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Malaysia Air Flight 370: The Latest

The very latest on the Malaysian passenger liner Flight 370 that just vanished.

Indonesian Air Force officers examine a map of the Malacca Strait during a briefing following a search operation for the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777, at Suwondo air base in Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia, Wednesday, March 12, 2014.  (AP)

Indonesian Air Force officers examine a map of the Malacca Strait during a briefing following a search operation for the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777, at Suwondo air base in Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia, Wednesday, March 12, 2014. (AP)

Six days and counting, and Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is still missing.  Gone.  Vanished.  No trace.  239 souls aboard, and no idea where they and the big Boeing 777 that was supposed to fly them to Beijing have gone.  As families anguish, the governments of Malaysia, Vietnam, China have begun to feud.  Reports of path and wreckage and radar and pings have come and gone.  Reports of the plane flying on for hours, to who-knows-where.  Every air transport mind in the world is fixated at this point.  We’ve got some of the best with us.  This hour On Point:  where is Malaysia Airlines Flight 370?

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Tom Costello, correspondent for NBC News. He covers aviation and transportation. (@tomcostellonbc)

Col. J.F. Joseph, retired U.S. Marine Crops Colonel. Deputy director of aviation for the Texas Department of Transportation.

Patrick Smith, blogger at “Ask The Pilot.” Author of “Cockpit Confidential: Everything You Need to Know About Air Travel: Questions, Answers and Reflections.” (@askthepilot)

From Tom’s Reading List

Los Angeles Times:  Malaysia defends search for missing jet as cooperation falters — “As of sunset, the fifth day of the search had passed with investigators no closer to locating the aircraft. The length of the hunt has surpassed the 36 hours it took in 2009 to locate the first debris from an Air France flight from Rio De Janeiro to Paris that crashed into the Atlantic, a far deeper body of water than the Gulf of Thailand, where the Malaysian flight was last detected.

Wired: How It’s Possible to Lose An Airplane in 2014 – “Whatever happened, it happened quickly, aviation experts said, and catastrophically. The fact it happened over the ocean–presumably the South China Sea, but possibly the Gulf of Thailand–means it could be months or years before we know exactly what went wrong. The ocean is a very big place, and finding clues will be slow. It took investigators two years to recover the black box data recorder from Air France Flight 447, which went down over the Atlantic on June 1, 2009.”

Ask The Pilot: The Mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 — “All we know for sure is that a plane went missing with no warning or communication from the crew. That the crash (assuming the plane did in fact go down) did not happen during takeoff or landing — the phases of flight when most accidents occur — somewhat limits the possibilities, but numerous ones remain. The culprit could be anything from sabotage to some kind of bizarre mechanical problem — or, as is so common in airline catastrophes, some combination or compounding of human error and/or mechanical malfunction.”

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  • HonestDebate1

    This is creepy. We’re how many days in, six?

  • Ed75

    God has such a sense of humor. In the blackout in 2003 the whole East Coast went dark, and no one could find the cause … a tree fell in Ohio. Now a plane is lost … a disaster, of course, but just when we thought we could map everything … we can’t find a plane.

    • nj_v2

      Your conception of “God” is what’s funny.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    The government of Malaysia couldn’t find the earth on a globe.

    • vito33

      Good one!

      (I’m gonna use that ‘Earth on a globe’ line sometime.)

  • Ed75

    And the flight number – 370 – the number 37 certainly appears an awful lot.

    • Jeff

      Yep, it’s a conspiracy….it happened on March 7th (3/7), the flight number was 370 and aircraft was a 777 (3 7′s).

      • Ed75

        Hadn’t noticed the March 7th date, wow. To me the number 37 means ‘stop abortion’ since it was passed in 1973, but that’s just my speculation.

        • jefe68

          And here I thought the number 37 came after 36 and before 38.

          • tbphkm33

            Oh no, its all a sign of the work of the devil

            … hmm, that is if you believe in superstition.

      • Floyd Blandston

        Oh, that’s just cruel… :D

    • Warren H.

      Right but in every other country March 7 is written 7/3 not 3/7.

      • jefe68

        Opps.

