As a novelist I sometimes play what if
With all the news about the missing 777 I was wondering if anyone out there had considered that the cargo hold was the real reason: something there was valuable enough to divert the plane, perhaps parachute the thing out and then ditch the plane.
Pilots at MRI speak up on this--can you reach an altitude for parachuting and then open a cargo door without turbulence being an issue. Can you subdue the pasengers by oxygen deprivation combined with depressurization?
Lastly am I as usual crazy?
I'm not a pilot but I did some research on the Payne Stewart (a close friend was his college roommate) flight. If -- as the reports today suggest -- they actually reached an altitude of 45,000 --2,000+ above acceptable if that -- almost all those aboard would have died quickly to depressurization/hypoxia. The crew would have had at least 20 minutes more of oxygen under normal circumstances.
I think you'd have to be at a pretty low altitude to parachute out without destroying the structural integrity of the plane and leaving debris, but I'll leave others more knowledgeable to answer that. In view of the Aloha blowout several years back, any quick depressurization by either opening a door or part of the plane blowing out is fairly catastrophic.
There's also been brief mention today about the 787 plague - ion lithium batteries, but no one seems to be putting too much value in that in view of all the other anomalies that distinctly point to purposeful action.
PS -- If the wild figures of 45,000 high to 23,000 low are borne out, it could point to a struggle in the cockpit as well as one person trying to get down quickly below radar and at breathable levels. Again, feel free to ignore a history professor. But as you all know who were around 2 years ago, I have a 'deep cover' side (:) as witnessed by my clandestine meeting with fellow operatives in Asian Istanbul at a power plant.
Insiders (read crew members are the issue in any crime, terrorist incident, espionage. I assume that the entire crew is being vetted as we speak, but it would take only one sympathetic person with 'crew-dentials' to make this an "inside job"
I think it depends on whether you define hijacked as someone from outside or inside the cockpit (and they are definitely focusing inside right now). Hijacking also usually implies taking the plane to a destination to land. That may be if it was indeed a NW direction (and if so I stand by my guess of the Xinjiang province of China). Much is being made in favor of an Indonesian Sea crash because of the lack of pings over China, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan or Kyrzystan. Most US analysts are dismissing that possibility out of hand because they have more advanced radar and ping facilities. But there is also the possibility (just like Vietnam does not seem to have reported the expected radio contact) that such countries do not feel the need to monitor these things as closely as Western countries.
Interesting thread. I said the other day that I wonder if someone stole the plane for something. The cargo surely could be a reason, you never know what's on these things really. The other things I've thought of is a 777 makes one hell of a flying bomb if someone was looking to do something extraordinarily stupid. It would never be allowed to cross US fly zones or likely any EU, China or Russian ones. Full of passengers or not I suspect all 4 groups would blow it out of the sky, assuming no one in those groups had a hand in it.
So if not a bomb against the big players, would you ransom the passengers? Most of them were Chinese and well I'm guessing China wouldn't really deal well with that play. No big names have emerged so would ransom really be a play? Even the plane would be a tough sell back to the airline.
So it goes back to cargo or the plane itself if it was hijacked. A 777 can't just roll into your local regional airport or land in some back jungle dirt runway and expect to get back out so where could they have made it unseen?
It is a mystery but one I hope gets solved soon. Flying every week makes you wonder just how safe the process is these days. IF it was the stolen passports that were used to board, does TSA really keep that stuff sorted? I see foreign nationals run through the TSA Pre line all the time these days, do we really know who's getting on planes? What if this was the dry run for the next big act of stupidity?
I think that's unlikely, though if it is terrorism, to me Western China makes the most sense in Xinjiang, where (if it is Chinese-directed) the reception would be best. I don't buy Pakistan at all because there are too many US operatives and radar in the region. As for the -istans to the west, it's possible, because Malaysia has proven how utterly incompetent some regions can be in terms of control of radar, their planes, following up on leads, etc.
Even so, I am not generally a conspiracy theorist, so I think this was either pilot suicide in the Indian Ocean (in which case we may never know) or Western China, and a plot.
But it is also possible that one of the pilots struggled with the other pilot, which would make (again, believing the Malaysians to the degree that is possible) the huge leaps/drops in flight altitude possible. The pilots did not ask to be assigned together, and have different backgrounds, experience and age.
I too feel for the relatives, because I feel they're being given false hope (always assuming the 45,000 ft is accurate). Oxygen masks are only made to last a few minutes until a flight can be brought down to a more pressurized altitude. By contrast, pilots have 20+ minutes at least of extra oxygen at their disposal, especially if planned.
That venerable "news" source, The Onion, has weighed in, saying that Malaysian civil aviation authorities are expanding the search area to include all of space and time: "...the airline confirmed it had expanded its active search area to include a several-hundred-square-mile zone in the Indian Ocean as well as each of the seven or 22 additional spatial dimensions posited by string theory."
The "spokesperson" continues: "...at this stage, we can’t rule anything out: not crew interference with the transponders, not a catastrophic electrical failure, not the emergence of a complex topological feature of space-time such as an Einstein-Rosen bridge that could have deposited the flight at any location in the universe or a different time period altogether, nothing.”
