Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

New Information May Narrow Down Malaysian Jet's Path

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the not-that-hard-to-lose-a-plane dept.

Math 227

mdsolar (1045926) writes with this excerpt from Slate on the still-missing Malaysian Airline flight "In a case that is swirling with uncertainties, a few pieces of evidence have stood apart for seeming reliability. Among them was the revelation last Saturday by Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak that his country's investigators, in collaboration with U.S. authorities, had analyzed an electronic ping that MH370 had broadcast to the Inmarsat satellite at 8:11 a.m. on the morning of the disappearance. Based on this data, the investigators had determined that at that moment MH370 must have been somewhere along one of two broad arcs: one which passed through Central Asia, and the other of which covered a swath of largely empty Indian Ocean, far to the south. The revelation left a burning question unresolved: what about the six earlier pings, which had been exchanged between the aircraft and the satellite about once per hour? Could any position data be deduced from them? Today, Inmarsat revealed some crucial information. 'The ping timings got longer,' Inmarsat spokesman Chris McLaughlin stated via email. That is to say, at each stage of its journey, the aircraft got progressively farther away from the geostationary satellite's position, located over a spot on the equator south of Pakistan, and never changed its heading in a direction that took it closer—at least for very long."

cancel ×

227 comments

Not new information (1)

drmofe (523606) | about 4 months ago | (#46549153)

The intermediate pings have always been considered along with the final pings to determine the arcs. The information at the end of the article - that a southern flight would be found on Indonesian primary radar returns - seems to contradict the large search effort being carried out currently on the southern corridor. It's also entirely possible that the flight wasn't picked up on Indonesian radar - even though it did fly south - if the Indonesian radar capability was not operating as it was expected to.

Re:Not new information (3, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 4 months ago | (#46549595)

Primary radars are short range devices. Its pretty easy to evade them, by design or by accident. Having said that the aircraft would have to have been steered south after it crossed the Malay peninsula to the west, and there is no explanation for that at the moment. My hope is that the southern ocean search is being run to give the illusion of action while the US and China prepare to extract hostages from one of the [a-z]stans.

Re:Not new information (5, Informative)

Stellian (673475) | about 4 months ago | (#46549797)

Here's a map of the pings:
http://theaviationist.com/wp-c... [theaviationist.com]

Re:Not new information (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46550057)

A useful map - it's interesting that the aircraft appears to have a heading of 180 (due South), almost exactly on 90 E longitude, and very possibly passing through 90E 0N on it's way heading towards 180S (which was beyond it's range). Nice whole numbers. I'd suggest some software issue with a flight navigation system, except that intentional foul play appears to be significantly more likely. Maybe a very tidy-minded suicidal crew member?

Re:Not new information (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46550087)

But wasn't the last radar location near the Andamans?

Latency? (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | about 4 months ago | (#46550149)

Here is another link saying the same about all seven pings: http://www.themalaymailonline.... [themalaymailonline.com] "Engineers at Inmarsat Plc, whose satellite picked up the pings, plotted seven positions for the Boeing Co 777-200ER on March 8, Chris McLaughlin, a company spokesman, said in an interview. The plane flew steadily away from the satellite over the equator while pinging, McLaughlin said. Malaysia needs to verify that information, Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, the chief of the nation’s civil aviation, said in Kuala Lumpur."

Yet the first ping should have been very near the last radar contact at 2:15 seen on your map. But that position appears to be farther from the satellite than the 5:11 circle. Could they be over correcting for system latency on the aircraft when plotting these circles? Maybe the system is faster when other things are turned off? Perhaps plotted circles need to be expanded out to the East?

Re:Not new information (5, Interesting)

flyingsquid (813711) | about 4 months ago | (#46550223)

I think that we are going to be in for a very, very long wait before we find out what happened— we're not talking about weeks or months, but many years. When Air France 447 went down, debris and an oil slick was spotted within 24 hours of the plane's loss. Even with that lead, it took almost two years, including the use of towed sonar arrays, nuclear and robotic submarines, and autonomous robotic underwater vehicles, to finally located the wreckage and salvage the plane and black boxes.

Here, the situation is vastly more challenging. Locating the wreckage of Air France 447 quickly, before it had time to drift far, meant that it was possible to narrow down the search area considerably; the initial search area was around 2400 square miles- a 50 mile by 50 mile area. Here, the search area is almost a hundred times that- the area the Australians have been searching is something like 230,000 square miles. That's roughly the size of Texas. It's also in the middle of nowhere- between Australia and the Kerguelen islands, putting it about 1500 miles away from land. That's making it difficult to do aerial searches- the planes burn most of their fuel getting there and back, so there's little time for searches. It sounds like the weather isn't fantastic either, so visibility is limited, and satellite photos of the suspected wreckage show a lot of white, which I assume is whitecaps from heavy seas. That's going to make it difficult or impossible to spot wreckage on radar- the waves are going to be reflecting back a lot of signal, creating a lot of noise- or visually. The heavy wave action could also cause floating sections of wing or tail to fill up with water more quickly and sink. Finally, the plane went down two weeks ago, so if any wreckage is recovered, it could be hundreds of miles from the crash site.

