Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

News & Supplemental  

Modified Limited Hangout on the Disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370

Grover Norquist

Dave Emory’s entire life­time of work is avail­able on a flash dri­ve that can be obtained here. (The flash dri­ve includes the anti-fas­cist books avail­able on this site.)

COMMENT: In FTR #790, we dis­cussed the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing the dis­ap­pear­ance of Malaysia Air­lines Flight 370. A recent Dai­ly Mail sto­ry rein­forces the inves­tiga­tive focus on the plane’s pilot–Zaharie Shah. It also rein­forces the fact that Shah was a fol­low­er of Anwar Ibrahim.

The sto­ry does not men­tion, how­ev­er that Anwar Ibrahim is:

“Revealed: Cap­tain Zaharie Shah Is the ‘Chief Sus­pect’ in Offi­cial MH370 Inves­ti­ga­tion” by Lil­lian Radulo­va; The Dai­ly Mail [UK]; 6/22/2014.

Cap­tain Zaharie Shah, 53, was the main sub­ject of the crim­i­nal inquiry

Intel­li­gence checks on every­one else on board the flight were cleared. The cap­tain had no future social or work plans, unlike the rest of the crew. Evi­dence from his pro­grammed flight sim­u­la­tor also alleged­ly showed him rehears­ing land­ing on small run­way in south­ern Indi­an Ocean. The pro­gram was delet­ed but lat­er recov­ered by com­put­er experts.

The cap­tain of MH370 is now ‘chief sus­pect’ in Malaysi­a’s offi­cial police inves­ti­ga­tion into the ongo­ing mys­tery of the Malaysia Air­lines jet’s dis­ap­pear­ance — after inves­ti­ga­tors found sus­pi­cious evi­dence from a flight sim­u­la­tor in his home.

Cap­tain Zaharie Shah, 53, report­ed­ly used his home sim­u­la­tor to prac­tice take-off and land­ings in remote loca­tions, includ­ing some airstrips in the south­ern Indi­an Ocean.

Inves­ti­ga­tors have now man­aged to obtain the files — which had been delet­ed before they swept the machine.

 After more than 170 inter­views, detec­tives deter­mined that Cap­tain Shah was the most like­ly cul­prit if the plane — which went miss­ing on March 8 with 239 peo­ple on board — was lost due to human inter­ven­tion, accord­ing to The Sun­day Times.

The crim­i­nal inquiry com­plet­ed intel­li­gence checks on all of the peo­ple on board the flight to Bei­jing via Kuala Lumpur, but the only indi­vid­ual arous­ing sus­pi­cion was Cap­tain Zaharie. . . .

. . . . The police inves­ti­ga­tion is still ongo­ing. To date no con­clu­sions can be made as to the con­trib­u­tor to the inci­dent and it would be sub judice (a legal term refer­ring to not com­ment­ing on ongo­ing cas­es) to say so,’ Malaysian police were quot­ed a say­ing.

‘Nev­er­the­less, the police are still look­ing into all pos­si­ble angles.’

Cap­tain Shah was said to be a ‘fanat­i­cal’ sup­port­er of the coun­try’s oppo­si­tion leader Anwar Ibrahim — jailed for homo­sex­u­al­i­ty just hours before the jet dis­ap­peared.

He was described as was an ‘obses­sive’ sup­port­er of Ibrahim. And hours before the doomed flight left Kuala Lumpur it is under­stood 53-year-old Shah attend­ed a con­tro­ver­sial tri­al in which Ibrahim was jailed for five years.

Cam­paign­ers say the politi­cian, the key chal­lenger to Malaysia’s rul­ing par­ty, was the vic­tim of a long-run­ning smear cam­paign and had faced trumped-up charges.

Police sources have con­firmed that Shah was a vocal polit­i­cal activist – and fear that the court deci­sion left him pro­found­ly upset. It was against this back­ground that, sev­en hours lat­er, he took con­trol of a Boe­ing 777–200 bound for Bei­jing and car­ry­ing 238 pas­sen­gers and crew. . . .

 

Discussion

12 comments for “Modified Limited Hangout on the Disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370”

  1. Yet anoth­er Malyasian jet mys­tery; why was this jet fly­ing over a war zone? Who real­ly shot it down? And is this ment to engage NATO in the con­flict?

    LIVE: Malaysia Air­lines flight MH17 might have been shot down, Ukraine’s pres­i­dent says
    By Agence France-Presse

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/07/17/malaysia-airlines-flight-mh17-might-have-been-shot-down-ukraines-president-says/

    (excerpt)

    A Malaysian pas­sen­ger lin­er fly­ing from Ams­ter­dam to Kuala Lumpur has crashed in insur­gency-wracked east Ukraine, region­al offi­cials said Thurs­day, as Ukraine’s pres­i­dent said the jet may have been shot down.

    Malaysia Air­lines said it had “lost con­tact” with the Boe­ing pas­sen­ger lin­er, which Ukrain­ian offi­cials said had come down in a rebel-held zone in the Donet­sk region.

    “Malaysia Air­lines has lost con­tact of MH17 from Ams­ter­dam,” the air­line, still reel­ing from the dis­ap­pear­ance of flight MH370, said on its Twit­ter account.

    “The last known posi­tion was over Ukrain­ian air­space,” it said, promis­ing more details soon.

    Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko said the jet may have been shot down.

    “We do not exclude that the plane was shot down and con­firm that the Ukraine Armed Forces did not fire at any tar­gets in the sky,” Poroshenko said in a state­ment post­ed on the president’s web­site.

    Region­al offi­cials in Donet­sk con­firmed the plane had come down near the town of Shak­tarsk.

    “The num­ber of dead is not yet known,” the admin­is­tra­tion said in a state­ment.

    Emer­gency ser­vices were rush­ing to the scene, a secu­ri­ty source told Inter­fax-Ukraine.

    US stocks fell sharply fol­low­ing reports the Malaysia Air­lines plane had been shot down, while Britain’s For­eign Office said it was “work­ing urgent­ly to find out what’s hap­pened.”

    The inci­dent comes just months after Malaysia’s Flight MH370 dis­ap­peared on March 8 with 239 on board. The plane divert­ed from its Kuala Lumpur to Bei­jing flight path and its fate remains a mys­tery despite a mas­sive aer­i­al and under­wa­ter search.
    —————————-

    More at link

    Posted by Swamp | July 17, 2014, 10:21 am
  2. http://www.ibtimes.co.in/mh370-mh17-tragedies-were-caused-due-un-islamic-behaviours-like-serving-alcohol-exposing-612933

    A senior lec­tur­er of the Nation­al Defence Uni­ver­si­ty recog­nised as Rid­huan Tee, has offered a the­o­log­i­cal con­tention as the main rea­sons behind the tragedies of MH370 and MH17, imply­ing that if the Malaysian air­lines had adhered to Islam­ic behav­iours or cus­toms, the acci­dents would nev­er have hap­pened.

    MH370 and MH17: A senior lec­tur­er of the Nation­al Defence Uni­ver­si­ty rec­og­nized as Rid­huan Tee, has offered a the­o­log­i­cal con­tention as the main rea­sons behind the tragedies.Reuters

    In his col­umn titled “Buka Min­da” (Open your mind) writ­ten for Malaysian pub­li­ca­tion, Sinar Har­i­an on Mon­day, Tee said that Malaysian air­lines MH370 went miss­ing and MH17 was shot down ear­li­er in the year sim­ply because Malaysians are increas­ing­ly refus­ing to be more ‘Islam­ic’.

    He latched on the idea that more Islam­ic cul­ture should be observed on board Malaysian flights, by nar­rat­ing his own expe­ri­ence while fly­ing a Roy­al Brunei Air­lines fight recent­ly.

    “The flight began with a beau­ti­ful recit­ing of prayers and well wish­es,” that made him feel that “Allah was with us,” he said in a quote trans­lat­ed by Free Malaysia Today.

    “Aren’t the lessons of MH17 and MH370 not enough?” Tee asked adding that these days the in-flight crew do not both­er to dress in a more Islam­ic man­ner and that they serve alco­hol – some­thing that is pro­hib­it­ed in Islam.

    Not­ing that the tourists “are prac­ti­cal­ly bathing in alco­hol in their own coun­tries”, the offi­cial con­clud­ed by offer­ing an advice to Malaysian air­lines in order to avoid acci­dents in future:

    “My advice: observe a more Islam­ic way of life before Allah unleash­es his wrath on you.”

    “For­get those who are not inter­est­ed in enter­ing heav­en. They are but prod­ucts of the West bent on destroy­ing Mus­lims in our coun­try.”

    This is the first time a rel­a­tive­ly renowned senior offi­cial has pro­vid­ed a the­o­log­i­cal expla­na­tion on why the two flights met their fate ear­li­er in the year.

    Posted by Tiffany Sunderson | November 4, 2014, 5:13 pm
  3. It looks like inves­ti­ga­tors are warm­ing to a new the­o­ry that MH370 was delib­er­ate­ly tak­en off course and crashed by the Zaharie Ahmad Shah. The the­o­ry cen­ters around three sharp turns tak­en around the island of Penang, where Shah was born. It thought that those three turns basi­cal­ly gave Shah one last emo­tion­al view of his home island before he delib­er­ate­ly land­ed the plane on the ocean intact:

    The Week
    MH370 search could be scaled back as fly-past the­o­ry gains sup­port

    Tony Abbott hints that search for flight MH370 will be cur­tailed as new the­o­ry deemed ‘cred­i­ble’ by experts
    LAST UPDATED AT 13:08 ON Thu 5 Mar 2015

    Aus­tralian Prime Min­is­ter Tony Abbott has warned that the search for miss­ing Malaysia Air­lines flight MH370 can­not go on in its cur­rent form for­ev­er.

    Almost a year after the plane’s dis­ap­pear­ance, Abbott promised fam­i­lies of the miss­ing pas­sen­gers that the author­i­ties would keep search­ing.

    “My pledge is that we are tak­ing every rea­son­able step to bring your uncer­tain­ty to an end,” he said dur­ing an address to Aus­trali­a’s Par­lia­ment. “I can’t promise that the search will go on at this inten­si­ty for­ev­er. But I do reas­sure the fam­i­lies of our hope and our expec­ta­tion that the ongo­ing search will suc­ceed.”

    Flight MH370 left Kuala Lumpur on 7 March 2014 with 239 peo­ple on board, but dis­ap­peared on its way to Bei­jing.

    The Aus­tralian Trans­port Safe­ty Bureau (ATSB), which is lead­ing the search, has scoured 26,800 square kilo­me­tres of the ocean floor but has so far found noth­ing, says the Syd­ney Morn­ing Her­ald.

    “It has been the largest ever under­wa­ter search car­ried out to date and so far only cov­ered 40 per cent of the des­ig­nat­ed search area,” it says.

    But analy­sis by a British pilot, who believes the plane per­formed a final “fly-past” of Penang island before inten­tion­al­ly land­ing in the sea, sug­gests the search team might be look­ing in the wrong place.

    Cap­tain Simon Hardy, a senior Boe­ing 777 cap­tain with a major com­mer­cial air­line, spent six months analysing Inmarsat’s satel­lite com­mu­ni­ca­tion “hand­shake” arcs and using math­e­mat­i­cal “reverse engi­neer­ing” to arrive at his con­clu­sion.

    He believes that the miss­ing Malaysia Air­lines plane was inten­tion­al­ly land­ed on the water and sank intact about 100 nau­ti­cal miles away from where ATSB is cur­rent­ly con­duct­ing its search, and out­side the core tar­get area being trawled.

    His the­o­ry was first pub­lished on the avi­a­tion web­site Flight Glob­al last year, but ATSB has since been in con­tact with Hardy to dis­cuss his find­ings and has described his the­o­ry as “cred­i­ble”.

    Hardy sug­gests that MH370’s cap­tain, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, who comes from Penang, per­formed a U‑turn after turn­ing off the flight’s transpon­der.

    After fly­ing along the bor­der between Malaysia and Thai­land, the air­craft reached Penang and made three turns in quick suc­ces­sion.

    “It took me months to work out what this was,” Hardy tells The Sun­day Times. “The clue was Ayers Rock [in Aus­tralia]. I have done the same manoeu­vre there, to look down and get a great view. Some­body was tak­ing a last emo­tion­al look at Penang.”

    He believes the “fly-past” holds the key to the per­pe­tra­tor, sug­gest­ing that Shah did a “nice long turn and looked down on Penang”.

    David Lear­mount, an avi­a­tion expert from Flight Glob­al, who spent weeks check­ing Hardy’s cal­cu­la­tions, says the the­o­ry is “thor­ough­ly plau­si­ble”.

    Mean­while, Aus­tralia, Indone­sia and Malaysia are due to tri­al a new method of track­ing planes, which enables flights to be tracked every 15 min­utes rather than the cur­rent 30 to 40 min­utes, reports the BBC. The track­ing rate is expect­ed to increase to five min­utes or less if there is any devi­a­tion from a plane’s expect­ed route.

    Flight MH370: pilot ‘car­ried out final fly-past of Penang’

    2 March

    A British pilot’s the­o­ry that flight MH370 per­formed a final “fly-past” of Penang island before inten­tion­al­ly land­ing in the sea has been described as “cred­i­ble” by the Aus­tralian Trans­port Safe­ty Bureau.