It has to be either that or the meteor.
Exactly! An asteroid like 163 Erigone, which will blot out Regulus in the constellation Leo for a short while Thursday night. (Or at least that's what they want us to believe.)
Actually, you folks in New York and New England will have a good view of the occultation. Sadly, though, it will occur just after 2 am, and it will probably be a little chilly for star gazing.
I was going to add a cloaking device but then realized our military figured that out quite a while back...
(BTW for any who feel this is insensitive, that is not the intention. I think we are all satirizing the extreme conspiracy theorists, news media coverage, and the Malaysian government response.)
Definitely no insensitivity intended. Sometimes it takes a little humor to remind us that the media rush to get something out there as quickly as possible, with little regard for accuracy or truth. And as a journalism major who learned the ropes in the days of Walter Cronkite et al., I'm constantly amazed at the outright falsehoods put out by once respectable media outlets. The thread on these boards from back in November, recalling the day of JFK's assassination through the earliest video and audio reports from that day -- the vast majority of which turned out to be pretty darn accurate -- was a reminder of just how far corporate media have fallen. The current coverage of the missing airliner serves to remind us to watch and analyze with healthy doses of both hope and doubt.
According to Malaysian authorities (take it with a grain of salt), there was only enough fuel (+ a little extra as always) to get to Beijing. As for others, now that the FBI, NTSB, Interpol and some others have finally been involved, they've done more serious scouring of the passengers. To do what was done needed some aviation or avionic skills. There was an aviation engineer on board, though the details have not been publicized.
I think we need to look at this in the sequence of events, given the incapacity of the Malaysian authorities to have provided important information and given conflicting reports:
1) normal takeoff
2) transponder manually turned off
3) ACARS turned off - more difficult
4) one of the pilots signs off Malaysian air space "All right, good night" -- very atypical. Sould have been more like MH370 heavy…whatever…good night…check in with Vietnamese air traffic controllers, which didn't happen
5) deliberate left turn into radar-free zone until it reached the spot of convergence between going north and south
6) commercial satellite pings (that many pilots apparently didn't know the 777 did aside from transponders and ACARS) that didn't communicate aircraft info but did signal it was in the air that traced a fairly wild course for up to 7 hours. The ' up to ' is key because they could in theory have landed and let the plane keep running till it was out of fuel.
7) satellite info that showed (from what I have heard around hour 4-5) wild altitude fluctuations of 45,000 [NEVER allowable -- it will kill the passengers quickly] to 23,000.
8) then the speculation begins.
I think they need to do voice analysis on the send off to see who said that and whether it is normal to use an abbreviated version for Malaysian Air. All US and European sites in Western China and the -istans need to be rechecked for radar on such a large plane. In the absence of such info, the Aussies need to get seriously involved in what is almost certainly now a recovery rather than rescue mission.
I like your analysis. Facts are facts, and the rest is wild speculation. The simplest summary seems to include pilot suicide, or a struggle in the cockpit between the pilot and an intruder. It will be interesting to see the changes made to avoid this type of mystery again….
There are two serious things I would want to know if I were an NTSB investigator:
1) What is the typical sign off in SE Asia as a plane changes air space. Is it the same as in Western countries, which I referred to above, or is it informal?
2) Voice analysis. That sign off is the key moment when criminal activity began (or earlier by days or weeks or months), because at that point the plane veered left (west) into the no radar zone, which had to be planned. So who spoke those words (either of the pilots or someone else), were they normal for the region, was there stress indicated in voice patterns, etc.
Everything else IMHO depends on the answers to these basic questions, yet we have heard nothing about voice analysis or sign-off patterns. So like Shoeman, I think speculation about what happened after can't really begin until we know how things started.
I think you're exactly right, californian, which is why they have all these talking heads spouting theories. While I know 'something' about aviation and avionics (combo of Air Force first husband, Coast Guard flight engineer long-term boyfriend, and looking into the Payne Stewart/Mike Kling crash for a friend [Kling had a Maine connection].
Most of all, I am reacting as a historian. You cannot know or analyze what may have happened in the future if you don't know what preceded it. If US authorities know something about the voice recognition, they certainly aren't saying it. So-called experts keep bringing up the captain's flight data simulator with sinister implications, yet I would bet a whole lot of American pilots also own one. We NEED to know who made that voice communication and whether or not it was normal for Malaysia/Vietnam.
This may be one of the worst excuses ever. Thailand gives radar data 10 days after plane lost - Yahoo News
No, definitely not that. When we'd travel, he'd always making a point of getting on military bases to take photos of planes (not possible these days), and once when I was in Paris I went alone to Le Bourget's amazing Air Museum. Jerry, if you haven't been it's worth a visit -- the Concorde alone makes it so, but it's a very cool place if you like aviation. I've been to Oshkosh too (what an odd duck I am!)
I was once lucky enough to be on a transatlantic flight long ago when the pilot announced for people on the left side of the plane to look out the window to see a rare sight -- two Concordes passing in opposite directions. It's amazing how tiny and birdlike they look on the ground.
Here's a simple theory about what could have happened...