At this point, I'm going to guess that no wreckage will be found, or it will be found too late to provide any useful information about the location of the plane beyond confirming that it's in the southern Indian Ocean. Given that, we are talking about an underwater search using sonar that is going to cover hundreds of thousands of square miles, in waters up to 16,000 feet deep. That would require either years of effort, or a small fleet of underwater vehicles scanning the seafloor. This assumes that the deductions made from the satellite data are even correct. It's not impossible, but it is very, very difficult. My guess is that new technologies- making it possible for robotic vehicles to scan larger areas of seafloor, in higher resolution than ever before- may be necessary.

They looked but did not see the plane (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | about 4 months ago | (#46549973)

The Indonesians have searched their military radar records and did not detect the plane. http://www.antaranews.com/en/n... [antaranews.com]

Re:Not new information (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46550077)

It's even more probable that all Indonesian public communication in this case is full of BS and omissions, as it has been since the first day. Don't forget we're dealing with an authoritarian country.

CNN's Black Hole theory... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46549155)

http://www.mediaite.com/tv/cnns-don-lemon-is-it-preposterous-to-think-a-black-hole-caused-flight-370-to-go-missing/

Don Lemmon: " “is it preposterous” to consider a black hole as a possibility?"

' Mary Schiavo, a former Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Transportation, said, “A small black hole would suck in our entire universe, so we know it’s not that.” '

Our brightest minds are working on this...

At least they didn't fly to Guam (4, Funny)

Brett Buck (811747) | about 4 months ago | (#46549175)

Because the extra weight may have caused the island to capsize:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... [youtube.com]

Re:At least they didn't fly to Guam (1)

CheezburgerBrown . (3417019) | about 4 months ago | (#46549185)

Having lived on Guam, I can assure you that nothing better could possibly happen the the place.

Re:At least they didn't fly to Guam (1)

Trax3001BBS (2368736) | about 4 months ago | (#46549461)

Because the extra weight may have caused the island to capsize:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... [youtube.com]

Oh god that was painful to watch, width, it's the width! I have to give them credit for not laughing at the capsize remark.

Re:CNN's Black Hole theory... (2)

Smerta (1855348) | about 4 months ago | (#46549179)

When I heard that exchange at an airport, I wanted to reach through the TV screen and strangle both of those idiots.

Look, not everyone's a scientist or engineer, but don't just start spouting off shit like you know what you're talking about. Lemon's question was inane, but Schiavo's answer was so absurd, my fourth-grade daughter, who's recently learned /of/ black holes, tilted her head in a "WTF?!?!" kind of way when I replayed that video for her the next day.

Re:CNN's Black Hole theory... (1)

ComputersKai (3499237) | about 4 months ago | (#46549203)

One word: Aliens...and the CIA. :)

No, to be quite honest, I believe there is a chance that the aircraft is still intact, because neither the wreck nor the black-box's tramission signal has been found yet. Still, I am not a professional on this, so you can't be sure.

Re:CNN's Black Hole theory... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46549385)

If there's a hole in the black box, what other color could it possibly have?

Re:CNN's Black Hole theory... (1)

Smerta (1855348) | about 4 months ago | (#46549187)

When I heard that exchange at an airport, I wanted to reach through the TV screen and strangle both of those idiots.

Look, not everyone's a scientist or engineer, but don't just start spouting off shit like you know what you're talking about. Lemon's question was inane, but Schiavo's answer was so absurd, my fourth-grade daughter, who's recently learned /of/ black holes, tilted her head in a "WTF?!?!" kind of way when I replayed that video for her the next day.

Re:CNN's Black Hole theory... (1)

Chewbacon (797801) | about 4 months ago | (#46549301)

You mean government officials don't know everything? C'mon, if Schiavo said a tiny black hole would suck in our entire universe, then obviously science will bend to her words!

Where do we get people like that from? (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 4 months ago | (#46549417)

Don Lemmon: " “is it preposterous” to consider a black hole as a possibility?"

Most definitely (as the above poster and most readers will have spotted).
We live in a universe with Stephen Hawking in it instead of a fictional one with Dan Brown's characters in it. Due to that a black hole with a mass of a bus has a life of under a second. Why are we giving bodybuilders air time to regurgitate their thoughts misinformed by novels that rely on incredibly fucking stupid plot devices?

Re:CNN's Black Hole theory... (1)

kenwd0elq (985465) | about 4 months ago | (#46549529)

Sorry; not "brightest minds". The movie quote you're looking for is "We have top men working on this." "Who?" "Top ... Men".

Re:CNN's Black Hole theory... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46549937)

Why do you think he's quoting a movie and not simply making a comment?

Re:CNN's Black Hole theory... (4, Funny)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 4 months ago | (#46549563)

Well then I hope the Langoliers don't get them.

Re:CNN's Black Hole theory... (1)

JazzHarper (745403) | about 4 months ago | (#46549645)

OK, other than a simple, "Yes", how do you think Schiavo should have responded? (Let us assume that none of the "experts" on the panel know anything more about black holes than she does, so she's on the spot.)

Re:CNN's Black Hole theory... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46549813)

Allowed by some theories, e.g.
Conformal Cyclic Cosmology [wikipedia.org] in which eventually everything ends up in a black hole.

Re:CNN's Black Hole theory... (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 4 months ago | (#46550251)

The plane is in Russia.

