody involved is Sherlock Holmes.

    People love to misuse this quotes. Even if Holmes said this, usually it is proven, and with evidences.

    It only works if every possibilities are discovered or accounted for. It's wrong to simply disprove all of other possibilities that only some people can account for.

  • stevev 10 months ago

    One does not need to be a professional to deduce possibilities and eliminate them. Given the facts, it can only lead to a few possibilities. Facts don’t care about your feelings.

_Adam 10 months ago

> ... reaches up and flips the pressurization switch, cutting off bleed air to the cabin. The airplane rapidly begins to depressurize ...

I cannot believe that a "kill everyone" switch actually exists, and if it really does this seems like a bug. Especially because not hitting the switch would also kill everyone.

  • ceejayoz 10 months ago

    Being able to rapidly depressurize is fairly critical; the doors are prevented from opening in flight by a pressure differential and their construction. In an emergency, being unable to depressurize would mean being unable to evacuate the aircraft.

    Passengers would've had their oxygen masks deploy, which works in normal circumstances, but they only last 12 minutes; intended to give the crew time to descend. When the pilot has no intention of taking that measure, you're screwed pretty fast, but they could fly into a mountain too if they felt like it.

    • Gare 10 months ago

      > but they could fly into a mountain too if they felt like it

      Don't know if you said that with this crash in mind or not, but:

      • ceejayoz 10 months ago


        Fundamentally, if the pilot of an airliner wants to crash, they will be able to crash.

        With very rare exceptions:

        • dehrmann 10 months ago

          There's a lot of automation around commercial air travel, so autonomous commercial flying is an easier problem than city driving. The argument against it tends to be that you need a human behind the stick in cases like the miracle on the Hudson. The other side of this is it's about as likely a pilot intentionally crashes the plane.

    • loeg 10 months ago

      In an evacuation event, the aircraft would be at sea level and the interior would not be pressurized relative to outside air. You only need to depressurize if you're going to parachute out, which... is not an option in commercial aviation.

      • edrxty 10 months ago

        Pressurization is relative, aircraft can end up pressurized on the ground. Next time you fly, note the warning beacons in the windows of all the doors. They indicate the cabin is pressurized alerting rescue crews that attempting to open said door will either A: not work or B: kill them, as has happened before with a G150 [1]

        Also, there are other situations where you may be inclined to disable bleed air, such as in a fume event where an engine is releasing turbine oil into the bleed air stream due to a mechanical failure or fire.


        • loeg 10 months ago

          > Pressurization is relative

          I mean, that's literally what I wrote.

      • ceejayoz 10 months ago

        Unless you, say, make an emergency landing somewhere like Denver or La Paz.

        • loeg 10 months ago

          Aircraft are pressurized to 8k feet above sea level. Denver is only 5k. La Paz, specifically, sure. It’s a lot less broadly useful than your original language made it sound.

  • paranoidrobot 10 months ago

    Your assumption is that it's a "kill everyone" button.

    Yes, used incorrectly or maliciously, in the right circumstances, it can do so.

    By the same reasoning, a huge percentage of the controls and switches in the cockpit can also have the same result.

    Just disconnect the fuel to the engines, or push the control stick forward.

    • maegul 10 months ago

      I feel like the need for qualified pilots is essentially that it’d be easier to identify what isn’t effectively a “kill everyone” button in the cockpit if used in the wrong way.

      It’s a fricken giant metal tube flying through the air!

      • martopix 10 months ago

        Slightly related: a family friend who was a pilot once told us that the security at an UK airport once very thoroughly inspected him before his flight. Puzzled, he asked: what are you looking for? Because I have a literal axe in the cockpit - and I can also crash the plane. How could I possibly be carrying more dangerous stuff? The security people didn't like it.

        • 93po 10 months ago

          It's also worth keeping the secure area of the airport secure. The pilot can be negligent and have weapons stolen from him, or left behind by accident. He can also accidentally bring weapons into the airport he didn't intend to.

        • maegul 10 months ago

          Terrorist’s long game I guess … just become the damn pilot.

  • whywhywouldyou 10 months ago

    Are you also astounded that the pilot controls the plane with a "kill everyone" lever? One that if they push forward for long enough will kill everyone on the plane?

    But also, _not_ using the lever during landing would also kill everyone. Wild stuff.

  • LastTrain 10 months ago

    Wait until you hear about this thing called a yoke.

  • stephen_g 10 months ago

    The pilots can kill everyone in a many different ways. It's basically impossible to get around that.

  • Cthulhu_ 10 months ago

    There's many "kill everyone" switches in most vehicles; this is why people get training and screening before being allowed to operate one. It's not foolproof, but there is no such thing as foolproof transport.

  • apexalpha 10 months ago

    When in the right (/ wrong) hands many of the buttons and controls on an airliners can become "kill everyone" switches.

    This switch, just like all others, has very legitimate use cases.

ErikVandeWater 10 months ago

According to experts hired by NBC news, the audio between the pilots and ATC were edited:

For whatever reason, this doesn't seem to be widely discussed.

  • gabereiser 10 months ago

    edited for brevity. You can't edit the recordings of the black box but you could certainly doctor recordings from either side. It mentions that in the article that it doesn't mean anything nefarious but rather just a matter of fact. If they were edited before release, its probably to cut out silence or something. I wouldn't go conspiracy theory here.

    • MrOwnPut 10 months ago

      Did you read the article? It seems like it wasn't just silence edited out.

      "At approximately 1:14 (a minute, 14 seconds into the audio, which can be heard here), the tone of the recording change to where to me, it sounds like someone is holding a digital recorder up to a speaker, so it's a microphone-to-speaker transfer of that information. That's a pretty big deal because it raises the first red flag about there possibly being some editing," he said.

      The next part that raises questions is two minutes, six seconds in, through two minutes, nine seconds in, he said.

      "I can hear noise in the room, along with the increase in the noise floor. I can hear a file door being closed, I can hear some papers being shuffled. so I'm further convinced that, beginning at 1:14 continuing through 2:06 to 2:15, it's a digital recorder being held up to a speaker."

      "But yet, at 6:17, there's a huge edit because the conversation is cut off. It's interrupted. And the tone changes again," he said. "The noise floor, when you're authenticating a recording from a forensic perspective, is a very important part of the process. All of a sudden, we go back to the same quality and extremely low noise floor that we had at the beginning of the recording."

    • detrites 10 months ago

      Audio is super cheap, and easy to index. Releasing it all has zero downside yet enables better investigation. Even things like dead-air pops/hums could potentially offer clues. (And an unbroken timeline is important in and of itself.)

      Someone once reconstructed an entire helicopter's location telemetry just from the dead-air hum recorded by a video camera. Don't underestimate the value of any piece of information. It's a failure if there's needless withholding.

    • ErikVandeWater 10 months ago

      Edits should be made clear upon release of the audio recording. The investigation is either incompetent or corrupt if it is not being forthcoming about edits to information released to the public.

    • StanislavPetrov 10 months ago

      In an investigation of this type, there is absolutely not to release the full, unedited copy. Failure to do so is either incompetence or deliberate malfeasance.

    • luckylion 10 months ago

      If you released something of that importance and edited beforehand, you'd probably say so and release the unedited version as well, wouldn't you?

      Sometimes I wonder whether some officials are trolling the conspiracy theory people, by editing something without even changing anything, just so people can freak out over it. Or give overlay specific denials just so people go "aha, they only said they never negotiated with Aliens from Mars, not that they didn't meet Aliens from Mars, nor that they didn't negotiate with Aliens from Pluto".

swyx 10 months ago

apparently Ocean Infinity, the private salvage search company mentioned in the article that spent millions on a "no find no fee" search for MH370 is committing to doing it again this or next year:

how exactly do these guys fund themselves? this must be a horrendously expensive enterprise and fairly infrequent at that.

  • phire 10 months ago

    They have other customers.

    Even if they don't find it, this is great advertising for them, and gives them a reason to test their technology. And if they do find it, even better advertising.

    I wouldn't be surprised if their negotiated finders fee from Malaysia is still below cost.

    • gsnedders 10 months ago

      If they _do_ find it, they'll be getting reported for _decades_ for having found it. Putting a marketing value to that is… incredibly difficult.

      • swyx 10 months ago

        first they shall have to find the proverbial broken up needle in a haystack deeper and wider than any search that has ever been done on earth. expected value of this thing is ultra negative no matter the marketing value lol

  • Cthulhu_ 10 months ago

    There's a lot of people with a lot of money who look for ventures to invest into; some build schools or affordable housing, some buy artwork, some set up charities for tax dodging reasons, and others will invest in a company like this which will get customers calling them nonstop if they find the plane.

    I mean the article mentioned this company spent "millions" on the search. There's people that earn millions per day by doing nothing or sending a tweet. There's tons of money out there, it's just allocated poorly.

