MH370: Challenges our long held beliefs

April 28, 2014

In an era dominated by computer and telecommunications wizardry it is still difficult to accept that Australia has found “electronic” debris from MH370 in the form of pings from the plane’s black boxes.
For famous underwater wreck hunter David Mearns it is proof positive but for most including the relatives and loved ones left behind only a piece of fuselage or a Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 safety card will suffice.
Thus it is very difficult for Australia and its international partners to give up on the traditional air search but there is no question that 52 days after the disappearance of MH370 it is futile.
However nothing about the disappearance of MH370 is normal – it is without precedent in commercial aviation.
This is not about losing face it is about facing reality.
It is of course regrettable that the air search did not start in the area where the black box pings were found till late March – almost three weeks after the plane was lost.
During that time Tropical Cyclone Gillian tore through the area with winds over 200km/hour and over the seven weeks any debris left would have been become waterlogged and sunk.
However it appears from all the evidence presented thus far that whoever was in control of MH370 they wanted to lose the plane.
And they did a very good job.
We know for certain that the transponder which sends the plane’s location data to air traffic control was turned off and we know that the Aircraft Communications and Reporting System was shut down.
Then we know that the plane deviated from its programmed course to the west and climbed to 39,000 ft before descending to 4,000ft and turning north west.
Also it has been revealed that the plane then evaded Indonesian radar, flew around that country, before turning south and climbing.
This cannot be a plane out of control according to 777 check and training captains.
And the world’s leading crash and satellite experts have poured over a variety of data – most secret – to work out the most likely flight path
Their best estimate was where the pings were located.
We shouldn’t be disappointed that we haven’t found something physical just yet.
The area being searched is one of the least well known sea beds at 4500m deep and it is well understood that sound can travel some distance away from the source because of a range of factors related to salinity and water temperature.
This is could be a long haul.