The Russian Raja "You know I'm, Vlad, I'm bad," Putin declared that he has annexed the territory of the plane, which is now part of the Russian Federation, on wishes of the Russian-speaking passengers of the plane.

The plane was carrying rebel NSA operatives, who are part of a Mulder-Scullyist-Snowden freedom-fries-fighters group known as "The Stoned Gunmen", who were trying to flee to China via Malaysia from Indonesia on their way to the asylum known as "Sancuary" for people over 30 years old, because they uncovered the Truth, that is out there, that the NSA is blackmailing Barack Obama into submission with false documentation of his birth in Indonesia and identity of his real father, Haji Muhammad Suharto, the former Indonesian dictator, which is false, because it is clearly documented that Obama was born in Kenya, and is the grandson of Haile Selassie, so the NSA activated their back orifice devices, which were in the personal electronic devices of all the passengers on the plane, which may be turned on when the Captain indicates that it is safe to do so, which have the collective power to divert the course of the plane in the direction of the NSA Dr. Evil Island US Air Force Base of Diego Garcia, where "The Stoned Gunmen" were to be treated with the pacifying mind control drugs secretly distributed by Obamacare, that will allow the NSA to direct Obama to change the Constitution, or just plain ignore it, like the government has been doing recently, so that Obama can serve as the NSA stooge as the President of the United States of America, until the NSA decides that they have no further use for him, so the US really has all the radar data on the flight path of the plane, which can be seen on the "Big Board" in the "War Room", where fighting is not allowed, but the NSA won't give out the flight path information, since that would lead everyone to Diego Garcia, but Putin knows this anyway, and was planning to invade the island, but the NSA carefully orchestrated the current Crimean crisis to distract "You know I'm, Vlad, I'm bad," Putin's military, so that his only chance of granting "The Stoned Gunmen" asylum in the Snowden Sheraton was to declare the plane as part of the Russian Federation.

It all fits together nicely, when you just stop to think about it.

Unfortunately for the NSA, Hillary Clinton is not pleased with the NSA plans to keep on Obama as President indefinitely, so she is rallying her forces in a counter-plot, where she has found an unlikely ally in Sarah Palin and her militia of redneck duck hunters, with the intention of installing a new regime in the US, with Hillary Clinton as President, and Sarah Palin as Vice-President, which will reveal the Truth about the plane, but the NSA is trying to counter this counter-plot, by . . .

Credibility of Indonesian military (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46549173)

"If the plane did travel south, its path should be detectable on stored Indonesian military radar returns." - Indonesian military is bunch of completely corrupted incompetent fools. SAR team should not trust a single information from Indonesia. The military radars that Indonesian military is suppose to have, probably don't even exist. Someone took money and never delivered the radars.

Re:Credibility of Indonesian military (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46549363)

"If the plane did travel south, its path should be detectable on stored Indonesian military radar returns." - Indonesian military is bunch of completely corrupted incompetent fools. SAR team should not trust a single information from Indonesia. The military radars that Indonesian military is suppose to have, probably don't even exist. Someone took money and never delivered the radars.

That's a whole lot of speculation with no facts to back it up. Citations please?

Re:Credibility of Indonesian military (2)

AK Marc (707885) | about 4 months ago | (#46549501)

The best current thought is that they went south. The fact that Indonesia didn't see them pass right through the monitored airspace is fact enough.

Re:Credibility of Indonesian military (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 4 months ago | (#46549621)

Australian here. Small boats regularly depart illegally from Indonesian beaches, heading for other countries and when told about it, the Indonesians show zero interest in arresting and charging the crews and passengers or even taking them back. Basically they don't gave two shits about whatever enters or leaves their country.

Re:Credibility of Indonesian military (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46549659)

They dont leave illegally you numb nut.

Re:Credibility of Indonesian military (4, Informative)

KeensMustard (655606) | about 4 months ago | (#46549775)

Small boats regularly depart illegally from Indonesian beaches,

It 's not illegal to leave Indonesia by boat.

heading for other countries and when told about it, the Indonesians show zero interest in arresting and charging the crews and passengers or even taking them back.

People travel by boat between countries all the time. In my country (also Australia) 30,541 boats arrived here in the 2011/2012 FY. [portsaustralia.com.au] That's just the commercial vessels, not including pleasure craft, navy visits etc.

Of course the Indonesians aren't interested in stopping something that is not illegal or immoral, or damaging to their economy, or ours.

Re:Credibility of Indonesian military (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 4 months ago | (#46549907)

Small boats regularly depart illegally from Indonesian beaches,

It 's not illegal to leave Indonesia by boat.

So what, they get their passports stamped when they pile on to leaky old fishing boats and then head for ashmore reef?

Re:Credibility of Indonesian military (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46550167)

Yes, mate, if the boat ties up at a dock, they will register and pass customs. durr

Re:Credibility of Indonesian military (4, Interesting)

dbIII (701233) | about 4 months ago | (#46549437)

Even if they are competent they do not have complete coverage, don't give a shit about obvious non-military aircraft at high altitude, and even it they are logging stuff why would they log stuff of that sort that's just passing over?
Having different goals does not mean stupid or incompetent. They do not have some huge chain of radar stations designed to identify incoming ICBMs - they never had a need for such a thing.