    • Eisenstein 10 months ago

      Yeah, 'millions' to a company with 8 autonomous submarines each equipped with long-range sonar is probably not much at all. The crew is probably paid anyway, might as well use them for something.

  • andrewaylett 10 months ago

    I suspect that like many peacetime efforts undertaken by various militaries, they need to train so they might as well do something useful while training.

ak_111 10 months ago

The strangeness of this story - a 777 disappearing into thin air in one of the most surveilled and monitored (due to geopolitics) places on earth leaving no traces behind - has spooked people so much that there is a section on the wikipedia page debunking theories related to black holes.

  • kccqzy 10 months ago

    > By treading the line between the two countries, he hopes that both will view the unidentified plane as the other country’s problem. (Indeed, this is what happened: Thai military controllers saw the plane but assumed Malaysia was handling it; Malaysian military controllers, on the other hand, probably weren’t paying attention at all.)

    On Malaysian military:

    > Why didn’t [the Malaysian military] intercept the unidentified aircraft as it was crossing the north of the country? The military claimed it was because the plane wasn’t a threat. But how could they have known that unless they had identified it as MH370, rather than a foreign incursion? And if they had identified it as MH370, why didn’t they tell anyone until days after the crash? The most likely explanation was that the military simply wasn’t monitoring its own radar at the time that the plane flew through Malaysian airspace.

  • nerdponx 10 months ago

    Isn't this how the show Lost starts?

    • euroderf 10 months ago

      Time to get A.I. to patch the opening episode to be MH 370.

  • quickthrower2 10 months ago

    That the show Lost was the same sort of concept probably adds to it.

bengl3rt 10 months ago

"Before Fariq can attempt to get back into the cockpit, Zaharie reaches up and flips the pressurization switch, cutting off bleed air to the cabin. The airplane rapidly begins to depressurize."

I really want to believe that a single switch doesn't control whether people in the back of the plane can breather or not...

  • TylerE 10 months ago

    It won't unless there is some sort of major hull leak. If it was off long enough it would start to be a problem. Its basically the same same as turning off recirc on your car's climate controls. (Also, the pressurization controls are almost always on the overhead panels, which contains things that are used almost always for startup/shutdown steps so it's not like the pilot is going to reach over to adjust a radio or the autopilot and hit the bleed air.

    Really though there are plenty of switches in any cockpit that will result in the death of all aboard if no corrective action is taken.

    Do you freak out about driving? Plenty of controls in your car you could say the same thing about. Yanking the ebrake at highway speeds in rush hour traffic isn't gonna end well.

    Edit the 5th or so: There are also times when the pilot will legitimately and safely depressurize in flight, like when descending to the one of the super-high airports that are actually at higher altitude than typical cabin atmosphere, like La Paz Bolivia (over 13000ft, compared to a typical cabin altitude of 5-8000 or so. They do it gradually while descending, so they don't make everyones ears go bang all at once.

    Edit the 6th: Also, there's a big difference between turning off bleed air (which is pretty benign) and actually hitting the emergency pressure dump control, which is protected by a guard that holds the switch in the normal/auto position.

    • Ajedi32 10 months ago

      I think the difference is that in a car, any action that could kill the passengers is nearly as likely to kill the driver as well. Obviously you can't stop the pilot from crashing the plane and killing everyone, but it's still pretty creepy to learn that there's a "kill all passengers but leave me alive" switch in every plane, in a locked cockpit inaccessible to the people whose lives are affected by that switch.

      • nawgz 10 months ago

        This is a really weird characterization of a normal airplane function.

        First, you are seeming to act as if the power between passengers and pilots should be equal. Why would this ever be? The pilot has all the power and the passengers none. Thinking of past hijackings, it's obvious that it must be this way.

        Second, the plane needs to be able to handle all sorts of 1 in a million events. Recall there were around 22 million flights in 2021, and of those, exactly 1 was involving a Boeing or Airbus jet (maybe that's even true for Embraer or Bombardier and that tier of airliner). This is because the pilot has a vast amount of controls that are required to handle various events. A plane is a pressurized tube flying thru the sky, of course controls for pressure in the cabin must exist to allow equalization under aberrant circumstances.

        Finally, activating this "kill" switch would drop oxygen masks to every passenger in the plane automatically; the pilot does not have any say in this matter. While these masks obviously have limited duration, there isn't exactly a way the pilot could perform this mass murder without their own death or imprisonment being guaranteed too. Frankly, I find your representation of the purpose of the switch so immature as to be offensive.

        • Ajedi32 10 months ago

          I didn't say it was a bad idea with no legitimate purpose, just that it's pretty creepy. Given that it's only been used to commit mass murder ~once (at most), it's probably not worth implementing any mitigating controls.

          • bigDinosaur 10 months ago

            If the pilots want to kill you, all they have to do is fly into the ground, and there's absolutely nothing you can do to stop them and nothing short of complete automation could ever remove that risk. I can't think of scenarios where the pilots would particularly want to survive after murdering all their passengers.

            • mariuolo 10 months ago

              With when the co-pilot hijacked the plane to ask for political asylum in Switzerland, I remember news coverage reporting that he had threatened the passengers to cut off the air supply if they didn't remain seated.

              Must have been quite distressing.

              • apexalpha 10 months ago

                This just reinforces the argument that the pilot is in control, and he can do as he likes. Fly normally, change course, kill everyone... When you step into a plane you put your life in the hands of a pilot.

                • Ajedi32 10 months ago

                  It would be pretty easy to remove "kill everyone except me" as one of those options, if we thought it was worth it (which again, it probably isn't). Just mandate that an override switch for the life support systems be accessible in the passenger compartment.

                  • mariuolo 10 months ago

                    > It would be pretty easy to remove "kill everyone except me" as one of those options, if we thought it was worth it (which again, it probably isn't).

                    The idea is to keep everyone except the pilot alive but unconscious until things improve. I think it's preferable to everyone unconscious and eventually dead.

                    • Ajedi32 10 months ago

                      Uh... what? Whose idea, exactly? Because that's an absolutely terrible idea. Altitude-induced hypoxia isn't like some kind of controlled medical anesthesia. If all the passengers fall unconscious from it then it's neigh certain that at least some of them are going to die. That's why commercial airplanes have emergency oxygen masks for passengers, not just the pilot.

                      If both passengers and the pilot aren't being supplied with enough oxygen to remain conscious 100% of the time, then something has gone horribly wrong. If the reason passengers aren't being supplied with enough oxygen to remain conscious is because the pilot cut off their air supply intentionally, then that's even worse. (Though again, thankfully that situation seems to be extremely rare.)

    • phire 10 months ago

      > and actually hitting the emergency pressure dump control

      Wait, is there an emergency pressure dump control?

      I kind of just assumed turning off bleed air would be the only option, and I would have assumed that turning off bleed air would complete depressurisation within a few min.

      • TylerE 10 months ago

        Yes. You’d use it in the case of something like a fire where you need to get the smoke out NOW

        Here’s what it looks like on a 737:

        The switch is the guarded toggle a bit left of center on the bottom, next to the two round gauges.

  • mlyle 10 months ago

    It's about that easy. Of course, masks are a-gonna drop, and flight attendants are going to put on portable oxygen bottles... and of course the crew should descend. But the whole plane architecture is built on the idea that you're trusting the people in the front with everyone's lives.

    • stouset 10 months ago

      I think the point being that accidentally hitting this switch is probably of some concern.

      • stephen_g 10 months ago

        There was a disaster where the pressurisation switch was left in the wrong position by a maintenance crew [1], and the pilots didn't realise because they thought the alarm was for something else, and by the time they realised something was wrong they were starting to suffer from hypoxia and were no longer able to react properly. Additional warning indicator lights were added to the cockpit to make the situation much more obvious.

        Now pilots would hear the warning, scan the indicators and see the indicator, and are trained to put on their oxygen masks immediately. The cabin masks would deploy automatically. Then they follow the checklist which is to descend to a safe level if the pressure is uncontrollable (which it wouldn't be if it's just switched off).

        It's very unlikely the pilot would turn off cabin pressurisation, but it would be pretty gentle and warning alarms and indicators would start pretty quickly (including on EICAS on newer planes like the 777). The pilots could easily fix it well before their or the passengers' oxygen ran out.


      • ploum 10 months ago

        I read a story about the "landing gear down" button being close and similar to the "shut off all engines" button in some bombers during WW2.

        A few of them crashed after very long flights, on approach of the runway. Inexplicably, they suddenly felt right when they should have deployed landing gears.

        So aircraft makers learned from that incident that no amount of training can mitigate a bad user interface. Especially if the user of your interface is dead tired after a 12h flight.

        • vermilingua 10 months ago

          That was the "flaps down" switch, not "shut off engines". The key feature of fixed-wing aircraft is being able to glide unpowered; dropping the flaps however would be equivalent to yanking the yoke all the way forward.