    ...

    Hardy sug­gests that MH370’s cap­tain, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, who comes from Penang, per­formed a U‑turn after turn­ing off the flight’s transpon­der.

    After fly­ing along the bor­der between Malaysia and Thai­land, the air­craft reached Penang and made three turns in quick suc­ces­sion.

    ...

    Mean­while, Aus­tralia, Indone­sia and Malaysia are due to tri­al a new method of track­ing planes, which enables flights to be tracked every 15 min­utes rather than the cur­rent 30 to 40 min­utes, reports the BBC. The track­ing rate is expect­ed to increase to five min­utes or less if there is any devi­a­tion from a plane’s expect­ed route.

    MH370: Miss­ing plane ‘delib­er­ate­ly flown towards Antarc­ti­ca’

    25 Feb­ru­ary

    New evi­dence sug­gests that the miss­ing Malaysia Air­lines flight MH370 may have been delib­er­ate­ly flown off course in the direc­tion of Antarc­ti­ca, a doc­u­men­tary team has found.

    Avi­a­tion dis­as­ter experts analysed data from the night the plane went miss­ing and con­firmed that the Boe­ing 777 flew on for “sev­er­al hours” after it lost radio con­tact.

    The team’s exam­i­na­tion shows that the plane, which van­ished last March, exe­cut­ed three sep­a­rate manoeu­vres after its final radio call, first turn­ing left, then turn­ing twice more to fly west and then south towards Antarc­ti­ca.

    Mal­colm Bren­ner, an avi­a­tion dis­as­ter expert inter­viewed for a new Nation­al Geo­graph­ic doc­u­men­tary, said that the manoeu­vres appeared to indi­cate that some­one in the cock­pit “delib­er­ate­ly flew MH370 off course”, the Dai­ly Mail reports.

    ...

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 6, 2015, 6:58 pm
  4. Here’s more on the new the­o­ry about Zaherie Shah’s final good­bye to the island of Penang:

    BBC News
    Flight MH370: Could it have been sui­cide?
    By Richard West­cott BBC Trans­port Cor­re­spon­dent
    6 March 2015 Last updat­ed at 16:34 ET

    A year after the dis­ap­pear­ance of a Malaysia Air­lines plane with 239 on board, inves­ti­ga­tors still don’t know what hap­pened. Could pilot sui­cide have been the cause?

    “Some­one was look­ing at Penang. Some­one was tak­ing a long, emo­tion­al look at Penang. The cap­tain was from the island of Penang.”

    There are times when Cap­tain Simon Hardy’s analy­sis of flight MH370 sends shiv­ers down the spine. An expe­ri­enced Boe­ing 777 cap­tain, he knows the Asian air routes like a com­muter knows short cuts home. He flew them them for 17 years.

    He’s con­vinced about some­thing that no pilot, no pas­sen­ger, nobody in fact wants to think is pos­si­ble — that the cap­tain of the flight, Zaharie Shah, delib­er­ate­ly hid the plane from radar and flew it thou­sands of miles off course, before it came down in the ocean.

    He says the clues are in the route it took after it van­ished from air traf­fic con­trol. It turned back on itself and flew along the bor­der of Malaysia and Thai­land.

    “It flew in and out of the coun­tries eight times,” he says. “This is prob­a­bly very accu­rate fly­ing rather than just a coin­ci­dence. As both air traf­fic con­trollers in both those coun­tries would prob­a­bly assume that the air­craft was in the oth­er coun­try’s juris­dic­tion and not pay it any atten­tion.”

    But his most eerie the­o­ry comes a lit­tle lat­er, as the air­craft skirts around the cap­tain’s home island, Penang,

    “It does a strange hook,” he says. “I spent a long time think­ing about this and even­tu­al­ly I found that it was a sim­i­lar manoeu­vre to what I’d done in Aus­tralia over Ayers Rock. Because the air­way goes direct­ly over Ayers Rock you don’t actu­al­ly see it very well because it dis­ap­pears under the nose of the air­craft.

    “So in order to look at it you have to turn left or right, get along­side it and then exe­cute a long turn. If you look at the out­put from Malaysian 370, there were actu­al­ly three turns not one. Some­one was look­ing at Penang.”

    Steve Lan­dells, who flew Boe­ing 777s for a decade and is now a flight safe­ty expert at the British Air­line Pilots Asso­ci­a­tion, is still baf­fled as to what hap­pened to flight MH370. “None of the the­o­ries answer all the ques­tions or ful­ly explain what did hap­pen that day”, he says.

    There is so much we don’t know, but we do know the route it flew between 00:41am local time (take-off), and the last mil­i­tary radar fix at 02:22am. It shows the air­craft mak­ing a series of inex­plic­a­ble turns. After that the assump­tion, based on the skin­ni­est of data from a satel­lite, is that it flew south in a straight line for six hours.

    “A lot of the the­o­ries pre-sup­pose that there was no-one there to fly the air­craft, but there are only three ways to turn a 777,” says Lan­dells. “That’s man­u­al­ly fly­ing it, actu­al­ly turn­ing the con­trol wheel, fly­ing it through the autopi­lot, or by pre-pro­gram­ming a route into the nav­i­ga­tion com­put­er. The prob­lem with the first two is that you have to have some­one in the cock­pit. But if there was some­one in the cock­pit, why were there no radio calls made?”

    The 777 has many back-up sys­tems for its electrics, says Lan­dells, so even if all fail, there’s a bat­tery con­nect­ed to the cap­tain’s instru­ments and one of the radios, so a call could have been made. Even if that fails, there’s a pro­peller that drops out the back of the air­craft, called a ram air tur­bine, that pro­vides enough elec­tri­cal pow­er to run the basic facil­i­ties, includ­ing a radio.

    “The oth­er pos­si­bil­i­ty is a severe fire in the cock­pit, which has hap­pened in the past,” says Lan­dells. “That might mean that the pilots would have to leave the cock­pit. But if that was the case, then how did the air­craft con­tin­ue fly­ing for so long, with such a cat­a­stroph­ic fire going on? It’s very, very unlike­ly.”

    The uncer­tain­ty prompts an uncom­fort­able ques­tion. Did pilot Zaharie Shah crash the plane on pur­pose, killing him­self, the crew and the pas­sen­gers? Such inci­dents are very rare. The US Avi­a­tion Safe­ty Net­work lists only eight air­line acci­dents in the whole of avi­a­tion his­to­ry that are thought pos­si­bly to have been caused by pilot sui­cide. Rare, but not unheard of.

    “We know what hap­pened,” David Lear­mount, safe­ty edi­tor at Flight Glob­al, has said of MH370. “There’s only one thing it can be — a delib­er­ate act by some­one on board, prob­a­bly the cap­tain.”

    But the idea is high­ly con­tro­ver­sial.

    “The pilot sui­cide the­o­ry for flight MH370 has gained trac­tion because, through­out the last year, there’s been no evi­dence of an out­side plot,” says avi­a­tion writer Sylvia Spruck Wrigley.

    “Noth­ing’s come up on social media. No-one is claim­ing respon­si­bil­i­ty. But the way MH370 hap­pened seems an unlike­ly way to com­mit sui­cide — allow­ing the plan to con­tin­ue going for so long. In the very rare cas­es of pilot sui­cide, it usu­al­ly hap­pens much quick­er, just point­ing the plane at the ground and crash­ing it.”

    A year after MH370’s dis­ap­pear­ance, it’s incred­i­ble that one of the biggest search­es in his­to­ry has­n’t turned up one seat cov­er, one piece of lug­gage, an oxy­gen mask, any phys­i­cal clue at all as to the where­abouts of the plane.

    And there may be even more bad news ahead for the fam­i­lies. The Aus­tralians are hint­ing that once they’ve fin­ished search­ing the cur­rent pri­or­i­ty area, pos­si­bly as soon as May, they may final­ly admit defeat.

    ...

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 7, 2015, 4:44 pm
  5. With the world scratch­ing its head try­ing to fig­ure out why the Ger­man­wings co-pilot inten­tion­al­ly crashed flight 9525, Mark Ames brings us one pos­si­ble motive that’s both rather mun­dane and omi­nous. It’s a the­o­ry of a mun­dane motive that Andeas Lub­itz might have sim­ply been a dis­grun­tled work­er that “went postal”. But it’s rather omi­nous since it sounds like a lot of oth­er pilots at his air­line might have rea­son to feel dis­grun­tled right about now too:

    Pan­do Dai­ly
    The one wild pos­si­bil­i­ty miss­ing from most of the equal­ly base­less Ger­man­wings spec­u­la­tion

    By Mark Ames
    On March 26, 2015

    French pros­e­cu­tors have said they believe the Ger­man­wings co-pilot delib­er­ate­ly crashed his Air­bus 320 into the moun­tain after lock­ing the plane’s cap­tain out of the cock­pit. If that hor­ri­fy­ing the­o­ry turns out to be cor­rect, the ques­tion mil­lions of air pas­sen­gers will want answered, and fast, is: Why?

    Right now, most peo­ple seem keen to blame either ter­ror­ism, or men­tal ill­ness.

    So far we don’t know much about the co-pilot, 28-year-old Andreas Lub­itz, except that he comes from sub­ur­ban Ger­many, loved fly­ing, and that his Face­book page fea­tures a pho­to (above) of him on a Marin Coun­ty hill­top, with a view of the Gold­en Gate Bridge in the back­ground. A Mar­seilles pros­e­cu­tor, Brice Robin, has already sug­gest­ed he’s rul­ing out reli­gious ter­ror­ism:

    Asked about Mr Lubitz’s eth­nic­i­ty, Mr Robin said: “He was a Ger­man nation­al and I don’t know his eth­nic back­ground.

    “He is not list­ed as a ter­ror­ist, if that is what you are insin­u­at­ing.”

    Pressed again on the co-pilot’s reli­gion, he said: “I don’t think this is where this lies. I don’t think we will get any answers there.”

    As for blam­ing men­tal ill­ness — a dicey, slip­pery slope for a whole host of rea­sons — a Spiegel reporter is tweet­ing out that Lubitz’s friends say he dropped out of pilot train­ing in 2009 due to exhaus­tion and depres­sion. But as Robin told reporters ask­ing if the crash was a sui­cide:

    “When you com­mit sui­cide, you die alone. With 150 on the plane, I wouldn’t call that sui­cide.”

    I find it inter­est­ing that amid all of this base­less spec­u­la­tion over the motive for crash­ing the plane — using past inten­tion­al crash­es as the only indi­ca­tor — the only pos­si­bil­i­ty that hasn’t been raised yet is that of a “dis­grun­tled employ­ee” mass mur­der. If we’re going to get into the game of wild spec­u­la­tion before we know the full facts — and, let’s face it, the whole world is absolute­ly going to do that — then that’s where I’d start.

    For one thing, there is prece­dent: A dead­ly com­muter plane crash in Cal­i­for­nia in the late 1980s, which I wrote about in my book on ram­page mas­sacres, “Going Postal”.

    In 1986, USAir bought out California’s PSA (Pacif­ic South­west Air­lines), by far the largest air­lin­er in Cal­i­for­nia at that time, famous for its smi­ley decals on the cock­pit nose — “The air­line with a smile!” as its tagline went — and its chirpy stew­ardess­es (South­west Air bor­rowed from PSA’s mod­el). That year, David Burke, a 35-year-old Jamaican-Amer­i­can who had worked for USAir for 15 years, moved out to Cal­i­for­nia from Rochester to work for USAir’s new Cal­i­for­nia sub­sidiary, PSA.

    ...

    Accord­ing to the flight recorder, a stew­ardess barged into the cock­pit after the shoot­ing, and told the pilots, “We have a prob­lem.”

    Right then, Burke barged in, said, “I’m the prob­lem,” and fired three more shots, killing the cap­tain and the co-pilot in their seats. The plane, a British Aero­space 146, lurched nose-down­ward, and plum­met­ed towards a hilly cat­tle ranch in Cayu­cos at well over the speed of sound. All 43 peo­ple on board died in the crash.

    Burke’s employ­ment prob­lems with USAir came as the Amer­i­can air­line industry’s dereg­u­la­tion was dec­i­mat­ing once-cushy jobs, nego­ti­at­ed by once-pow­er­ful labor union jobs — and PSA was a poster child of this air­line labor union bust­ing. In 1984, amid the first wave of air­line shake­outs, PSA con­vinced its union­ized work­ers to take a 15 per­cent cut, in pay in exchange for explic­it guar­an­tees that any future air­line merg­er required hon­or­ing its labor union con­tracts, and oth­er guar­an­tees.

    Two years lat­er, USAir offered to buy PSA — but only if the union con­tract was bro­ken and Team­sters dumped. As an incen­tive to get the work­ers to agree, PSA man­age­ment threat­ened employ­ees that they’d all lose their jobs if they didn’t agree to USAir’s demands, and they col­lab­o­rat­ed with USAir to help it com­pete head-to-head on PSA routes if PSA employ­ees didn’t agree to toss out their union con­tract. The work­ers caved, of course, and in the mid­dle of the USAir merg­er process, David Burke brought down PSA Flight 1771, killing 43 peo­ple — per­haps the dead­liest work­place “Going Postal” mas­sacre in Amer­i­can his­to­ry.