Re:Credibility of Indonesian military (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 4 months ago | (#46549523)

Planes aren't obviously non-military. Most aircraft are dual-purpose. The US AWACS are 707-based, and so on. If it's so obvious, why have there been issues with commercial planes at cruise? If they don't look that high, who saw the U2 that was shot down?

Re:Credibility of Indonesian military (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 4 months ago | (#46549667)

Yes, but they really do not care about a U2, AWACS or ICBM either. Their primary role is probably keeping track of their own military aircraft in real time and they may not even have logged data to look back at.

Re:Credibility of Indonesian military (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46549749)

So they only track their own aircraft and don't worry about any foreign military power penetrating their airspace? Of course they are monitoring the radar for intruders no matter how inept these people may seem.

Not in Kansas any more (2)

dbIII (701233) | about 4 months ago | (#46549883)

It's Indonesia. They don't have to worry much about "intruders".

Re:Credibility of Indonesian military (3, Insightful)

AK Marc (707885) | about 4 months ago | (#46549901)

Why pay millions for a system that can track a U2 then configure it so that it can not detect a U2? All the military systems available would track a commercial plane, and you'd be asserting that they bought a commercial system, then disabled it. Or built their own, costing more than the commercial systems, and built it "worse" than the commercial systems.

Much more likely, they have expensive systems that they don't know how to work, and they spend most of their time off or broken, and they feel too embarrassed about it to explain why they didn't have coverage.

Sort of like why Saddam had a "chemical weapons" program. If everyone knew he didn't have it, then he expected a revolt or invasion. So he pretends to have one (apparently so well that he fools the President who can't be fooled again). Indonesia may be doing the same with their military capability.

Re:Credibility of Indonesian military (2)

dbIII (701233) | about 4 months ago | (#46549941)

Their military is to deal with internal threats. For the rest they have been a US ally for decades (up to the point of giving for donation to the Republican party to President Ford in person in Jakarta on 7 December 1975 (the last time they dealt with an external power militarily), but that's another story).

and they feel too embarrassed about it to explain why they didn't have coverage

They use donated ex-US systems apparently, so don't run it down too much, you'd be critisizing your own country :)

Indonesia may be doing the same with their military capability.

They have a bit of a military nuclear program (mostly stalled since the 1960s) and your taxes probably paid for most of it since most parts are US made.

Re:Credibility of Indonesian military (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46550255)

The were then and now, but not always all the times in between.

Re:Credibility of Indonesian military (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46550181)

Why would one not be logging everything?... Are they afreid of running out of papyrus on which to write the entries...

Black box radio beacon ? (2)

invictusvoyd (3546069) | about 4 months ago | (#46549207)

I'm no aviation expert but if I were to design a black box , I'd put a radio beacon on it (activated on impact) and a sonar beacon (activated on being submerged) . Someone on /. had pointed out that they already have such beacons which ping for 30 days after activation. Why are they not picking any of that? Have they used submarines in the search?

Re:Black box radio beacon ? (2)

davester666 (731373) | about 4 months ago | (#46549285)

No. You are the first person who has thought of this. You should call 911, and get them to forward your valuable hint to the head of the search effort.

Re:Black box radio beacon ? (5, Informative)

Solandri (704621) | about 4 months ago | (#46549353)

The planes have ELTs [wikipedia.org] designed to activate upon impact and relay their GPS location to satellites (Steve Fossett's plane would've been found within hours if he had had one of these). AFAIK those aren't waterproof though. The escape slides (which double as rafts) should have EPIRBs aboard, which are waterproof. However if the rafts aren't deployed then obviously they'll sink and the EPIRBs won't do a whole lot of good.

The black boxes give off a 35 KHz acoustic ping every second. The batteries should be good for 30-35 days. Unfortunately, 35 KHz sound attenuates rapidly in seawater, so you only likely to hear it up to about 2 km away. If the plane is sitting in more than 2 km of water, the only way you'll hear the pings is if you're very lucky on the surface, or from deep water submersibles.

I think the assumption was that you would have enough radar data to narrow down the search area to a few hundred or few thousand square km at most. AF447 was probably considered a fluke. Now that a second plane has "disappeared" in a similar manner, expect to see the required locating equipment changed. One obvious change would be to equip all commercial aircraft with an EPIRB designed to float free if the plane sinks. It won't give you the plane's exact location due to wind and currents, but it'll prevent these "we have no idea where the plane is" situations. Unlike the previous locating idea posted on /. which cost $100k per plane, an EPIRB only costs a few hundred dollars.

Re:Black box radio beacon ? (5, Interesting)

kenwd0elq (985465) | about 4 months ago | (#46549493)

Ummmm....... Not necessarily so. Sound under water can be ducted through sound channels and convergence zones. Depending on the depth/pressure, the salinity, and the temperature, faint noises can by heard by a hydrophone hundreds of miles away - but NOT detectable on a hydrophone a half-mile away that isn't at the sound channel depth. (Source: I was an airborne acoustic sensor operator for several years in P-3 Orion ASW aircraft, long long ago). I'm guessing that every US submarine that transits the IO for the next ten years will have secondary tasking to search for MH370.