      • Jeff

        The 777 is an American aircraft…therefore we use the terminology of 3/7.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    It’s too late
    To turn back now
    I believe I believe I believe
    We’re about to…

  • OnPointComments

    ABC News, moment ago:

    U.S. officials believe that the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner may have crashed in the Indian Ocean and is moving the USS Kidd to the area to begin searching.

    It will take another 24 hours to move the ship into position, a senior Pentagon official told ABC News.

    http://abcnews.go.com/International/us-officials-malaysia-airline-crashed-indian-ocean/story?id=22894802

  • Bstm300

    Even the Malaysian military admits that the plane may have been on their radar. This is getting weirder and weirder.

  • MrNutso

    Wasn’t there a TV series about this about 10 years ago?

    • jefe68

      Lost.

      • McMug_Pun

        Gilligan’s Island

  • Jim

    Oceanic flight 815

  • Jeff

    The odd part is the fact that the transponder was off…either that happens when a pilot manually turns it off or there was a catastrophic power loss.

    • MrNutso

      I was surprised to learn that transponders can be turned off. They should always be on and redundant to rule out an actual failure of the transponder.

      • Jeff

        The reason they have the ability to turn them off is because the transponders (2 of them on the B777) can fail and ATC will request to turn off the transponder if it is outputting false information. Besides that they can switch between the two transponders and also turn off altitude reporting. Here’s an image of the transponder face plate on that aircraft:

  • perihelion22

    It might be telling that a plane fueled for Beijing could just as well fly to Iran or Somalia. The fake-passport guys were Iranians.

    • McMug_Pun

      The fake passport guys were trying to get AWAY from Iran

  • Warren H.

    Why doesn’t blackbox information automatically get sent to an external server every few minutes? Why do we have to find the plane wreckage to know what happened?

    • vito33

      Good question. Is it possible for that to happen?

      • Floyd Blandston

        Security during transmission?

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    Iran flight 655
    Korean Air flight 007
    And now Malaysia flight 370

    In time, the culprits’ hand is forced.

    • vito33

      Add ‘em all up and it comes to 1032. Oh my God!

      • jefe68

        It’s the devil’s other number…

    • DeJay79

      an evil genius is collecting commercial airliners for .. what?

      • jefe68

        While petting a cat…

        All aside, this a sad tragic incident.

        • DeJay79

          “we’ll attach Lasers to them and have trained sharks fly them into DC.. muhaha Muuhahaha”

    • tbphkm33

      Iran Air 655 shot down by the US
      Korean Air 007 shot down by the USSR

  • Warren H.

    In this day and age, why doesn’t flight data recorder (blackbox) information automatically get sent to an external
    server every few minutes? Why do we have to find the plane wreckage to
    know what happened?

    • hennorama

      Warren H. — as was noted in some of the reporting, various maintenance-related data is periodically snet form the aircraft to the ground. This is why the Malaysian official cited the fact that a representative from Rolls-Royce [the engine manufacturer] was present when [the official was] disputing some of the reporting.

      See:
      http://www.cnn.com/2014/03/13/world/asia/malaysia-airlines-plane/

  • DeJay79

    A whole jet liner goes missing and “nobody” knows what happened. Sounds like a case for 007 to solve.

  • hennorama

    This is yet another humbling reminder that the Earth is a very large place, and humans don’t know as much as we think we know.

    • Floyd Blandston

      Is it plausible that a nation that records ‘alltheemails’ doesn’t have full radar coverage?

      • hennorama

        Floyd Blandston — thank you for your response.

        You make a good point. One also must consider that if such a nation [either] did or did not “have full radar coverage,” they would be reluctant to disclose such information.

      • Floyd Blandston

        This; “U.S. officials believe that the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner may have crashed in the Indian Ocean and is moving the USS Kidd to the area to begin searching.” Sounds like ‘someone’ might have made a suggestion….

        • Floyd Blandston

          I’ll lay early odds; Uighurs at 3-1.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    Malaysia Airlines flight 369 just before takeoff.
    http://alturl.com/ufpmd

    I wonder if we can discern any useful information from the predecessor aircraft.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    Maybe First Lieutenant Milo Minderbinder bought the plane. Or swapped for it.

  • MrNutso

    Good comment. Then we could just ask the NSA/CIA. See how I tied in both of today’s shows.