    The only rea­son I bring this up is, again, because if we’re going to wild­ly spec­u­late with­out evi­dence, then it’s worth look­ing at the com­pa­ny as well as at the indi­vid­ual. It turns out that Ger­man­wings and its par­ent com­pa­ny, Lufthansa, have been expe­ri­enc­ing labor strife over the past year.

    Last month, Ger­man­wings pilots — which pre­sum­ably includ­ed Andreas Lub­itz — staged a i, as Reuters report­ed:

    A long-run­ning row between Lufthansa man­age­ment and Ger­man pilots union Vere­ini­gung Cock­pit (VC) over pay and con­di­tions shows no sign of end­ing soon after the union called for a two-day strike at the group’s bud­get air­line Ger­man­wings.

    Part of the dis­pute had to do with Lufthansa cut­ting pilots’ ben­e­fits, but the larg­er dis­pute has to do with using bud­get air­lines to bust labor union pow­er:

    The pilots have also request­ed that man­age­ment enter medi­a­tion talks on plans for the expan­sion of low-cost flights, which Lufthansa has refused.

    The pilots oppose the way in which Lufthansa is push­ing through the expan­sion by using a small busi­ness that is not sub­ject to the same col­lec­tive labor agree­ments as pilots at its Lufthansa and Ger­man­wings brands.

    While we wait for news about what real­ly caused Andreas Lub­itz to crash his pas­sen­ger jet into the moun­tain and kill 150 inno­cent peo­ple, the larg­er cost-cut­ting momen­tum affect­ing a new gen­er­a­tion of pilots is not some­thing that’s like­ly to change soon. As a bank­ing ana­lyst told Reuters last month dur­ing the Ger­man­wings pilot strike:

    “The pos­i­tive side of the sto­ry is that Lufthansa is dri­ving a hard bar­gain for its cost reduc­tion efforts, which might suc­ceed in the long term,” Equinet ana­lyst Joachen Rothen­bach­er wrote in a note.

    And real­ly, what could be more impor­tant than that?

    Keep in mind that one of Lufthansa pilot strikes end­ed just two days before the crash. So if it’s even­tu­al­ly con­clud­ed that Lub­itz “went postal” on the plane over the gut­ting of pilot wages and ben­e­fits, it’ll be inter­est­ing to see how this tragedy impacts the pub­lic sen­ti­ment regard­ing the Ger­man pilot strike. Is there going to be some sort of irra­tional anti-union/an­ti-pilot back­lash or might it lead to greater pub­lic sup­port for the pilots over the “hard bar­gain” Lufthansa is dri­ving with its employ­ees? It’s some­thing to watch.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 26, 2015, 7:38 pm
  6. ^^
    Lufthansa pilots to hold off strikes after crash — Tagesspiegel

    https://uk.news.yahoo.com/lufthansa-pilots-hold-off-strikes-crash-tagesspiegel-162744065–finance.html#AGliyuI

    Excerpt:
    “FRANKFURT (Reuters) — Lufthansa pilots will hold off stag­ing fur­ther strikes after an air­craft oper­at­ed by Lufthansa’s bud­get unit Ger­man­wings crashed in France on Tues­day, news­pa­per Tagesspiegel said, cit­ing labour union Vere­ini­gung Cock­pit (VC).

    “Indus­tri­al action is not on the agen­da any­more right now,” the paper quot­ed VC board mem­ber Joerg Handw­erg as say­ing.

    VC was not imme­di­ate­ly avail­able to con­firm the report.”

    Posted by Mother Muckraker | March 27, 2015, 5:53 pm
  7. @Mother Muck­rak­er: Nice catch!

    Along those lines, it looks like some sort of men­tal illness/revenge against “the sys­tem” sen­ti­ment is the pri­ma­ry cul­prit in crash of Ger­man­wings flight 4U 9525, but it’s worth not­ing that work­place stress also appears to be one of the exter­nal fac­tors dri­ving his anger:

    Sun­day Express
    EXCLUSIVE: Twist­ed obses­sions of killer in cock­pit: Lub­itz trawled ‘dark side’ of the web
    KILLER co-pilot Andreas Lub­itz was trawl­ing sui­cide and gay web­sites as he spi­ralled into men­tal ill­ness.
    By James Mur­ray and James Field­ing
    PUBLISHED: 00:01, Sun, Mar 29, 2015

    The 27-year-old also had prob­lems with his eye­sight and tore up sick notes from his doc­tors after fear­ing his men­tal state could lose him his job.

    Just weeks before crash­ing the Ger­man­wings Flight 4U 9525 plane, killing 149 pas­sen­gers, he had learned he could also face a big pay cut and changes to his com­pa­ny pen­sion.

    ...

    For­mer lover Maria, a Ger­man­wings stew­ardess, claimed he told her: “One day I will do some­thing that will change the whole sys­tem, and then all will know my name and remem­ber it”.

    “I didn’t know what he meant by that at the time, but now it’s clear,” she said.

    They dat­ed for five months and often spent nights in hotels togeth­er while fly­ing around Europe.

    Gen­er­al­ly he was “nice and open”, she said, but when the sub­ject turned to work his mood would change.

    ‘‘We spoke a lot about work and then he became anoth­er per­son,” she said.

    “He became agi­tat­ed about the cir­cum­stances in which he had to work: Too lit­tle mon­ey, anx­i­ety about his con­tract and too much pres­sure.”

    The guy was obvi­ous­ly severe­ly dis­turbed so it’s very pos­si­ble he would have found a rea­son to do this even with­out all the pilot strikes and pay cuts (or the vil­i­fi­ca­tion of the pilots in the Ger­man media dur­ing the strikes).

    But while the media is inevitably going to go into “how can we stop crazy pilots from doing crazy things”-mode and call for increas­ing the men­tal health screen­ings for pilots, the fact that air­line pilots is one of the sec­tors of the glob­al econ­o­my that’s come under increas­ing­ly bru­tal pres­sures should prob­a­bly be part of the con­ver­sa­tion if we’re actu­al­ly seri­ous about min­i­miz­ing the like­li­hood of an event like this hap­pen­ing again. New pilots for region­al air­lines get near min­i­mum wages in the US and the trend for Europe’s pilots is for even more cuts and more pres­sure (hence the strikes that were just called off).

    So it will be inter­est­ing to see how much mean­ing­ful cov­er­age there is of the role pilot aus­ter­i­ty may have played in this entire tragedy. Sure, pay cuts are no excuse for com­mit­ting mass mur­der, but when we’re talk­ing about peo­ple with undi­ag­nosed or hid­den severe men­tal illnesses/personality dis­or­ders of the type Lub­itz appears to have suf­fered from (a minis­cule sub­set of the men­tal­ly ill), it’s not like the ethics of mass mur­der due to anger over pay cuts is a fac­tor. Min­i­miz­ing the gen­er­al crap­pi­ness of peo­ple’s lives has a num­ber of gener­ic ben­e­fits and one of those ben­e­fits just might be giv­ing the poten­tial­ly mur­der­ous­ly insane one less excuse to “teach the world a les­son” or some such mad­ness.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 28, 2015, 5:24 pm
  8. While it looks like the crash of Malaysian Air flight 370 was most like­ly due to a sui­ci­dal pilot, it’s worth not­ing that one of the ear­li­er the­o­ries under con­sid­er­a­tion — that the plane’s com­put­er sys­tems were remote­ly hijacked — can’t be ruled out for any future air dis­as­ter:

    CNN
    GAO: New­er air­craft vul­ner­a­ble to hack­ing

    By Matthew Hoye and Rene Marsh

    Updat­ed 0253 GMT (0953 HKT) April 15, 2015

    Wash­ing­ton (CNN) Hun­dreds of planes fly­ing com­mer­cial­ly today could be vul­ner­a­ble to hav­ing their onboard com­put­ers hacked and remote­ly tak­en over by some­one using the plane’s pas­sen­ger Wi-Fi net­work, or even by some­one on the ground, accord­ing to a new report from the Gov­ern­ment Account­abil­i­ty Office.

    One of the authors of the report, Ger­ald Dilling­ham, told CNN the planes include the Boe­ing 787 Dream­lin­er, the Air­bus A350 and A380 air­craft, and all have advanced cock­pits that are wired into the same Wi-Fi sys­tem used by pas­sen­gers.

    “Mod­ern com­mu­ni­ca­tions tech­nolo­gies, includ­ing IP con­nec­tiv­i­ty, are increas­ing­ly used in air­craft sys­tems, cre­at­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ty that unau­tho­rized indi­vid­u­als might access and com­pro­mise air­craft avion­ics sys­tems,” accord­ing to the report, which is based on inter­views with cyber­se­cu­ri­ty and avi­a­tion experts.

    The gov­ern­ment inves­ti­ga­tors who wrote the report say it is the­o­ret­i­cal­ly pos­si­ble for some­one with just a lap­top to:

    – Com­man­deer the air­craft

    – Put a virus into flight con­trol com­put­ers

    – Jeop­ar­dize the safe­ty of the flight by tak­ing con­trol of com­put­ers

    – Take over the warn­ing sys­tems or even nav­i­ga­tion sys­tems

    Dilling­ham says although mod­ern air­craft could be vul­ner­a­ble, there are a num­ber of redun­dan­cy mech­a­nisms built into the plane sys­tems that could allow a pilot to cor­rect a prob­lem.?

    The report explains that as the air traf­fic con­trol sys­tem is upgrad­ed to use Inter­net-based tech­nol­o­gy on both the ground and in planes, avion­ics could be com­pro­mised. Old­er planes sys­tems aren’t high­ly Inter­net-based, so the risk for air­craft 20 years and old­er is less.

    The GAO report does not draw a roadmap on how this could be done, but it does say some­one would have to bypass the fire­wall that sep­a­rates the Wi-Fi from the rest of the plane’s elec­tron­ics. GAO Inves­ti­ga­tors say they spoke with four cyber­se­cu­ri­ty experts about the fire­wall vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties, “and all four said that because fire­walls are soft­ware com­po­nents, they could be hacked like any oth­er soft­ware and cir­cum­vent­ed.”

    Com­mer­cial pilot John Bar­ton told CNN, “We’ve had hack­ers get into the Pen­ta­gon, so get­ting into an air­plane com­put­er sys­tem I would think is prob­a­bly quite easy at this point.”

    The report con­tin­ues, “Accord­ing to cyber­se­cu­ri­ty experts we inter­viewed, Inter­net con­nec­tiv­i­ty in the cab­in should be con­sid­ered a direct link between the air­craft and the out­side world, which includes poten­tial mali­cious actors.”

    “A virus or mal­ware plant­ed in web­sites vis­it­ed by pas­sen­gers could pro­vide an oppor­tu­ni­ty for a mali­cious attack­er to access the IP-con­nect­ed onboard infor­ma­tion sys­tem through their infect­ed machines,” accord­ing to the report.

    It says anoth­er way a hack­er could get access to a plane’s com­put­ers is through a phys­i­cal con­nec­tion and notes that when­ev­er there is a phys­i­cal link­age, such as a USB plug in a pas­sen­ger seat, if those wires are linked in any way to the air­plane’s avion­ics, that link­age cre­ates a vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty.

    Experts told inves­ti­ga­tors, “If the cab­in sys­tems con­nect to the cock­pit avion­ics sys­tems and use the same net­work­ing plat­form, in this case IP, a user could sub­vert the fire­wall and access the cock­pit avion­ics sys­tem from the cab­in.”

    Mem­bers of the House Trans­porta­tion and Infra­struc­ture Com­mit­tee, along with sen­a­tors on the Com­merce Com­mit­tee, request­ed the report. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D‑Oregon, who is the rank­ing mem­ber of the House com­mit­tee, tells CNN, “This report exposed a real and seri­ous threat — cyber­at­tacks on an air­craft in flight.”

    He says that the Fed­er­al Avi­a­tion Admin­is­tra­tion “must focus on air­craft cer­ti­fi­ca­tion stan­dards that would pre­vent a ter­ror­ist with a lap­top in the cab­in or on the ground from tak­ing con­trol of an air­plane through the pas­sen­ger Wi-Fi sys­tem. That’s a seri­ous vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty.”

    The report con­cludes that the FAA needs to work on cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of air­craft avion­ics that will account for these vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties and remove them as pos­si­ble threats to com­mer­cial avi­a­tion.

    A source briefed on the report tells CNN that cyber­se­cu­ri­ty experts say these vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties exist and these sce­nar­ios are pos­si­ble. But it is unclear how far the GAO went to test any of these pos­si­ble sce­nar­ios. In the report, the GAO does not say whether this is based on actu­al test­ing or just the­o­ret­i­cal mock­ups.

    Pilot Bar­ton notes, “This is going to take a long time, vet­ted by the best experts in the world and safe­ty peo­ple to make this tech­nol­o­gy secure and safe.”