          • wkat4242 10 months ago

            But during a landing you would normally have the flaps down, this is exactly what they're for: to enable lower approach speeds and more visibility of the runway due to a nose down angle

            • shakow 10 months ago

              Flaps must be deployed progressively. If you suddenly put 35° deflection flaps instead of lowering your gear, you're in for a strong emotional event.

      • EdwardDiego 10 months ago

        After a few crashes that bad UX played a part in, I'm reasonably confident that in a modern aircraft that switch is somewhere hard to press accidentally.

        (E.g., fuel selector switches that can enter an unexpected state while looking like they're in the correct state, take-off/go-around switches that could be triggered by a first officer wearing a watch reaching for the speed brake lever, attitude indicators with ambiguous backgrounds, three-pointer/drum-pointer/counter-pointer altimeters)

      • jaywalk 10 months ago

        It's not going to be accidentally hit. And even if somehow it does get hit accidentally, there's a CABIN ALTITUDE warning that would go off before it becomes a problem.

      • outworlder 10 months ago

        That's some accident. The pressurization controls are overhead in a not very central location.

      • thrashh 10 months ago

        Well I don’t know if I’ve heard of any incidents and there are like hundreds of flights in a day so in all practicality, there is zero concern

      • mlyle 10 months ago

        Modern aircraft have very good warning systems that warn when configuration of the aircraft or systems necessary for life are in incorrect states, and the way they're used generally afford a decent chunk of time if something goes wrong.

  • whywhywouldyou 10 months ago

    What's with so many of these comments being flabbergasted that there's a switch in the cockpit that can cause harm to everyone on the plane?

    Do you realize you're entrusting two people in the front of the plane with your life as soon as the plane takes off? There are probably DOZENS of switches that if they are flipped maliciously will result in everyone on the plane dying.

    • guntherhermann 10 months ago

      I think the difference is the that those other things affect everyone on the plane, but depressurising only the cabin, doesn't.

      • lazide 10 months ago

        It also impacts the pilots (they don’t have their own pressurized area, it’s the same), but the pilots have more oxygen. Which is a really good thing 99.999% of the time.

  • DogLover_ 10 months ago

    You might want to learn about Helios Airways Flight 522 crash

    • quickthrower2 10 months ago

      That was a missed checklist item IIRC where the ground engineer had turned off the pressurisation while trying to debug a pressure leak (ironically), the pilot was supposed to check this in a couple of lists, they did but I think they glossed over it. Plus they might have ignored some inflight warnings. This is also the one where a learning pilot (also scuba diver, probably able to handle the lack of oxygen better) tried to save it but was too late.

    • EamonnMR 10 months ago

      That one haunts my nightmares.

      • threads2 10 months ago

        WOW I will never sleep on a plane again.

        • justsid 10 months ago

          No worries, if pressurization is lost, your body will do the sleeping all by itself.

roxgib 10 months ago

At this point the data from his computer, at least the data from the flight simulator software, should be released publicly so that those with experience can apply their knowledge to reconstructing the data. It's entirely possible that someone with more knowledge of the software in question, rather than a generic computer expert, might have more luck.

  • maegul 10 months ago

    Agreed. Whenever I return to this story I’m always astounded at rereading that part of the story (even though I know it’s coming). I’m also surprised it isn’t given more weighting.

    Surely it’s the biggest reddest flag in all the evidence and underemphasised purely because of the political implications of a murderous pilot.

    The main question about it in my mind is one for aviation experts … why would any pilot plot and practice that course? Is there any possible motivation other than wanting to crash a plane in the middle of nowhere?

    Because if not, it’s almost a closed, albeit morbid and troubling case and the rest would be details.

    It also raises interesting questions about the importance of pilot mental health that are maybe uncomfortable for the industry, in addition to the fact that aviation tech could still completely lose a plane.

  • whywhywouldyou 10 months ago

    What about the data would require an expert to reconstruct? They have the simulated flight path. It's very similar to the final flight path of the real plane.

    • roxgib 10 months ago

      From the report it was recovered from backup files at the system level, it wasn't as simple as a save game file or whatever. It's possible there's more data there or that what's there has different interpretations - we can only speculate at this point based on the very limited information that's been released.

    • outworlder 10 months ago

      Probably because it wasn't just a simple 'replay' file.

kgwgk 10 months ago

Relevant book (open access):

Bayesian Methods in the Search for MH370

Authors: Sam Davey , Neil Gordon , Ian Holland , Mark Rutten , Jason Williams

  • ghaff 10 months ago

    Funnily enough I'm in the process of reading Blind Man's Bluff in which similar techniques were employed to locate subs that sank.

    ADDED: The loss of the Scorpion described in that book reminds me of this as well. While some of the details related to what exact sort of torpedo failure caused the Scorpion sinking is a matter of debate, the betting money is on some sort of torpedo failure rather than a Soviet tit-for-tat or other complicated scenario for which there's no real evidence.

ak_111 10 months ago

As someone who doesn't have intuition about these things: what are the chances that an 777 could have crashed and yet many years later very very few of its debris showed up or were spotted anywhere in the world (also factoring in intense search efforts around the most likely places where it crashed)?

Is this one of these 1 in a billion chance thing or is it not as crazy as it sounds? Like even if you were intentionally trying not to leave a trace, it is so hard to plan the drift and spread of debris and get so lucky in them not being spotted.

  • dghlsakjg 10 months ago

    Not at all unlikely. That is one of the loneliest pieces of a very large ocean. A lot of the recognizable stuff will sink, and the stuff that floats will spend months being broken down by seawater or having stuff grow on it. Eventually it will wash up on a beach where it will be cleaned up with the literal tons of trash that wash up on any beach these days. Or will not be cleaned up because it is a place where humans don’t go.

    If you think of a pristine beach its pristine because it gets cleaned up regularly. Any ocean facing beach these days accumulates so much trash. I used to do beach cleanup surveys on windward coasts, and we would regularly find stuff that could have belonged to an airplane (carbon fiber, composite honeycomb, etc.) it was almost never worth investigating since there was almost no way to know how long it had been in that beach and how long it had been floating in the currents before that. This was in the Caribbean, so I mostly assumed that all that stuff was related to drug smuggling planes. The only time we ever got a call back about something we found on the beach is when we found a drift buoy from NOAA.

    This is the long way of saying that it surprises me not a bit that nothing much was found. It’s more surprising that anything at all was found

  • civilized 10 months ago

    There's not much watching the middle of the southern Indian Ocean, a large fraction of which is literally more than a thousand miles away from any place humans usually inhabit. It's one of the most remote, desolate, hostile regions of the planet.

    I can see the appeal as a suicide method. You fly out for a while, it's quiet and pleasant, and before long there's no turning back, no possibility of rescue.

    • rippercushions 10 months ago

      And we also have discovered numerous pieces of MH370 debris, all in the kinds of places in eastern Africa where the simulations said they should end up.

      • ak_111 10 months ago

        I don't think the amount of debris found is that great, a tiny piece of wing...

        • civilized 10 months ago

          I'm kind of surprised anything was found. Most of the materials the plane is made of are heavier than water and sunk to the bottom of the ocean. A few small floating pieces drifted thousands of miles and happened to wash up in inhabited areas.

        • yesenadam 10 months ago

          "As of January of 2021, some 33 pieces of wreckage found on beaches have with varying degrees of certainty been tied to MH370" - TFA

  • lamontcg 10 months ago

    The Earth and the Oceans are really, really big. The amount of the plane that we've found feels about right for going down in he middle of the Indian Ocean. The bulk of it is going to be sunk on the seafloor.

  • dan_quixote 10 months ago

    Major structures of a 777 are aluminum. I wouldn't expect many large, easily identifiable, parts to float (for long).

  • cdelsolar 10 months ago

    the ocean is sadly like > 10K feet deep and many miles away from any land around where the plane is likely to have hit the water

phlipski 10 months ago

Fascinating read but for some REAL fun Jeff Wise's "Russian Hijacking Theory" is pretty awesome....

  • wnevets 10 months ago

    >His wife, Elena, gave several interviews to local media. In one, she calmly indicated that her husband was still alive. “He’ll be back,” she told the Komsomolskaya Pravda, “and he will tell all.”

    How did that turn out?

  • InCityDreams 10 months ago

    >tradition is to brave subzero air temperatures and water temperatures of 34 degrees

    Good read, but: all that detail and couldn't be bothered providing a (bracketed) degree-centigrade comparison.

    • loeg 10 months ago

      If you don't know that 34F is approximately 1C, that's a you problem. It doesn’t require any mental math to observe that 34 is marginally greater than 32, which is the freezing point of water in Fahrenheit.

      • andrewaylett 10 months ago

        Why would I know that the freezing point of water is 32°F? Pretty much nothing in this country is measured in Fahrenheit.

        I've definitely seen the comparison made, on random US articles which almost invariably show °C as well as °F, but I'm not sure that if someone asked me if I would recall the answer.