  • Coastghost

    If it wasn’t the aliens, it could have been a falling fragment of asteroid (we’ve had one pass-by of space debris a week of late). If it wasn’t a meteoric collision, it threatens to have been an explosive device that pretty well vaporized the entire plane in flight. OR, we hear tales that the jet could have diverted to a private landing strip in an adjacent country.

    • hennorama

      Coastghost — this is indeed an interesting phenomenon, with myriad possibilities. One wonders how much human effort and brainpower are occupied with this mystery, and how such efforts and attention might be otherwise utilized.

      • Floyd Blandston

        Benghazi!!11!!11

    • nj_v2

      [[ it threatens to have been an explosive device that pretty well vaporized the entire plane in flight. ]]

      An option you forgot: Abduction/transport to a parallel universe by aliens.

      • Coastghost

        Nyet, nyet! My very first option (aliens will never travel here by spaceship, that’s pretty clear now).
        The option I DID forget: exactly what were those fellows at the Large Hadron Collider doing at that hour last week? If little pockets or clouds of antimatter are being released spontaneously into our atmosphere, someone needs to manipulate them with a tad more authority.

        • vito33

          Ah, yes – the collider. They were putting it back together. It’s not gonna run again for another couple of years.
          Good guess, though.

        • nj_v2

          1. The point of my previous post was to indicate that the scenario you proposed was as implausible as the one i offered. Reasonable people recongize the limits of their knowledge and usually know enough not to offer speculations that are, for all practical purposes, impossible.

          2. Transport intended in the context of transporter as in “Beam me up!” No physical presence required.

      • hennorama

        nj_v2 — alas, poor Rod Serling is already dead (as far as we know). May he RIP.

  • gregghr

    I believe that if the transponder was turned off, that the plane was hijacked. From Malaysia, the craft could have been taken to N. Korea by flying below radar (within a couple hundred feet above the ocean’s surface. Once in N Korea, without cell phone service, no one could communicate to the outside and I’m certain the hijacker would have forced the collection of all cell phones. The craft could be used as a weapon a la 911 terror attacks because it has the range that N Korea cannot get from its own ICBMs

    • tbphkm33

      Nope, I thought about North Korea early, as anything odd that happens in that corner of the world might have links back to the hermit kingdom.

      A 747 pilot friend said they would not have enough fuel to fly to North Korea after turning the other directions. Plus, an airliner can’t be flown that low without burning tons more fuel or even burning out the engines at some point.

      • gregghr

        If the craft turned off all of its transponders, which is supposedly possible from what I’m hearing, they could have flown at altitude and would have had enough fuel to make N Korea as Beijing is at the same latitude.

        • tbphkm33

          Nope, the route from its last location to North Korea is full of military radar, in addition to civilian radar. All North Korean neighbors watch that region by radar, as well as the US and Russia. The plane could not have flown at any high altitude without being noticed.

      • GGaia

        I thought about that to. But who’s to say, (to throw everyone off the real path) and, after they turned north west and turned off the transponder, that they could have turned back east towards NK. Just a thought. ;)

  • dsnows

    Sounds a lot like Oceanic flight 815 to me. #Lost

    • pete18

      Yes, totally. Obviously the answer to this problem is to, “Get Jack!”

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    Last recorded transmission from Malaysia flight 370. Caution: sensitive information disclosed.

    “Survival kit contents check. In them you’ll find:
    - One forty-five caliber automatic
    - Two boxes of ammunition
    - Four days’ concentrated emergency rations
    - One drug issue containing antibiotics, morphine, vitamin pills, pep pills, sleeping pills, tranquilizer pills
    - One miniature combination Russian phrase book and Bible
    - One hundred dollars in rubles
    - One hundred dollars in gold
    - Nine packs of chewing gum
    - One issue of prophylactics
    - Three lipsticks
    - Three pair of nylon stockings.
    Shoot, a fella’ could have a pretty good weekend in Vegas with all that stuff.”

    Transmission ends.

    • Floyd Blandston

      A fella’ could have a good weekend in Dallas with that as well…

    • vito33

      YeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeHawwwwwww!!!

  • IndustryWatcher

    Is it not possible to track individual cell phone gps? Is this something that’s routinely attempted when a flight goes down and needs to be located?