    In a let­ter to the GAO, Kei­th Wash­ing­ton, act­ing assis­tant sec­re­tary for admin­is­tra­tion with the FAA, said the agency “rec­og­nizes that cyber­based threats to fed­er­al infor­ma­tion sys­tems are becom­ing a more sig­nif­i­cant risk and are rapid­ly evolv­ing and increas­ing­ly dif­fi­cult to detect and defend against. We take this risk very seri­ous­ly.”

    Wash­ing­ton went on to say “It is also impor­tant to note that the FAA had already ini­ti­at­ed a com­pre­hen­sive pro­gram to improve the cyber­se­cu­ri­ty defens­es of the NAS (Nation­al Air­space Sys­tem) infra­struc­ture, as well as oth­er FAA mis­sion-crit­i­cal sys­tems. We are sig­nif­i­cant­ly increas­ing our col­lab­o­ra­tion and coor­di­na­tion with cyber intel­li­gence and secu­ri­ty orga­ni­za­tions across the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment and in the pri­vate sec­tor.”

    “The Dream­lin­er and the A350 were actu­al­ly designed to have the tech­nol­o­gy in it going for­ward to be able to have remote con­trol inter­ven­tion between the pilot and the ground or if an emer­gency were to hap­pen in the air,” Bar­ton said. But he quick­ly added, “It’s going to take a long time before we get to the point where that tech­nol­o­gy is safe and secure.”

    Boe­ing said it is com­mit­ted to design­ing secure air­craft.

    ...

    No GAO update yet on the black hole the­o­ry. And there nev­er will be.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 28, 2015, 12:45 pm
  9. Want to earn a mil­lion free miles from Unit­ed Air­lines? You can do it. Just find a vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty that allows you to remote­ly exe­cute code on the flight sys­tems. Unless the vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty involves hack­ing in through the onboard enter­tain­ment sys­tems. That will get a much crap­pi­er reward in the form of a crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tion:

    Wired
    Unit­ed Will Reward Peo­ple Who Flag Secu­ri­ty Flaws—Sort Of
    Kim Zetter
    05.14.15, 1:29 pm.

    Unit­ed Air­lines announced this week that it’s launch­ing a bug boun­ty pro­gram invit­ing researchers to report bugs in its web­sites, apps and online por­tals.

    The announce­ment comes weeks after the air­line kicked a secu­ri­ty researcher off of one of its flights for tweet­ing about vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties in the Wi-Fi and enter­tain­ment net­works of cer­tain mod­els of Unit­ed planes made by Boe­ing and Air­bus.

    It’s believed to be the first boun­ty pro­gram offered by an air­line. But curi­ous­ly, United’s announce­ment doesn’t invite researchers to sub­mit the most cru­cial vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties researchers could find—those dis­cov­ered in onboard com­put­er net­works, such as the Wi-Fi and enter­tain­ment sys­tems. In fact, the boun­ty pro­gram specif­i­cal­ly excludes “bugs on onboard Wi-Fi, enter­tain­ment sys­tems or avion­ics” and Unit­ed notes that “[a]ny test­ing on air­craft or air­craft sys­tems such as inflight enter­tain­ment or inflight Wi-Fi” could result in a crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tion.

    “At Unit­ed, we take your safe­ty, secu­ri­ty and pri­va­cy seri­ous­ly. We uti­lize best prac­tices and are con­fi­dent that our sys­tems are secure,” United’s announce­ment reads.

    Researchers who report vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties in the airline’s web sites or apps, how­ev­er, will be reward­ed. how much cash will they receive? None. Instead Unit­ed will pay out in mileage points. The awards range from 50,000 points for cross-site script­ing bugs to 1 mil­lion for high-sever­i­ty vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties that could allow an attack­er to con­duct remote-code exe­cu­tion on a Unit­ed sys­tem. For com­par­i­son, most bug boun­ty pro­grams offered by com­pa­nies like Google, Microsoft and Face­book pay researchers cash rang­ing from $1,500 to more than $200,000, depend­ing on the type and sever­i­ty of the vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty.

    The Recent Flap That Prompt­ed the Boun­ty Pro­gram

    Last month, we wrote exten­sive­ly about secu­ri­ty researcher Chris Roberts, who was detained by FBI agents in New York and lat­er banned from a Unit­ed flight. Roberts was fly­ing a Unit­ed Air­lines Boe­ing 737–800 from Chica­go to Syra­cuse when news broke of a gov­ern­ment report describ­ing poten­tial secu­ri­ty holes in Boe­ing and Air­bus planes. The report from the Gov­ern­ment Account­abil­i­ty Office not­ed that secu­ri­ty issues with pas­sen­ger Wi-Fi net­works on sev­er­al mod­els of air­craft could allow hack­ers to access crit­i­cal avion­ics sys­tems and hijack the flight con­trols.

    Roberts, a respect­ed cyber­se­cu­ri­ty pro­fes­sion­al with One World Labs had been research­ing the secu­ri­ty of air­line onboard net­works since 2009 and had report­ed vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties to Boe­ing and Air­bus, to lit­tle effect. In response to the GAO report, he sent out a tweet from the air say­ing, “Find myself on a 737/800, lets see Box-IFE-ICE-SAT­COM,? Shall we start play­ing with EICAS mes­sages? ‘PASS OXYGEN ON’ Any­one?.” He punc­tu­at­ed the tweet with a smi­ley face.

    His tweet about the Engine Indi­ca­tor Crew Alert Sys­tem, or EICAS, was a ref­er­ence to research he’d done years ago on vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties in inflight info­tain­ment networks—vulnerabilities that could allow an attack­er to access cab­in con­trols and deploy a plane’s oxy­gen masks.

    When Roberts land­ed in Syra­cuse, he was met by two FBI agents and two Syra­cuse police offi­cers who seized his com­put­er and oth­er elec­tron­ics and detained him for an inter­ro­ga­tion that last­ed sev­er­al hours. When Roberts attempt­ed to board anoth­er Unit­ed flight to San Fran­cis­co days lat­er, he was barred by the air­line and had to book a flight with South­west.

    Although Roberts says he did not explore the Unit­ed net­works dur­ing his flight to Syra­cuse, he had pre­vi­ous­ly admit­ted to the FBI months ear­li­er dur­ing a sep­a­rate inter­view that in past flights he had indeed explored onboard net­works of planes while he was inflight.

    Fol­low­ing his inter­ro­ga­tion in Syra­cuse, the FBI and TSA issued a warn­ing to all air­lines to be on the look­out for pas­sen­gers attempt­ing to hack into onboard net­works through Wi-Fi or the media sys­tems below air­plane seats.

    ...

    Yes, fly­ing the friend­ly skies just got friend­lier for air­line IT secu­ri­ty experts. Unless, of course, those air­line secu­ri­ty experts jok­ing­ly tweet about how they might shut the oxy­gen off and then tell the feds about how they’ve pre­vi­ous­ly tak­en con­trol of planes via the enter­tain­ment sys­tems:

    Wired
    Feds Say That Banned Researcher Com­man­deered a Plane

    Kim Zetter
    Date of Pub­li­ca­tion: 05.15.15.
    Time of Pub­li­ca­tion: 10:14 pm.

    A secu­ri­ty researcher kicked off a Unit­ed Air­lines flight last month after tweet­ing about secu­ri­ty vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties in its sys­tem had pre­vi­ous­ly tak­en con­trol of an air­plane and caused it to briefly fly side­ways, accord­ing to an appli­ca­tion for a search war­rant filed by an FBI agent.

    Chris Roberts, a secu­ri­ty researcher with One World Labs, told the FBI agent dur­ing an inter­view in Feb­ru­ary that he had hacked the in-flight enter­tain­ment sys­tem, or IFE, on an air­plane and over­wrote code on the plane’s Thrust Man­age­ment Com­put­er while aboard the flight. He was able to issue a climb com­mand and make the plane briefly change course, the doc­u­ment states.

    “He stat­ed that he there­by caused one of the air­plane engines to climb result­ing in a lat­er­al or side­ways move­ment of the plane dur­ing one of these flights,” FBI Spe­cial Agent Mark Hur­ley wrote in his war­rant appli­ca­tion (.pdf). “He also stat­ed that he used Vor­tex soft­ware after comprising/exploiting or ‘hack­ing’ the airplane’s net­works. He used the soft­ware to mon­i­tor traf­fic from the cock­pit sys­tem.”

    Hur­ley filed the search war­rant appli­ca­tion last month after Roberts was removed from a Unit­ed Air­lines flight from Chica­go to Syra­cuse, New York, because he pub­lished a face­tious tweet sug­gest­ing he might hack into the plane’s net­work. Upon land­ing in Syra­cuse, two FBI agents and two local police offi­cers escort­ed him from the plane and inter­ro­gat­ed him for sev­er­al hours. They also seized two lap­top com­put­ers and sev­er­al hard dri­ves and USB sticks. Although the agents did not have a war­rant when they seized the devices, they told Roberts a war­rant was pend­ing.

    A media out­let in Cana­da obtained the appli­ca­tion for the war­rant today and pub­lished it online.

    The infor­ma­tion out­lined in the war­rant appli­ca­tion reveals a far more seri­ous sit­u­a­tion than Roberts has pre­vi­ous­ly dis­closed.

    Roberts had pre­vi­ous­ly told WIRED that he caused a plane to climb dur­ing a sim­u­lat­ed test on a vir­tu­al envi­ron­ment he and a col­league cre­at­ed, but he insist­ed then that he had not inter­fered with the oper­a­tion of a plane while in flight.

    He told WIRED that he did access in-flight net­works about 15 times dur­ing var­i­ous flights but had not done any­thing beyond explore the net­works and observe data traf­fic cross­ing them. Accord­ing to the FBI affi­davit, how­ev­er, when he men­tioned this to agents last Feb­ru­ary he told them that he also had briefly com­man­deered a plane dur­ing one of those flights.

    He told the FBI that the peri­od in which he accessed the in-flight net­works more than a dozen times occurred between 2011 and 2014. The affi­davit, how­ev­er, does not indi­cate exact­ly which flight he alleged­ly caused to turn to fly to the side.

    He obtained phys­i­cal access to the net­works through the Seat Elec­tron­ic Box, or SEB. These are installed two to a row, on each side of the aisle under pas­sen­ger seats, on cer­tain planes. After remov­ing the cov­er to the SEB by “wig­gling and Squeez­ing the box,” Roberts told agents he attached a Cat6 eth­er­net cable, with a mod­i­fied con­nec­tor, to the box and to his lap­top and then used default IDs and pass­words to gain access to the inflight enter­tain­ment sys­tem. Once on that net­work, he was able to gain access to oth­er sys­tems on the planes.

    Reac­tion in the secu­ri­ty com­mu­ni­ty to the new rev­e­la­tions in the affi­davit have been harsh. Although Roberts hasn’t been charged yet with any crime, and there are ques­tions about whether his actions real­ly did cause the plane to list to the side or he sim­ply thought they did, a num­ber of secu­ri­ty researchers have expressed shock that he attempt­ed to tam­per with a plane dur­ing a flight.

    “I find it real­ly hard to believe but if that is the case he deserves going to jail,” wrote Jaime Blas­co, direc­tor of Alien­Vault Labs in a tweet.

    Alex Sta­mos, chief infor­ma­tion secu­ri­ty offi­cer of Yahoo, wrote in a tweet, “You can­not pro­mote the (true) idea that secu­ri­ty research ben­e­fits human­i­ty while defend­ing research that endan­gered hun­dreds of inno­cents.”

    ...

    Roberts, reached by phone after the FBI doc­u­ment was made pub­lic, told WIRED that he had already seen it last month but wasn’t expect­ing it to go pub­lic today.

    “My biggest con­cern is obvi­ous­ly with the mul­ti­ple con­ver­sa­tions that I had with the author­i­ties,” he said. “I’m obvi­ous­ly con­cerned those were held behind closed doors and appar­ent­ly they’re no longer behind closed doors.”

    Although he wouldn’t respond direct­ly to ques­tions about whether he had hacked that pre­vi­ous flight men­tioned in the affi­davit, he said the para­graph in the FBI doc­u­ment dis­cussing this is out of con­text.

    “That para­graph that’s in there is one para­graph out of a lot of dis­cus­sions, so there is con­text that is obvi­ous­ly miss­ing which obvi­ous­ly I can’t say any­thing about,” he said. “It would appear from what I’ve seen that the fed­er­al guys took one para­graph out of a lot of dis­cus­sions and a lot of meet­ings and notes and just chose that one as opposed to plen­ty of oth­ers.”

    His­to­ry of Research­ing Planes

    Roberts began inves­ti­gat­ing avi­a­tion secu­ri­ty about six years ago after he and a research col­league got hold of pub­licly avail­able flight man­u­als and wiring dia­grams for var­i­ous planes. The doc­u­ments showed how inflight enter­tain­ment sys­tems one some planes were con­nect­ed to the pas­sen­ger satel­lite phone net­work, which includ­ed func­tions for oper­at­ing some cab­in con­trol sys­tems. These sys­tems were in turn con­nect­ed to the plane avion­ics sys­tems. They built a test lab using demo soft­ware obtained from info­tain­ment ven­dors and oth­ers in order to explore what they could to the net­works.