        • loeg 10 months ago

          If you're even aware that Fahrenheit exists, this might be a thing you know. For example, my country mostly uses Fahrenheit but I know that freezing in Celsius is zero, because I attended school as a child.

          • andrewaylett 10 months ago

            Nope, fairly sure it was never mentioned in school. But in any case, that's a while ago now and I don't think I've ever had a need to use Fahrenheit except for reading US articles where they almost invariably also put Celsius.

            I know that 100°F is something close to 37°C, and I'll probably not forget 32°F for a while now. But it's fairly useless trivia as far as every day life goes.

            • jascination 10 months ago

              Yeah ignore that guy, I'm from Australia and we never learnt squat about Fahrenheit in school. The only things I know are from trying to google conversions when they're mentioned in movies.

nobrains 10 months ago

The article doesn't mention the amateur ham radio interference pattern research data to figure out the flight path.

See this:

  • digitalsankhara 10 months ago

    The methodology of using aircraft scatter of radio signals encoded in the WSPR protocol is described in [1]. I was so sceptical when I heard about this - mainly due to the normally mangled reporting in mainstream media - that I really didn't think there was any merit in it.

    The thought of being able to detect aircraft scatter using very low power HF signals over variable ionospheric propagation conditions at long range seemed almost impossible to me. The use of the WSPR (Weak Signal Propagation Reporting) [2] network and its highly efficient protocol is what changed my mind.

    I'm much less of a sceptic having read the basis of the paper, at it appears there have been proving flights to evidence the technique can work. I haven't had time to research other workers who have reproduced the results, so would be interested if anyone has any links.



    • mannykannot 10 months ago

      I took a look at this a few months ago, and when I left off, I was unsure exactly how they conducted the validation of the technique. In particular, there was a test on June 3 2021 where they attempted to reconstruct the path of a flight from Samoa to Australia[1]. Certain phrases in the report leave me wondering whether the test simply amounted to looking for anomalies in the WSPRnet data in close spatiotemoral proximity to where the airplane was known to be:

      "There are no WSPRnet anomalies observed at departure. At 03:30 UTC there is a drift anomaly 2 minutes behind the aircraft as well as 5 WSPRnet links just behind the aircraft, which may be due to the wake." [my emphasis here and below.]

      "There is no obvious way to choose whether the aircraft turned to port or starboard to execute a 180° turn back towards Australia. I tried out both options and the best fit appears to be a turn to starboard."

      And from a comment by someone apparently involved:

      "There was one error of note, the initial turn of the aircraft after departure was to port and not starboard. Mike commented 'I should have told you that aircraft departing NSFA on RWY 08 will always turn to port due to terrain clearance considerations. If you’d known that then no doubt the first part of the route would have been a bit more accurate.'”

      These quotes seem to suggest, if not outright imply, a detailed knowledge of the airplane's track by the person(s) searching the WISPRnet data for indications of that track, and if this is the case, then the test falls short of demonstrating an ability to determine the previously-unknown track of an airplane, which is what is needed for the MH370 investigation. I would be more than happy to update this opinion once I get a clearer picture of how these tests are conducted.


      • digitalsankhara 10 months ago

        Thank you for the link and I need to spend some time to read the details. It was stated in the paper I read that tracking one of the proving flights failed but other flights had data which correlated to part of an aircraft's flight path.

        I agree with your analysis that some pre-knowledge of the track is apparent here and therefore more fully blinded independent experiments would be needed to add credibility.

        Given the number of airline flights at any one time and the near constant WSPR radio traffic I would have thought there is enough raw data out there to conduct further research. There may a PhD in this for someone :-)

        I do worry, as implied in your emphasis, that the temporal resolution is very low. Given that the transmit time of all symbols is approx 110.6 seconds [1] plus the time for a WSPRnet station to decode a message will translate into spatial errors of various magnitudes proportional to the speed of the target aircraft, but perhaps this has been factored in.

        I do remain intrigued enough to try and learn more about the robustness of the techniques.


        • mannykannot 10 months ago

          Several hours ago, someone made two posts in this thread, pointing out the lack of statistical analysis (aside from an unsupported claim of statistical significance) in a similar test involving an airplane over the Baltic Sea. I'm not seeing those posts now, and I don't know what to make of that (did their author find a reasonable analysis?)

          • prova_modena 10 months ago

            Perhaps that commenter observed that the author of the paper seems incredibly personally invested in the success of this method and tends to personally attack any detractors without regard to the soundness of the criticism. The author seems to also have a lot of fans who do the same. Publicly engaging with a person like that requires a certain tolerance for crankiness that not everyone possesses.

      • Phiwise_ 10 months ago

        I think a hypothetical WISPRnet advocate might respond by pointing out that the plane's flight isn't unknown per se, and that they could markedly narrow the search space through first applying other information about the flight, but you're probably still right anyway in that it wouldn't be enough narrowing to get useful results. That phrasing does seem to imply needing to know just about exactly where to look already to get useful results.

        • mannykannot 10 months ago

          I think the proponents of this method can assume a last known position (with time), but for the tests to be relevant, they need to show that, given this, the data provides significant support for one and only one subsequent track. I wonder why, if the people performing the tests understand this, they would present a report that raises doubts about whether they have done so.

  • jquery 10 months ago

    I looked into this, it’s a sham theory. Such tech doesn’t exist.

LatteLazy 10 months ago

To me, the most interesting thing about all of this is that civilian airports don't really have radar. You can disappear from an ATC screen just by turning off a transponder. If they'd had radar we would at least of known which way the plane went. A curious controller could have asked "unidentified object at height X, region Y" who they were and why they were in controlled airspace without a transponder on.

The article even implies the controllers themselves did not know this:

>Initially, no one noticed the sudden disappearance of the airplane. After handing the flight over to Ho Chi Minh control, the Malaysian controller looked away from his screen, and when he looked back, the plane was gone. He assumed that it had flown out of radar range and returned to his duties without a second thought.

But there was no radar range limit. There was only a transponder range limit (or more likely an edge of the screen).

>In Vietnam, controllers expected the plane to contact them, but it did not, and they couldn’t find it on radar either. Controllers in Ho Chi Minh City began trying to raise the plane on radio without success. For 18 minutes, they sent out a series of increasingly desperate calls: would MH370 please respond? Could any planes in the area contact MH370? The only answer was silence.

So even when they were actively looking for it, it was invisible to their "radar". True radar would have told them there was a plane-sized metal object in their airspace even if it refused radio contact and had no transponder...

It turns out you can make an entire plane full of people completely invisible by throwing 1 switch. Who knew?

  • EMM_386 10 months ago

    Civilian airports don't all have radar, but approach and departure facilities (known as TRACONs) do, as do enroute centers.

  • fosk 10 months ago

    Radar is not exactly “new” technology, to your point I wonder why airports are not equipped with one. Shouldn’t break the bank.

    Plus don’t militaries have radar anyways for air defense? How is it possible that no radar from multiple countries picked up a silent Boeing 777 flying to nowhere?

    • error503 10 months ago

      Most large airports will definitely have primary radar covering the terminal control area, but the range of these is typically only some 60nm.

      Primary radar requires relatively a lot of power, and has other issues (e.g. target correlation) that make it of limited use for ATC purposes during enroute flight. If such radars exist, for military purposes for example, ATC may not have access to them as it's not really essential for their work. There are also large coverage gaps over oceans and in remote areas where nobody cares to monitor. These radars would only have a range of a couple hundred nm maximum, so they would not see deep into the Indian Ocean either.

      So called 'over the horizon' radars also exist, but require truly massive amounts of power, not to mention capital to build, and also have very low spatial resolution. Apparently Australia's $1.8bn system was aimed in the wrong direction at the time of MH370's disappearance, or it might have had some low precision data to contribute.

    • histriosum 10 months ago

      There are many answers to your question, but the one that relates most strongly to why there is no radar coverage in the middle of the ocean is that the earth is curved and radar is line of sight.

    • ufmace 10 months ago

      They did write about the military angle in the article. It seems they saw it and either weren't paying attention or didn't bother to do anything. I guess it would be kind of a pain in the ass for a military primary radar to attempt to correlate every contact with known flights operating normally and to send up interceptors for anything that didn't seem to match. It's not clear if they would even have interceptors at a sufficient readiness level to actually catch a jetliner at cruising speed and altitude near the edge of their coverage.

    • outworlder 10 months ago

      > Radar is not exactly “new” technology, to your point I wonder why airports are not equipped with one. Shouldn’t break the bank.

      But it does break the bank. Radar may not be new tech, but it is still expensive to operate. Even the US is removing radars. To be fair, the US has thousands of airports (and even more small airfields), but it has a huge area to cover.

      Also, the military angle is covered in the article.

    • lukewrites 10 months ago

      I think it's most likely that governments with radar in the area don't want to admit they have it.

      • wkat4242 10 months ago

        I doubt that. Radar is extremely easy to detect. Anyone who wants to know about it will know it's there.

nerpderp82 10 months ago

> As of January of 2021, some 33 pieces of wreckage found on beaches have with varying degrees of certainty been tied to MH370. Of these, more than one third were found by Blaine Gibson.

