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MH370: Six theories in search of a plane

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GUEST COLUMN
MH370: Six theories in search of a plane

Ravi Madavaram

BANGKOK: -- Malaysian Airlines MH370 took off from Kuala Lumpur in the early hours of Saturday, bound for Beijing. Less than two hours later, the aircraft lost contact with air-traffic control. No distress call was made by the pilots. The aircraft was flying at 35,000 feet and the weather was clear. As of press time yesterday, no trace of MH370 or the 239 people on board had been found.

Evidence from past incidents suggests there are six possible explanations for the disappearance of aircraft.

1. A combination of technical and pilot errors leading to a snowballing effect: No single factor generally leads to a plane crash, but rather a combination of technical glitches and pilot decisions. Taken individually, each of these glitches and decisions are harmless and occur frequently. It is the combination of such factors that lead to a catastrophe. This is what happened to Air France 447 in 2009. There was no distress signal from Air France 447, as the pilots did not realise that they were going to crash until seconds before they hit the Atlantic Ocean off Brazil.

2. Structural disintegration: This can refer to structural failure which causes the pilots to lose control of the aircraft. This last happened in 2002, to China Airlines Flight 611 as it cruised at 35,000 feet. Flight 611, a Boeing 747, crashed because of a faulty repair. The 747 entered service in 1975, making it 20 years older than the Boeing 777, which first flew commercially in 1995. The newer aircraft boast better materials, technology and maintenance schedules.

3. The human factor: Deliberate action by passenger or pilot to crash the aircraft. The 9/11 World Trade Centre incidents brought this explanation to the fore.

4. Bad weather: Inclement weather conditions such as snow, fog, rain and ice can affect the performance of the aircraft, which in turn can result in a crash. These weather conditions more often affect the critical flight stages, like landing and takeoff. However, MH370 had clear weather throughout the flight and disappeared during the calmest period of the flight, at cruising altitude.

5. Total electrical failure: Airliners have three types of electrical power source - two generators (each engine has one), APU (Auxiliary Power Unit) and RAT (Ram Air Turbine). For a total electrical failure, all three systems would have to fail at the same time. Such an event is rare but not unprecedented. A Qantas flight lost power coming into land at Bangkok in 2008. The aircraft landed safely after the pilot switched to backup power from APU.

6: Hijack is the sixth major possible explanation for an aircraft's disappearance during flight. But in the case of Flight MH370, a hijack can be ruled out for the following reasons:

_ A hijacked plane the size of the 777 would have been caught on radar.

_ It would be impossible to keep the aircraft and passengers hidden for five days.

_ No group has claimed to have hijacked the plane.

What kind of distress signal is expected when a crash happens? Will electrical failure affect the distress transponders or beacons?

Regulations require commercial civil aircraft to carry Emergency Locator Transmitters (ELT). They are activated during a crash by the G (gravity) force they experience or by pilots' input. Another distress signal, the Underwater Locator Beacon is attached to the flight recorder - more commonly known as the black box. The black box beacon is activated when it comes in contact with water.

Assuming the aircraft crashed into water, the ELT's would have sent signals, but they are not waterproof. The ULB starts emitting signals the moment it touches water.

Important facts to note:

Although the aircraft may be emitting an automatic distress signal, these signals have a limited range and hence may not be being picked up.

Pilots may realise that a crash is imminent only 5-10 seconds before the accident. Only after 30 minutes to an hour does air traffic realise that something is wrong and start looking for the aircraft, by which time the beacons can be hundreds of metres underwater.

The signal from the Underwater Locator Beacon can travel hundreds of kilometres. But if the black box is covered with debris or falls into a trench at the bottom of the sea, then the strength and range of the signal will be weaker.

The ELT and beacons use their own batteries, so electrical failure does not affect them.

Should the beacons run out of battery, what are the options?

The batteries of the black box beacon are designed to last 28 days. If the black box beacon battery dies and the plane is not located within that time, then the only hope is to find the debris and try to work backwards from there.