    In 2010, Roberts gave a pre­sen­ta­tion about hack­ing planes and cars at the BSides secu­ri­ty con­fer­ence in Las Vegas. Anoth­er pre­sen­ta­tion fol­lowed two years lat­er. He also spoke direct­ly to air­plane man­u­fac­tur­ers about the prob­lems with their sys­tems. “We had con­ver­sa­tions with two main air­plane builders as well as with two of the top providers of info­tain­ment sys­tems and it nev­er went any­where,” he told WIRED last month.

    Last Feb­ru­ary, the FBI in Den­ver, where Roberts is based, request­ed a meet­ing. They dis­cussed his research for an hour, and returned a cou­ple weeks lat­er for a dis­cus­sion that last­ed sev­er­al more hours. They want­ed to know what was pos­si­ble and what exact­ly he and his col­league had done. Roberts dis­closed that he and his col­league had sniffed the data traf­fic on more than a dozen flights after con­nect­ing their lap­tops to the info­tain­ment net­works.

    “We researched fur­ther than that,” he told WIRED last month. “We were with­in the fuel bal­anc­ing sys­tem and the thrust con­trol sys­tem. We watched the pack­ets and data going across the net­work to see where it was going.”

    Even­tu­al­ly, Roberts and his research part­ner deter­mined that it would take a con­vo­lut­ed set of hacks to seri­ous­ly sub­vert an avion­ics sys­tem, but they believed it could be done. He insist­ed to WIRED last month, how­ev­er, that they did not “mess around with that except on sim­u­la­tion sys­tems.” In sim­u­la­tions, for exam­ple, Roberts said they were able to turn the engine con­trols from cruise to climb, “which def­i­nite­ly had the desired effect on the system—the plane sped up and the nose of the air­plane went up.”

    Today he would not respond to ques­tions about the new alle­ga­tions from the FBI that he also messed with the sys­tems dur­ing a real flight.

    The Tweet Heard Round the World

    Roberts nev­er heard from the FBI again after that Feb­ru­ary vis­it. His recent trou­bles began after he sent out a Tweet on April 15 while aboard a Unit­ed Air­lines flight from Den­ver to Chica­go. After news broke about a report from the Gov­ern­ment Account­abil­i­ty Office reveal­ing that pas­sen­ger Wi-Fi net­works on some Boe­ing and Air­bus planes could allow an attack­er to gain access to avion­ics sys­tems and com­man­deer a flight, Roberts pub­lished a Tweet that said, “Find myself on a 737/800, lets see Box-IFE-ICE-SAT­COM,? Shall we start play­ing with EICAS mes­sages? ‘PASS OXYGEN ON’ Any­one?” He punc­tu­at­ed the tweet with a smi­ley face.

    ...

    The tweet was meant as a sar­cas­tic joke; a ref­er­ence to how he had tried for years to get Boe­ing and Air­bus to heed warn­ings about secu­ri­ty issues with their pas­sen­ger com­mu­ni­ca­tions sys­tems. His tweet about the Engine Indi­ca­tor Crew Alert Sys­tem, or EICAS, was a ref­er­ence to research he’d done years ago on vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties in inflight info­tain­ment net­works, vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties that could allow an attack­er to access cab­in con­trols and deploy a plane’s oxy­gen masks.

    In response to his tweet, some­one else tweet­ed to him “…aaaaaand you’re in jail. :)”

    Roberts respond­ed with, “There IS a dis­tinct pos­si­bil­i­ty that the course of action laid out above would land me in an orange suite [sic] rather quick­ly :)”

    When an employ­ee with Unit­ed Air­lines’ Cyber Secu­ri­ty Intel­li­gence Depart­ment became aware of the tweet, he con­tact­ed the FBI and told agents that Roberts would be on a sec­ond flight going from Chica­go to Syra­cuse. Although the par­tic­u­lar plane Roberts was on at the time the agents seized him in New York was not equipped with an inflight enter­tain­ment sys­tem like the kind he had pre­vi­ous­ly told the FBI he had hacked, the plane he had flown ear­li­er from Den­ver to Chica­go did have the same sys­tem.

    When an FBI agent lat­er exam­ined that Den­ver-to-Chica­go plane after it land­ed in anoth­er city the same day, he found that the SEBs under the seats where Roberts had been sit­ting “showed signs of tam­per­ing,” accord­ing to the affi­davit. Roberts had been sit­ting in seat 3A and the SEB under 2A, the seat in front of him, “was dam­aged.”

    “The out­er cov­er of the box was open approx­i­mate­ly 1/2 inch and one of the retain­ing screws was not seat­ed and was exposed,” FBI Spe­cial Agent Hur­ley wrote in his affi­davit.

    Dur­ing the inter­ro­ga­tion in Syra­cuse, Roberts told the agents that he had not com­pro­mised the net­work on the Unit­ed flight from Den­ver to Chica­go. He advised them, how­ev­er, that he was car­ry­ing thumb dri­ves con­tain­ing mal­ware to com­pro­mise networks—malware that he told them was “nasty.” Also on his lap­top were schemat­ics for the wiring sys­tems of a num­ber of air­plane mod­els. All of this would be stan­dard, how­ev­er, for a secu­ri­ty researcher who con­ducts pen­e­tra­tion-test­ing and research for a liv­ing.

    Nonethe­less, based on all of the infor­ma­tion that agents had gleaned from their pre­vi­ous inter­view with Roberts in Feb­ru­ary as well as the Tweets he’d sent out that day and the appar­ent signs of tam­per­ing on the Unit­ed flight, the FBI believed that Roberts “had the abil­i­ty and the will­ing­ness to use the equip­ment then with him to access or attempt to access the IFE and pos­si­bly the flight con­trol sys­tems on any air­craft equipped with an IFE sys­tems, and that it would endan­ger pub­lic safe­ty to allow him to leave the Syra­cuse air­port that evening with that equip­ment.”

    When asked by WIRED if he ever con­nect­ed his lap­top to the SEB on his flight from Den­ver to Chica­go, Roberts said, “Nope I did not. That I’m hap­py to say and I’ll stand from the top of the tallest tow­er and yell that one.”

    He also ques­tions the FBI’s assess­ment that the box­es showed signs of tam­per­ing.

    “Those box­es are under­neath the seats. How many peo­ple shove lug­gage and all sorts of things under there?,” he said. “I’d be inter­est­ed if they looked at the box­es under all the oth­er seats and if they looked like they had been tam­pered. How many of them are bro­ken and cracked or have scuff marks? How many of those do the air­lines replace because peo­ple shove things under there?”

    ...

    It’s worth not­ing that in addi­tion to all of this being news of a rather alarm­ing secu­ri­ty vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty, it’s also a reminder to always change the default pass­words:

    ...
    He obtained phys­i­cal access to the net­works through the Seat Elec­tron­ic Box, or SEB. These are installed two to a row, on each side of the aisle under pas­sen­ger seats, on cer­tain planes. After remov­ing the cov­er to the SEB by “wig­gling and Squeez­ing the box,” Roberts told agents he attached a Cat6 eth­er­net cable, with a mod­i­fied con­nec­tor, to the box and to his lap­top and then used default IDs and pass­words to gain access to the inflight enter­tain­ment sys­tem. Once on that net­work, he was able to gain access to oth­er sys­tems on the planes.

    ...

    Change your pass­words peo­ple!

    But it’s also reminder that we’ve been hear­ing sto­ries from secu­ri­ty researchers about hack­ing into planes via their enter­tain­ment sys­tems for a few years now:

    CNN
    Hack­er says phone app could hijack plane

    By Doug Gross

    Updat­ed 8:28 AM ET, Fri April 12, 2013

    Could this be the dead­liest smart­phone app ever?

    A Ger­man secu­ri­ty con­sul­tant, who’s also a com­mer­cial pilot, has demon­strat­ed tools he says could be used to hijack an air­plane remote­ly, using just an Android phone.

    Speak­ing at the Hack in the Box secu­ri­ty sum­mit in Ams­ter­dam, Nether­lands, Hugo Teso said Wednes­day that he spent three years devel­op­ing SIMON, a frame­work of mali­cious code that could be used to attack and exploit air­line secu­ri­ty soft­ware, and an Android app to run it that he calls Plane­S­ploit.

    Using a flight sim­u­la­tor, Teso showed off the abil­i­ty to change the speed, alti­tude and direc­tion of a vir­tu­al air­plane by send­ing radio sig­nals to its flight-man­age­ment sys­tem. Cur­rent secu­ri­ty sys­tems don’t have strong enough authen­ti­ca­tion meth­ods to make sure the com­mands are com­ing from a legit­i­mate source, he said.

    “You can use this sys­tem to mod­i­fy approx­i­mate­ly every­thing relat­ed to the nav­i­ga­tion of the plane,” Teso told Forbes after his pre­sen­ta­tion. “That includes a lot of nasty things.”

    He told the crowd that the tools also could be used to do things like change what’s on a pilot’s dis­play screen or turn off the lights in the cock­pit. With the Android app he cre­at­ed, he said, he could remote­ly con­trol a plane by sim­ply tap­ping pre­loaded com­mands like “Please Go Here” and the omi­nous “Vis­it Ground.”

    The Fed­er­al Avi­a­tion Admin­is­tra­tion said it is aware of Teso’s claims, but said the hack­ing tech­nique does not pose a threat on real flights because it does not work on cer­ti­fied flight hard­ware.

    “The described tech­nique can­not engage or con­trol the air­craft’s autopi­lot sys­tem using the (Flight Man­age­ment Sys­tem) or pre­vent a pilot from over­rid­ing the autopi­lot,” the FAA said. “There­fore, a hack­er can­not obtain ‘full con­trol of an air­craft’ as the tech­nol­o­gy con­sul­tant has claimed.”

    Teso says he devel­oped SIMON in a way that makes it work only in vir­tu­al envi­ron­ments, not on actu­al air­craft.

    But the risk is there, some experts say.

    “His test­ing lab­o­ra­to­ry con­sists of a series of soft­ware and hard­ware prod­ucts, but the con­nec­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion meth­ods, as well as ways of exploita­tion, are absolute­ly the same as they would be in an actu­al real-world sce­nario,” ana­lysts at Help Net Secu­ri­ty wrote in a blog post.

    Teso told the crowd that he used flight-man­age­ment hard­ware that he bought on eBay and pub­licly avail­able flight-sim­u­la­tor soft­ware that con­tains at least some of the same com­put­er cod­ing as real flight soft­ware.

    Ana­lyst Gra­ham Clu­ley of Sophos Secu­ri­ty said it’s unclear how dev­as­tat­ing Teso’s find would be if unleashed on an air­plane in flight.

    “No one else has had an oppor­tu­ni­ty to test this researcher’s claims as he has, thank­ful­ly, kept secret details of the vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties he was able to exploit,” Clu­ley said. “We are also told that he has informed the rel­e­vant bod­ies, so steps can be tak­en to patch any secu­ri­ty holes before some­one with more mali­cious intent has an oppor­tu­ni­ty to exploit them.”

    ..

    Teso isn’t the first so-called “white hat” hack­er to expose what appear to be holes in air-traf­fic secu­ri­ty.

    Last year, at the Black Hat secu­ri­ty con­fer­ence in Las Vegas, com­put­er sci­en­tist Andrei Costin dis­cussed weak­ness­es he said he found in a new U.S. air-traf­fic secu­ri­ty sys­tem set to roll out next year. The flaws he found weren’t instant­ly cat­a­stroph­ic, he said, but could be used to track pri­vate air­planes, inter­cept mes­sages and jam com­mu­ni­ca­tions between planes and air-traf­fic con­trol.

    So while this new news all rather unset­tling, it’s not new­ly unset­tling.

    For­tu­nate­ly, a num­ber of experts appear to be tak­ing Robert­s’s alleged in-flight hack­ing with a grain of salt. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, with enough time, that grain of salt is going to dis­solve:

    USA Today
    Experts: Plane hack through info­tain­ment box seems unlike­ly

    Eliz­a­beth Weise
    2:14 p.m. EDT May 18, 2015

    SAN FRANCISCO — Com­put­er and avi­a­tion experts say it seems unlike­ly a Den­ver-based cyber-secu­ri­ty researcher was able to com­pro­mise a jet’s con­trols via its in-flight enter­tain­ment sys­tem, mak­ing it bank briefly to one side.

    The claims of One World Labs founder Chris Roberts have been the sub­ject of much spec­u­la­tion after it was report­ed Fri­day that he told FBI agents he’d been able to hack into a flight he was on and cause it to turn side­ways by manip­u­lat­ing the engine con­trols from his com­put­er.

    Those sys­tems are sep­a­rate, said Jef­frey Price, an avi­a­tion secu­ri­ty expert and avi­a­tion pro­fes­sor at Met­ro­pol­i­tan State Uni­ver­si­ty in Den­ver.

    “From what all the air­craft man­u­fac­tur­ers have been telling us, the in-flight enter­tain­ment sys­tem is a dif­fer­ent sys­tem from the soft­ware that con­trols the avion­ics, flight con­trols and nav­i­ga­tion sys­tems of the plane,” he said.

    Fed­er­al law enforce­ment offi­cials say they are assess­ing Roberts’ claims but so far have no cred­i­ble infor­ma­tion to sug­gest an air­plane’s flight con­trol sys­tem can be accessed or manip­u­lat­ed from its in-flight enter­tain­ment sys­tem.