This is amazing.

  • joshuawithers 10 months ago

    Just to be sure for anyone else reading this, this is a different Blaine Gibson to the Rooster Teeth guy.

roxgib 10 months ago

> They were tracking the plane on the Flight Explorer website, which, as they would only realize hours later, simply continued to display an aircraft’s projected path if its transponder stopped broadcasting position information.


O__________O 10 months ago

Curious, based on actual evidence, is there any reason to believe the pilot didn’t exit the plane prior to it crashing?

  • somat 10 months ago

    I don't think you can open the door on a 777 in flight.

    For comparison the plane that D B Cooper used had a stairway in the back(sometimes called airstairs). He was able to override the in flight lock and get out that way. My understanding is that the db cooper incident is in a large part why they don't put airstairs on planes any more.

    But now you have me watching videos on 777 doors. they open outward than forwards, like most airline doors they probably have a interlock to prevent them from opening in flight, if you could override that, I don't think you could push them forwards against the slipstream.

    • vl 10 months ago

      >incident is in a large part why they don't put airstairs on planes any more.

      They don't do it because it's completely inefficient to carry this weight and waste this space from economic point of view. It's way better to carry few more paying passengers instead.

      They still carry things like this on private jets, i.e. Golfstream.

      • gsnedders 10 months ago

        An airstair is literally just any built-in stairway on an aircraft—it doesn't have to be at the back. They continue to exist as options on the 737 and A320 families to this day, and are disproportionately specified by low-cost carriers (Ryanair have a lot of their 737s with them, for example), as although they're a weight penalty they decrease ground equipment required to service the aircraft (reducing costs), and can be deployed almost as quickly as the door can be opened helping reducing turnaround times (increasing sectors flown per day).

    • O__________O 10 months ago

      My understanding is the emergency doors pull inward and once cabin is depressurized, they are possible to remove; very possible that’s wrong though.

  • jaundicedave 10 months ago

    what, like he somehow smuggled a parachute onboard and then survived a late-night ditch into the middle of the ocean?

    • williamcotton 10 months ago

      More like he asphyxiated everyone on the plane, including the rich heiress with her priceless jewelry and millions in cash, flew over a known location where he had previously towed a get-away boat, stole all of the other valuables on the plane, and skydived into the perfect crime.

      • mindcrime 10 months ago

        Maybe he was related to D.B. Cooper?

    • O__________O 10 months ago

      Might be wrong, but I had heard it was possible to enter a pre planed flight path. Plane did a turn back over land before heading out to sea.

      • kashunstva 10 months ago

        All air carrier flights are flown from shortly after takeoff to some point in the approach phase on a clearance that is entered in the flight management computer during pre-flight. Until the initial unplanned left turn the flight was likely flying in this manner. The turn itself could not have been executed on autopilot though. It was far too steep. The autopilot flight envelope protections would have limited the bank angle at that altitude. As it is, the plane was likely riding a fine line on the edge of a high altitude stall/spin scenario in order to execute that tight maneuver.

        • O__________O 10 months ago

          Might be wrong, but the left turn I believe you’re referring to happened when the plane left its planned flight path, at which point it descended to 23,000 feet and flew over land.

washywashy 10 months ago

Once on a flight headed west I happened to look out the window and just then another plane flew beneath the plane I was on headed north-ish and quickly off into the distance. I remember thinking two things: 1. It was far away from us so quickly it kind of shocked me, although it makes perfect sense of course. 2. I felt like i got a really good view of it. It didn’t look far away at all altitude-wise as it passed beneath the plane I was on.

I’ve always wondered how normal this is to cross paths with other planes that closely. I’ve seen other planes way off in the distance before but never that close.

  • stephen_g 10 months ago

    It's very common - they space the 'flight levels' by a vertical separation of 1000 feet, and often alternate the different directions. So you might have several planes following the same path but in different directions, the planes going one way at 36,000 feet and the ones going the other way at 35,000 feet. They might also cross at other angles with the same kind of vertical separation, especially at a waypoint.

  • ipnon 10 months ago

    Planes on intersecting paths will be placed in separate flight levels. The standard is 35,000ft or “FL35”, and usually East bound traffic gets odd FL and West bound gets even. It’s likely the plane you saw would have collided with yours had it been on the same FL, but it was likely off by 1,000ft. The relative addition of two cruising speeds make it more dramatic too.

    • kqr 10 months ago

      Small correction: 35,000 ft in flight level is FL350. (But the east/west distinction still applies to even and odd thousands of feet, or tens of flight level.)

  • gnutrino 10 months ago

    I’ve seen this before and was shocked as well. Really gave me some perspective on how much trust we put in pilots and airlines to keep us safe while hurtling through the air at hundreds of miles per hour.

  • __sy__ 10 months ago

    Pretty common. You can check out Skyvector "World Hi" [1] to get a sense of intersecting flight routes.


  • russdill 10 months ago

    My favorite is when you pass another plane in the opposite direction along the same path but different altitude. The closing speed of two airliners at cruising speed is quite the thing to witness

  • goodcanadian 10 months ago

    Generally, required separation is 5 (nautical) miles or 1000 feet in altitude. There are some exceptions like taking off or landing on parallel runways. ATC will ensure the separation, and on large airliners, the TCAS[1] system will alert pilots if something goes horribly wrong and aircraft get too close together.


  • sva_ 10 months ago

    I think if you're close to any airport, it is very normal. If you're, for example, landing in Chicago, I'd be shocked if you can't see a bunch of other planes out of the window. I also once had some delay when having to fly over Dubai, where we had to fly in circles before landing, and I saw a large amount of airplanes circling around the same area above and below us. But I'm no expert in aviation by any means, so I can't really comment on the appropriateness.

chs20 10 months ago

I agree that much evidence points towards the pilot intentionally crashing. However, it's not proven and constructing a story around this theory is a bit distasteful.

Otherwise, the article is quite interesting.

  • TazeTSchnitzel 10 months ago

    What bothered me was how personal it was made to be. If it had just said “Pilot A” rather than repeatedly naming them and bringing in personal details, it would have felt more tasteful to me, less… “true crime”-y.

type0 10 months ago

I try to think positively. It successfully landed on the beach in North Sentinel Island, where all the passengers and the crew still live happy lives away from these pesky newfangled life we call civilization.

edit: satellite data needs to be bogus though, so my theory makes perfect sense

  • zxcvbn4038 10 months ago

    4 8 15 16 23 42?

    • FeistySkink 10 months ago

      Guess what happened to the guy who used this number while playing lotto?

      • kadoban 10 months ago

        It's been years and this was very famous, so I'm going to guess that at least one person who played this number died in extremely questionable circumstances. Large numbers and probability pretty much guarantee that this is true.

        • Multicomp 10 months ago

          Those numbers are a plot coupon from the television show "Lost" which involves an airplane crashing on a deserted island...that turns out to be not so deserted after all.

        • FeistySkink 10 months ago

          It was a crusty old pun. I learned my lesson :')

  • humanistbot 10 months ago

    Civilization can be pesky until someone falls and needs antibiotics to prevent sepsis.

    • JimtheCoder 10 months ago

      I'm sure this magical island would have some mushroom to deal with that. Obviously.

    • postalrat 10 months ago

      Doesn't seem extremely likely

nadow 10 months ago

one of the best long-form articles i've ever read on this was "Goodnight Malaysian 370" by William Langewiesche in the atlantic.

  • hyperbovine 10 months ago

    Thank you, this is the article that immediately came to mind (but whose title or venue I could not remember) when I saw this post. I found it pretty convincing at the time.

  • ComputerGuru 10 months ago

    It would have been better if it didn’t feature around his personal assumption of what happened (at least that’s how I recall that article, but it’s been years).

stephen_g 10 months ago

Yes, I think the pilot has to have deliberately done it. The turns after the transponder went off are too intentional, and nothing like the flight plan the plane was meant to be flying.

I saw a simulation that looked fairly convincing, that showed if the plane was ditched in a controlled glide from where the last ping was received, assuming that's were it ran out of fuel, then the plane would have glided out of the area that was searched. They also claimed that the damage on the flaperons and other control surfaces that washed up was fairly consistent with landing fairly level, where those control surfaces may have been ripped off but most of the rest of the plane might have been fairly intact and would have quickly sunk in mostly one piece. It seemed fairly plausible.

  • a2tech 10 months ago

    I hope for the passengers sake that he flew that plane straight into the ocean instead of gently laying it down. It would turn a basic instant death into a nightmare slow action drowning scenario where if you didn't die immediately taking many days to die from exposure and thirst.

    • Mali- 10 months ago

      They mention in the article that the passengers oxygen would already have run out - apparently they would have all been dead or unconscious.

femto 10 months ago

> However, engineers also could not rule out that some or even most of this frequency offset was due to the crystal oscillator inside the transmitter warming back up after the power interruption.