Of course, if the airplane is on the bottom, in the mud, or in an abyssal trench, the sound could be muffled and not audible even a dozen yards away. Since we have essentially no clue where the airplane is (except that we can be pretty sure it isn't in the "black hole" between Don Lemon's ears) the whole search effort is, essentially, a crap shoot.

We actually had better data on the Air France jet that went down in the Atlantic a few years ago. They eventually recovered the flight data recorders, although it took almost 2 years. But we had a pretty good idea of the track of the aircraft, even though we didn't know WHEN it had gone down.

Here, we can't even be certain that it went down. There are only three good chances for what happened to it. 1) It went down at sea. 2) It crashed into the jungle. Or 3), it landed someplace and is being hidden. The only thing we can be certain of is that it's not flying any longer.

Re:Black box radio beacon ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46549945)

There are only three good chances for what happened to it. 1) It went down at sea. 2) It crashed into the jungle. Or 3), it landed someplace and is being hidden. The only thing we can be certain of is that it's not flying any longer.

How can you be sure it's NOT flying any longer? If it landed somewhere it could have refueled and flown again. Might have just done that in the past hour and may right now be flying somewhere.

Re:Black box radio beacon ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46550137)

How can you be sure it's NOT flying any longer? If it landed somewhere it could have refueled and flown again. Might have just done that in the past hour and may right now be flying somewhere.

Somewhere? Look out of the window, it'll be crashing into your home in 5...4...3...

Re:Black box radio beacon ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46549623)

All great points..
I did read the whole thing, but they do have signal boxes on the planes, beside the "blackbox", which were made in case the plane hits into the water. However, despite the sensitive detection equipment aboard NAVY ships aiding in finding the plane. That signal becomes faint, as the plane sinks deeper.

That's assuming the pilot/s or someone else didn't somehow disable the box, and the blackbox.

They also have a couple of experts, who specialize [cant remember there names] in finding that in which no one else could find.

I have heard the "hi-jack" word getting thrown around. And while this is conceivable, everyone continues to blow it off..

This may not be your media stereo type "hi-jacking" [people planning either a take over after acting like passengers, or just run aboard the plane with guns threatening to kill anyone} There may not be any demands, and they maybe getting a kick out of watching them spending all this effort and time into trying to find it before the parties involved give up. Then a group may come out and say something or take credit for it.

Minds games, the goal behind it, next time the plane disappears, everyone will be wondering who did it. Of course the downside to it will be the shit stain media/press will be going on and on over terrorism and hi-jacking, all though they already burned that up with this latest incident.

Re:Black box radio beacon ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46550005)

Can't imagine you'd find many commercial aviation ELTs that aren't waterproof. And the Underwater Locator Beacons are normally pinging 37.5kHz once active.

Re:Black box radio beacon ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46550129)

only costs a few hundred dollars.

Nothing an an aircraft costs only a few hundred dollars. Even if the component itself is completely free, its at least a 'minor change' which costs a few hundred dollars for C172.

Re:Black box radio beacon ? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46550135)

Note that the ELTs and EPIRBs are designed to aid rescuers ("take the search out of search and rescue"), and so their design doesn't really consider accidents which are clearly unsurvivable, because in those scenarios there is nobody to rescue.

Your typical air crash goes like this:

Bob owns a Cessna 172, he likes to fly around in the open countryside, far from big cities and crowded airspace, it's a quick way to get around and he loves the feeling of flying. This morning Bob did the paperwork for a 2 hour flight to Tinytown, leaving his wife to do housework, but absent-minded Bob took off in the wrong direction toward Little Hampton (3.5 hours away). After almost two hours Bob realised his mistake, he no longer has enough fuel to return to his departure point, he can't make it to Little Hampton and he's far from Tinytown, nobody will know where he is. Consulting his charts Bob sees what he thinks is a disused airfield and heads for that. Alas, Bob was flustered by his earlier error, got the headings wrong, and is now travelling North instead of South, by the time he realises this further error, his engine splutters out and Bob crashes into a tree at the edge of a clearing that wasn't quite big enough for the attempted landing. Luckily for Bob the plane does not catch fire, but he is now lying unconscious in the twisted wreckage about 40 miles from the nearest dwelling. Nobody sees it happen.

Without an ELT, Bob is on his own probably until next sunrise, and perhaps longer. Even if his wife wonders why he didn't call her in an hour or two, it may be getting dark already. When she calls Tinytown, they'll say he isn't there, but that leaves a lot of other options. A serious search won't begin until tomorrow when it's apparent Bob never landed anywhere in the vicinity. If Bob is mostly uninjured he might manage to walk out of the crash or attract attention and get rescued, otherwise he'll have to wait until volunteers criss-crossing the countryside stumble onto his wreck. There's a good chance that Bob, who survived the initial accident, will die in the course of the next 8-12 hours.

With an ELT, very likely the local SAR is informed that Bob's plane seems to be in trouble within about 5-10 minutes. They call Bob's home phone number (he should have listed several alternate numbers, but probably didn't). His wife answers, yes, Bob is out flying his plane. She believes he is going to Tinytown. Is he OK? The SAR don't know, but promise to stay in touch. They get a location either with the first message from the plane (GPS-ELT), or about 10-15 minutes later as satellites triangulate the signal (cheap older ELT or GPS didn't work). They then find a volunteer to go take a look from the nearest airport, maybe with a first aider aboard (this is the back of nowhere, so they almost certainly don't have a dedicated paramedic for this work). The volunteer eventually sees Bob's plane on the ground where the ELT said it was, 90 minutes or so after he crashed, and tries to figure out where to put down the first aider to best help. The first aider eventually gets to Bob two hours after the crash, and both ground and air resources can now be tasked to get Bob to an ER for treatment. There is much better chance that Bob survives this way, despite his own stupidity.