    • vito33

      You’re not supposed to have your cell phone on, are you?

      • Scott B

        Actually, the new rules (or recommendations) say that cell phones should be allowed, at least during flight, as there is no proof that they cause a problem. But you still need something akin to a cell tower for any signal to reach, as oceans are big empty places, and airplanes and control towers have vastly larger resources for various signals, cell or satellites.

        Also, cell phones short out in water quickly, and even the water-resistant ones are only resistant to a few feet at most. Black boxes are designed to be very durable, but we’re hearing about their limitations with stories like this one. If I can read Popular Mechanics and Popular Science, and know that new tech for material, power, security, et al, is there, and some basic ideas as to how to put them all together, then shouldn’t someone getting paid to think of this stuff be on it?

  • Scott B

    It’s time for the air travel industries to join the 21st century.

    - Redundant GPS transponders, with their own unique identifiers that will be forever matched to that plane , cannot be shut off from the cockpit (unlike the identifiers currently used), will send an alert if it detects and attempt to be tampered with without a specific proprietary “key”, and have a back-up power supply with longer life.

    Our cars and phones have these things now, but the airline industry complains about cost. What’s the price of a cell phone to a multi-million dollar plane?

    Why are we using much the same tech we developed in WWII, and the couple decades following, to track planes?

    • Scott B

      Since I can’t reply to DFG’s comment directly at the moment:

      This is were the endless chatter about how we need to deregulate big business should end. Time and time again we get told that the industry knows best; that whatever it is has worked well in the past, and that it will raise costs for the consumer. The airlines, like most big business, quibble over a few dollars in the grand scheme of things, as if it’s going to drive up costs exponentially, and what has it gotten us? How much did 9/11 cost us as a nation over a few dollars, in the grand scheme of things, over a lack of new security procedures, and less than relative pocket change for re-enforced cockpit doors and some better locks?

  • HonestDebate1

    Now I reading it may have flown another 4 hours after the last transmission. It could be anywhere.

    The thing that makes most sense to me is that is went down (for whatever reason) in the jungles of Viet Nam.

  • DeJay79

    D.B. Cooper infamous male hijacker. missing and unsolved!
    Amelia Earhart famous female pilot. missing and unsolved!

    And now flight 370 had “potential” male hijackers and females on board … coincidence?? I think Not!

    • vito33

      This would never have happened if Sully were flying the plane. Sully should fly every plane, every day.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    NSA reports they had no active spying devices attuned to that region of the earth 6 days ago. They had been borrowed by the CIA to spy on the US Senate. DNI Clapper said this morning: “Sorry. My bad.”

    • vito33

      Whoopsie-Daisie

  • Satwa

    Being told by a non-computer specialist, a pilot, who are not the
    smartest people in the world, that a cockpit is highly unlikely to be
    able to be hacked, is annoying. Maybe its true, but if he is right, is
    purely by chance, might as well toss a coin. He’s too arrogant to say,
    “you’d have to ask a computer security specialist”.

    At least teh military guy is willing to say “he doesn’t know” when he doesn’t

  • tbphkm33

    Its an odd case, full of improbabilities. The fact that spy satellites do not show any mid-air explosion is telling. Could possibly be a stolen plane, but that’s a big job to pull off, plus, limited places to land a plane like that. The only thing that makes sense is that it crashed into the Indian Ocean. That it kept flying for 4 to 5 hours. Which discounts the theory that it was pilot suicide. Only thing that sort of makes sense is that it was some sort of catastrophic event in the cockpit, be that malfunction or terrorist bomb, but which left the plane still flying. Although, the plane turns, but then stops the turn at some point. If it was stricken, one would think it would keep turning.

    Sooner or later, it will turn up. Whatever the cause is, it is doubtful Hollywood could write a more puzzling screenplay.

  • soundfriend

    Boeing 777 Crash Coincides With 787 Dreamliner Production Flaw

    http://guardianlv.com/2014/03/boeing-777-crash-coincides-with-787-dreamliner-production-flaw/

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    We have met the enemy and he is us.
    –Modern Technology

  • rich4321

    I think people just need to be patient to wait and see. Why all these useless speculations and conspiracy theories? It only add to the already confusing
    situation to he passengers’ families.