    Secu­ri­ty experts say they can’t imag­ine the air­lines and FAA aren’t aware if Roberts was in fact able to ille­gal­ly access planes con­trol sys­tems “15 to 20 times,” as he told FBI agents when he spoke with them ear­li­er this year.

    “Pilots know what’s hap­pen­ing with their planes from the small­est main­te­nance issue up to any­thing seri­ous,” said Rob Sad­ows­ki, direc­tor of mar­ket­ing for RSA, the world’s largest com­put­er secu­ri­ty con­fer­ence.

    “We all know that from sit­ting on planes when they tell us, ‘We can’t get the door light to go on, so we’re not tak­ing off,’ ” he said.

    Roberts is well known and respect­ed in the secu­ri­ty indus­try and speaks at mul­ti­ple con­fer­ences on var­i­ous secu­ri­ty top­ics, includ­ing air­craft secu­ri­ty, said Sad­ows­ki. Roberts spoke at the most recent RSA con­fer­ence in March.

    How­ev­er, he does­n’t think it’s like­ly Roberts was actu­al­ly able to get from the plane’s in-flight enter­tain­ment net­work to its flight con­trol sys­tems.

    “As some­one in the indus­try who looks at the design of sys­tems like this, I would find it very hard to believe that these sys­tems were not iso­lat­ed,” he said.

    Some secu­ri­ty experts wor­ry that that may not always be true.

    Price report that a report issued by the Gov­ern­ment Account­abil­i­ty Office in Jan­u­ary described pos­si­ble prob­lems as the Fed­er­al Avi­a­tion Admin­is­tra­tion moves from the cur­rent radar-based air traf­fic con­trol sys­tem to one that is based on satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion and automa­tion.

    “While it’s doubt­ful whether this guy could have accessed any­thing real­ly impor­tant by hack­ing the in-flight enter­tain­ment sys­tem, it’s like­ly that he will be able to do so in the near future,” Price said.

    Most of the com­put­er experts con­tact­ed also not­ed they spend a lot of time fly­ing, and hope no one would put an air­plane at risk sim­ply to show they could.

    “I want to believe that if I saw any­one onboard any plane that I was trav­el­ing on try and plug any­thing into the plane that did­n’t look like it was sup­posed to be there, I would be the first per­son not just alert­ing the crew but like­ly jump­ing up and tack­ling the per­son,” said Bri­an Ford, with secu­ri­ty firm Lan­cope.

    “While it’s doubt­ful whether this guy could have accessed any­thing real­ly impor­tant by hack­ing the in-flight enter­tain­ment sys­tem, it’s like­ly that he will be able to do so in the near future.” Yikes.

    Also keep in mind that, as we as above from the 2013 arti­cle, the pres­ence of a pilot might be enough to stop most of these types of hack­ing attempts:

    ...
    The Fed­er­al Avi­a­tion Admin­is­tra­tion said it is aware of Teso’s claims, but said the hack­ing tech­nique does not pose a threat on real flights because it does not work on cer­ti­fied flight hard­ware.

    “The described tech­nique can­not engage or con­trol the air­craft’s autopi­lot sys­tem using the (Flight Man­age­ment Sys­tem) or pre­vent a pilot from over­rid­ing the autopi­lot,” the FAA said. “There­fore, a hack­er can­not obtain ‘full con­trol of an air­craft’ as the tech­nol­o­gy con­sul­tant has claimed.”
    ...

    So hope­ful­ly what­ev­er tech­niques Roberts may have stum­bled upon are the types of attacks that a pilot can poten­tial­ly over­ride. Well, at least until planes go pilot­less.

    At that point, autopi­lot could still help but it might require some extra hard­ware (hope­ful­ly soft hard­ware since that would be adorable)

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 18, 2015, 1:49 pm
  10. One of the groups search­ing for wreck­age of Malaysia Air­lines jet MH370 has arrived at a con­clu­sion that the rest of the search teams appear to have cat­e­gor­i­cal­ly reject­ed and con­tin­ue to do so: The rea­son no wreck­age has been found is because searchers are look­ing in the wrong place due to a mis­tak­en assump­tion that the pilots were dead or uncon­scious on the way down:

    Reuters

    We’ve been look­ing in the wrong place, MH370 search team says

    SYDNEY | By Jonathan Bar­rett and Swati Pandey
    Wed Jul 20, 2016 11:20pm EDT

    Top searchers at the Dutch com­pa­ny lead­ing the under­wa­ter hunt for Malaysia Air­lines jet MH370 say they believe the plane may have glid­ed down rather than dived in the final moments, mean­ing they have been scour­ing the wrong patch of ocean for two years.

    Flight MH370 dis­ap­peared in March 2014 with 239 pas­sen­gers and crew onboard en route to Bei­jing from Kuala Lumpur. Searchers led by engi­neer­ing group Fugro have been comb­ing an area rough­ly the size of Greece for two years.

    That search, over 120,000 square kilo­me­ters of the south­ern Indi­an Ocean off West­ern Aus­tralia, is expect­ed to end in three months and could be called off after that fol­low­ing a meet­ing of key coun­tries Malaysia, Chi­na and Aus­tralia on Fri­day. So far, noth­ing has been found.

    “If it’s not there, it means it’s some­where else,” Fugro project direc­tor Paul Kennedy told Reuters.

    While Kennedy does not exclude extreme pos­si­bil­i­ties that could have made the plane impos­si­ble to spot in the search zone, he and his team argue a more like­ly option is the plane glid­ed down — mean­ing it was manned at the end — and made it beyond the area marked out by cal­cu­la­tions from satel­lite images.

    “If it was manned it could glide for a long way,” Kennedy said. “You could glide it for fur­ther than our search area is, so I believe the log­i­cal con­clu­sion will be well maybe that is the oth­er sce­nario.”

    Doubts that the search teams are look­ing in the right place will like­ly fuel calls for all data to be made pub­licly avail­able so that aca­d­e­mics and rival com­pa­nies can pur­sue an “open source” solu­tion — a col­lab­o­ra­tive pub­lic answer to the air­line indus­try’s great­est mys­tery.

    Fugro’s con­trolled glide hypoth­e­sis is also the first time offi­cials have leant some sup­port to con­test­ed the­o­ries that some­one was in con­trol dur­ing the flight’s final moments.

    Since the crash there have been com­pet­ing the­o­ries over whether one, both or no pilots were in con­trol, whether it was hijacked — or whether all aboard per­ished and the plane was not con­trolled at all when it hit the water. Adding to the mys­tery, inves­ti­ga­tors believe some­one may have delib­er­ate­ly switched off the plane’s transpon­der before divert­ing it thou­sands of miles.

    The glide view is not sup­port­ed by the inves­ti­gat­ing agen­cies: Amer­i­ca’s Boe­ing Co, France’s Thales SA, U.S. inves­ti­ga­tor the Nation­al Trans­porta­tion Safe­ty Board, British satel­lite com­pa­ny Inmarsat PLC, the U.K. Air Acci­dents Inves­ti­ga­tion Branch and the Aus­tralian Defence Sci­ence and Tech­nol­o­gy Organ­i­sa­tion.

    CARRY ON

    The meet­ing between offi­cials from Chi­na, Aus­tralia and Malaysia is expect­ed to dis­cuss the future of the search. The three gov­ern­ments have pre­vi­ous­ly agreed that unless any new cred­i­ble evi­dence aris­es the search would not be extend­ed, despite calls from vic­tims’ fam­i­lies.

    Any fur­ther search would require a fresh round of fund­ing from the three gov­ern­ments on top of the almost A$180 mil­lion ($137 mil­lion) that has already been spent, mak­ing it the most expen­sive in avi­a­tion his­to­ry.

    Decid­ing the search area in 2014, author­i­ties assumed the plane had no “inputs” dur­ing its final descent, mean­ing there was no pilot or no con­scious pilot. They believe it was on auto-pilot and spi­raled when it ran out of fuel.

    But Kennedy said a skilled pilot could glide the plane approx­i­mate­ly 120 miles (193 km) from its cruis­ing alti­tude after run­ning out of fuel. One pilot told Reuters it would be slight­ly less than that.

    For the air­craft to con­tin­ue glid­ing after fuel has run out, some­one must man­u­al­ly put the air­craft into a glide – nose down with con­trolled speed.

    “If you lose all pow­er, the auto-pilot kicks out. If there is nobody at the con­trols, the air­craft will plum­met down,” said a cap­tain with expe­ri­ence fly­ing Boe­ing 777s — the same as MH370. Like all pilots inter­viewed for this sto­ry, he declined to be named giv­en the con­tro­ver­sy around the lost jet.

    Fugro works on a “con­fi­dence lev­el” of 95 per­cent, a sta­tis­ti­cal mea­sure­ment used, in Fugro’s case, to indi­cate how cer­tain the plane debris was not in the area they have already combed, a seabed pep­pered with steep cliffs and under­wa­ter vol­ca­noes.

    “The end-of-flight sce­nar­ios are absolute­ly end­less,” Fugro man­ag­ing direc­tor Steve Duffield said. “Which wing ran out of fuel first, did it roll this way or did it tip that way?”

    The Aus­tralian Trans­port Safe­ty Bureau (ATSB), the agency coor­di­nat­ing the search, has con­sis­tent­ly defend­ed the defined search zone. It did not imme­di­ate­ly respond to ques­tions over whether it was assess­ing the con­trolled glide the­o­ry.

    ...

    “Decid­ing the search area in 2014, author­i­ties assumed the plane had no “inputs” dur­ing its final descent, mean­ing there was no pilot or no con­scious pilot. They believe it was on auto-pilot and spi­raled when it ran out of fuel.”

    Yes, the assump­tion that the pilots were uncon­scious was the only assump­tion that went into deter­min­ing the search area up until now. But at least some searchers are chang­ing that assump­tion. For the first time offi­cial­ly:

    ...
    While Kennedy does not exclude extreme pos­si­bil­i­ties that could have made the plane impos­si­ble to spot in the search zone, he and his team argue a more like­ly option is the plane glid­ed down — mean­ing it was manned at the end — and made it beyond the area marked out by cal­cu­la­tions from satel­lite images.

    “If it was manned it could glide for a long way,” Kennedy said. “You could glide it for fur­ther than our search area is, so I believe the log­i­cal con­clu­sion will be well maybe that is the oth­er sce­nario.”

    Doubts that the search teams are look­ing in the right place will like­ly fuel calls for all data to be made pub­licly avail­able so that aca­d­e­mics and rival com­pa­nies can pur­sue an “open source” solu­tion — a col­lab­o­ra­tive pub­lic answer to the air­line indus­try’s great­est mys­tery.

    Fugro’s con­trolled glide hypoth­e­sis is also the first time offi­cials have leant some sup­port to con­test­ed the­o­ries that some­one was in con­trol dur­ing the flight’s final moments.

    Since the crash there have been com­pet­ing the­o­ries over whether one, both or no pilots were in con­trol, whether it was hijacked — or whether all aboard per­ished and the plane was not con­trolled at all when it hit the water. Adding to the mys­tery, inves­ti­ga­tors believe some­one may have delib­er­ate­ly switched off the plane’s transpon­der before divert­ing it thou­sands of miles.

    The glide view is not sup­port­ed by the inves­ti­gat­ing agen­cies: Amer­i­ca’s Boe­ing Co, France’s Thales SA, U.S. inves­ti­ga­tor the Nation­al Trans­porta­tion Safe­ty Board, British satel­lite com­pa­ny Inmarsat PLC, the U.K. Air Acci­dents Inves­ti­ga­tion Branch and the Aus­tralian Defence Sci­ence and Tech­nol­o­gy Organ­i­sa­tion.

    ...

    So at least one group of searchers is even will­ing to pon­der the pos­si­bil­i­ties that are con­sis­tent with the the­o­ry that Cap­tain Zaharie Shah inten­tion­al­ly crashed the plane. Or inten­tion­al­ly flew it into a black hole. We obvi­ous­ly can’t rule that out.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 23, 2016, 11:58 am
  11. When reports came out a cou­ple of weeks ago that Dutch inves­ti­ga­tors are, only now, con­sid­er­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ty that MH370 was active­ly pilot­ed dur­ing its descent and no oth­er inves­ti­ga­tion teams appear even inter­est­ing in that line of inquiry, it became pret­ty obvi­ous that crash inves­ti­ga­tors up to this point real­ly, real­ly, real­ly did­n’t want to end up con­clud­ing that Cap­tain Zaharie Shah inten­tion­al­ly crashed the plane despite the fact that he was the chief sus­pect at one point based, in part, on the dis­cov­ery that Shah had a home flight sim­u­la­tor with the path of the doomed flight.

    Well, thanks to some­one from the Malaysian police who passed some doc­u­ments to New York Mag­a­zine last month, avoid­ing the con­clu­sion about Cap­tain Shah inten­tion­al­ly crashed the plane just got real­ly, real­ly, real­ly hard to do since the doc­u­ments report­ed­ly show Shah com­put­er had a delet­ed file of a sim­u­lat­ed flight deep into the remote south­ern Indi­an Ocean that end­ed with the plane run­ning out of fuel cre­at­ed less than a month before the dis­ap­pear­ance:

    New York Mag­a­zine

    Exclu­sive: MH370 Pilot Flew a Sui­cide Route on His Home Sim­u­la­tor Close­ly Match­ing Final Flight

    By Jeff Wise

    July 22, 2016 2:40 p.m.

