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Modified Limited Hangout on the Disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370

Grover Norquist

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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

11 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

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