Ravi Madavaram is an Aerospace & Defence Practice consultant at industry researchers Frost & Sullivan Asia Pacific.

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-- The Nation 2014-03-14

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Theory number 7. Complete and utter incompetence by the Malaysian authorities.

Right hand (military) does not know what the left hand (civil) is doing. blink.png

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The latest search site emerged after U.S. aviation investigators and national security officials said earlier Thursday that the Malaysian Airlines plane with 239 aboard remained in the air for hours after it lost contact with air traffic controllers and disappeared from radar screens last Saturday.It had been enroute from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

​Which would explain the theory that the pilots were not even able to send a Mayday and the plane flew on Auto pilot until it crashed. Four to five hours is a long time and distance.

Hope they'll rest in peace. Wherever they are now.

Source:http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/03/13/chinese-government-website-says-it-has-images-suspected-plane-debris/

BUT

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia on Thursday denied a report that its missing airliner flew on four hours after disappearing from radar and said Chinese photos that raised hopes of a search breakthrough actually showed no wreckage.

Source: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/03/13/chinese-government-website-says-it-has-images-suspected-plane-debris/

What's wrong with Malaysia? Do they have anything to hide, or are they only incompetent?

They could have easily reached North Korean Airspace. Distance from Vietnam to N.Korea about 2700 km, about a three hour flight. Oh god.

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The entire aircraft could have been disintegrated on a high vilocity ground impact. In theory, there would be nothing left.

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Where are the people on here who were rolling their eyes at the "conspiracy theories"?

It was either one of the Muslim pilots who waited until the other pilot took a toilet break.

Or the plane was hijacked by the two Iranians, the Uyghur with flight knowledge and probably 2-3 other hijackers most likely Malaysians hailing from parts of the country operating under Sharia law.

Who is laughing at these "conspiracy theories" now?

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The entire aircraft could have been disintegrated on a high vilocity ground impact. In theory, there would be nothing left.

I'd assume that some parts are left.Some parts somewhere.

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Where are the people on here who were rolling their eyes at the "conspiracy theories"?

It was either one of the Muslim pilots who waited until the other pilot took a toilet break.

Or the plane was hijacked by the two Iranians, the Uyghur with flight knowledge and probably 2-3 other hijackers most likely Malaysians hailing from parts of the country operating under Sharia law.

Who is laughing at these "conspiracy theories" now?

Still just an assumption, but nothing makes sense and I'm sure the Military knows more.

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Wall Street Journal is reporting the 777 flew up to 5 hours after last contact.

Unnamed US investigator says the plane may be used for terrorists purposes if it is still intact.

Maybe my theory from a few days ago isn't so crazy after all:

http://www.thaivisa.com/forum/topic/710148-missing-mh-370-stolen-austrian-passport-used-by-iranian-teenage-migrant/page-2#entry7550171

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Newest clues in the missing plane: http://gma.yahoo.com/malaysia-airliner-kept-pinging-indication-crashed-indian-ocean-194746310--abc-news-topstories.html?vp=1

Several other news channels are also discussing this theory. All planes from Boeing are equipped with a radio device which send data about the engines every hour to a satellite regardless if the airline subscribes to it or not. It does not include location. (in the future I bet it will) With that said, there are data streams from the aircraft four hours after it disappeared. At 600MPH it could be 2400 miles further than believed. There are so many back up communication systems on the 777 that even a sudden failure would not stop communication of some sort. (Consider all the passenger with cell phones.) The theory now is all communications where turned off and was a deliberate act. Was it a highjack or pilot suicide, no one really knows at this time. Still speculation.

My theory: because it was a midnight flight most passengers may have been asleep not realizing anything was happening. The pilots or hijackers turned all electronics off. The pilot either turned the aircraft around voluntarily, or was ordered to do so to head for the Indian Ocean. Would explain the radar returns reported by the Malaysian government. Once that was completed, something caused a sudden or slow decompression of the aircraft causing all passengers and crew to be asphyxiated. A sudden decompression, people only have as long as they can hold their breath. Even the oxygen mask would be of no real help. What is a passenger to do anyway? The plane then flew until it ran out of fuel.