Didn't the plane have two power interruptions, the first of which it is known that the plane wasn't in the process of crashing at high velocity? I wonder what effort was made to compare them, possibly allowing the effects of crystal drift and Doppler to be separated?

Maybe any unexpected frequency offsets after the first power cut can be entirely attributed to the crystal warming up after the power cut? Maybe it could be assumed that the crystal behaves similarly after each power cut, as crystals are typically repeatable with temperature? In that case the characteristics of the crystal are known after the second power cut and Doppler can be determined.

I'm sure this would have been thought of, but one has to ask.

  • treeman79 10 months ago

    20 years In college we had a link between campuses for the mainframes. Occasionally systems go out. When that happened. It was my job to replace the lightbulb that sat on the transmitter to keep it warm.

    • absenceOfQuiet 10 months ago

      Interesting. Why do transmitters need to be kept warm?

eternalban 10 months ago

> Routine automatic satellite communications were made approximately every hour, except for the initial period of the flight between 01:21 and 02:25, when some kind of power interruption to the airplane’s satellite data unit had prevented the satellite from making contact. After that, every hour or so a ground station in Perth sent a query (or “handshake”) to the plane via a geostationary satellite located over the Indian Ocean.

I didn't see any comments referring to this +1hr blackout of the sat unit. This happened right after the 1.19 ATC handoff.

Does anyone know if this signal could have been faked (e.g. by someone sitting in a boat in the ocean)? I assume the tx and rcv end points have some sort of private identifier.

hdesh 10 months ago

Fantastic article.

Did the MH370 incident change anything about the communication systems used by modern aircrafts?

  • jdmichal 10 months ago

    TFA has an entire paragraph covering your question...

    > Even without finding the plane, a number of lessons have been drawn from the disappearance of MH370. Many of the responses to the disappearance centered on the fact that in the 21st century, commercial airliners should not just disappear. In the interest of knowing where every plane is at all times, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) began requiring that all airliners manufactured after the 1st of January 2021 include autonomous tracking devices that broadcast their location once per minute. To give greater coverage of airplanes manufactured before that date, Inmarsat (which supplies satellite relays to nearly all commercial airliners) changed the frequency of its handshakes from once per hour to once every 15 minutes. The European Aviation Safety Agency began requiring that the “pingers” on aircraft flight recorders last at least 90 days, rather than 30. ICAO also amended its guidelines to require that airliner designs approved after 2020 include cockpit voice recorders that record 25 hours of conversations (instead of the current standard of two), and that flight data recorders either stream data to a location on the ground or be designed to float to the surface after a crash. (Like all ICAO regulations, these only come into force if adopted by the member states, which may take some time.)

cyber_mock 10 months ago

So 12 minutes of oxygen, i just learn that

  • alexitosrv 10 months ago

    Yeah, like it's not that long. They should add that disclaimer to the safety messages at the beginning of the flight. "In case of an emergency, you will have 12 minutes of oxygen, which while we know is not that much, is better than to die instantly."

    • phire 10 months ago

      It only needs to be long enough for the pilots to descend to a safe altitude.

      • quickthrower2 10 months ago

        There is a cloudberg article on a crash due to faulty/expired oxygen generators in cargo. They use an exothermic reaction that produces oxygen. But of a fire hazard. I suppose there is a trade off of how much oxygen vs. fire risk.

  • gridspy 10 months ago

    Pilots are trained in a loss of pressure situation to reduce aircraft altitude (fly down) until the decompression is no longer dangerous. So even with no mask on, the most you will experience is a short period of unconsciousness.

sakex 10 months ago

I assume you must be pretty low to be able to ping a 4g tower. Is it impossible that the guy would have jumped from the plane with a parachute? Then he would have run with the insurance money.

  • quickthrower2 10 months ago

    How does he run away with insurance money? Unless his estranged ex is part of the conspiracy.

MisterTea 10 months ago

"For the reasons listed above, most experts believe MH370 was the victim of some kind of deliberate action."

What if the plane was struck by a meteorite? It certainly sounds like there was some kind of incident that caused them to turn around abruptly to head back but they were disabled. It is possible they experienced an extreme rare event. Rare dpesnt mean impossible, just highly unlikely.

  • EamonnMR 10 months ago

    The author addresses this. Such a scenario requires explaining why comms systems were turned off one by one as if by a person rather than an instantaneous event like an asteroid strike. Also, it would be a very big coincidence for not only an asteroid to strike an aircraft and cause it to drift aimlessly (rather than just rapidly disassembling), but also for that aimless drift to randomly line up with a course plotted by one of the pilots of that plane with no apparent purpose.

    • MisterTea 10 months ago

      That one-by-one scenario you described is admitted to be dramatized fiction.

      The real story is: plane disappears as transponder signal is lost. Plane cant be raised via radio or sat phone. Sat phone shows plane still flying. Malaysian military tracks plane but does nothing as they are asleep at the wheel.

      We really don't know. Only the black box does. I could talk about different alternative scenarios, both corroborating the murder-suicide plot and a rare catastrophic event. But I'm not looking to drive traffic so its just as much pointless fiction.

BoardsOfCanada 10 months ago

> Zaharie was also deeply involved in Malaysian politics and was a big supporter of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. In a strange coincidence, just hours before MH370 disappeared, Ibrahim was sentenced to prison on sodomy charges that were widely considered to be politically motivated.

I don't think this "strange coincidence" should be dismissed as the reason so easily.

SethTro 10 months ago

Should have [2021]

smusamashah 10 months ago

Has anything been done in the airline system so that we never loos a flight again like this ever?

  • cstross 10 months ago

    If you had read to the end you would have found your answer(s). Work is in progress: but as airliners are designed for a working life of at least 30 years it will take a while yet before the lessons of MH370 are universally adopted.

  • mehphp 10 months ago

    Not to sound harsh, but given how rare something like this, I doubt it's urgent enough of a problem for the funds/effort it would require.

rainworld 10 months ago

Read Florence de Changy’s The Disappearing Act if you want a rough idea what actually happened.

nigrioid 10 months ago

I still think it's weird that there were 20 Freescale employees on that flight.

  • thepasswordis 10 months ago

    Were they on their way to/from a conference or meeting or something? Doesn't seem that weird tome.

loeg 10 months ago

Seems most likely it was a (mass) murder suicide. Extremely sad.

NHQ 10 months ago

I can think of one motive. The pilot knew that the internet is crazy for airplane crash mysteries, and wanted to create a grand one.

fds456435 10 months ago

Just erased from this timeline after a time traveling incident?

gautamcgoel 10 months ago

Can someone TL;DR this please?

  • leplen 10 months ago

    They never found the plane. Most likely the lead pilot crashed it intentionally, but we don't really know. The person writing this blog post is more certain about that than the Malaysian authorities, but bloggers are allowed to speculate more than government commissions.

    There's some neat math people used to try and find the plane that gets alluded to, but not explained in depth, and the post is a reasonable summary, but didn't really change my mind much and my previous awareness was based on overhearing cable news, so it's not really anything new.

    It's written well enough to be entertaining, but isn't really enlightening.

    • AtlasBarfed 10 months ago

      The smoking gun IMO is that deleted simulated flight path. If that is legit, then I think it's case closed.

      • avidiax 10 months ago

        There are several smoking guns. The disabled transponder right at ATC handoff. The high-skill turn. The special flight path that skirts several jurisdictions, then blends with other traffic. The final turn off that path to somewhere far away. Lack of fuel being what ended the flight. The home simulator with the same flight path, i.e. one of these pilots has a history of flying this path.

        Not something a passenger can do. Not something that can be explained as the first & last presentation of an unknown technical flaw.

    • olliej 10 months ago

      And hey if we can’t trust random people on the internet, who can we trust? :)

  • sleton38234234 10 months ago

    There seems to be a knee jerk reaction to react negatively to anyone who doesn't read the article or doesn't read it in depth.

    i don't think the comment about TL;DR OR asking chatgpt is completely out of line. I could see businesses being built on top of chatgpt to create summaries of articles on the internet. This is a pretty big use case.

    Sometimes, people want a more efficient way to read articles, rather than actually reading them. If a service could be created that summarizes the main point of an article, I think there's value (and a potential business) in it. You might even be able to ask chatgpt or a service on top ofit, "has this article any new conclusions about the state of Mh370?" without actually reading the article.

    • outworlder 10 months ago

      > You might even be able to ask chatgpt or a service on top ofit, "has this article any new conclusions about the state of Mh370?" without actually reading the article.

      The problem is, if ChatGPT doesn't have the data, it likes to create completely fictional narratives.

    • sdk16420 10 months ago

      >Sometimes, people want a more efficient way to read articles, rather than actually reading them.

      Is it too much to assume that readers have had at least high school education and know about lead sentences and summary paragraphs?

      • sleton38234234 10 months ago

        If AI can create the perfect executive summary, then why not?