    New York has obtained a con­fi­den­tial doc­u­ment from the Malaysian police inves­ti­ga­tion into the dis­ap­pear­ance of Malaysia Air­lines Flight 370 that shows that the plane’s cap­tain, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, con­duct­ed a sim­u­lat­ed flight deep into the remote south­ern Indi­an Ocean less than a month before the plane van­ished under uncan­ni­ly sim­i­lar cir­cum­stances. The rev­e­la­tion, which Malaysia with­held from a lengthy pub­lic report on the inves­ti­ga­tion, is the strongest evi­dence yet that Zaharie made off with the plane in a pre­med­i­tat­ed act of mass mur­der-sui­cide.

    The doc­u­ment presents the find­ings of the Malaysian police’s inves­ti­ga­tion into Zaharie. It reveals that after the plane dis­ap­peared in March of 2014, Malaysia turned over to the FBI hard dri­ves that Zaharie used to record ses­sions on an elab­o­rate home-built flight sim­u­la­tor. The FBI was able to recov­er six delet­ed data points that had been stored by the Microsoft Flight Sim­u­la­tor X pro­gram in the weeks before MH370 dis­ap­peared, accord­ing to the doc­u­ment. Each point records the airplane’s alti­tude, speed, direc­tion of flight, and oth­er key para­me­ters at a giv­en moment. The doc­u­ment reads, in part:

    Search offi­cials believe MH370 fol­lowed a sim­i­lar route, based on sig­nals the plane trans­mit­ted to a satel­lite after ceas­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions and turn­ing off course. The actu­al and the sim­u­lat­ed flights were not iden­ti­cal, though, with the sim­u­lat­ed end­point some 900 miles from the remote patch of south­ern ocean area where offi­cials believe the plane went down. Based on the data in the doc­u­ment, here’s a map of the sim­u­lat­ed flight com­pared to the route searchers believe the lost air­lin­er fol­lowed:

    [see map]

    Rumors have long cir­cu­lat­ed that the FBI had dis­cov­ered such evi­dence, but Malaysian offi­cials made no men­tion of the find in the oth­er­wise detailed report into the inves­ti­ga­tion, “Fac­tu­al Infor­ma­tion,” that was released on the first anniver­sary of the dis­ap­pear­ance.

    The cred­i­bil­i­ty of the rumors was fur­ther under­mined by the fact that many media accounts men­tioned “a small run­way on an unnamed island in the far south­ern Indi­an Ocean,” of which there are none.

    From the begin­ning, Zaharie has been a pri­ma­ry sus­pect, but until now no hard evi­dence impli­cat­ing him has emerged. The “Fac­tu­al Infor­ma­tion” report states, “The Captain’s abil­i­ty to han­dle stress at work and home was good. There was no known his­to­ry of apa­thy, anx­i­ety, or irri­tabil­i­ty. There were no sig­nif­i­cant changes in his life style, inter­per­son­al con­flict or fam­i­ly stress­es.” After his dis­ap­pear­ance, friends and fam­i­ly mem­bers came for­ward to described Zaharie as an affa­ble, help­ful fam­i­ly man who enjoyed mak­ing instruc­tion­al YouTube videos for home DIY projects — hard­ly the typ­i­cal pro­file of a mass mur­der­er.

    The new­ly unveiled doc­u­ments, how­ev­er, sug­gest Malaysian offi­cials have sup­pressed at least one key piece of incrim­i­nat­ing infor­ma­tion. This is not entire­ly sur­pris­ing: There is a his­to­ry in air­craft inves­ti­ga­tions of nation­al safe­ty boards refus­ing to believe that their pilots could have inten­tion­al­ly crashed an air­craft full of pas­sen­gers. After EgyptAir 990 went down near Martha’s Vine­yard in 1999, for exam­ple, Egypt­ian offi­cials angri­ly reject­ed the U.S. Nation­al Trans­port Safe­ty Board find­ing that the pilot had delib­er­ate­ly steered the plane into the sea. Indone­sian offi­cials like­wise reject­ed the NTSB find­ing that the 1997 crash of SilkAir 185 was an act of pilot sui­cide.

    Pre­vi­ous press accounts sug­gest that Aus­tralian and U.S. offi­cials involved in the MH370 inves­ti­ga­tion have long been more sus­pi­cious of Zaharie than their Malaysian coun­ter­parts. In Jan­u­ary, Byron Bai­ley wrote in The Aus­tralian: “Sev­er­al months after the MH370 dis­ap­pear­ance I was told by a gov­ern­ment source that the FBI had recov­ered from Zaharie’s home com­put­er delet­ed infor­ma­tion show­ing flight plan way­points … my source … left me with the impres­sion that the FBI were of the opin­ion that Zaharie was respon­si­ble for the crash.”

    How­ev­er, it’s not entire­ly clear that the recov­ered flight-sim­u­la­tor data is con­clu­sive. The dif­fer­ences between the sim­u­lat­ed and actu­al flights are sig­nif­i­cant, most notably in the final direc­tion in which they were head­ing. It’s pos­si­ble that their over­all sim­i­lar­i­ties are coin­ci­den­tal — that Zaharie didn’t intend his sim­u­la­tor flight as a prac­tice run but had mere­ly decid­ed to fly some­place unusu­al.

    ...

    “I must empha­sise that this does not mean we are giv­ing up on the search for MH370,” Malaysian Trans­port min­is­ter Liow Tiong Lai said. Offi­cials have pre­vi­ous­ly stat­ed that if they received “cred­i­ble new infor­ma­tion that leads to the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of a spe­cif­ic loca­tion of the air­craft,” the search could be expand­ed.

    But some, includ­ing rel­a­tives of the miss­ing pas­sen­gers, believe that that evi­den­tiary thresh­old has already been past. Recent months have seen the dis­cov­ery of more than a dozen pieces of sus­pect­ed air­craft debris, which ana­lyzed col­lec­tive­ly could nar­row down where the plane went down. (The sur­pris­ing absence of such wreck­age for more than a year left me explor­ing alter­na­tive expla­na­tions that ulti­mate­ly proved unnec­es­sary.) The fact that Zaharie appar­ent­ly prac­ticed fly­ing until he ran out of fuel over the remote south­ern Indi­an Ocean sug­gests the cur­rent search is on the right track — and that anoth­er year of hunt­ing might be a worth­while invest­ment.

    The new­ly unveiled doc­u­ments, how­ev­er, sug­gest Malaysian offi­cials have sup­pressed at least one key piece of incrim­i­nat­ing infor­ma­tion. This is not entire­ly sur­pris­ing: There is a his­to­ry in air­craft inves­ti­ga­tions of nation­al safe­ty boards refus­ing to believe that their pilots could have inten­tion­al­ly crashed an air­craft full of pas­sen­gers. After EgyptAir 990 went down near Martha’s Vine­yard in 1999, for exam­ple, Egypt­ian offi­cials angri­ly reject­ed the U.S. Nation­al Trans­port Safe­ty Board find­ing that the pilot had delib­er­ate­ly steered the plane into the sea. Indone­sian offi­cials like­wise reject­ed the NTSB find­ing that the 1997 crash of SilkAir 185 was an act of pilot sui­cide.”

    Yeah, it sure does look like Malaysian inves­ti­ga­tors have been sup­press­ing evi­dence, although it sounds like it was­n’t sup­pressed entire­ly since the FBI appar­ent­ly knew of them already:

    ...

    Pre­vi­ous press accounts sug­gest that Aus­tralian and U.S. offi­cials involved in the MH370 inves­ti­ga­tion have long been more sus­pi­cious of Zaharie than their Malaysian coun­ter­parts. In Jan­u­ary, Byron Bai­ley wrote in The Aus­tralian: “Sev­er­al months after the MH370 dis­ap­pear­ance I was told by a gov­ern­ment source that the FBI had recov­ered from Zaharie’s home com­put­er delet­ed infor­ma­tion show­ing flight plan way­points … my source … left me with the impres­sion that the FBI were of the opin­ion that Zaharie was respon­si­ble for the crash.”

    ...

    So it sounds like the doc­u­ments leaked to New York Mag­a­zine by a Malaysian police source were basi­cal­ly an open secret, which rais­es the ques­tion as to whether or not this leak was intend­ed to get the sto­ry out. Maybe doing it as a leak could cush­ions the blow when the Malaysian gov­ern­ment even­tu­al­ly breaks the news to the Malaysian pub­lic that the night­mare sce­nario of a sui­ci­dal Mus­lim Broth­er­hood fan­boy pilot inten­tion­al­ly crashed the plane is the like­li­est sce­nario giv­en the avail­able evi­dence?

    Who knows what the motive was for the leak. Maybe it was just an appalled mem­ber of Malaysi­a’s police force. But it does appear to be the case that all of the var­i­ous groups involved in the inves­ti­ga­tion are increas­ing­ly mov­ing towards the the­o­ry that Cap­tain Shah was the cul­prit. Albeit not right right. The Malayasian police denied the report and denied any doc­u­ments show­ing such evi­dence had ever been turned over in the days fol­low­ing this New York Mag­a­zine report. Aus­tralian offi­cials, in the oth­er hand, did con­firm that such doc­u­ments exist:

    The Week UK

    MH370: Aus­tralian offi­cials con­firm flight sim­u­la­tor sto­ry

    28 July 2016

    The pilot of Malaysia Air­lines flight MH370 left a route plot­ted on his home flight sim­u­la­tor sim­i­lar to the path the miss­ing air­lin­er is thought to have tak­en when it van­ished on 8 March 2014.

    The claim that the FBI had exam­ined Cap­tain Zaharie Ahmad Shah’s home sim­u­la­tor and found the route prompt­ed spec­u­la­tion the dis­ap­pear­ance was a mur­der-sui­cide when it was report­ed by New York mag­a­zine last week.

    But the sto­ry was flat­ly denied by the Malaysian author­i­ties, says The Guardian. The nation­al police chief, Khalid Abu Bakar, said Malaysia had not hand­ed doc­u­ments or infor­ma­tion to the FBI or any over­seas author­i­ty.

    How­ev­er, the Aus­tralian Trans­port Safe­ty Bureau (ATSB) has now con­firmed the FBI did exam­ine the sim­u­la­tor and did find a route plot­ted to the south­ern Indi­an Ocean, where flight MH370 is thought to have been head­ing when it was last detect­ed.

    It added that the dis­cov­ery does not prove the dis­ap­pear­ance was a mur­der-sui­cide. It is not known if the route was plot­ted by Shah him­self, just that it was on a sim­u­la­tor in his home.

    The ATSB was respond­ing to claims made by Aus­tralian pilot Byron Bai­ley, who wrote in The Aus­tralian this week that the FBI dis­cov­ery “shows… it was a delib­er­ate planned mur­der-sui­cide”.

    Bai­ley dis­missed the the­o­ry pro­posed by the ATSB that the flight crew, includ­ing Shah, were unre­spon­sive as the plane head­ed south, labelling it as “bol­locks” that does not make sense to “us pilots”.

    ...

    “But the sto­ry was flat­ly denied by the Malaysian author­i­ties, says The Guardian. The nation­al police chief, Khalid Abu Bakar, said Malaysia had not hand­ed doc­u­ments or infor­ma­tion to the FBI or any over­seas author­i­ty.”

    That’s a pret­ty bold denial by the Malaysian police a few days after the New York Mag­a­zine report con­sid­er­ing arti­cles about Cap­tain Shah’s con­spic­u­ous flight sim­u­la­tion were first made two years ago. Malaysian author­i­ties real­ly, real­ly, real­ly must not like this the­o­ry, which means they prob­a­bly weren’t too hap­py about the report from a week lat­er about expert claims that the analy­sis of a recov­ered por­tion of the wing indi­cate some­one must have been pilot­ing the plane because the piece was extend­ed in a man­ner that requires human acti­va­tion:

    Malay­Mail Online

    Expert claims MH370 pos­si­bly flown into water

    Mon­day August 1, 2016
    10:29 AM GMT+8

    KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 1 — The dis­cov­ery of a wing por­tion from the still-miss­ing Flight MH370 indi­cates the plane was like­ly pilot­ed into the ocean, air crash expert Lar­ry Vance has claimed.

    Vance said the MH370 flap­er­on — a small part of the wing dis­cov­ered off Mada­gas­car — showed that it was extend­ed at the time of land­ing, with such exten­sion requir­ing acti­va­tion by an indi­vid­ual.

    “Some­body was fly­ing the air­plane into the water,” he was quot­ed say­ing last Sun­day on Chan­nel Nine’s 60 Min­utes pro­gramme.

    In the same report by Aus­tralian Asso­ci­at­ed Press, Vance was quot­ed say­ing that a slow and con­trolled land­ing could be the rea­son for the lack of float­ing debris from MH370.

    “Every­body should then have con­clud­ed, in my opin­ion, that this was a human engi­neered event, there’s no oth­er expla­na­tion,” he also said, cit­ing the dis­cov­ery of the flap­er­on a year ago.