Of course like everyone else that's only my speculation of what may have happened.

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Where are the people on here who were rolling their eyes at the "conspiracy theories"?

It was either one of the Muslim pilots who waited until the other pilot took a toilet break.

Or the plane was hijacked by the two Iranians, the Uyghur with flight knowledge and probably 2-3 other hijackers most likely Malaysians hailing from parts of the country operating under Sharia law.

Who is laughing at these "conspiracy theories" now?

Still just an assumption, but nothing makes sense and I'm sure the Military knows more.

Everything is an theory just like structural disintegration is.

There were people ridiculing the idea of a hijacking as a "conspiracy theory" though.

At this point it makes more sense than virtually all other theories.

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The entire aircraft could have been disintegrated on a high vilocity ground impact. In theory, there would be nothing left.

I'd assume that some parts are left.Some parts somewhere.

And a GREAT BIG HOLE in the ground...

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Newest clues in the missing plane: http://gma.yahoo.com/malaysia-airliner-kept-pinging-indication-crashed-indian-ocean-194746310--abc-news-topstories.html?vp=1

Several other news channels are also discussing this theory. All planes from Boeing are equipped with a radio device which send data about the engines every hour to a satellite regardless if the airline subscribes to it or not. It does not include location. (in the future I bet it will) With that said, there are data streams from the aircraft four hours after it disappeared. At 600MPH it could be 2400 miles further than believed. There are so many back up communication systems on the 777 that even a sudden failure would not stop communication of some sort. (Consider all the passenger with cell phones.) The theory now is all communications where turned off and was a deliberate act. Was it a highjack or pilot suicide, no one really knows at this time. Still speculation.

My theory: because it was a midnight flight most passengers may have been asleep not realizing anything was happening. The pilots or hijackers turned all electronics off. The pilot either turned the aircraft around voluntarily, or was ordered to do so to head for the Indian Ocean. Would explain the radar returns reported by the Malaysian government. Once that was completed, something caused a sudden or slow decompression of the aircraft causing all passengers and crew to be asphyxiated. A sudden decompression, people only have as long as they can hold their breath. Even the oxygen mask would be of no real help. What is a passenger to do anyway? The plane then flew until it ran out of fuel.

Of course like everyone else that's only my speculation of what may have happened.

My theory is that only the transponder failed due to a decompression event near it or its circuitry. The pilot, on noting the failed systems turned the plane around to land back at KL but didn't get his oxygen mask on in time (either a fault with the oxygen delivery system, the cabin barometer or he just reacted too slow), the plane then kept flying on until it ran out of fuel, nobody regained consciousness as the plane was too high up, the air was too thin. This is supported by the fact that the fuselage cracking near the transponder is a known issue with this model.

Also in sudden decompression you don't hold your breath - it's impossible.

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at 35,000 ft... i don't not knowing they were going to crash because of malfunction... seems hard to believe... and at that distance and heading for a crash would be hard to believe because it would probably be at a 90 degree angle...that would alarm someone and something... and then from Malaysia... the pilot had 22 years experience and a good safety record(so pilot mishap seems improbable unless deliberate as the pilot was also a muslem..whether affliated with a terrorist group...M'lay would never say because it would only put more bad light on them...even saying that Iranian is not a terrorist...where is the proof...and i think we call them "cells" which nobody would ever have info... and since 2001, kids could have been groomed secretly for another plot... from any country..

also... remember it passes by Indonesia...which is a home to many terrorist groups, even the Philippines.. so it wouldn't even have to go far and "flying under the radar" is still possible?

and if you look at that chinese s'lite... and if that is the plane, (its shape looks like the plane is intact...)

again... what all of us read and everyone's take seems all to be inconsistant... so everyone is just voicing opinions as I am... no harm comes from that if it can lead to the truth... or enough speculation or opinions given to these media hounds, may help to uncover a plot or coverup... so in this case the media is our friend... and it may help those families to have closure... or rescue...which i hope no body got killed. Godspeed!