Re:Black box radio beacon ? (4, Informative)

hankwang (413283) | about 4 months ago | (#46549365)

"they already have such beacons which ping for 30 days after activation. Why are they not picking any of that? "

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U... [wikipedia.org]

Typical detection range is 5 km. Say the plane can be in a 2000x2000 sq km area. Then you have to search in a search path that is 200x2000=400,000 km long. That's 10x around the earth and will take a while.

And the ocean is 4 km deep once you're well away from land; because of the vertical distance you have less horizontal range.

Re:Black box radio beacon ? (1)

Trax3001BBS (2368736) | about 4 months ago | (#46549605)

"they already have such beacons which ping for 30 days after activation. Why are they not picking any of that? "

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U... [wikipedia.org]

Solandri answers that above.

The link did answer my question as to where one would place an EPIRB (distress radiobeacon) also mentioned by Solandri, right to the fuselage.

FTA "ULBs are also sometimes required to be attached directly to an aircraft fuselage."

Sigh. (0)

MouseTheLuckyDog (2752443) | about 4 months ago | (#46549217)

If these pings are the data the engines send to Boeing, then they are supposed to be sent every hour.So ping timings getting lomger? Since the pings are transmitted at the speed of light, over the distance the plane travels the change in ping timing would be too small to measure.

Re:Sigh. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46549267)

I think you misunderstand the precision possible in timing these days. GPS just works by clocks in spacecraft announcing the current time; relative delays get you sub-meter accuracy. Sub-microsecond timing is not hard.

Re:Sigh. (1)

hh10k (725277) | about 4 months ago | (#46549279)

You should read about how GPS works. Then you'll understand what they're talking about with the ping taking longer.

Re: Sigh. (-1)

Jim Finn (3587769) | about 4 months ago | (#46549281)

Radio transmissions do not occur at the speed of light.

Re: Sigh. (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46549299)

Yes they do. (Or very nearly -- the index of refraction of air to RF pulses is very nearly 1)

Re: Sigh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46549309)

They most certainly do.

Re: Sigh. (1)

Trax3001BBS (2368736) | about 4 months ago | (#46549631)

They most certainly do.

Newton said the instant the Sun were to just go away the planets would continue in the direction they were headed at the time,

Einstein first theory of gravity didn't do that as light takes 8 minutes to reach the Earth. 10 years later Einstein refined his theory saying gravity acts at exactly at the speed of light, which satisfied Newton's laws.

cite: PBS The Elegant Universe - Einsteins Dream

So no, they don't

Re: Sigh. (1)

Trax3001BBS (2368736) | about 4 months ago | (#46549639)

They most certainly do.

So no, they don't

I'd of deleted this if I could, this is just nit picking.

Re: Sigh. (5, Informative)

ClickOnThis (137803) | about 4 months ago | (#46549423)

Radio transmissions do not occur at the speed of light.

Radio waves and light waves are both electromagnetic radiation, just at different wavelengths. In vacuum, electromagnetic radiation travels at speed c for all wavelengths. In non-vacuum media, there may be some dispersive effects that cause the speed to change with wavelength, but those effects are very small in air.

In short, radio waves travel at the speed of light because, in a very real sense, radio waves are light, just not light at a wavelength our eyes can see.

Re: Sigh. (1)

MouseTheLuckyDog (2752443) | about 4 months ago | (#46549951)

OK. So the speed of light in vacum is about 0.033% faster in vacuum then radio transmissions in air. Doesn't affect the precision much.

Re:Sigh. (3, Informative)

AK Marc (707885) | about 4 months ago | (#46549533)

They use a shared TDMA return to best allocate bandwidth. The timing is measured in microseconds (and no, not millions of them). The time to the GEO satellite can be learned and used to deduce distance, thus an arc. It's pretty accurate.

Re:Sigh. (1)

WaffleMonster (969671) | about 4 months ago | (#46549619)

If these pings are the data the engines send to Boeing, then they are supposed to be sent every hour.So ping timings getting lomger? Since the pings are transmitted at the speed of light, over the distance the plane travels the change in ping timing would be too small to measure.

It depends on resolution of the timing data they have. I wish they would share raw data. Could have been recording clocking of sat link or some such to determine prop delay.

Also need to keep in mind sat is at geo.. length of actual light path between plane and sat depends on angle/location as well as speed/alt.

Re:Sigh. (2)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 4 months ago | (#46550133)

ping timing would be too small to measure

High precision timers are everywhere these days, for example the raw windows performance counters are expressed in units of 100 nanoseconds (10^-7 seconds). Coincidently GPS uses a 50 nanosecond clock tick, which is only twice as fast as what your PC is doing right now. In case you are wondering, light travels about 15 meters in 50 nanoseconds, the accuracy of GPS is improved to better than 15 meters by using multiple satellites and a bit more math.