    • tbphkm33

      While I agree with you, it is difficult to expect people not to be drawn to speculate on a case like this.

    • andic_epipedon

      I’m not sure it adds confusion to the passenger’s families. They may be thinking the same thoughts. It is truly troubling that a plane would be missing for this long in this day and age. That is why it makes sense to come up with conspiracy theories. It’s a way to cope with the situation.

  • Seth DeKooters

    Patrick Smith should be deleted from future appearances on On Point. He added or explained little with lots of words.

    • McMug_Pun

      At the same time, he has debunked those relatively amateur speculation, or at least explained to us clearly why some of the theories are almost impossible. With all these guessing going around, we probably don’t need anything to be added.

  • http://stephensonstrategies.com W. David Stephenson

    I blogged earlier today that the “Internet of Things” (the concept of linked devices sharing data) may actually help find the plane — and perhaps avoid disasters in the future. The Rolls-Royce engines contain sensors that send REAL-TIME data about the engines’ operation back to Rolls-Royce for analysis — in this case that data indicates that the plane flew for 4 hours after its last transmission. In the future, real-time data from planes or from cars may be used by controllers to avoid disasters. shar.es/Renht

  • hennorama

    Isn’t it obvious? It’s President Obama’s fault.

    • pete18

      You’ve got your talking points all screwed up, it’s Bush’s fault.

  • FrankensteinDragon

    China shooting down the plane sounds plausible to me.

    The speaker talked about Russia shooting down a plane in the past but he conveniently forgot about the plane that went down over long island not too long ago–with some evidence that it is was shot down but covered up.

    My point: government cover things up all the time. NSA. CIA. FBI. BUSh. CHeney. Obama.

    Commentors have mentioned Clancy scenarios–private runways, nuclear bomb attacks–all very frightening. The thought makes me sick.

    The twist: It turns out it wasn’t a muslim or the chinese. It was the US–faking a hostage situation–using the plane as weapon, detonating half of China or western city, and pinning it on Russians or Iranians.

    metal fatigue, decompression, electrical failure, midflight explosion–none of this make plane travel sound very safe.

    I have no faith in the industry. Never trust private companies with your life. You are expendable. And maintenance is just too high a cost so the cheapest repair job is the best repair job and well, pilots cost too much–lets pay them like bus drivers and overwork them.

    Its time we had a safe alternative to air travel. Its time we went back to sea travel.

  • rich4321

    I m wondering why the two Iranians with stolen passport wanted to take a flight to Beijing, didi they say these two want to go to Europe? Did they hijack the plane?

  • Roland Riemers of ND

    Plane was commandeered by co-pilot and has probably landed someplace within 200 miles of Eyl.

  • Hotdogger71

    If it was terrorists wanting to take down a plane, they would have just done it and there would have been debris found. The ELT would have been picked up on impact with the ocean.
    If it was hijacked to ransom the passengers/plane demands would have been given.
    I’m thinking robbery. Was there anything in the cargo hold worth the pilots or hijackers taking the risk of piracy and make them willing to cut off oxygen to the cabin and quickly and quietly taking out the witnesses, thereby preventing calls for help. China’s bought and taken delivery of a lot of gold over the last few years. I’d be interested to know if Malaysia Air was a carrier for those shipments, since this was enroute to Beijing.
    There was enough fuel to fly to Somalia, directly West, a pirate haven and modern day “Tortuga”.

  • Hotdogger71

    Not if the pilot(s) flying cut off the cabin oxygen. It might be why they climbed to 45000 feet. Pilots have quick donning air masks in the cockpit and could have continued to breath. Everyone else would have passed out in less than a minute and died of hypoxia shortly thereafter. That would have kept passengers from rebelling or making phone calls.

    • Whipsnade

      That makes sense. Thanks for the insight!

  • Coastghost

    True or False:
    If commandeered to a successful landing, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 stands a good chance of reappearing on radar screens one day soon following its refueling, with or without its former complement of passengers and crew.
    Reappearance of the 777 jet (with or without its Malaysia Airlines markings) would likely mean that the airliner has been weaponized in some fashion.
    Tragic outcomes may have not yet begun to ensue, by this view, and it will be up to air and naval personnel in the region to limit the intended severity of an attack.
    ?

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