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One discussion I have seen nothing about is mobile phones. Anyone who has flown to China few times will have seen and cringed at the passenger nearby still on the phone on take off. you cannot tell me that ALL the phones on board were turned off. A few times I have arrived and to my embarrassment found my phone had been on while left in my carry on case. If phones are left on they will continue to receive calls and these can be traced. When contact was lost th plane was near enough to Vietnam. If it flew back over Malaysia for 4 hours why did no one make a call ? You cannot tell me the crew carried on serving drinks and meals knowing they were going the wrong way.

Malaysian authorities have something to hide.

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The entire aircraft could have been disintegrated on a high vilocity ground impact. In theory, there would be nothing left.

An example of that not likely being the case is the Lockerbie bombing Pan Am flight 103. About as worse case scenario as you can get as after the aircraft broke up in air the fuselage impacted vertically leaving a massive crater and dislodging around 560 cubic meters and around 1500 tons of earth. Large sections were still intact. It fell from 31000 feet.

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Where are the people on here who were rolling their eyes at the "conspiracy theories"?

It was either one of the Muslim pilots who waited until the other pilot took a toilet break.

Or the plane was hijacked by the two Iranians, the Uyghur with flight knowledge and probably 2-3 other hijackers most likely Malaysians hailing from parts of the country operating under Sharia law.

Who is laughing at these "conspiracy theories" now?

I believe the flying spaghetti monster took it.

At this point there is no evidence for it, but the plane came from Malaysia. Muslims live in Malaysia.

At this point it makes more sense than virtually all other theories.

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This is supported by the fact that the fuselage cracking near the transponder is a known issue with this model.

Boeing has reported that this specific model of 777-200ER does not have the same transponder antennae as the type with the corrosion issue.

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I feel that a government somewhere is hiding the truth.

Nobody seems to be thinking outside the box. Huge UFOs a kilometer wide have been seen before (and verified on radar). Their ability to disappear or cloak themselves is known. Why couldn't the plane not be inside one of these UFOs now? It's possible.

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Theory No 9 : Aliens ...... it would be so arrogant to believe we are the only one in the universe. coffee1.gif

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I hate to think terrorist are smarter than the good guys.

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It's quite obvious that the plane's in a watery grave and the Malaysian authorities have no idea as to where.

However, the media is trying to fill the information void and is spewing out any kind of BS.

Why is it so" obviously in a watery grave?"--------- could it be that it dived into a great uninhabited forest .There must be thousands of acres of such countryside around that area----- and you would see nothing from the air as the bush covers it over

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You cannot tell me the crew carried on serving drinks and meals knowing they were going the wrong way.

They may have been dead from gradual hypoxia. Doesn't explain the transponder(s) being turned off or failing, or the lack of a squawk (7500/7600/7700). It seems like if there was a loss of cabin pressure, and the pilot made the decision to turn the plane, that he would have also initiated some sort of communication?

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/clues-to-malaysia-airlines-mystery-may-lie-in-other-pilots-death-by-suffocation/story-fnb64oi6-1226853489571

http://edition.cnn.com/US/9911/23/stewart.crash.03/

But there were likely some mobile devices still on, and I'm sure they may try to see if any cell towers picked up their pings assuming they flew over land, below say 5,000 feet. I think they'll need the IMEI's from all the phones on the plane, and that might take a long time, and never be completed?

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It may have crashed with an unmanned military test plane (drohne). They now are busy to remove all evidence because they have something to hide. They will make up a story and hope the media forget.

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I bet the plane was either hijacked or the pilots decided to fly it to the Middle East like Pakistan or Yemen... very easy to land and hide the passengers...

Then use the plane as a missle to destroy Washington, or somewhere in Europe.

The theories of disintegration are ridiculous... that is like saying the plane got hit by a proton torpedo from the starship Enterprise...

There is no wreckage anywhere!!!!

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