Such a prescient, beautiful sentiment.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Malaysian Boeing 777.

A Very Deep Mystery.

Oldrightie spent 47 years in aviation. An industry which has evolved exponentially over that time. However the mystery surrounding the disappearance cannot have failed to ignite any soul with imagination or even a passing interest in aircraft. Not least that I believe this loss is unprecedented.

For me several matters are most strange. Firstly the Malaysian authorities have repeatedly discounted information only to then contradict those dismissions. The engine monitoring reports for one. Then we had the "deliberate", simultaneous de-selection of the transponder, followed by the ACARS. Then this is changed to say that they were "de-selected" at different times.

Now there are mentions of waypoints being entered into the navigation systems which all suggests a professional, trained hand. To my way of thinking much of the latest utterances imply the crew were involved in making entries consistent with a possible decision to divert a very sick aeroplane to a safe landing.

Further lack of media research allows the sensation mongers to overlook all kinds of information. How poor they are when faced with a highly technical drama that fails to allow the kind of sensationalist guessing game used when writing about "celebs". This same poverty of excellence in reporting can be seen in political reporting. Stories more given to sheer propaganda and cosy secrecy than the public really deserve.

Of the factors in MH370's unfolding epic, one I have yet to see mentioned is the fly by wire aspects of the Boeing 777. As a retired "electric jet" Airbus pilot, I am only too aware of the ease simulator exercises can be undertaken in which a crew can, with multiple, unexpected failures, become overwhelmed by data and alarms.

Training then emphasises the need to prioritise and deal with emergencies, loss of systems and decision making, in light of what remains possible with the capability remaining. The industry spends millions, if not billions, on "what if" scenarios to minimise potential life threatening events or malfunctions. 

Ask any pilot about the bi-annual training and testing, medical checks and their passion for their vocation and you will get very close to unanimous agreement that overall it's a wonderful but tough career. As for just being systems operators and button pushers, every second in the air the "what if" subconscious, instilled training hums away, in the back and often in the forefront of the mind.

Back to MH370. Naturally there are so many unknowns, conjecture will vary from informed, sensible querying to extreme MSM ignorance. An act of piracy is the preferred pondering of the economic, commercial, political and newspaper/rolling news marketeers. Probably also the insurance underwriters.

For me there are possible pointers, despite the authorities contradictory and in my view dubious pronouncements, to a catastrophic loss of systems. One which arose in a manner and of such a nature as to have given the crew little time to follow their training as well as they otherwise might have. By this I suggest an initial failure which made them decide to turn back.

Thereafter a combination of electrical issues, which negated voice transmissions, caused a rapid desire to shed electrical loading and gave such a workload to follow as to lose other matters needing attention. One such matter a possible slow loss of pressurisation eventually leading to hypoxia. Herein a very short period of euphoria followed by unconsciousness of all onboard. Furthermore did this aircraft have passenger phones and if so why would noone attempt to use them? Unless pressurisation failure was a cause of such inertia, followed by loss of consciousness.

I hasten to add that none of my speculation is suggestive of criticism of the crew. More a belief that the unfolding emergency may well have been so rare as to be beyond all the training known to date within the industry. Indeed that might apply to whatever happened. Be it a 9/11 style, unexpected criminal act, a collision with an object such as a meteorite or space debris. We also know of modern battery issues with the B787. Might such an issue be possible here?   

It could even have been a glancing blow sufficient to incapacitate the crew but not the aircraft's ability to remain on auto-pilot or at least altitude hold, until fuel exhaustion. We may never know and my heart goes out to all onboard and their many relatives. 

I just hope the slapdash, poorly offered media hype will refrain from all but sensible speculation. That is within their remit.

1 comment:

  1. Here's a site with speculation that the Americans hi-jacked the plane to Diego Garcia, for a variety of reasons. and spoofed the radar.

    You may be better able than I to evaluate it.

    Jim Stone