Link to Detailed Account: Anyone Know Air Routes? (4, Informative)

careysub (976506) | about 4 months ago | (#46549223)

Here is a very detailed account of the trajectory data now available from Reuters [reuters.com] . Maybe someone on this board knows air routes in South East Asia and can provide analysis or pointers to useful maps?

Re:Link to Detailed Account: Anyone Know Air Route (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46549341)

As an expert on the matter, I have authority to comment: U ALL SUCK. In reality, the plane DID NOT, i repeat DID NOT go back in time and Barack Obama IS NOT, i repeat IS NOT the president of the United States.

In related news, Vladimir Klitchkov managed to avert certain death by grabbing a samurai sword and riding a motorbike withe the letter "Z" on the ignition key", if you have seen the fugitive please call 911 immediately.

In unrelated news, Miley Cyrus succumbed to her wounds after trying to swallow her own tongue live on television.

Re:Link to Detailed Account: Anyone Know Air Route (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46549457)

Skyvector [skyvector.com] is your friend.

Re:Link to Detailed Account: Anyone Know Air Route (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46549515)

Diego Garcia.

You can draw in the rest of the conclusions.

I'm afraid we need to use... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46549251)

... MATH.

.

Re:I'm afraid we need to use... (-1, Troll)

davester666 (731373) | about 4 months ago | (#46549287)

Now now. Let's not exclude women from the search effort.

Radar data (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46549303)

No country will give the radar data..they a secret regarding military capability.. If they have any information they won't tell it because it will give their coverage.. If they don't have anything then too as it will show the lack of it..

Headed South? (2)

DeathElk (883654) | about 4 months ago | (#46549415)

If any trace is found in Australian waters, it will either be detained or culled.

It'll never be found (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46549465)

It's been two weeks, the finest and most capable surveillance technology has been used, and still nothing has been found. The Aussie satellite images a few days ago seemed the most promising, but nothing's been found in the respective area despite expanding the search. No doubt the debris would have moved via the currents, but still.

How long exactly can Governments invest the time, effort and money to search until it's seen as a loss? I'm not saying that we should give up just yet, but if another week passes and absolutely nothing is found... then clearly we aren't as good as we think we are.

Re:It'll never be found (0)

MouseTheLuckyDog (2752443) | about 4 months ago | (#46549959)

They spent two years looking for the Air France flight that went down.

The most plausible theory - written by a pilot (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46549475)

http://www.wired.com/autopia/2014/03/mh370-electrical-fire/

I believe something like that happened. Occam's razor and so on...

The fact that the pilot had built his own simulator also has a mundane reason that somebody on pprune had tracked down: He assisted with giving a real pilot's feedback to a third-party developer of aircraft for flight simulators (X-Plane IIRC).

Re:The most plausible theory - written by a pilot (1)

DeathElk (883654) | about 4 months ago | (#46549593)

The simplest answer is usually correct. Instead we get the typical murdoch media response i.e. the pilots were not Caucasian, they must be terrorists.

Re:The most plausible theory - written by a pilot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46549787)

There's a famous possible Einstein quote [quoteinvestigator.com] ,

Everything Should Be Made as Simple as Possible, But Not Simpler

The fire theory fails the second bit. Assuming we can trust the facts published in the media:

  • The transponder, located next to the pilot, was switched off before the pilot's last radio communication
  • The plane continued to make controlled direction changes long after the loss of communication
  • The ACARS system was turned off in a very specific way not consistent with a fire

What's dangerous about the fact that people continue to spread this theory long after it has been clearly ruled out by the facts is that it is exactly the kind of questioning of experts which a) looks stupid and so discredits questioning of experts and b) stupid people will believe it without checking the facts and so discredit the experts when they actually are right and are behaving like experts. Both of those things encourage stupid.

Re:The most plausible theory - written by a pilot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46550095)

The transponder wasn't switched off before the last communication.

Re:The most plausible theory - written by a pilot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46550267)

Based on posts by the pilot he was a Richard Dawkins fan and he opposed the oppressive government, which makes it pretty clear that at least he didn't have any religious motivations. Consequently, I'm inclined to think that if he wanted to undertake any form of protest action, he would've done something entirely different than "hijack" his own plane.

Re:The most plausible theory - written by a pilot (1)

Trax3001BBS (2368736) | about 4 months ago | (#46549705)

http://www.wired.com/autopia/2014/03/mh370-electrical-fire/

I believe something like that happened. Occam's razor and so on...

FTA "the pilot may have ascended to 45,000 feet in a last-ditch effort to quell a fire by seeking the lowest level of oxygen."

I've thought this could of been the reason for the ascension but felt if I mentioned it, it would be seen as a cruel joke as the passengers would be incapacitated as well.

could of been (1, Offtopic)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 4 months ago | (#46549777)

"could of been": Is this Engrish or Ebonics?

Re: could of been (1)

Trax3001BBS (2368736) | about 4 months ago | (#46550163)

"could of been": Is this Engrish or Ebonics?

Trax's way of posting nothing more nothing less.

Re: could of been (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46550183)

It's reddit.

Re:The most plausible theory - written by a pilot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46550259)

I've thought this could of been the reason for the ascension but felt if I mentioned it, it would be seen as a cruel joke as the passengers would be incapacitated as well.