        A good executive summary is better than just lead sentences.

    • lamontcg 10 months ago

      Particularly when over half the article is Atlantic-style lengthy exposition about the history which a lot of us already know, and I don't really care if the author is that good of a writer or not.

    • dieselgate 10 months ago

      I agree with you considering parent comment has currently been downvoted. This was one of the most fascinating articles I've read but it was so long I still didn't finish reading the entire thing

edfletcher_t137 10 months ago

This is the crux/TL;DR:

"Perhaps the most compelling reason to believe that Zaharie hijacked his own plane is its simplicity. It’s the only explanation that doesn’t rely on a series of independently improbable events: given a desire to do it, everything else falls into place as a reasonable part of the plan. In fact, from the timing of the transponder failure to the specific locations of the turns to the flight path into the Southern Indian Ocean, it would be harder to come up with a better way to make an airliner disappear. Why believe that this is a coincidence when it could well have been the goal from the very beginning? Furthermore, whoever was flying the plane had extensive systems knowledge and excellent hand-flying ability. Who else on board had those skills but Zaharie? Indeed, it’s by far the easiest answer."

  • yellow_lead 10 months ago

    The part where he had flown the route in a simulator is compelling as well. What a long article though

    • mrguyorama 10 months ago

      Except why go through all that trouble to take a very weird route to avoid detection and "disappear"? Every other pilot suicide has involved just pointing down. Why would the pilot need to make his suicide plausibly deniable?

      • ak_111 10 months ago

        Deciding to end your life by committing mass murder is already hugely irrational, trying to analyse any further moves such a state of mind had planned out from the viewpoint of rationality is nonsensical.

      • macintux 10 months ago

        Life insurance, to not embarrass his family, to not ruin his name forever, we’ll never know.

    • rainworld 10 months ago

      Except they made this up and he never flew that route, on his simulator or otherwise.

      • jefftk 10 months ago

        Huh? The article has "In 2014, a leaked Malaysian police report revealed that among Zaharie’s saved flight simulator sessions was a very odd route which ran up the Strait of Malacca, turned south after passing Sumatra, and then flew straight down into the Southern Indian Ocean before terminating in the vicinity of the seventh arc. Not only did the track resemble MH370’s actual flight path, it also contained a number of other intriguing details. For example, the track wasn’t really a track — rather, it was a series of brief clips lasting no more than a few seconds each, indicating that Zaharie had programmed it in advance then skipped along it to various points without actually playing through the entire hours-long flight. Furthermore, although initial reports indicated that the track had been intentionally saved by the user, later analysis showed that it was kept only in the system files, and certainly was not meant to be found. Was this a dry run? It seems too odd to be a coincidence." -- what part of that do you disagree with?

        • xwdv 10 months ago

          Simply parroting information that is accused of being fake because it appeared in another source isn’t an argument for its validity.

          • jefftk 10 months ago

            I'm not presenting it as an argument for validity, I'm asking which part they're accusing of being fake.

        • rainworld 10 months ago

          They found bits from random savefiles and constructed something vaguely resembling a simulator route out of it. If even that. “Leak“—the Malaysians are not good faith players in this.

          Really, I can only point to this: Maybe look into the MS Estonia sinking, the cover-up (of the unfortunate results of a spy game) is very obvious there.

          • jjulius 10 months ago

            >In 2016, a leaked American document stated that a route on the pilot's home flight simulator, which closely matched the projected flight over the Indian Ocean, was found during the FBI analysis of the flight simulator's computer hard drive.[256] This was later confirmed by the [Australian Transportation Safety Bureau], although the agency stressed that this did not prove the pilot's involvement.[257] The find was similarly confirmed by the Malaysian government.[258]


nakedneuron 10 months ago

> Exactly one minute and forty-three seconds later, a dramatic and mysterious sequence of events would begin to unfold, the opening chapter in a story that transfixed the world.

> "Magic Window" is track number 23 on the Geogaddi album. The song is one minute and forty-six seconds of pure silence.

stevev 10 months ago

Interesting bits from the reading:

Communication devices lost contact.

The first turn can only be done by an experienced pilot.

No distress calls. Or passenger attempted cellular communication when they became within range.

Flight path matches similarly to Pilot’s in-home game simulator.

If an explosion occurred wiping out communication devices, it was only a matter of time before they crashed. The plane was on radar and tracked going south for several hours.

Due to the many turns, someone had to be in control of the plane in some capacity after the first turn.

It leaves me to two conclusions.

An alien parasite froze everyone. Made the pilot turn off communications. Made the pilot fly a flight pattern that closely resembles the one at home.

The pilot picked that specific flight as his last. Why he didn’t just nose dived immediately will be answered in the remaining hours he was on that flight. It would be inhumane to keep crew/passengers alive to witness their own demise. Thus I believe he was alive and alone heading south.

zxcvbn4038 10 months ago

Better question is what has been done to prevent the next MH370 and I bet the answer is nothing much, it took a back burner once the story was out of the headlines.

There are only a thousand reasons aircraft operators might want to know where their planes are and if there are any issues. I’m sure that the gps position and black box data could be streamed over radio and/or satellite.

  • Quanttek 10 months ago

    Your question is literally answered in the article:

    > Even without finding the plane, a number of lessons have been drawn from the disappearance of MH370. Many of the responses to the disappearance centered on the fact that in the 21st century, commercial airliners should not just disappear. In the interest of knowing where every plane is at all times, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) began requiring that all airliners manufactured after the 1st of January 2021 include autonomous tracking devices that broadcast their location once per minute. To give greater coverage of airplanes manufactured before that date, Inmarsat (which supplies satellite relays to nearly all commercial airliners) changed the frequency of its handshakes from once per hour to once every 15 minutes. The European Aviation Safety Agency began requiring that the “pingers” on aircraft flight recorders last at least 90 days, rather than 30. ICAO also amended its guidelines to require that airliner designs approved after 2020 include cockpit voice recorders that record 25 hours of conversations (instead of the current standard of two), and that flight data recorders either stream data to a location on the ground or be designed to float to the surface after a crash. (Like all ICAO regulations, these only come into force if adopted by the member states, which may take some time.)

    I think now, after another documented murder-suicide, there's also been a change in regulations requiring at least 2 people to be in the cockpit at all times. Other commenters point to additional changes

    • EMM_386 10 months ago

      Note that none of those things would "prevent the next MH370", only be able to locate the wreckage faster.

      There isn't much that can be done to "prevent" incidents like this.

      • wk_end 10 months ago

        > I think now, after another documented murder-suicide, there's also been a change in regulations requiring at least 2 people to be in the cockpit at all times.

        This would help prevent a nefarious pilot from taking the plane down.

        Arguably, many of the things suggested might potentially have prevented Zaharie from carrying out his plan, assuming the scenario described in the article is true, depending on his motives: if the plane could have been intercepted in mid-flight, if he would have been found out almost instantly, his family wouldn't have been able to collect life insurance; if his motive had been less financial for his family and more about the intellectual challenge of getting away with the perfect crime, this too would have made his task more difficult.

        But that aside, when we say "prevent the next MH370", it's ambiguous: we could interpret that as "prevent a pilot from deliberately crashing their plane and killing everyone on board", or we could interpret it as "prevent a plane from vanishing", which has been devastating to families in its own unique and horrible way. In other words: locating the wreckage faster - or at all! - has value too, and shouldn't be dismissed.

      • teleforce 10 months ago

        Actually two things were proposed, real-time flight tracking and real-time virtual blackbox, the former was accepted but the latter was not.

        If real-time flight tracking data is frequently and continuously monitored 24/7 like in NoC, it probably can prevent the disaster like MH370 from happening again.

        The latter real-time virtual blackbox proposal if accepted can be even more pro-active in preventing future incidents, and it can be easily integrated and embedded with the real-time location tracking albeit with extra cost to the airline operators.

        Apparently the latter proposal according to ICAO was rejected due to the complaints from the pilot's union that cited privacy concerns. It seems that pilot's privacy is of higher pririty than the passengers' safety. You can have all your privacy in your house but when you are piloting aeroplane with many people life is your responsibility, pilot's privacy probably the least of your concern.

  • chem83 10 months ago

    Huh? A lot[0,1,2] has been done considering how little we know about what has actually happened and a trivial search would enlighten you.

    Also, real-time streaming of GPS position for the thousands of flights in the air at any given time is not a trivial problem (but technology is improving and ICAO is pushing for such solution[3]).





    • lxgr 10 months ago

      Given that the very flight in question had Inmarsat equipment on board, I think it's fair to be at least somewhat surprised by the lack of periodic location updates.

      But technology in aviation moves (generally for very good reasons!) at a different pace than in many other industries, and in this case it unfortunately meant having an operational satellite communications system on board (used for engine performance data telemetry transmitted to the manufacturer), but not having it wired up to ADS-C, an existing standard which allows automated position reporting over that same connection.