    Aus­tralian Trans­port Safe­ty Bureau crash inves­ti­ga­tor Peter Foley said that the MH370 flight’s final loca­tion could fall out­side the cur­rent search zone if some­one was man­ning the air­craft until the end.

    “There is a pos­si­bil­i­ty there was some­one in con­trol at the end and we’re active­ly look­ing for evi­dence to sup­port that,” he was quot­ed say­ing.

    Recent­ly, sug­ges­tions that Flight MH370 pilot Cap­tain Zaharie Ahmad Shah may have delib­er­ate­ly steered the plane to the South­ern Indi­an Ocean in a “mur­der sui­cide” resur­faced after New York mag­a­zine quot­ed a con­fi­den­tial Fed­er­al Bureau of Intel­li­gence (FBI) report not­ing the flight sim­u­la­tion path on his per­son­al flight sim­u­la­tor being of inter­est.

    But Trans­port Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the gov­ern­ment is not aware of claims that Zaharie had run a sim­u­la­tion of the south­ern Indi­an Ocean air route one week before the jet dis­ap­peared, adding that inves­ti­ga­tion is ongo­ing.

    The Malaysian police had inves­ti­gat­ed Zaharie’s flight sim­u­la­tor before in 2014 but cleared him of any ter­ror links.

    ...

    “But Trans­port Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the gov­ern­ment is not aware of claims that Zaharie had run a sim­u­la­tion of the south­ern Indi­an Ocean air route one week before the jet dis­ap­peared, adding that inves­ti­ga­tion is ongo­ing.”

    The mys­te­ri­ous might sim­u­la­tion was con­duct­ed not just less than a month before the doomed flight be a week before it? That cer­tain­ly helps explain why the Malaysian gov­ern­ment, which clear­ly wants to have absolute­ly noth­ing to do with this the­o­ry, want absolute­ly noth­ing to do with the knowl­edge of this flight sim­u­la­tion. Espe­cial­ly now that analy­sis of the recov­ered pieces fur­ther point towards an active­ly pilot­ed descent.

    So what’s the Malaysian gov­ern­ment spin going to be when it’s final­ly forced to acknowl­edge that the grow­ing pile of incrim­i­nat­ing evi­dence? Well, it can always acknowl­edge that the evi­dence exists but is incon­clu­sive and unhelp­ful to spec­u­late about:

    The Star Online

    No proof MH370 delib­er­ate­ly crashed, says Liow

    by joseph kaos jr.
    Thurs­day, 4 August 2016 | MYT 12:06 PM

    PUTRAJAYA: Capt Zaharie Ahmad Shah’s plot­ted flight path into the Indi­an Ocean is just one of “thou­sands” of routes on his home sim­u­la­tor, said Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.

    The Trans­port Min­is­ter said the sim­u­la­tion, how­ev­er, does not con­firm that the pilot of Malaysia Air­lines flight MH370 delib­er­ate­ly crashed the air­craft into the sea.

    “Until today, this the­o­ry is still under inves­ti­ga­tion. There is still no evi­dence to con­firm that Cap­tain Zaharie delib­er­ate­ly flew the plane into the Indi­an Ocean.

    “Yes, he had sim­u­lat­ed the flight path, but it is one of thou­sands of sim­u­la­tions to many parts of the world.

    “We can­not, just based on this, con­firm he did it,” said Liow, at a press con­fer­ence after his ministry’s month­ly assem­bly here Thurs­day.

    Liow added that the Aus­tralian Trans­port Safe­ty Bureau’s (ATSB) stance was that the crash was an “uncon­trolled ditch­ing”.

    “The ATSB has already come up with a the­o­ry that it was an uncon­trolled ditch­ing. And this is based on views and opin­ions of experts. The ATSB is the leader of the team of inter­na­tion­al experts that came up with the 120,000 sq km search area.

    “Their the­o­ry should negate the con­trolled ditch­ing the­o­ry that has been wide­ly report­ed recent­ly,” said Liow.

    Liow urged peo­ple not to make spec­u­la­tions that could ham­per inves­ti­ga­tions.

    “It is not wise to spec­u­late or make unfound­ed the­o­ries that do not help the inves­ti­ga­tion.

    “If you have evi­dence, please hand it over to the inves­ti­ga­tion team,” he said.

    ...

    “Yes, he had sim­u­lat­ed the flight path, but it is one of thou­sands of sim­u­la­tions to many parts of the world.”

    LOL. Yes, the omi­nous flight sim­u­la­tion that took place a week before the doomed flight was just one of thou­sands of simul­ta­tions. Be sure to not jump to any con­clu­sions:

    ...
    Liow added that the Aus­tralian Trans­port Safe­ty Bureau’s (ATSB) stance was that the crash was an “uncon­trolled ditch­ing”.

    “The ATSB has already come up with a the­o­ry that it was an uncon­trolled ditch­ing. And this is based on views and opin­ions of experts. The ATSB is the leader of the team of inter­na­tion­al experts that came up with the 120,000 sq km search area.

    “Their the­o­ry should negate the con­trolled ditch­ing the­o­ry that has been wide­ly report­ed recent­ly,” said Liow.

    ...

    So that’s the Malaysian gov­ern­men­t’s spin. At least at this point: Yes, the rumored and long denied evi­dence point­ing towards Cap­tain does exist, but don’t jump to any con­clu­sions. Bet­ter yet, be sure to con­clude the pre­vi­ous con­clu­sions that were arrived at while the infor­ma­tion about this mys­tery sim­u­la­tion was mys­te­ri­ous­ly being ignored.

    As we can see, the inves­ti­ga­tion of flight MH370 could use an inves­ti­ga­tion.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 6, 2016, 1:06 pm
  12. Dave, here’s some expert vin­di­ca­tion for ya’

    Yep, he killed him­self, but are they men­tion­ing his ado­ra­tion for the jailed cler­ic??

    https://www.9news.com.au/national/2018/05/13/21/17/mh370-60-minutes-where-is-the-missing-plane-tara-brown

    MH370 cap­tain was sui­ci­dal, avi­a­tion experts say

    Reflec­tions on MH370

    By Tara Brown • 60 Min­utes Reporter
    9:17pm May 13, 2018

    The dis­ap­pear­ance of Malaysian Air­lines flight MH370, in March 2014, remains one of aviation’s great­est and most shock­ing mys­ter­ies.

    How can a plane of that size, with its pas­sen­gers and crew of 239 peo­ple, sim­ply van­ish?

    Four years on, a mys­tery of this mag­ni­tude has spawned ever­more incred­u­lous con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries and inflamed a blame game where inves­ti­ga­tors and author­i­ties have been accused equal­ly of inep­ti­tude and cov­er up.

    Of course, at the heart of this tragedy, is the sor­row shad­ow­ing the fam­i­lies of those who died aboard MH370.

    There were eight vic­tims from Aus­tralia who checked into the flight from Kuala Lumpur to Bei­jing, des­tined to nev­er arrive.

    For four years, their fam­i­lies have wait­ed gra­cious­ly and des­per­ate­ly for answers.

    The lat­est and, most like­ly, last hunt for the miss­ing plane will come to the end of its promised search time next month.

    MH370 search solves mar­itime mys­ter­ies
    Ocean Infin­i­ty, a high tech team of under­wa­ter search spe­cial­ists, has been comb­ing the seabed look­ing for the plane and the peo­ple who died in it since Jan­u­ary.

    On 60 Min­utes this week, we invit­ed world renowned experts — air crash inves­ti­ga­tors, senior pilots, oceanog­ra­phers and the for­mer head of the Aus­tralian Trans­port Safe­ty Bureau, the ATSB — to review what is known of the last moments of the MH370 flight to con­clude what most like­ly hap­pened to the plane and why.

    They trav­elled from the UK, the US, Cana­da, Can­ber­ra and Perth to pore over and explain all infor­ma­tion gath­ered on MH370.

    Their exper­tise, while not always in agree­ment, was illu­mi­nat­ing.

    Our aim was to hear their pro­fes­sion­al assess­ment and to under­stand why the ini­tial search was done where it was; a search that has failed to find the miss­ing plane.

    While the infor­ma­tion they each rely on to draw their con­clu­sions is high­ly tech­ni­cal these are men of great pas­sion, who per­sua­sive­ly deliv­er on their point of view.

    While they had nev­er met pri­or to join­ing our Sit­u­a­tion Room, they very quick­ly engaged with one anoth­er as they argued and counter argued over the fate of the doomed air­craft.

    Com­pelling­ly, they explained the ear­ly flight path of MH370, reveal­ing the con­scious and clever manoeu­vres tak­en, pre­sum­ably by the pilot, Cap­tain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, to make his Boe­ing 777 dis­ap­pear.

    It’s eye open­ing to learn how eas­i­ly he did it, first cut­ting all com­mu­ni­ca­tion sys­tems and then fly­ing in and out of Thai and Malaysian air­space.

    If his aim was to con­fuse those mon­i­tor­ing mil­i­tary air­space he was undoubt­ed­ly suc­cess­ful.

    Clear­ly not on high alert, Malaysian and Thai author­i­ties were unper­turbed, or sim­ply didn’t notice, a silent 777 pas­sen­ger plane tra­vers­ing their region before head­ing out to unsu­per­vised sea and fly­ing south, deep into the Indi­an Ocean.

    They are the facts as we now know them. But our inves­ti­ga­tors also brought a nuance and under­stand­ing dry facts don’t always flag.

    Simon Hardy, a senior 777 pilot and instruc­tor, clued in on a poten­tial­ly emo­tion­al con­nec­tion to Penang and there­fore a new expla­na­tion for why the plane made a seem­ing­ly strange turn over the island city.

    On learn­ing the MH370 pilot was orig­i­nal­ly from there, Simon deduced he prob­a­bly flew over his home­town and dipped his wing to say a final good­bye.

    It’s not an unknown prac­tise for pilots to do when fly­ing over places that might be spe­cial to them or might be sig­nif­i­cant to their pas­sen­gers.

    On a num­ber of occa­sions, Simon has sought per­mis­sion from air traf­fic con­trol to change course slight­ly to get a bet­ter look at Ulu­ru. He dips the wing so his pas­sen­gers can get to see the big red rock. It’s this habit which led him to his Penang expla­na­tion. A Eure­ka moment in this con­found­ing dis­ap­pear­ance.

    All our experts agree, it is most like­ly the pilot was in con­trol of the plane at the begin­ning of the flight.

    The most endur­ing dif­fer­ence of opin­ion between our hard-head­ed pan­el was what hap­pened at the end of flight: was Cap­tain Zaharie still con­trol­ling the plane to land it some­where in the ocean, or after set­ting his course south did he then sui­cide by depres­suris­ing the cock­pit, or did he some­how lose con­trol to final­ly let it crash into the sea?

    The ATSB main­tains the most like­ly sce­nario is that no one was con­trol­ling the plane at the end of flight; fly­ing on autopi­lot, once it ran out of fuel, the air­craft made a steep and fast descent into the ocean.

    The sig­nif­i­cance of this sce­nario is it sets a rel­a­tive­ly eas­i­ly defin­able area to search.

    If it is the most like­ly sce­nario, based on many things includ­ing some extra­or­di­nary math­e­mat­i­cal cal­cu­la­tions, then it would be neg­li­gent not to search this area.

    It’s cer­tain­ly where the ATSB put its mon­ey and time.

    But with no plane to show for their effort it’s not unrea­son­able to sug­gest they may have got it wrong. A con­ces­sion made to us by Mar­tin Dolan, since retired but who first led the search for MH370 as Com­mis­sion­er of the ATSB.

    The oth­er sce­nario, the one many pilots con­sid­er the only one they can believe, is that the pilot was fly­ing the plane from the begin­ning to the end, and land­ed it in the ocean. Why?

    To make it as dif­fi­cult, if not impos­si­ble, to ever find.

    As we test­ed in a 777 flight sim­u­la­tor, land­ing the plane this way takes it out of the defined search areas of both the ATSB and Ocean Infin­i­ty.

    In the opin­ion of Mar­tin Dolan, that sce­nario makes the poten­tial search area a vast and impos­si­ble propo­si­tion.

    Try­ing to apply ratio­nal thought to explain the actions of some­one who may have been high­ly irra­tional is always fraught, but part of the ongo­ing mys­tery sur­round­ing the fate of MH370 is the inter­pre­ta­tion of the lit­tle evi­dence that does exist.

    To watch first hand those tasked with inter­pret­ing it is a win­dow into how per­plex­ing the dis­ap­pear­ance of MH370 is to all in the avi­a­tion world.

    For the fam­i­lies of those still miss­ing “why?” does not mat­ter so much.

    “Where?” remains the most press­ing ques­tion.

    Where is the plane? And when will they get to say their final good­byes to their loved ones who they so hap­pi­ly and casu­al­ly farewelled four long years ago?

    https://www.9now.com.au/60-minutes

    © Nine Dig­i­tal Pty Ltd 2018
    MH370AviationNationalWorld
    CONTACT US
    Send your pho­tos, videos and sto­ries to 9News contact@9news.com.au

    Posted by participos | May 14, 2018, 3:02 pm

Post a comment