Would that have been such a big problem? Upon returning to a lower altitude the passengers would've regained consciousness. I recall reading the investigators account of what the passengers of the 747 blown up over Lockerbie presumably experienced. They lost consciousness very fast but regained it for the last 45 seconds of the fatal fall to the ground. If this aircraft was flyable the passengers would've been just fine and regained consciousness well before any emergency landing or ditching. Unless toxic fumes had already killed them.

Another thing which I dislike about the whole "the pilot(s) did it" theory is how the authorities were willing to consider it plausible to the extent that they searched the pilot's house. I do not know Malaysian law but I sure do wonder how quickly a search warrant to an American pilot's house could be obtained in a similar situation. As stated in that theory, the pilot could very well have heroically tried to save the plane.

If the terrorism/hijacking scenario is to be considered, there is one fact of particular interest: There's one security weakness specific to the 777 that other aircraft don't have. It came up in the thread on pprune. A pilot has in vain tried to get authorities, airlines and Boeing to fix it and in an attempt to do so he posted a video about it on youtube (the thread is so long that I CBA to dig it up but it's between pages 70-100 IIRC). The problem is that the electronics bay under the cockpit is trivially accessible and - among all the other things you can do there - you can disable the electronic cockpit door lock. The hatch does not have any lock and it's located so that all you need is an accomplice that pretends to wait for the toilet since he/she can then make other passengers wait without seeing what you're doing around the corner. In the video, the pilot goes to the bay and films it and then returns without anybody noticing because nobody evidently needs to use the toilet in the mean time.

This is the 'Distracting Story of the Week' (0)

EnergyScholar (801915) | about 4 months ago | (#46549571)

This entire story is manufactured news. "Look over here! This is shiny and exciting! Pay no attention to ongoing, substantive stories."

Re:This is the 'Distracting Story of the Week' (1)

chrismcb (983081) | about 4 months ago | (#46549689)

So what you are saying is there isn't actually a missing plane, they just made it up?

Re:This is the 'Distracting Story of the Week' (2)

Jeremi (14640) | about 4 months ago | (#46549723)

So what you are saying is there isn't actually a missing plane, they just made it up?

You have to admit, that would be a pretty good explanation for why they can't find it.... ;)

Re: This is the 'Distracting Story of the Week' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46549773)

You mean it landed? Where? And if so; where is the hotel they are ALL staying at? Maybe Aquaman saved them and they're chllin' in a trench called Sub-Diego?

A plausible theory? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46549759)

Explosive decompression in the flight cabin? Maybe even loss of oxygen to the entire plane might explain the lack of communication? With that being said; the plane is a zombie just flying on auto - pilot until fuel is exhausted? Scary thoughts about the people who died on this plane I'm having at 1am.
A.B.

My theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46549819)

This was a deliberate and probably successful attempt to steal a plane. Probably for use in future terror attacks.
Some time after take off, a new route was programmed in. After the last communication from the pilot, the transponder and other communication systems were switched off.
The plane climbed to an altitude of 45000 ft to kill off all passengers except the pilots.
The plane flew north west over india tailing another plane so that it was invisible to Indian radar.
After crossing into Pakistan, it peeled off to land somewhere in north west Pakistan with the help of the pakistani secret service.

This is not an accident or fire because we know that a completely new route was programmed in
Since the last heading was northwest,it is unlikely that this plane will be found in the south in the indian. ocean. That whole search is an attempt at misdirection for some reason

You forget the latest theory. (1)

MouseTheLuckyDog (2752443) | about 4 months ago | (#46549991)

The US knew where the plane was all along, thanks to Boeings telemetry. They knew it was hijacked to Pakistan for a terrorist mission. They sent in special forces to kill the terrorists and destroy the planes. To save Pakistan the embarrassment of admitting the plane was hijacked there, the US is reprogramming the black box and is planting debris near Oz.

I don't subscribe to this theory. After 9/11, I can buy a hijack for terrorist purposes. I cannot buy the idea of a US coverup.

Call me (1)

Patchw0rk F0g (663145) | about 4 months ago | (#46550071)

... when you find the fucking thing.

It is at Diego Garcia island. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46550175)

Period!

Time for some test flights (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | about 4 months ago | (#46550185)

There seem to be some mathematically irreconcilable things happening here. It is time to test some of these assumptions. A similar plane needs to be flown over proposed routes and altitudes with the same systems shut down to see if the satellite pings are consistent with a GPS log and to see if there are gaps in radar coverage that can account for the plane not turning up in records from Indonesia or Thailand or Myanmar or Bangladesh.

It's not terrorists (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46550243)

Terrorists want flashy things that attract attention. No on has claimed responsibility for this, and we don't even know what the fuck happened.
It's not terrorists. Unless terrorists have their own undetected airstrip, and are planning to use this plane later.
I think it's most likely some kind of maintenance failure. There are three common causes: pilot error, maintenance failure, design flaw.
Pilot error seems unlikely to me in this case. You would notice the lack of communication with the towers during several hours of flight.
Design flaw is possible, but not very likely unless more of these planes start disappearing.
That leaves maintenance.
Maybe some air pressure thing failed and the pilots lost consciousness and the plane just flew itself until crashing.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...