      Inmarsat has modified their offerings [1] since MH370: One free ADS-C position report every 15 minutes for planes that do support it (implying that transmission cost is a concern for not activating the option unless required for air traffic control via FANS), and the ability to piggy-back a position report onto a "handshake/ping" for those that don't, which would presumably have included MH370.

      For aircraft not equipped with any Satcom, some satellite constellations (including e.g. the latest generation of Iridium satellites) include payloads that allow direct tracking of ADS-B signals as well.


      • XorNot 10 months ago

        I will say it seems utterly bonkers, given the cost of airliners, that we're talking about transmission costs on the order of minutes and not doing per-second updates.

        Admittedly a lot of this was before our new era of satellite constellations, but surely the future should now be "per second updates and streaming audio/video via satellite"?

        • dale_glass 10 months ago

          Airliners are expensive, but satellites are even more so.

          Also there's a whole lot of air traffic.

          • lxgr 10 months ago

            You don't need one satellite per airplane, just like you don't need one base station per mobile phone.

            Modern satellites can shift terabits per second. They can handle a lat/long pair every couple of minutes sent by every oceanic flight in the air comfortably (even when only using the L-band, which needs much smaller and simpler antennas than those used for in-flight Wi-Fi).

    • geysersam 10 months ago

      Satellite phone text messages cost about $1 each. Sending one every 5th minute seems sufficient. That's $120 for a 10 hour flight. Seems technically quite doable with existing technology at a reasonable price?

      I imagine there are optimization that could be done to reduce the cost further. Big customers with constant rate usage can probably negotiate a more favorable price etc.

      • TheCondor 10 months ago

        How much did they spend trolling random places in the Indian Ocean? There are some pretty substantial saving to be reaped just from the making the search more sane.

        I suspect that there are some extra costs making it "flight ready" and all that stuff, but the fact of the matter is that GPS chips are cheaper and more plentiful than ever, we have Starlink coverage in Antarctica now, and they're send more and more satellites up every week now. There are costs in securing it and then receiving the data and such but it all seems really inepensive compared to the planes, the insurance payouts and the search and recovery efforts.

      • wkat4242 10 months ago

        Iridium short burst data messages are much much cheaper in bulk than that :)

  • antognini 10 months ago

    In the US two people must be in the cockpit at all times. If one of the pilots needs to use the bathroom, a flight attendant has to take their place in the cockpit until the pilot returns. This prevents a suicidal pilot from taking down a plane (or makes it much harder anyway). This wasn't a requirement on Malaysian Airlines at the time. (I don't know if the regulations have since been updated.)

    • asmor 10 months ago

      That requirement became widespread after Germanwings 9525, which happened a year later.

      • nagonago 10 months ago

        And even that requirement seems to have been dropped. From Wikipedia:

        "Aviation authorities swiftly implemented new recommendations from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency that required two authorised personnel in the cockpit at all times, but by 2017, Germanwings and other German airlines had dropped the rule."

    • renox 10 months ago

      While this improves safety, let's not fool ourselves, what are the critical parts of an airtrip? Takeoffs and landings. What happens if the suicidal pilot act during takeoff or landing?

      Plus let's not forget AF447 where a mistake by one pilot (involuntarily) stalling the plane wasn't caught by the other pilots until too late.. To be fair this was during an emergency caused by pitot tube 'failure', so there were lots of things to process.

    • dark-star 10 months ago


      • antognini 10 months ago

        It feels a little more reasonable to me than removing your shoes or restricting liquids. Even if the shoe bomber had been successful, he wouldn't have been able to take down an entire plane. But it's trivial for a rogue pilot to kill everyone on board a plane. Since 9/11, cockpit doors have been reinforced so that it's basically impossible for anyone in the cabin to force their way into the cockpit. Ensuring that there are at least two people in the cockpit isn't too much of a burden and basically eliminates that attack vector.

        • dark-star 10 months ago

          Maybe, but it's still trivially easy to break the system. Just slip something in your co-pilot's drink. Or knock him or the (probably female) cabin attendant out with something heavy.

          • antognini 10 months ago

            It seems like it's at the same level of the rule that the pilot and co-pilot can't order the same meal at the airport before a flight in case they both get food poisoning simultaneously. Doesn't guarantee that they don't both get sick, but it's a relatively minor imposition and reduces the odds by quite a bit.

  • fasthands9 10 months ago

    Feel like if we believe this was a pilot suicide then it would also be important to try to address that - though I'm not sure how unless we fully automated (and people liked that).

    There has been a German and Chinese flight since with 100+ fatalities where this happened. Given how few crashes there are on commercial flights its one of the biggest risk factors today.

    • mrguyorama 10 months ago

      One huge problem for pilots is that any mention of mental illness, in any way, can basically result in you being grounded. Taking medication for your brain can get you grounded.

      So fall into a depression and need to talk to a therapist and get a pill to help you out while you get back on your emotional feet? Well now your airline is going to ground you for however long they feel like. They are incentivized to be as careful as possible about known issues.

      This means pilots feel like they have to bottle up things like anxiety or depression or suicidal thoughts, which of course means they might not get the help they need.

      • dghlsakjg 10 months ago

        More to the point, any history of mental illness or treatment at any point in your life can cause you to be arbitrarily grounded in the future, at which point you have to go through an opaque government process that is months long and has no real guidelines as to how to prove yourself.

        There is plenty of anecdotal evidence indicating that pilots will seek treatment under false names, or, worse, self medicate with alcohol for what would otherwise be treatable and minor conditions.

        When I got my medical I was coached by my instructor to volunteer absolutely no information that wasn’t asked. It was strongly hinted that I should not recall ever having been treated or diagnosed with any mental condition.

    • ggm 10 months ago

      Risk has to be put in context. It's one of the biggest risks, where all the risks are fantastically low against number of flights and passenger/miles. All airline risks are lower than driving.

      I would have said the 787 lithium battery risk was more concerning personally. Or the 737 Max problem.

      • coredog64 10 months ago

        In ‘97, there was SilkAir 185. NTSB was fairly certain that was pilot suicide. Another one was EgyptAir 990 in ‘99.

        In terms of fatalities and hull losses, pilot suicide is a much larger risk than the 737 Max. It’s made worse by outdated FAA rules that would have pilots grounded for seeking treatment.

        • toast0 10 months ago

          737 Max had two losses in the first two years of operation. That's maybe a decade of commercial flights (at least suspected of) intentionally downed by an authorized pilot according to this list [1].

          If you consider that the number of 737 Maxes in service was not that large, it's pretty clear that MCAS was more dangerous than pilot suicide.


      • dghlsakjg 10 months ago

        To be fair, the oft cited “air travel is safer than cars” statistic is on a passenger mileage basis. When you pack an order of magnitude more people at a time going an order of magnitude faster than a cad it looks super safe.

        If you compare it on an hourly basis it is still safer but not nearly as safe as people would like to think. Especially if you add in small commercial/charter planes

        • ggm 10 months ago

          Absolutely agree. That's why I said passenger/miles in my comment.

          Because of more active drivers and low occupancy cars, I would think from first principles for a constant rate of suicide ideation in the population the risk of death by driver suicide as a side effect is high, and must actually be higher than pilot suicide risk. You are not in the car but the accident affects you. You are driving more often that it's more statistically likely to drive near another driver who deliberately drives dangerously, than the risk of a pilot ending it all.

          But if we stop obsessing with the risk of pilot suicide and were just talking overall risk, passenger/miles is the best measure there is. Trains might win.

    • azalemeth 10 months ago

      It's still a great shame that there is no recent update on the Chinese flight MU-5735. AvHerald last had an update in April 2022 and the whole thing has a strong feeling of media silence. I do wonder if it is a pilot suicide though -- that isn't yet confirmed.


  • toast0 10 months ago

    > Better question is what has been done to prevent the next MH370 and I bet the answer is nothing much, it took a back burner once the story was out of the headlines.

    Sometimes they retire the flight number. Then it can't happen again. Looks like that's the case here [1]


  • asmor 10 months ago

    MH370 likely had systems that enable tracking deliberately disabled by someone in the cockpit (or they all failed at the same time). That's not part of the threat model for good reasons.

    • twelve40 10 months ago

      seems quite addressable if that was the case? just don't let humans disable tracking, what's a sane use case for that anyway?

      • nradov 10 months ago

        For safety reasons airliners must have circuit breakers that allow disabling every electrical system in case of a fire, short circuit, or other dangerous malfunction.

        • outworlder 10 months ago

          Any plane, in fact. Airliner or not.

  • klabb3 10 months ago

    > I’m sure that the gps position and black box data could be streamed over radio and/or satellite.

    Find My: Boeing 777

    • coolspot 10 months ago

      1) hide your AirTag in some airplane

      2) name the AirTag “Boeing 777”

      3) you have your personal Boeing in Find My to show off

      • outworlder 10 months ago

        In the middle of the Indian ocean?